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Welcome To 'Cracolandia,' São Paulo's Roving Drug Bazaar

A pulsing, hazy world comes to life every night in Brazil's largest city, as drug traffickers and users gather to buy, sell, barter, smoke. When police intervene, a new neighborhood is found.

An altercation with police in the 'Crackland' of Sao Paulo in February
An altercation with police in the "Crackland" of Sao Paulo in February
Danilo Verpa, Juliana Gragnani, Leandro Machado

SÃO PAULO — In "Cracolandia" (Crackland), in the Brazilian megalopolis of São Paulo, almost anything can be exchanged for drugs: a shower head, an empty rucksack, cachaça, headphones, radio-controlled cars, a lampshade. One boy walks around carrying a chair. He's hoping to barter it for crack. He stops outside a shack. A trafficker looks at him and makes a gesture indicating "no deal." A chair isn't worth a rock around here. A guy with a pair of sneakers has better luck. "Who wants a pair of Nikes? I've got a pair of Nikes," he shouts. Moments later he makes an exchange.

After a major police operation at the end of May, drug traffickers and users moved from the streets they used to occupy in central São Paulo to this area in Princess Isabel square. It's about 400 meters from the previous Crackland, which São Paulo's mayor, João Doria, described as an "open-air shopping mall for drugs." The new Crackland is already growing unremittingly, with an almost exclusively male population that can reach up to 1,000 people, depending on the time of day. And so on June 11, police again intervened.

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Ideas

García Márquez And Truth: How Journalism Fed The Novelist's Fantasy

In his early journalistic writings, the Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez showed he had an eye for factual details, in which he found the absurdity and 'magic' that would in time be the stuff and style of his fiction.

Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez reads his book

J. D. Torres Duarte

BOGOTÁ — In short stories written in the 1940s and early 50s and later compiled in Eyes of a Blue Dog, the late Gabriel García Márquez, Colombia's Nobel Prize-winning novelist, shows he is as yet a young writer, with a style and subjects that can be atypical.

Stylistically, García Márquez came into his own in the celebrated One Hundred Years of Solitude. Until then both his style and substance took an erratic course: touching the brevity of film scripts in Nobody Writes to the Colonel, technical experimentation in Leaf Storm, the anecdotal short novel in In Evil Hour or exploring politics in Big Mama's Funeral. Throughout, the skills he displayed were rather of a precocious juggler.

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