Locals and foreigners alike in recent weeks were shocked and disappointed to see three tourists posting on social media their smoking of an unidentified substance in the Medellin metrocable during plain daylight. Jordan Morrison (Canada), his friend “Andrew” also Canadian (pictured smoking the substance) had their photos go viral in Medellin social and print media as a result. These kinds of incidents, unfortunately, leave a very poor and lasting image about foreigners in Medellin in the minds of locals.
In the end, Andrew filed an apology with the local police and paid a fine. You can read the local news coverage here. But by then the damage had been done. Medellin as a city was embarrassed and the reaction from other foreigners living here was also one of shame.
Smoking (anything!) on Medellin’s beloved metro system and then posting on social media for the world to see is like a slap in the face for our 3.5 million residents and also our responsible and very welcome foreign tourists, temporary and permanent residents as well.
Medellin and Colombia, in general, is very sensitive towards foreigners who visit for the purposes of drug and sex tourism and especially hyper, super sensitive when those foreigners go bragging on social media about their escapades and apparent indifference to our laws and culture.
In addition to this case, a number of other high profile foreigners around the country have recently been deported and even jailed due to their illegal activities in Colombia. Last week Israeli citizen Assi Moosh was captured in Portugal on charges of running a sex tourism ring across Colombia. And Thomas Renno an American from California was jailed in March for solicitation of minors. Read more about it here and here.
The people of Colombia are probably some of the most hospitable, open, and welcoming to the world, and the recent interest to visit and enjoy our beautiful and diverse country. And we know that the vast, vast majority of foreigners here do not conduct themselves like those recently making headlines. But it is important to understand that we are a proud people concerned about how we are observed by the world, and working hard to change global perceptions about our country.
We need help too of foreigners to carry that positive message back home and not the proliferation of social media images and activities that Colombia is free for all for tourists to freely commit crimes.
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