When President Obama arrived in Colombia this weekend for the Summit of the Americas, he was greeted with less-than-welcome news: Eleven Secret Service agents had been suspended and sent home for soliciting prostitution in the city of Cartagena. After one of the women complained to the police about not receiving proper payment, the story turned into the “biggest scandal in Secret Service history.” As of yesterday, as many as 20 members of the Secret Service and U.S. military seem to have been involved.
That this happened, I believe, is a result of, and will add to, the image of overly sexualized Latin American women. The reputation Colombia has for “its women” is notorious and stereotypically sexist. Lonely Planet, for example, says of the city of Cali, Colombia: “While the city itself isn’t breathtaking, Cali famously claims to produce the most beautiful women in Colombia.” (Produce. Like sugar cane or mangoes.) Actresses like Sofía Vergara embody the stereotype, and to be honest, it’s kind of accurate. As a Colombian woman myself, I directly or indirectly know a lot of women like that and certainly see that image presented regularly in the Colombian media.
- Secret Service needs more women, two lawmakers say (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Spirit Airlines pulls ‘More bang for your buck’ ad that spoofed Secret Service (fromthetrenchesworldreport.com)
- Secret Service sexcapade has also embarrassed Colombians (miamiherald.com)