Safety in Colombia
First off, do not believe everything Hollywood portrays in their films that involve Colombia. The sad fact is that it is hard to shake a bad reputation, especially when the media and film companies make enormous profits exploiting long standing stereotypes.
National Geographic recently named Colombia as one of its top travel destinations in 2008.
Colombia has made huge security strides over the last several years and is now one of the safest places to travel in South America. In fact, tourism in Colombia has been increasing year after year by an average of 30% for the last several years. There are military checkpoints on most of the highways ensuring safety which has allowed many Colombians and tourists alike to once again travel without fear. The rewards of travel in Colombia are great and there has not been a better time to consider a trip to Colombia.
Plan Colombia is a part of USA legislation that fights drug smuggling and guerrilla groups in Colombia. Thus far, more than $5 BILLION dollars has been spent in Colombia through this program. This massive infusion of cash combined with Álvaro Uribe’s aggressive military campaign against the guerrillas has created a safe country once again. As a result, the amount of foreign investment dollars that Colombia has received since 2002 has been enormous. See the “Economy/Economic Outlook” section in the menu to the right for more information regarding foreign investment details.
Colombia has been involved in a civil war since approximately 1964 with peasant guerrillas that go by various names such as FARC, AUC & ELN. These groups originally fought for the rights of the poor and promoted equal rights through socialistic policies, agendas and theories. The armed conflict that has occurred over the last 45 years has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.
In 2002, a new president was elected in Colombia by the name of Álvaro Uribe. President Uribe won based on a hard-line election ticket to increase security in Colombia. Increased military operations against the guerrilla groups has been intense since his election to office. As a result, the numbers of remaining guerrilla groups have been drastically cut as increased military pressure has caused many to give up arms and/or retreat deep into the jungles of Colombia (Venezuela/Ecuador). *In 2010 a new president was elected in Colombia after Álvaro Uribe served his maximum 8 year term. Juan Manuel Santos who served as the Minister of Defense in Colombia from July 16, 2006 won the presidential election. On June 20th of 2010, after two rounds of elections, Juan Manuel Santos Calderón was officially elected as President-Elect of the Republic of Colombia. His continued hard-line stance against the guerrilla groups provide reassurance that Colombia will continue to increase security across the country as it enjoys a long awaited economic and internal revival thanks to greater safety conditions.
His security program is based on a policy of democratic security, aiming to:
- gradually restore police presence in all municipalities
- increase judicial action against crimes of high social impact,
- strengthen public institutions
- reduce human rights violations
- dismantle terrorist organizations (specially armed rebel groups, the main one is the FARC-EP),
- reduce kidnappings and extortion
- reduce homicide levels
- prevent forced displacement and facilitating the return of forcefully-displaced people
- continue to fight the illegal drug trade through interdiction, eradication and judicial action.
The policy intends to achieve these goals by:
- engaging the civilian population more actively
- supporting soldiers
- increasing intelligence capacity
- reinstating control over national roads
- demobilizing illegal groups
- integrating the armed forces services
- increasing defense spending.
According to official government statistical information from August 2004, in two years, homicides, kidnappings, and terrorist attacks in Colombia decreased by as much as 50% – their lowest levels in almost 20 years. In 2003, there were 7,000 fewer homicides than in 2002 – a decrease of 27%. By April 2004, the government had established a permanent police or military presence in every Colombian municipality for the first time in decades.
The Colombian Embassy in Washington states that, as a result of this policy, the Colombian armed forces would now have:
- 60% more combat ready soldiers than four years ago
- Helicopters which have significantly improved the mobility of Armed Forces throughout the national territory
- Attack helicopters ensuring means to be more aggressive in the fight against FARC and AUC
- Increased basic combat supplies, including rifles and ammunition
- Colombia has drastically increased their humans rights situation
Thank You Video
*Here is a recent video that was produced to thank outgoing President Álvaro Uribe who served from 2002-2010. There are several references in the video that attribute to his success in helping to make Colombia a safe country once again.