The tourism board for Puerto Vallarta and the LGBT Business & Tourism Association of Puerto Vallarta released a lengthy statement about this weekend's attack on a gay man and his husband.
Carl Blea and Mark Lange — Palm Springs, Calif., realt estate professionals who own a condominium in Puerto Vallarta — were walking home from a nightclub early Sunday. A man yelled at the couple, who were holding hands, and then shot at them. Blea, a military veteran, was hit in the thigh and is still unable to walk; he and Lange are on their way back to the United States to recuperate.
The couple say Puerto Vallarta media and authorities portrayed the shooting as a robbery gone wrong, but the men say it was a clear hate crime. The shooter, who got away, never approached the men or demanded money.
"We never uttered a word to (the gunman)," Lange told the Desert Sun.
In light of the incident, Puerto Vallarta tourism officials — who rely heavily on the queer dollar — released the following statement. From the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board and the LGBT Business & Tourism Association of Puerto Vallarta:
"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.
The Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board takes all incidents involving visitors very seriously. We have been monitoring this situation and have been in contact with local police and authorities at every level of government in the state of Jalisco since the incident was reported by local media. We stand in solidarity with the members of our local LGBT community and condemn any acts of crime.
It is our understanding that bilingual personnel from the city of Puerto Vallarta were made available to the victims, and a legal claim was filed on Monday, March 26 in accordance with Mexican law. This will allow local police to investigate the incident.
Puerto Vallarta remains one of the safest destinations for the LGBTQ visitor, 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% of visitors to PuertoVallarta, 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 Vallartais 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’s 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 Sanchez, President of ACT LGBT. “When we learned of the incident we made sure that Carl & Marc [sic] we worked behind the scenes to ensure they were taken care of and ensured 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.”