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VRAEM – The five letters are a household name in Peru. They refer to the delta of the rivers Apurímac, Ene and Mantaro. 

But actually they are a curse. The remote region on the eastern slopes of the Andes was once the stronghold of the Maoist guerrilla organization Shining Path. The state was absent, the population had to help itself. They  did: They founded self-defence groups, financed by the drug mafia and tolerated by the military. Thus a state was created within the state that has survived until today. The area is still the heart of Peru's coca production. Our authors have visited it. Follow in their tracks and interview drug smugglers and their fighters, learn more about the business of politicians and visit coca farmers at work.

The report was nominated by the German Kurt Schork Award for courageous, independent foreign reporting:

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