Saturday, 16 August 2008

Clean up or clear out.

I am incensed by the screams of injured innocence coming from many in the Rio Dulce's cruising community at the moment, drivel about the need for a safety and security net, protestations about what everyone else ought to be doing. People are highly judgmental about what is good or bad about Guatemala without pausing for a second to reflect on the consequences of their own actions.

Maybe nobody else has the balls to say it. But guess what you guys (and gals), it's time to get real. If you want the law enforced, you have to obey it too.

The latest news on the Rio is that there were two more deaths in a town next to Fronteras last night. Allegedly, more members of the gang that attacked Dan and Nancy Dryden. This brings the total to 4 dead and 3 arrested (excluding, of course, the murder victim and his wife who was stabbed but has survived). The prisoners have been taken to Guatemala City, a place known locally as “The Inferno”. But then again prisons are supposed to be a deterrent.

So Guatemala's response to the murder of an American citizen and the assault on his wife seems to have been clear and decisive. And those trigger-happy cruisers who have been flooding forums with talk of lynching and “packing heat” may feel vindicated and a bit safer. But this isn't the whole story, and they shouldn't be feeling too comfortable.

There are strange details about the actions of Dan and Nancy. Why did they leave their slip in the marina to anchor off at a spot that was known to be dangerous? The weak explanation on the grapevine is that they were new to the boat and were testing its ground tackle. And that they hadn't been forewarned . This sounds a bit odd for experienced sailors, a couple who had sailed the Pacific and crossed to Europe. How did the local assailants know their way around the boat, seizing immediately on the unusually-valuable binoculars and the jewelery chest?

Most cruisers hastily dismiss the possibility that the victims could have been buying drugs from the locals. Yet, as we have been stunned to discover, very many of the cruisers here smoke pot, or worse. So it's not impossible that the Drydens took drugs, too.

There is a conspiracy of silence. Because these people are American, white and in their sixties you must not suggest such things. Nevertheless a remark from the Memorial Blog of Daniel Dryden confirms that Dan was a drug abuser.
"I can't put into words the shock and horror I feel for Dan and all of you...

"I have such a vivid memory of sitting around the pool late a night and all of us were surounding Dan, almost like a tribal elder as he told of life in Alaska, recalling Daniel's premature birth, the great work Jessica and Brian are doing and your recent trip to Italy. He even was not above smoking a joint with us. "

Drug abuse has become so commonplace that people have forgotten it is illegal! These are not charmingly-aging hippies coolly indulging a harmless vice. It's those who buy illegal substances who fuel the criminal activity. So maybe the Drydens were not quite such innocent victims as the cries of indignation suggest.

There is a legitimate fear deep in many cruisers' hearts that as long as they continue to deal in illegal substances they might have it coming too. If you dance with the Devil you can get burnt. That is what is really behind all this hullabaloo.

Three weeks ago the mayor of a local town was shot dead - but there was no outcry. Life is cheap and, lets face it, he wasn't a gringo.

Possession of drugs, including marijuana, is illegal here. There can't be one law for the locals and another for the cruisers.

I tried to discuss this with somebody at the swap-meet this morning. She retorted "but don't you know the difference between crack and pot?". My answer is they are both illegal here in Guatemala. If you don't have users you don't need producers.

I can already predict the onslaught such home truths will elicit. I don't write them thoughtlessly or without some soul searching.

So don't anyone claim they weren't warned. The moral of Dan's death and Nancy's assault may well be that if you consume illegal substances anywhere in the world YOU are at risk.

So for heaven's sake let's not start by telling everyone else what they should be doing, let's start by clamping down on the law breakers in our own community.

We may never know for sure why Dan was brutally murdered but the fact that he was a drug abuser must colour perceptions of his premature death.

Clean up or clear out.


emy said...

i am sickened by your erroneous assumptions. the boat was not docked at monkey bay, but at el relleno. dan had just finished building a boom crutch, as well as some other deck work, and he wanted to test the systems. they had intended to return to their dock that day, as they were paid until the end of the month at el relleno.

....and he is a drug abuser because he shared a joint in new york? i fail to see how this got him killed.

Kathleen said...

I have, for the most part, enjoyed reading your blog since we first met at Mario’s last winter. I understand that life on the Rio since the recent murder of Dan Dryden is filled with uncertainty, anxiety and fear but with this post I think you’ve gone too far.

The term “jumping to conclusions” comes strongly to mind because you have certainly done that with your accusation, stated as a fact, that Dan was a confirmed “drug abuser”. I am stunned by your ability to write such a statement without any actual facts. Dan is barely in his grave and you have already decided that he was probably killed because he was a “drug abuser” and that their choice of anchorage that night was suspicious. Your statements are hurtful, inconsiderate and slanderous.

Your need to pass judgment from your insular cyber soapbox scares me and to suggest that Dan and Nancy were in some way responsible for their misfortune is stunning.
If you were truly the investigative journalist you’ve said you are, you would get your facts straight before publishing such malicious words. Have you ever actually spoken with any of the victims of your vituperousness? In cyberspace you don’t have to confront them personally and find out what is really true and what is not. There is only one side of the story ~ your side. There are many tabloids that would love to have you as a reporter. In my opinion you’ve certainly overstepped the boundaries of ethical journalism with this latest bit of nastiness.

I understand that by sending you this comment I open myself to your scorn and sharp tongued retort but I am willing to endure that in order to speak my mind. My deepest condolences go to Nancy and her children. She and Dan were lovely people and I feel fortunate to have met them.

rivrgirl said...

Kathleen, you may have opened yourself to gerry's scorn and sharp tongued retort, but the rest of us are backing your opinion and comments one hundred percent...from those still in the rio to those of us in the california delta. I applaud your courage in standing up to the cruel remarks and for your sensitivity to the victims and their family. Thank you, Kathleen, from all of us.

Don Gato said...

Gerry you need to chill out and smoke a joint. You can always say you didn't inhale.

By the way the "large quanity" of marijuana was found in the village not on the boat. They were the drug dealers, not the Drydens.