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Vilcabamba, Ecuador: Tourist Brutally Beaten, Robbed on popular hiking trail

To many who have heard of Vilcabamba, Ecuador it is known as the “Valley of Longevity. However, to some expats from the U.S. and Canada, that are willing to talk, it also is known to have a dark side which is not often revealed to the outside world from this tiny hamlet in the Andes. Unfortunately, safety and security is on the mind of some who live there as crime against tourists and expats seems to be reaching untenable levels. It is also on the minds of some who visit who find themselves as targeted victims. This is the situation for a 31 year old woman who has been visiting Ecuador and decided to take a hike in one of the most picturesque locales in Ecuador whose promotional motto is “All You Need is Ecuador”. However, Andrea Carenzo, the tourist pulverized by two assailants earlier in December, 2017, may not have the warm fuzzy feelings that Ecuador’s marketing program slogan congers up. This is especially so as she attempts to maneuver the maze of prosecutors and authorities in hopes of seeking some measure of justice. She has now taken to social media in hopes of having her story known and that an effort will be made in apprehending the two thugs who assaulted her.


Machine translated post from Facebook of her cry for assistance.

I’m reposting this from Vilcabamba Boletin (was only in Spanish) and adding English translation first because everyone needs to be aware of this, and something needs to be done!! Everyone should be in outrage, letters written to officials, the local police not allowed to protect these criminals (a comment on the boletin thread claims that the 2 assailants play volleyball with the police…). It is a really a travesty.

“Hello how are you?
My name is Andrea Carenzo, I’m Argentina and I’m 30 years old. I am writing this to tell you that on Thursday 7/12/2017 I was born again; After that, around 1:00 p.m., two assailants attacked me violently in the viewpoint of Cerro Mandango.

Why do I tell you this? Because I believe it is the responsibility of all the inhabitants of Vilcabamba, as a community, to help prevent these things from happening. When the police found me brutally beaten on the hill, the first thing they said to me was how could you go up by yourself? It’s dangerous! And upon arriving at the hospital, guess … The doctors and nurses repeated the phrase. Later, when I went to “lunch”, the owner of the place again said “How did you go up alone? Did not anyone tell you it’s dangerous? “… It was already beginning to sound like a mantra …

No, nobody told me it was dangerous. The person from the tourist information office who should have told me, with whom I spoke before going up to Mandango, forgot this little detail. Today I am alive because God is great, and evidently it was not my time. But those two garbage (guys), who must be between 18 and 20 years old, threw me down the ravine, they gagged me, they stabbed me and they brutally beat me on the side of the right eye. They fled like rats (with the forgiveness of the poor rats) leaving me lying, and fleeing even with my water, which I asked in vain for mercy to leave me.

My boyfriend went up to that place a few days ago, to see if he could find my sunglasses, which flew off in the first fall. Luckily he found them lying among the weeds of the ravine and he is impressed, he can not understand how I survived two falls through that ravine and I managed to get out without any help … and without any fracture.

Today I have my left knee injured, my two ankles sprained, my right eye swollen and with a significant discharge/leaking, using two different drops to heal it, cuts and blows all over my body and trying to get public health to take care of me. do an ultrasound on the right arm and another on the right leg, because today, 13 days later, I still have a lot of pain.

It is very sad and ironic, that having arrived at the viewpoint, I felt completely happy, I felt at the top of the world, proud of myself, happy to see where I had come from and eager to enjoy the beautiful scenery and be able to take photos … And a minute later my life would be at stake, in the hands of those two criminals and their knives.

I am convinced that if as a society they do not denounce these criminals and manage to put them behind bars, the only thing that will happen is that they will become increasingly violent and they will have another case like Montanita’s in their hands … I hope they do not arrive never that moment.
What I lived, I do not wish it to anyone, and I am going to take charge of spreading the news internationally, so that all tourists who arrive take extreme precautions when climbing that hill.

They robbed me much more than material things … They robbed me of a dream, they robbed me of my work tools, they fled with much more than something material that they sell to continue being drugged … They fled with the possibility of completing my trip fulfilling my dream … I am a photographer , but can you be a photographer without having a camera with which to take pictures?

This year I was specifying two dreams that went hand in hand: traveling through America and photographing its scenic, gastronomic and cultural beauties … And today I cry to think that I will not be able to capture the landscapes of Peru, Bolivia, Chile and my beloved Argentina, all because two garbage were made with what is not theirs. My family and friends encourage me to realize my dream, not to abandon my trip, to continue touring the countries that remain before coming back to my land, but the truth is that half the time I do not want to do it, I am extremely sad and anguished , angry that nobody does anything, angry because they took part of my dream.

If you have read this far, I ask you from the depths of my being: PLEASE do not allow this to happen to anyone else, organize daily departures, demand security on the hill, warn tourists of the dangers … It is not the first time it happens, now I know, but it was one of the most or the most violent so far, and this will only get worse, do not let anyone, especially any woman, especially if you are a tourist, go up alone. PLEASE! And report. Denounce and denounce to exhaustion, do not let these children dominate them, they are not strong, they are not armed, they are not afraid of them. The solution is in your hands.
Thanks for your time. From Facebook re posted on Ecuador Emergency
My name is Andrea Carenzo, I’m from Argentina and today I’m turning 31 years old, and 19 days ago I thought I would not live to tell …
This is my story, I will try to be brief and not go into so much detail, so that you do not get bored of reading. I share it because I want this to happen to no one else, and because, obviously, I want justice done.
On Thursday 07/12/2017, in the town of Vilcabamba, province of Loja, south of Ecuador, I climbed alone to Mount Mandango. Upon reaching the viewpoint, I met two young people, who attacked me from behind. One of them put a blade in my neck and covered my nose and mouth with the cry of “Give me the backpack because I kill you, daughter of put # !!!”. The second accompanied by threatening me with another blade.

Struggling with the one who subjected me and muzzled me, because I could not breathe and trying to get out of my way to do it, I fell to the floor, staying on the edge of the ravine.
At that moment they threw me back on top, beginning to gag me again and preventing me from breathing and moving. One of them shouted “You want to die, daughter of put # ?! I’m going to throw you down the ravine! Do you want to fall ?! ”
I could not move to give them the backpack or do anything, because they subjected me, and it was there that they complied with their threats and threw me down the ravine.
I hit my head squarely against the floor and my neck bent in a way that I thought I could not survive, supporting all the weight of my body and backpack, which went over my head. But yes, I did, and I thought “this is a nightmare.”

When I stopped falling, I got up and started running, playing the whistle in my backpack and asking for help. While running (remember that this was a very steep ravine) I fell, and started to roll and skate.
The criminals reached me in less than 5 seconds, they grabbed me, they crushed me violently against the floor, one of them stabbed me 8 times, thank God that blade had no edge and left me no more than marks, but, surely today I would not be celebrating my birthday … They subjected me by pressing my chest, my right leg, my arms and my head against the ground, again gagging me, preventing me from breathing or speaking, and hitting more than 6 pineapples in my face (on the 6th stop of counting and I began to ask God that if they were going to rape me, they would kill me).

One of them released my arm to remove the knife from the hand that hit me, and in that moment of “distraction” I could squeeze the testicles to one, with all the strength I found, but did not know … they would be very drugged or I had no more strength. But the other also “distracted” for a moment, and I bit his hand very hard, making me release, and so I could breathe and talk.
I shouted “I have my backpack tied! It is tied children of put # !!! “, was what at the time I came to see if that way I understood that if they did not release me I had no way to give them what they asked for … Understand that they had me face up flat against the floor , hanging from a ravine and lying on the backpack.

With my cry they looked at what had to be done. They managed to release the straps that adjusted the backpack to my chest and waist and fled with the booty in less than a second, ignoring my request for mercy that even if they let me have the water …

I spent about half an hour trying to get out of the ravine, because each step I took was two steps back. Thousands of things crossed my mind, but I did not allow myself to feel pain or fatigue, and I managed to get out. I returned to the path and within a few minutes of going down I found a couple who called my boyfriend and the police. The police arrived when I was 10 or 20 minutes from the beginning of the road and they took me to the hospital urgently.

Thank God they did not rape me and they did not break any bones, but the result was an eye with a spill and a severe inflammation, two sprained ankles, a strong injury in the right leg and another in the right arm, two cuts and two stitches given by the knives, in both arms, the treatment: many anti-inflammatories, eye drops and ice.

The same day an employee of the Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador contacted me, offering help to recover my passport, something that had not been stolen, and asking me that this did not reach the media. He also recommended me to make the complaint through the website of the Attorney General of the State, which I did that same Thursday night.

Saturday morning I had to go to report again, in person, to the Attorney General of the State in Loja, the fact that the local police of Vilcabamba and the employee of the Ministry of Tourism have informed me wrong, delayed my entire case , but we do not lower our arms. With the enormous restraint that my boyfriend gave me and the support of some locals, we managed to find the name of one of the attackers and start looking for as much information as possible about him. On the same Saturday we delivered the Facebook profile and the compiled photos to the justice.

The judicial police began work on Sunday morning in the town.
On Tuesday I had to go to present the statements to the Prosecutor of the case, and we already had more information to attach. The Prosecutor in person promised me that my case would be dealt with urgently and that as soon as the arrest warrant and the search warrant were issued, they would be acted upon.
I believed him, and I also asked him to change the cover of “Robo” to “Attempt of homicide”.

Since Thursday 14, the Prosecutor of my case did not respond to the messages, I asked the Consulate of Argentina in Guayaquil and they did nothing for me, nor did they press the Ecuadorian justice to act, or at least that is how it seems, as I continue to wait answers. The response of the Consulate to my request for help was that “I have to have patience.”

For me to have patience means waiting for the criminals to sell everything they stole from me, so when they search they find nothing and can still be free. I ask you to help me spread the word, to prevent events like these from happening, let’s try, through dissemination, that this does not happen to anyone else in the future. From what we heard while we were in the village, attacks are not uncommon in Vilcabamba, they are becoming more frequent and increasing in violence. By promoting this story, we help preventive measures being taken so that this does not happen to anyone else.

I would also like to ask you, through the worldwide dissemination that my story may have, to press the Ecuadorian national justice system to respond to violent or insecure acts, how should it respond … Or is it that they are waiting for it to die? someone in an attack to take action on the matter? FROM POST ON FACEBOOK: Andie Carenzo Franke 26, 2-17.
December 26

————————————— reported that the victim found a couple who phoned the police and then took her to a hospital.

Fabián Altamirano, from the Ministry of Tourism, said that the attack was known through the ECU-911 and an approach was made with Argentina. “He was told what the procedure was, that is to say, to file the complaint with the Prosecutor’s Office.” He added that efforts were made with the management of the Loja hospital to receive care. He assured that one of the aggressors is identified by the Prosecutor’s Office, but remains free. The prosecutor who investigates this case refrained from issuing statements because this process is under investigation. Read Article in El Universo

Pictures from Facebook of victim Andrea Carenzo displaying her injuries in brutal beating in Vilcabamba, Ecuador.

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