Monday, March 31, 2008

Part 4 - 20 Critical Problems that Keep Colombia in the Third World

Living in Colombia
While living in Colombia is almost always a challenge, there are pleasantries associated with the country too. Nevertheless, the country must seriously address a number of major concerns in order to substantially progress to new economic and social levels. China, India, Pakistan and North Korea are poised, at varying stages, to move from “third world” status to join European and “super-power” countries at higher socio-economic strata. Colombia ultimately could do so too upon reversing, minimizing or eliminating these and aforementioned critical problem areas.

16. Con artists and scammers of all types abound.
There are so many cons, scams and swindles that you can hardly keep up with the techniques being used. It’s unsafe now to go to an ATM machine after dark anywhere you may live. In most of many big cities, it’s not even safe to do so during the day without precautions. The “Paseo Millionario”, Paquete Chileno”, “Latin Fantasy” and others are well-known scams locally as is the “Pesca MIlagrosa”. With the knowledge of poor or non-existent law enforcement, law-breakers at all levels are bolder than ever before. You MUST be careful at all times. Even then the odds are stacked against you.

17. Drug trafficking is considered a “way of life” in many areas.
If you think drug traffickers are low-life, slum-bred types who prey on the unwary from dark alleys, murky street corners or smoke-filled bar bathrooms, you’ve been watching too much TV. Perhaps you need to get out and get a life. How about “the Narco-Trafficker who lives next door”? Economic viability is now such an integral part of many societies, including Colombia’s, that you almost can’t tell the “good guys” from the “bad guys” without a scorecard. Having money is everything here. If you have, you can get almost anything you want. If you don’t, you can’t. It’s as simple as that. The more you have, the more you can get. The less you have, the less you can get. The drug trade in Colombia is an “easy”, though dangerous, source of some big bucks.

18. Essential goods and services are increasingly difficult to get and are expensive when available.
Inflation is the scourge of everyone. You pay more and more for less and less. Many prices fluctuate on the dollar. When the dollar goes up, things get pricey. When the dollar goes down, families often can splurge. Credit card rates are 30% to 40% annually. Consumer loans, when you can get them are equally hideous. With quality assurance of many locally-produced goods at an all time low, consumers value higher quality imported items. The trade deficit is staggering. Prices are low in comparison to those of higher-level economies, but are rising against low-yield salaries. Minimum wage is less than $2.00 per hour, less than $250 per month. The standard work week is six days long. Almost everyone works Monday through Friday all day and at least a half day or more on Saturday. So much for the weekend. Colombians drink far less of their world-famous Colombian coffee than, say for example, Americans do. Not because they or Juan Valdez like their coffee any less, but because most of the “good stuff” is exported. So what do Colombians drink? Coffee imported from south east Asian countries like Vietnam which has a distinctly lower price!

Certainly there are notable benefits to living in many areas of Colombia, year-round tropical weather, unspoiled natural beauty and nature abound, hordes of beautiful women, adventure, and exotic foods being some. There is good news out of Colombia. It just isn’t as publicized as the more graphic variety is. I for one, receive a continuous stream of requests from potential expatriates from the USA, Canada, the UK and other countries for information on living and working or retiring to Colombia. As I mentioned earlier, I still live here too. But I reserve the right to my opinions, good or bad, positive or negative, along with the right to express them. This is what I think.

What do YOU think?

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then e-mail me for further information.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your comments on Colombia make the state of the country sound just a bit worse than I found it in the early to mid '60s. I learned a great deal of value from the people I met there.
I'm flying into Rio Negro next week. Plan to take a good look around.
If it looks like I can afford to live there on my modest retirement,
if Colombian officialdom will have me, and I can find enough simulating conversation in English or my fuently bad Spanish I may stay awhile.

Your blog is great. Colombia is still attracting thinkers and writers.