Is Colombia safe?
Snow-capped volcanoes, rocky deserts, endless plains, lush valleys, coffee plantations, alpine lakes and gorgeous, tropical beaches can all be found in just one country, Colombia. Let’s also not forget the famous Latin music scene of Salsa and Cumbia – music which you can’t help but move to the moment you hear it! It’ll lift your spirits and soon have you dancing round the room. The Colombian way of life is so happy and infectious you’ll never want to leave this heavenly country.
Colombia is easily one of the world’s most beautiful and diverse countries. With a huge range of landscapes and culture, it is rightfully a top travel destination.
Unfortunately, the beauty of Colombia is often overlooked and and missed by many, due to outdated safety concerns. In this blog post, I will explain how you have nothing to worry about when applying for our Intern Latin America program in Medellin, Colombia. We chose Medellin as the location for our Emerging Markets program for a reason!
How do I know that it’s safe?
If you’re feeling apprehensive about coming to Colombia for an internship you should check out the US state department travel advice website. You’ll see that there is absolutely no safety warning about Medellin. It is a safe, business oriented city far away from the rural areas mentioned. Also, our interns stay and work in the safest areas of the city such as Poblado and Sabaneta, which are days away from any of the places noted in the travel advice.
On arrival, our interns receive a safety induction from our full time local staff, who also provide 24/7 emergency care. Like in all of our destinations, our team is constantly on call for any problems interns may have in country, as the well-being of our participants is our first priority. The local team is actually from Colombia so they know the city like the back of their hand and are always around to give helpful advice. Interns are fully advised on which parts of the city to avoid and how to remain safe.
It is also important to remember that Colombia has significantly changed in recent years. When you mention Colombia many people think of the Colombia from 20 years ago, when the political and economic situation was drastically different to today’s rising star. The security situation has changed to a huge extent and has improved far beyond what anyone could have expected.
Medellin has recently received a lot of media coverage stressing how safe and secure it is. It was ranked the most innovative city in 2013 by the Wall Street Journal – proving how much this city has to offer to prospective interns. The New York Times and CNN have also recognized Medellin’s transformation. The tone in the media is optimistic and full of praise for Colombia, a country which is often overlooked because of its troublesome past!
Why do we think of Colombia as unsafe?
Colombia’s history is riddled with political instability and corruption, something which understandably may make some feel uneasy. However, the most important thing to remember is that it’s history for a reason – it’s in the past! Here, it is worth mentioning the infamous Pablo Escobar as he will probably be the first thing that pops up if you search “Colombia” on Google.
The history of Escobar is fascinating. He is regarded as the wealthiest criminal in history, with an estimated net-worth of US$30 billion by the early 1990s. At the height of his power he also had a large influence in Colombian politics, all created through his motto of “corruption and intimidation”. Escobar had an outstandingly effective policy when dealing with law enforcement which he referred to as “plata o plomo” which colloquially translates to “money or bullets”. Escobar worked hard to create an image of the local ‘Robin Hood’ as he took charge over the construction of many hospitals, schools and churches and he often gave money to the poor. This enabled Escobar to view the Medellin locals as allies, helping him to hide from authorities when necessary.
Here we also need to remember that Escobar died (along with his cartel) over 20 years ago! Although his legacy is still world famous, Colombia has risen and overcome its past and is shaking off its outdated reputation. This has proved to be a difficult task as the world’s media can be biased and often doesn’t show a true reflection of the country.
Interning in Colombia
I cannot stress enough the amazing experience that the enchanting country of Colombia has in store for interns. Forget its history and outdated image and leave inhibitions at the door. Embrace the new, exciting culture and the ever-increasing success of Medellin as a global business city. Go to Colombia with an open mind and get ready to be amazed, you won’t regret it.
Apply now to our Emerging Markets Program!
Photo 1. The Intern Group
Photo 2. The Intern Group