Over the last five years, almost 200 Canadians have been murdered while travelling outside the country - cases ranging from drug-related shootings to extortion kidnappings and the opportunist killings of innocent tourists drawn to the seductive tropics.
Often, the murders of Canadians abroad can go unreported. Canada's general policy is that it's up to family and friends to decide to go public with the murder of loved ones.
In conclusion, I will attempt to make some general recommendations for travellers in the tropics and/or countries of questionable reputation. The Caribbean and Central America, a large portion of Canadian homicides that occur abroad are committed in this region. The Caribbean is known for its beauty, hospitality and generally low crime rates; however, these images are somewhat deceptive. It is important to note that the vast majority of the Canadian homicides that occur in the Caribbean do not involve the "tourist industry." In fact, there is no tourist industry in the Caribbean, and murders have occurred in every year of the past 50 years.
First, it is important to be aware that there is a large population of illegal aliens in the Caribbean. These people often lack the social skills needed for living in a multicultural society, and they also tend to have limited or no access to social services. This is especially true in the Dominican Republic and Haiti where approximately 75% of the populations are Haitian.
It is also important to note that many of these immigrants come from the same rural areas in Haiti and speak the same dialect as their compatriots. Most importantly, we should remember that even the most experienced traveller in the Caribbean is likely to encounter one of these violent individuals at some point during their trip.
Secondly, the fact that most of these attacks are gang related must also be considered when considering a traveller's safety in the Dominican Republic or Haiti.
Travel blogger was one of two killed in drug-gang shootout in Mexican Caribbean resort town Tulum
Finally, it is important to note that the Dominican Republic and Haiti share a border with each other, and many of these gang members from one country will often enter into the other without any documentation.
What to do if you encounter an attack?
The first thing you should do is move away from the victim. You can take cover in a public place where there is sufficient space to do so, such as a store, hotel, etc. Next, if the attacker is armed with a knife, stick or gun, do not resist.
For example, Jamaica is a tourist destination and as such, there is much more going on than meets the eye. If you are looking for a low-crime, tourist destination with amazing scenery, then this is your place. However, if you are looking for a safe place to stay, then you should look elsewhere. This is due to the high levels of poverty that exists in many places.
Crime rates can vary widely between different locations. The best advice is to read reviews and recommendations from trusted sources such as TripAdvisor.com or Lonely Planet.com in order to avoid getting robbed, try not to take a taxi alone.
General recommendations for travellers in the tropics and/or countries of questionable reputation is, take a taxi at night. And for heaven's sake, if you get mugged or kidnapped, do not resist or attempt to run.
Further Advice** You should never struggle or resist when being held up or abducted. If the situation appears dangerous, try to make yourself appear as unthreatening as possible.
Thus, it is always sensible to be friendly. Try to remain calm. It may be worth taking a few days off work or school when travelling in areas with uncertain security. ** If you are involved in a fight, it is very important that you try to be the bigger person. It's easy to get into a vicious cycle of violence but if you can avoid it, you have a much better chance of coming out of it without injury or death. In many cases, this means trying to avoid physical contact with the aggressor.
TIP: Always carry a copy of your passport and visa.
You are welcome!