Around the CAM, the administrative center of the city of Armenia, about 5 police officers were talking among themselves, apparently coordinating surveillance activities in the area. The inhabitants of the street wander from one place to another wandering aimlessly in solitude, rummaging through the garbage bags recently taken out by the merchants.
At the same time, on the platform to the left of the San Francisco Church, a 1.80-meter-tall transgender girl with feminine features was standing at the door of a house, waiting for customers to arrive, showing off her thick body, tall and athletic. She takes a few steps for a moment. A man looked her from side to side with suggestive movements. Everything indicated that today she was going to be like the song Pedro Navajas by Rubén Blades "there are no clients to work with", but it seems that this client is going to give her the league as they say in her slang.
Across the street, in a deserted corner, sits a young woman, Melissa, showing off her legs and other parts of her body, probably because what doesn't show doesn't sell. She is 21 years old and is from Cali, she is a sex worker in Armenia, she has been there for 2 years, she chose not to depend on anyone in this city, despite selling her body.
I ask them what her life was like during the covid pandemic and she tells me that, although she and her companions were afraid of contracting the virus, they were even more afraid of not having money to pay the daily expenses of the residence where they were staying and to feed.
Melissa's and her colleagues' income was always proportional to the number of men they served. On a typical day, from Monday to Friday, they could have two or three clients and they could leave between $200,000 or $300,000, this amount is not negligible, but Saturdays were their best days and they could perfectly make double the money.
During the pandemic In the best of cases, she assured her, she barely covered the payment of the residence and two blows a day. The coronavirus made a dent in her lucrative income, although now work is normal, the suffering was great, because they wanted to lock them up and did not let them work, the mayor reported with two markets and then nothing else.
A man on a motorcycle pulled up next to Melissa with a slight nod and motioned for her to discuss her usual offer. She was neither short nor lazy, she attended to the client, after a few seconds she approached me and told me that she had work, if she wants to continue chatting she will wait for me for a while because I have to attend to this client.
Within 45 minutes she was back, freshly showered and made up, but now the mobile police patrol was parked near some sex workers in the area and they were intimidated by 2 uniformed men who stared at them without saying a word.
This leads Melissa to say that every time they go there, the authorities ask them to leave and even threaten them with fines that, if they go into effect, they have no way to pay them in these lean days unless they agree to have fun.
With them it's a little, if they fine you you have to make a "Swap in installments until you pay off the debt".
All the girls take drugs and more in the pandemic, with that they relaxed and killed time and hunger.
The girl next door lit a basuco joint, immediately after speaking with the police, they were negotiating the debts they had pending, all the girls already know what the patrol is going to do.
A quarter of an hour later, Zulay Castro was standing in another corner in a tight spicy yellow dress, exposing her legs and part of her abdomen, just as she had done for the last 7 years and started in the business when she got into the ruin when her partner leaves her.
It was a friend of hers who, seeing how worried and depressed she was about not having money, suggested that she participate in prostitution. She won $600,000 on the first night. He counted the bills over and over again. He didn't believe them. Since then, although she admits to feeling dirty, she has done nothing more than sell her body for her daily bread. It's 6 pm and she guarantees that she has the same money as Melissa when she could have doubled it or more.
Zulay explained that, although in the residences where she can interact with clients, she must do so clandestinely so that the police do not harm her business. During the pandemic, she said that she was not afraid of being "in the grip of the epidemic," praying that God would protect her before starting work. Furthermore, she admits that sometimes “clients are more dangerous than viruses. Yesterday I was with a person who scared me, he was not good in appearance and spirit. "
She claims that her body has been enjoyed by police, military, doctors and engineers. But, according to her, the ones who pay her the best are those who work in the health sector, and they even gave advice on how to prevent the coronavirus: “The doctor told me not to wear gloves and to wash my hands. "
The truth is that even the most accomplished professionals can't help but have affairs with them. Furthermore, based on past accounts, it can be verified that no pandemic or institution has isolated commerce and society from the world's oldest work.
Leda, Doral, Kamelot, Angelitos, Alférez Real and other hotels continue to house workers, passersby, prostitutes, transvestites, drug addicts and other figures of the urban fauna of the decadent center of the city of Armenia that in an atypical way combines modern architecture. and postmodern, with wild and accelerated touches.
In front of the Gabriel Mejía market square (today the Armenia Shopping Center) are the remains of the old El Caracol restaurant, which was in what is now the City Hall. The popular mall, which still echoes the dance music of the famous La Escalera del Ritmo nightclub, was abuzz on the weekend with drunken workers and so-called "happy living women."
This scene ends in front of the Hotel La Castellana where the "Callejón de los Malvados" is, where prostitutes gather, on terraces, transvestites, low-class thugs, drunkards, with direct communication day and night with carreras 19 and 20, under the façade from the El Edén hotel, the money changers, the "flea market" vendors, to the so-called "beaches" where the Jeep Willys sends as a means of transportation to some neighboring towns of the capital, and as a maker of the memory of the exploits in trails and roads that accompanied the Antioquian muleteers, the mule trains and the founding colony.
The Plaza de Bolívar in Armenia becomes a place of prostitution, drug use and robbery at night.
The square was a tourist icon of the city but it is no longer popular with tourists who prefer to avoid it to avoid being robbed. The people who still remain in the place, who did not want to be identified for security reasons, said that many changes have taken place for the worse, but they do not report it because they believe that the authorities may retaliate against them.
“We have to play crazy with the chirrincheros who sit on the benches all day and also on the stairs smoking marijuana and smelling glue because if we look at them they insult us and treat us like frogs and stuff,” they told us. In the same way, they assure that there is prostitution in the square. "You see underage girls, female prostitutes, fags, trans, anything you can think of." People notice when they look at each other and make gestures. Others denounced the lack of police presence at night, since the uniformed ones do not exist and only "keep their eyes on the security cameras", which is why few tourists have visited the square in almost three years.
“You can see unscrupulous people walking around and looking to rob tourists who dare to walk here. The thieves stop them, make a ring for them and rob them,” they said.
In addition to the complaints, there is also a permanent dump as evidenced by the plates, glasses, napkins and other items that uneducated people throw away after eating in the makeshift stalls that are set up in front of the Dian building on 21st street with Carrera 14.
In Armenia, road prostitution has become fashionable, when the desire turns into sex, help is available at any turn on the country's roads. The whores on the highway know how to jump on the trucks while the truckers don't stop and just have to go slowly. They don't even have to take their hands off the wheel, sexual services on average cost 20,000 pesos. To corroborate this, I run into Patricia, 16 years old and I ask her what business is like on the road and she lets go to tell me, I used to meet in Caracolí, it is a place where women of all ages, transvestites and adolescents meet to get a powder at night. “I started going to Caracolí (a nearby town on the Línea highway) to help my mother. A friend took me there and she made good money from the truckers. You don't have to kiss them, they are very ugly! —You don't have to be with them, all they want is a blowjob and that's it, they do everything inside the cab of the truck and they pay you up to 20,000 pesos. In a short time you can earn more than two hundred. I started going a couple of nights in a row, but my mom smelled them and she didn't want to let me go anymore, and she followed me and grabbed me, she locked me up, I insisted and I was blown away, so I accept the situation and now she prefers to take the number of the license plate of the truck just in case".
More than half of these girls who are forced into prostitution drop out of school because they used to eat at school, had free transportation, and received help. The immediate culprits are: the ruling and political class that abuses resources and money. Billions of pesos are shamelessly stolen from the PAE school program, stripping girls of their education and childhood, forcing them to wander around at night like zombies and sell their bodies.
Either I do this or we don't have to eat, this alternative means prostitution for many girls. “We are more and more like this, women who are on the street because we have no other, we have nothing. Many are young people of study age and every day we are more, he said.
In Armenia there is no census of how many women, gays, and transgenders practice prostitution, and it is also very difficult to do so because prostitution has become a surreptitious business where anyone does it wherever they want.