Secret service sex scandal: Prostitution is big business in Colombia
Prostitution is legal in much of Colombia, and the abundance of sex workers has made the country the “Thailand of Latin America.”
Cartagena, Colombia, is a gorgeous seaside city known for tropical breezes, beautiful beaches — and a thriving sex tourism industry.
Prostitution is legal in much of Colombia, and the abundance of sex workers has made the country the “Thailand of Latin America,” as well as an alluring destination for randy foreign visitors.
Among those who allegedly succumbed to the nation’s temptations were federal agents assigned to protect President Obama — but who instead tried to be secretly serviced.
Though technically prostitution is limited to so-called “tolerance zones” in certain Colombian cities, local authorities rarely restrict the activity to brothels, according to a U.S. State Department advisory.
Hookers can readily be found in hotels, bars and parks, especially in tourist-friendly cities like Cartagena, Barranquilla and Bogota.
Marriage and dating services in Cartagena — a popular destination for North Americans and Europeans — are often fronts for sex tourism, according to U.S. officials. Many hotels keep rooms available for prostitutes to use by the hour — and get a cut of the profit in return.
Websites and ads in clubs advertise hookers for hire, while one Colombian women’s advocacy group released a study estimating that one in two people on Cartagena streets after dark are in the sex trade.
Beyond the city’s well-heeled downtown, Cartagena is largely composed of poor neighborhoods, filled with workers who turn to sex to make ends meet — or to satisfy a drug addiction, according to the group, Fundación Renacer.
Although largely turning a blind eye to adult prostitution, the Colombian government in recent years has tried to crack down on the child sex workers and the trafficking of its women to other countries