For months I had been following the arrangement details of the first edition of the cycling race Colombia Oro y Paz (Colombia Gold and Peace) pioneered by the world-class stars Rigoberto Uran, Nairo Quintana and Fernando Gaviria. The purpose was to put Colombia back on the map of competitive world cycling.
I thought about the thousands of fans who would have the chance to enjoy the beauty of the Colombian topography and varying climates, as well as the opportunity to support the generation of “escarabajos”–beetles in English–that have made our country proud with their success.
However, on Tuesday two pieces of news overshadowed the inaugural race and stole its thunder in the media. First, the visit of the U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, to Bogotá. And second, the report from the Colombian Attorney General’s office in reference to the increase in street crime in Colombia.
The common denominator in both headlines was Venezuela.
On one hand, the neighbor’s crisis was put in front of important issues such as the growing of illicit crops in Colombia, which might cause the desertification by the U.S. government, hence delaying much needed action in the fight against drugs.
The upcoming presidential election in Venezuela–which in reality is a dictatorship that can hardly be called democratic–and the drug trafficking within Maduro’s revolution, dominated the meeting between Tillerson and the Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos.
On the other hand, the Attorney General’s report about the high rate of criminals pouring into Colombia from Venezuela, served as an X-Ray to show the tumor that grows out of control inside the immigration system.
According to the data presented by the judicial body, between January 1, 2017 and February 5, 2018, almost 1,900 Venezuelan nationals have been caught in flagrant crimes. Moreover, comparing the data from January 2017 to January 2018 crime increase a staggering 228%
CNN Español also published a lengthy article on Tuesday titled “Bogotá, cada vez más insegura?” (Bogota more dangerous?”) citing data from a 2017 poll among residents of the city. The results: 77% of those polled were victims of theft, especially smartphone robbery (40%).
Even though the security budget for the Office of the Mayor of Bogota was tripled for 2018–from $59,000 to $180,000 million dollars–and more than 1,500 street cameras have been installed to watch the city, common delinquency is a problem impossible to eradicate in the near future.
With this in mind, the name of the cycling race should have been “Where is the gold and the Peace?” Because under the circumstances it sure looks like they were stolen.
I can only hope that from today until February 11–last day of the race–the cyclists, trainers, reporters, and tourists in general, have a memorable experience and fall in love with the country and its people. But, I do have to recommend they put their smartphones away after they take their pictures.
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