Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
To Bodeker's surprise, several taxi drivers subsequently converged on him and began beating him about the head and shoulders, at which point the expat threw money toward them so that the assault might end. It didn't. Unfortunately, the drivers called the police to the scene, at which point the drivers continued the physical attack on Bodeker after he was in police custody.
COMMENT: To make matters worse, Bodeker was jailed, denied medical attention and charged with attempted robbery, even though Bodeker was never armed.
Thanks to Bodeker's Ecuadorian wife, she retained a local attorney and had Bodeker released the following day (October 23). Subsequently, the American visited a hospital for treatment; a week later he is still suffering from bruised ankles, abrasions, several sprains and bruises on his head from the beating.
Bodeker's troubles are still not over, as he is now scheduled to face a judge on attempted robbery charges, which is no small problem, as he could very well face serious jail time.
Now, the reality. Mr. Bodeker reminds me of a German expat in Thailand a couple of years ago who "stiffed" a samlor driver because he was charging too much, only to subsequently be put into a coma after a number of drivers ganged up on him and beat him unconscious.
Please look at it this way: What is worse? Being out US$30 because you FAILED to negotiate the fare in ADVANCE or being beaten up by a group of guys, jailed and charged with "attempted robbery," for which you could be jailed for some time, considering that a foreigner is almost always going to get the "short-straw" when arrested in another country?
Even though Bodeker has filed a complaint against the taxi driver who inflated the fare, who do you think will get MORE justice in Ecuador, an Ecuadorian or an American?
Monday, October 29, 2012
Unfortunately for the victim, she was raped by three Wayuu tribesmen who are guaranteed quasi-independence in the Colombian constitution. Consequently, although police attempted to arrest the three assailants, they were being protected by Wayuu villagers and were refused entry into the village settlement. Police and the local mayor, Abel Giacometto, have endeavored to persuade the Wayuu tribes leaders to hand over the suspects.
COMMENT: According to the national police, the Wayuu claim that their settlement is protected, indigenous territory. Thus, they insist they have the authority to punish those responsible. Yet, both police and prosecutors are mandating that they have jurisdiction.
At this point, the police are accompanying the victim at all times until the matter has been resolved. They are also assisting the victim in her return to London.
It should also be noted that forensic specialists have collected a "rape kit" and concluded, based upon its analysis, that the victim was raped by multiple assailants.
As I have said all too many times in the past, solo travelers are at considerable risk, particularly in isolated and rural areas in developing countries. Yet, victims almost invariably believe that bad things happen to OTHER people, which is not always the case.
Travelers are also urged to choose their traveling partners very carefully, particularly when moving about in unfamiliar territory, as disagreements that force a group to splinter can easily put solo travelers at risk.
A final thought: If you do not have proficient skills when it comes to orienteering and topographical map reading, stay in larger towns and cities where there is less likelihood of getting lost and placed in vulnerable situations.
In recent months, five baggage handlers were arrested, charged and dismissed after stealing high-valued electronics from inbound checked luggage.
COMMENT: The goods stolen from checked luggage included laptop computers, mobile phones and cameras. As a result, baggage handlers and passengers are now being surveilled by CCTV. Additionally, plainclothes investigators have been deployed in baggage-handling areas.
ALL international travelers, regardless of destination, are STRONGLY URGED not to place laptops, iPads, electronic tablets, smart-phones and digital cameras in CHECKED luggage and to ensure they safeguard it in carry-on luggage that never leaves their hands.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Most of the citations concerned either vehicles lacking a mandatory inspection sticker or motorcyclists not wearing reflective clothing.
COMMENT: Moving vehicle traffic citations are STILL extraordinarily high in Costa Rica, even for a developed nation. Thus, the country's massive expatriate community is urged to fully comply with traffic regulations or face the consequences of what are still characterized as particularly excessive fines.
It is still uncertain as to whether motorists will be compelled to pay lofty traffic tickets on the spot, or whether the citations will be mailed to offenders for payment within a specified period of time.
Comparatively speaking, it appears imprudent for Costa Rica to rush into such a highly sophisticated, electronically-dependent traffic enforcement system, given the frequent interruption of local electrical utilities and the unpredictable seismic activity in the country, which may also jeopardize local power.
It should also be noted that a recent network failure at the state-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) kept some 300,000 customers around the country from using Internet and cellphone services for three hours. ICE reported connection failures on Internet, IP and 3G telephone services, both for making calls and sending messages. There also were reports of problems with fixed and GSM lines.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
Friday, October 26, 2012
The possibility of eliminating visas was reinforced after the visit of President Dilma Rousseff to Washington in April. Currently, Canadian citizens and some Western European countries, including France, may enter the US without visa issuance.
This year, the United States determined changes in procedures for Brazilians applying for visas to travel, in order to reduce the time for obtaining travel documents.
Jack Cole sustained seven stab wounds to his shoulder and arm, one of which was eight inches deep and tore through muscle and a tendon. He also needed 30 stitches from being hit in the head with a machete. Although April sustained minor scratches and abrasions, she was not injured nearly as bad as Jack.
The attack occurred after Jack and April had passed the gang, at which point one of the assailants threw a large piece of concrete at Cole, hitting him in his lower back. When Jack turned to face the gang, they converged on he and April with clubs, machetes and a "butter-fly knife." Some of the gang members held April with the apparent intention of sexually attacking her after they neutralized Jack.
COMMENT: It should be noted that from the outset Thai police began to characterize the attack as a "misunderstanding," yet both April and Jack refute that position, saying they were attacked without provocation.
When the assailants observed how much blood Jack had lost, they dispersed before police arrived. Fortunately, a Briton who owns a local dive shop came to the aid of the couple and helped them stop Jack from bleeding to death and helping them get medical attention.
Fortunately for both Jack and April, April's father, Clive, flew out to Phuket to be with both of them and helped them enormously sort through the legal maze with the assistance of the British Embassy.
For the benefit of our readers who despite continuing criminal violence in Phuket, Pattaya,
Ao Nang, Krabi and other high-volume tourist magnets on Thailand's coasts, I suggest the following:
1. Obtain a Red Cross course in cario-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and emergency first aid BEFORE GOING ABROAD, particularly as it relates to gunshot and stabbing wounds;
2. Register your travel with your appropriate foreign affairs agency before leaving on your trip;
3. Be conscious and observant of suspicious people around out;
4. Always carry an unlocked, quad-band cell phone with you when abroad and ensure that you type in the numbers of police and ambulance emergency numbers and your local diplomatic or consular representative into the "speed-dialer";
5. Avoid being in close proximity to gangs of people that obviously are together who may be a source of trouble. There is nothing cowardly about crossing the street before you reach such person. That is simply be smart; and
6. Consider calling a reputable taxi service, rather than exposing yourself to vulnerable pedestrians late at night.
It also was fortuitous for both April and Jack to have subscribed to international medical treatment and evacuation coverage before they left the UK. Otherwise, they would have been FORCED to pay for their collective medical bills in cash.
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
COMMENT: It is often said that some real-life events cannot be replicated by fiction, which may well be in the case in this instance.
According to local media, Peter Brunck, who passionately believes in the presence of aliens on Earth, had amassed a huge arsenal of firearms and resisted a team of police who converged on their residence in Sousá, just four miles from Puerto Plata International Airport.
Police recovered several rifles, grenades and professional crossbows with scopes along with seven ballistic-resistant vests, a ballistic-reistant vehicle and an ambulance inside Brunck’s house.
From all indications, Brunck has lived in Sosuá since 2006. According to the group's website, he traveled frequently to western Europe to give dozens of seminars, charging upwards of $650 per person for workshops.
Brunck warned followers about the end of the world and talked about the possibility of a “galactic super electromagnetic wave” that could destroy all communication on Earth, as well as a potential shift in polarity that could bring a new ice age in Europe or result in sea levels rising by nearly 200 feet (60 meters).
Fortunately for everyone in Sousá, neighbors contacted the police when they heard sounds of gunfire coming from Brunck's residence. That resulted in the issuance of a search warrant and an armed attack on police who executed the warrant.
This report will be updated as new information becomes available.
The positive news is that this strange group of armed individuals have been neutralized. They will also soon discover that detention procedures in the Dominican Republic differ dramatically from those in Europe.
COMMENT: Both defendants brandished knives to carry out their crime and also threatened to shoot the victim, although the assailants were not carrying a firearm.
In passing judgment on the defendants, the presiding magistrate cited an increase in armed robbery in the country as a message to all would-be criminals.
The sentence levied on the two defendants is also a vigorous message to foreigners who might be inclined to commit armed robbery in Ghana.