In 2001, Portugal passed Law 20/3000, which eliminated criminal charges for possession and usage of all illicit drugs. The decriminalization of drugs in Portugal does not mean that drugs are legal; rather, it means that drug usage and possession no longer automatically result in criminal actions.

An important component of Portugal’s drug policy is the distinction between recreational and addicted drug users. Those who are using a drug recreationally are fined, while those identified as drug addicts are offered enrollment in a government-funded treatment program. Another vital distinction in the decriminalization of drugs in Portugal is that drug dealers are still subject to criminal charges. The distinction between drug dealers and personal users is determined by supply at the time of apprehension. Those with less than a 10-day supply of drugs are subject to a fine and treatment program but not jail time.

The decriminalization of drugs in Portugal arose primarily as a response to the country’s heroin epidemic in the 1990s. At the time, nearly 1 percent of the country’s population was addicted to heroin, one of the worst drug epidemics globally. In the 15 years since decriminalization, the results have been generally positive. Drug-related HIV infections have been reduced by 95 percent, and Portugal’s drug-induced mortality rate is five times lower than the European Union average.

Fifteen years after its introduction, the success of decriminalization of drugs in Portugal is a great and somewhat unexpected accomplishment. Drug usage has not increased, though the rates of illicit drug use have mostly remained unchanged in the last 15 years. Furthermore, the number of individuals enrolled in voluntary drug treatment programs has increased by 60 percent. Treatments are developed with a holistic understanding of addiction, with options such as access to mobile methadone clinics and non-12-step treatment programs.

The logic behind the decision for the decriminalization of drugs in Portugal was that jailing drug users did not lead to a reduction in drug use and further removed individuals from society, exacerbating issues like isolation and poverty that lead to drug usage and addiction. Drug addiction is a challenge faced in many countries across the globe, and it frequently affects those in poverty or drives individuals into poverty. The decriminalization of drugs in Portugal has shifted the treatment of drug addiction from a criminal issue to a health issue, focusing on social determinants and mental health. This alternative approach to the War on Drugs has proved successful for Portugal so far and could serve as a model for other countries to follow.

Nicole Toomey

Photo: Flickr


It has long been known that drug addiction is often linked to poverty, but the specific influences are difficult to measure. An increasing number of countries are trying a novel approach to increasing the health of their citizens: by treating drug use as a mental health issue, not a crime. Recent statistics indicate that drug decriminalization makes people healthier.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, there is evidence that treating drug use as a crime does not result in fewer drug addicts. In fact, the opposite has been the case. In July 2001, Portugal enacted a national law explicitly decriminalizing the use of all drugs, even cocaine and heroin.

Though controversial, in the years since, drug use has actually decreased significantly across multiple age groups in several categories. Portugal’s rate of drug use is now among the lowest in the EU, and the drug-induced fatality rate has dropped to five times lower than average.

It is important to note the key difference between decriminalization and legalization, however. Using drugs is still prohibited in Portugal, as is drug trafficking and providing drugs to minors. The aim of the law was to transform public interpretation of personal drug use from a stigmatized crime to a public health issue.

“We are dealing with a chronic relapsing disease, and this is a disease like any other. I do not put a diabetic in jail, for instance,” said João Goulão, physician and National Drug Coordinator for Portugal.

The impact of this policy on global health boils down to economics. When comparing the cost of jail time to the cost of rehabilitation, it becomes clear that decriminalization makes people healthier. The city of Lisbon has experienced a 75 percent reduction in drug cases since the 1990s, and the rate of HIV infections nationwide since decriminalization took effect has dropped by over 80 percent.

“It’s cheaper to treat people than to incarcerate them,” sociologist Nuno Capaz told NPR earlier this month. “If I come across someone who wants my help, I’m in a much better position to provide it than a judge would ever be.”

Portugal’s policy has broken ground for similar experiments to be conducted in other countries. Canadian politicians have gone on record earlier this year in support of drug decriminalization, and Costa Rica has been working since 2014 on a version of a decriminalization bill that will be approved.

The proof that drug decriminalization makes people healthier has long-reaching implications, particularly in the U.S. where the incarceration rate is the highest in the world, and 80 percent of drug arrests are for possession only.

Dan Krajewski

Photo: Flickr


Antimicrobial resistance has been steadily increasing over the years and is nearing crisis levels. Although much resistance is due to patients in nations like the United States demanding antibiotics for diseases like the cold that are often caused by viruses, antimicrobial resistance is also on the rise in developing nations. The priority of these drug-resistant superbugs was determined by a number of criteria including mortality, burden, the prevalence of resistance, the trend of resistance, transmissibility, treatability and preventability.

Because there are already concerted efforts to combat drug-resistant tuberculosis and malaria, they are not part of the dirty dozen list of drug-resistant superbugs. Here are a few of the priority pathogens that affect the developing world:

    1. CampylobacterCampylobacter is the most common cause of bacterial gastroenteritis worldwide. In developing countries, infections are seasonal. One of the major risk factors is exposure to contaminated drinking water.
    2. Salmonella – Salmonella is one of four major causes of diarrheal disease. Although most cases are mild, some can be life-threatening, especially in young children. Treatment with electrolyte replacement is usually sufficient, but for more vulnerable populations antibiotics may be warranted. With the rise in drug resistance, guidelines need to be reviewed regularly to ensure the most effective treatment remains first-line.
    3. Gonorrhea – Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that causes vaginal pain or discharge in women. It is often asymptomatic in men but can cause a burning sensation on urination and testicular pain. Left untreated, it can lead to serious complications like infertility and sterility. In rare cases, the infection can become life-threatening if it invades the bloodstream or joints. With the rise of antimicrobial resistance, serious cases of gonorrhea could become more common.
    4. ShigellaShigella is the most common cause of dysentery or bloody diarrhea. Bloody diarrhea is often the result of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), one of the complications associated with shigella. HUS develops when the bacteria produces a red blood cell-destroying toxin. Like gonorrhea, a Shigella infection can become especially problematic if it spreads to the joints or bloodstream.

Also featured on WHO’s list were: acinetobacter, pseudomonas, enterobacteria, Enterococcus faecium, H. pylori, Staphylococcus aureus, streptococcus pneumonia and Haemophilus influenza. Without swift and effective intervention, the dirty dozen drug-resistant superbugs could devastate communities all over the world. In the words of the WHO director-general, “The emergence and spread of drug-resistant pathogens have accelerated. The trends are clear and ominous. No action today means no cure tomorrow.”

Rebecca Yu

Photo: Flickr

10 Disturbing and Terrible Facts About Mexican Drug Cartels
Continual and sensational news coverage of Mexican drug cartels may have desensitized people to the realities and sources of the violence. It is easy to forget how long the crisis imposed by the cartel has gone on and how far it is from over. To place the issue back into perspective, discussed below are 10 facts about Mexican drug cartels and the ways through which the government has attempted to deal with them.

 

Mexican Drug Cartels: Facts and Figures

 

  1. In December of 2006, former Mexican president Felipe Calderon sent 6,500 troops into Michoacán to address the rampant gun battles, execution-style murders and police corruptions which cartel rivalry had unleashed on the community. In so doing, Calderon launched the Mexican war on drugs, a literal war which would involve more than 20,000 troops within the first two months.
  2. Since this war’s inception, 25 of the 37 drug traffickers on Calderon’s most wanted list have been jailed, more than 100,000 tons of cocaine decommissioned and almost 450,000 acres of marijuana plants destroyed, but the violent loss of life remains on the rise. Smuggling routes spread into previously peaceful areas as military involvement increased.
  3. The United States, as home to tens of millions of users, comprises the world’s largest drug market. In fact, in 2013 about 10 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 12 were recent users, and drug consumption remains on the rise. Mexican drug cartels are estimated to earn between 19 and 29 billion dollars annually from U.S. drug sales.
  4. As more of the United States decriminalizes marijuana, illegally-smuggled Mexican product cannot compete with the quality or price of U.S. production. Simultaneously, a prescription opioid epidemic across the U.S. has raised the demand for heroin. As a result, Mexican production of heroin rose by 170 percent between 2013 and 2015, while marijuana dealings have largely diminished.
  5. As part of the United States’ own war on drugs, the government has given at least $1.5 billion to support Mexico’s anti-drug efforts. Concerned critics believe this deluge of cash contributes to corruption in the Mexican military and among police on the frontlines.
  6. Ten years after the Mexican military was deployed to combat cartels, the nation’s top general, Salvador Cienfuegos, said the troops ought not to have been involved and were not trained to pursue criminals to begin with. On December 9, 2016, the Mexican defense secretary said troops surrogating for police was an insufficient, even damaging, solution.
  7. Violence surged across Mexico in 2016, with more than 17,000 homicides reported in the first 10 months. This is the highest death toll since 2012.
  8. Strategically, Mexico has waged its American-backed war by targeting the kingpins, assuming that annihilating cartel leadership would dissolve these criminal organizations. The recent rise in violence throughout Mexico suggests this approach is ineffective. For instance, since Sinaloa cartel chief Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was recaptured by authorities in January, the gang has splintered and multiplied.
  9. Mexico’s decade-long war on drugs has cost about 200,000 lives to date and left 28,000 missing. Reciprocal violence from cartels, police and soldiers has violated human rights and ravaged Mexican communities.
  10. A 2015 poll on the efficacy of Mexican institutions revealed that the police, the president’s office, politicians and political parties rank among the least trusted establishments in Mexico, in large part due to the reign of violent cartels, which has cost so many lives.

By demilitarizing the war on drugs and reestablishing faith in the government, Mexico can begin to heal. The DEA recently emphasized the importance of coupling strategies: the targeting of high-profile cartel members by law enforcement and the provision of community outreach programs to end the opioid epidemic in Mexico and the United States. Long-term solutions must integrate security with social services to pursue prosperity.

Robin Lee

Photo: Flickr

Opiate Addiction TreatmentOpioid addiction is an emerging epidemic. Traditionally, the most commonly abused opiate drugs were morphine and heroin. Today, the problem is complicated by the rising use of opiate painkillers, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.

While opiate pills are incredibly effective at managing pain in the short-term, usually after surgery or injury, they pose a serious risk of long-term dependence, abuse and overdose. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 15 million people worldwide are addicted to opiates and 69,000 die from overdose every year.

Because they affect the part of the brain responsible for respiratory regulation, a high dose of opiates can cause a person’s heart to stop beating. Even in the case of a non-fatal overdose, a prolonged lack of oxygen can still cause irreversible brain damage.

There are growing concerns within the global health community over the strong link between opiate painkillers and heroin use. In the 1960s, more than 80% of people following an opiate addiction treatment reported starting with heroin. Newer research from the early 2000s reveals that 75% of people receiving opiate addiction treatment reported starting with prescription opiate painkillers.

Naloxone, a powerful emergency drug that reverses the effects of overdose, is used worldwide to prevent death once an overdose occurs. In most countries, naloxone is only available to health professionals and emergency responders.

This means a person must receive immediate medical attention at the onset of overdose symptoms. However, the people most likely to witness overdose include friends and family members. WHO recommends that naloxone be made available to friends and family members as well as health care workers in order to increase people’s chances of surviving an overdose.

It’s important to note that preventing overdose does not in itself control opiate abuse. People also need to stabilize their health in order to control their addiction in the long run. Canada recently pioneered an experimental health policy with that intention. September’s amendment to the nation’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act will allow doctors to prescribe controlled amounts of heroin to addicts in order to stabilize their dependence.

The policy aims to achieve two main goals. First, by administering addicts a controlled amount of heroin under professional supervision, doctors hope to avoid the type of overdose wherein someone takes a lethal amount of an opiate substance at one time. Second, they hope that the provision of medically “clean” heroin will prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases through intravenous needle sharing.

Canada’s new policy reflects a global movement to rethink opiate addiction treatment. Whereas the traditional view on drug policy has been to incarcerate drug users, some countries are implementing legally-sanctioned alternatives.

For instance, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Spain, Denmark, Australia, and Canada have supervised injection centers where opiate addicts can get safe injection kits, information about addiction and overdose, treatment referrals and access to medical staff. Some centers also offer counseling and hygienic amenities, like toilets and showers.

What supervised injection centers and Canada’s new policy have in common is the belief that addiction is a disease before it is a crime, and should be treated as such. Thus, it becomes the responsibility of a country’s health care system and government to provide safe care.

But what would Canada’s new policy look like in a global context? To start, countries looking to implement a similar policy would need to have reliable health care infrastructure — that means sanitary medical facilities, trained health workers and strong security. Unfortunately, that rules out many low-income nations who don’t have the financial means to uphold such standards.

On the other hand, the United Nations predicts that drug use over the course of the next 35 years will have a disproportionately high effect on urban populations in developing nations. Finding new ways to manage addiction could help developing nations spend less money on prisons where addicts typically end up serving long sentences at the cost of the state.

Moreover, if intravenous drug use happens under medical supervision, then people in condensed urban communities would be less exposed to contaminated needles, illegal drug sales or other intoxicated people.

The amendment to Canada’s drug policy demonstrates how drug policy is changing worldwide. Opiate abuse is just one example of how trends in drug use are an important factor in policy reform.

Jessica Levitan
Photo: Flickr

Risk of Premature BirthSera Prognostics, a women’s health company based in Utah, recently developed a blood test that can determine a mother’s risk of premature birth. The test, known as PreTRM, can be administered as early as 19 weeks into the pregnancy.

While a normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, premature births happen at or before 37 weeks. Fifteen million babies around the world are born prematurely each year, and one million deaths occur from the resulting complications, demonstrating the immense risk of premature birth.

PreTRM tests for two proteins: IBP4, an insulin-like growth factor, and SHBG, a sex-hormone binding globulin. By searching for particular patterns within these proteins, a mother can know her percentage of risk for having a premature birth. Gregory C. Critchfield, the CEO of Sera Prognostics, said that about 50 percent of premature deliveries occur in women with no known risk factors. PreTRM can ensure such women are identified early on.

Premature birth is associated with a significantly increased risk of major long-term medical complications, such as learning disabilities, cerebral palsy and chronic respiratory illness, therefore identifying women at risk is key.

PreTRM underwent testing from 2011 to 2013 with 5,501 participants. Though the test currently costs $945 and is commercially available in the United States, Sera Prognostics is partnering up with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to produce a version for lower-income countries.

According to Critchfield, one goal of the product is to reduce the economic and healthcare burden of premature births on infants, their family and society. In the U.S. alone, the cost of treatment was more than $26 billion in 2005, according to March of Dimes. The financial struggle is even greater in low-income countries.

PreTRM has the potential to ease the financial burden of premature birth for low-income countries, as well as deliver new information regarding the proteins expressed in pregnancy, what causes preterm birth and what can be done to improve a newborn’s future health.

Anastazia Vanisko

Photo: The Independent

Counterfeit_Medicine
With medicine progressing as rapidly as it is, people in the developing world are gaining access to the treatment of basic diseases. This has promoted growth and increased innovation but some issues have come up, one such issue being the production of counterfeit medicine. These are hitting the shelves and leading to the deaths of individuals who don’t know that they aren’t ingesting the proper medicine.

The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene recently published a study identifying counterfeit malaria drugs as the cause of over 100,000 deaths in Africa in one year alone. More recently, in 2008, counterfeit teething medication was responsible for the death of 84 infants and toddlers whose parents were unaware that counterfeit drug makers had replaced a key chemical, propylene glycol, which is a medicinal solvent, with diethylene glycol, which is a solvent used in brake fluid. About 75 percent of the children who used this teething medication died. This was the breaking point for many individuals throughout Africa who were struggling to provide their families with the best medical care possible.

With the high cost of medications nowadays, it is no wonder that people would seek a cheaper option. However, there is often no way to tell if a medication is truly what it is advertised as or simply a placebo pill that will have no effect on any illness. Thankfully, innovator Bright Simons has developed a way for people to verify that the medicine they are purchasing is valid. Although it does have a few issues, it has proven to be very helpful so far.

Simons has developed a coding system called MPedigree, which allows customers to text a code that is printed on the label of their medication to a number and get an immediate response from the manufacturer that lets them know whether or not their medication is real. These labels are printed in China and India even though the system was developed in Ghana, as Ghana still faces issues with power outages and could, therefore, have unreliable printing sources. Today, the company has expanded to validate several goods from makeup to cables. Anything that is commonly counterfeited can be tracked using this system.

While the app has been successful so far, Simons ran into a few issues with counterfeiters copying numbers from genuine products and labeling fake products with the same number. Thankfully, this was caught and those who texted the code were notified of the counterfeit drugs in the system. After this point, HP agreed to take over the data portion of MPedigree and has saved Simons around $10 million, which he can now put toward funding other projects.

Medicine has created a world in which people no longer have to worry about death from drinking bad water or eating bad food. It has increased human lifespans drastically and will continue to do so as long as people are getting the right medicine for their ailments. By creating counterfeit drugs, people are essentially killing others by not giving them the medicine they need, and all for a small profit. This app, and the many that will come after it, will give people the opportunity to finally put their health in their own hands.

Sumita Tellakat

Sources: Bloomberg Businessweek, Mpedigree
Photo: Empire State Tribune

Poverty in Mexico
Even though much of Latin America has been able to significantly reduce poverty, the country of Mexico still struggles. Below are the leading facts about poverty in Mexico. Education about the problem of poverty in Mexico is crucial and will help us remedy the situation.

Top Facts about Poverty in Mexico

  1. Around half of the population lives in poverty; about 10 percent of people live in extreme poverty.
  2. The number of people in poverty has mainly been increasing since 2006, when 42.9 percent of people were below the national poverty line.
  3. Chiapas, Guerrero and Puebla are the states with the highest levels of poverty.
  4. Mexico has a sizable GDP of about $1.283 trillion. Even so, Mexico’s GDP per capita or per person is $14,000. This means that there is a sizable wealth gap in the country between rich and poor.
  5. More than 20 million children live in poverty with more than five million living in extreme poverty, according to Fusion, the United Nations Children’s Fund.
  6. About 25 million Mexicans make less than $14 a day and a quarter of the workforce is underemployed.
  7. The average salary in rural areas is 3 to 4 times less than that of urban areas in Mexico.
  8. Economic growth is commonly believed to decrease poverty. Mexico’s annual growth rate is somewhat small, around two to three percent. Additionally, this economic growth has mainly benefitted the rich.
  9. Drug wars are thought to perpetuate poverty in Mexico.
  10. Despite all of this, Mexico has decreased extreme poverty in the country by 20 to 25 percent since 1995. This is mainly because of social welfare programs that were enacted during economic crises.

Even though poverty in Mexico is a sizable issue, there are certain steps the country can take to help those in poverty. Mexico can focus on decreasing the wealth gap and ensuring that economic growth benefits the poor. Additionally, Mexico can take steps to prosecute drug cartels. This may be easier said than done, but with these things in mind, Mexico can decrease poverty in the country.

Ella Cady

Sources: World Bank, Huffington Post, IB Times, Poverties.org
Photo: PV

Healthcare

If you are already poor and lacking cash, how do you pay for medical treatment? The answer is that there is a sizable chance that you cannot. In the United States, the biggest cause of bankruptcy is healthcare expenditures; in other words, people cannot pay their medical bills. What does this mean for countries who are not as well off as the United States?

In a country such as the United States, which is a rich, industrialized nation, a large number of people cannot afford medical treatments in part because of the soaring medical care costs and in part due to the system in place. Part of the problem, both in America and abroad, is that without insurance the out-of-pocket costs for healthcare can be huge. Being confronted with a huge lump sum to be paid after a medical service or good is received is often incredibly stressful and hard for many people. It strains the financial resources of the immediate family and leaves them having to decide between basic necessities and medical care–a choice no one should ever need to make. This effect is inevitable for the impoverished. It is already hard enough to save any money at all, let alone have an emergency fund for medical expenditures.

Novartis attempted to launch a new model of distributing and financing business with poorer families in India to address many of the concerns with existing healthcare distribution and payment systems. For example, to decrease the burden of out-of-pocket healthcare costs, Novartis began to distribute over-the-counter drugs in daily or multi-day packs rather than in larger quantities. This may seem trivial, but it actually began to work and eventually even turned a profit for the company–proving it to be a sustainable model. It worked because it allowed the out-of-pocket costs to be spread over a longer period of time for those who needed the drugs over multiple days or weeks while allowing those who only had a temporary need to get a quantity that fit their need most directly (one or two pills versus a large pack that cost much more). This benefits the people not only financially, but also physically. By distributing in smaller amounts and for proportionately smaller costs, this increases the likelihood that a sick person would seek to obtain medical care, knowing that the costs would be lower for sicknesses requiring only one or two pills to treat.

The Novartis example still doesn’t quite answer the question of how the poor pay for the healthcare costs they incur. The answer is that in many cases the poor will pay costs out-of-pocket, and endure financial hardships to do so. Another, possibly even worse method is to sell assets or borrow money to pay for the costs of healthcare. A study that looked at low- and middle-income countries that accounted for over 3 billion people found that approximately 25% of households borrowed money or sold assets to cover healthcare costs. While paying out-of-pocket is bad, needing to sell household items or borrow money can lead to even greater financial hardships over a longer period, in many situations.

Many developing countries lack the proper health infrastructure to provide for their populations at a reasonable cost that the local populace can afford. Even some developed countries such as the United States have trouble with these issues. The industry of healthcare is a complicated problem that involves a twisted entanglement of economics and human well-being in its most literal form.

Martin Yim

Sources: CNBC, Reuters, Health Affairs
Photo: Marketing and Women

buenaventura_colombiaBuenaventura, Colombia, home to approximately 300,000 residents, has consistently been ranked one of Colombia’s (and South America’s) deadliest cities. It is home to the nation’s highest homicide rate at 144 murders per 100,000 people—more than seven times the rate of the nation’s capital, Bogota. In this seaside port town, fishermen and gang members have lived together in a fatal balance for years, contributing to the town’s notorious reputation. In recent months, however, the level of violence has exploded, leading many residents to leave the city in search of a safer life elsewhere.

Colombia has been described by some as a country with two faces: one face is the Colombia of the elite and wealthy, while the other is a Colombia marked by violence, gang lords and a vicious drug trade. Once considered too dangerous for visitors due to a brutal civil war between various factions of the government and paramilitary groups, which began in 1964, Colombia has since cleaned itself up, with major cities like Bogota and Medellin now considered hot-spots for tourism. Despite massive improvements that have benefitted the country in recent years, as of 2013 an astonishing 30.6 percent of the population was living below the poverty line, according to the World Bank. Colombia also remains the world’s largest cocaine producer, supplying 90 percent of the cocaine consumed in the United States.

Buenaventura, a port town located on the Pacific Coast, is a perfect example of the way in which these “two faces” can collide.

On the one hand, Buenaventura struggles with a legacy of violence that continues to characterize the culture of the city today. During the 1980s, the city was a battleground between leftist guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, or FARC, and right-wing paramilitary groups. When the FARC were driven out, paramilitary groups established themselves and began to engage in gang activity, helping to carve the city into rival gang territories and the port into an important regional focal point for the export of cocaine. According to a Human Rights Watch report, these groups have taken the lives of many Buenaventura residents, who are often dismembered in so-called “chop houses” for unwittingly crossing between gang territories.

On the other hand, due to its strategic location on the coast, Buenaventura has recently become the centerpiece of a government strategy to increase Colombian trade with Asian and Western countries on the Pacific, such as the United States, Chile, Mexico and Peru. To achieve this goal, the central government in Bogota has invested millions in development projects, such as the construction of a container port and industrial park, as well as the construction of a major waterfront development project that authorities hope will help attract tourism.

Residents, however, have argued that there is a link between the recent rise of violence in the city and the development projects. Locals, for instance, point to the fact that much of the violence has been concentrated in and has affected locals living in areas along the port. Residential habitation of the area obstructs government plans to turn the area into a tourist destination.

In response to protracted levels of violence in the town, which has recently received increased media attention, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos finally intervened last year, sending in an emergency infusion of cash as well as police officers from the capital.

According to Colonel Marcelo Russi, the police commander in Buenaventura, the added law enforcement has helped to dramatically reduce the murder rate and number of disappearances in the city. Alexander Micolta, the executive president of the Buenaventura Chamber of Commerce, however, has stated that not enough is being done to effectively eradicate violence from the city. “Here, everything that has to do with the port advances. But the city doesn’t advance,” Micolta said.

In order to save Buenaventura, it is evident that money invested in the city needs to be focused on protecting the people who actually live there instead of in efforts to attract foreign investment and tourist capital. Otherwise, the city’s long history of violence and gang activity will continue to perpetuate itself and invade every corner of the city once the police presence leaves. If that happens, then Colombia’s “two faces” will persist to rear their ugly heads in tandem in the country’s small, sea-side city of Buenaventura.

Ana Powell

Sources: New York Times 1, New York Times 2, World Bank
Photo: War on Want