Aruba Deserves More Respect in the Holloway Case

05 December 2005 5:00am

(Editorial) -The tragic and puzzling disappearance in Aruba of Natalee Holloway, an 18-year-old student from Alabama, occurred on May 30, has been spearheaded by some sectors in her native southern U.S. state in a vile effort to boycott that small Caribbean nation´s top industry: tourism.

A mother´s distraught in the face of a situation like this is comprehensible, but it doesn´t justify in any way the stance taken by Beth Twitty, Natalee´s mother, as she´s been trying to pin the blame on a whole nation that has always been so hospitable with all visitors from anywhere under the sun, especially those hailing from the United States, by far Aruba´s number-one outbound market.

Mrs. Twitty showed up a few months ago on Dr. Phil, one of the top-rated afternoon talk shows on American television, to root for a travel boycott on Aruba, urging her fellow Americans to stay away from the island where happiness lives. According to Mrs. Twitty, Aruban authorities haven´t done enough to find her daughter or to nab those guilty of making Natalee vanish.

Just a few weeks ago, Alabama Governor Bob Riley jumped on the bandwagon of irrationality and also egged Americans on to refrain from visiting the island, calling on potential travelers to punish Aruba. Next to Gov. Riley stood, once again, Natalee´s mother.

This second wave of attacks prompted the administration of Aruban Prime Minister Nelson Oduber to step in. Local authorities turned to the U.S. State Department and to the Dutch government –its former metropolis- in a bid to stave off the travel boycott.

It hurts to see the highest office of an American state, allegedly supposed to be twice as much cautious when it comes to dealing with certain issues it´s not fit to talk about, like foreign affairs, trying to exacerbate its voters rather than helping them to remain calm and act prudently.

Fortunately, there´s still common sense in a country as vast geographically as it is rich in values, where family stands for the sacred and unbreakable foundation of society.

Fortunately for Aruba and for the whole Caribbean, a region that´s bending over backward for the sake of integration in each and every field –including travel and tourism- no major news media organization in the United States has picked up the unwholesome vibes wielded by far-right sectors that appear to be trapped in a time now long gone when plantations, slave barracks and confederates were all the rage.

We´re not pleading for insensitivity. On the contrary, we all want to see things cleared up. We want to see Natalee´s parents getting an adequate response and we want to see those responsible for her disappearance be brought to justice.

However, Mrs. Twitty must come to her senses and let Aruban authorities do their job. She has a lesson to learn from Dave Holloway, the girl´s father, who visited Aruba not too long ago to show support for the Aruban people and their institutions, thus standing back from Mrs. Twitty´s and Gov. Riley´s attitude, and showing confidence in a small island nation that lives and works by the rule of law.

What actually breaks the camel´s back here is the waving of xenophobic and spiteful attitudes against a small Caribbean nation that´s always going the extra mile to give tourists from around the world the warmest red-carpet welcome, let alone the finest service money can buy.

Thousands of Americans travel every year to Aruba, one of the safest nations in the entire Caribbean basin, a country that boasts one of the lowest crime rates in the Western Hemisphere. The opinions of those U.S. trippers bear out this assertion. That´s why they choose Aruba and they´ll continue to do so when planning their vacations.

Last but not least, Aruba´s amazing advance in tourism, its commitment to being a safe country, its environment-friendly attitude every step of the way and the array of virtues that singles out the Happy Island as a world-class travel destination will eventually make reasons prevail over hatred and foolishness.

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