Living in the Sewers of Colombia

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:
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:
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
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:
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. JOSE: [SPEAKING SPANISH] THOMAS: Ah, here’s
the fire pit. JOSE: [SPEAKING SPANISH] THOMAS: This is the whole
stash right here waiting to be recycled. [SPANISH]. JOSE: [SPEAKING SPANISH] THOMAS: Are you OK with all
the bedroom decorations? [SPEAKING SPANISH] THOMAS: Do you have any plans
nothing to say. This place is great. If I’ve got to move in somewhere
in the sewer systems of Bogota, this is
going to be it. [LAUGHTER] THOMAS: And pretty
reasonable rent. And I like the landlord. LADY: [SPEAKING SPANISH] THOMAS: Si. Gracias. LADY: [SPEAKING SPANISH] THOMAS: Mucho gusto. JOSE: [SPEAKING SPANISH] THOMAS: Gracias. Coming down. The entry’s a bit rough. But once you’re inside– ALBERTO: [SPEAKING SPANISH] THOMAS: I’m in the middle
of a tube that Alberto used to live in. What’s up? What’s going on? What’s going on out there? Do you hear that? Car just stopped right there. MALE SPEAKER: [SPEAKING SPANISH] THOMAS: Do you hear that? So we should turn the
light off now. OK, we’re getting
out of here now. Last night we were
in the sewers. Our night ended with the arrival
of a death squad. After they left, we fucking
jetted out of there. They parked a little
bit up the sewers. And we had to go and hide. There was about 10 or 15 guys. Some of them were in
police uniform. Some of them were in military. And some of them were in
just civilian clothes. The ones we could see kind of
from where we were, our vantage point, were armed
to the fucking teeth. They all had fucking machine
guns, packing pistols, too. We’re in the car right now on
the way to the airport. Five minutes ago,
Jaime called us. And last night, three sewers
were gasolined and burnt. So it’s funny to say,
considering the kind of shit we’ve seen while we were down
here, that we’ve gotten the absolute best of it. We’ve had the best of luck and
not run into any trouble. And even so, we’ve
run into cops. We’ve run into a death squad. We’ve been knee-high
in fucking shit. And that’s the best the sewers
have to ofter to anybody. And we’re on our way
out right now. We’re heading back to our cushy
fucking apartments in the United States. And these people have
to sit here and live with this every day. It’s fucked.

  1. lol bruh I swear a requirement of becoming a reporter for vice you have to look like a preppy nerdy looking just out of teenage years muhfucka lmao. its all that basically lmao

  2. I was living in poverty untill my 20s when i moved out and found work, i never had money for food in school and i weared the same clothes for years and have the outside toalet and shower in a big plastic umm "bathtub" but damn, i can promise you that this is not even near what those people here are experiencing. I am not believer but if there is a God those people need it. It is shame that country has money for military but cant feed few maunths 🙁 or just allow them to live up on the street atleast in park or something.

  3. and if thoes poor people try get to usa you torture them some more, you even go so fare you jail people who try help em witha bit of water on the the road , LORD HAVE MERCY ON US

  4. This is happening and females in America are complaining that men are spreading their legs more than 3 inches.

  5. to a lesser extent this reminds me of the time me and my friends went top storm drains and went through the tunnels… it's kinda horrifying that people live in sewers

  6. Irony of the situation is that these people may be poor but they have a big heart but when it comes rich people city people they are cold hearted demons…JESUS CHRIST HELP THESE POOR INNOCENT brothers and sisters …Rip to those who lost there lives over the years…

  7. 2019… Many people still living in sewers. There was a place in downtown called "The Bronx" that was dismateled thanks to the efforts of the mayor Enrique Peñalosa and his Staff. Many outsiders got a better life, others went to look for other sewers; now, with the exodus of Venezuelans to many big and medium size cities in Colombia, the situation has gotten worse. Many foreigners are taking the place of the "Disposables" (which should not be the word for them) and somehow the ones in the sewers are moving a notch up in the social system. (You may see many undocumented Venezuelans in the Public bus system called "Transmilenio". At the bus stops, you may see two guys exiting the doors of a bus an then four get inside the bus to sing or sale candies to get their living. Since I came back to Bogota 6 years ago I haven't heard about any social cleanups or whatsoever but yet safety outside the streets is at high risk any time of the day.

  8. The Democratic socialists of America want this for the USA, but for everyone but themselves. The Democrats/leftists are in the same boat!. I am so sorry you, as a people have to live like this. America has the right to bear arms. Please, come here legally and arm yourself. No death squads!. Just a chance at REAL FREEDOM!!.

  9. I feel bad for those puppies and young children/babies that have to grow up with that to start off their life…

  10. For the pe0ple who are shock because the police said The N word well it's normal in Colombia Colombia 30 percent even more are black we are all family here in Colombia we dont care about the colors that's why is so normal

  11. its not fucked they make their choice . Im was addicted now i dont drink at all sometimes joint thats it . But i never rob my family . Thease people are without any rules.

  12. Vice's reality: some poor kids are suffering a social cleansing by death squads in Colombia.

    The reality: The population tired of the criminality started supporting death squads that kill drug-users and thieves.

    My opinion: there's only two reasons that I consider valid for killing someone: 1- self-defense; 2- as a punition for murder. I understand why people are killing these drug-users that VICE calls "kids", Colombia is a place full of drugs, as a matter of fact most of the drugs that come to my country, come from Colombia. A lot of drugs, a lot of users and because of that, a lot of crime. So people get tired of this criminality and start killing drug-users (which I consider wrong). Another wrong thing about this video is that there's no "social cleasing", being a drug-user is not a social class, last time I checked.

    I think jail would be the best way to deal with this problem.

  13. My 9 year old complains when she don't have V-bucks to spend! I need to show her this video. She don't know how good she's got it.

  14. This is no place for a kid to be born in WTF come on man give the kid up no 1 belong in a hell hole like that ugh😠

  15. The nasty end of fascism – social cleansing. If people keep voting in the likes of Trump there is going to be a genuine return of this in places much closer to home for a lot of this audience. Social cleansing, death squad police, undesirables, the "other"…you don't have to look very far into the history books.

  16. I've lived on the streets beginning at 17 in Albuquerque, Phoenix, Vegas, California. If you live long enough out there you will see just about everything. Vegas was fun in the 90s not like it is today.
    I've never lived in a sewer. I've lived in abandoned buildings, Vans, outside in secluded areas. the desert. etc.
    You have to stay at least 2 steps ahead of the game so as not to get caught. You get tired of it, but it can also be exciting.
    Homeless shelters are horrible. It's safer on the streets than to stay at a shelter in many places, not to mention the disease and unclean conditions.
    I praise and thank the God and Father of YAH'shua messiah aka Jesus Christ for keeping me from dying while I was out there.

  17. I think these crackheads are seeing a little bit more then usual with this crazy story. There is no way that all this is real

  18. I am mexican american. My parents came to america as immigrants and are now legal. When i went to mexico to see how they used to live, which wasn't great, but it made me thankful for the life they gave me in America. Then i see videos like this and it really really make me grateful to have a bed.

  19. It’s amazing some the comments that ask why? Or better yet throw blame. The corrupt and greedy government contributes by turning the other way . Take that and the mental health problems of individuals, there is your answer. It happens in every county to one degree or another. The answer is not that hard. Love one another and give to one another creates benefits for all. Humans can’t see to get this right….. but you knew that already. 😒

  20. Las Vegas storm water drainage has in the dry season extensive concrete tunnels.
    Drafty but bone dry. Some have dried mud and sand drift. My source was a former
    resident under La Vegas manhole covers. Aerosol paint by source denoted claimed
    territory. Feel free to go look for the initials "AJR ". White from bottom to wall tops.

  21. "Right wing death squads" please I lived in Columbia for three years. There definitely isnt groups of soldiers or police roaming about the streets randomly killing people. Take your rhetoric and shove it.

  22. Is it not possible that the fires are from people doing drugs with open flames with chemicals. And I'm assuming since it's a sewer there's a bit of methane gas. BOUND to explode.

  23. Killing another human being just because they are trapped in this hell called drugs it's a diesiese can't the government understand that . . Killing them will not resolve anything . . . Helo these guys . . May god help them and put some sense in these so called social cleansing people. . . Fuck them

  24. If i was homeless I'd probably go to the local forest near. Me and build a little hut or something hammers and nails ain't hard to get and I could easily use sticks and wood or plastic to build a hut

  25. Everything there is so ducked that when the sewer people showed the crew their penthouse I genuinely went like “damn nice place”

  26. WTF, they just lite kids on fire? I'm a proud American patriot and I wonder where the fuck Uncle Sam isn't bombing the shit out of these backwards ass thinking war criminals back to the stone age. You want a cleansing motherfucker? Here, let my government show you how to wipe the true scum off the face of the planet.

  27. The wealthy people of Bogota decided to kill them instead of taking that same money and helping them. If this is the influence the Catholic church has had on the natives of South America, they would have been much better off without Cortez.

  28. End the black market and stop providing the cartel and their political allies the resources to do this to their own people. No one deserves to live like this, not even drug addicts.

  29. Watching things like this always remind me to be grateful of what i have, because others may have it worst. I hope they can all receive help and prosper from their situation 😢🙏

  30. never been more grateful that when i was homeless at 16 the worst i had to deal with was police beating me up for fun and having to dodge rapists,, i couldnt imagine being hunted down by people trying to burn me , or even having to sleep in feces . these people are so strong and deserve so much more:(

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