World & Peoples

Where Is Natalee Holloway? Natalee Holloway Lawsuit Dismissed

A siren blares and whistle-blowing waiters race in to the “Mexican Hat Dance.” It’s time for the hourly tequila attack at the Carlos ’n Charlie’s on this Caribbean Sea island.

The target is an inebriated female with seven gal-pals. The waiters crown her with a sombrero, toss a serape over her shoulders and pour a stream of golden liquid into her mouth — turned up like a baby bird’s.

Liquor-plying mission accomplished, a disc jockey swaps the peppy Mexican melody for T-Spoon’s “Sex on the Beach.”
Where Is Natalee Holloway? Natalee Holloway Lawsuit DismissedAlcoholic excess and abandon are back in vogue at the cantina, where a pretty blonde teenager from Alabama named Natalee Holloway was last seen by her high school classmates — drunk and supine on the bar as a boy slurped Jell-O shots from her navel.

Two years later, the mystery of the missing American girl lingers. No body has been found, no evidence of a crime has been uncovered, and the 18-year-old’s disappearance is close to being labeled a cold case.

The trajectory of the case mirrors the increasingly bitter relations between Holloway’s parents and the people of Aruba, arcing downward from the moment two years ago when islanders took the tragedy to heart and joined in the hunt by the thousands to today, when locals mutter over American media distortions and “missing white woman syndrome.”

Holloway’s parents — and the cable TV crime analysts who followed their plight for months — have cast affluent Aruba as a dangerous den of iniquity, its police force as inept bunglers and its government and people as co-conspirators in covering up what happened to the partying teen.

Although they have recovered from the initial economic fallout, Arubans say the accusatory free-for-all was a blast-force end of innocence — danger could indeed lurk on sugar-white beaches.

Yes, it was a blow to their livelihoods, as U.S. visits fell 7 percent last year, but more painfully, Arubans say, it was a wound to the heart for all who had joined prayer vigils and searches in the most thorough hunt ever mounted on their island.

“Last year was a tragedy for us. Many people’s businesses were ruined. But what hurt the most was what they were saying about us on TV,” said restaurant manager Edwin Trimon, a fixture in the Aruban tourism industry “since there was just one hotel on the island.”

Marcelino Maduro, who has had a taxi service for 17 years, angrily defends his island nation: “The truth is, Aruba is safe. We don’t have people begging. There’s no bad neighborhood where a tourist feels he could be in trouble. We were all shocked when whatever happened to this girl happened.”

In the first days after Holloway went missing, with rumor and speculation steering the search, hundreds of tourists joined Aruban police and U.S. private investigators in combing the island’s beaches, coral outcroppings and cactus-studded fields. The Aruba government gave thousands of civil servants a day off to join the hunt.

A pond was drained near the Marriott, where Holloway was reported to have gone after she left Carlos ’n Charlie’s with three locals. North shore sand dunes were scoured. F-16s flew in from the Netherlands to infrared-scan the entire island for signs of freshly turned earth.

No trace of Natalee Holloway was ever found. Now, the period defined by Dutch jurisprudence for bringing suspects to trial is about to expire.

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