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Old 21-04-2009, 19:51   #16
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I second i2fro I myself was born in Colombia and I think Indigo Moon made a depth summary of the situation in that country. Some north americans still think that I-95 extends all the way down to Argentina and Indigo Moon made them realize is not like that. Colombia have been successfully doing its part i.e. Cartagena Bay is guarded 24/7 by navy patrol and no incident has happened for the last few years. Guatemala could be doing the same if it wasn't that corrupted.
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Old 21-04-2009, 22:34   #17
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JC, I tend to agree with you... Some.. in fact many north americans think that all the americas are linked. Not so... many different forces at play.

The story written by Indigo moon is pretty indepth, a good history lesson, some very good points made AND one must read the entire story to really gain any benefit from it.

One thing that is not presented or poorly represented in the account is the actions that took place after the 2008 season ended. I agree it was not a fun time on the Rio.
Yes there is now a privately funded patrol (24x7), this patrol is no longer a part time job for off duty police or navy personnel. It is an extension of the Navy to include police empowered to apprehend and detain.

This solution is not a cruiser organized solution, it was crafted by the major marinas and hotels in the area and contracted for with the government. So as of now the Navy does currently patrol the area between Marios marina and El Castille.

But something of note is the recent problems in the last week. The Guatemalan govt office assigned to assist tourists sent out a message warning of possible problems in the Gulfette (in the area around the gorge), the message was rapidly distrubted to not only the Port Captain but to the marinas and the local website. So.... information is being put out. In addition the Navy has agreed to move one of its two patrol boats to the affected area to escort if needed boats transiting the area.

This is a significant change from the past.
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Old 22-04-2009, 01:00   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David M View Post
With all the safe and beautiful places to cruise to, whats the point in sailing to dangerous and beautiful places?
You nailed it David.

I would add, "why go to places with large barriers to entry?"

Many countries also make the boat entry and exit procedures so complex as to beg the question, "Why spend money there?"
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Old 22-04-2009, 05:38   #19
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i2f,
Yeah, "shortsighted" was not the right word. The Indigo Moon info was good and thoughtful. I just feel that the situation in Guatemala is more complicated and deeper rooted even than bananas or drugs. The income disparities and almost hereditary elite go back to colonial times, at least. The problems go beyond the RIo Dulce both in scope and in any hope for improvement. Just my opinion.
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Old 22-04-2009, 07:38   #20
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Yeah, Rio Dulce was a very interesting place to visit, though I never felt unsafe. This is probably because we were all military guys and the locals knew it. Everyone had guns on their belts and you had to be searched before you entered the bank to grab cash. Of all the countries I have been to, Guatemala and Panama will be two I will never set foot in again because of the crime rate. The personality of Guatemala was very interesting, though. Not spoiled by tourism.
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Old 22-04-2009, 07:40   #21
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By the way, Cartagena was the coolest place I ever went to. We were warned never to cross a bridge there, though.
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Old 22-04-2009, 08:14   #22
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I think the key point Buddy on Indigo Moon was trying to make, or at least what I took out of that, was the forceable denial and down right ignorant attitude taken by the long term ex-pats, and their unwillingness to aide or even acknowledge other cruisers.

As he points out, a simple broadcast regarding spots deemed unsafe may have saved a life.

I wanted to vomit when I read about the lack of concern or willingness to assist Nancy Dryden after her husband was murdered within a few hundered yards of their yachts. Talk about being part of the problem.
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Old 22-04-2009, 14:17   #23
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Old 24-04-2009, 09:23   #24
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i2f,
Yeah, "shortsighted" was not the right word. The Indigo Moon info was good and thoughtful. I just feel that the situation in Guatemala is more complicated and deeper rooted even than bananas or drugs. The income disparities and almost hereditary elite go back to colonial times, at least. The problems go beyond the RIo Dulce both in scope and in any hope for improvement. Just my opinion.
Unfortunately this can be said about more countries where for profit we manipulated a country. That's why I made the statement that some countries hate us.......i2f
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Old 24-04-2009, 10:10   #25
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The following is from an interesting story running in today's Washington Post:

"Experts say Guatemala has as many as 100,000 private security guards. As in the rest of Central America, they outnumber the police and army. Most are poorly educated, badly paid -- but well armed. Every year, an unknown number turn to crime, experts say.

"The proliferation of private guards is a byproduct of poverty in a country that emerged from a 36-year war in 1996 but is still plagued by a deadly combination of guns, violence and a lack of opportunity for all but a tiny, wealthy elite."

To read the entire article, go to:

washingtonpost.com

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Old 24-04-2009, 12:30   #26
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crime is everywhere. It's what the justice system does after the crime that seperates civil from uncivil. And in Guatamala there is apparently no justice..When the police can be run off by a gang of machete wielding thugs you have much bigger problems than crime...
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Old 24-04-2009, 12:48   #27
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they call this fun?

Doesn't sound like a very nice way to spend storm season.... locked up in your boat from sun down to sun up listening to gun fire in the distance.

Small note; I like Buddy’s stuff, but was a little put off over his reference to the “exclusive interview” with the widow. Sounds like he was working for the National Enquirer and I started hearing that song about ‘Dirty Laundry’ in my head. He seemed like he has crossed over from a cruiser to a journalist with a boat.



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Old 26-04-2009, 15:01   #28
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Hi, someone just brought this thread to my attention.

I really appreciate the kind words and the recognition by many of you that it took a massive amount of time and effort to share what we experienced on the Rio, all while trying to see all of the angles on the subject of crime and cruising as fairly I could. It's complicated.

The subject is nonetheless thought-provoking and, as you can tell, it all provoked me to think a lot about it.

As for the L&A article, it was NOT an interview with the widow in the Dryden case.

It was an interview with the other piracy victims (the Parsons) who were robbed in a seperate incident on the lower Rio.

I did not hawk the Parsons for the story. They shared the facts with me and we discussed it together. They thought it would be good to get their story out, all done with genuine concern for other cruisers and to provide cruisers with facts about the aftermath of the attack. It was an eye-opener for me to hear the story, and not easy nor fun to write the article.

Just to make sure the facts are crystal clear, L&A does not pay much at all for articles and what little it did pay, I donated ALL of it to the Parsons to help offset the insurance deductible they "ate" on the loss of all their gear.

Nobody has profited from "dirty laundry" nor sold out, nor done anything except try and share valuable information. I can see how one might easily jump to such conclusions and I don't take any offense whatsoever, but I assure you all that everything has been done in pure heart and clear conscience.

And sure, there have been a few very bitter and angry comments come my way out of the Rio Dulce about the article, but those few hostile comments have been far outweighed by postive comments, even from people on the Rio to the effect that BOTH the L&A article and the Indigo Moon PART ONE on Guate are well-written, unbiased and pretty much on the mark. Is it all fun? Hell no! But, nonetheless it is important to the the safety of the fleet and that is the point.

PART TWO on Guate, soon to come, will include information on the issues El Jeem raised above and much more about the fabulous things we enjoyed while visiting the Rio.

I would suggest that we all may do well to withhold final opinions.

True, there are many other places in the world that you can go and not worry quite so much about risks, but I can also say with conviction that no other place in the Caribbean I have been to offers such a tremendous experience in terms of natural beauty and amazing history (the Maya, who developed the most advanced pre-industrial culture in the entire world).

Right now, as we speak, people who I met on the Rio personally (and respect), are taking brand new steps to try and bring real change to the security situation and to improve the flow of safety information.

I will put all the new information that has come to light in PART TWO.

No matter what our individual impressions are at this point, we can all be supportive nonetheless and hope that real changes (not mere window dressings), are actually taking place and that real differences will be made such that the Rio's stature is soon restored as one of the premier destinations in El Caribe and well worth enduring any risks that remain.

I for one hope so. The Rio Dulce is a magical place and I have no greater wish than for cruisers and locals to be on the "same team" so as to develop goodwill and trust that will again make cruisers feel safe about visiting one of the most amazing stops in all of El Caribe.

All the best and thanks again everybody,

Buddy
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Old 26-04-2009, 15:10   #29
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As a colombian and after reading your article I think that anybody who dares to go to Rio Dulce on a boat is taking a major risk. The nature and beauty there will not pay off for a possible lost of life of a beloved one.

Just don't visit those places and let the locals rob the coconut palms instead, that's all they deserve.
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Old 26-04-2009, 15:43   #30
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JC,

I hear ya! Everyone has to be the Captain of his own ship and decide where they would like to visit.

But, let me say, even though it off point, COLOMBIA ROCKS and Cartagena is still a solid spot in the Top Five for us. I will never, ever forget how well we were treated and how wonderful a time we had there. What a place!

If you have read our log on Cartagena, you already know this.

Anyway, all the best Amigo!

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