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How Worried Are Ethereum Devs About Safety at Devcon Bogotá?

Ethereum core developers responded to rumors swirling Monday about security concerns at the network’s marquee Devcon conference, set to kick off in Colombia’s capital next week.

3 min read
Colombia and Venezuela. Image: Shutterstock

Cadres of crypto developers began trickling into Bogotá, Colombia, on Monday in anticipation of Devcon, the Ethereum Foundation’s marquee global conference, which is set to kick off next week in the South American nation’s capital city. 

But according to reports, some of crypto’s leading digital builders may already be second-guessing those travel plans.

Twitter buzzed early Monday with rumors of Devcon attendees being robbed and experiencing other safety issues after arriving in Bogotá. On Monday morning, Polygon co-founder Sandeep Nailwal tweeted that he would no longer be attending Devcon “due to safety concerns.” 

Source: Twitter

Nailwal has since deleted the tweet, and did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Decrypt clarifying why he deleted the comment or whether he would still be attending the conference. 

Ethereum core developers, meanwhile, largely dismissed the rumors swirling Monday as sensationalized and consistent with what travelers to the region should reasonably expect. 

“I don’t think [the safety issue] is as bad as people are saying,” Ethereum core developer Terence Tsao told Decrypt.

“I think all these people getting mugged aren’t exercising common sense,” said Ethereum core developer Raul Jordan to Decrypt

Jordan confirmed he’d already heard multiple accounts of Devcon attendees getting mugged upon arrival in Bogotá, but emphasized that these individuals had all made themselves into “huge targets” by “trusting strangers, wearing bright clothing, big backpacks, and shorts, and […] taking phone calls in public,” among other missteps.

Devcon’s site advises all conference attendees to follow the Colombian practice of “No des papaya,” which translates to “not giving a papaya”—a local expression that means avoid making yourself an obvious target. The site lists tips such as avoiding wearing flashy items, leaving valuables at home, and abstaining from walking in public with phones and laptops. 

Marius Van Der Wijden, another Ethereum core developer, told Decrypt that he plans “to travel very light” and mitigate risks by purchasing a burner phone for the trip. He expects other developers will likely follow suit. 

It’s unclear whether the conference attendees thus far targeted were unaware of these warnings; Jordan felt the Ethereum Foundation’s obligation to warn Devcon attendees was besides the point. 

“I think people should do their research on the safety of any region in the world they are visiting,” Jordan said. 

One crypto-specific twist to standard travel precautions in the case of Devcon appears to be the necessity of avoiding wearing apparel donned with the logos of crypto companies and organizations, a common practice at promotion-heavy conferences.

Apparently, a Solana shirt is, by local standards, a papaya.

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