I recently posted a two lists regarding my opinion of Bogotá, both good and bad. To say the reaction among Bogotanos was … strong … would be like saying World War II was a disagreement among statesmen. I was lauded as a brave truth teller for breaking the news that Colombia’s capital had some areas of improvement. I was called an arrogant gringo who should get to the airport on the next taxi. One emailer called me “weak” for coughing in Bogota’s pollution; others said I had the courage to say out loud what many expats only whisper when Colombians are out of earshot.

Originally published on Medium.com, in two days both posts garnered an astonishing 58,790 views (as of 8 p.m. Wednesday night) and 34,668 full reads. This blog saw a spillover increase in traffic of massive proportion. Twitter is still buzzing as I type, with the “Hate” article vastly outperforming the “Love” column. It’s been a bit overwhelming to be honest, but I was reminded of a few things: Read More

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BOGOTÁ — My friend Vicki over at Banana Skin Flip Flops has an intriguing post up about the polite passivity of Bogotanos. After a few passive-aggressive encounters, including one in which a guy splashed her on the street with his car, she snaps and calls BS on the good people of Bogotá and their general lack of consideration for others, which is masked by a patina of gentility.

They cannot handle fuss, they cannot accept public scenes. They need everything wrapped in a veneer of politeness, genuine or otherwise, simply to be able to function. That guy drenched me but I am telling you, I ruined his day tenfold. He is probably still inwardly furious about it now.

My friends are the same, they dislike anything that comes close to a breach of decorum and would have been shocked by my behaviour that day (to be honest, since the robbery, I am friends again with my vulnerability and frightened, once again, of confrontation) but that is just it. Our society warns us never to complain. It insists we see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil. Calling someone complicated in English makes them interesting, calling them complicada here is an insult. We are all too afraid to fight the good fight.

This is by far the single most befuddling trait I’ve encountered here. My Colombian friends agree that they’re taught not to complain, not to make a fuss, to just put up with shit, to just endure. I’ve found that conflict-averse personalities dominate here, which often leads to a lot of sneaky passive-aggressive behavior and, frankly, a fair amount of back-biting and bitchiness — especially in the workplace.

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BOGOTÁ — Business Insider recently published a list of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world and not only did most major Colombian cities  — except Bogotá — make the list, but Cali, Colombia’s third city, clocked in at the 7th most dangerous city in the world with 79.27 homicides per 100,000 residents.

Barranquilla, Pereira, Santa Marta, Medellín and Cucuta all made this grim roster. But that’s not the real story of this survey. Out of 50 cities on the list, 41 are in Latin America, making the region by far the most homicidal in the world. With just 9 percent of the global population, it accounts for 28 percent of the globe’s killings, according to a recent United Nations report [17.8M PDF]. San Pedro Sula in Honduras tops the global list with more than 169 homicides per 100,000 residents. Read More