LAL Expo Organizers Release Statement on Controversy in Cartagena

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LAL Expo Organizers Release Statement on Controversy in Cartagena

LOS ANGELES—Organizers of the Latin America Adult Business Expo on Tuesday released their official statement regarding the government intervention in their fourth annual conference last week in Cartagena, Colombia.

Amid peaceful protests by a couple dozen locals about the adult-oriented nature of the event, city officials in Cartagena on July 12 shut down the main show venue, Julio Cesar Turbay Convention Center, interrupting the show on Day 2 and forcing scheduled activities off site.

LAL executives managed to keep the conference going by moving various functions to alternate locations but the convention hall did not re-open for attendees.

Some local news reports quoted the city’s Secretary of the Interior, Fernando Niño, suggesting that LAL Expo organizers had not obtained the necessary authorization to hold the event—an assertion that simply was not true, LAL Expo officials reiterated Tuesday.

On the contrary, LAL Expo maintained it followed all the ‘best practices’ in preparation for this year’s event.

“The legal team carefully carried out all processes to adhere to local regulations and customs. Additionally, the legal team provided clarifications made through the communications department and addressed to Mayor Manuel Vicente Duque directly,” the company said. “It was a top priority of LAL Expo to provide information to the city in order for the attendees to receive a professional welcome and for the LAL Expo and the host city to benefit from the international exposure and recognition.”

The LAL Expo’s official statement follows, “Despite our best efforts and advance planning, the government and its leadership violated our constitutional rights as workers and citizens by ordering the Convention Center not to provide service to LAL Expo event. This act was illegal and discriminatory against our company and industry. LAL Expo absorbed great financial costs to find other venues to satisfy the international and national participants already in Cartagena. 

“The claim that ‘explicit pornography’ was on demonstration is a complete falsehood, and is evidence by the attendance on the first day of representatives of the Attorney General’s Office and public advocate of Cartagena de Indias who verified true the nature of the event. Additionally, the journalist, Emiro Jose’ Pico, writes from first-hand experience saying the event was ‘a quality, respectful, private and dedicated encounter to the online adult industry with no explicit porn in its schedule.’

“It is worth noting that, despite the difficulties, LAL Expo remained in constant communication with the participants. The internal networks of the event served to transmit information that directed the attendees that were in the official hotels to our new venues, to carry out the remaining conferences.

“In order to continue with the program, the LAL Expo Awards and the closing party were also held on Saturday, July 15; the first LAL Expo Workshop was held at the Torre Hotel in Cali, where there was further exposure for the sponsoring brands and where a series of conferences were held with speakers of national and international stature, in which they imparted tools and knowledge to more than 400 participants, companies and models of this growing industry in the region in order to close the cycle of seminars that could not culminate in Cartagena.

“The reckless actions by governmental officials gave Cartagena a temporary black eye. However, LAL Expo sees a silver lining—and a chance at redemption—for Cartagena. The widespread media attention around the globe on radio, television and internet has actually created greater interest in the annual exposition. LAL Expo remains committed to promoting safe, legal, and successful ways to conduct web cam and adult business.  So, the outlook for next year’s event projects double attendees.”

Expo organizers said its annual event is designed to educate, inform, and promote “best legal and business standards” to the adult online industry, an industry that quietly flourishes in Colombia providing tens of thousands of jobs and generating millions in revenue each year.

The event consists of a trade show, educational seminars, and an awards show for recognizing the most successful companies in Latin America and the rest of the world.

“The webcam industry provides high paying jobs and opportunities to thousands of our employees and contractors,” says Anthony AJ, president of LAL Expo. “The industry does not function in a ‘black market’ in any way. This is a very safe business and is strictly regulated. The political leaders of Colombia ought to join the modern world in realizing that fact.”   

AJ added, “What happened to our event last week represents a loss of millions of pesos to tourism, taxi drivers, business owners, restaurants, hotels and other establishments, because the international attendees did not feel welcomed. I hope the politicians learn an important lesson and do a better job in the future.” 

LAL officials said in the future it would take legal actions “to ensure respect for the right to work and non-discrimination of the adult industry, which is why we call for the union and support of all companies in the industry.”

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