The Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board and LGBT Business and Tourism Association of Puerto Vallarta have released a joint statement in the wake of the shooting of gay Palm Springs realtor Carl Blea.
Blea and his husband Marc Lange were walking through a park after a night of dancing when they were shot by a man.
Blea has complained that the media has described it as a robbery and described it instead as a hate crime because of their interaction with the shooter.
Wrote Lange on Facebook: “This was not a robbery went bad. It was a hate crime as Carl Blea and I were walking hand in hand. We never spoke to the man who shot us. He yelled at us and then pulled out a gun and shot at us.
Here’s the joint Board statement:
The sympathies of the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board and our tourism industry go out to Mr. Carl Blea and Mr. Marc Lange and their families. We stand in solidarity with the members of our local LGBT community and condemn any acts of crime.
“As a community, we take all incidents involving visitors very seriously and we have all been taken by surprise by this incident as it is not normal in Puerto Vallarta,” said Javier Aranda Pedrero, director of the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board. “We, along with the police, and authorities across local, state and federal government have been monitoring this situation along with the LGBT associations and leaders of the destination.”
Puerto Vallarta remains one of the safest destinations for the LGBTQ visitors, not only in Mexico but on an international level. These types of incidents are rare and extremely isolated. Last year, more than 17,000 LGBTQ international visitors came to Puerto Vallarta for Vallarta Pride alone, without incident. It is estimated that, in general, about 20 percent of visitors to Puerto Vallarta, specifically in the city’s Romantic Zone, are part of the LGBTQ community and safely enjoy the destination, again without any incident.
Puerto Vallarta is a welcoming and friendly city. Authorities in Puerto Vallarta, including the PVTB, the mayor’s office and the police, work closely with the destination’s ACT association as well as Vallarta Pride, meetings with its directors on a continuous basis to get feedback and obtain sensitivity training. Last year, one of the most celebrated acts of Vallarta Pride was when the entire police department stepped into the street and marched in the destination’s Pride Parade to show their support and solidarity with the LGBTQ community. Puerto Vallarta is also the only destination that has an LGBT Tourism center offering members of the LGBTQ community direct assistance while visiting our city.
“As president of the LGBT Business & Tourism Association of Puerto Vallarta (Act LGBT A.C.) and on behalf of the board, our members and the LGBT community of Puerto Vallarta we deeply regret what Carl Blea and Marc Lange experienced this weekend and we hope for a speedy recovery. We believe this is a random and isolated incident, and definitely not part of the daily life in Puerto Vallarta,” said Armando Sánchez, president of ACT LGBT A.C. “When we learned of the incident we made sure that Carl and Marc were taken care of, and we worked behind the scenes to ensure that the proper procedures were conducted in accordance with Mexican law. We also reached out to Mark and Carl to offer them our support and assistance on behalf of the different local LGBT associations and organizations.
“Our sympathies are with Carl Blea and Marc Lange, and we hope they will continue to return to Puerto Vallarta and rest assured we are always working with the authorities to make our home always a better place. I’ve lived here for almost 20 years, and it’s always been a very safe destination, and we will strive day-to-day to keep it that way.”
The city of Puerto Vallarta and the state and federal governments are fully committed to ensuring that Puerto Vallarta in a safe and welcoming destination to all its visitors. The Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board will continue to encourage all visitors to feel welcome to this extraordinary Mexican destination.