Today, the Buenos Aires City Government sent a bill to the City Congress aiming to make future electronic music festivals safer for attendees by reducing health risks and raising awareness of drugs’ potentially harmful effects. This comes on the heels of the tragic deaths of five young people at the Time Warp electronic festival on April 16, after which the City banned these types of events until norms regulating them are established.
Under the bill, event organizers would have to comply with the following security measures:
- Guarantee access to drinking water.
- Provide professional medical assistance and sufficient infrastructure to handle all emergencies.
- Present a protocol outlining how potential health problems would be dealt with. This would have to be approved by the City’s Health Ministry and be coordinated with the Medical Emergencies Assistance System (SAME).
- Provide information during the event to raise awareness about the potential consequences of risky behavior (i.e taking drugs). This would need to be done through screens, billboards, leaflets, announcements and “any other communication means that guarantees reaching said goal.”
- Have enough police and private security personnel on location ready to act in case something needs to be dealt with (i.e bust drug dealers, handle violent situations, etc.).
- Hold the events outdoors. If the organizers provide a solid enough explanation as to why this isn’t possible, they will have to request a special permit to host it in close or semi-closed venues. If they get approval, they will have to periodically control its sanitary conditions and guarantee a chill-out space for attendees to rest if they wish to do so.
- Be able to control how many people access the event through a certified electronic system.
- Make people aware of the rights they’re entitled to via this law (everything listed above) at the venues where the events are taking place.
While explaining the reasons for the project, the City’s Deputy Mayor Diego Santilli admitted that the increase in electronic music festivals has resulted in an increase in synthetic drug consumption. Since these events can endanger attendees’ health, he said, “it’s the State’s mission to ensure citizens’ security and health by generating better conditions for public leisure” and “decrease the risks associated with drug consumption in these spaces.”
Since the Time Warp tragedy, a cycle of blame has targeted the event’s organizer, the victims themselves, the coast guard who ran the security on the night (and therefore Security Minister Patricia Bullrich), the former Kirchner government (no joke) and finally electronic music festivals themselves.
Last week the Municipal Council in the City of Rosario, Santa Fe Province, was the first city in Argentina to take drug safety to a new level by announcing that it will begin to carry out quality control checks on ecstasy pills at electronic music festivals to avoid another tragedy like Time Warp’s.
Rosario’s sensible response is in line with several other politicians’ responses, including Buenos Aires City Health Minister Ana María Bou Pérez, who last week suggested that the possibility of decriminalizing drugs be opened up to conversation. The government’s initiative is still far from what Bou Pérez proposed but hey, baby steps.