Please find below a report and a petition for assistance for the Casa Regina della Pace [Queen of Peace], the Santo Daime (CEFLURIS) church and community in Assisi, Italy (http://www.santodaime.it/). I have traveled to Assisi twice, the land of San Francesco, visiting the community and participating in their rituals, and I am deeply moved by the current events.
A small town with a mystical ambience and encrusted in the mountains, Assisi is home to a number of spiritual and therapeutic centers, as well as being the international hub of the Franciscan movement. The small Santo Daime community lives in the surroundings of the church and neighborhood. The church is under the leadership of Tizziana Vigani, a former hippie and globetrotter. She met Padrinho Sebastião in the 1970s in Brazil, after which she lived in India for several years, finally embracing her destiny as a daimista. The church members work in the area, live with collective spirit and frequently travel to Brazil. Committees (prominent members of the Santo Daime church who travel to different locations, around Brazil and abroad, conducting rituals) led by Padrinho Alfredo Mota de Melo, Alex Polari, Paulo Roberto and Luiz Mendes have all visited Assisi in recent years.
The following is an account of the episodes, according to information provided by the community in Assisi:
On August 10, 2004, the police in the airport of Peruggia found 27 liters of Daime on Walter Mezzoni, who was returning from Brazil.
[Walter is 30 years old, and works as a consultant for Italian Cooperation for the Development of Mozambique of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He came upon the Santo Daime in 1998, while studying for his master’s in Administration in the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. In 2000-2001, he spent six months in Céu do Mapiá and Céu do Juruá, and since then has always been returning to Brazil. He has been living in Assisi for several years, collaborating with the administration of Casa Regina della Pace.]
On September 9, 2004, the police arrived at the community in several cars. They entered the church and the house of some members and performed a search. Two liters of Daime (ayahuasca) were found.
On March 15, 2005, Walter was arrested in his hometown of Reggio Emiglia, near Bologna, just as he was about to travel to Mozambique. Though he was traveling on account of his employment for the Italian Ministry, the press declared that he was fleeing. A number of slanders have been published in the news about “a band of drug dealers disguised as a religion” (see e.g. http://noticias.terra.com.br/brasil/interna/0,,OI490612-EI306,00.html)
On March 17, 2005, six members of the community in Assisi were arrested, under the accusations of international drug trafficking, use of drugs, illegal association and other charges. Sentences could lead from eight to twenty years.
Some eighteen other people were arrested in Milan, Trieste and Genova, even some who are not official members of the religion. In total, some twenty-four people have been arrested in Italy. According to reports, all have been confined to house-arrest and await trial.
I have not been able to acquire precise information about the episode on the larger scale. It would seem that the several events are not associated.
On April 4 there will be a hearing in Assisi. While six members remain detained, the community awaits the outcome.
The Italian community has requested a global chain of prayer. Daimistas can send messages of support containing the following information: name, age, profession, I.D. document, e-mail address, church affiliation, time since affiliation, and a brief testimony on the effect of Santo Daime on your life. Sympathizers associated to other contexts of ayahuasca use may also send similar messages of support. Other people, not related to the ayahuasca context (whether religious or not) may also participate and express their solidarity and affirm the legitimacy of the Santo Daime religious movement. Scientific researchers with unpublished theses and other publications are invited to submit messages of support in favor of the liberty of the religious and ritual use of ayahuasca, including bibliographic references of their academic production. Please send your message to: email@example.com
Further details and information concerning the case, and their public circulation over the internet are highly welcome.
The arrest of these people is revolting, no less that the insane international war on ‘drugs’!
Bia Labate(Translation: Christian Frenopoulo)