Many seasoned travelers know how to stay safe when exploring destinations outside the U.S. Latin America, in particular, is a vast area with many differences in culture and exposure to crime. Being kidnapped is a huge fear for many travelers considering visiting Latin American countries. Is this fear rational or based on myths and outdated reputations?
Crime statistics show that one’s chances of being a victim of a kidnapping are higher in Mexico, Venezuela, and Ecuador. Columbia, today, has a much lower kidnapping rate than many Latin American countries; and with enough knowledge and research, travelers and business owners can enjoy visiting and doing business in Colombia without fear.
A decade ago, fear of being kidnapped in Colombia, was not such an irrational one. Kidnapping was a common crime in this area of Latin America. As you can imagine, it would be extremely difficult to reverse this negative image. Many people still believe that it’s too dangerous to take a chance on visiting and exploring Colombia. But these trustworthy crime statistics tell the truth of the matter.
A recent crime graph by Fondelibertad shows a dramatic decrease in kidnappings in Colombia between 1980 and 2007. In the year 2000, kidnapping crimes peaked at over 3500 in a year; however, by 2007, the number had dropped down to under 600 a year. Counted in those numbers, are unfortunately, those kidnapped many years ago who were never found. Also, “express” kidnappings are included in this number; which are rare and random, and often seemingly, without purpose. If we exclude “express kidnappings” from this number; the kidnapping rate drops in half.
If one is overly concerned about visiting or doing business in Colombia, due to its previous bad reputation; the statistics show, that at least eight other countries have much higher kidnapping rates; with Mexico, being number one. Iraq, South Africa, Brazil, and India; all have higher rates of kidnapping than Colombia.
It is easy to have irrational fears based upon years of stories told via news around the world about kidnappings in all of Latin America; but before making a rational decision whether or not to relocate, visit, or run one’s business from Colombia; it is vital to examine the actual statistics which tell the real story.