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Old 02-12-2005, 06:41   #1
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Armed Boardings in Venezuela

We have been coming in and out on Venezuela for over a year now and have reported previously the crime was lower than some of the other places we had been and better than DC has made a change for the worse.

Outside Puerto La Cruz in the local offshore islands there have been 2 boardings. Though as in most places boardings are not unuausal these are different as 3 men boarded with guns. Most of the crime here has been relaitively non violent.

In the first incident at La Barracha the scumbag criminals (I refuse to glamorize them as pirates) made off with $7K US in cash and some $10K in equipment. It was duely reported. We will see what happens

The 2nd was a friend of ours. 3 men with guns boarded but found themselves facing superior firepower as the Captain carried guns. He managed to get them to leave and they circles his boat and did a drive by shooting. They exchanged gun fire and the criminals departed and the cruiser immediately returned to the marina at 1AM AST. IT was also duely reported.

The polica and Guardia Costal told him to keep quiet about the defense as guns are illegal here, while they tried to apprehend the criminals. It has been a week and no word.

Though the story is not new the important fact is the escalation of boardings to people carrying weapons. Previous at most crusiers were roughed up. Now there is a potential to be shot.

It is already a common cruiser myth that all Americans are cowboys and carry guns. This means that more boarding will become violent. This is turning into the WindWards or DC.

We will be making second thoughts about the local islands for overnights, but the offshore islands are still the best.
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Old 02-12-2005, 06:50   #2
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Captain Bil:
Are you proposing that the perception (myth) ”... that all Americans are cowboys and carry guns ...” is (at least partly) responsible for an escalation in the violence potential of criminal-cruiser engagements?
How will/has this affected your security planning (if at all), beyond ”... making second thoughts about the local islands for overnights ...”?
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Old 02-12-2005, 07:10   #3
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Perceptions and changes

We have actually had this discussion with many different crusiing nationalities and the locals during our cruise. Almost all thought Americans all carried guns. Many were suprised that we don't. It is just the cowboy image.

I don't belive it was the perception that we carry guns that made thses criminals arm themselves. There are many incidents of boardings that the cruisers fought back. In one case a French boat beat off a boarder with a fying pan from the galley Violent crime here is relatively low compared to the US but the locals are learning. It is still safer than DC.

The local offshore islands can be reached in 20-30 of motring making them a easy target. With little patrolling, at the moment, the local islands are becoming a risky place to overnight. We will be here in Ven until the turn of next year and will examine what the Guardia Coastal is doing to fix the problem. If we see little improvement we will plan our trips to the outislands without stopping at the local offshore islands. The risk is not worth the trouble as there are many beautiful islands without trouble to go to.

It is just an incovinece. We usaully hit the local offshore islands because they are beautiful and it give us a chance to dive and check and clean the hull while we still are close to civilaztion if there are problems.

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Old 09-06-2009, 15:34   #4
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Perhaps off topic of violence in the region, perhaps not. I allow readers to decide.

World & International news affecting St. Louis & beyond
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Old 09-06-2009, 21:04   #5
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Makai,

You surely missed all the armed boarding that have passed over these islands. Just last year a cruiser was shot dead there. These island are some of the more dangerous in Venezuela and all the crew at PLC will tell you not to stay there. Search in this forum, the posts are all here.

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Old 09-06-2009, 22:30   #6
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Hacked to death in Panama

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Makai,

You surely missed all the armed boarding that have passed over these islands. Just last year a cruiser was shot dead there. These island are some of the more dangerous in Venezuela and all the crew at PLC will tell you not to stay there. Search in this forum, the posts are all here.

cheers,
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Nick,

I haven't missed too much. I know that one couple were attacked just offshore (Panama) in broad daylight and within view of the beach by machete welding bandits. The woman survived but her husband died. That was within the last two years.

But thanks for the warning. I was hoping others would see this, also.
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Old 10-06-2009, 02:55   #7
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This reminds me of of the American-born comedian, now Canadian; who remarks to his family in California:
“You know, up here (Edmonton), they report every single murder
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Old 10-06-2009, 09:29   #8
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I haven't missed too much. I know that one couple were attacked just offshore (Panama) in broad daylight and within view of the beach by machete welding bandits. The woman survived but her husband died. That was within the last two years.

But thanks for the warning. I was hoping others would see this, also.
That attack was at 10pm in Guatemala. The Yacht was Sunday's Child and we know them well. He was killed and she was stabbed but survived the punctured lung injury. See Noonsite: Guatemala, Rio Dulce - Fatal Pirate Attack

There were no incidents in Panama waters but there were ashore in Colon. The wife of a friend of us was killed (shot) while in Colon at night.

The attach I was referring to off PLC was this one: Noonsite: Venezuela, Isla Borracha - Fatal Pirate Attack

ciao!
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Old 10-06-2009, 10:18   #9
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We spent 4 months in Venezuela summer 08. There were only about 200 - 250 boats cruising, 4 sailors were murdered, a shoot out on the dock in front of us, the list goes on and on. Everybody gets boarded, its a matter of were you pistol whipped, shot, tied up and robbed or whatever else. The longer your there the greater the chance. As well most did not even know they were boarded until they went to get something and it was gone. The locals steal everything from dinghies, liferafts, fenders, lines, even cockpit cushions. We stripped the outside of our catamaran upon arriving at Margarita of everything however I forgot about a boat hook mounted in brackets on the boom, 3 days later it was gone. Somebody came aboard either when we were sleeping or off the boat and stole it. We were told by many boaters that the thefts are petty, like stealing your lawn mower out of your garage. My lawnmower was worth $200, my dinghy is worth $6,000 and life raft $5,000....its not petty theft, its total lack of disregard for other peoples belongings.

We are furious at the stupid cruisers who claim its safe and only petty theft happens. Tell this to the wife of the captain who was run over and killed while in his dinghy right in front of us or the catamaran that was boarded, crew tied and ransacked with $7,000 cash taken. The locals now know cruisers who enter their waters are carrying large sums of money for exchange. The cruisers are brainwashed because its cheap and the money exchange is good.

Nobody should go there!!! Its not safe, period.
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Old 10-06-2009, 10:52   #10
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I agree that any theft is a problem. If its yours, its yours. Value doesn't change anything. Thanks for posting your experiences for others to see !
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Old 10-06-2009, 12:45   #11
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Mustang Sally, while you may tire of cruisers who refer to thefts of items such as your boat hook (or even outboards, inflatables, liferafts etc.) as petty theft, I tire of people who make inflammatory and inaccurate statements such as "EVERYONE gets boarded, its a matter of were you pistol whipped, shot, tied up and robbed or whatever else."

As SV Makai points out, the increase in violent crime/attacks in certain areas in Venezuela IS a matter of serious concern. However, he is able to put things in a rational perspective: despite sailing in and out of Venezuela for over a year, he has not been a victim of a violent attack; he is not painting the entire country with the same brush; even if the situation does not improve where these recent attacks occurred (the now notorious area outside Puerto La Cruz including Isla Barracha), he is not proposing giving the offshore islands a miss. From my personal experience (as well as that of many others), he is NOT the exception that proves the rule, but rather one of the vast majority who have had wonderful experiences cruising the offshore caribbean islands of Venezuela.

I also note that, in spite of the recent attacks that have shaken his confidence in the Puerto La Cruz area, he still believes that it is only now turning into an area that is as dangerous as the Windward Islands (as you know, the still popular cruising grounds between Martinique and Grenada), or the District of Columbia. To that I might add that since January of this year, there have also been violent attacks on cruisers in St. Vincent, St. Lucia, the ABC's, Puerto Rico and Antigua, with murders in the latter two.

I am sorry that while in Venezuela you apparently saw someone in an inflatable run down by another boat (although I can only imagine the outrage you would express if it had been done by a member of the equivalent of the local Sheriff's office, as occurred in a notorious case from California that is currently before the courts).

I am sorry that while in Venezuela you allegedly saw a shoot-out on the dock in front of you (although I must say that I have been witness to shoot-outs at parking lots at the Detroit Olympiad and in Niagara Falls, New York in the 1970's; it hasn't kept me from returning to the USA).

I am also sorry that there were allegedly four cruisers murdered in Venezuela in the summer of 2008 (although I must say that I have not read about that anywhere else). Are you suggesting that all of this happened on Margarita Island (the only location you mention). Can you provide some details of this mass (or serial) killing of cruisers on the island? Frankly, I believe that you are 'mistaken'. And if it wasn't on Margarita Island, please specify where as there IS a difference (Venezuela is, afterall, a rather large country and one with, by far, the largest coastline bordering the Caribbean Sea). Frankly, I would be hugely surprised if that were true for the entire country during the summer of 2008, but I am prepared to stand corrected.

What I am prepared to accept at face value is your allegation that your boathook was stolen while under anchor in Porlamar, the largest and most violent city on Isla Margarita. For what it is worth, I can indicate that the outboard for my inflatable was stolen from my boat one night when I was onboard two summers ago - at a sleepy little marina in Bath, Ontario, Canada. It was locked to a transom bracket on my cat and I awoke the next morning to find that the cable had been cut.

I have also had a previous boat broken into and not only stripped, but deliberately damaged when on the hard in Port Credit, Ontario. Indeed, I have also been involved in the prosecution of numerous cases where boats have not only been boarded and subjected to theft, but also boarded when occupied at marinas in other small towns in southern Ontario. I believe that you were originally from Canada - do you believe that I should, as a result, be saying that from my experience, everyone in Canada will eventually be boarded? The longer you stay here, the greater the risk?

Everyone is entitled to express an opinion, and yours is duly noted. I suggest, however, that inflammatory rhetoric does little to promote a measured response or judgment by anyone. It is obvious that you were terrified by your experience in Venezuela and moreover, that you have little or no patience with other cruisers who view theft from even their own boats as relatively petty matters. From an international perspective, I suspect that they are right, although I acknowledge that it does nothing to minimize the sense of violation that you obviously feel.

The world is a dangerous place and sadly, it seems that it is becoming more dangerous by the day. All of us and not just cruisers must make decisions concerning issues of safety and the degree to which we are prepared to accept risk, versus the gain of visiting new landfalls and experiencing new cultures. Sadly, at this point I suspect that SV Makai is correct: unless or until the Guardia clean things up quickly, it is probably best at present to avoid the area of Puerto La Cruz and neigbouring islands. Like SV Makai, however, I do not believe that this in any way justifies an indiscriminate and inaccurate attack on all cruising grounds in Venezuela.

Brad
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Old 10-06-2009, 13:03   #12
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... Everyone is entitled to express an opinion, and yours is duly noted. I suggest, however, that inflammatory rhetoric does little to promote a measured response or judgment by anyone...
Thanks, Brad.
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Old 10-06-2009, 13:06   #13
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Brad has put it very nicely. If one apllied the same rhetoric to the USA as many people do to Venezuela very few cruisiers would go there. A good friend of mine is currently on Isla Margherita and reports that there has been very little crime occasioned against the cruisers( about 40-50 of them) anchored out. Yes one needs to be careful at night, and not go into the town much after dark, but the same can be said of Miami, or Baltimore, parts of Paris, etc etc. I remeber in Turkey a couple of years back cruisiers around Mamaris gathered together and created a sort of neighbourhood watch during a ( very small) crime spree. We all took turns patrolling the anchoraqge for two hours at a time dutring the hours of dark. Unfortunatley the world has moved on into a culture that requires this in more and more places, but it does not mean we should all huddle scared locked in gated communities. Overall there is much more safety to be had on a cruising sailboat than almost any land community.
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Old 10-06-2009, 13:15   #14
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Although your response was well written and well intentioned to Southern Star, I think you stated it best in your response, "It is obvious that you were terrified by your experience in Venezuela..."

Why didn't you just let it rest? Why the lecture? The reason these boards are enjoyable is because they are centered upon the lifestyle of boating enjoyment.

If she was afraid, thats up to her. I don't see that your lecture accomplished anything other than to allow you to vent your personal politics.
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Old 10-06-2009, 13:19   #15
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As with Brad, your statement, "but it does not mean we should all huddle scared locked in gated communities" goes against the grain of the purpose of the boards which is enjoyment.

If a person is afraid, its not up to you to lecture her that she shouldn't "huddle" in gated communities." Thats a deliberate slam on people who merely think differently than you. So your choice is better than others? Your choice to visit or tour or vacation where others are afraid makes you the judge of how scared a person should be in this violent world?

Let the woman alone. If she was afraid, so be it. Its not your business to lecture.
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