1. Bring up the drug cartels
You might think it’s funny to chat about cocaine use or drug cartels, but this is a quick way to get most Colombians fired up. They are proud of their country and do not appreciate all the stereotypes that portray Colombians as drug addicts and dealers.
2. Bail right after a business meeting or meal
After a business meeting or meal, you need to hang around for a while, sometimes even hours. If you leave directly after a business meeting ends, it sends the message that you are only interested in business and money, which is very rude. If you leave right after a meal, one might think all you wanted was the free meal.
3. Openly criticize religion
Most Colombians have a strong faith, and a large percentage of Colombians are Catholic. Criticizing or even simply mentioning your lack of faith can be considered offensive.
4. Bring up the Panama Canal
Even though Panama was officially separated from Colombia back in 1903, many Colombians are still pretty upset about it. They believe that the Americans stole Panama from them only for the Panama Canal. A conversation about the Panama Canal with a Colombian is bound to be an unpleasant and uncomfortable discussion.
5. Buy a traditional sombrero vueltiao made in China
The sombrero vueltiao (local pronunciation for volteado) is one of Colombia’s cultural symbols and it is made from caña flecha by artisans of a tribe called Zenú. Unfortunately, copies of this hat made in China are being sold in touristy areas of Colombia for half the price. The topic is so sensitive that even the government has to intervene. So, don’t you dare to buy one of the Chinese hats from Colombia because you will be jeopardizing the income of the local artisans.
Colombians are a friendly group of people, but don’t push your luck by bringing up any of this touchy subjects! Check out the topics you should avoid with an Argentinian in my previous article 5 Ways to Start an Argument with an Argentine.
Check out these other Colombia Culture articles.