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Cartagena’s night life spelled trouble for Secret Service
By washingtonpost.com
Published: 04/23/2012

CARTAGENA, Colombia — Whatever really happened here in the neon bordellos, salsa clubs and king-size beds at the Hotel Caribe — between the male Secret Service officers and their new female friends — one thing is apparent: The agents were in the right place to get into trouble.

Cartagena is swimming in prostitutes. On Saturday night in front of the Tu Candela bar, where some of the U.S. agents reportedly cavorted, young women dressed in jeans and flats leapt from taxis, ran around the corner, changed clothes and emerged transformed: in tiny black dresses and high heels and ready to “party.”

Within minutes, they were stroking the liver spots of some aging Spaniard or working an eager German tourist. And away the couples went — for a few hours of drinking and dancing and then back to the hotels.

Nothing subtle about it.

Prostitution in Colombia is legal and widely accepted, a slightly embarrassing but very real part of the booming tourist trade here, as the nation sheds its international reputation for hyper-violent cocaine cartels (Pablo Escobar, rest in peace), and the tourists return to appreciate the beautiful beaches, great rum and colonial architecture of cities such as Cartagena, a World Heritage site.

When the news broke that 11 Secret Service agents and officers were sent home for romping with hookers on the eve of President Obama’s trip to the Organization of American States summit, many Colombians were amused.

“It is normal, no? These are our beauty queens,” said Elgoyo Payares, owner of La Bodeguita del Medio, a Cuban-style restaurant-bar in the old city. “And a man, even a secret agent type, does not leave his private parts at home when he travels.”

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