Guns, knives and machetes
A mini-crime-wave has hit St Vincent & the Grenadines, islands popular with yachtsmen in the Caribbean. Men armed with guns, machetes and knives have robbed yachtsmen at anchor in seven incidents in the last six weeks at the anchorage of Chateaubelair alone. Other attacks have taken place in Petit St Vincent, Union Island, Wallilabou and Young Island. In the current issue of YM we tell the story of one yachting couple’s frightening experience at the hands of armed pirates. In Chateaubelair.
Steve Jones, who suffered cuts to his head from machete blows in the attack, and his wife Katharine were attacked aboard their Dufour 385 charter boat.
He told YM: ‘We were promised updates on the crime from the police and a free holiday by the Minister of Tourism for St Vincent and the Grenadines, but we’ve heard nothing since. Since then I read about an attack almost identical to ours, just 24 hours before we arrived. It makes me very angry and surprised that the authorities had not put any extra security operations in place and made no attempt to warn us or the other yacht anchored in the bay, despite a coast guard patrol boat passing within 50m us during the afternoon.’
Meanwhile disturbing statistics about the Caribbean have been collated in a joint study by the UN and World Bank. According to the study the Caribbean is the world leader in violent crime: it has a murder rate of 30 per 100,000 inhabitants – four times the North American figure and 15 times the western European average. Jamaica is the world’s most murderous country, followed by El Salvador, Guatemala and Venezuela. But some smaller islands are catching up: St Kitts, with only 40,000 inhabitants suffered three murders in four days last November. The Bahamas can be dangerous and in Trinidad and Tobago the murder rate has quadrupled in the last 10 years. The upsurge in violence is mainly due to drug dealing – which has seen an increase for gangs in cash and weapons. Trinidad, Jamaica and Barbados are beefing up their coastguard operation to try and stamp out the import of drugs.