Arc of Desperation

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At 10 a.m., young men on motorbikes start to arrive in front of a cockfighting arena in Las Claritas, a small village in the state of Bolívar in southeastern Venezuela. They mill around smoking cigarettes and playing cards. Their relaxed manner distracts one from the fact that nearly all of them are carrying weapons, handguns mainly, hidden under their t-shirts or tucked away in their sports pants. Mostly in their twenties, these youth belong to local gangs, called pranes, which control the region’s illegal gold mining operations.

Read my article for Earth Island Journal.

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