Rio Dulce Mariners concerned about attacks on foreigners

John Van Zwieten

The news of attacks on visitors in tourist destinations and on the high seas has traveled down the southern coast all the way to Rio Dulce, Guatemala. The cruising community is moored by hundreds of mariners who can easily navigate to Honduras, Panama and Belize. The violence against foreign nationals is picking up waves. News Five spoke to John Van Zwieten who says that he is not afraid, but many others fear venturing into Belizean waters from the coastal town.

 

Via Phone: John Van Zwieten, Rio Dulce, Guatemala

“The boating community here varies; it is about six hundred to eight hundred boats that comes in here for hurricane season, but then go out to cruise in Belize and in Honduras and sometimes Panama.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“I know you monitored the news in Belize. The incident of the American almost being beaten to death in San Pedro and the rape of the American female last week along with the robbery on that yacht. What was the effect in Rio Dulce?”

 

Via Phone: John Van Zwieten

“Well everybody heard about it; it was on our online newspaper, the Rio Dulce Chisme indicator and so everybody was talking about it in the evening over cocktails. Everybody; the guy who lives across the dock from me heard about it and he called up a boat broker and sold his boat because he said heck I wanted to cruise in safety here and this makes it seems like I can’t do that. And so he is leaving. I heard numerous other people say they won’t go to

Belize anymore because it just seems as too dangerous.”

 

Jose Sanchez

“What about you? Does this also affect you?”

 

Via Phone: John Van Zwieten

“It does not. I’m not your typical cruiser. I come into Belize in my launcher to fish. And I know most of the people on the cayes I stay with are friends and I know that they certainly wish me no hard and in fact are quite protective. And so I don’t worry. And I think if the truth be known, if tourists would get over their emotion, most times they are anchored out where it is safe; in places like Placencia even Tobacco Caye that’s not so far away. But if you are isolated and there is no help for you and I think people are reacting very emotionally and if they stop to think, the chances of it happen are not that great. But when you’re talking about people’s lives, you know. Two years ago we had that guy killed on the river and last year there was another one of our community killed in Honduras on the way to La Ceiba. And you know these things add up on people’s minds.”

Channel 5