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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 money-laundering scheme?

Surely, a powerful crime boss doesn’t have to acknowledge his minions. At the same time, to get in, I need this guard to like me.

Suddenly, I wish I had paid better attention during that Chicago cops-and-robbers movie on the flight from Miami to Rio. Raised in a sheltered, upper-middle-class environment, I certainly could use some pointers on how to conduct myself among mafia types.

I decide to play indifferent, closely studying the still-empty pages of my notebook. But it’s difficult to take my eyes off the guard, whose ammunition belt is so generously stocked that I fear he might lose his balance.

The guard’s skeptical expression isn’t promising. He seems to see right through the cover story. And when he starts shaking his head, my hopes evaporate—we are not going to get in.

Pablo calls his colleague again and gives me the phone. “Only the director can authorize a visit,” apologizes his partner. But the big boss won’t return to town until next week, when I am expected back at Tobacco Reporter ’s office in the United States.

While part of me is disappointed, I also feel relief. Seldom has a scheduling conflict been so convenient.

Category: Blogs, The Counterfeit Trail

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