In Drugs and War: A Harrowing Look at Real-Life Dystopia in Rio

The other night, I watched an episode of Nightline so harrowing, I was shaken and stirred long after broadcast ended.

(AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

In the valley, Rio de Janiero, Brazil is famous for beautiful beaches, booties, and people, but perched among its hills are favelas that run rampant with crime, gangs, questionable police forces, and drugs.  ABC’s Nightline hosted a special called War for Paradise: Inside Rio’s Violent Drug Gangs.  The show displayed the tensions between police forces, drug dealers, and gangs, but the more shock-inducing moments came when the cameras entered crack houses and captured addicts -some skeletal in body frame- smoking the drug in foil-covered plastic cups.  Eerily, the cups reminded me of the apple juice containers served in grade school and hospital cafeterias.  In relation, some addicts resembled incurable patients, weakened like terminally sick children, as they inhaled crack smoke from a hole in the top of their cups.  Whilst getting high, the sought-after drug-induced euphoria seemed to escape them.  All the while, they were oblivious to the cameras capturing their every downward-spiraling move.

On the streets of a favela, a fourteen-year-old boy asked host, Dan Harris, for money to buy crack.  Harris refused a handout to the teen who later shared that he began using crack at age of ten.

There are several moments in the broadcast that just blew my mind: women shot down by the police and left to die, cocaine packaged, color-coded, and sold out of boxes like sale items at a bargain shop, and an interview with a drug kingpin who has a sly sense of humor.

War for Paradise is highly informative. captivating, revealing, and consequentially appalling in what the cameras capture about conflict and drugs in Rio.  Thus, I can easily state that this Nightline special is one of the best pieces of investigative journalism ever produced.

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