Project

Guinea-Bissau: West Africa's New Achilles' Heel

An international network led by Latin American drug cartels and the Lebanese Islamist group Hezbollah has chosen West Africa, among the poorest and more corrupted corners of the world, as the nexus for illegal trade in cocaine, oil, counterfeit medicines, pirated music and human trafficking. International law enforcement officials say the profits fuel terrorist activities worldwide.

The past three years has seen a staggering increase in drug trafficking in particular, making West Africa — and especially the countries of Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria, Ghana and Guinea — the premier narcotics region of Africa. The consequences are most visible in Guinea-Bissau, which saw the double assassination of its president and army chief on the same day in early March and more recently the murder of two leading politicians in the struggle for succession.

January 15, 2010|

The Cocaine Coast

A frantic voice came over the radio: a blast had just destroyed Guinea-Bissau's military headquarters. I drove toward the compound and, when I arrived, everyone was still shouting and running through the smoking ruins of the building. Bissau's only ambulance was shuttling back and forth from the hospital, ferrying the bodies of victims. All that four heavily armed soldiers would tell me was that General Batista Tagme Na Wai, head of the army, had just been assassinated.

October 18, 2009|

Full Frame: Africa's new narcostate

West Africa, a region that has barely begun to heal from a decade of civil wars, is once again under attack. The new threat grows silently, like a cancer, and the international community appears powerless to respond.

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March 04, 2010|

Marco Vernaschi Wins Top Prize in PGB Award Contest

Marco Vernaschi has won "Picture of the Year" and 1st prize in "Picture Story of the Year" in the Photographers Giving Back (PGB) Photo Award contest. Vernaschi's winning picture shows the chair on which the President of Guinea-Bissau, João Bernardo, was executed just a few hours previously.

February 12, 2010|

Marco Vernaschi Wins World Press Photo Contest

The winners of the 2010 World Press Photo Contest were announced February 12 in Amsterdam. Pulitzer Center journalist Marco Vernaschi won first prize for General News in the Stories category for his work on narco trafficking in Guinea Bissau. Vernaschi's photographs will be featured in a traveling exhibition visited by over two million people in 45 countries. The contest is recognized as the world's most prestigious annual press photography competition.