The FARC, the main guerrilla group makes part of it’s money from cocaine trafficking and part from kidnapping. Usually you’ll only fall into their hands if you wander off into the countryside like the 7 tourists near Santa Marta in early 2003.
For this reason stay inside the cities or only in parts of the countryside where you’re absolutely sure it’s okay. It is possible to travel overland but the situations is always changing. What was a safe route last week is now occupied by the guerillas the next. It’s got much safer to takes buses in Colombia but ask the locals or your embassy first.
Around 3000 people are kidnapped each year and most are very rich or work for oil companies and the like. However ordinary businessmen get targeted too.
There are small delinquent gangs that kidnap people and try to sell their hostages on to the FARC. Failing that they’ll try and get a ransom themselves and can be very brutal.
The best way to avoid all of this is not to draw attention to yourself. Don’t use your credit card inside the country, make out that you’re quite poor and some Colombians even change their routine so they won’t be at the same place at the same time every day.
If you’re living there for any length of time beware of strangers asking too many questions. If someone you don’t know very well makes a long list of specific inquiries about your family, your job, how much money you make, where you’re staying and so on, it could be someone is trying to assess you as a prospect. Don’t get too paranoid about it either, just be aware that it’s possible.
““Fishing for Miracles” – Kidnapping stories”:/article/561/kidnapping-in-colombia