April 14, 2010
In yesterday’s letter, I told you why Medellin, Colombia might just be the greatest city in the world for some people. Well, today I had to send my assistant flowers because she got bombarded with so many subscriber emails questioning my sanity–
“You must be kidding! Medellin is the heart of the Columbian [SB: yes I know it's a misspelling] drug dealing racket!”
“Isn’t Colombia the most dangerous place in the world?”
“Are you kidding me? Colombia is one the most violent places to live. Crimes and kidnapping are terrible.”
We also received a handful of emails like this one:
“Bravo! Finally another American who sings the praises of my favorite city! Medellin is a hidden gem because most Americans are scared to go there… it’s amazing what they believe about getting killed and kidnapped. Their information is outdated by 15-years.”
Naturally, my experiences on the ground here have me more aligned with the latter opinion. In 4-years of traveling to and around Colombia, I have never felt unsafe.
There are definitely problems, no doubt. Antioquia Department, where Medellin is located, is still experiencing paramilitary activity out in the jungles where a lot of the gold mines are located. Gold, drugs, and AK-47s tend to not mix well.
Back in Medellin, however, away from the guerrilla action, I’ve read conflicting reports about whether the crime rate is increasing or decreasing. One report mentioned that the murder rate is up 50% year over year, while the government’s commission (biased, clearly) says that violent crime is down.
Here’s the bottom line– don’t automatically believe all the negative publicity that you read about Colombia. Come and see for yourself.
To pain the picture more clearly, I want to tell you a quick story about a local friend of mine. I’ll call him Victor:
[click to continue…]