A prostitution scandal that overshadowed U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent trip to the Summit of the Americas has led investigators back to Cartagena, Colombia, where they’re now looking for as many 21 women thought to have been involved with Secret Service agents and military personnel in the lead up to the event. The agents and soldiers are thought to have brought the women back to their hotel after a night of heavy drinking, those familiar with the investigation told the New York Times. The police were called after one of the women says she wasn’t paid.
Prostitution is legal in certain areas of Colombia. But few of those who work in Cartagena seem worried by the scandal.
The city’s prostitutes, many using English-friendly names like Lady, Daisy and Paola, say all the international attention might be good for business. They shrug their shoulders at all the fuss.
“Now we are world-class, with the president’s bodyguards coming to try out Colombian girls,” said one freelance prostitute who walks the streets of the walled city and came to Cartagena from her hometown, Cali, because she preferred well-heeled foreign clients.
While a Tracy Chapman video played on a flat-screen television next to the bar at Angeles, another club, another prostitute explained how she and her co-workers were required to be tested for AIDS as often as once a week. The brothels insist that all clients use condoms, she said, describing how she paid the brothel owner about $6 a day to rent a tiny room and preferred to call herself an escort or a companion rather than a prostitute.