Day 190 – Dancing with the cops
2009/03/19 § Leave a comment
Contrary to common believe drugs are illegal in Colombia and despite the fact that some travelers are tempted into buying and consuming drugs, it can cause you real problems. It is rather a widespread phenomenon that locals whisper something to you when you walk buy. They usually try to get rid of their stash of marijuana or cocaine.
When you get caught buying you have a problem straight away. But even if you get pass the first hurdle and manage to get to the consumption stage you can get into trouble. Even just being seen consuming is highly illegal and law enforcement checks literally every place where tourists are. They even walk through clubs and check toilets in the middle of your fun night out.
Some people from my hostel were caught smoking a joint on the beach. They had been sitting rather sheltered at first when they consumed some beers but felt like sitting closer to the water when they wanted to lit a spliff. Not a great idea since the beach head strong lights and some police sat in the dark watching the scene. By the time they were almost done they heard someone behind them and sure enough, police told them their rights.
After some discussion, begging and an attempt to negotiate they usually mention that they will have to take you to jail, maybe extradite you and in any case have you pay a fine. At that point- even my south America guidebook pointed out- is your chance to ask to pay the fine on the spot. That is called a “bribe” in the rest of the world. And also in Colombia it is highly sensitive. The police officers took our friends into a dark corner, had them sit on the ground and tried to take the money so no one would notice.
The policemen left a bit richer and the guys left finally breathing again and eventually laughing about the bizarre situation.
Just watch it, not all cases end that easy and mellow!