| 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.
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
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.