ARUBA … DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS … “Justice for Natalee” Protest and Reminder to Aruba at the Houston Travel Show
ARUBA … DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS!!!
They have been to New York City twice, Boston twice, New Orleans, Valley Forge, PA, Miami, St Charles, MO, and now Houston, TX. Do we need to remind you Aruba, Don’t mess with Texas. Congratulations to the people who helped reminds potential travelers that Aruba has provided no answers or “Justice for Natalee”. The mission continues by those individuals who demand the truth and justice for missing Alabama teen, Natalee Holloway.
It seems that Aruba truly does not have a comprehension of free speech. No wonder people are afraid to come forward to tell what they know regarding Natalee. However, Aruba … you are not in Kansas anymore. Welcome to America … The home of the free and the land of the brave.
I found out later from the convention coordinator that the Arubans complained incessantly about us and even confiscated one man’s tote (yes, they really had the audacity to do that)! He also told me that the Arubans seemed to have trouble understanding that nobody could turn us away as long as we did what we were told. I guess Arubans really don’t understand free speech as we know it.
The following the the words from one of those individuals, Dan in TX, that took the time to help provide, Justice for Natalee”. Kudos to all … a job well done. Don’t forget to listen tonight to the Dana Pretzer show as more accounts will be provided from the Houston Travel Show protest.
“What?! That girl’s still missing?”
Of all the countless positive, supportive comments that I heard that whole day, that one genuinely shocked exclamation stands out in my mind. But we found out one thing again and again and again throughout the day: Houston, Texas loves Natalee. Before the protest even started, a retired HPD detective saw my boycott tee-shirt and expressed his support for the boycott as I waited for the others to arrive.
Two wonderfully dedicated, savvy, intelligent people named Vicki and Richard have been organizing or helping to organize small protests at any travel and tourism show that the Aruba Tourism Association has a booth at for the last 18 months. They’ve been in New York City, Boston, Miami, and New Orleans in the past. This weekend, the ATA is at the Houston Travel and Adventure Show. So are we.
There’s not many of us- only eight- but that was enough. We took up positions outside the convention center in small groups, signs and pamphlets in hand. None of us have ever done this before, but those who had gave us a lot of good advice: do exactly what the police liaison tells you do, be friendly and polite, keep a pamphlet in hand at all times, and don’t be afraid- you’re here for Natalee and her family. Oh, and there may be news crews showing up to interview the event coordinator. That would be me.
Great. I am not at all photogenic.
I’ve never met any of them before, but I had a great team of protesters. Laura drove all the way from Dallas to be there. Molly brought her whole family to help, not to mention a picnic lunch, too. Lynn and his wife Ellie are old enough to be my grandparents, but they were there, ready to fight the good fight right along with us.
It took me all of about ten minutes to realize that this was going to be easier than I thought, because people are incredibly supportive. Between 11 am and 4 pm we handed out each and every one of seven hundred pamphlets and over a hundred totes that we had. At the end of the day, all we had left was one stack of our ‘backup’ flyers and one stack of business cards. The only negative comment we heard all day was from a man who obviously knew nothing about the case. Hundreds to one are odds I’ll take any day.
The support truly was amazing. It crossed gender lines, generations, and races. For those of you who think that Natalee would not have the attention she did if she were a minority, well, you’re dead wrong. Half the people who stopped to talk to us and offered their support were African-American. We didn’t expect to talk to men the size of pro linebackers about Natalee and hear that depth of genuine concern, but we did. A rickshaw driver (yes, they have those downtown) stopped by and offered his help displaying boycott advertising on the back of his rikshaw. We could not keep pamphlets in our hands. We gave our few precious totes only to those who had the deepest sympathy for Natalee or who were willing to take a tote past the Aruba booth, and we still ran out. Other people were more than willing to drop by and tell the Arubans how they felt. One lady took a bag in to show them, then decided to keep the bag and hang it in the window of her shop in Houston.
I found out later from the convention coordinator that the Arubans complained incessantly about us and even confiscated one man’s tote (yes, they really had the audacity to do that)! He also told me that the Arubans seemed to have trouble understanding that nobody could turn us away as long as we did what we were told. I guess Arubans really don’t understand free speech as we know it. I don’t want to say ‘banana republic, but….I wonder. Sadly, none of the Arubans were willing to come out to talk to us, but they were easy to spot: they were the ones who emerged from the exhibition hall with their hands over their name tags, who never looked our way and hugged the far wall. An American travel agent working with them came out and talked with us and took our photo for whatever reason, but the rest didn’t seem too keen to meet us. Before we left I asked the event coordinator to tell the Arubans that it wasn’t personal; they are doing their job, we are doing ours. I don’t know if he did pass that along, but it was the truth. Like I told many people throughout the day, “the Aruban government hasn’t left us with any other option. They’ve had three years to solve the case. They had ample time to rectify mistakes instead of making excuses and hiring spin doctors. It’s the MEP’s fault that we are where we are today” When one man replied, “Well, they need a new government down there” I couldn’t help but grin. Americans get it, Arubans don’t.
Unfortunately the news crews didn’t drop by, but being able to throw our supply boxes away, totally empty, was worth it. We didn’t need fifty people at the protest. We didn’t need fancy signs or media coverage. We left at the end of the day knowing we did our best to help one family in desperate need of justice, and hundreds of pamphlets with a dozen websites listed were in the hands of people who just may decide to help as well someday. We checked the streets and peeked into the trash cans: not a discarded boycott pamphlet to be seen. My personal opinion is, if we kept Aruba from getting one day’s worth of normal bookings, it was worth it.
Dan in Texas
March 30, 2008