Posted by David Fallick

Geoff Widmer shared his encyclopaedic knowledge on the country of Colombia.

Geoff had, during his memorable ‘Member Behind the Badge’ presentation in late 2021, touched upon his extensive experience in that country and his role as Melbourne-based Honorary Consul for Colombia.

In fact, he so engaged his audience on that occasion that he was invited back to present in greater depth on the Latin American country that suffers from such ‘bad press’.

It was Geoff’s goal to help dispel the overwhelming image of drug lords, gang wars violence and corruption that, for most of us, is synonymous with Colombia.

And he pursued this goal with great gusto, systematically working through the history, geography and socio-economic makeup of the country up to the current political situation, parties and presidential candidates in the forthcoming election.

Perhaps the most surprising fact revealed in Geoff’s presentation is just how healthy the economy is, despite the huge challenges from Colombia’s neighbours, especially the weekly flood of refugees from Venezuela, desperate to raid the border towns for essentials.

On most of the key economic indicators, including inflation (2.5%), annual GDP growth (4.6-4.9%) and foreign investments, the country performs well.

The presentation concluded with an amusing account of both how Geoff was recruited in a Melbourne club to become the Honorary Consul for Colombia and the duties that role entails – most memorably visiting prisons and morgues.

At the end of Geoff’s detailed presentation, everyone in the room was a great deal better informed about the real Colombia, rather than the lurid image conveyed in the media. 

Club member Geoffrey Widmer (right) enthralled an attentive audience at the club meeting, February 8th. Pictured here with meeting Chair David Fallick, Geoffrey painted a different perspective of Colombia, now a thriving economy and a sophisticated, cultured and safe society.