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| 2/17/2010 12:00:00 AM

Patience and peril: filming Colombia's drugs trade

Feb 17--Matthew Bristow tells of long waits, dangerous journeys and ruthless characters encountered chronicling cocaine industry.

When Matthew Bristow began chronicling the Colombian drugs trade, he was a freelance journalist fitting in trips to the jungle between paid assignments. Equipped with a Sony Z1, a small but broadcast-quality video camera often used by documentary makers, plus – just as importantly – a lot of patience, he aimed to make a film showing leaf-to-nose the cocaine chain that starts in the Andean jungle and ends in European or North American nostrils.

That film was never made; Bristow ran out of cash. What he did make – in two years and for, he estimates, between $5,000 and $10,000 (£6,400) – is a series of films on the Colombian end of the operation. The growing of the coca plant, the jungle labs where coca paste is refined to cocaine, and the river ports from where kilo packs hidden in speed boats are taken along the Pacific coast to Mexico or out into the Caribbean. Ever-present are the guerrillas, members of groups such as Farc (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), who exercise control over the coca lands and profit from the trade. 

Read more here.
 
Semana International delivers news about Colombia in English. Find more in our home.
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