GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

February 25, 2013

Letter: Longing for safety of snowy Cape Ann


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the Editor;

Having watched and read news reports about the recent Blizzard of 2013, I was, believe it or not, sorry I missed it.

After fourteen winters, with one exception, of living and working in the tropics of the Caribbean; New England and Gloucester look better all the time, year round.

Some people may wonder why anyone would want to swap swaying palm trees, azure blue, 80-degree water, and sunny days at the beach for a blizzard like the one that recently swept Fishtown. Well, if the truth be told, the real Caribbean is no longer like that. The real Caribbean is not what people see in those TV and magazine ads for luxurious, all inclusive resorts.

The real Caribbean is, more and more, a place of great disparities in wealth, growing poverty, and increasingly violent crime.

In conversations with close friends back in Costa Rica, crime is always a big topic of our discussions.

Armed home invasions, rapes, robberies, murders, and muggings on the beaches, are all too frequent occurrences in many places there. Here on Vieques a couple of weeks ago β€” at a bar popular with tourists in an upscale, largely gringo part of the island β€” a man said to have been a Puerto Rican drug kingpin was partying with friends when several men, allegedly members of a rival drug gang from the Dominican Republic, entered the bar and confronted the Puerto Rican, who tried to flee.

The Dominicans opened fire with automatic weapons, as tourists watched in horror, and tore the man and one of his associates apart with a barrage of bullets. The gunmen escaped by boat and no one here believes any one will ever be held responsible for the crime.

The U.S. Virgin Islands, especially St. Croix and St. Thomas, are now so dangerous that Americans who live there have told me they never move around those islands alone, but always in pairs or groups. The big island of Puerto Rico is also confronting a wave of drug-related, violent crime.

The one common denominator in all this Caribbean crime, no matter where it is occurring, is the growing influence and power of highly sophisticated and organized narco-traffickers jockeying for control of lucrative transit routes for drugs to the U.S.

The natural beauty of the region remains amazing, but those other harsh realities make enjoying that beauty increasingly difficult and, unless one is safely locked behind the gates of one of those luxurious, Disneyesque, all inclusive resorts, potentially dangerous.

It’s really quite sad, but it is also makes going cross country skiing along Wingaersheek Beach on a sparkling sunny day after a big snow seem much more appealing than a walk on a deserted beach β€” even one with swaying palm trees, where you never know what might happen, even in broad daylight.

MICHAEL COOK

Gloucester

and Vieques, Puerto Rico