Colombia World Cup

What’s Colombia sick of hearing about during the World Cup?

Cocaine. And so am I.

Colombia has been kicking some serious butt in the World Cup stakes lately – they beat Greece in their opening World Cup match and then won against the Ivory Coast – but while Colombians are no doubt in a state of World Cup euphoria, the celebrations have been tainted by out-dated and underwhelming commentary about the country.

There’s a petition circulating on at the moment following comments made about Colombia on an Australian radio show. I don’t want to create even more publicity for the program, so I’m not going to name them here, but the hosts made comments like, “Is Colombia really famous for its coffee?“, “If you mention Colombia the next thing people generally mention is cocaine“ and even “Everybody has it, is on it, I hear of people going backpacking and say it’s crazy.”

This has resulted in groups, made up of both Colombians and Australian locals, petitioning for an apology. Unfortunately, national radio isn’t the only culprit, though; big-name celebrities have also been taking stabs at Colombia recently, with English comedian Russell Brand taking to Twitter to comment on a photo of a Colombian fan, saying, “Cocaine is good for confidence”.

Colombians are sick and tired of being synonymous with cocaine and, frankly, so are expats who have been calling the country their home for years. And there are many of us, just take a look at travel company SeeColombia.Travel for example, which is made up almost entirely of expats who have fallen in love with the country and decided to stay. Or, read the observations made by award-winning writer Vicky Kellaway who decided to call the country her home after making an impromptu visit.

One response to all the cocaine-talk tedium is an open letter which has gone viral online. It’s called Open letter to the world: Drugs are not a joke to us and it’s a letter addressed to the world as if written by Colombia itself.

“Drugs are not a joke to us,” the letter reads.

“The war between the Colombian and other foreign governments and drug producers and traffickers has brought us poverty, displacement, rape, death corruption, discrimination, abuse, torture [and] hunger.

“We, the people, have been in the middle of this war for decades, and we have suffered a lot.”

In a 2013 article published by the Economist, it was reported than while in 2000 Colombia grew 74% of the world’s coca leaves, from which cocaine is made, the stats had decreased to 42% in 2011, only just in front of Peru.

The same article also claimed that a White House report found that when it comes to producing cocaine, Colombia produces less than both Peru and Bolivia. This was considered an “historic” finding by Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Richard Gil Kerlikowske, far less so for many others who still haven’t seen beyond Colombia’s past.