PARAGUAY: Frontier, 1955

On the fringe of nowhere in the heart of South America, the Paraguayan town of Pedro Juan Caballero and the Brazilian town of Ponta Porã doze in the green, rolling forests of the Amambay plateau. A broad, straight strip of grass between the red-roofed towns marks the international border. But they really form a single frontier community of bearded, mud-stained Gauchos, Syrian merchants, Redemptorist priests, barefoot women, and soldiers in faded green uniforms.

One morning last fortnight, all these people marched out past their tumbledown cemetery to the green grass Pedro Juan Caballero airstrip. Soon, two silvery Douglas transports circled and...

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