In an effort to titillate viewers, the American television series Criminal Minds Beyond Borders recently portrayed the idyllic town of San Pedro on the island of Ambergris Caye in Belize as a den of thieves, murderers and criminals. In an episode entitled “Love Interrupted”, the peaceful island that served as the inspiration for Madonna’s 1986 hit “La Isla Bonita” was transformed into a ghetto of criminality and international intrigue.
It’s difficult to know whether the producers of the program were trying to be intentionally insulting or were just demonstrating ignorance. Aside from using a few seconds of stock footage of the real San Pedro Town, the entirety of the episode was a mishmash of incorrect information and scenes shot on a Hollywood sound stage.
The episode featured an American couple defying the laws of physics by arriving at the tiny airfield in San Pedro in a jumbo jet while showing B-roll footage of the Philip Goldson International Airport in Belize City on the mainland. The episode’s couple then further defied reality by renting a car in San Pedro, an impossibility as the only form of transportation available to the public are bicycles, scooters and electric golf carts. The hapless couple then got lost in a series of mountains that have yet to be mapped on an island that is almost entirely flat before getting chilly enough to build a fire in a tropical country where temperatures rarely drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hollywood “creativity” then transformed the welcoming and friendly people of Belize into coldly rude hotel employees serving as foils for the kidnappers who ultimately ruined the honeymoon vacation of the protagonist couple. Adding racist insult to injury, an American actor badly mangled the Kriol dialect popularly used throughout Belize, inappropriately adding Spanish words. In the final twist, one last indignity to Belize was included when local Mayans were depicted as savage cannibals who prey on tourists.
Placencia, one of the most beautiful spots in Belize, was not featured in the show. But below are some photographs of the real Belize to contrast with the Hollywood images portrayed in the episode:
The staff of Chabil Mar applaud the prominent American television program spotlighting Belize but strongly urge producers to conduct more research before attempting to portray the country in the future.