Boycott Watch
November 10, 2005
Alabama Gov. Bob Riley Calls For a Boycott of Aruba
   While some individuals have called for a boycott of Aruba because of the disappearance of Natalee Holloway and lack of action and apparent ineptness of the police and government of Aruba, Alabama Governor Bob Riley is the first governmental leader and most prominent person to call for a boycott of Aruba.

   This is not to say that Governor Riley originated the idea of boycotting Aruba, far from it. Grass roots campaigns to boycott Aruba started just days after people saw for themselves on television that the Holloway investigation was going nowhere. Boycott efforts popped up, but few had much behind them. These consumer actions all have one goal - to push Aruba to take action.

   Joining into that bandwagon, Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly also called for a boycott of Aruba, but that may have been lost in the vast number of boycotts O'Reilly calls for on a regular basis. O'Reilly joined in the boycott of France after France acted as an obstacle to President Bush's policy on Iraq, and O'Reilly has since taken the lead of that boycott by regularly pushing it on his Fox News show, The O'Reilly Factor. To his credit, O'Reilly led a successful boycott against Pepsi related to Pepsi using rapper Ludacris in advertisements (see:

   Boycott Watch has stopped reporting on O'Reilly's boycotts because we just can't keep up with all of his announcements and boycott updates. O'Reilly appears to use boycotts as a way to add punch to his stories and Boycott Watch also feels that O'Reilly is going against the Fox News mantra of Fair and Balanced by taking sides on several issues, but that is just our opinion.

   Yet even with O'Reillys' boycott call against Aruba, the question still remains - did the grass roots boycotts against Aruba work? It is hard to tell, but Boycott Watch was contacted by someone who initially claimed to be a taxi cab driver in Aruba, and later claimed to be an Aruban tourism official who wanted people to know that Aruba looks at the disappearance of Natalee Holloway as an isolated case and hopes people will therefore not take their frustrations out on everyone in Aruba.

   At the start of the grass roots efforts, the boycotts had no effect. This is because most people who planned their vacation trips to Aruba paid for their vacations in advance, and were therefore not going to cancel their vacation, although they were going to pay more attention to their surroundings, thus not loosing their vacation dollars but making their vacations less relaxing. Although the Holloway news story is known world-wide, it is mainly U.S. and Canadian citizens who are less likely to visit Aruba now because this is a US story. Aruba gets visitors from all nations with about 75% of those visitors are from the US, so Aruba would definitely feel the effects of such a boycott.

   Now the stakes and pressure on Aruba are higher. Alabama Governor Bob Riley has called for a boycott of Aruba. Because this boycott call is coming from the governor of the home state of Miss Holloway, this boycott call is on the same level of the State Department travel warning. People around the US are taking notice of this boycott call and Riley stated he plans to write every governor in the US asking them to join his boycott. Will that have an effect? You bet.

   Natalees mother has met with US Secretary of State Rice, so we know the Bush Administration is concerned about this case. While the administration is highly unlikely to call for a boycott of Aruba, it will be very difficult for governors around the nation to ignore Governor Riley's boycott call on purely political grounds, if not sympathetic grounds. Not all governors will join in the boycott calling it a national policy issue, but governors will have to make some type of statement in support of Riley because no governor wants to be seen as soft on the murder of a US citizen abroad, especially in this highly publicized case. Some governors may just make a statement warning people to be careful in travel to some degree without specifically mentioning Aruba. Although not every governors' statement about this case may make the news, it is unlikely that any governor will remain totally silent.

   In defense of Aruba, it is important to remember that many crimes, including murders, go unsolved for long periods of time and sometimes forever, such as in the case of Jack the Ripper. Undoubtedly, some murder cases that occurred in Alabama while Riley has been the governor have yet to be solved. Would Riley call for a boycott of his own state? If boycotts occurred every time a crime went unsolved, the US economy would implode.

   In the mean time, as a result of the Aruba boycott call by Governor Riley, there is no doubt Aruba will suffer economically, and this is not to say that Aruba has not had a loss of tourism thus far. In a recent email to Boycott Watch, for example, a reader wrote "Me and my wife are now retired. We were planning a trip to Aruba but not now. I am sorry to hurt the people there but it is time they hold their government to the fire. No man is above the law. This was a cover up from the first night."

   That is the basic sentiment around the US. People want to do something in the Holloway case, and the only thing the vast majority of people can do is not make Aruba their vacation destination, or at least claim to, thus the boycott. While not all Americans will stop visiting Aruba, if a significant portion of Americans change their plans and perhaps vacation on a different island and cruise ships lines choose a port of call other than Aruba, Aruba will feel the pain.

   Aruba can put a quick end to this boycott by successfully prosecuting whoever is responsible for the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. Because of the apparent ineptitude and how long Aruba is taking solve this case, this boycott will have a life of its own long after the case is solved because people will not forget Natalee in Aruba for a very very long time.

E-Mail This Page to a Friend
Enter the recipient's e-mail address:

(Click here to return to top of page)
 ©2004 Boycott Watch