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World Right Side Up: Investing Across Six Continents by CHRISTOPHER MAYER

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Chapter 2

Colombia: In Search of El Dorado

“Would you invest in Brazil 15 years ago if you had the chance?” my host asked one night, in an effort to frame the opportunity here.

“Of course, that would've been a home run,” I said.

“Welcome to Colombia.”

We were sitting in a comfortable restaurant in Medellín's downtown area. This pretty city spills out across a river valley and creeps up the walls of the surrounding mountains. Medellín's nickname is the City of Eternal Spring, thanks to its temperate weather.

If you have an image of Medellín (and Colombia) as a violent place, a visit here would change your opinion. I could have been in any number of cities around the world. I never felt unsafe. (As with any city, there are good and bad areas.) The bars and restaurants were full at night. The skyline was lit with tall buildings. The sidewalks busy with people. It was not always so, as Medellín was once a notoriously dangerous city.

Security issues have been a huge problem in Colombia's past, but it is much improved, and most of the remaining issues are deep in the jungles, near the porous borders with Venezuela or Ecuador. In fact, while I was there, rebels snatched 23 Talisman workers doing seismic work near the Venezuelan border. Even these occurrences, however, are now rare.

In the cities, all the buildings I visited had tight security. Almost all of them required me to put my bag through a scanner. If I had a laptop, they took the serial number down and checked it when I left, ...

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