A Thoughtful, Analytical Approach to NGO Security

Aid worker caught up in Guatemalan highway robbery

Sandra van den Brink, an aid worker with Ayudamos, was among 12 bus passengers robbed and molested near Huehuetenango, Guatemala, on 19 February.

Sandra was on a small shuttle bus returning from a project visit in Mexico when four gunmen in a truck pulled alongside the bus and forced them to stop. The gunmen took control of the bus and drove it to a remote ravine where they tied and robbed the passengers. The gunmen sexually assaulted several of the female passengers during the incident.

There are a couple of things worth noting from this story. First is that Sandra obviously had some understanding of the context she was in and understood that the incident did not fit the normal crime pattern in the area. Unfortunately she was unable to act on the knowledge she had.

Second is that Sandra was instinctually afraid of being moved to what is known as the second crime scene. This isolated location is a place where the attackers feel more comfortable and in control. Common thieves rarely move their victims to a second location but rapists and murderers usually do. Being moved to a second crime scene drastically reduces a victim’s chances of survival.

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