Is Medellin, Colombia dangerous? Or is Medelin Safe? That is the question I always receive from many people that realize I’ve decided to setup a home base here.
Those considering a visit to Medellin for business or pleasure for the first time still have that aging question in the back of their minds.
The truth is Medellin has begun its second golden age.
The first representing what could be considered a dark golden age where Pablo Escober took the reins of the city. He was so rich he offered to pay Colombia’s entire debt off to create his own country.
That was Medellin’s most dangerous moments in time when no one wanted to visit.
The Paisa people, those from Medellin and the state of Antioquia, have always had a deep pride and passion for what they do. They have pride in their culture, pride in their city (which is the cleanest city in all of Latin America), pride in their work and the way they do business, and a pleasure and joy to their way of being that is unmatched anywhere in the world.
It seems whatever Paisa’s put their mind to they always excel at. Now their focus is to create wealth for the people of the city and Colombia. Now their focus is to improve their quality of life. Colombia now has the fastest growing economy in Latin America and one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Shake a stick at that.
If you Google “the most dangerous cities in the world” Medellin will most likely appear very high on those lists. I personally find that extremely misleading.
From friends and colleagues I have spoken to there are cities in the United States that are more dangerous than Medellin. There are ghettos and areas where one should not visit or even just pass through. I would personally consider many cities in the Middle East and Africa much more dangerous than Medellin.
Detroit and Chicago are two of those cities that are plagued by violence in the United States. I would also consider those cities to be way more dangerous than Medellin, Colombia.
The truth is the dangers in Medellin are real.
I don’t want to mislead you and tell that everything is roses and sunshine. Colombia is the second largest exporter of flowers in the world and is also called the city of eternal spring. Pun intended.
There are dangerous parts of the city.
Make no mistake that you will clearly know where those areas are located and many locals will come to your assistance if anything does happen to you.
Do the drugs and violence still exist?
Many in favor of Medellin’s new found peace will tell you no. I will tell you yes.
I don’t have much proof to back this up other than a recent feature by Vice News where they went to the heart of the Colombian drug economy. They highlighted that the reason why there is peace is because drug lords understand that if there is peace there is more business and money for everyone. Drug lord’s aren’t as flashy as they used to be and everyone respects each other’s turf. It’s a unique way to do business and it’s working.
Every year Medellin sinks lower and lower on the list of the “most violent cities in the world.”
While some things are controversial they do end up being true.
One funny story arose at a time when I was attending a New Year’s party in a small town north of Medellin called Copacabana. Not to be confused with the Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. As we arrived in the center of town a man that was clearly inebriated walked in our direction.
We were happily enjoying our fresh squeezed juice from the street vendor as this man approached. It was clear that he wasn’t just drunk but there was something else wrong with him. He tried to initiate a conversation with us that involved gibberish and we didn’t understand a word he was saying.
Just 15 feet from the police station, and by police station I mean we were standing right in front of it, he knelt on one knee. With a glimmer of the sun and a smile on his face he retrieved the soft white powder from his pocket.
He enjoyed that more than Oprah enjoys cake (love you Oprah)!
He then stood, nose adorned in white powder, and proceeded to speak to us in gibberish. It’s a great story but not many Colombians would like it mentioned.
The truth is if you are coming to visit Medellin you will realize that it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Its resurgence has heralded international awards for infrastructure and innovation.
Many of the dangers in Medellin that arise for tourists are their own fault. Getting beyond intoxicated late at night on weekends where they can’t even use their cell phones properly.
There have been instances where things have happened but only petty theft. Many things that could easily occur in many places around the world.
There weren’t any situation that would stop me from telling you that Medellin isn’t safe.
So the question is… Is Medellin Safe?
Is Medellin Dangerous?
I would say no it’s not. As with any other big city keep an eye on your surroundings, don’t flash hundreds of dollars around, and watch your drinks when you go out.
Standard tourist safety stuff.
If you are in Medellin don’t hesitate to reach out. You can find me on twitter: @wanderingtradr