Newly-crowned Miss Universe, Paulina Vega, has been summoned to Havana, Cuba, to engage in Colombian peace talks. But, statistically, a danger awaits her arrival.
Throughout the 50 years the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People’s Army (FARC) and Colombian authorities have been quarreling, a certain type of danger has existed in Colombia and places where the rebel forces reside. Also, according to Cuban locals, a hidden misconception about Cuba exists.
Prior to being crowned Miss Universe 2014, Paulina Vega Dieppa — also Miss Colombia 2013 — felt compelled to join the rebel alliance, FARC, for peace talks in Cuba. Lately, the alliance has attempted further to contact her. Paulina Vega’s response is now being awaited as the alliance posted to a message to its site. It reads as follows.
“Havana, Cuba, February 6, 2015
Ms. Paulina Vega
We read with interest about your desire to contribute with your good offices to peace and reconciliation of the Colombian people.
We welcome your willingness to travel to Havana and we invite you to materialize your visit to update you about the development of the peace talks, the progress and the enormous contribution that you and the majorities who desire peace can make.
Be assured that we are willing to address your concerns and consider your views a valuable contribution to peace; we are waiting for your confirmation and your contribution.
Peace Delegation of the FARC-EP”
Sounds inviting, yes?
Well, the aforementioned dangers that could await may call for someone else other than Paulina Vega, beauty queen.
For one, these FARC rebels have been kidnapping individuals for a long time. As mentioned in BBC, in November, 2014, General Alzate of the Colombian government and two companions were abducted by these rebels while traveling along the Atrato River in northwestern Colombia. These are actual military personnel with the Colombian government who were kidnapped, trained in combat tactics and all — unlike Paulina Vega.
Surprisingly, the United States has even assisted the Colombian government with $8 billion to help alleviate the FARC rebellion. Yet, still abducted.
Likewise, according to data reported by a New York-based investigative journalism company, Colombia’s Defense Ministry states that 219 kidnapping incidents occurred in 2013. The company goes on to report as follows.
“What’s fueling the kidnaps[sic]: Economics. FARC, which has a history of kidnappings to raise money, last year called a stop to that practice as part of the peace process. It’s not uncommon for criminals to claim kidnappings or other actions in the FARC’s name…”
“… A majority of the kidnappings in tourist areas are ‘express,’ usually lasting less than 48 hours. During these ‘quicknappings,’ armed gangs force their victims to withdraw funds from one or more ATMs, sometimes using other proxies, such as cab drivers, to facilitate the kidnap.”
Though Paulina Vega’s height is above average for 22-year-old females, it may not be enough to intimidate would-be abductors. As it stands, she is a student at Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia. She possibly knows all about the types of kidnappings which happen in her home country. Even if that is the case, look at another issue.
Cuba isn’t as crime-free as it depicts. It has a lot that happens there, and Paulina Vega may not be immune to its hazards. The misleading thing is that Cuba’s media outlets don’t report crimes and criminal data, as noted in the Miami Herald. The articles states as follows.
“The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security says violent crime isn’t common in Cuba, but ‘evidence continues to suggest that petty theft and minor crimes remain a problem…’ “
“… American travelers are perceived to be wealthy and are, thus, often the target of these types of crimes.’ “
Since Paulina Vega is Colombian and not U.S. “American,” would or wouldn’t she fall into the “tourist” category? Cuba has been deemed to have a double standard as a police state as well as a tourist haven.
The Miami Herald goes on to say, “Tourists — one of the few sources of hard currency for the government — have an added layer of protection, as police come down particularly hard on crimes against them.”
Julia Cooke, author of The Other Side of Paradise — Life in Cuba, spent five years in the country and chose to share her knowledge on tourism customs.
“Cubans know that tourism is essential to the national economy. If you hassle a tourist you are more likely to get in bigger trouble than if you hassle another Cuban.”
However, Paulina Vega would be with rebels who are known for kidnapping while attempting to negotiate peace talks in a nation known for cover-ups.
Take this Miami Herald insertion about a Cuban resident as support.
“Evis Leyva, 39, has been homeless since he sold his residence in 2006 with the hopes of putting together enough money to go to the United States. He says the smugglers he hired to make the trip ripped him off and he’s been living in a derelict building ever since.”
“He says he hears about thefts and muggings on the streets but they never make the press.”
“‘The only time you ever see crime in the paper is when it has gotten so big they can’t cover it up any more.'”
So, if something were to happen to Paulina Vega during peace talks, would it necessarily make headlines? Or would there be a cover-up?
What are your thoughts? Should Paulina Vega go to Cuba? Should she agree to peace talks with FARC?
[Featured Image via Getty Images]