Archive for February, 2008

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Bloodbath

Bloodbath

| February 29, 2008

As the plane taxis toward the runway for the flight back to Miami, I reflect on our mission. While I learned a lot about the illicit trade from legitimate manufacturers, I didn’t manage to talk my way into a Paraguayan cigarette factory supplying the black market. That means I cannot report on the types of […]

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Meanwhile, back at the gate

Meanwhile, back at the gate

| February 28, 2008

Pablo tells me to remain in the car as he walks up to the gate. He talks with the guard, occasionally pointing in my direction. I am not sure how to behave. Should I wave, pretending to be a regular visitor, or should I ignore the two, as if I am preoccupied with the latest […]

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Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

| February 27, 2008

As I write these words, Noel and I are enjoying the evening sun on a terrace in Buenos Aires, hundreds of miles from the tri-border area. Described as the Paris of South America—but with palm trees—Buenos Aires is a far cry from the bedlam of Ciudad del Este. But contrary to what their appearances suggest, […]

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To the factory

To the factory

| February 25, 2008

Pablo motions for me to have a seat behind the counter of the money exchange booth and starts making calls on his cell phone. The director of the factory turns out to be in Asuncion, Paraguay’s capital, and my new friend seems to be trying to track down somebody who can authorize my visit in […]

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Bedlam

Bedlam

| February 24, 2008

Today’s the day. I wash and shave like a holy warrior preparing for battle. But just in case divine protection is withheld, I also put on my running shoes. Under normal circumstances, I jog a respectable-but-not-spectacular 7.5-minute mile. With a gang of irate cigarette smugglers in pursuit, I reckon I could probably shave two whole […]

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Tired

Tired

| February 23, 2008

You’d think we’d know better after more than a decade of international business travel, but we’ve underestimated the size of Brazil and overestimated the number of appointments a person of flesh and blood can squeeze into a single workday. By the time we arrive at our hotel in Londrina, it’s 3:30 a.m. Our first appointment […]

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