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. mklsgl

    Giordano murdered her. They never went snorkeling at Baby Beach. No one saw them there? That's highly unlikely. The place is packed from dawn 'til dusk with families and someone would have definitely noticed the attractive blond female with the exotic tats! Her body is probably in much less 'touristy' area.

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

      Agreed. Wouldn't they have to RENT or BUY any snorkling equipment? Surely there'd be some record since they were both on vacation, doubt they both brought equipment... seems fishy

      August 15, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. checi

    Dear Aruba, I will never visit you and my family will never visit you. You are a dangerous, seedy place. Sincerely, Checi.....P.S. I live in the cold northeast and I don't care how much it snows in the winter, I will never go to your bloody little island for a vacation.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • emma

      I'll second that.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • D

      Awesome!!! More room for me in my family. I doubt my wife will to kill me and I don't usually go bar hoping with randoms.

      I'll be fine.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Malcolm C

      I can assure you after visiting last year that Aruba is a really nice Island with extremely nice people. 1 high profile murder 6 years ago, and this latest one appears to an all American affair, if indeed it is a murder? Go to any of your "Seedy" North Eastern towns in the States and you'll get that every weekend, never mind 6 years apart. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      So you've never been there, but Aruba is a "dangerous, seedy" place? I've been around the world, and let me tell you that Aruba is not a dangerous, seedy place. Go visit Bangkok or Mumbai and then talk to me about dangerous places. The people in Aruba are very warm and friendly, and it's just unfortunate that they've had a tragedy happen twice now... even more unfortunate that the sensationalist news picks this particular incident to publicize. You could walk outside of your happy "safe" little house in the northeast and be murdered. But, by all means, don't venture outside your area... one wouldn't want you to educate yourself before speaking.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Coconita

      Why are you so stupid???? Do you know how many ppl disappeared in USA? Aruba is one of the most beautiful (and safe) islands in the Caribbean... This has nothing to do with Aruba; This is a case of 2 adults that met in the internet, meeting each other for a steamy vacation... when the truth is that she was meeting a crazy psyco (american, BTW)... that ended up killing her... that's that... If you want to stay back home, in the village that you probably live, the better... you'll spare us all of your (probably whale-like) presence in the beach!

      August 15, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boogie

      Dear checi
      You are a paranoid little bird poop who is afraid of your own shadow.
      I'll gurantee more people go missing in your country rather than ours...just nobody cares when it's on your end...the media just loves the sound of "Trouble in Paradise" so the TWO cases we've had here are an excuse for journalists to get a free trip to Aruba to "investigate" these cases.
      Both these cases were "Tourist on tourist" suspected crimes...our island and people are innocent and we have learned from our mistakes.

      NOTE:...I don't believe you are a real person...just another hater who wants to make us think this case will stop our tourism...it will not.
      But, if you are we, don't want your lame family on our beaches...go eat a booger!
      love and kisses
      Aruba

      August 15, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • RVH

      Cechi, Aruba is a beautiful island with friendly people. You are blinded by the media into seeing only the ugly parts of a place since that is what makes you watch their programming. One more thing, your frozen, gritty neck of the woods is probably the kind of place where you need to lock your doors and trust no one. Good luck with that!

      August 15, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Icebeer

      Sorry for never being here in the Carribean, but hope you can will be eaten by an ICEBEER someday... BS

      August 15, 2011 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cynthia

      Exactly...people as narrow minded like yourself should NEVER leave your cold North American 'village'... please, not for your sake – because your don't deserve one – for for everybody else's that actually travel and know about the World and what is dangerous and what is not, just please stay where you are and stick your butt in the snow on the next month – because I know, you have LONG miserable winters, and let the rest of us enjoy the beach. Be sure we don't cheat on our boyfriends/husbands and travel to an island with an affair, neither do we hop w/ strangers in a car. Still don't know how can you live with yourself by being so ignorant. You should be embarrassed as well as your friend that agrees w/ you.

      August 15, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. John Costa

    Why is everyone so up in arms about 1 disapperance ?????? Do you know how many people dissapear in the U.S. every day . The number will shock you. But it's still Thousand lower than the number of people that APPEAR here daily. CRAZY Go ARIZONA

    August 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gns

    Aruba is one of the safest places that i have visited. i am very surpriced to hear that there has been another missing person in that island. Aruba is not to be blamed, this could happen anywhere

    August 15, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. cb

    I just want to say that I went to Aruba twice and it was amazing and the people were absolutely welcoming and friendly. I would definitely go back. Anywhere you go you need to watch out for yourself.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. TinCup

    I love ARRUBA i've been there 6 time's .. I just wish they would keep it a bit cleaner.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. nancygraceisajoke

    Nancy Grace is such a POS. CNN, please stop linking stories to her stupid show. "So called 'security cameras'". Yeah, they are so called because, um, that's what they are called you dummy. A lot of people have cameras in / on their houses and she makes it sound like she just found the murder weapon.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • kite005

      I'll second the Nancy Grace comment. You can add Jane Velez to that. When I click on anything here and I see either one I immediately close the window and don't even watch the commercial that goes with every video. After watching her some when I didn't know who she was now I can't even stand to look at her mug. Shes basically like a, parasite would be a wrong word but seems to fit, who makes her living off of other peoples stupid decisions and innocent peoples misfortune.

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

      Amen...this woman is a disease...lol and her expression always looks like she just got smacked.

      August 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Marc L from NY

    Am I supposed to have sympathy for the people of Aruba because they are frustrated? I don't think so. I believe in natural order, not sympathy. Take care of your business and tourists will come. Have an inept police force that doesn't seem capable of solving crimes and people won't come. Plain and simple. I have more sympathy for the victim's families than the citizens of Aruba.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Veiwer

    Nancy Used to be really hot untill she had those two rugrats she's always squaking about.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • SMOKEKITTY1154

      YOU CAN TALK ABOUT NANCY LEAVE HER KIDS OUT OF IT

      August 15, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Agnim

    This case of another CARELESS & RECKLESS & 'heated' American female meeting and mating a complete, cowardly stranger & psychopath, reminds one of the careless & reckless 'hikers' who go mountain climbing alone among avalanches in the dead of winter.

    The Aruban authorities should not waste their resources on this case, except to keep the accused in prison & have Americans pay for his 'upkeep' until the careless & reckless woman turns up.
    If the female never turns up, then the accused should rot in prison. Case closed!

    Let the FBI waste American resources on the extremely reckless US LOSERS who continue to give Aruba a 'bad name'.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. D

    I hope many of you who are whining about how dangerous Aruba is really keep your word and never go there...more room for the people who are smart enough to know what an amazing island it is.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Drew

    Here's what I read...We got here first, our presence is well known, the other news outlets are following in our footsteps, Nancy Grace arrived by private jet, the locals aren't happy with the attention, oh yeah...and a woman has gone missing (though we're going to mention the other missing woman's name twice as often in the article).

    You should be ashamed of yourselves!

    August 15, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. beautifulblueeyedblond

    I think it's about high time people got off their high horse. Before judging the Aruba Justice system you should look at your own system. How many guilty people are on the streets in your own country, how many wrongfully convicted people (usually of color) are serving sentences in jail.
    As a blonde, blue eyed young woman living in Aruba for the past 20 years, I have never felt unsafe at any time. I've lived in several countries and, none, is as safe as Aruba. For the people who decide not to come to Aruba because of this disappearance, I feel sad for you for missing out on a great vacation, but on the other hand I don't think you'll feel comfortable surrounded by open-minded, friendly people tourist that do come visit us.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mr Skrunchkin

    There is no connection here with Natalie Holloway. A tourist murdered another tourist – pathetic that CNN goes for the cheap irrelevant aspect that it happened in Aruba. Why not so the same with New York?

    And please, Nancy Grace is a venemous vermin who prays for juicy murders so she can preside over her kangaroo court and make money off the misery of others – disgusting and journalism at its worst.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. judge

    You forgot to mention that your a Huge Blonde blue eyed young women who would be safe in LIBYA!!!!!

    August 15, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • nimesh

      Since she'd in a full body length burqa and would be 'chaperoned' at all times by a male relative including father & brothers but excluding 'uncles' and 'first cousins'; she might be reasonably safe.

      August 15, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
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