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South America

42 articles
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The Torture Colony

A utopian German settlement in Chile had already turned darkly cultish by the time it became a secret torture site for enemies of the Pinochet regime.

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Gabriel Garcia Marquez: The Art of Fiction No. 69

“In journalism just one fact that is false prejudices the entire work. In contrast, in fiction one single fact that is true gives legitimacy to the entire work. That’s the only difference, and it lies in the commitment of the writer. A novelist can do anything he wants so long as he makes people believe in it.”

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The Truth of El Mozote

The story of a massacre in El Salvador.

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The Expendables

Life in the French Foreign Legion.

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Rio: The Fight for the Favelas

On the experimental favela police force UPP (aka “The Big Skull”) and their efforts to clean Rio’s largest slum in advance of the World Cup and Olympics.

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How an Accused Guatemalan War Criminal Won U.S., Canadian Citizenship

A California martial arts instructor’s secret past.

Previously: Finding Oscar
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The Beautiful Game

In Argentina, where the fútbol underworld controls everything from t-shirt vending to murder, and “rowdy gangs” have turned the stadium into a battleground.

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Mother of God, Child of Zeus

On the perils and poisons of mining for gold in southeastern Peru.

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I, Turbo

On spending six months on the southern coast of Argentina with the “Jane Goodall of penguins” and several hundred of her research subjects.

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Buy the Right Thing

On a press junket in Ecuador, the author investigates the ethics of shopping.

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Mengele’s Skull

Tracking the Nazi doctor’s bones through South America.

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The Daughter of the Disappeared

The man 27-year-old Victoria Donda believed to be her father shot himself after  being revealed as a former member of an Argentinean death squad. Immediately after, a human rights group came to her with information on her birth parents: murdered political prisoners.

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Reversal of Fortune

Steven Donziger, an American lawyer, headed up a successful lawsuit against Chevron on behalf of Ecuadorans. Then the legal tables turned on him.

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The Revolutionary

A profile of Hugo Chávez, two years into his presidency.

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In the New Gangland of El Salvador

How LA-style gang life migrated to the slums of San Salvador.

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Heart of Dark Chocolate

You know this one: German guy heads into tribal jungle deep upriver, sends the company crazy reports full of radical ideas—and then goes totally rogue. Only this time it's not ivory he's after. It's a secret lost for centuries: the finest cacao on earth.
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Who Killed Che?

He arrived in Bolivia in November 1966, disguised as a Uruguayan businessman. After desertions, drownings, and difficulty contacting their support group in La Paz, his small troop was surrounded the following October. The inside story of how they were found and destroyed.

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The Power of Gabriel García Márquez

On Gabo and his complicated role in the country of his birth, Colombia.

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Cult of Death: The Jonestown Nightmare

As divided families argued over whether to stay or go, Jones saw part of his congregation slipping away. Al Simon, father of three, wanted to take his children back to America. "No! No! No!" screamed his wife. Someone whispered to her: "Don't worry, we're going to take care of everything." Indeed, as reporters learned later from survivors, Jones had a plan to plant one or more fake defectors among the departing group, in order to attack them. He told some of his people that the Congressman's plane "will fall out of the sky."
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A Constant Feeling of Crisis

What it means to be an entrepreneur in Argentina, where economic crashes are a way of life.

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Death and Drugs in Colombia

On Colombia’s “macabre alliance”:

In February 2003, the mayor of a small town on Colombia’s Caribbean coast stood up at a nationally televised meeting with then President Álvaro Uribe and announced his own murder.

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Brazil in Three Fruits

A young mother transplants her family to Bahia.

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A Murder Foretold

Rodrigo Rosenberg, a highly respected corporate attorney in Guatemala, began, in the spring of 2009, to prophesy his own murder. The unraveling of a political conspiracy.

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Lula's Brazil

A 12,000-word profile of recently departed Brazilian President Luiz Inácio da Silva, the “most successful politician of his time.”

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The Liberation of Lori Berenson

After nearly 15 years in a Peruvian prison, an American woman convicted of aiding a Marxist terrorist group finds parole in Lima full of contradictions.

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Eden: A Gated Community

What happened when the founder of North Face and Esprit bought a chunk of Chile the size of a small state, intending to live with a select group inside it and turn it case study for ecological preservation. It turned out, however, that Chileans didn’t really like that idea.

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Rio’s New Reality Show

How the relationship between favela-based drug gangs and elite police units tasked with fighting them came to define Rio de Janeiro.

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Internacionalista

Memories of the expat revolutionary scene in 1980s Nicaragua. An excerpt from Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War.

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The Hunt for White October

Colombian traffickers have a new smuggling method of choice: specially designed submarines capable of carrying 10 tons of cocaine and covering 2,000 miles without refueling.

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The Mystery of the Tainted Cocaine

How the bulk of the cocaine entering the U.S. ends up cut with a cattle dewormer.

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The Boomtown, the Gringo, the Girl, and Her Murder

A writer starts a vacation in San Juan del Sur, a seaside village of 20,000 in Nicaragua, just in time to see an expat charged with the murder of a local.

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Way Down in the Hole

A report from Camp Hope, the tent city that’s sprung up next to the Chilean mine where 33 men have been trapped since early August.

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The Snatchback

If your ex-spouse takes your child and hightails it abroad, the legal system often isn’t on your side. So what can you do? One option: hire a former Army ranger named Gus Zamora to take back your kid.

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I Fell In Love With a Female Assassin

A young reporter heads to Colombia to report on the conflict between FARC and the paramilitaries. He meets a girl on the bus. After they begin a relationship, she reveals that that she is part of a death squad.

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City of Fear

How PCC, once an inmate soccer team and now Brazil’s most notorious prison gang, coordinated seven days of riots throughout São Paulo using mobile phones.

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D’Escoto Inferno

Sandinista, reverend, and president of the U.N. General Assembly.

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Jungle Law

It’s the biggest environmental lawsuit in history. The people of Lago Agrio, an oil-rich area in the Ecuadorean Amazon, are suing Chevron for $6 billion after decades of spills. The case has been underway since 1993.

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The World at His Feet

Argentina’s Lio Messi, the best soccer player on the planet, stands all of 5’7” and needed growth-hormone injections to get there.

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The Last Penal Colony

The island of Coiba off the coast of Panama is both a nature preserve and an open-air prison.

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The Devil at 37,000 Feet

There were so many ways the two planes could have avoided the collision. The odds were so slim. But high above the Amazon in 2006, a combination of technology and human fallibility brought them together.