In the shadowy lanes where police don’t even go is the “Hidden City”. Emaciated and hollow-eyed, men stumble and fall in the streets across from Buenos Aires’ main slaughterhouse.
The disaster that has created this blight in the Hidden City has a name: Paco.
Cocaine paste, known here as pasta de cocaina — or Paco for short — is cheaper and more addictive than it’s upscale cousin, crack cocaine.
The byproduct of the process that creates cocaine, Paco is the garbage of drugs. It used to be thrown away by the traffickers — until they found they had a ready market for the cheap, potent and deadly drug.
With one hit costing about 30 cents and lasting for two minutes, it quickly creates an addict who will be brain dead within six months unless they get help.
In the meantime, a Paco addict will do anything to get his hands on the next hit.
Pepe is both a synonym and a real person.
To protect the counselors, social workers and others that I meet in this journey, I will combine them into a sort of composite character whom I shall call Pepe.
Pepe is the Argentine nickname for anyone named Jose. As in America we call people named Robert “Bobby”, here guys named Jose are typically called “Pepe”.
In Buenos Aires, there is a priest named Pepe. He has built his reputation first as an understudy to the man the world now knows as Pope Francis.
His fame grew as the priest ministered to the lost souls in the Hidden City. Going into the area where even the police don’t go, Pepe started to see results as people’s lives changed and addicts started coming to him for help.
The traffickers, feeling threatened by this small man, put a contract out on him. When one of the addicts whom Pepe had helped heard about the contact, he warned Pepe that he would be killed.
Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio — now known to the world as Pope Francis — moved Pepe to a remote part of the province for his own safety.
Kirchner, Argentine Mafia and Me
My goal is to eventually get inside the Hidden City. Talk to addicts, meet their families and talk to the loose band of counselors and social workers available to help the citizens of Villa 31.
Rumors have already reached me that Argentina President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, is cozy with the Argentine Mafia and together they are largely responsible for the continuation of the Hidden City and the proliferation of Paco — all for financial gain.
I’ll let you know what I find out.
- Pope Francis forces Argentine political about-face (vineoflife.net)
- Pepe s mug: for the young at heart (amugblog.wordpress.com)