Medellín launches sex abuse prevention campaign for foreign visitors

Medellín Mayor Federico Gutiérrez hands out flyers with the new prevention campaign. Photo: Alcaldía de Medellín.

Visitors arriving at José María Córdova International Airport near Medellín will be handed a flyer with a very direct message: “Don’t Even Try It, It’s a Crime (You could get up to 25 years in prison).” The campaign by the Mayoralty of Colombia’s second-largest city was launched after U.S. citizen Timothy Alan Livingston lured two girls (ages 12 and 13) to his room at the Gotham Hotel.

The pedophile was arrested after a hotel guest alerted the police to underage girls being escorted by the foreign national. The girls, who were sexually abused by Livingston, were placed in the care of the country’s child welfare institute – ICBF. After being detained by the police for more than 12 hours, Livingston was released and left the country for the U.S.

Medellín’s Mayor Federico Gutiérrez asked Interpol to issue a Blue Alert for Livingston’s arrest and deportation to Colombia. The bilingual campaign to discourage foreign visitors from engaging in illicit activities while visiting Medellín is among the most ambitious for a Colombian city, and one whose reputation internationally has also been negatively impacted by sex tourism.

“Let’s change the tourism model; we’re not interested in those tourists who only come because they bring dollars,” highlighted Mayor Gutiérrez. “We’re not going to stop. What we’re doing in Medellín, we want to do in Colombia and worldwide,” he added.

Given the seriousness of sexual exploitation in Medellín, Mayor Gutiérrez confirmed that he will work with foreign authorities to exert greater control against abusers, and that includes stricter controls at airports that receive international flights, among them, Bogotá, Cali, Pereira and Cartagena. “With the records that the United States has of pedophiles and convicted individuals with sexual offenses, we will determine who cannot enter Colombia or board the plane,” said the mayor. The strategy will also be backed by various airlines to issue messages against sexual exploitation and, within their capabilities, control access for travelers with legal issues related to sexual offenses.

The poster in English has been placed near bus stops across Medellín. Photo: Twitter

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