Odd bedfellows? US Pub(l)ic diplomacy, Colombian industry policy, and sex tourism in Cartagena

2019-06-18T12:30:11Z (GMT) by Olga Lucia Sorzano Toby Miller
The informal economy, public diplomacy, sexualized national imagery, and efforts to dynamize Colombia’s tourism industry through rebranding are synchronizing in a misogynistic, exploitative cocktail of promotional campaigns and child sex-trafficking, most notably in Cartagena de Indias. This odious mixture needs critique and reform. For while its structural inequalities and destructive impact are widely recognized, many analysts and people in power continue to perpetuate a sunny mythology of the benefits of tourism. These connections derive from decades of imagery sexualizing young women to attract visitors as part of nation-branding; the role of the United States in particular in the Colombian imaginary as a desired source of men and money; and Washington’s public diplomacy and military interventions in the region. The mixture of these forces and tensions makes the country a key site in the global crisis created by masculine desires to commit statutory rape.