001: The Inaugural Sovereign Man Podcast

sm001featured1 150x150 001: The Inaugural Sovereign Man Podcast

There’s a lot going on in the world and sometimes it’s just too hard to capture everything in a 500 word missive.

In our first podcast episode, we cover a range of topics from the Sovereign Man worldview and the deteriorating personal freedom in America to telling examples from history, and give some very timely advice that rational thinking people ought to be considering right now.

I encourage you to download it, put it on your mobile device and listen to it at the gym, in the car, and share it with your friends, and also feel free to let us know what you think.

You’ll find it on iTunes as well in the very near future, along with more exciting episodes.

from SOVEREIGN MAN http://ift.tt/1m7PYto
via IFTTT

Good news: Belize is working to improve its popular residency program

March 14, 2014
Ambergris Caye, Belize

One of the great things about being a foreigner in developing countries is how easy it is to get access to influential decision-makers.

If you’re in the UK or US, for example, the chances of sitting down with the President or Treasury Secretary are almost nil.
In developing countries, this access is much easier to obtain. I often start with a country’s biggest law firm—top lawyers are typically very well-connected… as are real estate agents and property developers.

Through this approach, I’ve routinely been able to meet with Prime Ministers, Presidents, Ambassadors, government ministers, etc. around the world to gain unique insights into who exactly is running the country, and what their next moves are.

Here in Belize it’s no different. And I just had the chance to sit down for a nice chat with Jose Manuel Heredia, Jr., the country’s Minister of Tourism.

In our conversation, we talked investment opportunities in Belize, residency, and what the government is doing to make things easier and more streamlined for foreigners.

He gave me some really insightful data, including a sneak peak at how they are planning on vastly improving Belize’s popular retiree program.

Once these improvements are made, I would rank residency in Belize quite favorably relative to other options. So this country should definitely be on people’s radars if they’re looking for a potential escape hatch.

You can read excerpts of the interview below:

Simon Black: It’s no secret that Belize certainly has a lot of great things going for it. This isn’t some hidden paradise nobody has ever heard of—the word is definitely out. Beautiful Caribbean setting. English language. And so close to the US and Canada—as you point out, at 2.5 hours, it’s quicker to fly from Dallas to Belize than from Dallas to Washington, DC.

And it’s really been growing, changing, improving… it certainly has since I was last here.

Minister of Tourism: I would love to say that even though my hometown is right here in San Pedro, Belize, I believe this is one of the best destinations in the world.

If you had asked me six years ago about Belize, I would have felt that it was just another place to be. But today, learning to appreciate what we have and seeing what Belize has and having traveled so much now, I can see that we have a complete package.

Simon: Speaking of a complete package, let’s talk about a popular package here that Belize offers for foreigners—a sort of ‘residency’ package you call the QRP.

MoT: The QRP (Qualified Retired Persons) program was founded and initiated several years ago. We are always trying to make it more attractive.

To qualify, someone has to be able to demonstrate $2,000 in monthly income, and be at least 45 years old.

Simon: Is it a really bureaucratic process?

MoT: Being the minister, I try to make sure that I can expedite this process to get it done as soon as possible, so that people feel like they can get things done in Belize.

I mean, I actually get involved personally to make sure that people have confidence that when they’re applying, they will be able to have their QRP and residency within the shortest possible time.

Once through the process, people have residency to live in the country and can bring anything that they want to bring into the country– household goods, a car, a boat, an airplane, all free of duties. And any income is not taxable as well.

Simon: In the past, there have been some issues with this program—that the QRP does not lead to Belizean citizenship. But you mentioned that this is probably changing.

MoT: Yeah. In the past, if you wanted to become a citizen of the country, even though you might be living ten years over here on the QRP, and you wanted to become a citizen, you would have to give up your QRP and start from scratch [with a different residency program].

We want to change this. The attorney general and myself, we talk to [the other ministers and leaders in government], and say that if you have lived legally for five years in Belize, even under the QRP, you can qualify for citizenship.

Simon: That’s fantastic, it’ll fix a major flaw in the program, thanks for that information.

So, one of the other very interesting things about this place is that there is some interesting investment opportunity in the tourism space. Here in Ambergris Caye, the island definitely goes through periods where some of the hotels have an occupancy rate of practically 100%.

MoT: Yes. As I mentioned before, forty percent of tourists to Belize come here to the island.

Simon: And those tourist numbers are growing rapidly.

MoT: Yes- we embarked three years ago on an aggressive marketing campaign, and it has started to pay off fruitfully. Two years ago, our tourism growth was 10.5%. Last year it was another 7.5%. Based on the numbers we saw in January, we are projecting similar growth this year.

Simon: Belize has a lot of islands, but this is definitely one of the nicest and most developed. But being an island, it is constrained by size, and that limits supply. Do you know how many hotel rooms are on the island now?

MoT: If I am not mistaken, then I am sure we have about two thousand rooms.

Simon: Two thousand rooms. Okay. Not really a ton of space, then.

MoT: No. Thirty years ago, back when San Pedro was a small fishing village with probably no more than two thousand residents, we had one hotel with just 7 or 8-rooms.

Simon: And you mentioned earlier, you’ve worked with a few other major airless to establish new service to Belize, including Copa in Panama… so that will really open the South American market to you.

So, with two thousand rooms, do you know, more or less, what the occupancy rates are right now across all those rooms on the island?

MoT: At this moment, I think we are doing better than sixty percent.

Simon: What was it like back in 2008, 2009 in the early days of the recession?

MoT: At that point, it was no more than forty percent. Slow season was terrible. A number of the hotels had to close during that time because it was just not sustainable.

Simon: And the slow season is getting shorter and shorter now.

MoT: Yes. Slow season used be the end of July. August. September. October. November. Today, the peak season runs all the way to September.

Simon: That’s really interesting. Some friends of mine are getting involved in the hotel business here, and they’ve shown me the numbers. It matches exactly what you’re saying—the growth rates are very interesting, and they’re projecting to be able to return 20% or better to investors, even under a rather conservative scenario. And they’re very confident in making the investment here.
MoT: The investment confidence here is strong; it has to do with a government’s credibility. Belize used to be perceived as one of the most corrupt countries in the region. And when we took over a few years ago, the credibility of the previous government was zero.

Simon: Yeah, Belize was pretty famous for scandal and corruption.

MoT: Today, the credibility of government is higher. And with the confidence so great now, I am seeing more and more nationwide development starting to happen. The potential is great.

Simon: Excellent, thanks so much for the insights.

from SOVEREIGN MAN http://ift.tt/1im4Uke
via IFTTT

The world is SCREAMING for a new financial system

March 14, 2014
Ambergris Caye, Belize

One of the key lessons we can take away from history is that the global financial system changes… frequently.

In ancient times, Roman coins were used across the region by Romans and non-Romans alike who engaged in trade and commerce.

Given how destructively successive Roman governments debased their coins, however, the reserve burden eventually fell to the Byzantine Empire, whose gold solidus coin became the dominant currency in world trade.

Over the centuries, this standard changed several more times. The Venetians, Florentines, Spanish, French, British, etc. each issued the world’s dominant currency at one point or another.

But the fundamentals of those currencies changed. Governments engaged in wanton debasement, mismanaged their economies, and accumulated massive debt levels. And eventually the world shifted to new currencies.

Since the end of World War II, the US dollar has been the dominant currency in the world.

And even though Richard Nixon ended the dollar’s convertability to gold and unilaterally abandoned the US government’s obligations under the Bretton Woods system back in 1971, the world has still clung to the dollar for the past 43-years.

But this is changing rapidly.

The Chinese, which have their own economic issues to deal with, are starting to dump Treasuries in record numbers.

Central banks are buying up more gold. Foreign countries are entering into bilateral currency swap arrangements with one another. And world governments are starting to (rather embarrassingly) demand that the US get its budget and fiscal house in order.

Most tellingly, though, member nations of the International Monetary Fund are starting to revolt.

As one of the major organizations spawned from the post-war financial structure, the IMF’s original goal was to ensure the smooth development of a new global financial system.

Over 180 countries have since become members of the IMF. But the organization runs on a quota system, with each member nation having a certain percentage of the IMF’s overall votes.

The US, for example, has the most power by far with a 16.75% share of the vote. Japan is a distant second with a 6.23% share.

This puts the US in the driver’s seat. And it’s been that way for decades.

But most of the other 180+ nations have had enough. And they’re pushing the United States to massively overhaul the current quota system.

Even typical allies are breaking ranks. Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey recently told reporters at a financial conference that they will “actively lobby” the US to reform the IMF quota issues, and that “Congress must understand that it is in the interest of the US to reform the IMF. . .”

India. China. Just about everyone imaginable is pushing for major IMF reform. Everyone except the Land of the Free. The US government seems to like things the way they are. And Congress has been very intransigent in adopting any planned reforms.

These people have their heads buried in the sand so deep that they can’t even hear the rest of the world SCREAMING for a new financial system.

This is going to happen, whether the US wants it to or not.

And while no foreign government wants a collapse of the dollar, they do very much want an orderly rebalancing of the financial system. This is already under way.

The US government may pretend that everything is fine and dandy. But given the overwhelming objective evidence out there, folks who aren’t on board with this major trend are ignoring it at their own peril.

from SOVEREIGN MAN http://ift.tt/1hjCjto
via IFTTT

This pretty much sums up the sad state of the US Constitution

March 14, 2014
Ambergris Caye, Belize

My research team recently passed along a piece of legislation they were looking at called the “ENFORCE the Law Act of 2014.”

It immediately piqued my interest… because anytime you see all CAPS in government documents, it signifies some absurd acronym. And the ‘ENFORCE the Law Act’ did not disappoint.

ENFORCE stands for “Executive Needs to Faithfully Observe and Respect Congressional Enactments”.

And the stated objective of the legislation is “to protect the separation of powers in the Constitution of the United States by ensuring that the President takes care that the laws be faithfully executed. . .”

The bill goes on with specific language to authorize Congress bringing civil legal action against the President of the United States, or any cabinet secretary, for implementing some rule or executive order that does not conform with Article II of the Constitution.

This pretty much sums up the sad state of affairs in the Land of the Free.

When Congress has to pass a new law just to get the President of the United States to, you know, follow the Constitution that he swore to ‘support and defend’, you can be certain that the system has become broken beyond all repair.

This isn’t a commentary on the current POTUS; the disturbing trend of rapidly expanding executive abuse has been increasing for years.

It has nothing to do with Mr. Obama, or Mr. Bush before him, or future Presidents that will continue to expand their offices.

It’s the system itself that is fundamentally flawed. The model is simply no longer valid. Having an election and voting in a new commander-in-chief won’t fix the problem. All you’re doing is changing the players. It’s time to change the game.

from SOVEREIGN MAN http://ift.tt/1oUjZda
via IFTTT

Here come the wage and price controls

March 13, 2014
Belize City, Belize

Nearly four thousand years ago, King Hammurabi of Babylon laid out his eponymous “Hammurabi’s Code”, a series of laws that is still famous to this day.

Most people know Hammurabi’s Code as “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”. Yet what few realize is that the code was actually one of the original attempts at government wage and price controls.

Hammurabi’s Code decreed, for example, that the daily rate of pay for a tailor would be five grains of silver, and a farm laborer would be six grains of silver. The cost of hiring a small animal for field work would be four bushels of corn. Etc.

Of course, Hammurabi’s attempts to control prices didn’t work one bit. In his book The Old Babylonian Merchant: His Business and Social Position (published 1950), historian W.F. Leemans writes:

“Prominent and wealthy tamkaru [merchant traders] were no longer found in Hammurabi’s reign. Moreover, only a few tamkaru are known from Hammurabi’s time and afterwards . . .”

Despite the economic failures of Hammurabi’s experiment, though, wage and price controls have been tried again and again throughout history.

2,000 years later, Emperor Diocletian of the failing Roman Empire issued his Edict on Wages and Prices. The ancient Athenians tried (and failed) to set grain prices, and even had a small army of regulators to oversee the price controls. So did the the Zhou dynasty in ancient China.

Today you can see various forms of wage and price controls all over the world– from the blatant (Argentina) to the subtle.

Major farm subsidies in the United States, for example, are a form of price controls. Monetary policy (especially keeping interest rates at effectively zero) are a form of price controls.

Yet today President Obama is set to lauch another far more obvious form.

The central planner-in-chief is going to sign an Executive Order to require employers to expand overtime pay in the Land of the Free. This, on top of his recent proposal to increase the minimum wage 39% to $10.10 per hour (not that there’s any inflation).

Obviously this ‘decree by executive order’ strategy shows the political system for what it is: there is no republic, there are no checks and balances, there is no adherence to the Constitution.

They do whatever they want, however they want, with total immunity.

The troubling part about this executive order (aside from being yet another soon-to-fail wage control) is that it essentially abrogates millions of work contracts across the country.

Employers and their workers have long since agreed to terms of employment that may or may not include overtime pay.

Today President is unilaterally voiding any specific provisions about overtime pay in existing employment contracts, all in his sole discretion, and all without Congressional oversight.

The rule of law means nothing.

And even though any high school economics student can tell you that wage and price controls don’t work, the government is pressing ahead with vigor, damn the consequences.

Given their continued destruction of the middle class, perhaps it’s time we bring back ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’

from SOVEREIGN MAN http://ift.tt/1cWZp6u
via IFTTT

Is this place the next Hong Kong?

March 12, 2014
Roatan, Honduras

Deep within the Congo basin along the banks of the Kasai River exist two native peoples– the Lele and the Bushong.

The two tribes are practically the same people, separated only by a river.

Yet when two anthropologists went to Africa in the early 1950s to study these tribes, the differences they found in their standards of living were astounding.

As Mary Douglas wrote in her book The Lele of the Kasai, “Everything the Lele have or do, the Bushong have more and can do better. They produce more, live better, as well as populating their region more densely than the Lele.”

The Bushong tribe was rich. The Lele tribe was poor. The Bushong used nets and traps to catch fish and game. The Lele did not. The Bushong had a “profit-motivated, wealth-accumulating economy”. The Lele did not.

The Bushong ate a much more abundant diet. They excelled at agriculture as well, planting five crops in succession in a two year rotation cycle. And they accumulated large pools of savings (excess food) for trade with other tribes.

The Lele barely subsisted.

As you can imagine, the Lele tribal structure was very centrally planned. The tribe imposed a rules on labor and employment, wealth redistribution was rampant, and there were heavy tithes to be paid.

This lack of economic freedom in the Lele tribe caused huge imbalances.

Just like the differences between North and South Korea, or East and West Germany during the Cold War days, there was very little that actually separated these people… very little except politics and economic freedom.

Similarly, it was the abundance of economic freedom in places like Hong Kong that led to their rapid growth and wealth.

Hong Kong had no major resources to speak of. Its prosperity is based solely on being a place where individuals were allowed to trade and thrive.

Here in Honduras, they’re trying to take a page from that playbook.

Last year the government approved a series of initiatives for what they call Zonas de Empleo y Desarrollo Económico (ZEDE), or Employment and Economic Development Zones.

The idea is that a handful of special zones in the country will be established that essentially have no taxation and their own administrative court systems (or apply laws and courts from any other country).

Naturally, a lot of folks will probably scoff at the idea– after all, what nut case would want to set up a business in what’s now a thick jungle in Honduras?

Then again, there were probably a lot of Brits in 1897 who thought the same thing about an illiterate fishing village on the South China Sea.

But history shows us that money and talent goes where it is treated best, and those places prosper far beyond all the rest.

That place might not be Honduras (it’s certainly possible this project won’t succeed)…

But as the debt and paper-based global financial system continues its terminal decline into insolvency, you can be sure that there will be a mass migration of talent and capital to the few places that still provide freedom and opportunity.

People will realize that they are being taxed more just to pay interest on a rising debt, meanwhile their money is worth less and their standard of living is falling.

Once they realize this, they’ll start looking for greener pastures elsewhere, just as human beings have always done throughout history.

from SOVEREIGN MAN http://ift.tt/1ie6TXP
via IFTTT

How low does this go before there’s a currency crisis?

March 11, 2014
Caribbean coast, Honduras

How’s this for irony–

In our modern monetary system, the term ‘fiat currency’ refers to this absurd notion of paper currency that is conjured out of thin air by central bankers and backed by nothing but hollow promises.

‘Fiat’ is a subjunctive conjugation of the Latin verb ‘fiō’; literally translated, it means “let it be” as in “Let there be light.”

Or in this case… ‘let there be paper money,’ which pretty much crystalized the absurdity of our monetary system.

Former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke summed this up nicely in a 60 Minutes interview he gave a few years ago in which he said, “We can raise interest rates in 15 minutes. . .”

And he was right. Central bankers can change interest rates whenever they want.

If you think about it, interest rates are nothing more than the ‘price’ of money. It’s the rate that people pay when they ‘demand’ money in the form of loans based on the supply of money available.

But this price of money is incredibly influential around the world. Interest rates affect the prices of shares in the stock market. Oil. Agricultural commodities. Real estate. Automobiles.

Almost everything we touch is affected by interest rates.

So in setting the price of money, we have given central bankers the power to effectively set the price of… everything.

Make no mistake, this is a form of price controls. And there’s not a doubt in my mind that one day (probably soon), future historians are going to look back and wonder how so many people could be bamboozled.

We have somehow been conned into believing that the path to prosperity is for the grand wizards of the financial system to conjure paper currency out of thin air.

Yet this notion of ‘money backed by nothing’ is an absurd fantasy that has failed every single time it has ever been tried before in history.

I bring this up because I want to share a chart with you that I presented yesterday to a savvy group of investors.

Bear in mind first that a central bank, like any bank or business, has both assets and liabilities.

Central bank assets are things like gold and government bonds (e.g. US government Treasuries).

Central bank liabilities are the ‘notes’ that they issue. And if you’re wondering what a central bank ‘note’ is, just look in your wallet.

If you’re in the US, those aren’t dollars. The dollar was defined by the Coinage Act of 1792 as 416 grains of standard silver.

Rather, you’ll see the paper in your pocket says “Federal Reserve Note”– a liability of the US central bank.

The difference between assets and liabilities is called equity, or the bank’s capital. And well-capitalized banks maintain substantial capital as a percentage of their assets.

You could think about this as a margin of safety. The less ‘capital cushion’ a bank has as a percentage of its assets, the less it will be able to withstand shocks to the system.

I tracked this data for the US Federal Reserve. And as the chart below shows, there has been an astounding decline in the Fed’s ‘margin of safety’ over the last few years.

1 3 How low does this go before theres a currency crisis?

The lower this line goes, the more the Fed gets pushed into insolvency.

Note that the trend levels out in early 2012, only to start another steep decline a few months later just as they told us the economy had ‘recovered’. This is apparently what recovery looks like.

The question I ask is: how low does this go before there’s a currency crisis?

from SOVEREIGN MAN http://ift.tt/1fn0uV2
via IFTTT

The government tries to terrorize a widow—fails

March 10, 2014
En route to Honduras

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from an interview with Robin Speronis, the woman in Cape Coral, Florida who Simon wrote about recently that got bullied by the local government simply because she was living off the grid.

Simon: So, Robin, you’d been living a completely self-sustainable lifestyle, unplugged from the grid, collecting your own rainwater, harnessing solar power etc. since January 2013.

Then the local authorities found out… and decided to come after you aggressively just because you weren’t plugged in to the grid.

What happened?

Robin: I was writing a book about living off grid, and I also have a blog where I published a few chapters—and my story got picked up by a local Fox affiliate, because they thought what I was doing was cool and wanted to do a special report on the topic.

That special report aired on November 14 last year, and immediately the next day the local code enforcement came and placed these placards on my door that said “Do not enter, do not occupy. This property is unsafe and unfit for human habitation.

Simon: But you had been living there for eleven months.

Robin: Right. And they decided to use the Florida statute for trespassing. It was illegal for me to be living on my own property. No notice, no hearing.

Oh, and the code that they cited on that placard said that the interior of the home was unsanitary. Of course, they’d never been inside the house.

Simon: I understand they applied some vague international building code… quite a stretch just to find some violation.

Robin: Yes, the whole code is very vague, there’s no definition of what “unsanitary” means. They didn’t want me being an example for other people, so they just tried to terrorize me. But I won’t let them.

Simon: Right. And since then you’ve taken them to court basically, and you’ve had an administrative hearing. Was that something that you pushed for or was that something that the city pushed for?

Robin: Well, my story was picked up and got a lot of media attention. Initially the city backed off, and they were even ignoring my lawyer’s calls, hoping that it would blow over.

But because I was technically still a trespasser in my own home I wouldn’t let this go away. So we had a hearing.

The city read off five pages of assorted codes that I was in violation of. I already got most of them voided. So that was a big victory.

Simon: This is so typical. These government officials look at you and decide, “We’ve got to get her. She’s doing something we don’t like.” And so they just come up with pages of senseless code violations hoping that something will stick.

It’s all about terrorizing people, making them obedient, and readily dependent on the system. And anyone that defies that is an enemy to them, someone they have to go after. So they tried to make an example out of you and terrorize you.

As I’ve written so many times before, we’re all guilty of violating some obscure law or regulation. They have criminalized –everything-. You can’t even apply for a passport anymore without being threatened with imprisonment.

I’m very glad that you didn’t cave in. Thank you Robin, this is very encouraging. Best of luck with your case in the future.

from SOVEREIGN MAN http://ift.tt/1h7uIhc
via IFTTT

“No inflation” Friday: the dollar has lost 83.3% against…

no inflation 150x150 No inflation Friday: the dollar has lost 83.3% against...

March 7, 2014
Dallas, Texas

I needed a caffeine jolt late this morning after the long journey up from South America.

And while I’m generally averse to aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, and other government-sanctioned poisons, I did briefly consider a hit of Coca Cola as I walked past a vending machine on my way out of a grocery store.

Then I saw the price.

To give you some quick background, this was the same grocery store my mother used to shop at when I was a kid. And if I was really lucky, we’d stop for a can of coke on the way out– 25 cents back then.

Fast forward to today–. I’m a grown man of 35 now instead of a 9-year old kid. And while the store has changed hands a few times, there’s still vending machine near the entrance.

Same coke, same 12 ounces (though now in a plastic bottle instead of an aluminium can).

Price today? $1.50. [note, this is the vending machine price, not grocery store price.]

Put another way, $1 would have bought me 48 ounces of Coca Cola 26 years ago. Today that same dollar buys me just 8 ounces.

This means that the dollar has lost 83.3% of its value against Coca Cola over the past three decades, averaging roughly 6.6% inflation per year.

Some readers may remember the price of Coca Cola being just 5c back in the early 1950s (for a 6.5oz glass)… meaning the US dollar has lost 93.8% against Coca Cola over the past six decades.

Now, we are taught from the time we are children that ‘a little inflation is good…’

And when central bankers tell us they’re targeting an inflation rate of 2% to 3%, that certainly doesn’t seem so bad. 2% is practically just a rounding error. But bear in mind a few things–

1) An inflation rate of 2% is not price stability.

As Jim Rickards frequently points out, even with just 2% inflation, a currency loses over 75% of its value during an average lifespan. This can hardly be considered monetary stablilty.

And this practice of gradually plundering people’s purchasing power over time is incredibly deceitful.

2) Even if, they rarely meet their target.

As this case shows, 6.6% certainly ain’t 2%. The official statistics and research papers may say 2%. Reality is much different.

3) Wages often don’t keep up.

According to the US Labor Department, the median weekly wage back in 1988 was $382… or roughly 18,336 ounces of Coca Cola.

Today the median weekly wage is $831.40… or just 6,651.20 ounces.

So as measured in Coca Cola, the average wage in the Land of the Free has declined by 11,684 ounces per week– a 63.7% decline over the last three decades.

You can make a similar calculation denominated in Snickers bars, gallons of gas, etc.

If you have a big picture, long-term view, it’s clear that standard of living is falling.

Some readers may remember decades ago– a single parent could go out and, even with a blue collar job, comfortably support a growing family.

Today, dual income households struggle to keep their heads above water. This is the long-term plunder of inflation.

And just to give you a reminder of what things used to cost, I’ve pulled a page from the March 7, 1988 edition of the Bryan Times of Bryan, OH: 26-years ago today.

inflation federal reserve No inflation Friday: the dollar has lost 83.3% against...

You can scroll through the paper and note the prices:

25c for a dozen eggs. 69c for a loaf of bread. 49c for a pound of Chicken. A brand new Mustang LX for just $9203.

That’s the Federal Reserve for you. 100 years of monetary destruction and counting.

from SOVEREIGN MAN http://ift.tt/O2YBqt
via IFTTT

Check out this “undiscovered gem”, a city known for all the wrong reasons

cartagena 150x150 Check out this undiscovered gem, a city known for all the wrong reasons

Cartagena, Colombia: Because of a $47 dispute the whole world got to know about Cartagena, a city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. For all the wrong reasons, unfortunately.

Two years ago Cartagena hosted the Summit of the Americas, a get-together of all heads of state for countries from North, Central, and South America, bar Cuba.

Before Barack Obama got there a group of Secret Service agents that descended on Cartagena decided to have some fun. And apparently it was a wild night.

It would probably all go down unnoticed – including the summit in Colombia itself – had it not been for a huge ruckus and dispute the next morning with the girls that the agents brought back to their hotel over the payment for their services.

Cartagena deserves its attention for a host of other reasons, however.

It was one of the most important cities during the expansion of the Spanish Empire in the Americas. Its port was a major trading hub for gold and silver mined in New Granada and Peru. Galleons loaded with precious metals would depart from Cartagena for Spain.

Because of its economic and subsequent political influence in the Americas the city had a strong presence of royalty and wealthy viceroys. Its riches made it the top target for pirates and Cartagena is THE city most associated with pirates in the Caribbean, and the world.

To defend against the plundering the Spanish have built an elaborate system of walls, fortifications, bastions, and castles. The construction began after the attack by Francis Drake in late 16th century and took an incredible two hundred years to complete.

Thanks to those efforts, however, Cartagena’s old colonial town is today immaculately preserved.

It’s an incredibly charming place full of colorful balconied houses, open plazas, imposing colonial administrative and religious buildings, horse-drawn chariots clomping through the streets, performers, flamboyant fruit sellers, musicians… etc.

The place has a great jovial vibe. But that’s not all there is to Cartagena.

Just a 5-minute taxi ride away and you can change the fairy-tale romantic old town for a Miami Beach-like setting in Bocagrande where new high-rise hotels and apartment buildings are popping up like mushrooms after autumn rain.

No wonder the place is a tourist magnet. Most of them are from other Latin American countries, however. There are hardly any Western tourists here, apart from an odd backpacker.

For now the property market is largely driven by Colombians who have favored this Caribbean town for a long time. It’s still an “undiscovered” investment haven when it comes to foreign, and especially Western investors for now.

That’s something that’s bound to change as Colombia goes through its transformation period and sheds it bad-boy image.

A few European investors have already started coming in. But the potential that Cartagena has is enormous, given its bountiful attributes.

And the time to get in on the action and enjoy the spoils of its rise to prominence again is now, especially as practically no one else is looking at it.

from SOVEREIGN MAN http://ift.tt/1iiqJUh
via IFTTT