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Will Smith. Foto: Getty Images
Will Smith filmed the movie Gemini Man in Cartagena. Photo: Getty Images

Money donated by Will Smith movie production to workers in Cartagena is "lost"

Nobody has answered for the $25,000 that was donated to vendors in Cartagena that could not work for days during the filming of Gemini Man in 2018.

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Actor Will Smith's visit to Cartagena in 2018 was quite an event. For two weeks, several areas of the historic city center were paralyzed by the presence of the actor and the production team for the film Gemini Man, directed by Ang Lee.

Streets and areas usually frequented by thousands of tourists from all over the world were closed during the filming. During those days, hundreds of street vendors, who make their livelihood by selling all kinds of products to tourists, were left without the possibility of working.

To compensate for the lack of income, the film's production company made a payment of 100 million Colombian pesos (about $25,000) to the city's mayor's office for distribution among 600 vendors for the days they had no income.

Depending on their activity, each seller would receive between 200 and 400 thousand pesos (between $50 and $100).

More than three years later, it was learned this money never reached the beneficiaries. The Colombian Attorney General's Office is investigating the local government entity in charge of delivering the money to merchants for irregularities in the process.

According to the oversight of the public space — the entity that monitored the process — only 26 vendors received money.

"Some were given 50,000 pesos ($13) and those who were luckier were given 100,000 pesos ($25)," María Rocha Pacheco told the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo.

Although this type of scandal is not new in the city and country, the fact that the name of a foreign superstar is involved has given it more notoriety, even more for the charisma of the actor, who enchanted "cartageneros."

Will Smith sang and danced traditional rhythms of the country, such as cumbia and champeta, and visited the most emblematic places of the city. During the almost 20 days he was in the city, Smith shared with his millions of followers on social media each of his stops and many posts went viral.

His fascination for the city and its inhabitants led him to donate the money to build a children's playground in the Getsemaní neighborhood, one of the most emblematic at the city center, with a great historical importance due to its importance in the independence of the city and its Afro heritage.

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