Friday, December 6, 2013

Puerto Rico: FEPET Selects Mayagüez as Site for Its Annual Conference, Sadly, No Reference to Crime, Unemployment

According to The Latin American Tribune, the Spanish Confederation of Tourism Press and Writers (FEPET), chose the western Puerto Rican city of Mayagüez as the site for its annual conference.

“The holding of this assembly here is a step forward for the efforts that Mayagüez is making to push Porta del Sol tourism,” the manager of the municipal Office of Tourist Development, Nelson Albino, told EFE on Wednesday (December 4).

Mayagüez has been working for months to increase tourism via participating in different tourism fairs in Europe, Albino said.

COMMENT: After participating in the 8th International Euroal Fair in Malaga, Spain, where Mayagüez was recognized as the Outstanding Tourist City of 2013, FEPET selected the western city for its annual conference.

Along with activities related to the meeting, participants are having the opportunity to get to know the attractions of Mayagüez first-hand with Mayor José Guillermo Rodríguez serving as the city's tour guide.

Attending the event are about 50 reporters and tourism writers who live or work in Spain.

Tourists to Puerto Rico from the US currently number 90%, followed distantly by Canadians, Mexicans and Central Americans. Although the number of Spaniards who come to the island is smaller than all those other groups, Spain is the country that sends the most tourists from Europe.

Interestingly, neither FEPET or the Puerto Rican government mentioned a word about the unprecedented crime and unemployment in Puerto Rico that largely contributes to widespread corruption in the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) and the fact that Puerto Rico has far more homicides than the US Mainland's three largest cities (Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago). 

According to THE LATIN AMERICAN TRIBUNE, Puerto Rico’s unemployment rate rose by two-tenths of a percent in October, compared to the previous month, to 14.7%, Secretary of Labor and Human Resources Vance Thomas said. 

Unfortunately, apart from having a serious drug trafficking problem, a crisis in police corruption, ineffective policing and rising unemployment, none of these factors bode well for a positive economic forecast.  

In October 2013, the former chief of Police of the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD), Hector Pesquera resigned, giving no reason why he was stepping down, obliging Puerto Rico to find a substitute promptly for the office of superintendent.

Officials in San Juan settled on Tuller, a New Yorker of a Puerto Rican mother who lived as a child on the Caribbean island, and until recently was chief of transportation with the New York Police Department.

Violent crime continues relentlessly in Puerto Rico, where ten citizens were slain over one weekend recently, amid a wave of violence that residents hope can be halted by the new chief of police, veteran New York City retired cop, James Tuller Cintrón, who is in his early 60s.

Murders committed in Puerto Rico to date in 2013 number 809, the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) said November 26, leaving Chief Cintrón to serve as the FIFTH chief of police since 2009. 

The new chief of the PRPD will not only have to deal with criminals in the streets, he will also have to implement a reform plan adopted to settle a US Justice Department lawsuit against the PRPD over civil rights abuses and widespread corruption.

We wish Chief Cintrón the very best of success in his new challenge, as taming a corrupt police department with a history of human rights violations is no small task. 

As a side note, I strongly discourage tourists from visiting Puerto Rico until such time as Chief Contrón has had an opportunity to reduce violent crime, say by the end of December 2014.

In the interim, business travelers to Puerto Rico are urged to be extremely security conscious relative to essential travel, as they are entering a US territory fraught with violence.