The Limited Times

Now you can see non-English news...

Getting closer to the underworld


Jon Lee Anderson, dean of journalists, confirms, with three investigations by regional reporters, that the press is still capable of exposing the worst plots of crime and violence.



, horror has been naturalized.


criminal gangs

have taken control of territories and traffic in weapons, cocaine and non-renewable resources.

Even in this context, it is surprising that the pages written by

Ronna Rísquez

(focused on

El Tren de Aragua

) are the product of a

journalistic investigation

and not of a novel.

It is hard for her to believe that there are eight prisons under the total control of their



That that

prison, self-managed by criminals

, have a zoo, swimming pools and ATMs, managed by prisoners.

And that, from one of those eight prisons, called Tocorón, a mega gang has escalated that became a global criminal business, from Chile to Mexico.

And that in Venezuela this is publicly known and absolutely nothing happens.

This is how the journalist and editor

Sergio Dahbar

, creator of Sunday supplements for various media, prefaces the shocking book of the Venezuelan.

And that book is only the first.

On stage, Jon Lee Anderson talks with Ronna Rísquez, Bruno Paes Manso and Óscar Martínez, about the three journalistic investigations that Latin American journalists have recently published.

Jon Lee Anderson

, dean of journalists, seems to be a person of faith first and foremost.

This is intuited after his dialogue with the Venezuelan Ronna Rísquez and his peers the Portuguese

Bruno Paes Manso

, author of

Republic of militias

, and the Salvadoran

Oscar Martínez

, who wrote

El niño de Hollywood


Los muertos y el journalista

, during the cycle

Hay Cartagena festival

this summer, which brought together 180 guests, 40,000 attendees and

a million users

who followed the meetings from different parts of Latin America.

“The three comrades present here have written books, assuming as reporters, one of the most difficult and dangerous tasks that can be done in Latin America:

getting closer to the underworld

,” Anderson opened.

The names of the crime

“In each country there is a different name for the criminal groups that are organized around drug


, human


, territorial control, etc.

In Brazil,

police groups

that are themselves criminal in nature are known as



In Venezuela, those who control crime from prison are called


, and in El Salvador gangs are known as



When Jon Lee Anderson began touring the region, there were no cartels, cliques, militias, or pranes.

Those were Cold War


and there was talk of “

insurgent, rebellious and Marxist-oriented

organizations that fought for the sake of a supposedly better world,” he recalled.

After the collapse of socialism and the triumph of capitalism 30 years ago, these groups mutated their ideals: "They are no longer climbing the mountain to be like Che, but to acquire money, territory, population control and -in


cases- each time a little more – to dispute the terrain of souls and minds with the governments of the day that, although they are elected democratically


we also know that, unfortunately, they have not materialized as many of us would have wanted or expected”.

Regarding Ronna Rísquez's book, Anderson considered that

El Tren de Aragua “is a


book to read


You explain in your text that, if this were a real train, the prison would function as a kind of terminal for a train network that runs throughout Latin America, even to Central America, the United States and Chile, ”she spoke with the Venezuelan.

“Between 2014 and the present, very little time has elapsed from the birth of this network to its

expansion across the continent


The prison is managed by the pran, the name given to the head of a prison.

The pran is the one who makes all the decisions, including those that should be taken by the authorities outside the prison.

Thanks to the pran, the prisoners move on motorcycles inside the prison and carry weapons.

There are no State officials inside the prison, and absolute control belongs to the prisoners,” explained Ronna Rísquez.


, food and even liquor stores.

A zoo, a

baseball field with

almost professional artificial turf, a gym, restaurants,


apartments and other services are located in this prison, which is self-managed by the prisoners.

A State subjected

“Both the police and the authorities are outside and work for the pran,


to their orders and decisions.

When they realized they were in

complete control of the prison

, they began to control localities.

Then, they bet outside of Venezuela: Chile, Colombia (especially Bogotá and northern Santander), Peru and Ecuador, on the border between Venezuela and Brazil also operate with more force”, the journalist added.

The Brazilian

Bruno Paes Manso

"has written a book that is de rigueur reading in Brazil," said Jon Lee Anderson regarding Republic of militias.

“It addresses the formation, evolution and current events of the so-called militias in Brazil, especially in Rio de Janeiro.

We all know corrupt police officers in many Latin American countries.

In Brazil, these militias that

are born from the police

have become entrenched and have become, in turn, criminal organizations that dispute territorial control”, pointed out the teacher from the

Gabo Foundation


The Tren de Aragua, the most dangerous band in Venezuela, arrived in Chile

“The phenomenon of the militias emerges from the

history of drug trafficking

in our continent.

In Brazil, it is a problem that is more than 40 years old, from the time when drugs began to be exported throughout the world in Medellín, becoming an important sales

and trafficking corridor

, ”said Paes Manso, who has a PhD in Science Politics from the University of São Paulo.

Brazil is currently the

second largest coca consumer market

in Latin America.

"As a consequence, jobs began to assume the informality of the world of crime, with the militias being a kind of criminal governments, which emerged as

an important

and very lucrative way of survival," added the journalist.

If at first these militias seemed like self-defense groups, it didn't take long for them to dominate the sale of drugs and

ally themselves with drug trafficking


“In Rio de Janeiro, 50% of the territory is controlled by militias.

Another 25% is controlled by drug trafficking”.

Paes Manso's book focuses on the figure of

Adriano Magalhães da Nóbrega

, a policeman who participated in the special police forces of Rio.

But crime turned out to be more profitable for him.

“Magalhães da Nóbrega dedicated himself to crime because he had no future within the police;

This is how he became one of the biggest criminals in Brazil.

In addition to having allies in the underground gaming world, he had a desk of hit men and assassinated the enemies of the mafias in games for assignments.

In addition, he had

alliances with numerous militias


He is suspected of being one of the organizers of the assassination of left-wing councilwoman

Marielle Franco


In addition, he worked in the political desk of

Jair Bolsonaro

and his son.

The book is called Republic of militias because, after the new republic and 30 years of democracy, the system entered into a crisis”, closed the author.

Adriano Magalhães da Nóbrega is suspected of being one of the organizers of the assassination of left-wing councilor Marielle Franco.

Jon Lee Anderson linked that Brazilian republic of militias and the Venezuelan one of pranes with the situation in El Salvador.

Óscar Martínez, editor-in-chief of, recalled that in his country the largest criminal organizations are



“The most famous is the

Mara Salvatrucha

, which Donald Trump recently made famous after the murders on Long Island, using it as a workhorse to get into the ring with an enemy that he was obviously going to defeat, ”said the reporter.

Óscar Martínez put numbers to the Salvadoran reality: 21,000 square meters of surface area, 6.5 million inhabitants and 2.5 million in the US and

70,000 active gang members


“The gangs are a legacy of the Central American civil war,” the reporter advanced.

Not an ideological legacy, but a legacy of abandonment.

For 12 years, in El Salvador we killed each other in a barbaric way, with all the

Latin American learning of the barbarism of Argentina

, going through the repressions of South American and Central American countries, with an extremely violent army that repressed a population that wanted a little more oxygen to live”.

During the

12-year war

, tens of thousands of young Central Americans left the region to search for a place to live in peace.

And most of those people came to southern


, in the United States.

What they found there were

extremely violent

ghettos .

Gang members from Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 stand together in formation today, the maximum security penal center in Izalco (El Salvador).

EFE/ Rodrigo Sura

“In California

there were 64

black, supremacist, Asian gangs, among others.

In a kind of allergic reaction, these boys who had fled from a violent country organized themselves and thus the Mara Salvatrucha was born, as a way of defending themselves from the environment”, added Óscar Martínez.

These young people were


to El Salvador and for the journalist “this is the most lethal injection that the United States could put into our Central American bodies.

We received 4,000

deported gang members, when there were not even public institutions in the country,” the journalist recalled.

Thus, these boys, sons of a poor farmer, grandchildren of a poor farmer, great-grandchildren of a poor farmer, found in the gang “a way of renaming themselves and inhabiting the world in a different way.

A violent, murderous way

, but instead of being Miguel Ángel Tovar you can be El niño de Hollywood, have a weapon, the respect of the people”.

© El papel literary, literary supplement of the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional.

The Aragua Train

Ronna Rísquez Dahbar

266 pp.

The Aragua Train, by Ronna Rísquez (Dahbar).

A Republic of militias

Bruno Paes Manso


298 pages.

A Republic of militias, by Bruno Paes Manso (Still).

The Hollywood boy

Óscar Martínez

Grupo Editorial México

272 pages.

El niño de Hollywood, by Óscar Martínez (Grupo Editorial México).

look too

Jon Lee Anderson, the man who best told Che Guevara and made dictators uncomfortable

look too

Marty Baron: "Journalism has the obligation to seek, find and publish the truth"

look too

Malvinas today: wealth, nationalism and sexual abuse

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-03-25

You may like

Life/Entertain 2023-03-20T10:50:40.943Z

Trends 24h

News/Politics 2023-05-28T10:41:48.739Z
News/Politics 2023-05-28T13:21:28.260Z


© Communities 2019 - Privacy

The information on this site is from external sources that are not under our control.
The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.