by Heather West
Colombia is growing despite its violent past (source: Olivia Fernandez, London)
For several years now global investors have looked to the Southeast Asian archipelago of Indonesia as one of the great growth opportunities in Asia-Pacific, with its natural resources, its fast-growing economy and 250 million people to pay for Western soft drinks, laundry detergent and banking services.
After recently returning from four years in Asia, I now sense the same whiff of mystique and intrigue about Colombia as I did with Indonesia, with optimistic investors citing statistics about its growth potential and yet still huddling up to discuss concerns about illicit activity.
Many ask, why Colombia? After all, the name is still largely synonymous with the drug trade for many Americans who watched Hollywood flicks in the 90s. And a simple scan on Amazon for books about Colombia will return results primarily for travel guides, and one titled: Bang Colombia: Textbook On How To Sleep With Colombian Women. Another on the list is More Terrible Than Death: Drug, Violence and America’s War in Colombia.