High price of keeping Colombians alive

Christmas in August

Agents of Colombia's National Protection Unit (Unidad Nacional de Proteccion, UNP, in Spanish) train in La Calera, on October 22, 2014Wilson Borja has 13 bodyguards to protect him from people like the paramilitaries who once tried to kill him, an intimidating security detail funded at great expense by violence-wracked Colombia’s government. He is now one of the 7,500 people the Colombian government pays to protect, at a total cost of $600,000 a day — a hefty sum for a country where the average person earns about $20 a day. Borja has a metal frame in his right leg to replace the 10 centimeters (nearly four inches) of bone he lost to a gunshot wound — one of the more fortunate victims of Colombia’s 50-year-old conflict, which has killed 220,000 people. “I don’t have a security detail for status or because it’s fashionable.

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