Loving Medellin Is Not The Problem
You can’t help but fall in love with Medellin, with it’s perfect climate, friendly people and low cost of living, it is in many ways, a paradise on earth. We can all sing the praises of Medellin easily, but do we sometimes let the good things about the city blind us to the crime that is going on in the streets?
Expat in Medellin
As an expat living in Medellin, safety is always in the back of my mind. I have never lived in a major city before so I had not been exposed to much crime in my life, and never violent crime, before coming to Medellin.
I come from a place in the USA where you can still leave your doors unlocked. I am neither stupid or naive enough to believe we don’t have real crime in the U.S,. but not in my town. Also, I have never really spent any time in the inner cities. Trips to the big city were rare and usually to take in a sports event or to do some shopping in stores that were not in our small town. The security at these places is excellent and I have never even seen anyone arrested for anything except being drunk.
When I came to Medellin in 2010, I went almost everywhere and much of the time, alone. I was warned by some of my Colombian friends that I should stay away from certain places and surely at night. I remember my first trip to Parque Barrio with a friend. I was just taking in the sites, people doing their thing and I felt like I was in any other city in the world although, there was a feeling I was a little out of place. I remember pulling out my phone to take some pictures and my friend grabbing my arm and asking me if I was crazy. “You can’t do that here”, she said with a tone of fear in her voice.
Recent Crime in Medellin
Lately in Medellin there seems to be much more crime and more violent crime than in the recent past. I belong to several Facebook groups with Expats, and native Colombians where we talk about business in Medellin. We also talk about many things that are of concern for people living in the city. Lately there have been more and more posts about the crime in Medellin. It seems every other day someone is posting about a mugging, stabbing or shooting in Medellin. The scary thing for a lot of us is, these are not isolated to the gang areas of Medellin, but this stuff is happening in Poblado, Laureles and other areas where you are supposed to be safe.
Group Observations and Response
Usually someone will make a post about a crime they witnessed or heard about and then there will be, two completely different types of responses. One group will deny there is any problem and attempt to show comparisons of crime statistics of other major cities to make their point. The other group will illustrate that while there is the same level of crime in other cities, it is concentrated in those parts of the city that have gangs and the most drug users. Unfortunately this is normally in the areas of the most poverty as well.
Having visited many of the major cities of the US and other major cities around the world, I will give you my take on what is currently happening in Medellin and the difference between crime in Medellin and in other developed countries.
First, for me, I see less police on the streets of Medellin than I did back in 2010. I remember seeing a woman have her purse stolen near the Parque Barrio on one occasion and the man was run down by what seemed like 50 police in a very short time, and from what I witnessed, I don’t think that man will commit another crime anytime soon. I remember going to Parque Lleras and seeing the police everywhere. In that first year I was so impressed with the presence of the police I remember making it a point to tell everyone back in the states how safe I felt as a result.
Secondly, and I touched on it earlier. In most major cities in the world, the crime is concentrated in certain areas and you can simply avoid those areas if you choose. Of course there is crime in the other parts of the city as well, but it is at a much lower percentage so if you stay those parts, you are less likely to be a victim and there in lies the problem with crime in Medellin, Colombia. There are no parts of the city that are not affected by violent crime. It can happen anywhere, anytime and to anyone. You would think, there would be some parts of the city the criminals would try to avoid, but that just doesn’t seem the case.
I realize this article is pretty much my opinion. I am not going to produce city crime statistics to make any point here. This is an article for thought and I really welcome your comments, because for those who live in this city, this may be, the most important issue. Finally, I do want to point out, despite the fears and observations, I don’t hear too many people saying they are going to leave Medellin.