Category Archives: War On Drugs

DoJ Watchdog Report: DEA agents had “sex parties” with prostitutes hired by drug cartels

Sari Horwitz and Carol D. Leonnig report for The Washington Post:

Drug Enforcement Administration agents allegedly had “sex parties” with prostitutes hired by local drug cartels overseas over a period of several years, according to a report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s watchdog.

The report did not specify the country where the parties occurred, but a law enforcement official familiar with the matter identified it as Colombia.

Seven of the 10 DEA agents alleged to have participated in the gatherings — most of which took place at an agent’s “quarters” leased by the U.S. government — admitted to having attended the parties, the report found. The agents, some of whom had top-secret security clearances, received suspensions of two to 10 days.’

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Judge to U.S. Government: ‘National Security’ Isn’t a ‘Magic Word’ That Allows Constitutional Rights Violations

Lindsay Nash writes for the American Civil Liberties Union:

‘[…] In the past, DHS generally did not detain families who arrived in the United States seeking asylum. Most eligible individuals were released if they could show that they were not a flight risk or a danger to the community. However, beginning in the summer of 2014, DHS started detaining families in large numbers as part of an “aggressive deterrence strategy” intended to send a message to other Central Americans that if they sought refuge in the United States, they would be similarly punished. Under this policy, even if families demonstrated that they had a credible fear of persecution and were neither flight risks nor dangerous, DHS refused to consider them for release and kept them locked up.

Sound cruel? It is. It’s also unnecessary and illegal.’

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Death, Drugs, and HSBC: How fraudulent blood money makes the world go round

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Medium:

‘Recent reporting on illegal tax evasion by the world’s second largest bank, HSBC, opens a window onto the pivotal role of Western banks in facilitating organised crime, drug-trafficking and Islamist terrorism. Governments know this, but they are powerless to act, not just because they’ve been bought by the banks: but because criminal and terror financing is integral to global capitalism. Now one whistleblower who uncovered an estimated billion pounds worth of HSBC fraud in Britain, suppressed by the British media, is preparing a prosecution that could blow wide open the true scale of criminal corruption in the world’s finance capital.’

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Drug Addiction In Iran

Bill Clinton Apologizes To Mexico For War On Drugs

Ryan Grim and Matt Ferner report for The Huffington Post:

Apology: In a speech at the Laureate Summit on Youth and Productivity in Mexico Clinton told the audience that the war had backfired and has led to an escalation in violence which is crippling the countryFormer President Bill Clinton apologized to Mexico during a speech there last week for a backfired U.S. war on drugs that has fueled spiraling violence. “I wish you had no narco-trafficking, but it’s not really your fault,” Clinton told an audience of students and business leaders at the recent Laureate Summit on Youth and Productivity. “Basically, we did too good of a job of taking the transportation out of the air and water, and so we ran it over land. “I apologize for that,” Clinton said.

Clinton was referring to U.S. drug enforcement policy that began under his predecessors, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, who invested heavily in shutting down the Caribbean Sea as the favored trafficking route between the U.S. and South America and Central America. That effort pushed smuggling west, over land in Mexico.’

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Why Animals Eat Psychoactive Plants

Johann Hari, author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, recently published an excerpt from his book at Boing Boing:

‘The United Nations says the drug war’s rationale is to build “a drug-free world — we can do it!” U.S. government officials agree, stressing that “there is no such thing as recreational drug use.” So this isn’t a war to stop addiction, like that in my family, or teenage drug use. It is a war to stop drug use among all humans, everywhere. All these prohibited chemicals need to be rounded up and removed from the earth. That is what we are fighting for.

I began to see this goal differently after I learned the story of the drunk elephants, the stoned water buffalo, and the grieving mongoose. They were all taught to me by a remarkable scientist in Los Angeles named Professor Ronald K. Siegel.’

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German Football: The Bundesliga’s Crystal Meth Problem

Kit Holden reports for The Independent:

Dr Petri has revealed that although alchohol is the main problem, crystal meth is regularly being takenChristian Seifert’s job is easy these days. On Thursday, for example, the chief executive of the German football league (DFL) gave a speech in which he rattled off the successes of the Bundesliga with its record revenues and ticket sales.

German football is booming. The TV deals are ever more lucrative, Die Nationalmannschaft have won the World Cup, and the few young players who do leave almost invariably end up being sold at astronomical prices to the best European clubs.

As its primary publicist, Seifert can just ride the wave. When the clubs return from the winter break next weekend, fans will arrive from all over the world, Britain included. In Germany, they will find wonderful atmospheres, old-fashioned terraces, cheap beer and maybe even the odd line of crystal meth.’

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More States, Native American Tribes Mimic Colorado Pot Laws

‘This past November, Oregon and Alaska voted to legalize the possession and sale of recreational marijuana, and the Department of Justice last month said it would allow Native American tribes to make their own decisions on the sale of pot. Each follows Colorado’s footsteps in the new process of marijuana legalization. NewsHour’s Rick Karr reports.’ (PBS News Hour)

Highs And Lows: Colorado’s First Year Of Legal Pot

Breaking The Set’s Top 5 Most Positive Stories of 2014

Afghanistan: The Making of a Narco State

Matthieu Aikins writes for Rolling Stone:

Poppy‘Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan is named for the wide river that runs through its provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, a low-slung city of shrubby roundabouts and glass-fronted market blocks. When I visited in April, there was an expectant atmosphere, like that of a whaling town waiting for the big ships to come in. In the bazaars, the shops were filled with dry goods, farming machinery and motorcycles. The teahouses, where a man could spend the night on the carpet for the price of his dinner, were packed with migrant laborers, or nishtgar, drawn from across the southern provinces, some coming from as far afield as Iran and Pakistan. The schools were empty; in war-torn districts, police and Taliban alike had put aside their arms. It was harvest time.

Across the province, hundreds of thousands of people were taking part in the largest opium harvest in Afghanistan’s history. With a record 224,000 hectares under cultivation this year, the country produced an estimated 6,400 tons of opium, or around 90 percent of the world’s supply. The drug is entwined with the highest levels of the Afghan government and the economy in a way that makes the cocaine business in Escobar-era Colombia look like a sideshow. The share of cocaine trafficking and production in Colombia’s GDP peaked at six percent in the late 1980s; in Afghanistan today, according to U.N. estimates, the opium industry accounts for 15 percent of the economy, a figure that is set to rise as the West withdraws. “Whatever the term narco state means, if there is a country to which it applies, it is Afghanistan,” says Vanda Felbab-Brown, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who studies illicit economies in conflict zones. “It is unprecedented in history.”

Even more shocking is the fact that the Afghan narcotics trade has gotten undeniably worse since the U.S.-led invasion: The country produces twice as much opium as it did in 2000. How did all those poppy fields flower under the nose of one of the biggest international military and development missions of our time? The answer lies partly in the deeply cynical bargains struck by former Afghan President Hamid Karzai in his bid to consolidate power, and partly in the way the U.S. military ignored the corruption of its allies in taking on the Taliban. It’s the story of how, in pursuit of the War on Terror, we lost the War on Drugs in Afghanistan by allying with many of the same people who turned the country into the world’s biggest source of heroin.’

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How Every Part of American Life Became a Police Matter

Chase Madar writes for Tom Dispatch:

‘If all you’ve got is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail. And if police and prosecutors are your only tool, sooner or later everything and everyone will be treated as criminal. This is increasingly the American way of life, a path that involves “solving” social problems (and even some non-problems) by throwing cops at them, with generally disastrous results. Wall-to-wall criminal law encroaches ever more on everyday life as police power is applied in ways that would have been unthinkable just a generation ago.

By now, the militarization of the police has advanced to the point where “the War on Crime” and “the War on Drugs” are no longer metaphors but bland understatements. There is the proliferation of heavily armed SWAT teams, even in small towns; the use of shock-and-awe tactics to bust small-time bookies; the no-knock raids to recover trace amounts of drugs that often result in the killing of family dogs, if not family members; and in communities where drug treatment programs once were key, the waging of a drug version of counterinsurgency war. (All of this is ably reported on journalist Radley Balko’s blog and in his book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop.) But American over-policing involves far more than the widely reported up-armoring of your local precinct. It’s also the way police power has entered the DNA of social policy, turning just about every sphere of American life into a police matter.’

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Are Mexico’s Missing Students the Victims of US-Backed Drug War? Interview with John Gibler and Laura Carlsen

‘Amidst outrage in Mexico over the disappearance of 43 students, we look at the U.S. role in the country’s violence. According to the Center for International Policy, the United States has spent approximately $3 billion to fund the so-called war on drugs in Mexico. Since the war on drugs began under President Felipe Calderón in 2006, more than 100,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence. That includes $2.4 billion in taxpayer funds through the Merida Initiative, launched as a three-year aid program for Mexican security forces under the administration of George W. Bush. The Obama administration has extended the Merida Initiative “indefinitely.” We are joined by Laura Carlsen, director of the Mexico City-based Americas Policy Program of the Center for International Policy, and journalist John Gibler.’ (Democracy Now!)

Direct Democracy: U.S. voters decide on legal marijuana, fracking, GMO labeling

Federal Agencies Just Doing Whatever They Want Now

Lucy Steigerwald writes for Antiwar:

‘[…] As great as Edward Snowden’s leaks were for shedding light on the abuses of power within the NSA – and for actually getting them into the damn media for months at a time! – the problem of intelligence and federal law enforcement agencies doing whatever the hell they want dates back to the dawn of law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

This week, Techdirt pointed to a shiny new book by Michael Glennon which details the extent to which unelected bureaucrats are more in charge than the officials we elect every four or six years. The book is called National Security and Double Government, which is not an encouraging title at all. Glennon, who has plenty of non-tinfoil-hat-chops, is echoing comments by folks like John Kerry who say some of these spy apparatuses are “on autopilot.” Obama, too, may be purely Captain Renault shocked – shocked! – about the gambling going on, but a more frightening proposition than that is if the NSA really is handling its own accountability without even presidential oversight.’

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White people are more likely to deal drugs, but black people are more likely to get arrested for it

Christopher Ingraham reports for The Washington Post:

30_war_on_drugs_fig‘Here’s a pretty astonishing chart on the skyrocketing number of arrests of black Americans for nonviolent drug crimes. Brookings’ Jonathan Rothwell lays it out:

Arrest data show a striking trend: arrests of blacks have fallen for violent and property crimes, but soared for drug related crimes. As of 2011, drug crimes comprised 14 percent of all arrests and a miscellaneous category that includes “drug paraphernalia” possession comprised an additional 31 percent of all arrests. Just 6 percent and 14 percent of arrests were for violent and property crimes, respectively.

Even more surprising is what gets left out of the chart: Blacks are far more likely to be arrested for selling or possessing drugs than whites, even though whites use drugs at the same rate. And whites are actually morelikely to sell drugs,’

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Surprise: U.S. Drug War In Afghanistan Not Going Well

Ryan Devereaux writes for The Intercept:

‘A new report has found the war on drugs in Afghanistan remains colossally expensive, largely ineffective and likely to get worse. This is particularly true in the case of opium production, says the U.S. Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

In a damning report released Tuesday, the special inspector general, Justin F. Sopko, writes that “despite spending over $7 billion to combat opium poppy cultivation and to develop the Afghan government’s counternarcotics capacity, opium poppy cultivation levels in Afghanistan hit an all-time high in 2013,” hitting 209,000 hectares, surpassing the prior, 2007 peak of 193,000 hectares. Sopko adds that the number should continue to rise thanks to deteriorating security in rural Afghanistan and weak eradication efforts.’

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Citing Failed War on Drugs, World Leaders Call for Widespread Decriminalization

Deirdre Fulton reported last month for Common Dreams:

‘In the face of a failed War on Drugs, a global commission composed mostly of former world leaders recommended that governments decriminalize and regulate the use of currently illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and psychedelics.

“The international drug regime is broken,” reads the report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy, whose members include former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan; former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz; former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada and former high commissioner for human rights at the UN Louise Arbour; and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, as well as the former presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Portugal.  “[O]verwhelming evidence points to not just the failure of the regime to attain its stated goals but also the horrific unintended consequences of punitive and prohibitionist laws and policies.”

Punitive drug law enforcement has done nothing to decrease global drug use, the Commission says in “Taking Control: Pathways to Drug Policies that Work” (pdf). Instead, such policies have fueled crime, maximized health risks, undermined human rights, and fostered discrimination — all while wasting tens of billions of dollars.’

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Mexico’s Drug War is Killing Children

Laura Carlsen writes for The Guardian:

‘Many countries prohibit deploying their military for domestic law enforcement: it’s a recipe for violent authoritarian abuse.

But the Obama administration’s prohibitionist drug war is funding and encouraging abuse and brutal, corrupt, mass-grave-level murders throughout Mexico and Central America – enough that even drug-war apologists admit that the appalling increase in human-rights abuses are a result of sending the military and police into communities in the name of anti-trafficking.

In just nine years, the drug war waged by the US and Mexico has created a climate of violence that has claimed more than 100,000 lives throughout the country, many young people – including two horrific massacres and a mass disappearance in the last six months connected to law enforcement nominally tasked with battling the spread of drugs.’

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“Kill the Messenger” Resurrects Gary Webb, Journalist Maligned for Exposing CIA Ties to Crack Trade

‘The new Hollywood film “Kill The Messenger” tells the story of Gary Webb, one of the most maligned figures in investigative journalism. Webb’s explosive 1996 investigative series “Dark Alliance” for the San Jose Mercury News revealed ties between the CIA, Nicaraguan contras and the crack cocaine trade ravaging African-American communities. The exposé provoked protests and congressional hearings, as well as a fierce reaction from the media establishment, which went to great lengths to discredit Webb’s reporting. We revisit Webb’s story with an extended clip from the documentary “Shadows of Liberty,” and speak with Robert Parry, a veteran investigative journalist who advised Webb before he published the series.’ (Democracy Now!)

Managing a Nightmare: The CIA Reveals How It Watched Over the Destruction of Gary Webb

Ryan Devereaux writes for The Intercept:

dark_alliance_540‘Eighteen years after it was published, “Dark Alliance,” the San Jose Mercury News’s bombshell investigation into links between the cocaine trade, Nicaragua’s Contra rebels, and African American neighborhoods in California, remains one of the most explosive and controversial exposés in American journalism.

The 20,000-word series enraged black communities, prompted Congressional hearings, and became one of the first major national security stories in history to blow up online. It also sparked an aggressive backlash from the nation’s most powerful media outlets, which devoted considerable resources to discredit author Gary Webb’s reporting. Their efforts succeeded, costing Webb his career. On December 10, 2004, the journalist was found dead in his apartment, having ended his eight-year downfall with two .38-caliber bullets to the head.

These days, Webb is being cast in a more sympathetic light. He’s portrayed heroically in a major motion picture set to premiere nationwide next month. And documents newly released by the CIA provide fresh context to the “Dark Alliance” saga — information that paints an ugly portrait of the mainstream media at the time.

On September 18, the agency released a trove of documents spanning three decades of secret government operations. Culled from the agency’s in-house journal, Studies in Intelligence, the materials include a previously unreleased six-page article titled “Managing a Nightmare: CIA Public Affairs and the Drug Conspiracy Story.” Looking back on the weeks immediately following the publication of “Dark Alliance,” the document offers a unique window into the CIA’s internal reaction to what it called “a genuine public relations crisis” while revealing just how little the agency ultimately had to do to swiftly extinguish the public outcry. Thanks in part to what author Nicholas Dujmovic, a CIA Directorate of Intelligence staffer at the time of publication, describes as “a ground base of already productive relations with journalists,” the CIA’s Public Affairs officers watched with relief as the largest newspapers in the country rescued the agency from disaster, and, in the process, destroyed the reputation of an aggressive, award-winning reporter.’

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New BBC chief sued over claims HSBC laundered terrorists and drug cartels’ money

Alasdair Glennie reports for The Daily Mail:

‘The BBC’s chairman-elect is being sued over her involvement in the HSBC money-laundering scandal, it was revealed yesterday. Rona Fairhead, who is set to become the first woman to lead the corporation, had her appointment approved by MPs yesterday.

But hours after the Commons hearing it emerged the 53-year-old is facing a class action lawsuit by HSBC shareholders over allegations the bank allowed terrorists and Mexican drug cartels to launder money.

Mrs Fairhead chaired the bank’s ‘risk committee’ in 2012, when it was fined £1.2billion by US authorities to settle allegations that it allowed drug traffickers to launder millions of pounds. The bank was also accused of breaching sanctions against Cuba, Iran, Libya, Burma and Zimbabwe.’

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Immigrant America: Murder and Migration in Honduras

‘Last summer, Americans were stunned by images of children and families from Central America turning themselves in at the US-Mexico border. More migrants are now coming from the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula and surrounding areas than anywhere else in Central America. The society there has yet to recover from a 2009 coup that crippled the economy and unleashed extreme levels of violence and inequality… VICE News traveled to San Pedro Sula — the most violent and second largest city in Honduras — to find out why so many families and young people are risking it all to migrate illegally to the US.’ (VICE News)

Report: Torture in Mexico rose 600 percent during past decade

Kate Kilpatrick reports for Al Jazeera:

‘According to the report, use of torture by Mexican police and military is widespread, with a 600 percent rise in the number of reported cases over the past decade. Yet despite the huge increase in incidents, there is little being done to combat it or, in fact, discourage it.

“Torture is so widespread in Mexico and sort of expected as an investigative technique,” said Maureen Meyer, the Washington Office of Latin America associate for Mexico and Central America.

Meyer authored a 2010 report on human rights violations committed by the military in Mexico, with a focus on Ciudad Juárez, where cartel violence combined with federal militarization made it the deadliest city in the world from 2008 to 2010. “It’s not sanctioned. It’s not necessarily a state policy to torture but in fact it’s very much permissive and the torturers are never investigated,” she said.’

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Mexico Turns to Army, Drones for Security

From The Associated Press:

‘The Mexican government say it is increasingly using the army and drones in security patrols, reducing the role of Marine forces. In an annual report on the state of the nation submitted to Congress Monday, President Enrique Pena Nieto’s administration said army patrols had increased 52.2 percent in the nine months ending in July compared with the same period the year before.

The number of marine patrols decreased 28.3 percent in the same period. The marines have made some of the biggest arrests of major drug lords. The government also gave a detailed accounting of its use of drones, saying it had flown 149 drone missions with over 581 hours of flying time. The report said homicides, especially those relating to organized crime, had dropped over the last year.’

SOURCE

How companies are profiting from police crackdowns

Alex Kane writes for AlterNet:

Ferguson is big business: How companies are profiting from police crackdowns‘The tear-gas, rubber bullets and smoke bombs fired in Ferguson, Missouri have fed outrage over police militarization in the U.S. In response to the shocking images, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill said, “We need to de-militarize this situation.” Journalists reporting live on the demonstrations sparked by the police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown expressed befuddlement as to why the police needed high-caliber weapons better suited for war zones than protests in an American city.

But one group of people is decidedly happy about the militarized response in Ferguson: those who work in the weapons industry. The array of police forces–the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the St. Louis county and city police and local Ferguson officers–that descended on the largely black Missouri city have used the products these corporations are selling in abundance. Tear gas, rubber bullets, smoke bombs, stun grenades, armored personnel carriers, sound cannons and high-caliber rifles have all been deployed to quell the unrest, though they have contributed to anger over police tactics.

The police response is the perfect showcase for the companies that manufacture military equipment for law enforcement use. They can point to the police tactics to sell their products to other law enforcement agencies preparing for demonstrations. And in Missouri, the police’s massive use of armaments like tear gas mean that their stock is becoming depleted and they will need to re-up their purchases. These companies will profit from the tension in Ferguson, and could fuel even greater militarization of the police, a trend that began with the war on drugs and has accelerated in recent years with the advent of the war on terror.’

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Congress Members Who Approve Militarization of U.S. Police Receive 73% More Money from Defense Industry

From Washington’s Blog:

‘Americans of all stripes oppose the militarization of U.S. police forces.

For example:

  • A new Pew research poll shows that a plurality of people think that the police have gone too far in Ferguson, Missouri

So why does Congress continue to approve militarization? For the same reason that Congress members vote for NSA spying on Americans and go easy on Wall Street criminals: money.’

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Is Police Militarization A Distraction From Understanding Ferguson?

Warrior cops on steroids: How post-9/11 hysteria created a policing monster

Heather Parton writes for Salon:

Warrior cops on steroids: How post-9/11 hysteria created a policing monster‘Sometime after 9/11 strange stories began to emerge about small town police agencies all over the nation receiving grants from the newly formed Department of Homeland Security to buy all kinds of high-tech equipment to fight “terrorism.”

…As Radley Balko thoroughly documented in his book “Warrior Cop” the military industrial complex has created a new industry: the police industrial complex. And it’s been quietly militarizing our police agencies for quite a long time. Indeed, he traces this trend back to the early 1980s under the freedom- and liberty-loving Ronald Reagan. The Gipper deemed the drug war to be a real war and easily passed the Military Cooperation With Civilian Law Enforcement Act, “which allowed and encouraged the military to give local, state, and federal police access to military bases, research, and equipment.” The police got training from the armed forces to use their new war-making equipment and the military became involved with intelligence and operations in the drug war. Every president since then, including the current one, has reauthorized the program, putting more and more money on the table. Balko wrote, “Then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney declared in 1989, ‘The detection and countering of the production, trafficking and use of illegal drugs is a high priority national security mission of the Department of Defense.’”

So this really isn’t a new thing. But it’s been on steroids since 9/11 with the creation of the new Department of Homeland Security. Needless to say, that was just the tip of the iceberg. Since 9/11 the United States has been spending vast sums of money through DHS to outfit the state and local authorities with surveillance and military gear ostensibly to fight the terrorist threat at home.’

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Keeping count of Mexico’s missing

Emily Pickrell reports for The Christian Science Monitor:

‘One of the startling unknowns in the story of Mexico’s recent wave of violence is just how many people can be counted among its disappeared.

An estimated 14,000 to 45,000 people disappeared in Mexico between 2006 and 2012. That’s a big discrepancy, and depends on whether you’re looking at recently revised government statistics or numbers compiled by human rights groups.

But Mexico’s disappearances – a country that isn’t officially at war or suffering a dictatorship – rival the numbers of missing from notable conflicts around the region. Roughly 30,000 people disappeared under Argentina’s military dictatorship in the 1970s and ’80s, and the more recent estimates of 30,000 disappeared in Colombia’s decades-long internal conflict.’

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