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Safety in Mexico…Canadian Alleges Rape in Playa del Carmen

Posted by Tony & Cheri on January 19, 2011

We had hoped to be blogging about the new restaurants in town, but the recent story by the Canadian Broadcasting Company about a woman who alleged rape by Playa del Carmen police has once more brought a lot of people to our blog asking questions about safety. So we thought we’d give our views.

First, we want to say that no woman’s allegation of rape should ever be treated lightly. Rape is a serious crime, and any allegation of that crime should be thoroughly investigated. It should never be assumed that a woman alleging rape is lying. But neither should it ever be assumed that she is telling the truth. We have police systems and courts in the US and Canada and yes, here in Mexico, whose purpose it is to investigate allegations of crime.

Therefore, we find it disturbing that so many people are automatically assuming this couple’s story is true and concluding, once again, that Mexico is a dangerous place to visit.

As far as the facts of the case are concerned we, like many people, have serious questions about the allegations. It appears that the couple was drunk on New Years Eve, got into a street fight, struck someone’s car and when the police were called had a confrontation with the police and resisted arrest. That seems to be without dispute. They were taken to the jail and housed separately. The woman says that she was raped by two police officers. In the meantime, her fiancee in another part of the jail admits he tried to hang himself in his cell. He says that other prisoners told him of his girlfriend’s rape and he decided his own suicide would bring attention to her situation somehow. (How other prisoners would know of this activity in another part of the jail, or even if the man spoke Spanish has not been addressed by him.) Police intervened and saved him from his self-inflicted hanging.

The couple was released the next day after paying a fine. They filed complaints both with Canadian and Mexican authorities. A physical examination of the woman showed no evidence of rape. Instead of returning home after this alleged ordeal, they continued their vacation for another 18 days. On the day before they returned to Canada, almost three weeks later, they gave an on-camera interview to the CBC in Playa del Carmen and continued to appear on CBC News once they returned home.

For us, the couple’s bizarre behavior raises questions about their truthfulness. But that is not for us or anyone else to decide. An investigation is ongoing by the authorities in Mexico.

What does concern us is the sensationalized nature of the coverage and the public reaction to it. As a result of these types of sensationalized stories–and in particular this story–some people are immediately willing to condemn Mexico and make a determination that it is dangerous to visit there. We disagree.

Even if the allegations of the woman are true (and no objective observer is able to say that they are or are not at this point), it would not reflect upon the typical tourist’s safety in this country. The sad fact is that assaults, including rapes, occur everywhere, including Canada and the US. The idea that one such allegation concerning one incident among literally millions of tourists who visit this country is proof that everyone who visits here is in danger is a ridiculous proposition founded more in bigotry than in fact, more in prejudice than in reason.

We continue to assert that our adopted home is as safe as any city in North America. We’ve lived here for six years and never been the victim of a serious crime. Is it perfect? Of course not. But then no place is. There is crime everywhere, but there is less of it here than in most places. And here, as in most places, we strongly suggest you not get so drunk that you end up in violent street brawls or resist the police when they tell you you’re under arrest. Don’t act here differently than you would act at home, and you’ll be just fine.

Read our most current blog entry about safety:
Safety in Playa del Carmen Mexico ~ 2012

“Like” the Luna Blue Hotel & Bar on Facebook to keep up with the latest news of Playa del Carmen, life in paradise & our version of “living the dream.”


21 Responses to “Safety in Mexico…Canadian Alleges Rape in Playa del Carmen”

  1. Lir said

    Tony and Chery,

    Thank you for addressing this issue and answering my question. I value your opinion on this matter as you are much closer to the source. You raise some valid points about the gaps in the story. We might never know what really happened.

    I also agree with you on the fact that crimes (theft and rape) happen everywhere. However, in my entire 30 years I have never heard of gang rape conducted by police officers in Canada (alledged or otherwise). This is the only disturbing allegation in this story that we can’t quite understand or imagine. You hear of these things happeneing in the Congo, but you wouldn’t expect something like this in a major tourist destination.

    At any rate the fact that millions of tourists come through there and have a great time is a good enough argument for us. We are very laid back people, light drinkers, and can’t wait to soak up the sun. We are looking forward to meeting you guys on the 5th of February!

    • Thanks for your input Lir. We actually recently read a blog story about allegations that Edmonton police were linked to trafficking in Indian children sold for sex purposes. The darker side of humanity can be found in any country, under any form of government and by people of every hue of color or race. Mexico isn’t better than anyplace else…but it isn’t worse either.

      • Dennis Tetreault said

        Tony & Cheri

        My wife and I have enjoyed many evenings and margarita’s at your bar over the past three years. As a police officer from Edmonton, I would be interested in seeing the blog story you referenced.

      • Hi Dennis. Sorry, we don’t have the blog name unfortunately. We came across it while Googling stories about the alleged rape down here. We were Googling combinations of “rape” “Police” and “canadian” and this blog entry came up along the way. It was some sort of political/investigative blog and seemed to be concerned about treatment of indians. Sorry we can’t remmeber the name or be more help. Our point was not to disaparage the Edmonton Police or to suggest this story was true, but rather to make the point that allegations against police officers occur everywhere, including Canada and the US, and that an accusation against police officers in Mexico should not automatically be considered to be true until an investigation is done.

      • Dennis Tetreault said

        I took no issue with any of your remarks and I agree with your point of view. Every story has two sides. For some of your readers I would like to mention that most police officers develop and carry an awareness regarding their surroundings and personal safety where ever they go, including vacations. I have never had my “spidey senses” tingle on any of my trips to Cancun or Playa del Carmen. I am comfortable recommending Playa as a vacation spot to any of my friends and fully intend to visit again in the near future. Please say “hola” to Jorge for us….he is one of the best.

  2. A concerned Canadian said

    Tony & Cheri,
    Many thanks for your candid assessment of this very bizarre allegation. I totally agree with you and you have echoed my thoughts. Writings such as yours throw much truth and light upon the sometimes misleading Media reporting. For instance CBS lumped the case of the Montreal cop being beaten up by a biker in Cancun into the same above story and under the context of “DRug violence and Dangerous Mexico”. Hopefully justice will prevail; if the police are guilty, they are punished. On the other hand if the police are not guilty, will the other party apologise to the Mexican and CAnadain Govts. for all ????????

  3. Tom Reed said

    You know…it really sounds like the couple simply had too much to drink and got into a bad situation. Everyone is to quick to jump to conclusions about Mexico. When something BAD is hear…most everyone assumes that it is fact. When this is usually the opposite. Like was said before – millions of people come to Mexico yearly with NO problems! Believe me, the United States has more rape and other problems than the street crime in Mexico…

  4. Rachelle E said

    Thanks for you input on this situation. I have two things to say. 1) We have been to Playa/Tulum/Cozumel/Cancun AND Isla Mujeres so many times I can’t remember them all! Never a bad “situation” EVER. We have stayed at 5 star resorts to the wonderful “mom & pop” places..NEVER a problem. 2) Had anything..and I do mean ANYTHING even slightly resembling what they claimed happened..I would (and my husband would have made SURE!) been on the next flight home! WTH?18 more days in the place where you claim something so vulgar happened? That right there is enough for me to discard their story with today’s trash.
    We love Playa and everywhere on the pennisula. As you stated..I feel much safer walking/shoppin/eating/enjoying on 5th Ave. or the beach there than almost anywhere in the US today!
    Take Care and we will see you soon,
    Rachelle & Spike E

  5. Craig said

    I am also kind of interested to hear what is behind the pics and postings on the blackberry. I am sure this guy didn’t have his phone with him in jail, the police had to have it. Did anybody see the times of the postings? This of course doesn’t prove a rape happened but if true, means there was something going on

    • Craig, the fact that somebody had his blackberry simply shows he lost it. It doesn’t mean the police had it or were using it. We can’t tell you the number of times people have left room keys, car keys, cameras, phones, blackberries etc in our bar after having overindulged. This man could have lost it anytime, anywhere before he ever had his confrontation with the police. Regardless, our point in this post was not to determine the truthfulness of the allegations but to point out that speculation is not fact and that deciding in advance that this particular allegation is true and therefore Mexico is dangerous is unfair and irresponsible.

  6. Concerned Canuck said

    Another thing; almost comical, but appears ridiculous ! He tried to hang himself, to bring attention so that alleged rape would stop ??? … and i believe in the tooth fairy !

  7. Louise said

    Hi guys, xo

    Canadian Broadcasting Corporation usually delivers news in the least sensational manner. CBC & CTV is the only news media that I will watch/listen to for that very reason.
    I haven’t heard about this incident… but i don’t listen/watch the news everyday.
    We have heard recently about the beheadings & shootings in Acapulco’s tourist area… and today about a Canadian being shot in the leg randomly due to drug wars in that area. We love Acapulco. We have had many great vacations there. Things have changed so much there. 😦
    Thank God, that Playa is still a very safe place to go to… and OMG, it’s so far away from the violence that we hear about in the Media.

    You cannot believe word for word everything that you read/hear in the media! Most of the time 60/80 % of it is B.S. Most of it is hearsay and fabricated.
    You would have to be sitting in Court during trial to find out the true facts… and even at that… you’d have to take some and leave some. Not everyone tells the truth… even under oath.


    All I know is that I have “ALWAYS” felt safe in PDC. Always. I have walked off the beaten path many times, even in the dark hours.
    I haven’t done this here, in my own (considered safe) City in many years, though. 😦

    Don’t be foolish… be alert… don’t be drunk out of your tree and act stupid. It doesn’t matter where your are… if you are drunk and act stupid, you are
    asking for trouble. Period. 😦

    Anyway, I love Playa & feel very safe when I go there. I also love the Luna Blue because we have always felt safe & secure at all times while staying there. It’s our home away from home. No one can enter the hotel after 11:00, unless you are a guest, because the gates are locked. I am not saying this just because I am responding to a post on T&C’s blog, btw.

    I apologize for rambling… I don’t speak often…but at this time I needed to speak my truth.

    I miss Playa. 😦 And as soon as we are able too, this is where we will go for a vacation.
    Hopefully, we will be able to stay at the Luna Blue Hotel. πŸ™‚

    • davisod said

      All I know is, the mainstream tv and print media are saying and writing a LOT about the “danger” for travelers to Mexico – to the point where 99% of the people, who know that I spend 2 months a year there are now asking me, “Are you safe there these days?”

  8. Karen Kraus said

    Thanks for adressing this issue with your usual concise clear headed manner. I am in total agreement With everything you said.

  9. gringation said

    I hadn’t heard about this, but after reading your article I looked it up online. I agree that there’s no proof it did or didn’t happen, but there are too many holes in this story for me to think it’s probable.

    Thanks for keeping a cool head on this issue, and for presenting all the facts.

    I also still maintain that this region is just as safe or safer than most areas of the US.

    Shame on the media.

  10. gringation said

    Also from the other articles I’ve read, it seems the couple was released later the same day, not the following day πŸ™‚

  11. jon said

    Thanks for the updates and your viewpoints will see you in few weeks and will be sure to stop by for a cool one.

  12. Great article. Saludos desde Merida!

  13. Notsodumbcannuck said

    First off the couple do dispute they were drunk. They claim (most recent CBC interview) they were sober – 3 drinks all day/ eve. They deny fighting with each other and touching the car. The only admission is that Coleman got loud with the police and driver because he felt he ‘needed to correct them’, with language not fit for TV.

    This by their own admission was on a busy street in front of a packed restaurant in an area ‘heaving with partygoers’. But why are there no witnesses? I would have had my camera out and would be sticking it on YouTube πŸ˜‰

    They did not make their allegations ‘formal complaints’ until the 12th when they went to the Canadian Consulate. Complaining to your hotel is dumb! They hired a Mexican lawyer to sue the cops?

    Why wait that long instead of being on the next plane home?

    She said the police took her mug shot on arrival (before the rapes) but the supposed bite mark is in the photo. Liar, liar pants on fire.

    There are holes on both sides but the biggest ones seem to be on the couple’s side.

    • Concerned Canuck said

      Agree 1000 %; Ridiculous story and an apparent injustice in that it is false propoganda that hurts both potential Canuck tourists and Mexicans too ! CBC should not jump to covering every “horror” story from Mexico, without objective verification !!

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