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July 11, 2017

Colombia's LAL Expo Shut Down by City Officials

LOS ANGELES—The Latin America Adult Business Expo on Tuesday was shut down by city officials in Cartagena, Colombia, due in part to political pressure and public protests about the adult-oriented nature of the event. The third annual conference started Monday at the Julio Cesar Turbay Convention Center in the heart of downtown Cartagena despite being under heavy scrutiny by local government officials such as the city’s Secretary of the Interior, Fernando Niño, and the Mayor Manuel Vicente Duque.  At press time, it did not appear the show would re-open this year. According to reports in El Universal, Niño stated the government's opposition to the conference being held and also alleged that organizers did not obtain the necessary authorization to open. Show organizer Anthony Rivera was not available for comment at post time. Several attendees said organizers were negotiating with government officials this morning to try to keep the three-day Expo going. A couple dozen protestors—some holding religious-themed signs—stood outside the convention center this morning before the show opened, while a handful of TV news outlets covered the controversy. Meanwhile, numerous show attendees were left standing outside the convention center, which was locked down by local police, or were still at their hotels waiting for word on the show's status. “The convention decided to close the doors and at the moment the organizers are negotiating with the mayor of the city of Cartagena and we wait and see if we can come in,” said Andy Wullmer, the CEO of SGM Media who is at the venue. “It’s a controlling country with everything related to porn.” At post time, the show’s official site LALExpo.com had gone offline. The LAL Expo, which enjoys a large presence from live-cam companies due to the popularity of camming in the region, for the first two years was held at a hotel with no trouble from the city. “It was a private environment,” Wullmer said. “The government wants to get the adult industry out of the city. It’s political for them. In many countries, they think the adult industry means prostitution and abusing women. That’s the worst for me. I’m in business for 20 years. This is not an illegal business.” Wullmer said the first day of the show was crowded. One estimate of this year's turnout was more than 2,000 attendees. Just past the 11 o'clock hour in Cartagena there was a modest police presence at the center and most of the protestors had left the area.  “I talked with a police officer and they told me they are only here to protect the buliding,” Wullmer said. No arrests had been made. According to El Universal, Niño said the event will be canceled. "We have to evaluate the administrative behavior, the decision we take now is to dissolve the activity, so that it is not carried out for not respecting local rules," he said.

 
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