August 15th, 2011
09:28 AM ET

Familiar spotlight on Aruba after disappearance stirs up local frustration

The disappearance of Robyn Gardner has brought the international media back to Aruba, and Arubans aren’t happy about it. After the prolonged investigation without resolution in the Natalee Holloway case the summer of 2005, tourism took a hit. The locals are nervous and not keen to see us again.

There is no way to keep a low profile on an island when you’re CNN. A photograph of us reporting in front of the prosecutor’s office was on the front page of the island’s most popular paper, The Diario, the day after we landed.

Since then, other networks have followed us to Aruba. NBC’s satellite dish now sprouts from the hotel grounds. An unnamed television team was having lunch near the site where Gardner reportedly vanished while snorkeling. Once the manager of the restaurant knew they were members of the media, he threw them out, refusing their money for the meal they had already been served. It’s a very strong reaction for a place whose maroon and white license plates boast “One Happy Island.”

That’s an extreme example. I have been here many times, and always, unfortunately, for bad news. I was here for much of the Holloway frenzy, but even now, I find most here are extremely polite and friendly. However, if you ask them if they know anything about the current case and would they be willing to be interviewed, people grow silent. Twice my requests were met with the same response. One person said “here is someone who could talk" to me while writing down a name and phone number. Only it was the number for the island’s solicitor general, and I already had it.

This story, although tragic, hasn't reached the Holloway kind of media madness, at least not yet. But like then, rumors are quick to spread. On the beach by the Marriott hotel north of town, the buzz was that Nancy Grace had arrived on the island the night before on a private jet.

The Aruban government learned from its mistakes in the Holloway case. This time, immediately after Gardner was reported missing, a very aggressive search by land, sea and air was launched. The solicitor general, who is the spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, is readily available for interviews, and police quickly asked the FBI to assist their investigation in the U.S.

Another important difference? The person of interest is an American, not one of their own with ties to the justice system. The politics are not the same.

But many of the faces of the returning members of the media are the same.

The greeting I get from friends on the island is often with a sigh: “It’s nice to see you, but not necessarily good to see you.”

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Filed under: Aruba
soundoff (268 Responses)
  1. ajd041

    Woohoo I'm first and well I hope they find her and at least they're learning from their mistakes

    August 15, 2011 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • carlaippolito

      Aside from no one hearing from her...I see NO evidence whatsoever that any crime was even comitted...She could have easily got bored and went of with a third guy

      August 15, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeff Williams

      """She could have easily got bored and went of with a third guy"""

      Her companion says she was snorkeling with him. In reality, would a guy leave his partner out in deep water like that and just swim to shore by himself? The girl didn't snorkel according to her cheated-on boyfriend, so it's unlikely she would have stayed out there by herself. The cover story smells.

      August 15, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Peridot827

      Note to self: 1) Don't go vacationing wtih men I just met on the internet

      2) If I should go vacationing with a stranger I just met on the internet, don't go to Aruba

      3) If I am ever lost in Aruba, my chances of being found alive are . . . nil.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Nick

    After the Holloway case, I don't know why people choose Aruba as a vacation spot. The government did nothing (sat on their a$$) after Natalie's disappearance. People should downgrade this vacation spot so the govt and locals learn that they have to provide and safe and secure vacation spot.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Wulf

      Yea, I'm sure it's highly unlikely that something would happen, but the way "pretty blond girls" go missing down there is disturbing. They probably got kidnapped and sold into slavery in some South American country, and the govt is getting kickbacks.

      August 15, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • PHinMiami

      Apparently Giordano thought it was a good place to commit murder. Sorry to say, he may have been right.

      August 15, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • carlaippolito

      Two girls are repoirted missing in six years is not exactly a crime wave...in New York there is a missing person or murder EVERY day,,,,How does YOUR State rate with Aruba

      August 15, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • stephgrl

      If people would use some common sense...

      August 15, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Really?

    Awww another blondie gone missing? Spare me. I am so sick of the obvious media bias.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • worldbelow

      tool

      August 15, 2011 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
    • nah

      Discriminate much?

      August 15, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Alex Winter

      I hope you go missing next.

      August 15, 2011 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  4. fegirl

    Aruba is a wonderful safe place. I go every year for vacation.

    This case is about an American woman and an American Man who didn't know each other for long, met on a website and decided to go to Aruba. Natalee Hollway had been drinking alcohol from morning to night, every day and made a poor decision to get in a car with a man she never met. People need to be responsible for their poor decisions.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • carlaippolito

      This Robyn had been dating Giordano twice a month for a year...She didn't meet him yesterday

      August 15, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  5. AwakeAmerica

    Now people from Aruba also scared of Ms.Nancy Grace... huh?

    August 15, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
    • mjh59

      Who wouldn't be – She convicts people in the public eye without a trial every night of the week.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. BTCVSOLO

    Nonsense....

    Aruba is a beautiful island of (mostly) friendly people.

    Just like ANYWHERE in the Caribbean, stick with the resorts, and try not to emulate the caricature of "ugly american'...both of these girls (well...one girl, one woman) wandered off the beaten path with people they barely knew. The same thing would happen in NYC, Atlanta, Nassau, or St. Croix....KNOW your surroundings, KNOW who you're with, or expect to pay the ultimate price....

    August 15, 2011 at 10:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Bettyboop

      Agree with you on that statement!

      August 15, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • stephgrl

      EXACTLY! I love Aruba...we even explored a bit off the resort and never felt threatened. And the people on the resort could not have been any nicer or accomodating. Please need to use common sense.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BTCVSOLO

    II'M scared of Nancy Grace & I'm a former SEAL!

    August 15, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • NORMAJEAN123

      Me too! Hate that scratchy vioced woman.

      August 15, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • AwakeAmerica

      Me too very much... now it's high time for CNN to fire her.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Taioseach7

    Rule of thumb, don't run off with someone you've met on the internet. NEWS FLASH: People lie or misrepresent themselves in cyberspace (real life too) Women more so than men in situations like this one, really need to ditch that whole "it can't happen to me." mentality. Women who travel together should also NEVER let their girlfriends get blitzed out of their heads and let them go off with strangers PERIOD.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
    • carlaippolito

      For Your Education...Read the Entire Story...She had been dating Giordano twice a month for about a year,,,she didn't meet him yesterday

      August 15, 2011 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  9. BEN DOVER

    I would never go there

    August 15, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. infonomics

    Casey Anthony was seen in the area.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Gone fishing

      LOL, that a good one!

      August 15, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  11. xdougx

    Missing white woman syndrome! But that being said, Aruba is like any jungle "paradise". You should only go with people you trust and don't wander into any non-tourist areas, especially at night.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  12. whocares

    Do you guys remember how many black women went missing during the time Holloway was missing? I don't remember the number but I remember seeing something on either fox or cnn, so we know it was 100% accurate lol, but the number was staggering. Yet non made the national news in trying to figure out how/why they were missing. Media today are a disgrace. Especially Nancy DisGrace.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • JC

      People have to scream and yell to get media attention...some did, some didn't.

      August 15, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Playjojo

      Oh, please! Every time there's an article on a white woman, not man, woman, missing or killed, some yahoo has to start with the inane blathering "Yeah, but, what about that time, remember, when those black girls went missing? Remember? And NO ONE EVER did anything about it! NO media attention! NONE were ever found!" Go choke on the bigotry dude. Boring. Same old, same old.

      August 15, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  13. Taioseach7

    She's gone.

    Rule of thumb, don't run off with someone you just met on the internet. Don't go off alone with someone you've met on vacation. Girls, don't let your girlfriends get blitzed and go off with strangers. Yes, it CAN happen to you.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  14. BenA

    Getting drunk in foreign countries sounds like a solid plan to me.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  15. YerKiddingRight

    If this was a plain-looking black woman who vanished we'd never have heard this story. But TV never tires of pretty blondes.

    August 15, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
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