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September 16th, 2004
An Honest Citizen

What could be more dangerous than trying to bring law and order to Colombia? An Honest Citizen follows Maria Cristina Chirolla, head of the attorney general’s anti-money laundering office, as she struggles to fight the extraordinary reach of drug money in Colombia. The country’s $5 billion a year cocaine trade has funded a brutal civil war involving leftist guerillas, right-wing paramilitaries, and a national government undermined by corruption at every level. We follow Chirolla’s campaign, seizing the lavish homes and property of drug lords and ordering military raids on drug laboratories — all part of the drive by President Alvaro Uribe Vélez to restore central control of the country. Every year 3,000 citizens are kidnapped and up to 3,500 lives are lost in the war, so the chaos — and the grave risks inherent in bringing stability to the nation — are palpable. When two of Chirolla’s colleagues are sacked, she becomes the chief of anti-drug and anti-crime operations and therefore an even bigger target for her enemies. Vice President Francisco Santos Calderón admits that drug money feeds the war on both sides. Top paramilitary leader Salvatore Mancuso, high on the American wanted list, claims to have some control in almost 80 percent of the country and openly admits on camera that his funds come from drugs. Back in Bogotá, Chirolla fights on, only to discover that the drug barons protected by the paramilitaries have plotted to assassinate her. Indeed the assassins used an army base in Bogotá as their safe house. Shaken, she ponders whether the battle is worth fighting — and at what personal cost?

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