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Editor's note: This is the final dispatch in a series of eight, recounting events surrounding the double assassinations of Guinea Bissau's president and army chief of staff last March and the country's emergence as a 'narco state.
I drive through Reno, Bissau's poorest slum, heading to Justino's house. He's 16 and a crack addict. Justino started to smoke quisa , as they call crack in Bissau, one year ago with his sister, Sadia. Now they both spend the whole day smoking the drug.
Since they started, their old lives vanished. Justino lost his job and Sadia began to sell her own body. It's 10 a. Sadia waits by the door, holding her cachimbo , the crack pipe that has become her best friend. All around the house it's garbage, rotten water and pigs. This sounds like any other crack story, but there's a difference: We are in Guinea Bissau, a place where crack was totally unknown until traffickers decided three years ago to target this country.
Sadia's eyes are lost into the emptiness that surrounds her life. She waits for her brother to bring the drug. He comes with a friend and they immediately start smoking. I sit on the house floor with them. Sadia stretches out on a mattress while Justino and his friend feed the pipe; they start the ritual, which lasts at least 40 minutes.
They completely ignore me. They ignore everything but the cachimbo. Their entire lives revolve around the drug. The situation in Bissau is particularly sad. There is no prevention, no rehabilitation. The issue is so new that there is no data available. It's impossible to say how many people are lost in crack addiction. And mostly, there is no consciousness among the people about the long-term effects of this plague. I meet Sadia and her group of friends at Baiana's, at night.