February 2013
Latin American Psychiatric Association

APAL communiqué on the tragedy that occurred at Santa Maria, Brazil

On behalf of APAL Executive Committee, we wish to express our deepest grief, sorrow, and solidarity to the people from Brazil, particularly to our beloved colleagues and brothers from the Brazilian Psychiatric Association-ABP, for the tragedy that occurred in a discotheque at Santa María, in Río Grande do Sul, where 238 young people lost their lives and hundreds were injured. 

Once again it reiterates, with almost identical characteristics, the number of collective risk factors that took the lives of two hundred young people in the discotheque called Cromagnon, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the early morning of December 30, 2004, which we consider to be worth listing: criminal negligence and fraud from those responsible for its operation and certification of safety, the custom of using fireworks as part of the show in closed premises, the presence of soundproofing materials which are toxic on combustion, with the consequent death for inhaling hydrocyanic gas, overcrowding, well above the maximum people capacity of the premises, with minimum emergency exits, and panicking people trying to escape being crushed to death. 

All of them make a similar lethal combination that leaves Brazil in mourning, and all of Latin America again; and besides the terrible and fatal death toll, it will leave multiple psycho-traumatic consequences among the survivors and relatives of victims.  

As specialists in psychiatry, we invite both authorities and members of all APAL entities, as a modest contribution from our role to what should be done so that these tragic events do not occur again, to plan and take part in activities for prevention, psycho-education, and awareness aimed at the community, concerning the possible social catastrophes similar to the one already described. 

We believe that such an event cannot be considered only as a terrible accident, but as a result of further lack of foresight and social violence that affect our young people and the society as a whole, which can and should be modified through our joint efforts.

Alfredo Cía, President

Rodrigo Córdoba Rojas, Vice-president                                                  

Juan Carlos Stagnaro, Secretary General




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