Susan, I get the impression you are looking for an excuse not to participate in an open-ended campaign that calls for justice and accountability. Such apathy will do nothing to support Belize's tourism industry.

Or maybe you are just confused about how this consumer action campaign works. The targeted officials receive letters from many individuals as opposed to one letter from Cyber Diver signed by many individuals. While it is true that the vast majority of participants will probably send the sample letter as written stating that the sender will not visit Belize until designated officials fulfill their responsibilities to investigate the Wave Dancer deaths, many will also change the letter (as I did) to suit their own requirements. As I mentioned in my previous post, Cyber Diver encourages participants to do exactly that. Read again Cyber Diver's instructions about how to use the CDNN ACT NOW form (which you seem to have missed in my previous post):


"Write government officials in Belize and the United States and demand full and open accountability for Peter Hughes Diving, and justice for the families of the Wave Dancer victims. You may use this letter or write your own. Be sure to fill in your name and home or business address in the body of the letter. Finally, enter your correct email address and click on ACT NOW. The letter will automatically be sent to all of the recipients listed at the top of the letter."

There is nothing here about being required to send the letter as written or an obligation to endorse a consumer boycott. So rewrite it and send it to reflect your opinion that Hughes was grossly negligent and should be investigated.

In my case, I sent the letter with some changes, however, I left the final paragraph which states that I will not visit Belize until government officials fulfill their responsibilities to thoroughly investigate the Wave Dancer deaths.

The argument some people make against boycotts (and trade sanctions) demonstrates why they are so effective. The fact that boycotts inflict financial pain is exactly why they can make a difference that benefits everyone in the long run. Look at South Africa and Fiji to understand why apathetic or corrupt officials make positive changes when they are made to understand that unacceptable policies will not be tolerated.

In this case, the question is whether the diving community will accept apathy or corruption in Belize that necessarily endangers their lives. I certainly hope not. Governments and their maritime safety agencies are responsible for ensuring that commercial passenger carrying vessels comply with safety certification requirements. They are responsible for investigating the causes of injury or death aboard the vessels they certify to carry passengers for a fee. When they fail to fulfill their responsibilities and obligations to the public, everyone is affected and the damage is often far worse than the impact of a consumer boycott.

You are dead wrong when you state that government officials cannot force operators of commercial passenger vessels to comply with their safety requirements. And I suspect many in the diving community have already concluded that the Wave Dancer deaths stemmed from problems inherent not only to how Peter Hughes operates his vessels, but to apathetic or corrupt government officials in Belize. The appearance of government maritime safety authorities winking at Peter Hughes after the deaths of 20 people only serves to drive safety-conscious dive travelers elsewhere.

That's why, if you want to support the Belize tourism industry, you will also support Cyber Diver's campaign demanding justice and accountability.

Bob Goodman