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Investing In Colombia I The Caribbean
When one considers investing in Latin America and investing in Colombia in particular the famous words of Baron Rothschild come to mind. This 18th century investor and banker is credited with saying that “The time to buy [stocks] is when there is blood in the streets.” He was talking about 18th century wars and rebellions but his words are pertinent in the New World today. Specifically, Colombia is coming out of a half century long rebellion and many investors have not yet caught on. This is the first of a four part series about Investing in Colombia. We will deal briefly with the history of the Colombian Civil War and then look at investment opportunities on and in the Colombian Caribbean.
The Colombian Civil War
The current Colombian civil war has lasted from the mid 1960’s to the present. Rebels say they are fighting for the rights of the Colombian poor. The primary rebel group is FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia). The rebels primarily have occupied remote areas of the jungle, especially in the Amazon Basin with occasional forrays into the cities. An increasingly aggressive campaign by the Colombian government has driven FARC from the cities and forced them to cross borders into Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama in search of sanctuary. Despite the claim that FARC simply wants to improve the lot of poor Colombians they have been tied to drug trafficking. Many Colombian families can name a member of two who were assassinated by FARC for opposing extortion efforts by the rebels. On the other hand government allied paramilitary forces fighting FARC are also accused of drug trafficking and terrorism. The good news is that the conflict is settling down and Colombian Peace Talks have begun. The time has come for investing in Colombia.
The Caribbean Coast of Colombia
Colombia is a nation of roughly 46million people. Its major exports are coffee, flowers, emeralds, coal, and oil. As the risk, and especially the perceived risk, of visiting Colombia diminishes expect to see tourism, retirement to Colombia, and purchases of vacation homes increase in Colombia. The most like beneficiary of the will be the Caribbean Coast. The Colombian ministry of tourism has developed a new slogan, “The only danger in Colombia is that you will not want to leave.” Foreigners are visiting Colombia again and the “blood in the streets” is going away. Consider Cartagena, Santa Marta, and the Island of San Andres for investment opportunities.
Cartagena de Indias
Cartagena is a Spanish Colonial city with an old fortress and beautifully restored old city on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Beaches are great and the people are friendly. The urban area boasts 900,000 people. Cartagena has a decided Caribbean influence and is already a tourist magnet.