As the Summit of the Americas ended in Colombia, the conversation didn't center on trade agreements, the drug war or even Fidel Castro's absence. Rather, it was all about Shakira fumbling one little word when singing the Colombian national anthem and about the Secret Service prostitute/escort scandal.

And then, there was Hillary Clinton, whooping it up at a Cartagena bar, dancing salsa, drinking a beer and having a great time. I think it's the biggest compliment the Secretary of State could pay to Colombians, partying like one of them. And the fact that her actions generated criticism from some  quarters highlights the huge cultural disconnect between those who simply don't get Latin culture, and those who do. 

Hillary and her posse partied at Café Havana, a bar/dance club in Cartagena—known worldwide as a city to party in—with a house band that plays Cuban music. As many know, Colombia and Cuba have a long-standing musical connection that has nothing to do with politics. Dancing to Cuban music is part of our landscape.

Ah, not so quickly, cried Conservatives. A Cuban bar! CUBAN music! Red alert!  On top of that, the woman was dancing, dancing! How dare she?

Now, I don't know when it became outrageous for women to dance in public. Or  drink beer out of a bottle. And ironically, I've always found Hilary to be a tad too straight-laced for my taste.

But the Colombian experience highlighted a different side to her entirely. This is a woman who appreciates different countries, who embraces the opportunity to understand how others think, and who realizes that closed minds have no room in today's politics.

Yes, Hillary danced salsa. And she drank Colombian beer. If her name were Henry, all those uptight men on late night news shows would be applauding her smooth moves.

We say, give it up guys. The woman rocked.  Hilary, you can come party with us any time!

 What do you think of Hilary's outing in Cartagena? 

Image via Getty Images

About the author

Leila Cobo is a novelist, pianist, TV host and executive Editor for Latin Content at Billboard. She is mom to Allegra, 16, and Arthur, 13. Her new novel, The Second Time We Met, is out on Grand Central. Visit www.leilacobo.com to learn more. 

 



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