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#14335 - 12/20/01 12:34 AM Incident at Black Rock
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
The Belize and international news has had a number of reports on the killings at Black Rock Lodge, on the Macal River in Cayo.

The facts as reported vary, but apparently two employees of Black Rock, including John the manager (an expat American), were killed by a group of Guatemalans. The American tourists staying there were terrorized, beaten and, by some reports, at least one was raped repeatedly.

Some in tourism in Belize are saying that this may have been as a result of a personal situation involving the lodge manager.

Whatever the facts -- and in the broader picture they really don't matter that much -- this latest incident is more bad news for tourism in mainland Belize.

Those who have visited Black Rock or the other lodges along the Macal will know that while the area feels quite safe, it is just miles from the porous Guatemala border, and there is no effective police protection or other security available in the area.

If it were an isolated event, that would be one thing. But it's not. Earlier this year a tourist van operated by Chaa Creek was stopped by a gang of masked Guatemalans and robbed at gunpoint. A little later a car driver by American tourists was fired upon by bandits and an American was slightly wounded. The safe at Chaa Creek was robbed. And there have been a number of other incidents in Cayo and in the Peten, including at Tikal. In one Peten incident, nine people were killed in an ambush attack, including two Belizeans Mennonites.

What the government and police can do is unclear. Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a history of lawless activities by all kinds of groups.

It seems to me that lodges in Cayo will have to take the initiative to provide security for guests. Some lodges in remote areas around the country already do so.

I fear, though, that this latest incident may get Belize on the State Department warning list, which will further hurt tourism following the steep decline due to Hurricane Iris and the economic and travel slowdown in the U.S.

--Lan Sluder

Belize books and publications by Lan Sluder:
Belize First Magazine http://www.belizefirst.com/
Fodor's Belize and Guatemala Guide
Belize First Guide to Mainland Belize
Adapter Kit: Belize
Fodor's UpClose Central America
Belize Book of Lists 2000
Coming Soon: San Pedro Cool
_________________________
Lan Sluder/Belize First
http://www.belizefirst.com

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#14336 - 12/20/01 03:01 AM Re: Incident at Black Rock
ScubaLdy Offline
JUST WHEN WE THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO GO BACK IN THE JUNGLE!
Thanks Lan
I made my first trip to the top of Belize last month. I wanted to inspect the area before I took a group there - scheduled for next March. I felt very safe and came home and reported such to my people.
NOW THIS!
What a horrible thing to have happen. I hope you keep us posted.
Harriette
_________________________
Harriette
Take only pictures leave only bubbles

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#14337 - 12/20/01 03:22 AM Re: Incident at Black Rock
Chloe Offline
OMG Dang Dang Dang
_________________________
Dare To Deviate

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#14338 - 12/20/01 10:09 AM Re: Incident at Black Rock
rickcheri Offline
Lan,
I heard of this yesterday from a friend there and he lost his best friend on this attact... This is not good... Is there anything we all can do up here, to provide safety to those who chose to travel there, or can we do something with the govt. to provide the security for all the tourist that come to the great land of Belize???
Thanks, Rick

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#14339 - 12/20/01 06:11 PM Re: Incident at Black Rock
GP Offline
Hi Lan

Would this tragic incident keep you from returing to the Cayo district? Would you advise me / us / others not to go?

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#14340 - 12/20/01 06:30 PM Re: Incident at Black Rock
mina Offline
wow, that is scary. Stayed in Cayo a year ago and was a bit worried at the remoteness of the lodge we stayed in and overall proximity to Guatemala but felt so safe there that we forgot all about the potential. That is truly a shame.

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#14341 - 12/20/01 07:09 PM Re: Incident at Black Rock
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
I always feel quite safe in Cayo, as I think do most visitors. I certainly will go back there anytime.

However, I do think it is time for the lodges there, and indeed hotels everywhere in Belize, to be more proactive in providing security for guests.

--Lan Sluder
_________________________
Lan Sluder/Belize First
http://www.belizefirst.com

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#14342 - 12/21/01 06:50 AM Re: Incident at Black Rock
rickcheri Offline
Hey Lan--

What do you think about what I said..


Rick

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#14343 - 12/21/01 03:25 PM Re: Incident at Black Rock
Lan Sluder/Belize First Offline
Rick,

I don't think there's much anyone can do. When you have several hundred thousand very, very, very poor people, with virtually no law enforcement in place, sitting next door to Belize, with a remote and porous border anyone can walk across, it spells trouble.

The Government of Belize can't control crime in Belize City, much less on a hundred-mile long border.

I think it comes down to individual hotel owners providing security. They are going to have to build that into their costs. Several of the lodges in Cayo already have guards, and more are hiring them right now.

But it's not just in Cayo. Hotels everywhere in Belize have to do a better job with guest security, either banding together to do so or individually.

--Lan Sluder
_________________________
Lan Sluder/Belize First
http://www.belizefirst.com

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#14344 - 12/27/01 07:12 PM Re: Incident at Black Rock
munichchick Offline
This is so terrible! We felt so safe last June driving all over the place in our rental car and staying at remote Pooks Hill Jungle Lodge. This kind of thing will stick in the back of our head now. I hope these things will not happen again. If the Belize government wants sucess with tourism they better think of something to protect people a little more.

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