The Tourism Board for Puerto Vallarta and the LGBT Business & Tourism Association of Puerto Vallarta released a lengthy statement today about this weekend’s attack on a gay man and his husband.
Two men were holding hands walking home from a nightclub in Puerto Vallarta when another man yelled at the couple and then pulled out a gun and shot at them.
These two men – Carl Blea and Mark Lange – are real estate professionals from Palm Springs, California, who also own a condo in Puerto Vallarta, and they say they never said a word to this man as they were walking.
Puerto Vallarta is saying this shooting was the result of a botched robbery, but Blea and Lange say the shooter never demanded anything such as money from them, and it was clearly a hate crime.
Puerto Vallarta Tourism benefits greatly from the queer dollar and is now trying to stop any potential damage to its image as a safe gay destination.
The Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board and the LGBT Business & Tourism Association said in a statement, “We stand in solidarity with the members of our local LGBT community and condemn any acts of crime.”
Javier Aranda Pedrero, Director of the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board, said, “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.” He added, “These types of incidents are rare and extremely isolated.”
Puerto Vallarta is the only destination that has an LGBT Tourism center offering members of the LGBTQ community direct assistance while visiting. It is estimated that, in general, about 20% of visitors to Puerto Vallarta, specifically in the city’s Romantic Zone, are part of the LGBTQ community. Last year, more than 17,000 LGBTQ international visitors came to Puerto Vallarta for the Vallarta Pride event alone.
Armando Sánchez, President of the LGBT Business & Tourism Association of Puerto Vallarta (ACT LGBT A.C.), said: “We believe this is a random and isolated incident, and definitely not part of the daily life in Puerto Vallarta. 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.”
Blea, a military veteran, was hit in the thigh and is still unable to walk. Both he and Lange are returning to recuperate in the United States.