Have you ever seen any of the Miami cop shows or movies? Anyone that has seen Miami Vice or CSI: Miami knows there is always some reference to drugs coming out of Colombia. I recently had the chance to visit Medellín, Colombia; Pablo Escobar's former personal playground.
The general consensus amongst today's media and government reports is that Medellin, and Colombia in general have curbed their drug problem, gotten the organized crime under control, and are weeding out all the corruption from their government. In reality, the criminals have just gotten smarter. It's a little known fact, and part of the local legend, that Escobar and the Ochoa brothers sent the smartest and most promising youth that Medellín had to offer to various universities and business schools around the globe. They had hoped these young soldiers would allow them to further launder money and take their business to the next level. The Medellín Cartel after all where street thugs, they did not have the business savvy that most of today's big crooks (think: Enron, Worldcom, Tyco …) have. What happened to them?
Broadcast over all Colombia's media are commercials talking about doing business with the Mafioso, the people involved in the drug trade and how by doing business with them you will be in trouble too. It is your own fault for not doing enough "Due Dillegence". They leave it up to you to know who you are dealing with. If you buy a house in Colombia and the previous owners bought it with "Drug Money" then they will take your house and put you in jail. Sell a house to a mafioso? Jail! The paranoia is as bad as it was in America during the Cold War and as fearful of the IRS as Americans were in previous decades.
We've got paranoid Colombians, a population that has a minimum wage of around $250 a month (this applies to the majority of the population) and a government trying very hard to clean up their image as a country ridden with crime and run by the drug dealing mafioso. I think the reality is that the drug dealers are the only ones keeping this economy afloat at the moment. The young brains came back from the business schools with MBA's and learned how they could really launder money though business losses and and other new skills so often used by megacompanies worldwide. Walk into a mall in Medellín and you will see high end clothing stores with dozens of girls working inside. Guess what… no one is buying anything!!!!
Colombia is a great place though. The food is great. The women are beautiful. It's relatively safe. Beach front condos from $100,000 and up…….