Colombia is safer for foreign executives then Mexico and Brazil and will continue improving, said a Latin America security expert.
In the annual Latin America Security Index for foreign executives, compiled by FTI Consulting Ibero America, Colombia ranked ninth out of 19.
Frank L. Holder, chairman of FTI Consulting’s Latin America region told Colombia Reports, “Colombia is a much safer place” for executives from abroad compared to a decade ago.
Colombia recived a rating of four (one being the safest, five being the most dangerous), alongside Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Bolivia and Brazil. But of those seven countries, it was deemed the safest, on the borderline of the three rating.
The security expert said that Colombia’s rating had improved or stayed the same since the index began.
Holder acknowledged that there were still concerns but there had been a vast improvement compared to 10 years ago. “A decade ago executives would have been worried about kidnappings and extortions and places where they could travel. Today’s concerns are more mundane. We’ve seen much less of the kidnapping and extortions that we saw in the past.”
Traditional insecurities such as pickpocketing, home invasions and vehicle theft remained an issue, he added.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos reiterated this sentiment last month, telling El Tiempo newspaper that the country was safer than it was two years ago before he took office. The head of state said, “The country is doing very well, we have ever more foreign investors.”
Holder noted that some industries were more at risk of crime in Colombia, especially those that had pipelines or transport merchandise across the country as “obviously there is still some paramilitary activity and organizations.”
He added that the government was winning its fight against FARC leftist guerrillas. “I think the FARC is on its last legs. They are on a downward trend which is very positive for overall security in Colombia.”
When asked what was the single factor that had turned Colombia’s security situation around, Holder said “it was the government and the private sector deciding they had had enough of the drug trade destroying the country. [Their efforts] have worked or are working.”
According to Holder the security situation in Colombia has an optimistic outlook because it is currently very attractive to foreign investors.
“I think the situation will continue to improve. Colombia is receiving foreign direct investment which means there are resources to combat insecurity because there is a stable environment and access to credit,” he said.
“Insecurity is not just tackled by a judicial system and a police force. Having resources is a huge part of winning the battle and [Colombia] is in an upswing [which] means the resources will be there in the future.”
Holder said that, “looking at the region, the phenomena has translated itself north to Mexico. Public insecurity has increased there. It’s like the balloon theory,” he said, referring to the idea that if pressure is applied to one area, the air (or problem) will move elsewhere.
He also said the public security improvement in Colombia would be discussed at the Summit of the Americas this weekend.