While the furor surrounding the Secret Service prostitution scandal is reaching a fever pitch, the country of famed coke dealer, Pablo Escobar, finds itself on the international stage, once again draped in the cloak of infamy.
Last week when news broke about the agents getting a little too familiar with the locals, it revealed a lax attitude towards the serious job they perform in protecting President Obama and other U.S. leaders. It appears too that the scandal is rocking Colombia, revealing the underbelly of a lucrative and legal sex trade that makes the country a coveted tourist destination.
The Washington Post released a report today focusing on the Colombia's legal prostitution business, and it appears that it is a widely accepted practice in the South American country. In the city of Cartagena, where the Secret Service scandal reportedly took place, those looking for a whirl are certainly in a prime location for such actions. Meanwhile, locals are finding the media scrutiny to be a bit overblown. "It is normal, no? These are our beauty queens," said Elgoyo Payares, a bar owner in the city. "And a man, even a secret agent type, does not leave his private parts at home when he travels."
Some Colombians are critical of those who come to partake in the country's forbidden fruits. "It is a shame, because we have so much to offer, not just girls," noted Angela Vazquez, a worker in the country. Business owner Blanca Castillo added, "Our message is simple. Don't come here to sleep with our girls, our children. They're just teenagers. It's disgusting."
Colombians might be critical of the prostitution practice, but it is undoubtedly supported by the government. There are shuttle services, websites and an advanced operation that uses a pre-pay system known as "prepago," which ironically is designed to hinder the types of arguments over payment for services rendered, that brought this scandal to light.
Naturally, Obama's Republican opponents are making the scandal a political issue, serving as ripe media fodder for the election cycle.