Am I going to be safe ? Am I going to be robbed ? Are there police to protect me ?
More than ever, these questions are on the minds of tourists thinking of traveling to Ecuador. The country's economy has been on a downward path and, with the current socialist government policies, shows no signs that this trend will change. With increasing poverty there are more property crimes; - more pick pockets, more robberies on the streets and break and enters into homes. Kidnapping for ransom by petty criminals has also increased.
On 30 September 2010, some elements of police and military exhibited their extreme frustration at government policies affecting them. The President of Ecuador claims that he was held hostage and that there was an attempted coup to replace his government. The opposition claims that the events of that day were simply serious acts of insubordinate rebellion, indicative of feeling unfairly treated.
Should tourists be afraid ? Clearly, tourists and local residents, should constantly be aware of their environment and behave accordingly. In an earlier post I pointed out that there are dangerous areas in almost every country in the world. I don't want to downplay the risks; but, those of us in the West often see the dangers in developing countries and ignore that facts of our home countries. Always know where you are and how to respond. Where-ever you are your hosts will want to ensure that you enjoy your stay and will provide the necessary guidance. Be sure to ask.
In a country where it seems that armed security guards are everywhere in the city, this seems more true in tourist areas. In Quito, national and city police saturate areas of interest to tourists. The photo at left is of police being deployed at one central tourist plaza in the city. Intense police presence is replicated throughout the downtown area. In Carolina Park, a major, 67 hectore attraction for visitors and residents alike, having a large botanical garden, reptile house and abundance of outdoor sports facilities, there are 30 national police officers deployed every day. They patrol on foot, horse, motorcycle and bicycle. Sometimes they also have dogs.
Throughout Quito, police are highly aware of the importance of tourism and can be relied upon to do their utmost to meet the needs of each and every visitor. While there is progress yet to be made, The Tourism Unit of the Metropolitan ( City ) Police, has instituted English language training for its officers to emphasize its commitment to service. They are proud to have received the International Certification of Quality for Tourist Security (Certificacion International de Calidad "Qualitour" en Seguridad Turistico )
Ecuador is a cornucopia of riches for tourists interested in beautiful scenery, historic places, diverse and colorful cultures and a welcome mat set out for you. Be street wise and come for a visit.
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