COLOMBIA: Hardening Artery

Along the silt-yellow Rio Magdalena the talk was of hard times. "There's not enough water, not even for alligators if there were any," said one dark-skinned boga de agua dulce (freshwater sailor) squatting idly on a pier. "They hunted alligators to death," remarked another, "and now the ghosts are cursing this river."

Six steamers of the Naviera Colombiana, the biggest river operator, had been stuck in the mud for days; rain last week raised the river enough to float them. Meanwhile government dredges kept up their running battle with mudbanks and sandbars,...

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