Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Colombia from Drug Cartels to Tourism | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Bogota, London- The scene in Colombia has differed from ten years ago, when armed members used to collect 10$ from people to protect them from street gangs. Those gangs chased tourists visiting the country to discover its jungles or the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Taking the road to Ciudad Perdida (Spanish for lost city) without the protection of non-governmental armed members, Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), or the gangs of Liberation National Army was considered an adventure, but nowadays, it has become less dangerous.

A report by the DPA Agency detected major shifts in Columbia and its transformation into a touristic destination. Ciudad Perdida was considered the second best cultural city in South America, before the colonial era. Wandering in Colombian mountain regions and sleeping on hanged mattresses on the way to the “lost city”, visitors get the chance to live a special adventure in the heart of the nature.

However, in the past years, many young tourists who visited Colombia carrying their backpacks, and depending on self-service to reduce costs, were kidnapped. Around 2000 policemen and soldiers looked for eight tourists from Europe and Israel who were kidnapped in 2003 by the gangs of the National Liberation Army, which funded its activities through ransoms.

In 2017, the government held a peace agreement with the FARC gangs, which include around 7000 members in 26 regions. Those members will hand over their arms in May 26 to enjoy a regular life in Colombia. Negotiations with the National Liberation Army are ongoing for the same purposes.

The conflict reached its lowest level for the first time in the past 52 years, following the first disarmament in 2006.

At the end of the Lost City road, visitors will find the Caribbean Coast, which represents an attractive tourism point. Colombia also has been known with the Tayrona Park with its old Romanian cottages on the white beach, the of San Andrés Island, the City of Cartagena, and the magnificent city of Aracataca, considered among the best touristic destinations in Colombia.