When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Welcome To El Bronx, Colombia's Capital Of Violence And Vice

A recent drug raid in a south-central Bogotá neighborhood that shares its name with the New York borough uncovers a veritable den of vice, violence and unfettered gang rule.

On the streets of Bogota's Bronx
On the streets of Bogota's Bronx

BOGOTÁ — A massive police raid has turned public attention to an area of downtown Bogotá that makes its rugged New York City namesake, the Bronx, look charming by comparison.

"El Bronx," as the sector is known, is the Colombian capital's main point of sale for drugs, not to mention a den of kidnappings, extortion and torture. It also attacts an inordinate number of homeless people. About half of the city's 4,000 or so homeless live in the city center, and 30% of those are in El Bronx, which is little more than the intersection of a few streets in the Los Mártires district. The addicts among them constitute a core of collaborators, willing or otherwise, with criminal structures engaged in the trafficking of drugs and people.

The city knows that policing is not enough to put an end to such activities, and officials recently doubled efforts to help the homeless coming out of Bronx. The Bogotá social integration secretariat, part of the municipal government, had recently come to attend some 1,500 homeless people a day, providing shelters to 800 or so homeless people every night.

The area raided by police on May 28 was an ongoing carnival of crime, with a gruesome menu including criminal "slaughterhouses," torture, kidnappings, setting dogs on people, people trafficking, sexual slavery. Each person there seems to have a story, revealing a brutal picture of the working methods of the main gangs, how they used homeless people to ward off authorities and how a private hospital has been saving their lives.

Crime for all

"The Bronx belongs to everyone. We just supply the "product" and you have to take care of the business." That is the message transmitted by the Sayayines, the gang that has largely ruled the neighborhood.

Whenever there were police operations, the homeless were told to take to the streets and riot, ransacking shops and throwing stones at the Transmilenio bus system. Only they had to stay clear of certain clothes shops that were a cover for gang operations. In response to the recent raid, local mobsters were said to have handed out "boxes of bazooka" (cocaine paste), to fire up the homeless to loot shops in nearby Plaza España.

One Bronx resident says the raided zone had two "security chiefs," working around the clock. One was in charge of monitoring the zone and noting unusual entries. The other tracked problems on the street, like a customer paying with counterfeit money or some recycler stuffing a slot machine with cardboard.

For any loan received had to be repaid double the amount within 24 hours. "If they started taking their stuff but weren't showing up, you can be sure they wouldn't get to smoke their bag to the end," as anyone not paying up was burned with acid.

Another means of keeping order in the Bronx was that punishment for thefts among drug was often a fist fight or boxing match, with dealers providing gloves.

The addicts worked for bazooka cocaine paste, and in general, while the Sayayines had a potent arsenal of weapons, they did not mistreat the homeless, locals say. It was their way of ensuring the local version of "peace."

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


Livestream Shopping Is Huge In China — Will It Fly Elsewhere?

Streaming video channels of people shopping has been booming in China, and is beginning to win over customers abroad as a cheap and cheerful way of selling products to millions of consumers glued to the screen.

A A female volunteer promotes spring tea products via on-line live streaming on a pretty mountain surrounded by tea plants.

In Beijing, selling spring tea products via on-line live streaming.

Xinhua / ZUMA
Gwendolyn Ledger

SANTIAGOTikTok, owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, has spent more than $500 million to break into online retailing. The app, best known for its short, comical videos, launched TikTok Shop in August, aiming to sell Chinese products in the U.S. and compete with other Chinese firms like Shein and Temu.

Tik Tok Shop will have three sections, including a live or livestream shopping channel, allowing users to buy while watching influencers promote a product.

This choice was strategic: in the past year, live shopping has become a significant trend in online retailing both in the U.S. and Latin America. While still an evolving technology, in principle, it promises good returns and lower costs.

Chilean Carlos O'Rian Herrera, co-founder of Fira Onlive, an online sales consultancy, told América Economía that live shopping has a much higher catchment rate than standard website retailing. If traditional e-commerce has a rate of one or two purchases per 100 visits to your site, live shopping can hike the ratio to 19%.

Live shopping has thrived in China and the recent purchases of shopping platforms in some Latin American countries suggests firms are taking an interest. In the United States, live shopping generated some $20 billion in sales revenues in 2022, according to consultants McKinsey. This constituted 2% of all online sales, but the firm believes the ratio may become 20% by 2026.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest