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‘Sure this lad will clearly do anything to stay in Colombia. Just look at his record. Nine visa applications in the last seven years plus three salvoconductos. We could ask him to submit a big, juicy papaya next time, and no doubt he’d do it.’
Social media diplomacy
It’s stretching it somewhat to think that officials at La Cancillería Colombia have actually ever uttered words similar to the above. It’s highly unlikely that there’s a red line under my name at the country’s visa-issuing authority — well, I’m pretty sure there wasn’t, that might have changed now in light of recent, unsolicited media coverage.
Nonetheless, and at the risk of coming across as a “victim” here, I’d wager that throughout these seven years since getting my first Colombian visa few other independent foreigners based here have handed over as much hard-earned cash as I have in terms of visa applications and related processes.
Events of the last few weeks have reminded us that obediently and quietly following the visa/immigration rules in Colombia, especially if you’re having difficulties in obtaining exactly what you want, doesn’t always work in your favour.
No. The more advantageous route, for certain individuals, is to kick up a public fuss, rally the masses to your cause — if you can, that is — and Colombian officialdom will cave in to your needs. You do this while at the same time repeatedly say how much you love and respect the country.
You could equate it to a man telling a woman everything she wants to hear in order to sleep with her. In truth, with just the gentlest of scratching below the surface, his actions show how he cares little for her. She is no more than an object to be used and abused.
Yet, mesmerise your target with public displays of affection that conceal a threat, appear as a caring, loving, selfless individual and in no time the putty shapes itself exactly how you want it.
‘No serious foreigner thinking about visiting or living in the country would seek out the advice of these “Colombia can do no wrong” types.’
Dishonesty is the best policy. Respect is only forthcoming if the other party loses respect for itself. It’s not a relationship of equals, it’s one of domination, built largely on false premises.
In the specific case of Colombia’s love affair with its foreign-born influencers — influencers whose business model is to say practically nothing negative about their adopted place — submissive Colombia believes it is getting something in return: The positive promotion of the country abroad.
The reality is more a case of Colombia being sold to Colombians. No serious foreigner thinking about visiting or living in the country would seek out the advice of these ‘Colombia can do no wrong’ types.
Again, you’re telling your sleeping partner exactly what she wants to hear yet both you and her know it’s an act, a fantasy. And what you tell her doesn’t really go any further than the bedroom. If it does happen to reach a wider audience, most observers are intelligent enough to understand it’s little more than sweet nothings whispered at the moment of passion.
I’ve never been great at these exaggerated displays of affection — not too many Irish people are really, it’s safe to assume. However, my attempts to stay in Colombia since the independent visa application became more complicated in 2018 have, it could be argued, smacked of desperation.
It reminds one of the old saying here, ‘Él que muestra el hambre, no come,’ ‘He who shows hunger, doesn’t eat.’ It’s time I started devouring that life-giving papaya myself rather than foolishly giving it away.
Listen to Wrong Way’s Colombia Cast podcast here.