I posted here a while ago...
Peter and Katharina are still missing!
We have updated the website today, please take a look (both for maybe helpig us and as a warning) :
After weeks of increasingly desperate waiting for a word of my brother Peter and Katharina, we still have not heard anything from them. We quite certainly know they have been victims of a tourist scam, undertaken by a gang of people who seem to run this as a business. We also have received many replies from people who told us that the same happened to them and some of them even recognized members of the gang from pictures. Please have a look at the site, where a picture of the head of that gang (Ramiro Milán Fernández) of false policemen can be found...
Please let us know if you know anything that can help us to find out about the whereabouts of Peter and Katharina, and/or the whereabouts of Milán. Thank you all!!!
Katrin (sister of Peter)
Peter y Katharina todavia se encuentran desaparecidos!
Por favor, eche un vistazo a la pagina web, en que pueda encontrar mas detalles sobre la desaparecion de Peter y Katharina.
Despues de esas muchas semanas, esperando, sin noticias de Peter y Katharina y sin ni demanda de una rescate o algo parecido, hemos decidido que les preguntamos si conocen a la persona que si puede ver en la nueva version de la pagina web, quien es la cabecilla de la banda de falsos policias/ secuestradores; se llama Ramiro Milán Fernández.
Por favor, si sabe algo sobre el paradero de Peter y Katharina, o de Milán contactenos! Muchas gracias a todos!!
Katrin (hermana de Peter)
Hoping they are soon found..alive and well. This type of scam has been operating in Latin America for many years, many of the criminals are ex-police/security forces or ex-military, who use their own uniforms, weapons and identification, in some areas they work in collusion with active police officals. Last year in Guatemala, specifically between the El Salvdor-Guatemala border post of Las Chinamas to the outskirts of Guatemala City, some 100 km., hundreds of El Salvadorians, business and pleasure travelers to Guatemala, some friends of mine included and several dozen foreign travelers were assualted by armed gangs in both buses and private vehicles, finally public outrage forced a cleanup of the Guatemalan National Civilian Police Force (PNC), with hundreds being fired for being involved directly or indirectly in the robberies and as a result a bi lateral international police force has been formed for El Salvador and Guatemala and robberies between the border and Guatemala City are now rare. For years when I lived in Guatemala I heard of travelers being "arrested" by phony police..once I was accosted on the street by them in Guatemala, however speaking Spanish and myself being a legal resident and knowing 'what to say' put them off, however most travelers are intimidated, especially when contraband such as guns or drugs appear (years ago in Lake Atitlan in Guatemala those arrested for drugs were kept in the main jail until $5,000 'bail' was sent or given to the Judge, tehn the accused were free to go, without their passport, usually to the Mexican Border and then to contact their Embassy in Mexico, no one returned for 'trial'. Be extremly careful when arriving in any large Latin American City by first class buses used by tourists, avoid sharing your itinerary and travel plans with overly friendly individuals, especially those that speak English and a bit of other European languages, at Bus Stations and Stops. Avoid individuals that want to take you to a "good hotel" and avoid arriving in the night hours if possible, recently an Israeli friend, resident of Bolivia working in Peru, fluent in Spanish, took the bus from Lima to Cuzco to meet his associates there who met him at the bus station around 8PM, within seconds they were assualted and the Israeli friend of mine wound up in jail himself for several hours as he had defended himself and injured one assilant (who probably never will have choldren again)with locals testifying against him, however they found the 'poor assilant' in a local clinic and all was sorted out.
98-99% of travelers in Latin America will experience no problems, however it is always best to use common sense, travel on buses that will arrive by day if possible and to have a hotel or hostel reservation or a contact or friend in each major city or tourist destination if possible. I always recommend the two international hospitality clubs, non profit organizations, travelers helping travelers, where one is able to contact in advance members all over the globe and be met at the bus station by a local instead of a taxi, and staying at a private home in a nice area instead of a hostel in teh center of the city. Recently 2 friends, one from Germany, the other from Israel, cam to visit us in El Salvador and they were met by a native member and took a cab to his home for a great home cooked meal! Message me for more info.
If travelling alone and you don't speak Spanish try to find a travel companion or companions who do, especially if you are a woman.
Finally, if you are lost, don't act like it..find an offical, or go into a store or an office, off the street and ask directions..often in Latin America you'll find many people willing to go out of their way to help you..99%+ of the crime here is native on native and often locals can be far more cautious than travelers.
My condolence to their families..
Beerman and I also send our condolences to the families of these two travelers. We are sorry for your loss.
That was one of the worst things I ever seen in my life. I work with tourism, i know how people fells, how they arrive here happy, ready to have a good time in or contry... It hard to believe that there are people like this bolivian, killing those young hearts just for some money.
my condolences to the family
I have just returned from Bolivia- was a bit apprehensive about going but glad i did, in fact, i wish Id stayed longer and seen more.
I really feel sorry for the people of Bolivia who are also suffering because of the deaths and disappearances of tourists. This is a very poor country and they are desperate for the tourist dollar. They are generally very beautiful people and would do anything for you. They have so much to offer the traveller and want you to enjoy their country.
Those Bolivians that know about the problems are embarrassed and ashamed. They apologise for what is not their fault. And they do whatever they can to make you feel safe and happy there.
There are tourist police everywhere in La Paz. Almost every street corner. The hotels/ hostels etc give you explicit maps of where to go and stay. They phone for taxis for you and organise the fare etc. The manager of my hotel offered to walk me to an internet cafe one night as it was dark and i was alone, then realised it was some distance and i would be coming home alone so offered me to use his in his office for as long as i liked. It wasnt so unsafe but he was being extra vigilant, as they are all being now. The tourist industry cant afford any more horrid incidences.
So if u are thinking of going... I say... Dont miss it!!! Its wonderful, go to La PAz, go to Uyuni, go to the jungle!!!
Just read up a bit about the sort of basic precautions u need to take and ask someone to organise taxis for you and dont share a taxi with a stranger.
Dont let those animals ruin the budding tourist trade in this poor country or let u miss out on a wonderful experience!