UPDATED: Sunday November 25, 2012 11:35am Bridgetown
St. Lucia Police arrest suspect
Island and Canadian news media provide major coverage
St. Lucian Government, Police, Tourism representatives & citizens express horror and condolences
An elderly Canadian tourist injured in a daylight St. Lucian beach robbery has died. Colin Peter, 75, of Prince Edward Island, Canada, was attacked on November 16, 2012 while walking with his wife at Vigie Beach. Mr. Peter was beaten about the head with a piece of wood and robbed of his wallet, camera and other valuables. He died on November 19, 2012 in St. Lucia’s Victoria hospital as preparations were being made to fly him back to Canada. (The Guardian: P.E.I. man dies of injuries sustained in attack in St. Lucia)
“There aren’t words to express the outrage felt by the government over this incident,”
… Lorne Theophilus, Minister of Tourism, St. Lucia
Two island tourist murders: two different responses
The circumstances of the robbery in St. Lucia are very similar to the 2009 fatal attack at Long Beach, Barbados when Canadians Terry Schwarzfeld and daughter Lauana Cotsman were beaten with a piece of wood and robbed by serial rapist / robber Curtis Joel Foster. Mrs. Schwarzfeld died in a Canadian hospital after an emergency medical flight home. Killer Foster is currently serving 15 years after pleading guilty to manslaughter.
We at BFP cannot help but comment upon the different government, police, and news media responses to a tourist murder in the two island nations. It may be that St. Lucian authorities have learned from the shameful public relations disaster of the Barbados government in 2009, but so far St. Lucia is providing a model response that will go a long way to reassure prospective visitors.
In contrast to the Barbados news media’s silence and cover-up over the Schwarzfeld attack, the St. Lucian print and electronic news media gave full and immediate coverage to the initial robbery upon Mr. Peter and his later death. Government authorities including the Prime Minister, Tourism Minister, Police Commissioner and the VP of St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association expressed horror, concern and a desire for St. Lucia to assist the Peter family.
The St. Lucian authorities declared an all out effort to find and arrest the culprits, and to see if any preventative measures would have helped. Police Commissioner Vernon Francois also engaged in some self-criticism of the police when he talked with the news media about the low levels of police patrols on the beaches and the discontinuance of the Beach Ranger patrols some years ago for budgetary reasons.
St. Lucia responded to a tourist murder in a way that the world is bound to perceive as honest, sincere and human – and without a trace of a cover-up.
The story of the tourist robbery and then Mr. Peter’s death continues to receive major coverage in St. Lucia – and that means that St. Lucia cares. During the time following the 2009 Barbados robbery, the Canadian news media were outraged that Barbados news outlets covered up the attack.
The Ottawa Citizen had as a headline: “Bajan Media Ignores Attack On Women. Feisty Barbados Free Press Only Outlet To Speak Out For Schwarzfeld”. What a public relations disaster thanks to the Barbados government and our island news media! Continue reading