Category Archives: News Agency Stories

Police shoot out at Calle 10 Poblado

Google Translate: as good as it is,

An attempt at robbery ended with a crossfire between the police and four men attempting to rob a citizen on 10th Street with Carrera 38 in El Poblado.  [ Close to Domino Pizza]

Metropolitan police commander General Jose Gerardo Acevedo reported that the men on board two motorcycles attempted to rob a citizen traveling in a van. “In the crossing of shots, the man was injured although we have already confirmed that it is not serious,” said Acevedo.

Witnesses said the victim confronted the thieves with a firearm, before the authorities arrived.

Two of the fighters were captured by the police, who also seized a firearm, and left them at the disposal of the prosecution. The other two criminals managed to flee.

Calle 10 and Cra 38 were closed for more than 20 minutes while evacuation of the wounded was made and evidence of the case was taken.

Spanish from Colombia Newspaper:

Un intento de fleteo terminó con un cruce de disparos entre la policía y cuatro hombres que intentaron robar a un ciudadano en la calle 10 con carrera 38, en El Poblado.

El comandante de la policía metropolitana, general José Gerardo Acevedo, informó que los hombres a bordo de dos motocicletas intentaron robar a un ciudadano que viajaba en una camioneta. “En el cruce de disparos, el señor quedó herido aunque ya nos confirmaron que no reviste gravedad”, dijo Acevedo.

Testigos indicaron que la víctima se enfrentó a los ladrones con un arma de fuego, antes de que llegaran las autoridades.

Dos de los fleteros fueron capturados por la Policía, que además les incautó un arma de fuego, y los dejó a disposición de la Fiscalía. Los otros dos delincuentes lograron huir.

La calle 10 y la carrera 38 estuvieron cerradas por más de 20 minutos mientras se hizo la evacuación del herido y se tomaron las pruebas del caso.

23yr old Dutch Tourist Killed Medellin

 

MEDELLIN – A 23-year-old Amsterdam criminal was liquidated in the Colombian city of Medellin. This was reported by the Dutch newspaper het Parool.

It involves Mitchell Jansen from Amsterdam East. He was already missing for some time now, according to the Amsterdam newspaper.

When he was liquidated, and what has happened in the city in northwestern Colombia, is not clear.

The twenty-three-year-old was always in trouble with the police for possession, possible involvement in killings and other crimes.

Note:  The term from the Dutch newspaper “Liquidated” , translated is “killed”, just one many story on Colombia crime for tourist to be aware, of drugs here in the city, is not the place for a tourist to be associated in this world, come enjoy the country, not the drugs.

Tourist killed this week, TWO MORE !! Australian & Japanese tourist

 

Two more tourist were killed this weekend in Medellin, 4th and 5th this 2016 year.    Today is November 22nd, the news paper links below will tell the sad story.

The Japanese tourist had is money and cell phone stolen, decided to chase after the robber, where he was shot.  Mind you only a few house in the city too, sad day for all of us living in Medellin.

The Australian was found two bullet holes in the head.

here are the links, read the local news.

http://www.elcolombiano.com/antioquia/seguridad/turistas-extranjeros-asesinados-en-medellin-en-2016-IY5405758

http://colombiareports.com/japanese-becomes-4th-foreigner-killed-medellin-year/

 

 

Sex Tourism of Colombia= JAIL in Colombia

Sex tours are here in Colombia, only need to look around at the 100+ love motels in Medellin alone, to understand sex is here everywhere “pay for play”,  however when a USA Citizen started in the business the local mafia gangs did not like him on their turf.  To this with US Embassy help, the Colombian Police have arrested Colombian Jake as he was known for pimping.  Prostitution is legal in Colombia, being a pimp is not, especially for girls underage, is a crime in any county.  [photo taken from Colombia Jake web site, see his services while this site is still live, http://www.colombiajake.com ] He is in JAIL<

Follow up if your coming to Medellin for sex with underage girls, you will get to visit the Colombia Jail system.  Not a JOKE.  Jake Drivas is currently being held in the Penitentiary La Paz (Itagüí), a grim, maximum-security prison that is so overcrowded that it has an occupancy of 966 people but only enough beds for 328. Google this place to see what happens in a Colombia jail, not a holiday in Colombia you wish.

See below this reprint below from a News agency. 

American tourists visiting Medellín knew him as “Colombia Jake,” the friendly local American guide who made sure they had a good time. He could fix them up with an apartment, rent them a motorbike, or arrange for them a “Pablo Escobar tour,” visiting the grave and some of the houses of the infamous drug lord who, for better or worse, put that lovely old Colombian city on the map in the 1980s as a capital of cartel depravity.

Medellín has changed since then, but as a local newspaper columnist lamented recently, there lingers “a mafia culture, defying the law and common sense” amid “absurd inequality, where the few opportunities that many people (many women, in this case) may have are to denigrate themselves in front of those who abuse them, those who take advantage of their bodies to satisfy their morbid curiosity.”

It’s a city where, as The Daily Beast reported in May, girls as young as 10 are recruited by the remnants of the cartels, and their virginity sold to the highest bidding sex tourist.

So it’s the kind of place a pimp can make a good living, and according to the Colombian National Police, who arrested him in July and charged him with abusing a girl younger than 14, Colombia Jake fit right in.

The wonder of it is that Jake, a 53-year-old former high school baseball star from Florida whose real name is Jay Harry Drivas, wasn’t nabbed long before. Even by the low standards of “escort service” advertising, his cobbled-together websites—including colombiajake.com—were crude, crass, and to the point.

When Drivas was arrested in Medellín, after what police claimed was a months-long investigation, they said they found $10,600 in cash, as well as cocaine and ecstasy, at his three-bedroom property. They found an inflatable tub there as well (which figures in some of his publicity pictures), and they found a 13-year-old girl (some reports say 12), who is now with social services.

Prostitution by women over 18 years of age is legal in Medellín, but pimping is not, and pimping minors definitely is not. Drivas now faces up to 20 years in a Colombian prison. If, as local police suspect, he used prostitutes to sell drugs to clients, that could push his jail time higher still.

The “Colombia Jake” homepage and related sites will be presented in court as evidence, and they’ve already been plastered all over the Colombian press.

Gen. William René Salamanca, director of the Specialized Protection and Services branch of the National Police told the Bogotá daily El Tiempo that the web pages were key to the arrest. But they finally made the case using an undercover officer who spoke good English. Those who spoke Spanish got nowhere.

“The supposed client asked for the services of an underage girl, and the North American [Drivas] agreed,” El Tiempo reported.

The most easily accessible Jake websites show photographs of women in bikinis sitting by an inflatable pool, and a topless woman giving a naked man a massage. Others feature a grinning Drivas in a hot tub with his arms around two women.

There’s also a YouTube testimonial illustrated with more girls and the voice of someone called “Dr. Bruce,” who claims he’s the kind of guy who goes to Super Bowls and has seen a lot of action in a lot of places. “Nobody is killin’ it like you are,” says the voiceover of anonymous Dr. Bruce.

“I’m here to help make sure you have the Best Vacation of your Life!” Jake boasts in blue type with a lot of capital letters: “That’s why guys come here to Enjoy the Beautiful Women, Suites and Tours, but most guys end up lonely at night because finding a fun reliable Girlfriend Experience Date in a short period of time is very difficult. I know lots of Beautiful Girls with Personality, to go have fun with!”

Right.

A testimonial on medellinsex.com, a website linked to colombiajake.com, praised his “rent-a-date” service:

“While he can set you up for a quick bang in the room (just like at a casa or club), what was the highlight for me was the Rent-a-date. On two different nights (with two different girls), they’d arrive just outside the hotel in a taxi, I’d hop in and we’d go to a party district… You really feel like a man—The Man—when a hot paisa is all over you and laugh and kiss you in public. After a couple of hours of this, back to the hotel room for about an hour of private time.”

Another Jake-linked photo site is more explicit still: “What you can’t have in the USA!” it boasts. “These fun semipro/student girlfriends want to Drink, Dance and come back to my Hotel or another Hotel for Luv! Contact me today!… The Hot Girlfriend Dates are extra usually between you and her from $50 to $95 dollars and from 1 to 6 hours of fun and action! I have a lot of others even Hotter, who don’t want to be pictured!”

Brazen as this pitch may be, such a site could be said to edge inside Colombian law, given that prostitution by adult women acting on their own is legal. Which is why the charges brought against Drivas are based on what police described as his parallel operation, because there were two: one used the blatant websites and the services of some 200 women, “the other, more low-key, included the services of underage girls,” according to Gen. Salamanca’s interview with El Tiempo.

Clients came from American cities as diverse as Cheyenne, Wyoming; Lincoln, Nebraska; Dallas, Texas; and Atlanta, Georgia, according to Salamanca. He told El Tiempo that U.S. law enforcement is now tracking down some of those gringos who exploited minors.

So, who is Colombia Jake/Jay Drivas? He seems to have started out as a more or less all-American boy. Reportedly born in Massachusetts, he spent most of his life in Florida around Orlando, and was on the baseball team at Lake Howell High School in Winter Park.

He studied business at Florida State University and was on the Lambda Chi Alpha Florida State Baseball Team, as well, before taking various jobs with medical systems companies. He was divorced in 2001, after having two children.

Drivas’s dark side appears to have been with him for some time and, according to Pinellas County Court records, in the mid-1990s he was jailed for a year and three months for attempted sexual battery and six months for battery.

Court documents obtained by The Daily Beast from the Pinellas County sheriff’s office show that the attempted sexual battery for which he was imprisoned occurred in September 1994 and was investigated as an attempted rape.

The victim, whose name was redacted, told investigators that Drivas had hired her to work at a brokerage firm and on her first day they were driving around doing some errands when they stopped off at his apartment to talk about her new position.

The police report says: “As she exited the restroom, she was met by Jay in the hallway, who put his arms around her and attempted to kiss her. The victim immediately pushed him away and said: ‘This is not right.”’

In a copy of the sheriff department’s interview with the victim, obtained by The Daily Beast, the victim said Drivas tried to persuade her to kiss him by saying, “People in the office always fall in love.” As he kept pressing himself on her she said, “This is wrong.” To which he replied, according to the interview, “I’m your boss and I think it’s right.”

Drivas was “grabbing her chest,” and she pushed him off again, the police report says. Then he pushed her into the bedroom and onto the bed where he unzipped her top and kept trying to unzip her skirt. The victim fought him off again and told him to take her back to work, which, finally, he did.

Additional charges against Drivas relating to earlier allegations of attempted sexual battery, kidnapping, and aggravated assault are in the county court records.

A female victim alleged that she was out jogging on the street near her apartment when somebody “came out of the bushes and grabbed her.” She said a man she identified as Drivas was “telling her to shut up as she was screaming for her life.” He allegedly put her in a choke hold, forced her to the ground, and demanded money. When she said she didn’t have any he began to tie her hands up, but her screams attracted the attention of a passerby and Drivas is said to have fled.

The heavier charges from that case were not pursued, according to the court records. They show Drivas pled no contest to a lesser charge of battery and was placed on probation.

A man who knew Drivas well when he was living in Florida, but who asked not to be identified, said that he left for Colombia six years ago in order to avoid paying child support for his two children, now aged 18 and 20. The Colombian police have reported that he settled in Medellín seven years ago.

The same man, who knows the family, said that Drivas has had limited contact with his children since then, apart from sending them messages trying to get them to visit him in Colombia, something their mother refused to let them do because of his lifestyle.

“Jay wanted to live the way he wanted to live and he felt he was living a better life than anybody else,” said his acquaintance. “He’s one of these guys who wants things for free. He has no moral compass at all… He thought had the best life anyone could have. Now he has the worst life imaginable.”

According to locals in Medellín who spoke to The Daily Beast, Drivas arrived there at a time when there were relatively few foreigners in the city.

James Lindzey, a lawyer and businessman based in Medellín, said that Drivas started off renting out apartments and motorcycles, but appears to have become involved in prostitution at some point afterward.

He said that he knew Drivas as an acquaintance in the expat community, which was small back then, and recalled him as a tall, athletic man who would hang out in the sports bars.

Lindzey said that around two years ago Drivas came up to him in a bar and started screaming at him because he would not help him promote his business on the website for his law firm.

Lindzey had heard rumors he was involved in prostitution and had turned him down because of them, he said. “He seemed like he had a screw loose. He was furious.”

In some ways Drivas is lucky to be alive.

In June, gangsters murdered their third foreigner in two weeks in Medellín and homicides are up 80 percent as rival drug cartels, the figurative heirs of Escobar, wage war on each other.

In Lindzey’s opinion, anyone involved in the prostitution business would have come onto the radar of the drug lords, who might have them killed for stealing their women or encroaching on their turf.

Like many other residents and natives of Medellín, Lindzey is concerned that the Colombia Jake story will harm relations between expats and tourists and the local community. Medellín has become one of the most popular places in Colombia for foreign visitors, not least because of its year-round warm weather: “Where Spring is Eternal,” as conventional tourist literature puts it.

There is a growing tech sector, a booming medical tourism industry, and rising numbers of Americans are retiring there thanks to the cheaper cost of living.

But the sex tourism industry is an undeniable draw, too, and the authorities have long looked the other way. What seems to have sparked the crackdown are the recent homicides.

Police recently tried to clear out the area around Parque Lleras, which is popular with tourists and is where many drug dealers and prostitutes hang out. When that didn’t work— the crowds just moved to another park— the authorities began to target pimps, which is when Drivas got caught.

According to the news site El Colombiano, he has tried to kill himself twice since his arrest, including trying to jump from the 17th floor of one of the court buildings.

Drivas is currently being held in the Penitentiary La Paz (Itagüí), a grim, maximum-security prison that is so overcrowded that it has an occupancy of 966 people but only enough beds for 328.

Col. Paulo César Cruz Delgadillo, the chief of the criminal investigation unit for children and adolescents at the Colombian National Police, told the website Vivir En El Poblado that they had “done their part” as far as Drivas was concerned.

The arrest was reportedly coordinated with the U.S. Embassy in Colombia, but whether or not America seeks Drivas’s extradition is up to them, the colonel said. The Department of Justice and the Department of State declined to comment. Nobody from Immigration and Customs Enforcement was available for comment.

Several relatives of Drivas reached by The Daily Beast either did not return calls or hung up when reached on the phone. But not everyone was so reticent.

Kristin Proper, the mother of Drivas’s ex-wife, called Drivas a “scumbag” and said that she was “not surprised at all” by his arrest.

When told that he could be spending the rest of his life in jail, she said: “That would be lovely.”

CREDIT LINK TO THIS WEB SITE

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/08/20/what-took-medellin-s-top-american-pimp-so-long-to-get-caught.html

Tourist robbed and shot on Poblado Ave at MacDonald’s

Editors note:  This is on the main road in front of MacDonald’s which is next to Olivera Mall and across the street from Santa Fe Mall.  This is a “safe as it get’s” area.  The news below was translated from the local newspaper today.  This happen in daylight hours 5:30pm.  The update from the local police is gangs now are getting more bolder.  Someone saw his “expensive watch” phoned the two on motorcycle to rob him in the process of this robbery he was shot in the leg.  I personally am in this McCafe one to two times a week, this hits home to me, way too close !!  Medellin is not safe. 

news paper translated below into English.

Colonel Carlos Alberto Wilches, deputy commander of the Metropolitan Police confirmed Saturday that the US citizen injured last Friday at 5:30 pm by two men on Avenida El Poblado with South 6th Street, it was for stealing a watch high end.
“We know that the tourist came out of a mall, [Olivera Mall] which was making a purchase own family activities together. Unfortunately it is approached by two men on a motorcycle coming to steel his watch.

Abroad in this case it seeks to prevent theft be and is what causes the offenders violate their integrity. He is taken to a hospital and there is stable, in good condition. The National Police are currently investigating the perpetrators of this fact, “Wilches said.
As indicated by the authorities, the US was an engineer and had arrived a week ago to Medellin to business issues and now is recovering from a shot in one leg at a clinic in this sector.
“Faced with the modality of the freight costs, we have shown that these bands are attached to the criminal gangs engaged in theft, extortion and micro-trafficking,” he added Wilches on freighters bands that transgress in El Poblado.

Killing of three foreigners the past two weeks

The killing of three foreigners the past two weeks in Medellín is causing alarm in Colombia’s second-largest city as it struggles to leave behind its reputation as the one-time murder capital of the world.

Danish tourist Tomás Willemoes was shot and killed last week at close range by an unknown assailant in a popular plaza [Park LLeras] in the city’s most upscale neighborhood Poblado.  His murder came just days after an Israeli and Mexican, both of whom apparently were living in Medellín, were also killed.

Authorities are at a loss to explain the three killings, which came as the city was showcasing security gains to hundreds of business executives attending the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Latin America. But at least one victim, the Israeli, appears to have been connected to a criminal ring that promoted sex tourism with prostitutes, prompting an energetic defense from the city’s new mayor.

update:  They were into underage girls advertising sex tours of Medellin, reason for killings as reported in local newspaper. 

“Any homicide is regretful, regardless of the reasons,” Mayor Federico Gutiérrez told journalists on Monday. “But it’s very important to say that Medellín can’t be a place for sex or drug tourism.”

Medellín’s murder rate has fallen sharply since the 1980s, when the city was under siege by Pablo Escobar’s army of killers. But it’s ticking up again this year and authorities worry that it could spoil a nascent tourism boom.

So far this year there have been more than 225 murders, an increase of around 10 percent from 2015, according to Security Secretary Gustavo Villegas. In May alone homicides spiked 80 percent.

Andres Munera, an independent travel guide in Medellín, shares the mayor’s outrage and says he’s had to turn away foreign customers who came to the city looking for drugs and prostitution. He says the demand for such activities is strong and undercuts the efforts of residents who’ve worked hard to clean up their city’s image as a haven for criminality. Rare among many travel guides in Medellín, his company, Land Venture Travel, doesn’t offer tours of the haunts made famous by Escobar’s Medellín cartel before the fugitive capo’s death at the hands of the police in 1993.

More than 210,000 foreigners visited Medellín last year, a 34 percent jump over 2014, according to the city’s tourism board. Key attractions include the giant bronze statues by famous son Fernando Botero, nearby farms and a thriving cultural scene. The area where Willemoes was shot last Thursday night, Parque Lleras, is home to the city’s fanciest restaurants and bars.

“I’m sure this will have an impact,” said Munera, referring to the murders. “The multiplier effect of bad press is always much higher than someone who tells their friends ‘ah, what a great time I had in Medellín.'”

courtesy of Fox News

http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2016/06/22/killing-3-foreigners-past-2-weeks-causing-alarm-in-colombia-medellin/

 

Video: ‘Dutch drug tourist’ escapes kidnappers in Bogota

A chilling video has emerged of an alleged Dutch tourist escaping his alleged kidnappers along the rooftops of Bogota’s most infamous drug area, the Bronx.

Authorities told weekly Semana that the Dutchman had come to Colombia for drugs tourism purposes and visited the Bronx, until last week the capital’s most infamous drug dealing area.

The video was sent to the website just days after authorities raided the area and evicted everyone present.

The foreigner had allegedly spent days taking drugs in the area and was held hostage by the “sayayines,” the gang running the drugs in the center of Bogota, after he was unable to pay for the drugs he had consumed, said Semana.

The tourist reportedly managed to escape his captors and get onto the roof of the house, where he hid precariously on a ledge on the crumbling corner of the building while two masked men lurked just meters away, waiting for their opportunity.

The man’s shouts for help alerted the police who came to investigate and the masked men dared not approach.

A tense stand-off ensued and the whole episode went on for an hour until a firetruck with an extendable ladder was found that could bring the man down while avoiding his alleged captors.

The recent police raids in the Bronx came up with evidence for many more cases of this sort of kidnapping, as well as for drug-trafficking, arms dealing, child prostitution and even the dismemberment of bodies of homicide victims.

This Dutchman escaped with his life. Many others possibly did not.

VIDEO LINK HERE 

http://colombiareports.com/video-dutch-man-kidnapped-bogota-escapes-along-rooftops/

US Embassy Bogota: DEA Special Agent James “Terry” Watson Killed in Colombia

editor note: these are the taxi drivers involved in the DEA agent murder, were sent to USA for prosecution ! 

On June 21, DEA announced the death of Special Agent James “Terry” Watson, who was murdered in “what appears to have been a robbery attempt” Thursday night in Bogota, Colombia. At the time of his death, Special Agent Watson was assigned to the DEA Cartagena, Colombia office and was on temporary duty in Bogota.

“We are all saddened by this devastating loss of a member of the DEA family,” said DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart. “Terry was a brave and talented DEA Special Agent who served our agency for 13 years. These are the worst days for anyone in law enforcement and we grieve Terry’s loss.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Terry’s wife and family, and we will forever carry his memory in our hearts.”

According to the DEA, Special Agent Watson had served in Honolulu, Hawaii and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Prior to his assignment in Bogota, he also served on three deployments to Afghanistan conducting dangerous counter-narcotics missions as a member of DEA’s FAST program.  Special Agent Watson previously worked for the U.S. Marshals Service and served in the United States Army.

NBC News reports that the U.S Ambassador to Colombia Peter Michael McKinley told Caracol Radio that this appeared to be a run-of-the-mill robbery gone wrong and it did not appear that the agent was targeted.  Special Agent Watson reportedly had been watching the NBA finals with friends in the city’s fashionable Parque de la 93 district and had jumped into a taxi after the game.

Local media described this incident as a “paseo millonario,” a term for an express kidnapping. Although the OSAC Crime and Security report did not use this term, it details this crime as follows:

A common trend in cases of taxi-related crime is when the victim has been riding alone and has hailed a taxi on the street. Usually, the taxi driver will stop abruptly to allow a counterpart to enter the vehicle. The two individuals will then rob the passenger and in some cases bring the passenger to as many ATMs as possible.

The latest Crime and Security report says that Bogotá is rated “High” for terrorism, residential crime, non-residential crime, and political violence.  Post is rated 20% for cost of living, 5% for hardship and 15% for danger.

According to the embassy’s security office, the most prevalent threat to Americans on a daily basis is street crime. The most common types of crime include, but are not limited to, muggings, assaults, general thefts, credit card fraud, and burglaries. Criminals are quick to resort to physical assault and commonly use knives and firearms in the commission of crimes.

2 foreigners arrested underage sex crimes

editor note: If your a PEDOPHILE stay home do not come to Colombia you will be arrested too !!  photo credit is medellinsex.com, not us, copy from AP wire story. 

Years after becoming a popular destination for sex tourism, Colombia’s second largest city Medellin began cracking down on the phenomenon and arrested a foreign sex tourism provider.

According to local newspaper Vivir en Poblado, sex tourism provider Jay Harry Drivas, a.k.a. “Colombia Jake” and an alleged client were arrested Thursday last week while in the presence of a 13-year-old girl.

The girl was surrendered to child welfare authorities.

The arrest took place only a few blocks from Parque Lleras in one of the apartments rented by the sex tourism provider.

The arrest of Colombia Jake is only the first arrest of a foreigner on sexual exploitation charges and was reportedly coordinated with the US embassy.

While prostitution is legal in Colombia, pimping is not. Colombia Jake for years advertised women on the internet without any action from the authorities.

But following the recent assassination of two foreigners, one of whom an alleged pimp, Mayor Federico Gutierrez vowed to take action.

“Medellin can’t be a place for sex or drug tourism,” he told The Associated Press.

National media had already begun criticizing Medellin for its lax attitude towards its “toxic tourism” as the city increasingly turned into a popular destination for foreigners seeking sex, drugs or both.

Especially the area around Parque Lleras, the city’s most popular tourism hotspot, over the years became a meeting point for sex tourists, pimps and prostitutes.

The situation got so out of hand that a Colombian crime analysis organization dubbed the square one of the city’s primary drug dealing spots. [Park Lleras in Poblado]

Authorities intervened in June, trying to remove drug dealers and prostitutes from the square.

However, according to locals this only displaced the phenomenon to the Provenza neighborhood two blocks from Parque Lleras.

With the arrest of the foreign sex tourism provider, Medellin’s authorities opened a new chapter in combating the exploitation of local women and girls.

JAKE WAS IN COSTA RICA TOO, here is the news from Costa Rica

The arrest of Colombia Jake is only the first arrest of a foreigner on sexual exploitation charges and was reportedlycoordinated with the Embassy of the United States.

VivirEnPoblado.com says authorities  believed a serious connection to organized criminal organizations engaged in the sexual exploitation of minors, and  preliminary information indicates a link to the murder of an Israeli citizen a couple of weeks in Medellin, with alleged links to a network dedicated to sexual and drug trafficking attending to the demand of visitors who came to the city in search of sex and drugs.

$49 Suite only you, and I offer Suites and Girlfriend Experience Evening Dates as a courtesy $75, or Suite and Happy Massage Girl During the Day and Girlfriend Experience Evening Date for $99…” reads the promo.

Authorities are also considering asset forfeiture of the rented apartment.

While prostitution is legal in Colombia, pimping is not.

Colombia Jake for years advertised women on the internet without any action from the Medellin authorities, recently criticized by the national media for its lax as the city increasingly turned into a popular destination for foreigners seeking sex, drugs or both. Especially the area around Parque Lleras, a hotspot for tourism, becoming a meeting point for sex tourists, pimps and prostitutes.

A police action in June, in attempt to remove drug dealers and prostitutes from the area around the park, only led to the activity moving over to the Provenza neighbourhood, only two blocks from Parque Lleras.

But following the recent assassination of two foreigners, one of whom an alleged pimp, Mayor Federico Gutierrez, authorities vowed to take action.

With the arrest of the American as provider of sex tourism, Medellin’s authorities entered a new chapter in combating the sexual exploitation of local women and girls.

No-go areas in Medellin Tourist not Welcome

Medellin has made massive progress in both public safety and tourism over the past decades. However, as the city slowly becomes a recognizable tourist destination, there are plenty of places a traveler should not wander either for his own safety or to avoid wasting his time.

Some of these places are the stomping grounds of prostitutes and drug addicts; others are where pickpockets and thieves congregate, or the places embroiled in gang-related violence. There are also places that are blatant tourist traps simply not worth the bother.

This arbitrary list should not be interpreted as a travel warning, but say awake if your venture into these barrios & parks.

Photo below is the MetroCable system, this will take you to the barrio of Santo Domingo, is safe during the day time:  NIGHT TIME TOURIST NOT WELCOME IN THIS BARRIO

Santo Domingo. Most tourists will want to ride straight on through to Santo Domingo, enjoying the stunning, usually sunny, panoramas of Medellin on offer from the cable-cars. The fact that this is a public transport route makes the ride an interesting mixture of people, and takes you directly over some of the poorest and previously most dangerous, neighborhoods in Medellin. When you arrive at the end of Line K in Santo Domingo it’s well-worth exiting the system to wander around the bustling barrio and walk around towards the towering Espana Library Park (a hallmark of Medellin’s social urbanism policy). From the edge of the park is a wonderful viewpoint offering remarkable, expansive views over the city, with the cable-car gondolas swinging by in front of you. It’s a stark reminder of how this was a no-go zone just a decade ago.

Comuna 13

The 13th District, locally known as the Comuna 13, is known to be one of Medellin’s most troubled and dangerous districts, and is continually suffering from gang warfare and violence.

In 2011, the city installed outside escalators onto the mountainside. The six sections of escalators give residents of Comuna 13 free access to 1,260 feet of movable stairs – the equivalent of about a 28-story building – and make the journey up and down the mountain both quicker and safer for locals.


How art helps Medellin’s embattled Comuna 13 define itself

However, the escalators are not to be thought of as a tourist destination. The area around them is frequently disputed by gang members who are often responsible for murders, and it is highly unsafe to wander around the upper regions of Comuna 13 – particularly alone and as a foreigner.

That’s not to say that the neighborhood is entirely off limits, as the 13 the district has a fascinating culture and sparkling nightlife of its own. Particularly the area close to the metro station is worth a visit if you want to see what the real Medellin is like. Just be aware that the higher up the mountain you go, the more danger you will potentially face.

Alternative

  • Comuna 13 (the lower part of the district)

Parque Lleras

Parque Lleras, in the upscale Poblado neighborhood, is filled to the brim with restaurants, hotels, bars and clubs. Almost without exception, these places are expensive, pretentious, and utterly non-Colombian.

The park is widely promoted as the place to go when visiting Medellin for the first time which consequently made it the preferred area of most travelers visiting Medellin when it comes to nights out. Hostels seem to consistently recommend Lleras and Poblado to their guests as the best area for nightlife, meaning that the park and its surrounding streets are populated by wandering backpackers, often tailed by eager cocaine dealers looking for an easy sell.

You’re more likely to bump into a foreigner than a local when spending time in Parque Lleras, unless you’ve attracted the attention of female “gringo hunters” who also spend their time here.

Lleras has created an impression of being the “upper class” area of the city, but there are much more authentic experiences in this vein to be had in other parts of the city.

Alternatives

  • Parque Poblado
  • Rio Sur
  • La Strada
  • San Fernando Plaza
  • Las Palmas
  • La 33

Parque de las Luces

Tourists would never have dared venture to the modern-day Parque de las Luces when Pablo Escobar was still alive. A building on the plaza, then called Plaza Cisneros and located across the street from the city hall, used to house the drug kingpin’s cartel headquarters.

That same building is now the Ministry for Education, and the newly renovated plaza contains dozens of huge white vertical poles fitted with lamps that are lit up at night – a controversial project called “Medellin is light” from architect Juan Manuel Pelaez.


Medellin’s Parque de las Luces

The plaza is now used as a public space for markets and city events and borders Medellin’s administrative center, but problems still persist.

The plaza is a magnet for drunks, drug addicts and the homeless, and the level of street crime here is rife. Knife attacks are not uncommon, and it is recommended to never visit the plaza after dark.

Alternative

  • Anywhere else

Parque San Antonio

In 1995, a guerrilla planted a bomb at the base of a bird sculpture in Parque San Antonio – one of many larger-than-life sculptures from artist Fernando Botero that are scattered throughout Medellin.

The resulting explosion killed 23 people and injured a hundred others, but Botero refused to have the ruins of his sculpture removed. Instead, he sculpted a second bird, taller than the first, and placed this ‘Bird of Peace’ sculpture beside the original, damaged piece.


Medellin’s Parque San Antonio

Sadly, the park is known for pickpocketing and the theft of phones, wallets and loose change, particularly when there are less people around or when it gets dark. It’s particularly not recommended to walk through the park alone.

Alternative

  • Anywhere else

Parque Periodista

This bohemian central square is a prime student hangout and often features a hefty amount of marijuana smoking, which police seem to turn a blind eye to. There are often drug deals taking place in the square and occasional shootouts when those deals go awry, or when competition between local dealers gets too fraught – particularly at night.


Medellin’s Parque Periodista

Parque Periodista has a variety of rock and alternative bars surrounding it, which are usually pretty empty during the week but spring to life from Thursday to Saturday, when the atmosphere is a great taster of the underground scene in Medellin. The vast majority of people sit outside in the park on weekend nights, drinking beers and smoking marijuana, in amongst spontaneous freestyle performances from guitarists, rappers, and anyone else who fancies taking a turn in the spotlight.

A visit to Parque Periodista is guaranteed to be an insight into Medellin’s more alternative side, but it’s worth being aware that the area is well known for breakouts of danger.

Alternatives


Pueblito Paisa

Atop a hill in the center of Medellin sits Pueblito Paisa, a reproduction of a small Antioquian village typical to the region.

If you don’t have any chances to journey outside of the immediate city during your time in Colombia, then you might gain some enjoyment from a visit to the fake “village” – otherwise, don’t bother. There’s something rather sad about a fake village filled with vendors desperately trying to flog their wares to tired tourists.

Truth be told, the site does offer a spectacular view over the city.

Alternatives

  • Mirador de Las Palmas (for the amazing view)
  • A real village (for the authenticity)

Prado

Prado, located downtown on the northern side of 10th district, is the old residential neighborhood for the city’s wealthy. The neighborhood has been deemed cultural heritage because of its spectacular architecture.

However, the neighborhood is also a hotspot for crack cocaine dealings and child prostitution. The area around it, known as La Candelaria or El Centro, has the highest homicide rate in Medellin.

During the day, El Centro is also filled with bankers and business people hard at work in office buildings, but between 6PM and 8PM all commuters and cops go home and the downtown area becomes one of the most desolate districts of the city. Prado even more so.


Welcome to my neighborhood, downtown Medellin, a.k.a. ‘El Centro’

While Prado makes for a good walk, this is only recommendable when in a group.

Alternatives

  • Bombona (which also has some pretty cool architecture)
  • Bogota (Colombia’s capital city)

Barrio Trinidad, a.k.a. ‘Barrio Antioquia

When anyone in Medellin is looking to buy drugs, Barrio Trinidad is where they go.

If you live in the city and know how things work, then you’ll probably be fine — but if not, it’s a minefield of unsavory experiences.

Quite apart from the possibility of a drug deal going wrong and putting you in danger, there’s also the prospect of policemen waiting to arrest you.

Alternative

  • House of Memory (a museum dedicated to victims of Colombia’s drug-fueled armed conflict)

La Sierra

The 8th is a district full of cluttered houses on the slopes of Medellin’s eastern hills. The “La Sierra” neighborhood sits between Medellin and northeastern Antioquia’s coca and marijuana fields, making Comuna 8 a crucial element for whoever wants control of the city’s underworld.

Two powerful crime networks, the Caribbean-based Urabeños and Medellin’s own Oficina de Envigado crime syndicate, have vied for control of the neighborhood for years, causing repeated territorial wars in the streets of Comuna 8.

The neighborhood received some international fame after a 2005 documentary about the neighborhood aptly called “La Sierra.”

Alternatives

  • Buenos Aires (a nearby neighborhood with an amazing nightlife)
  • Stay home and watch the documentary

Museum of Antioquia

The Antioquia Museum is counted as one of Medellin’s main attractions, but the vast majority of works inside the museum are the hundreds of pieces Colombian artist and sculptor Fernando Botero donated to the city. It’s much more interesting to happen upon his statues that are dotted around outside, in the city’s parks and plazas, instead of actively wandering through rooms of his work that fill the entire third floor.


Medellin’s Museum of Antioquia

The museum also features collections of Colombia’s religious artifacts and paintings of Colombian independence heroes, plus a modern art exhibition. None are very impressive.

Alternative

  • Medellin’s modern art museum MAMM
  • Botero Museum in Bogota

Homicides in Medellin up 80% as turf wars threaten fragile peace

Homicides in Colombia’s second biggest city Medellin shot up 80% in May after tensions between local crime lords ended years of relative peace between the city’s gangs.

editors note: The tourist area are safe, being downtown late at night or certain hillside barrios is not a place for a tourist at any time of day!  Ask the locals. 

For years Medellin has boasted dropping homicide rates. However, this reduction in violent crime has been delicate, primarily because it was never the result of an effective security policy, but due to a pact between capos of local crime syndicate Oficina de Envigado and neo-paramilitary group Los Urabeños.

However, for months there have been renewed tensions between the different leaders of the Oficina, particularly in the downtown area where decades-old gangs called Convivir rule the streets.

Additional tensions and spikes in homicides were reported in the east and northeast of the city.

The troubles began in January, immediately after Mayor Federico Gutierrez, a long-time critic of the security policies of his predecessor Anibal Gaviria, took office.

Under Gaviria, the city’s crime lords upheld a truce, allegedly bartered by businessmen and politicians with ties to the city’s underworld.

 


US Embassy Colombia Travel Warning

Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Colombia each year for tourism, business, university studies, and volunteer work.  Security in Colombia has improved significantly in recent years, including in tourist and business travel destinations such as Bogota, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Medellin, and Cali.  However, violence linked to narco-trafficking continues to affect some rural and urban areas. Despite significant decreases in overall crime in Colombia, continued vigilance is warranted due to an increase in recent months of violent crime, including crime resulting in the deaths of American citizens.  This Travel Warning replaces the previous travel warning released on June 5, 2015.

There have been no reports of U.S. citizens targeted specifically for their nationality. While the U.S. Embassy has no information regarding specific and credible threats against U.S. citizens in Colombia, both the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN) terrorist groups continue to condemn any U.S. influence in Colombia.  The Department of State strongly encourages U.S. citizens to exercise caution and remain vigilant as terrorist and criminal activities remain a threat throughout the country. Explosions occur throughout Colombia on a regular basis, including in Bogota. Small towns and rural areas of Colombia can be extremely dangerous due to the presence of terrorists and  criminal elements, including armed gangs (referred to as “BACRIM” in Spanish), that are active throughout much of the country. Violence associated with the BACRIM has spilled over into many of Colombia’s major cities. These groups are heavily involved in the drug trade, extortion, kidnapping, and robbery.

Violence associated with crime is a threat throughout Colombia.  During the period November 2014 to January 2016, there were several homicides of U.S. citizens in connection with robberies, including armed robbery on streets and in taxi cabs, public transport, home invasions, and muggings.  The victims represented a mix of tourists, long-term residents and persons with dual U.S.-Colombian citizenship.

The incidence of kidnapping in Colombia has diminished significantly from its peak in 2000.  However, kidnapping remains a threat. Terrorist groups and other criminal organizations continue to kidnap and hold civilians, including foreigners, for ransom.  No one is immune from kidnapping on the basis of occupation, nationality, or other factors.

U.S. government officials in Colombia regularly travel to the major cities of Colombia such as Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla, and Cartagena without incident. U.S. government officials and their families in Colombia normally are permitted to travel to major cities only by air. They may not use inter- or intra-city bus transportation, or travel by road outside urban areas at night. U.S. government officials in Colombia and their families are restricted to traveling within certain areas. This includes using the main highways to travel between Bogota and Bucaramanga, and between Bogota and Ibague. Personnel are allowed to drive between Manizales, Pereira, and Armenia and within the “coffee country” departments of Caldas, Risaralda, and Quindío. On the Caribbean coast, personnel are restricted to driving along Highway 90 from Cartagena, through Barranquilla to Santa Marta.  Travel to all other areas of Colombia is off limits unless specific authorization is granted.  All U.S. citizens in Colombia are urged to follow these precautions and exercise extra caution outside of the aforementioned areas.

For more detailed information on staying safe in Colombia, please see the State Department’s Country Specific Information for Colombia. For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 001-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). U.S. citizens living or traveling in Colombia are encouraged to enroll with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to obtain updated information on travel and security within Colombia. For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Colombia, please contact the U.S. Embassy or the closest U.S. Consulate as listed below.

ZIKA Virus Malaria or Yellow Fever await you in South America

The truth is all of these are here in South America, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Panama are all the same, close to the rainforest where these insect live.

BRING SEVERAL BOTTLES OF DEET.  50% will last 4 hours, 25% two hours, 100% unto 6 hours. Read the label.

How To Avoid Bug Bites 

  • Cover exposed skin. Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats,, plus a cotton neck scarf 
  • Use an approved insect repellent. 100% DEET is only one that actually works. Spray on back of neck, arms, hands, ankles plus spray on your hands apply easy to face. 
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear. These items remain protected after several washings. Check the product information. If treating items yourself, follow the instructions carefully, and do not use permethrin directly on skin.  Hats, shirts, pants, scarf, socks this was made for our military and actually works too, google it, sold on Amazon. 
  • Sleep in air-conditioned or screened rooms. 
  • Use a bed net if the sleeping area is exposed to the outdoors. 
  • If bitten, avoid scratching the area. Apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion and reduce the itching.

Prior to their journey, health professionals in your own country will advise travelers about necessary vaccines. The U.S. recommends the vaccine for travelers visiting regions lower than 2,300 m in elevation, in provinces east of the Andes Mountains.  Yellow Fever shots are a good precaution.

ZIKA you only need to Google this virus to understand the danger.

The bite of the female Anopheles mosquito transmits malaria to humans.

internet transformed expat life living at coffee cafe’s

Black coffee & computer now the norm at most all Expat Coffee Cafe’s

Editors note:   This past week I wanted to meet a friend at a coffee cafe in Poblado, only to find my two favorite “internet cafe” FULL !!   Now in the last year they have expanded to double the size added more tables took over the shop next door too, all the way when we arrived EVERY TABLE FULL.

The place was full of EXPATS on a computer mixed with the normal Nomad travelers with their notebook computers, iPads and cell phones all typing away.  No place sit and enjoy a cup of joe.

A few years ago this would not be the case, as taking a smaller notebook for work to a coffee cafe was unheard of, let alone now the norm.

My task over the next few weeks was to talk with these travelers and expats, to find out 99% of them were working, WORKING!  Travelers still connected to the office, no one knew they were traveling, and then the others whom this is the new life style.  Working a few hours from remote locations around the globe.

We welcome all internet entrepreneur’s whom share my favorite table street side at a coffee cafe, now move over, that is my table !!  

CLOSE UP YOUR COMPUTER & TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE AND TALK WITH PEOPLE, YEA PEOPLE, FRIENDS MEET SOMEONE NEW, REAL LIVE PEOPLE ARE ALL AROUND YOU, CLOSE THAT DAM COMPUTER.

my best to all Rusty

Tools required:  Small notebook computer, smartphone, VOP service, headphones, ear buds, virtual assistant, freight forwarder mail service, social media.   My toys are Apple MacBook Pro, iPhone, iPad, SKYPE, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger phone, MagicJack, Sony headphones, Plantronic mic headphones, HP ear buds, Philippines for VA, Caribbean Freight Forwarders [Amazon delivery service to my door], of course keeping in touch via Facebook, instragram, YouTuber personal video messages,  sorry I’m not a twitter fan plus several personal family blogs I keep posting to, also. 

Below is a news article on this subject:

In less than a generation, the Internet has transformed expat life: Is it a danger or a vehicle for international integration

By Cliodna O’Flynn

I am wondering if trying to control the amount of time I spend on the Internet in direct or indirect contact with home, with EU, has become necessary. I am worried that as it gets easier to connect with back home I am both mentally and physically spending less time where I live. Is the internet a danger to integration?

chl internet changeI am no newbie expat, nor am I here to escape the financial crisis or anything else. In fact, my life abroad has coincided with the growth of the internet, social networking, and cheaper and easier connections of all sorts. When I moved out here, initially for a year, it was for personal reasons; some real, some imagined. I stayed, probably for the wrong reasons at the time. Back then, in 1999, the world of computers was only coming into its own as a user-friendly sphere, and the number of people who owned a portal at home for fun was small. Computers at home were pretty much work related.

When I moved here at the age of 37, I still wrote and received letters, and loved them (still have them). Of course I also made phone calls, although this was still at the tail end of the era when calls to a foreign country were considered a luxury and a once-a-week kind of event. So home was abroad, away, far away. I spent fifteen minutes a week talking to parents and sisters and sometimes to friends. I wrote letters.

But most of my time was spent building a life here, learning Spanish, and getting to know people, supermarkets, places, customs, and habits. In other words: integrating, fitting in. I moved here alone, so I was happy to have to go out and make friends. At the first few jobs I landed I insisted that people spoke to me in Spanish, and gradually I learnt the language. Connections of all sorts, not just Internet ones, were slow. When a very close family member was dying I had to endure 4 a.m. connections to make it to the hospital; direct flights only became a reality eight years ago.

I was a journalist before I left home, and very soon the call of the profession was too strong. Within five months I was working full time for a local English paper, but here too we were antediluvian in our internet connections – there were two computers that could go online, and the use was monitored. It would take years before we were all able to log on first thing in the morning. But it meant that I was reading (and gradually understanding) two or three local Spanish papers a day, and interviewing local politicians became a bit easier. However, modernity caught up with us bit by bit.

Just a few years ago there were only a handful of people in our village with online connections – the hotels and the upwardly mobile bright young things – but almost overnight, that changed. Fast forward, and now if you’re not online, hooked up, tweeting out the messages and posting photographs on Facebook faster than you can say “where can I buy a stamp”, you’re not living. In fact, my daughter’s primary school recently organised a trip to the local post office as an excursion, and the kids were taught to post a letter. What a novelty and something very few of them see their parents doing these days.

So, how has the Internet changed my life as an expat? Hugely, and not completely for the best I think, though I am no Luddite. As a result of a recent birthday I am now the owner of an iPad, I am online at home, own a Smartphone, can make cheap calls to anywhere in the world, and am instantly contactable, which is a drag a lot of the time.

The advantages are numerous, I admit. I have watched a cousin get married courtesy of the webcam, and was able to watch, with great sadness, the funeral of another contact live online. I follow politics from home with huge interest and contribute to Facebook chats on Irish issues, despite the fact I haven’t lived in Ireland for years and do not have a vote. I have rediscovered old friends, people who I had cared for but hadn’t written to in years. With the magic of social networking I now know more about them than ever. And interestingly enough some are, I feel, closer to me as friends today than when I left home 14 years ago. Maybe in the intervening years, before we rediscovered each other, we all grew up a little, stopped trying to impress each other, and are truer representations of who we really are – at least online anyway!

Nowadays I listen to Morning Ireland on RTE (Irish national radio) as I am getting breakfast, check the Irish Times online the minute I get to the office, and listen to the News at One on my headphones in work. Keeping in touch is great, but there is a cost involved. The time I once spent watching Spanish news, finding out more about what was going in on my adopted country, is now given over to catching up on the minutiae of life in a place I may never live in again. In many ways, I have become more of an expat than before in recent years. I spend more time talking about and thinking about Ireland because I know more about what is going on, and that of course maintains the notion that some day soon I might go back.

I hope it’s a phase and that I will be able to find a balance. I love both living in a different country and Ireland, and if I am to be truly content with my life here I think I need to wake up a little, sign off, and go out and smell the local flowers. The Internet should be a communications tool rather than an escape mechanism. Real life is outside the front door, not through the square window!

Medellin in 36 hours New York Times video post

The New York Times recently had posted a Travel Video on Medellin which is worth the three minutes to watch.  Interesting places and things to see and do while on holiday or extended longer visits, here are some ideas of what to do.   One of these links below should work !!

 

32788_1_36hours-medellin_wg_480p.mp4

 

Brewing the Perfect Cup of Coffee

Coffee Coffee Coffee, can we ever get enough of this wake-up must have everyday drug habit?  YES, this is a drug, a legal one at that too.  Even if it comes from Colombia noted for the Drug Capital of the World, this is their other export product.

Brewing your perfect “cup of joe” as many refer to this brownish liquid take a bit of the science involved.  Taking you back to high school chem lab, is not my mission today, but rather give a few hints to the perfect cup of coffee you can make at home.

Select your jar of Coffee beans, fresh grind to a medium fine grind, 2 tablespoons of ground beans per 8oz cup

Fresh bottle water, minus the chemicals in the tap water, helps too

Water heated to a boil, then wait off boil count to twenty, = 190f or about 90c

pour over grounds, wet first, then continue.  See many Google Post on how to use a pour over

This will equal the perfect cup of coffee, no matter what country your in.

Now if your in Medellin, head over to Pergamino Cafe in Poblado for a cup of Perfect Coffee, my favourite place to sit and watch the world go by, outside patio cafe.

Check out a few images of pour over coffee making PLUS see the BBC news post on making the Perfect Cup of Coffee, of which this reporter decided to visit Medellin for himself, to test the coffee…

I have a few YouTuber Videos on brewing via a Mr. Coffee Jr, making it into a pour over, link click here in a week.

 

Link to BBC News post on making Colombian Perfect Cup of Coffee 

 

Link to Serious Eats Science of pour over

 

 

2015 Cost of Living Index Medellin is cheap to live


The new 2015 cost of living index has been published, link below to check where your living now as compare to Medellin Colombia or any other city you may think of as your “spot” to retire to.

The bottom line MEDELLIN RANK 38 about HALF the cost living as compare to living in the USA, scores in the 70 to 100 rank Los Angeles, San Francisco Portland Oregon or even New York are more than double the cost to live than a better quality of life in Medellin Colombia.

The factors considered were rent, food, restaurants, etc.

Check the details here, find your favourite city to compare actual cost.

http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/rankings.jsp

Colombia Retirement Wall Street Journal on Retirement

This is an interesting news story on the facts of retirement to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Belize and Panama.  ALL FACTS you should know if your thinking of these countries as to compare to Colombia.  I cover a lot more items from personal friends who have moved to these cities and finally moved on to Colombia the second  retirement choice.  Learn from my personal “learning curve” and my friends too, come visit Colombia, but in reality you need to see the other countries too as you find your sweet spot there also.  Remember no matter what we as retired baby boomers, need to enjoy life, eat well and travel safe !!

 here is the direct link click here: 

Retirees in North America head south to Central America’s hottest real-estate markets, spending big bucks in Panama, Belize and Nicaragua for exotic living experiences unlike any other in the world. (Photo: Bobby Pereira for The Wall Street Journal.)

When Steven and Robin Fine started searching for a place in Latin America to spend their early retirement, they looked at spots in Mexico and Costa Rica, both popular destinations for American retirees. On a trip two years ago, they decided to stop by Panama, too.

The Breeze in Belize

Tony Rath for The Wall Street JournalTom and Tricia Herskowitz had a 7,000-square-foot compound built in a new development called Sanctuary; a view from a rear verando is shown.

 

“We thought we would like Panama the least,” Mr. Fine, 51 years old, a former communications executive said, “but we liked it the best.”

The combination of luxury apartment buildings, good restaurants and modern hospitals drew the couple to Panama City, where 1½ years ago they spent $1.1 million, plus about $250,000 on renovations, on a 48th-floor penthouse with a view of the Pacific. It is now their full-time home.

The Central American nations of Panama, Belize and Nicaragua are increasingly competing with Costa Rica and Mexico for North American retirees and second-home buyers. New luxury developments, outfitted with spas, restaurants, marinas and golf courses, are on the rise. Builders say they are using more high-end materials and adding upscale amenities designed to appeal to affluent American buyers.

Bobby Pereira for The Wall Street JournalSteven and Robin Fine renovated a $1.1 million, 48th-floor penthouse in Panama City.

These countries offer packages of residency and breaks on taxes and fees that imitate Costa Rica’s pensionadoprogram, which was introduced in 1971 and helped set the groundwork for a boom in retiree emigration from North America. Nicaragua added such a law in 2009, offering foreigners with retirement incomes tax breaks on everything from cars to construction materials. Last year, Panama, which has a long-established retiree program, created a path to citizenship for retirement residents and introduced a new residency program for people under retirement age that has lowered requirements for investment in property, business and other ventures.

“The message of this law is simple,” said Panama City-based attorney Manoj Chatlani of Panama Offshore Legal Services. “It’s ‘Come to Panama.’ ”

[image]

The number of Americans who collect Social Security in Panama jumped 65% to 2,164 between 2006 and 2011, the latest year for which there is information. In Nicaragua, the figure more than doubled in the same period, from 595 to 1,322. Belize’s number, too tiny for the Social Security Administration to track in years past, was 560 in 2011.

Panama’s explosive growth—gross domestic product increased by an average of 8.5% annually since 2008, according to International Monetary Fund estimates—has drawn American workers and businesses to Panama City over the past decade. Now, local developers are courting another population, focusing on building amenity-rich planned communities outside the city to appeal to North American retirees.

Boquete, a town about 40 miles from the Costa Rican border, offers high-end gated communities, an established expat community, cool mountain temperatures and tropical-rainforest landscape. Justin Harper, co-owner of Playa Chiquita Development Corp., is developing about 200 acres of virgin land 20 miles east of Boquete. The community, Bella Vista del Mundo, has 76 lots and plans for a boutique hotel, spa, pools, tennis courts and horseback trails. Single-family homes with mountaintop and Pacific Ocean views can be built by the developer for about $400,000.

David Hatton Urriola, 43, moved to Boquete three years ago from Kansas and set up Panama Connection Real Estate, which provides tours, relocation help and real-estate sales to expats. Among properties he is currently marketing is a 6,716-square-foot house on 34 acres, once used as the summer home of Panama’s military leader, Manuel Noriega, who is serving a 20-year sentence in El Renacer prison in Panama City. The house, listed at $2.3 million, is a 25-minute drive from where an international airport is being expanded.

On the east side of Panama City, a 700-acre community called Santa Maria Golf & Country Club is being built to include 4,000 colonial-style houses, townhouses and condominiums, and a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus’s company. The homes, yet to be completed, sell for about $278 a square foot, a “top price” in Panama City, said Kent Davis, broker at Panama Equity Real Estate.

“Santa Maria is a product that hadn’t existed in Panama before: the luxury suburban community—more American-style larger lots,” Mr. Davis said. Most pre-delivery buyers have been Panamanians; local agents say they expect American interest to rise as the development nears completion in five to 10 years.

Belize, a small, English-speaking nation with a population of about 330,000, has been popular for years as a scuba-diving and ecotourism destination. High-end properties had to be custom-built until the early 2000s, when developers started putting up “single homes here and there,” said Hugo Moguel, president of the Association of Real Estate Brokers of Belize, which is launching the country’s first multiple-listing service in August.

Now, developers are attempting to sell Belize as a luxury-living place to retire. New developments include Sanctuary Belize, a 14,000-acre development slated for completion in three years that will have 2,000 residential lots, 250 condominiums and townhouses, and a 220- to 250-slip marina. The buildings’ poured-concrete construction meets Dade County, Fla., hurricane-resistant standards, said Luke Chadwick, a partner in Eco-Futures Development. Developer financing is available.

Of the 600 lots Sanctuary has sold so far, 80% of them have been to Americans, he said. The core demographic is “50 to 65 year olds, either in retirement or planning for retirement,” Mr. Chadwick added. Lot prices range from $149,000 to $1 million for an acre overlooking the Caribbean, he said.

Tom and Tricia Herskowitz moved into their 7,000-square-foot compound in Sanctuary this past September, lured by the boat slip and Caribbean access. “The fact that the country is English speaking and is a Commonwealth country was attractive to us,” said Mr. Herskowitz, 68, a retired executive and business-school professor.

Amid growing tourism—and aided by the lowering of a foreigner transaction tax in 2006—there has been a boom in luxury-condo developments, especially on the island of Ambergris Caye, popular with expats.

“There are beachfront condos going up that are going to feature elevators, which didn’t exist in Belize before. Most of the buyers are baby boomers and they are aging,” said Dmitri Ioudine, owner of Coldwell Banker Ambergris Caye Ltd. Local builders say building materials have improved as local suppliers bring in higher-end materials.

Despite their inroads with American retirees, these countries still don’t attract the same numbers as more established destinations, such as Mexico and Costa Rica. In 2011, more than 50,000 Americans collected Social Security in Mexico and more than 5,000 in Costa Rica. But Mexico’s well-publicized drug war and escalating violence are starting to push Americans to look at new places for retirement.

Central America, however, has its own problems with crime. The U.S. Department of State labeled the crime rate in Nicaragua “critical” and the murder rate in Belize “extremely high,” though concentrated in Belize City and not in tourist areas. In Costa Rica, petty crime such as theft and “smash and grab” muggings have increased in the past couple of years, along with home invasions.

In Panama, murders and gun violence have decreased in recent years, but reported rape and theft have increased. “Panama remains relatively safe when compared with other Central American countries, yet crime rates are higher than one would encounter in most of the United States,” says the State Department’s 2013 report.

Dan Prescher, who leads conferences by International Living, a provider of information for people interested in retiring abroad, says urban crime rates can exaggerate safety issues in other areas of a country. Still, he warns that public security isn’t always adequate in the region.

Nicaragua is the latest country to attempt to grab North American interest. In Guacalito de la Isla, a 16,070-acre coastal development—with 600 residences, a pool, restaurant and gym—is under construction. A two-hour drive from Managua’s international airport, the project includes a plan to open a small airport by 2015. The first homes—28 single-family houses—will be turned over to owners in September. The four-bedroom, four-bath pool houses sold for between $700,000 and $750,000, said Jeff Lawrence, director of real estate. A luxury hotel-resort on the property, Mukul, opened in January and has helped boost sales, he said.

“The buyers right now are 85% Nicaraguan and 15% U.S. based,” Mr. Lawrence said. “There is an education hurdle for us to convince people that Nicaragua is safe and is a tropical paradise.”

Write to Katy McLaughlin at katy.mclaughlin@wsj.com

Retirement in Colombia MONEY USNEWS.COM

Here is a news item from US News dot com on Retirement to Colombia I wished to pass along. It is not only me saying this is a great spot to check out but more and more people are finding out why “Colombia” and then Why Not Colombia, as the spot to retire.    Below is the US News item in full.

direct link  http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/On-Retirement/2013/04/01/why-medellin-colombia-is-a-great-retirement-spot

 

Why Medellin, Colombia is a Great Retirement Spot

April 1, 2013 RSS Feed Print

“This is your first trip to Colombia, and you’ve chosen to focus on Medellin? That will save you a lot of time,” our new friend remarked. “This is the place to be in this country right now.”

After spending a little more time in La Bella Villa, as Medellin is known, we decided that this resident American expat knew what he was talking about. Medellin is impressive from the moment you depart the international airport and begin to make the drive down the mountainside toward it, and more so the longer you’re here.

The Euro-undertones are strong, from the way the women dress to the way people greet you in passing on the street. Wandering around Medellin is more reminiscent of walking around Paris than almost any other city in the Americas. If you were to compare Medellin with another city in Latin America, it’d be Buenos Aires, Argentina. Medellin, population about 2 million, is like a miniature version of Buenos Aires, from its annual International Tango Festival to its Botero Museum. However, Medellin is more manageable than Buenos Aires (which is home to about 15 million people), easier to navigate and cleaner. Otherwise, the neighborhoods, parks, downtown shopping areas, antique shops and the arts and literary history in Medellin all remind you of that very European city way down at the bottom of this continent.

Medellin makes a good impression immediately and on many levels. Architecturally, this city is lovely. Built almost entirely of red brick, with almost every structure topped by a red clay tile roof, the place is pleasing in its consistency, especially when viewed from some height. From the windows of one of the city’s penthouse apartments, for example, Medellin appears a sea of red clay tiles and red brick buildings interspersed regularly by swatches of foliage and flowers. The effect is calming and peaceful.

Another thing you’ll notice immediately upon arrival in Medellin is that this city is nowhere near as scary as you might have expected. As every local resident you speak with will assure you with pride and relief, the drug wars are history, not a current reality. I’m sure some drug trade continues, as it does in every city of any size anywhere in the world. But the drug business is no longer a defining part of this city.

Far from intimidating, the people of Medellin are friendly, helpful and hospitable. Traveling across the city on its metro one afternoon, my husband and I stepped out from our train and on to the station platform uncertainly, looking left, then right, then down at our small pocket map. We weren’t sure which way to go next and were moving slowly as we tried to get our bearings. An older gentleman who had been on the train with us, a native of the city, began to walk out of the station but then turned around and came back toward us. Addressing my husband politely, formally, he asked, in Spanish, if we needed help. Lief explained our ultimate destination, and the man walked us over to the big map on the wall to point out the quickest route then personally escorted us out to the street.

Medellin is impressively green, with trees, plants and small gardens everywhere. It’s also remarkably clean. In the central neighborhoods, you see no litter. The metro, another point of pride for the local population, is spotless and like new.

Medellin is a pretty, leafy and clean city that is safe, peaceful and welcoming place. That’s a good starting point. But would this city with such a troubled past actually be an appealing place to plan to spend time in your retirement? I was won over by both the face and the spirit of Medellin within 48 hours of arriving on my first visit. Today, three years later, having enjoyed many return visits since, I’d say that, yes, no question, this would be a very nice place to retire.

One important plus for would-be retirees is the climate, which istemperate year-round. You could say that Medellin’s climate is near-perfect. As it’s situated on the side of a mountain, the city’s altitude ascends from around 1,500 meters to 1,800 meters. The surrounding mountains rise to more than 2,500 meters. Temperatures range from 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit every day of the year. The rainy season is during the second half of the year, but it’s mild. Prolonged rainy periods and flooding are uncommon.

The city’s altitude gives it a gentle, agreeable climate and, as well, means there are few bugs. Some residents I’ve spoken with insist they’ve never seen a bug. I won’t try to convince you of that, but I will say that, living here, you could keep your windows open night and day, year-round, without screens.

Next, Medellin is culturally and recreationally rich and diverse. Living here as a retiree, you’d never want for something fun and interesting to do. On any given day, you could go hiking or bike riding. You could visit a museum or one of the many shopping malls. You could see a tango show or an opera (in season). Come evening, you could dance the night away (tango is a national pastime) and sample the local rum in one of the bawdy nightclubs or enjoy a fine meal and white-glove service at one of the many international-standard restaurants.

It’s not only restaurants in Medellin that can be of international standard. El Tesoro, for example, is as impressive a shopping mall as you’ll find anywhere in the world. It’s a five-minute cab ride up the hill from Parque Lleras, the heart of downtown Medellin and the best address in the city.

Medellin is the second-largest city in Colombia and is known as a major industrial center for the country (main products are textiles, coffee, and flowers). It is also, though, a city of parks and flowers, with interactive outdoor museum-parks, where children can build and experiment, run and play. There’s an aquarium, an amusement park, delightful botanical gardens, a planetarium, a “barefoot park” with a Zen garden and dozens of small parks and treed plazas, all well-tended and even manicured. At every turn, this city begs you to come outside and enjoy what it has to offer.

Medellin is not only an industrial, economic, and financial center for this country, but also a literary and an artistic one. It’s also the base for newspapers, radio networks, publishing houses, an annual poetry festival, an international jazz festival, an international tango festival and an annual book fair. Back in 1971, Medellin was even the venue for Colombia’s answer to Woodstock, the Festival de Ancon.

Among the many things I wasn’t prepared for arriving the first time in Medellin was the developed level of its infrastructure. This is a place where things work. Here in the city of flowers, the roadways are wide and well-paved, and wireless internet is ever-present and free in many places, including at Juan Valdez Cafés, the Colombian answer to Starbucks, with branches all over the city and the region.

Medellin was built in a deep valley surrounded by tall, pine-covered mountains. The domestic airport sits almost downtown, making travel to other cities and regions in Colombia easy. The larger international airport is on higher ground but only about an hour’s drive from the city.

There’s no bad season for travel to Medellin, but some times of the year are more interesting than others, and we’re approaching perhaps the best season to plan a visit. Late June is the International Tango Festival, when the people of Medellin celebrate their love affair with this sultry dance. July is the International Poetry Festival (in Spanish), the biggest celebration of its kind in the world, attracting more than 100 poets each year. And early August is the Festival of the Flowers, the most important event in the Antioquia Province where Medellin is located, when the region remembers one of its most important industries—the cut-flower business. Dating to 1957, this extravaganza features parades of antique cars, flower carriers, and horses.

Retirement in Medellin isn’t for everyone. You would need to speak at least a little Spanish, and you would be breaking new ground. Whereas Panama City, for example, is an established and developed choice for foreign retirees, Medellin is an emerging one. On the other hand, this still very misunderstood city has a great deal to offer foreign retirees with an open mind and a spirit of adventure.

Colombia is working hard to change its image, investing millions in advertising abroad using the catch phrase, “The only risk is wanting to stay.” Once you’ve seen the city for yourself, you’ll understand.

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 28 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter. Her newest book, How To Buy Real Estate Overseas, published by Wiley & Sons, is the culmination of decades of personal experience living and investing around the world.

Moving to Colombia with Kids

Russell’s comments:    This week I read a Phoenix Arizona newspaper article on a family coming to Colombia as a second home, with their kids.  Interesting how different views of Colombia are present by non-Colombian people, take a quick read, credits given to this story as shown.  All good comments if your brining your family, have small children or even grand children to visit, the points made in this story apply to retiring in Colombia too.

 

Here is the direct link to the story, content of the story is shown below for easy reading. 

http://www.thestarphoenix.com/travel/Colombia+with+kids/8267589/story.html

 

Colombia with the kids

Despite its dangerous reputation, country has plenty to offer travellers up for adventure

 

My wife, our two boys, and I are riding a state-of-the-art gondola up the side of a mountain on a gloriously sunny afternoon. We’re chatting in fractured Spanglish with some Colombian students. But we’re not in Whistler or Aspen. We’re on our way to the neighbourhood which, 25 years ago, was considered the most dangerous part of the most dangerous city in the world. The students aren’t on our turf — we’re on theirs. We’re in Medellin, Colombia. Its nickname is “The city of eternal spring,” and after the drug wars of the 1980s, it certainly does feel like metaphorical spring in Colombia.

“You’re taking your kids where?” That was the slightly horrified response we heard again and again when we told people we were planning a month-long family trip to Colombia. Yup, Colombia. Drug lord Pablo Escobar and his hippos. FARC revolutionaries behind every tree. A “failed state,” completely lawless, with bombings and kidnappings every day. Basically, everything Crockett and Tubbs were saving the world from on Miami Vice, right? So why on earth take our seven- and nine-year-old sons there for a vacation?

Well, Escobar was killed in a rooftop shootout in Medellin in 1993 — 20 long years ago — but stereotypes are persistent. Colombia was a complete mess back then, but it’s had an amazing renaissance. The rebirth can be directly traced to three people — Enrique Penalosa, Antanus Mockus, and Sergio Fajardo, former mayors of Bogota and Medellin. All three decided to invest in parks, libraries, schools, transit, and other public works, all with a strong social- and economic-justice agenda. They hired renowned architects to design the buildings. As Fajardo once said, “Our most beautiful buildings must be in our poorest areas.” The gondola in Medellin — the world’s first public-transit cable-car system — provides transportation to those areas.

In other words, Bogota and Medellin have been living labs, experimenting with the idea that architecture and urban design can have meaningful social and economic impacts. Judging by all the awards, books, and documentaries about their achievements, the answer is yes. That’s why we wanted to visit Colombia.

If that sounds just a bit too nerdy, you have to understand that my wife and I are architecture, urban design and public policy geeks. People like us may not be typical tourists, but our “tribe” is compelled to travel to see interesting cities. The more we looked into it, the more Colombia seemed like an ideal destination.

The historic centres of Cartagena and Mompox are UNESCO World Heritage Sites for their amazing Spanish colonial architecture. Cartagena is on the Caribbean coast, with beaches and average highs just over 30 C year-round. I’ve been trying to learn Spanish for a few years, so we wanted to go somewhere I could practise. We were both lucky enough to live overseas for a year at a time as kids, and we’re trying to provide similar (if shorter) experiences for our children. And we like to visit places that are somewhat off the tourist radar. Check, check, and check.

Cartagena was home for the month. We found a fantastic apartment in the heart of the old city (through travel rental website AirBnB), an ultra-modern third-floor walk-up with flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi, and an incredible rooftop terrace, all hiding behind an entirely nondescript door in a charmingly crumbling colonial building. We didn’t even realize until the last minute that the apartment came with a housekeeper, who cooked, cleaned, and did laundry every day. Cartagena has the full gamut of places to stay, from hostels to five-star luxury properties, but for an extended stay with a family, apartments are totally the way to go. (A visit to the Hotel Santa Clara for a drink and a chance to peek into Nobel-prize winning Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s yard is totally worth it, though.)

We found a charming little business (http://www.babelschoolcartagena.com/) offering Spanish classes in the daytime and salsa classes in the evening. We spent our first week in Cartagena taking language lessons in the morning, snoozing in the midday heat, and exploring the city in the evening. The first day or two, we acted like paranoid tourists in a dangerous place. By the third day, the kids were happily skipping off in all directions and we were feeling very much at home in the city of Love in the Time of Cholera (an absolute must-read by Marquez if you’re thinking of visiting Cartagena).

By the end of the month, we were regulars, if not quite locals with the people selling astonishingly good coffee, fruit, juices, and food of all kinds on the streets; the bakery where the kids got their chocolate croissants every morning; and the gelateria where we all got our daily cones of amazing gelatos made with the fruits you can only find there (corozo and lulo are the best).

From base camp in Cartagena, we took a few excursions. A day trip took us to the “mud volcano” El Totumo. We spent a few days just before Easter in Mompox. Getting there is definitely not half the fun. Just ask our nine-year-old, who barfed several times on the harrowing, nine-hour overnight “executive limousine” trip from Cartagena with a deranged “chauffeur” careening through the pitch darkness of increasingly dense jungle on iffy roads spotted with random herds of cattle and overladen ancient trucks rounding hairpin corners in the wrong lane at high speed.

The payoff is one of the world’s most incredible Semana Santa (holy week) observances. The Good Friday processions are profoundly moving, whatever your beliefs may be. Large groups of people wearing heavy robes in 35 C heat carry life-size elaborate scenes depicting the Stations of the Cross through the streets, moving from one church to another. The tableaus are mounted on heavy wooden platforms. The worshippers lift the entire thing to their shoulders, take three steps forward, two steps backward, and put it down again. The processions go on for hours, all through the night.

The trip back to Cartagena (much better, thanks to the driver Richard and Alma of La Casa Amarilla in Mompox found for us!) provided one of the most special moments of our entire trip. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, our driver asked if we wanted to stop for breakfast. We said sure, so he pulled in at a shack along the road which turned out to be a mom-and-pop “restaurant.” As we chatted, we learned that the couple also runs a personal “biblioburro” program, entirely on their own initiative. They take their burros (named Alpha and Beta) up into the mountains to deliver books to kids who might otherwise never see one. Being book lovers, our kids adored that story — one they would never hear at the Kids Camp at a “safe” all-inclusive.

Ironically, the only time we felt even slightly unsafe was when Cartagena went into full lockdown for the Summit of the Americas. The police, military, and (foreign) security presence was intimidating and completely sucked the life out of the city. That’s when we made the last-minute decision to hop over to Medellin for a few days.

The kids had an amazing time everywhere we went once both of them (but especially our very tall, freckle-faced redhead) got used to people fawning over them. Throughout the country, people were delighted to see us. At the library in that formerly lethal neighbourhood in Medellin, we got the full VIP tour from a staffer bursting with pride. Colombia has been waiting for years for visitors to start coming back. We ran into a few other travellers, but we were the only family. It is still a bit of an adventure compared to typical vacation destinations.

Yes, much of the world’s cocaine supply still comes from or passes through Colombia. Yes, FARC still exists, but barely. And yes, the Canadian and U.S. governments still have official “advisories” or “warnings” about going there. But we’re not crazy-risk takers. We would never take our kids anywhere there’s real danger. The clever (and risky) official slogan of the national tourism agency (http://www.colombia.travel/en/) is Colombia: The Only Risk is Wanting to Stay. The kids floated in a mud volcano, swam in posh hotel pools and a river in the middle of the jungle, saw centuries-old forts and ultra-modern libraries, learned a bit of Spanish, ate weird and wonderful new things, had experiences to remember forever, and still managed to FaceTime with their friends back home. Isn’t that what travel is supposed to be all about?

 

If You Go

Air Canada and its Star Alliance partner United offer the best flights from Calgary to Colombia, typically through Houston. As of April 15, a Calgary-Houston-Bogotá return ticket cost as little as $955. Within Colombia, the flag carrier airline Avianca (also a Star Alliance partner) provides excellent connections between cities. Flights from Calgary to Cartagena usually require a second stopover in Panama City or Bogota, and cost about $50 to $100 more than flights to Bogota. We recommend sticking to planes, buses, and taxis for getting around.

Until recently, guide books for Colombia were almost unheard of. In the last 18 months or so, there’s been an explosion of them. The Michelin and Footprint guides were published just before our trip, and we found them both very useful. Several more have been published since. The official government tourism website (http://www.colombia.travel/en/) is surprisingly good. Two more excellent websites for Cartagena are “This is Cartagena” (http://www.ticartagena.com/) and “Lure Cartagena” (http://www.lurecartagena.com/en/).

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

 

Original source article: Colombia with the kids

Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/travel/Colombia+with+kids/8267589/story.html#ixzz2R38xvPl5

 

Summit of the Americans Correa, Obama engage in heated exchange of words

Although the weekend’s Summit of the Americas in Panama City was highlighted by a handshake between Cuba’s Raul Castro and the U.S. President Barack Obama, there were also emotional exchanges between several Latin American leaders and Obama.

Latin America Leaders exchange emotional words with Obama

One of the most intense came on Saturday when Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa told Obama that Latin America will no longer accept U.S. intervention in its affairs.

“Our people will never again accept the interference and intervention of the United States. Our memory is still torn by the abuse and violence of the past,” Correa said. “Panama is a good example of this with the December 1989 U.S. invasion, which caused the deaths of thousands of innocent people, so that the U.S. could arrest the bloody dictator that it installed into power,” he said.

Correa continued, personally addressing Obama: “Your government is still trying to intervene in our affairs as evidenced by your executive order that declared Venezuela a threat to your national security. It is also evidenced by officials from your office asking the U.S. Congress for money to defend freedom of expression in Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and Nicaragua,” he said. “We totally reject this act of arrogance,” he added.

Apparently caught off guard, Obama at first said he was not prepared to respond, but then said the U.S. had not always respected Latin American rights in past. “We admit this but we must move on and not be trapped in old ideology,” Obama said. “At least I’m not trapped in it.”

Obama suggested that the U.S. is a convenient scapegoat for problems not of its own making. “This kind of thinking will not bring progress. It will not educate our children or feed those who don’t have enough to eat,” he said.

Obama added that he was “open to the history lessons” he was receiving at the summit. “My country does not presume to be perfect but we can learn from your experience as well as our own and we can work together for a better future,” he said.

credits for news from April 2015

http://cuencahighlife.com/correa-obama-engage-in-heated-exchange-at-summit-of-the-americas/

Ecuador President Promises Venezuela Support Against U.S.

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said that the government of Venezuela can count on Ecuador’s help to facilitate a solution and to reduce the current tension between the United States and Venezuela.

“If we can serve as mediators to resolve by peaceful means, through dialogue, Venezuela knows it can count on us. We will be where we need,” Correa said Friday during a television interview. The Venezuelan government has asked Ecuador to lead a group of facilitators to initiate dialogue with the US, as decided at a meeting of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) on Tuesday in Caracas.

Ecuador has accepted the Caracas approach, but also stressed its position that Washington’s executive order, which declares the internal situation in Venezuela as an “extraordinary threat” to U.S. safety, is an interference in Venezuelan politics.

Correa was asked during the interview whether Ecuador should suggest possible concessions to the parties during the mediation process, if a mediation does materialize. Ecuador’s president asked in return: “What concession has Venezuela to make to the U.S.? The United States is practicing a blatant interference that violates American law, against international law that prohibits a country to interfere in each other’s internal problems. The problems of Venezuela are for Venezuelans to solve,” and after ensuring that, there must be “zero tolerance for such interference.”

Correa went on further to say that an Executive Order from Washington, “was always the prelude to invasions. Latin America has a very sad story about it,” he recalled. “Who could believe such nonsense? [contained in the Executive Order]” Rather, it’s that Executive Order that proves Washington is “a serious threat” against the Venezuelan government.

However, Correa forecasted a “very difficult military intervention” since “boots and bombings are a thing of the past” but that now it is “more effective to destabilize a country and maybe that is what the U.S. is looking to accomplish in this situation with the Venezuelan government.” The “isolation, these sanctions, economic, media manipulation, etc.,” are part of these subtle ways to destabilize governments,” he added. The Ecuadorian president said that Venezuela has “endured intense political, economic and media harassment for several years” and emphasized that the Executive Order issued by the U.S. Government has only added to that situation.

However, Correa stressed that the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) had passed a resolution in its meeting last week asking the U.S. to repeal the Executive Order against Venezuela. “Just the fact that UNASUR has formed a unanimous decision, means that something has changed irreversibly in Latin America,” a region which “will no longer accept impositions from anyone,” said Correa.

Originally published in el Mercurio as “Correa dice que Venezuela puede contar con Ecuador en tensión actual con EEUU”  on March 20, 2015;
translated and reprinted here with express permission.

Ecuador President compares US to Nazi Germany

photo is Ecuador President Rafael Correa

This is one more RED FLAG for me to consider moving to Ecuador, where the government really does not wish your presents, your persona non grada

 Do you really want to move to Ecuador??  Think about it !!

Correa has been criticized by international groups for cruelly silencing journalists and critics of his administration. The South American leader also supported former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and has been actively strengthening his relationship with Iran and Syria.

 

the full story below

Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa said that American exceptionalism is reminiscent of Nazism “before and during World War II.”

“Does not this remind you of the Nazis’ rhetoric before and during World War II? They considered themselves the chosen race, the superior race, etc. Such words and ideas pose extreme danger,” Correa told RT Spanish.

Correa referred to President Barack Obama’s statement that “America is exceptional” because it stands up for the world’s interests not just its own. However, Correa said that the U.S. has and will continue to violate international law.

“What Plato wrote in his [Socratic] dialogues more than 2,000 years ago is true. Justice is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger. They are strong, that’s why they will continue lying, violating other states’ sovereignty, and breaching international law. But one day this unjust world will have to change,” Correa said, adding that the United Nation’s headquarters should eventually be moved from New York City.

“The headquarters of the organization is in the U.S. and they finance their activities,” Correa said. “This is outrageous and an example of a relationship the US established with developing countries in the form of subordination.”

Correa has been criticized by international groups for cruelly silencing journalists and critics of his administration. The South American leader also supported former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and has been actively strengthening his relationship with Iran and Syria.

RT also asked Correa about the country’s pending $19 billion case against the oil giant Chevron. Ecuador and a coalition of trial lawyers have been battling Chevron for decades for alleged damages by Texaco, now a Chevron subsidiary, while they were drilling in the country during.

“Chevron has caused irreparable damage to the Ecuadorian jungle,” Correa said. “Texaco did nothing to clear the area. … At the time, there were cleaner technologies available, but they wanted to save a few bucks, and they destroyed the environment and did not even bother to pay for the damages.”

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2013/10/07/ecuador-president-compares-us-to-nazi-germany/#ixzz2pRHYgq6b

However, the case has been plagued with allegations of corruption, and key witnesses and case experts have switched sides and admitted to manipulating data to favor a judgment against Chevron.

In April, Stratus Consulting and the company’s managing scientist Ann Maest admitted to providing false statements in the $19 billion lawsuit against Chevron. Maest and Stratus claimed that they had been misled by a plaintiffs’ lawyer and disavowed an environmental impact report as “tainted.”

“I now believe that the damages assessment in the Cabrera Report and Cabrera Response is tainted. Therefore, I disavow any and all findings and conclusions in all of my reports and testimony on the Ecuador Project,” said Ann Maest, managing scientist for Stratus, in a court declaration.

Stratus was hired by trial lawyer Steven Donziger, who is representing Ecuadorian villagers against Chevron. The environmental impact report was ordered to be written by an independent expert, but was instead written by Stratus.

The company said that Donziger ordered that portions of the report detailing the environmental damages be drafted in the first person to appear as if it were written by the court-appointed independent expert.

“Donziger stressed to me and Ann Maest the importance of Stratus ensuring that no one learn of Stratus’ involvement in any aspect of the Cabrera Report or Responses,” said the consulting firm’s executive vice president.

Chevron has filed a countersuit against Donziger and his fellow plaintiffs, accusing them of fraud and racketeering. That case will be heard in the coming weeks.

Last December, Ecuadorian author and engineer Fernando Reyes switched sides in the case against Chevron, handing over a sworn statement to Chevron that accused the lawyers suing the company of trying to manipulate and control the outcome of supposedly “independent” court reports on oil field contamination in Ecuador.

Reyes was asked by Donziger to review environmental tests by court-appointed experts, but was instructed not to tell the court that he was being paid by the plaintiffs. Reyes said in his sworn statement that three of the lawyers “acknowledged that the judicial inspection process had not yielded data to support their claims of contamination.”

“During our discussions, Mr. Dozinger (sic) told us that our report should establish that the findings of the settling experts’ report … were wrong, that they lacked objectivity and were biased toward Chevron, and therefore the report should be discounted,” said Reyes. “However, in my professional opinion the evidence did not support Mr. Donziger’s position and I could not twist my professional assessments to make them fit the plaintiffs’ interests.”

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