Much has been written and reported about the incident in Cartagena concerning U.S. Secret Service agents hiring hookers during President Obama's visit to South America. But there's one aspect of the incident that I haven't read much about — the impact of the fact that prostitution is legal in Colombia.
Here's why it made all the difference: The incident came to light because there was a dispute over the amount to paid be to one hooker. The hooker believed the Secret Service agent, er, stiffed her on the price that she thought they'd agreed upon. After an argument, in which harsh words were exchanged, the agent finally just paid the hooker what he felt like paying her and sent her away — mad. The agent was probably thinking, "Big deal. What's she going to do — go to the police?"
Actually, yes. That's exactly what she did. Since prostitution is legal in Colombia, the hooker went to the local police and reported that she'd been ripped off by an American who'd used her services in a nearby hotel. The cops did their duty and investigated. Then, well, kaboom! Scandal time. It all came out — lots of Secret Service agents had hired hookers in Cartagena. Lots of people are going to lose their jobs.
Here's what I wonder: Was this incident in Colombia an isolated one? Or was this hooker-party thing a long-standing routine practiced by agents on assignment in other countries — other countries where prostitution is perhaps illegal and easier to cover up?
We may find out soon. But at this point, one lesson is clear: If you're going to hire a hooker in Colombia, you better treat her right, Gringo.