Earlier this month, Barbadians awoke to the disturbing news that two Canadian visitors were viciously attacked while walking along one of the island's beaches. Bloggers were immediately on top of the story – Barbados Free Press apologized to the victims’ families on behalf of a shocked nation, prompting a mainstream media newspaper in Ottawa to declare the blog “the only outlet to speak out for Schwarzfeld”, who had been in a coma since the beating. (Her daughter-in-law regained consciousness shortly after the attack). The crime of assault has now become murder: Terry Schwarzfeld passed away yesterday at an Ottawa hospital as a result of her injuries. Bloggers continue to be outraged that such a crime could happen in their country.
No doubt, one of the considerations has been the possible impact on Barbados‘ international reputation as a preferred tourism destination – the economy is heavily tourist-reliant, and the current global economic crisis has made its position somewhat tenuous. Some relief may have come in the form of Canadian Foreign Affairs officials declaring that they would not alter travel advisories for the island in the wake of the attack, but it does not make Ms. Schwarzfeld's death any easier for bloggers to bear.
On hearing the sad news, Barbados Free Press simply posts a photo of a smiling Ms. Schwarzfeld with the words:
Our prayers go out for Terry’s family and friends.
This is beyond sad. The police have issued a reward for any information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator of the crime, and we can only hope that someone comes forward soon.
There are incentives being put in place to encourage just that – Bajan Dream Diary asks readers to take action if they know anything about the perpetrators of the crime, providing a link to Crime Stoppers. The blog also reports that Barbados’ Commissioner of Police has promised a $10,000 reward for information on Terry Schwarzfeld’s attacker, in addition to unveiling a plan to stop crime against tourists. But is this enough? Bajan Dream Diary considers the situation and says there are lessons to be learned:
All crime is regrettable and the cases of Kathy Fischer and Terry Schwarzfeld are heartbreaking for all Barbadians. The falloff in visitor confidence if these cases are badly handled is even more so. The rarity of crime against tourists should not be an excuse to use old methods of diplomacy at a time when anyone with a computer can script Barbados’ media relations for it, if Barbados does not do it for itself. Now is the time for Government to respond to the fears being stirred in the external media, and clearly name the ‘no go’ areas in Barbados, even if it means admitting that this paradise is not perfect.