How police extort LGBT+ tourists in Puerto Vallarta

While Puerto Vallarta is known as a gay-friendly destination, an LGBT+ collective warned that the police are harassing tourists to extort money from them.

How police extort LGBT+ tourists in Puerto Vallarta
LGBT+ tourists extorted by police in Puerto Vallarta. Photo by christian buehner / Unsplash

Activist Hector Ramirez Betancourt reported that at least 6 LGBT+ tourists reported having been victims of extortion by elements of the Municipal Police of Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco. On January 3, 2022, the member of the Vallarta LGBT+ collective held a meeting with the authorities to demand that this problem be addressed. The meeting was attended by the mayor, Luis Alberto Michel, and the director of Public Security of Puerto Vallarta, Luis Fernando Muñoz Ortega. During the meeting, Ramirez Betancourt explained the problem.

The activist said that the extortions reported by LGBT+ tourists at the hands of the Municipal Police of Puerto Vallarta occurred in the so-called Romantic Zone, as well as in the area of Olas Altas and Los Muertos beach. He also detailed that there are 6 documented cases. However, he did not rule out that there could be more: "There should have been more cases. LGBT+ tourism exposed 6 cases. That is already a red light".

The activist recommended tourists not to offer money to the police officers who extort them. He also asked them to report any extortion victims to 911.

Regarding the modus operandi, Ramirez Betancourt detailed that elements of the Puerto Vallarta Municipal Police approach LGBT+ tourists when they leave bars or nightclubs. Taking advantage of the fact that some tourists have consumed alcoholic beverages, they accuse them of disturbing the public order. Finally, they extort them, ask them for money in exchange for letting them go, and even accompany them to the ATM to withdraw cash.

Security, the element to improve

Police extortion of LGBT+ tourists in Puerto Vallarta draws attention precisely because it is one of the favorite destinations of the community. It is estimated that 1 out of every 3 tourists that the municipality receives are LGBT+. In addition, in 2021 the port received 3 nominations for the Gay Travel Awards. Only LGBT-friendly destinations that are considered inclusive and with excellence in hospitality towards the community compete for these awards.

For now, the willingness of the authorities to meet with LGBT+ activists and address the problem seems a good first step. However, the issue should be addressed as soon as possible. It is unacceptable that the Puerto Vallarta Municipal Police, the institution in charge of guaranteeing the safety of citizens, is precisely the one violating the law and extorting LGBT+ tourists.