Drugs and whores: Will Colombia ever shake off its unfair labeling?
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Drugs and whores: Will Colombia ever shake off its unfair labeling?

A Chilean comedian has landed herself in very hot water following a sketch on Saturday night television.

María Belén Mora appeared on the show dressed in a tight-fitting dress in the colors of the Colombian flag, offering host Kike Morandé “coffee with a kick,” as she sliced open a bag of what appeared to be cocaine.

Morandé then went on to ask Mora whether she came to Chile for the Copa América football tournament.

“Why else would a Colombian come to Chile? Some friends recommended that I came to try my luck selling coffee in a short skirt.” (A café con piernas is a coffee shop in Chile where the female serving staff wears tight fitting clothing).

Colombia and its press has hit back against Mora, claiming the sketch was xenophobic and offensive.

“I feel awful. I am incredibly sad. I never intended for Colombians living in Chile and those abroad to feel bad. The idea was to do an over-the-top sketch, as I have always done on the show. But I never wanted to say that all Colombians were prostitutes or drug dealers,” Mora replied in a YouTube apology, posted on Sunday.

A bloody past

Sadly, Colombia appears to remain the butt of jokes, even among its South American neighbors, tainted by a bloody and violent past — ironic, considering that trade and tourism are on the up for the South American nation.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council 2014 report into the economic impact of travel and tourism, the industry contributed $6.3 billion to Colombia’s GDP in 2013. In addition, tourism provided 1.16 million jobs in 2013, set to rise to 1.49 million by 2024, the report states.

Furthermore, the country’s total GDP increased by 4.6 percent in 2014, as the country established itself as one of the strongest growing economies in Latin America. Despite the global drop in oil prices having an effect on Colombia’s short-term outlook, the country will bounce back, the IMF reported.

Considering that kidnappings have greatly decreased as the country has become a safer and more sought-after tourist destination, will Colombia ever be able to shake off its dark past? Is such a label deserved considering the socio-political turn around since Pablo Escobar’s heyday?

Whereas in 2000 Colombia produced 74 percent of the world’s coca leaves, according to the Economist, the country has now been overtaken by Mexico and Peru, where internal conflict and corrupt economies continue to cause violence and destruction.

New beginnings or same-old stereotypes?

In addition, the country’s top-five exports are now crude, coal, petroleum, gold and coffee, a drastic change from illicit crop cultivation.

The Saturday night skit is a sad representation of the challenges that Colombians face when working in Latin America or further afield. Rather than celebrating a country that boasts stunning Caribbean and Pacific beaches, the diverse Amazon rainforest and the Andes mountain range, cocaine and prostitution have once again reared their ugly heads.

Apologies aside, María Belén Mora highlights a very real and sad reality scarring a developing Latin American nation, despite a national push for change.

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