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Colombia : Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia’s prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces, prison authorities have joined them, while multiple government efforts to reform the system have failed.

The first explosions rang out shortly after the day’s visitors had left Bogota’s La Modelo prison on July 2, 2001. They were the opening shots of a battle that would rage inside for around 20 hours as Marxist guerrillas fought off an assault by right-wing paramilitaries, while the authorities watched, powerless to intervene.

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