Puerto rico la perla crime: Mother Of Black Tourist Assaulted In La Perla, Puerto Rico Speaks Out

Mother Of Black Tourist Assaulted In La Perla, Puerto Rico Speaks Out

Photo Credit: Carolyn Jones

La Perla , Puerto Rico , news

DeAnna Taylor • May 4, 2021

Longtime friends Tariq Quadir Loat and James Jackson took a much-needed vacation with their girlfriends to Puerto Rico in late April. It was something the couples were aiming to do often, but sadly this trip turned into tragedy. On the last day of the getaway, Loat was shot and killed, and Jackson was severely beaten, when the young men ended up in La Perla, Puerto Rico.

The body of 24-year-old Tariq Loat, a resident of Wilmington, Delaware, was found severely burned, three days after he had reportedly gone missing.

Travel Noire had the opportunity to speak with Carolyn Jones, James Jackson’s mother, who wanted to shed light on the victims’ story, dispelling falsehoods surrounding reports in the media, while also helping other tourists stay safe.

According to Jones, James and Tariq were concluding a 4-day vacation in the Rio Mar area of Puerto Rico. They were on the way to return their rental car in San Juan, when Tariq— who was driving— made a turn somewhere that led them to La Perla.

“As soon as they turned onto a side street, people started coming up to the car, pulling on the door handles, asking if they wanted to buy drugs,” Carolyn Jones told Travel Noire. “Tariq pressed the gas to try to get away, but the car ended up crashing into a wall.”

Jones says that, at that point, Tariq attempted to get out and flee, but his door was jammed. He and James both went out of the passenger side, running in different directions. That’s when the shots rang out.

“My son, James, immediately stopped and put his hands up because one of the bullets landed near him. Some suspects grabbed him and dragged him back toward the car, where they began beating him with all types of objects. He said one of the men came back brandishing a gun and said, ‘I already killed your brother, and you’re next. ’ Before he could try to run again, they hit him over the head with a sledgehammer and somehow moved him toward some steps, that are a popular tourist attraction.”

Sadly, Tariq Loat did not survive and his body was also badly burned. An American tourist from Massachusetts named John, who Jones describes as her guardian angel, found James unconscious on the steps. When he[James] came to, he helped him get his mother on the phone to tell her what happened. According to John via Ms. Jones, there was a local police officer in the vicinity of where James was laying, but the officer was not rendering aid. It was only after John and others in the area told the officer what happened, in Spanish, that she called for back-up— not an actual ambulance.

“As a parent, if I can, I want to help save someone else’s child from going through this,” Jones said. “I want to shed light on what exactly is happening to tourists in La Perla. The local media tried to paint this as a drug deal gone bad and my son and his friend trying to take photos when the locals asked them not to. Even if someone was in that neighborhood to buy drugs, there is no reason for them to be beaten, killed and their body burned and photos shared on social media.”

Jones added that when she shared her son’s story on social media, she began receiving messages from other Americans saying they had similar experiences in La Perla, including a Black woman whose story was eerily similar to her son’s.

“This whole situation has been a nightmare. The authorities tried to hold my son in the hospital by saying he had a broken leg and then again at the airport saying he needed to stay to complete the investigation. He’s the victim here. We had an x-ray done when he made it back to Wilmington and no broken bones were found in his leg or feet. I just don’t understand what is going on. But I needed to speak out.”

An investigation is ongoing, and although no arrests have been made, Puerto Rican authorities say they have a lineup of suspects for James to identify. While they asked him to return to Puerto Rico to do so, Ms. Jones would rather have it done stateside.

As more travelers set out to see the world again after the pandemic, she urges everyone to be cautious and aware as they travel.

“Travel in groups,” she said. “Do your research on neighborhoods or areas that locals try to present as “trendy.” If you are staying at a resort, try to stay around that area if you can. This didn’t happen to James and Tariq in the middle of the night, it was 5 pm and broad daylight. Like I told my son, who is suffering from survivor’s remorse over the loss of his close friend, this could have been anyone.”

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La Perla: Photo Camp Puerto Rico — Information Saves Lives

In October 2018, 20 students worked with Internews and National Geographic Photo Camp to create photo stories and essays from four locations in Puerto Rico, a little more than a year after Hurricane Maria.

 

This work examines the oft-misunderstood neighborhood of La Perla, situated outside of Old San Juan’s protective walls. Students strove to document the balance between the daily challenges that have plagued the colorful community for generations and the optimistic, hardworking spirit that runs through the neighborhood.

Student Essay: May the Pearl always be shining

From the radiance that flowed from the coast arises her name, La Perla. In ancient times, sailors associated this radiance with the white of the pearls of the sea. In our times, it is distinguished by the colorfulness of its houses, the arts that adorn their walls and by being the scene of the song “Despacito.”

After the passage of Hurricane Maria, hundreds of inhabitants of the neighborhood that sits outside Old San Juan’s protective walls and adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, emigrated to the United States, leaving the community with less than three hundred residents.   After the nefarious winds of September 20, 2017, some of the La Perla structures were left in ruins.

The chords of “Despacito” changed to “se fue la casa con to” (the house blew away), as expressed Tito, who currently lives in an apartment provided by the municipality.   

Juan Concepción, better known as “Coco,” 79, describes the hurricane experience, with his eyes watering, as “fatal; it’s the only time I’ve cried so much…” The hurricane has been the biggest thing he has ever seen in his life, likening it to an “animal.”

“I saw him, I cried, and I’m still crying. Thank God we are alive,” he said, adding that the community also “cried a lot; we cried all night.”

They did not wait for government aid to arrive. They themselves razed rubble and cleaned up the streets. They wiped their tears, joined forces, and went out to help the community and give encouragement to those who needed it.

The help of Puerto Rican artists and other organizations soon arrived. After three weeks, an electric brigade arrived to gave them back light, and as a token of gratitude, they made the workers a Puerto Rican dinner. 

Now more than a year after the passage of the hurricane, we visited the community. Lourdes, vice president of the La Perla Community Board, welcomed us with a warm smile. She was very enthusiastic in telling the stories that guard the walls that divide the neighborhood from the rest of the capital city.

She showed the Head Start building and proudly expressed that it was the first one that opened in Puerto Rico. The neighborhood has a medical facility, pharmacy, two community gardens, a bakery, bars, restaurants, an open-air free “bookstore,” and a boxing gym.

Sonia, who is passionate about reading, decided to share her books for the benefit of the community created the open-air bookstore.  “Those who read don’t steal and those who steal don’t read,” she said, pointing out that she doesn’t feel the need to be watching the area all of the time. With the sound of the waves and with the air in company, anyone is welcome to sit down enjoy reading. 

Don Tito, who lives in the eastern boundary of the neighborhood and has a striking panoramic view from where his second story once stood, was very moved by the visit of a group of workers who will be reconstructing his home thanks to Luis Fonsi, the “Despacito” singer.

The colorful community is unique: they emphasize unity, values, and humility. For years they have tried to eliminate the stigma of evil that surrounds them. La Perla is known as one of Puerto Rico’s “most dangerous” neighborhoods because of the high incidence of violent crimes in the 1960s and 1970s.

Yashira Gonzalez, president of the La Perla Community Board, assures that there is peace in the surrounding area and even the members of the community board offer tours to educate people and break stereotypes. “We are doing the tours in order to open the doors for people to come and get to know the community and see that it is not what is said…,” reaffirms the president.  

For this purpose, the project La Perla “Pinta Su Futuro” (The Pearl Paints Its Future) was also carried out, which sought to revive the infrastructure through painting. Artists from all over the world also use the walls as canvas to express their art. Residents welcome visitors with open arms and are not shy about starting a conversation and presenting their neighborhood with great pride.

In just minutes we gained the affection and respect of those who received us. Although they live marginalized, they maintain a humanitarian attitude and are very grateful for what they have. They still live in hope of recovering what was lost.

The Pearl of the North rises and with force. Hurricane Maria cleansed the stigma of evil and gave way for its true colors to shine.

There is no more mistrust or evil.

You feel an air that seasons your skin with the salt of the sea.

Poem: This is La Perla
Author: Paola Carrasquillo Arroyo

Red zone, violent, dangerous.
Tied to prejudices she says: “enough”.
says: “no more”.

How is it possible to find so much beauty in one place?

And it is that… the sea slides through your skin,
the wind caresses your lips,
the sunrise toasts your shoulders and the sunset paints your cheeks
but that’s not enough for me.

Your soul is a labyrinth,
I feel like I’m hallucinating.
because I get lost in your colors.

You are the neighborhood
inhabited by independent people.
Beings full of history, of life
who fight day by day for what they want together with smiles… difficult to forget.

Spirit of struggle,
Strong against the winds,
in the face of the hurricane,
in the face of injustice,
before whatever comes.

This is all you are,
this is you,
this is La Perla.

PUERTO RICO PHOTO CAMP

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You probably won’t want to live here…

1. City of Soleil, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

The «City of the Sun» (this is how the name of the district is translated) is located on the outskirts of the capital of Haiti, the city of Port-au -Prince. Most of the buildings are slums and huts; poverty reigns in Cité Soleil and crime flourishes. The streets are drowning in mountains of sewage and garbage, there is no sewerage here, so the area has long become a hotbed of dangerous diseases and viruses — the average life expectancy here does not exceed 50 years.

The police try not to show up in Cité Soleil, so drug dealers and kidnappers run the place. According to representatives of the Red Cross, the slums of the «City of the Sun» are the quintessence of all Haitian problems: rampant unemployment, low level of education, lack of public organizations and services, unsanitary conditions, rampant crime and armed violence — all this can be found in almost every corner of the archipelago , however, it is in one of the districts of the capital that it manifests itself most clearly.

In an attempt to restore order in the slums, the UN in 2004 decided to introduce a limited military contingent into the Cité Soleil territory, the peacekeepers managed to largely defuse the situation, but some problems remained. For some time, the UN maintained control over the area, but after the devastating earthquake of 2010, riots flared up with renewed vigor. Three thousand suicide bombers managed to escape on the sly from a prison located near Cité Soleil, and at present, gangs of armed scumbags continue to instill fear in the peaceful local population.

2. Favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio, located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, is incredibly beautiful. Thousands of tourists come here to admire the statue of Christ the Redeemer, take part in colorful carnivals and sunbathe on the beaches of Copacabana. However, the city has another face, almost unfamiliar to idle tourists who love the Brazilian sun and cool mojitos: on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro there are vast favelas — disadvantaged areas, consisting mainly of squalid shacks and shacks.

The notorious favela of Rocinha has long been a staging post for drug traffickers who bring cocaine to Europe, and the close cooperation between corrupt government and the underworld has led to gang leaders here feeling at ease, living in abundance and even luxury.

In the run-up to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the city authorities are doing their best to improve the situation in the favelas, and some positive changes have already taken place. One of the most notorious and famous drug lords in Rio until recently was Erismar Rodriguez Moreira, nicknamed Bem-Te-Vi (Bem-Te-Vi is an insectivorous bird found in Brazil). His accomplices committed many brutal murders, and Moreira’s group was also known for the fact that its members had a passion for gold-plated firearms. In 2005, the special services conducted a carefully designed operation to detain gang members, but as a result of the ensuing shootout, Moreira was killed.

3. Detroit, Michigan, USA

Once the hub of the United States auto industry, Detroit is going through hard times. It once bore the proud nickname of the «City of Motors», but now the streets and factories have fallen into disrepair: due to the reduction in production since 2000, about 25% of the population has left Detroit, many are selling their houses for pennies and leaving in search of a better life . Stray dogs breed in abandoned dwellings — this is one of the main problems of Detroit. Tens of thousands of dogs, most of which are pit bulls, roam the streets, threatening all living things.

On July 19, 2013, the Detroit administration declared the city bankrupt and $19 billion in debt. pay utility bills. According to the FBI and the US Department of Justice, three areas of Detroit are on the list of the most criminal areas in the country.

4. Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

The city, located in the northern part of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, has become a battleground between drug cartels and various criminal gangs in recent decades. In 2009, Ciudad Juarez came out on top in terms of the number of murders per capita — the level reached 130 violent deaths per 100,000 people. And this is only official statistics — in fact, there are a few more killed, since a significant part of them are buried in mass graves, and people are listed as missing.

Life in the city is especially dangerous for women: rape is quite common here, and in the last 20 years alone, hundreds of women have died in such incidents.

5. Medellin, Colombia

In the 1980s, during the cartels of Pablo Escobar and his units, Medellin was the most violent city in the world — human life here was a mere bargaining chip in the transactions of local «businessmen». In 1993, Escobar was killed while resisting the police, and the crime rate decreased slightly: if in 19In 1991, about 6,500 murders were registered, then in 2009, 2,899 people became victims of bandits.

Recently, due to hostility between two criminal groups, the situation in the city has deteriorated significantly. In addition to banal murders and robberies, other common «vacancies» at the local «labor exchange» are blackmail and kidnappings, which, however, do not differ too much in methods from the first and second. As a rule, the scheme is quite simple: a group of armed people simply surrounds the tourist and offers to go to the ATM to withdraw the ransom from the credit card, otherwise threatening to take the victim away in an unknown direction.

6. Brownsville Neighborhood, Brooklyn, USA

Brooklyn, like all of New York City, has some bad neighborhoods, but Brownsville stands out from the rest. Most of it consists of apartment buildings where people with a low level of income live. Due to the tense social environment in Brownsville, the crime rate is much higher than the average for the city.

Most of the crime in the area is related to the drug trade. Of course, Brownville is a lot quieter now than it was in 1980s and 1990s, however, many transport companies still send their cars here only accompanied by armed guards. Poverty and lack of work have led to the fact that some young people are forced to literally fight their way to success with their fists, it is no coincidence that many famous boxers grew up in Brownsville, including Mike Tyson.

7. La Perla District, San Juan, Puerto Rico

On the outskirts of the city of San Juan, now known as La Perla, once lived mainly butchers — there were slaughterhouses and butcher shops on every corner. Now the slums have been chosen by the South American mafia, which uses them as a transshipment base when sending contraband and drugs to the United States.

Despite the extreme poverty of the locals, La Perla is quite beautiful with its beaches, colorful houses and wonderful nature. In recent years, Puerto Rico’s drug cartels have become the object of close attention of law enforcement and intelligence agencies — every year there are hundreds of arrests of people involved in the drug business.

8. Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many fraternal republics had a hard time: production and the economy as a whole fell into decay, and in addition, many social contradictions aggravated. In some regions, tension has reached an extremely high level, such as, for example, in the Fergana Valley, which is located in three former socialist republics at once — Tajik, Uzbek and Kyrgyz.

The depression between two mountain ranges became a real cauldron in which several nationalities “boiled”, and each of them, after the collapse of the USSR, actively defended their rights, including by not the most legal means. The radical Islamic beliefs of some groups of the population and the sharp decline in living standards only added fuel to the fire: thousands of refugees fled from Ferghana, unable to find their place in the changed political and social circumstances.

Even 20 years later, the Fergana Valley remains a battlefield between ethnic groups and the authorities. For example, on May 13, 2005, according to official figures, 187 people died in clashes between law enforcement agencies and protesters against trials of members of criminal gangs. However, other sources report more than a thousand dead — presumably, many bodies were buried secretly to hide the true extent of the tragedy.

9. Kibera District, Nairobi, Kenya

Nairobi was founded by the British as the headquarters of the railway, and soon the city became one of the centers of the African continent and remains so to this day. Despite the large number of Europeans and tourists in Nairobi, in some areas it is better for whites, like local residents, not to appear, one of such criminal ghettos is Kibera.

The administration of Nairobi prefers not to interfere in the life of the inhabitants of the area, as a result of which Kibera has become a haven for various thugs and scammers, for example, electricity is not available to everyone, because attackers use most of it for their own purposes. There is no water supply and sewerage system, most of the water is contaminated with typhoid and cholera bacteria, and the toilets are pits that serve as latrines for hundreds of residents.

About half of the able-bodied inhabitants of Kibera are unemployed, many women try to earn a living through prostitution, even the growing number of sexual crimes does not stop them from year to year.

10. Kowloon Walled City, Hong Kong, China

Kowloon served as a military fort for the Chinese for many years, and at the end of the 19th century, when Hong Kong was rented by the British, the settlement became largely autonomous, the residents were actually granted the right to self-government. During the period of Japanese occupation of China, the population of the walled city increased significantly, and as of 19The 87th year was approximately 33 thousand people, despite the fact that they all lived on the territory of about 0.026 km².

For many years, Kowloon was the real headquarters of the Triad, the most powerful Chinese crime syndicate, but the authorities turned a blind eye to this, because from the existence of brothels, casinos and opium dens, not only Chinese mafiosi, but also corrupt officials.

In the early 1990s, China finally decided to tackle this problem in earnest: the inhabitants of Kowloon were relocated to more prosperous areas, the slums were razed to the ground, only a few historical buildings remained, and in 19In the 95th year, a park of the same name was opened on the site of Kowloon.

San Juan, Puerto Rico. Part 3.

Continued.
Starting here…
http://o-l-g-a-r-i. livejournal.com/4562.html

And here…
http://o-l-g-a-r-i.livejournal.com/9292.html

I really wanted to see in Puerto Rico — these are their Santos, wooden figurines of saints. Quite small, made in a rather primitive style, they sunk into my soul while still in Cuba. There I met them at once in several houses, in families where our driver and guide (and part-time friend) invited us.
I don’t even know if there are museums in Cuba that exhibit Santos, or is the fight against religion not allowed there? But I knew that they are in Puerto Rico, having read about it in the guidebook in advance).

On this island, Santos are even exhibited in several museums, but due to the fact that this time we were only in San Juan (of those cities where there are similar museums) and it was assumed that only a couple of days, therefore Museo de las Americas was the very first on our route!!!
What was my disappointment when on the first day we just poked our noses into the closed doors of the museum(((. .. Moreover, there were no sensible explanations about this — it was closed and that’s all. And the next day it turned out that the museum did not did not fit into our itinerary (due to too long shopping in the mall). Therefore, an unexpected and unforeseen delay due to non-flying weather in New York for almost two days did not cause me particularly negative emotions — “But I will get to the museum! Hooray!»))).

So. A few words about these same Santos.
It’s even hard to say why they interested me so much? To be honest, I don’t know myself… And in general, why do I, a completely unbeliever, like to go to churches in various countries so much, and why do I equally like to read the Koran and the Bible along with Zarathustra and «Satanic Verses»? Hmm… Maybe one of the anthropologists will answer?
Nevertheless…
Back to Santos))).
They looked so touching in simple Cuban houses, usually very poor, without any special decorations and frills. And they themselves are so unpretentious, to match everything around . .. I just fell in love with them))) …
In Puerto Rico, I saw them only in the museum, but they are the same as in Cuba. essentially the same). As is probably the case in many other places in Latin America. But Puerto Rico is especially famous for them.
The fact is that quite recently, several decades ago, there were only a few churches on the island, and it was quite problematic for many residents to get to them from remote villages. Therefore, people prayed at home, in front of the altar with small figures of saints, carved from wood by local craftsmen. Moreover, each family had figurines of their “favorite” saints. These painted wooden figurines asked for help, a miracle was expected from them.
By the way, in the wonderful Cuban film «Strawberry and Chocolate», the main character just constantly «communicates» with such a «santo», in a particular case — Virgin de la Caridad (very often found in Cuba).

Even the most «professional» Santos have a minimum of detail and are painted with only a few colors. This style could be called «primitive», but, to go into details, only one of the sub-styles is officially called so. However, IMHO, the other two styles — «colonial» and «autonomous» are not very different from it.
And one more detail — before the authors, as a rule, did not sign their works at all, and therefore it is quite difficult to classify them.
The most memorable of the images is the “Almighty (or Imperious?) Hand” — “La Mano Poderosa”, which very well represents the “mixture” of Catholic traditions brought by the Spaniards with West African and even Muslim ones. Here, on the one hand, the hand of Jesus, nailed to the cross, and on the other, the hand of Fatima …
On each finger of this hand are members of the holy family, which can vary (depending on personal preferences).

And other Santos.

And here, though not exactly Santos, but almost))) — the image of the Holy Virgin of Guadeloupe. Very popular in the Caribbean and, it seems, in general throughout Latin America.

The museum and the exhibition with Santos are full of many interesting things! I personally could easily spend the whole day there, which I simply did not have for this museum, alas, I will have to, apparently, somehow return there soon.
Some photos from there.

photography, alas, I will not learn how to photograph objects after glass, almost everything turned out to be “blurry” ((…
The museum is located in this building

And next to it

And continue to San Juan.

One of the «attractions» of the city is the area of ​​La Perla. A poor and criminal area of ​​the city, where it is better not to meddle even during the day. So it is written in the guidebook and I did not have enough sense of adventurism to check it myself.
La Perla is located just behind a rather beautiful cemetery — Cemetery of St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzis.

These photos were taken from the bus window, although I don’t think that it’s so dangerous just to pass by, although I read that if you take pictures there, you can get hit in the forehead (I don’t know with a stone or a bullet), in short, better don’t try…

La Perla is considered «the most beautiful slump in the world»…
Why not? From there, just a wonderful view of both the sea and the fortress))).
Oscar Lewis described life in the area in a very colorful way (which many Puerto Ricans can’t forgive him for) — specifically about a woman, the leader of a matriarchal family, living in La Perla with her 6 — yes, six!!! husbands! How!

Puerto Rican women in general must be said separately.
Despite the fact that the Caribbean-Indian culture was mainly patriarchal, nevertheless, scientists find evidence of traces and matriarchal societies. This is especially true for Puerto Rico. Historians describe cases of attacks on the Spanish conquistadors by entire detachments of women. Having settled on the island, the Spaniards told that in a place near the river Rio Grande there was a settlement with a woman — the leader, whom the Spaniards called Louise. In the town of Hayamano, considered one of the most «spiritual», the main «spirit» was called the «mother god» — the goddess of water, winds and earth. In this area, women played a major role in society. Moreover, at the birth of a child, a man was also obliged to ritually depict pain and suffering … The Spaniards were simply shocked by this state of affairs! The Spanish priest of that time noted with horror that women “behave as they want and do what they please”)))…

This distribution of roles is noticeable even today!!!
In the 20th century, many women held high positions in government, as well as in such sectors as medicine, jurisprudence and politics.
The mayor of San Juan from 1946 to 1968 was the much loved by the people Felisa Rincon de Gautier, the speaker of The House of Representatives is another woman — Cucusa Hernandes, not to mention the current mayor of the capital — Sila Calderon.

Let’s get back to the sights)))…
Near La Perla there is another similar «attraction» — this is «The house that Crack Built», at the intersection of Tanca and San Sebastian streets and the alley next to Calle Norzagaray.
Drug dealers and homeless people have taken over an abandoned house on the corner and settled there. For several years they decorated the outer wall of the house with children’s toys. Then other residents began to add their toys)))…
I saw from photographs from earlier reports — a couple of years ago and earlier, how great this house looked, but alas, alas … It apparently annoyed the eye of the police and its they just took it down.
Here’s what’s left(((…

And move on…

This is a monument to Columbus.

Nearby.

And here, on the square, I got into a conversation with a very patriotic bum))). He not only patiently listened to my “bleating” in Spanish, but also corrected in places and praised us, and gave us a lot of different tips on the topic “what else to see in the city”, which, by the way, were very useful.

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