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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Paco's trail of ruin in Argentina
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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Paco's trail of ruin in Argentina

i've been aware of the paco plague but, fortunately, i haven't seen much of it first-hand... on a couple of occasions, i've encountered young men on the street displaying a visibly hostile air and behaving erratically who i strongly suspect had been smoking paco... they were forcing themselves past people on the sidewalk, trying to catch someone's eye and spouting incoherent taunts as if they were trying to pick a fight... it was clear to me that responding in any way, even with a change of facial expression or body language, could potentially produce a violent confrontation...

from today's nyt...

[T]he irrepressible spread of paco, a highly addictive, smokable cocaine residue that has destroyed thousands of lives in Argentina [has] caused a cycle of drug-induced street violence never seen before in this country.

The scourge underscores a significant shift in both Argentina and its larger neighbor, Brazil, which in just a few years have become sizable cocaine consumers. Brazil now ranks as the second largest consumer of cocaine in the world after the United States, the State Department says.

this is a good article and is worth reading in full... there's also an accompanying video clip which gives a flavor of the villas miserias (shantytowns) that have become a much larger feature of the buenos aires landscape since the economic collapse of 2001, a feature, naturally, that the ever-increasing hordes of gringo turistas never see...

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