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Reassurance or warning....which do I need?

Virginia
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Reassurance or warning....which do I need?

I am considering an August trip to PR with my family of 5 (includes 3 boys ages 13, 11 & 8). We live in DC metro where someone gets murdered just about every day, so we are not necessarily freaked out about that. We are seasoned travelers so I understand the usual risk with travel and the common sense things to do and not do to stay as safe as possible.

However, in my research I am coming across information that gives me pause. To read information like "Puerto Rico is in a complete social and economic meltdown, 17% unemployment, the worst economic growth in the world (- 5%) and the highest murder rate per capita in the Caribbean" is a bit disturbing. Mind you, we have been to Jamaica and went all over the island, including some places we would not have gone had the kids been along. A young Jamaican man once told us "we might kill each other, but we know who butters our bread and we don't kill tourists"....pretty funny, but probably pretty true.

So be honest, is a trip to PR risky? We are looking at staying in the Porta del Sol area as well as the east region or perhaps Vieques or Culebra. Probably only the night before departure in San Juan or Carolina area.

Thoughts? thanks!!!

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San Juan
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1. Re: Reassurance or warning....which do I need?

You do not have to be afraid to enjoy our island. As the Jamaican said, tourists are not the crime targets in PR either. All you need to be ok is to use your street savy skills.

The economic and social problems in PR are not different to those of the rest of the world, US included. Like them, the island is struggling with the economic crunch and all the problems it brings along, but the island still has its good people working hard to make things better.

I'm sure you know it's a matter of opinions... some people might see their cup half empty while others see the same cup half full.

El Yunque National...
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2. Re: Reassurance or warning....which do I need?

Don't worry. PR is no different than your home.

Times are tough and social values are being lost, but that is true just about everywhere.

The majority of the murder rate is drug gang/drug gang violence.

I go all over PR and love exploring. It has its problems, but it is still a wonderful place to visit. Don't worry, just use common sense.

King of Prussia...
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3. Re: Reassurance or warning....which do I need?

I was born and raised in PR, and love my island dearly; but I will give you a very objective and honest perspective: a trip to PR is just as risky as it is to go in and out of your own home. There is crime in PR, yes. But it's mostly drug related. If you stay away from suspicious activities, and non-touristic/non-recommend areas, and you exercise the same safety precautions you would exercise in any other unfamiliar area, you will be perfectly fine.

Armonk, New York
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4. Re: Reassurance or warning....which do I need?

While good crime rate stats are hard to come by in the Caribbean, one recent report pegged the murder rate in PR at 19 / 100,000 which is just below the average in Washington DC. As a DC area resident, I suspect you have no fear of going into Georgetown for the afternoon and would have the good sense not to go get drunk in Anacostia at 2 in the morning.

The same logic applies in PR. We have been traveling to PR regularly over the last 5 years. The locals are very sensitive to crime and will quickly advise you where not to go. We have never felt threatened and we have found a very healthy police presence anywhere there is a festival or gathering (which is all the time). Our comfort level has been high enough to have recently bought a second home in PR - one that is not in a resort or gated community. We have also traveled to Jamaca - there is no comparison between PR and Jamaca on safety.

By the way, that economic recession in PR (like many other places) has resulted in great deals and more availability at good places. This of course will be self correcting as more good people come in to snap up those deals. Take advantage while you can. The people in PR will be more than welcoming.

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5. Re: Reassurance or warning....which do I need?

im just curious, where are those stats coming from? have you gotten several sets of stats that concur?

look into going to Vieques while you are in P.R.

Atlanta, Georgia
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6. Re: Reassurance or warning....which do I need?

As a former resident of Virginia, and commuted in DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia often, I can tell you that those stats does not compared to Porta del Sol, not Vieques, and definitelly not Culebra. High porcentage of those rates come from the metro area such as Rio Piedras distric and sourounding municipalities. It has happening in Porta del Sol municipalities, but IMO not compared to DC in general. There is a local newspaper that tracks those statistics as for 2011. I think is Primera Hora. The other previous posters asserted well local crime in general. I'm going soon, and not afraid, but off course, will take preventive measures.

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7. Re: Reassurance or warning....which do I need?

frankipoo, these are printed constantly in our press but rarely that info goes outside our borders (why? that is another story)

the economic growth stats are here published by The Economist (US Factbook places in worse shape at -5% ) : economist.com/blogs/…

the latest unemployment numbers, 16.9% (see link below) unemployment here compared to our surrounding countries (Costa Rica 7%, Venezuela 8%, Panama 7%, Uruguay 5%, Argentina 7%, Chile 6 or 7%.....) is i think the highest in Latin America right now or one of the highest.

primerahora.com/aumentaeldesempleo-387564.ht…

and crime, i talked about this in another thread with reference too and we are either #1 or coming close, i have seen numbers comparing Mexico with Puerto Rico and we are higher per capita than Mexico right now, remember we only have 4 million and Mexico has over 100,000 million people in a territory that is over 30 times bigger than our island.

and yes it is true what boricua one says, most of the crime is happening in the metro area, the west coast is still as peaceful a place like Costa Rica.

Edited: 01 May 2011, 00:58
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Florida
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8. Re: Reassurance or warning....which do I need?

Most of the statistical figures are skewed in the wrong direction by the metropolitan area, and realistically most of the stretch from the metro area all the way to Fajardo. But I feel that even in that area, as long as you use proper judgement, and are not involved in the drug/gang scene, you will most likely be fine. Once you get out of that area the stats are very different, and much safer, obviously with a higher risk in the bigger cities. Porta Del Sol is way on the other side, and very easy going and relaxed. You can even fly into the Aguadilla International Airport and avoid the metro area entirely, if you want. I would not recommend this, because there is a lot to see and experience in the northeast of Puerto Rico.

You get a confident REASSURANCE from me.

Edited: 01 May 2011, 10:50
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9. Re: Reassurance or warning....which do I need?

REASSURANCE from me as well. I have been a number of times and honestly felt completely comfortable at all times except once when driving through Loiza...and there really isn't any reason to drive through Loiza...I was just taking the smaller roads from Luquillo to Pinones before a knew that Loiza was a little dicey.

I have taken my children (similar ages to your) twice and pretty much explored the entire Northeast, North and Northwest coast as well as OSJ. Plenty of activities for the kids plus they get exposed to a wonderful culture and interesting foods (including eating at little roadside restaurants and food trucks).

Luquillo is still a favorite area to base out of but the West coast is wonderful as well.

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10. Re: Reassurance or warning....which do I need?

Seemingly alarming stats or not, the tourists keep returning to PR and it hasnt been placed on a banned list, so it cant be as bad as the stats are actually claiming.

As with anything, just practice common safety practices which being from a metro area sounds like you are already practice.

Go to the island and enjoy it. Maybe you'll feel more relaxed once you arrive and see how sweet the majority of the locals are.