Peru Part 1 : Incognito and Bulletproof

As I write this I’m on my way to Lima, Peru, and then Mexico City. I’m on the same flight, courtesy of American Airlines, that took me to Ecuador instead of Peru last year. So fingers crossed I actually make it this time.

I was reading Tyler Brûlé’s excellent Monocle this morning and was somewhat interested in his update on kidnapping activity. 48% of kidnapping worldwide takes place in Latin America with the majority in Colombia, which unless American Airlines divert me again, I’ll be avoiding. There were 521 kidnappings there last year, down from 3,500 in 2000.

Actually, the majority of kidnappings take place in Mexico. I must have misread this – a Freudian slip since I’m heading to Mexico City for the third or fourth time this year. In 2007, there were 547 kidnappings there with 1 in 7 ending up dead. In Colombia they only kill 1 in 26.

Third in the kidnapping stakes is Venezuela with around 350 per year.

Many CEOs go into these places with personal security, bodyguards and bulletproof cars. One or two even go with lightweight bulletproof vests. Miguel Caballero in Bogota, Colombia, has cornered the market in this area. He has an array of tweed jackets and tropical shirts with the bestseller being a bulletproof black leather jacket that adds 1.2 kilos to you. Caballero is the “Armani” of bulletproof casual wear, dressing Hollywood A-listers, Heads of State, US rappers, and CEOs.

I suspect a burgeoning market also exists in Russia.

My approach is completely different. I go into these places low key, low profile, jeans and t-shirt. Avoidance rather than confrontation.

So far it’s worked.

Fingers crossed!

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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