Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Part 2 – 20 Critical Problems that Keep Colombia in the Third World

Living and Working in Colombia

Living and working in Colombia can have some advantages despite its well-deserved reputation for violence, kidnapping, human rights violations, corruption and drug trafficking. Here we’ll continue to comment briefly on five more of what I feel are the 20 most critical problems that keep Colombia in the “Third World”.

6. Travel, especially between cities at night, can be hazardous.
There’s an expression in common use here in Spanish that goes, “No dar papaya”. It’s not referring to Papaya, the fruit, but rather to not giving opportunity to crimes of chance (or opportunity). That is to say, that many crimes aren’t planned, they happen because the wrong people see – and seize – the opportunity to “benefit” form a misadventure. Such can be the case when traveling long distances at night. Roads and highways are poorly policed, if at all, with highwaymen, guerrilla and “Para-Militares”, delinquent gangs of robbers, thieves, muggers and kidnappers plying their trade among the unsuspecting travelers unfortunate enough to get caught on board.

7. There is little or no enforcement of laws.
Laws? Oh yes, there are plenty of laws presumably for the protection of all. The problem is though, they are typically NOT enforced. From running through red traffic lights, driving the wrong way on a one-way street to hit-and-run-drivers, people do essentially anything knowing they won’t be pursued, investigated, caught or punished for anything. Jails and prisons are often horrendously over-crowded or controlled by the inmates themselves. Even murder often gets a quickie, one-over pass by over-worked, under-staffed police stations. This results in part to a vigilante-style type of “justice” where common people may take the law into their own hands. Solutions to unpaid debts, major thefts or robbery, “deals” gone bad and other consumer-oriented complaints can be to murder the “offender”.

8. Criminals regularly receive impunity from prosecution or punishment.
When law-breakers are apprehended for some violation, penalties can take years to be administered, if at all. Car theft is “punishable by as little as a few hours or one day in jail. Non-violent crimes frequently carry no jail time at all with the country’s horrendously over-crowded jails and prisons. Some popular penal code theories not withstanding, this offers little incentive to prospective or career law-breakers.

9. Human rights violations are rampant.
Crimes and human rights violations against women, children and minorities are rampant. These most vulnerable groups, when part of the poorest elements of society, are virtually defenseless before authorities or any who might wish to exploit them. There are millions of refugees throughout Colombia, displaced from their homes and lands by wars and violent conflicts, land speculation or simply by those whose goal is to obtain extended fields and land from which to operate.

10. The legal system is loop-hole-riddled and corrupt.
Colombia certainly isn’t the only country where those with enough money can “buy” justice – or lack thereof. Legal proceedings can take years to get on the docket, then drag on for years more when they do - all for the right price, of course. Almost everyone wants to be a lawyer. There are so many in fact, that there are more “lawyers” driving taxis and working other positions than there are actually practicing law. Finding a lawyer is easy. Finding a competent one though, can be another matter entirely.

In the next, part 3 of this series, we’ll continue with five more of what I feel are the 20 most critical problems with Colombia that keep it a “third world” country. Your constructive comments, opinions and feedback are welcomed. See you then.

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 blog or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business? Please e-mail me for further information.

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