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Jorge Amado's novel Captains of the Sands concerns children living in the streets of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, and forming gangs that engaged in petty crime. From the opening of the book:

“Captains of the Sands,” the name by which a group of assaulting and thieving children who infest our city is known. These children who have dedicated themselves to a frightful career of crime at such an early age have no set abode or, at least, their abode has not been located. As has not been located either, the place where they hide the product of their attacks, which have become daily, calling for immediate action on the part of the juvenile judge or the chief of police.

This gang that lives off crime is made up, as far as is known, of more than 100 children of the most varied ages, from 8 to 16. Children whose parents neglect giving them even a few Christian feelings in their upbringing, are naturally given over to a life of crime in their young years. They are called the “Captains of the Sands” because the waterfront is their headquarters.

Were these "Captains of the Sands" based on a real historical phenomenon in the city? Did children really form gangs together in the streets of Salvador to form a miniature criminal underworld?

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