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. cameo35

    ..............When are ladies going to learn..........when you go to a foriegn country it's best to stay in a group..........don't carry much,......and beware of other foriegners,,,,,,,,,,,,,but have a good time..

    August 15, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • kayaker247

      she went on vacation without her "boyfriend", gave all the wrong signals and probably didn't want to put out for her "sugar daddy" offering her a free vacation. obvious math = obvious. this has very little to do with Aruba.

      August 15, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. Bob Marley

    This is NOT Aruba's fault. Clearly, it's Jamaica's fault.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
    • sbast18

      Nope. It's Bush's fault

      August 15, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • CB in Austin

      Blame Canada!

      August 15, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • RUSH

      Obama did it

      August 15, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. Brad76

    If all these things are happening on Aruba's watch, then perhaps they need to be doing more to protect the security of guests! They have no right to be upset once people start asking questions about disappearances!

    August 15, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      Let the police there stop napping an do some work...

      August 15, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  4. FauxNews

    I'd much rather visit safer cities like New York or Los Angeles, where people don't just disappear.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • librababy

      People disappear in New York and LA. It just happens so often that it doesn't make the news.

      August 15, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      That has to be the dumbest comment on the board so far. I hope you were being sarcastic and really aren't that stupid.

      August 15, 2011 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • kayaker247

      sarcasm is obvious people. get a clue.

      August 15, 2011 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Armando

      Fauxnews where do you live? Fantasy island?

      August 15, 2011 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
    • carlaippolito

      In New York, Chicago, Phila. New Jersey...etc...they end up in their car trunk with two holes in their head..

      August 15, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • MikeyD74

      you forgot to hit the sarcasm button faux... these idiots think youre serious... just saying.

      August 15, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dennis

    I just arrived back from Aruba last night. Have been there since 8/06. Aruba and it's people are beautiful. I've been to Mexico (Cancun), St. Lucia, Puerto Rico, Denmark, Germany, and Grand Cayman. In Aruba I felt the most safe. I'm a white male American. Anyone speaking poorly about Aruba and it's people is doing so out of pure ignorance. A Dutch man had everything to do with Natalies disappearance and an American man may have everything to do with Robyns disappearance. NOT native islanders. Natalie made a poor decision the night she left with Van Der Sloot. Robyn made a bad decision agreeing to go on vacation with a psychopath with a track record of harassing women. Little do most of you know that in the days following Natalie's disappearance the government shut the entire island down to search for her. Kids were pulled out of school, hotel workers did not go to work, restaurant owners, waiters, bus boys, etc. They searched the entire island for two days. Yes they may lack the resources and understanding to deal appropriately with missing persons cases. However, that may be because it almost never happens and they've never needed such a task force.

    So before you jump on CNN or any other site bashing Aruba and it's peoples you may want to consider the FACT that you know nothing, and are expressing your ignorant contrived OPINION.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • JC

      Finally an intellegent and human response to the real problem.
      I agrree with you Dennis

      August 15, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • MikeyD74

      "In Aruba I felt the most safe. I'm a white male American" last time i checked it was a white female... who the hell would want you?

      August 15, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      -Speaking in general my man.. Not that anyone would "want" me but perhaps want to rob me, take advantage of me as a tourist, etc. It is a safe place. The two situations are not indicative of the nature of this island. That was the message I was trying to express. Reading comprehension can be your friend Mikey. : )

      August 15, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • glr


      August 15, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |

    They do have the reputation. If you want to off your partner vacation in Aruba

    August 15, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • kayaker247

      or take a cruise.

      August 15, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  7. kayaker247

    I can't imagine why Aruba or anyone else for that matter would look at the attention as anything other than, "unfortunate". these girls have gone missing but it's not Aruba's fault. From what I've witnessed, it's one of the safer Carribean islands. Seems to me, this girl was involved with the wrong guy, just like the last girl that went missing in Aruba.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  8. jobo

    2 people in almost 7 years ...


    August 15, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • kayaker247

      I like those odds. Sound like a nice safe place to visit.

      August 15, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. Paulo

    Looks like Aruba is the place to go if you need a beautiful, relaxing place to whack someone.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  10. ArubaDiviGal

    TRACI you are an ignorant fool and a sad excuse for a human as exhibited by your post- Thank you EmeraldCity and Tracy for having common sense and a brain that works!

    August 15, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Dennis

      Just got back from the Divi.. 1 word. Awesome.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. IndyNC

    Hot white girl goes missing, lied to her boyfriend and went looking for a good time...

    Probably got it... and more.
    the only reason this is news is she's a hot white chick. If she where minority or ugly, the media wouldn't want to put her mug on TV.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  12. deanna

    If the FBI is involved the case there has been no mention of searching the hotel these two were in. What about any security camaras this island doesn't have them? There just has to be more. My question is what was this girl after or promised that she would go away with this creepy guy?

    August 15, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • MikeyD74

      what most women want from men... money, possessions, anything of material value

      August 15, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  13. Real01


    August 15, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  14. I Refuse to Travel

    The odd thing is – it's never an overweight or unattractive person who goes missing.... hmmmmmmm? Ironic? I think not.

    August 15, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  15. carlaippolito

    At Best,,,after his hearing today..The Dutch can hold him eight more days,,WITH SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE....that they don't have,,But they do have an agreement with the USA that if they allow him bail and to leave Aruba that he MUST return if they need him there..He is ONLY being held as a material witness...No Charges....It will be interesting to see what happens at his hearing today

    August 15, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
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