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  • THOMAS: Hi, I'm Thomas Morton.

  • We're here in the sewer system of Bogota, Colombia, a place

  • where for the past 30 years, the city's kind of lower-rung

  • street kids have sought refuge from the right wing death

  • squads, which fairly regularly patrol the city above.

  • In the late '80s, kind of the height of the epidemic of

  • street kids here, small business owners and kind of

  • the wealthy elite started raising death squads to help

  • rid their property of what they thought as disposables, a

  • process which they kind of cheerfully

  • called social cleansing.

  • One of the only people in Colombia to help the sewer

  • children, Dr. Jaime Jaramillo, has pulled thousands of kids

  • out of the pipes.

  • But at the same time, a lot of them still remain.

  • We asked Dr. Jaramillo to take us down here and show us how

  • the kids live in some cases and what's in store for the

  • refugees on their way in.

  • This is the same tube that 15 years ago our friend

  • Alberto lived in.

  • We're going to go sit down and talk with Alberto about having

  • lived in the sewers and about how he's been since.

  • God, not having light down there.

  • Just the prospect of that makes me shudder.

  • ALBERTO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: We're getting suited up.

  • We got these fishing waders.

  • This almost seems like it might

  • even be a little excessive.

  • But I guess, considering what we're about to do, better safe

  • than coming down with cholera or something.

  • Dr. Jaime is going to give me acupuncture now to help my

  • immune system.

  • I hate needles.

  • So I'm concerned about this.

  • It's treacherous even getting down here.

  • Did you see the rat?

  • Yeah, I just saw that rat scurry up there.

  • So this is it.

  • This is bottom of the barrel as far as Western

  • civilization goes.

  • A cave would almost be a step up because it wouldn't be

  • filled with shit.

  • And you wouldn't be worried about swimming in filth.

  • It's appalling.

  • THOMAS: [INAUDIBLE].

  • There's all these burnt-up bottles used as pipes.

  • This is all their stuff.

  • This is where they smoke--

  • DR. JARAMILLO: Basuco.

  • THOMAS: --basuco.

  • DR. JARAMILLO: This is crack cocaine.

  • THOMAS: OK, I'm going to keep going further in.

  • You can see all the fucking gnats and flies.

  • At this point, I'm pretty fucking scared.

  • THOMAS: [GASPS].

  • You can get a fresh waft of the smell.

  • This is, like, shit stalactites, shit-sicles.

  • They're smoking out of bent-up cans.

  • They're right behind us.

  • They don't want to be filmed, though, because they're

  • worried about the police finding out where they are.

  • They're sitting on, like, the little table.

  • DR. JARAMILLO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: We caught them right when they were

  • about to smoke up.

  • So they're a little jumpy and obviously

  • didn't want to be filmed.

  • Because they're afraid that if this gets out, then the police

  • will know where they are.

  • And they'll come and they'll beat the shit out of them.

  • That's fresh shit.

  • THOMAS: There's the manhole.

  • THOMAS: Ninja Turtles had a nicer setup than this.

  • So all his stuff, he just stays here?

  • THOMAS: Oh, OK.

  • That's his little drug kit.

  • That's where he sleeps.

  • THOMAS: Is it?

  • No, it's moist.

  • DR. JARAMILLO: Look.

  • THOMAS: So how long have you been coming into the sewers?

  • You told us yesterday you got started

  • helping kids in the '70s.

  • [SHRIEKING SOUND]

  • DR. JARAMILLO: Could somebody else.

  • THOMAS: What was that?

  • Was that a siren?

  • DR. JARAMILLO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: Well, we should go, though.

  • DR. JARAMILLO: They [INAUDIBLE].

  • They use [INAUDIBLE] rocks, crack cocaine.

  • And their survival depends on how high the--

  • THOMAS: The water is.

  • DR. JARAMILLO: --their head, above the human waste.

  • ALBERTO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • DR. JARAMILLO: All the canals--

  • THOMAS: They're all connected, right?

  • DR. JARAMILLO: You may not know that they

  • are watching you.

  • But they are watching you all the time.

  • THOMAS: Like we're almost on the edge of the suburbs.

  • We're on some kind of highway right now.

  • There's some apartment buildings right there and a

  • couple gas stations.

  • But that's basically it.

  • Where exactly this canal runs, they're all kind

  • of coming up it.

  • They're just kind of collecting right now.

  • It's the same thing that happens out in the countryside

  • with the paramilitaries.

  • What it is, is landowners get upset about liberal agitation,

  • socialists, and stuff like.

  • And so they get together.

  • And they organize these little militias, and say, go out and

  • take care of this for us.

  • When we got here, the guards over there on the first tier

  • of those high rises, they started flashing their lights

  • down at us and on the dudes walking around down there.

  • So that's what they've got to worry about.

  • Maybe one of them will chat with us.

  • That's about as dead as a rat can get.

  • How often do you have trouble with the police?

  • ROBERTO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: Ow.

  • That's terrible.

  • Do you have run-ins with paramilitaries?

  • ROBERTO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: When?

  • ROBERTO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: So they're trying to jump the stream to keep their

  • feet from soaking.

  • That was pretty good.

  • Oh, here come biker cops.

  • Man, I feel like I'm in middle school again.

  • [MOTORCYCLE MOTOR REVVING]

  • THOMAS: Yeah, we're cool.

  • Do you want to hang the camera?

  • Oh, here's the police.

  • I went from scared as shit to enjoying our fiesta to back to

  • scared as shit.

  • Because here are the cops.

  • Any time it stops being intense, something happens.

  • POLICE OFFICER: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: I think we may have fucked up their

  • spot for the night.

  • Everybody's leaving now.

  • Roberto told us that they're due for a cleansing.

  • ROBERTO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: Here's a little bit of heaviness, 15 years ago in

  • this manhole there were a rotating group

  • of kids living there.

  • One night, death squads came over, popped open the lid, and

  • poured gasoline onto them.

  • And just set the whole thing a-fucking-blaze.

  • It burned, like, 22 kids.

  • The ground's a little more dry than the other places.

  • Were you on the streets when they gasolined the manhole by

  • the elevator?

  • PABLO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: There was a place that foiled, like that the police

  • couldn't get into with their guns.

  • So they just burned everybody.

  • PABLO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: They just left the burning kids there?

  • They didn't even remove their bodies?

  • The entire escape tunnel is filled with water.

  • You can it's already dripping down over here.

  • What happens when it rains?

  • PABLO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: Do you know people who have drowned?

  • Have friends of yours drowned?

  • [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: Jesus.

  • PABLO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: Is that the last time you were harassed here?

  • Or have they harassed you since?

  • [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • TRANSLATOR: They usually pick Sundays, such as today.

  • THOMAS: This is like one of those ghost stories, where

  • they're like, and it was 30 years ago tonight in

  • this very camp spot.

  • And then they describe exactly what you're wearing as what

  • the killer liked.

  • So we're fucking stepping off into the abyss here.

  • It's starting to get really slippery.

  • The smell, I feel like it gets exponentially

  • worse with every step.

  • Right now we're at, like, county fair port-a-john.

  • I mean, this is just shit.

  • DR. JARAMILLO: This is human waste, a rat.

  • THOMAS: Probably shouldn't be touching the wall.

  • This right here, this keeps going.

  • How long has it been since it rained?

  • DR. JARAMILLO: A month ago.

  • THOMAS: It was a month.

  • And it's like we're shin deep.

  • Were there people in here?

  • DR. JARAMILLO: Yeah.

  • THOMAS: How many?

  • DR. JARAMILLO: [INAUDIBLE] like 20.

  • But the other side.

  • THOMAS: How far?

  • DR. JARAMILLO: Like 10 minutes.

  • THOMAS: So we're right at the point where

  • it's no longer safe.

  • DR. JARAMILLO: And it's not good to stay very long here.

  • THOMAS: People could come.

  • I can't see.

  • Can you kill the light for a second?

  • Because nobody comes here with flashlights.

  • Jesus Christ!

  • I can barely--

  • I just want to see how long before

  • my mind starts swimming.

  • ALBERTO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: You can kind of see a little bit of light there.

  • And a little bit of light there.

  • ALBERTO: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: I'm see shadows move.

  • I feel like shit is crawling up inside me.

  • I don't know if maybe there's a rat chewing on me.

  • FEMALE SPEAKER: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: It's like submitting yourself to madness.

  • OK, let's get the lights back on.

  • I'm fucked.

  • That did it.

  • That did it for me.

  • Lights, please.

  • Thank you.

  • Holy shit.

  • FEMALE SPEAKER: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: We ran into this guy who lives here in what he

  • calls his penthouse by the sea whose wife is also pregnant.

  • JOSE: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: By far the most luxurious place.

  • I had to wedge myself up through a little

  • hole to get in here.

  • It's really spacious and safe feeling.

  • But you have to watch out so you don't cut

  • your head on the pipes.

  • How long have you been in this place?

  • JOSE: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: Your wife is expecting?

  • JOSE: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: When the baby is due, will you go to the hospital?

  • Or will you--

  • LADY: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: Do you cook your food in here?

  • JOSE: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: It's gotten bigger back here.

  • You can stand up all the way.

  • JOSE: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: Has anybody ever found you here?

  • Has anybody ever bugged you?

  • JOSE: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: Is there food in here?

  • JOSE: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: Here's the bedroom.

  • This is a pretty sweet setup.

  • [LAUGHTER]

  • JOSE: [SPEAKING SPANISH]

  • THOMAS: The other puppies.