Friday, June 28, 2013

Nicaragua: US Tourist in Early 20s Raped, Robbed at Poorly Secured Playa Majagual Resort

According to The Nicaragua Dispatch, a horrific robbery and rape at a backpacker hostel  occurred on the southern Pacific beach of Playa Majagual at approximately 0100 hours on June 9.

Five masked men armed with pistols robbed and raped a US tourist and pillaged the hostel where she and her male travel companion were staying, 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) north of San Juan del Sur. 

The gunmen reportedly poisoned four guard dogs protecting Camping Matilda’s, then cut the chained lock, bound the owners with rope, and then raped the guest and looted the hostel, according to owner Matilda Mercedes Caldera. 

The thieves then made their escape in the owners’ vehicle. They drove past a police checkpoint outside of town, drawing gunfire from the cops. Unfortunately, though, the officers were without a vehicle and were unable to give chase.

COMMENT: After the rape victim was treated at a local hospital and obtained a replacement passport, she left Nicaragua.

Meagan Willis, owner of Castaway Beachfront Inn next door to Camping Matilda’s, booked a return flight to the US the day after the brutal rape. 

Ms. Willis also told THE NICARAGUA DISPATCH that on April 23 two men wearing masks and wielding machetes men ran out of the woods and stopped her and her sister as they drove down the road to San Juan del Sur on their motorcycles. She said the assailants robbed them of cash, a camera and their iphone before running off. Local police never responded to her call for assistance.

One facet affecting crime throughout Nicaragua is the reality that most crime goes unreported, largely because most residents have no confidence in the police, who have committed crimes as well.

As I have said in many of my postings over the years, a major ingredient of selecting any travel destination or foreign country you plan to live in is to conduct an in-depth security vulnerability assessment.

Unfortunately, most foreign travelers and expats rarely examine security vulnerabilities and physical security deterrents, yet this is as essential, if not more so, than any other facet considered.

As an example, let's examine Ms. Caldera's use of four guard dogs. Unfortunately, they roamed free on the property, which rendered them easily vulnerable to being poisoned. In contrast, barking dogs are NEVER left outside, but rather kept indoors so as innkeepers can benefit from barking dogs, who sense the presence of people well before humans do.

Another important point. When local police are incompetent, lack transportation, are  poorly trained and/or complicit in crime, or a combination of all of these factors, those who rent rooms or bungalows to foreigners must provide a superior guard service to that of the police and pass the cost of such services on to their guests.

The bottom line is that one robbery or rape of a foreigner can irreversibly ruin a profitable business providing accommodations.

The truth is that criminals target other businesses when formidable physical, procedural or technical deterrents are in place.

Sadly, the robbery and rape of the US tourist will potentially haunt Camping Matilda's for years. Imagine the accounts that the victim will relate to her friends? Imagine.