Ibiza is struggling to cope with a spate of violent crime that has left locals and visitors alike asking: what’s happening to the island we love?
The most horrifying occurrence of the summer is the murder of 28-year-old bartender, Abel Ureña Zafra (from Barcelona), at Ushuaia by one of the Ushuaia bouncers, first named as José Pereira Sousa. The brutal attack happened around midnight on 19th August, during the Cadenza Vagabundos party. According to reports in the Diario de Ibiza Pereira thought Abel Ureña was flirting with his girlfriend. The bartender ran to take refuge in an office but Sousa followed him and felled him with a single punch in the face. The victim had severe head injuries and died after fifteen days in hospital.
Meanwhile, the murderer and his girlfriend disappeared. Both are being sought by the Guardia. Subsequent information revealed that José Pereira Sousa is a false name used by violent criminal Paolo Cesar Batista, who is also wanted in Portugal for being part of a gang known as the “Mafia of the Night.” There is still a question about whether or not Pereira, aka Batista, is Portuguese, or Brazilian.
Astonishingly, Ushuaia has not stepped forward to make a statement, or acknowledge any responsibility for the tragedy. How is it possible that a leisure group that purports to offer the finest experience in Ibiza is hiring security staff with false identities?
Why are they not performing even routine background checks? Everyone knows that working in Ibiza can be a high-pressure job, especially for security staff, so why aren’t hotels making doubly certain that they are hiring professionals, not steroid-fed thugs?
Nor can Ushuaia plead ignorance about the quality of the staffing. Numerous Trip Advisor reviews (Read tripadvisor.co.uk reviews here) note that the staff in general is rude and unhelpful, and that the security staff in particular are arrogant, sleazy and threatening. One complaint should be enough to make an allegedly elite hotel like Ushuaia take notice; repeated comments on the atrocious behaviour of their staff should be a serious cause for concern. Instead, they ignored these comments and warning signs, and an young man died as a result. Ushuaia promised to be the “hotel that changed Ibiza” and it appears to be living up to its promise in the darkest possible way.
In the space of the last week there has also been a drug raid in San An, which netted 13 suspects “mostly young and British” according to the Diario, and in an unrelated incident a 19-year-old Brit was stabbed five times on the steps of his holiday apartment. The police are also touting the mass arrest of 55 people allegedly linked to the Napolitan Camorra. Even more shockingly, someone fired a 9mm outside Pacha in the early hours of Monday morning, after the Cadenza Vagabundos party. No one was injured and no one has been arrested. The police think it was a man who was thrown out of the club and who returned with a gun and fired at the security exit at the back of the club.
This has been a busy summer, which always leads to increased crime and tension. More than 700,000 Brits had come by the end of July, more than visited in all of 2010. Even David Cameron, the Prime Minister, paid a holiday visit, and the British Ambassador, Giles Paxman came to Ibiza and toured an unspecified nightclub. The Diario de Ibiza quotes Paxman as saying he was impressed by the quality of club security. Unfortunately, in light of the recent tragedy at Ushuaia, and the general level of insecurity in clubs with pick-pocketing, broken glass on the floors, overcrowding, and disorganisation, it seems the Ambassador may have too rosy a view.
Clubs and music are at the heart of why people come to Ibiza, so if people no longer feel safe at parties it is going to have a serious effect on the whole island – economically and psychologically. In light of recent events Ibiza Voice contacted the clubs with a simple questionnaire regarding their security policies because we feel a responsibility to support clubs where people will be safe. This questionnaire was ignored, apart from one response from Eden which read, in part: “We as a club will not comment/disclose any of our internal employment/recruitment policies, and especially if this is the fuel to write a negative story about any of the clubs/security on the Island.” This defensive answer suggests that Eden is more interested in protecting its reputation than in protecting its punters. As long as hotels, clubs or any establishment on the island has the attitude that making money is more important than taking care of people they are putting clubbers at risk. Is it greed? Indifference? Carelessness? A sense that they are above the law?
Whatever the cause, the last few weeks show the result is damaging the island we all love.
Reprinted, below, are the questions Ibiza Voice sent to the clubs regarding security. We welcome any responses from clubs, bars, or those involved in promoting and regulating parties.
In light of recent events at Ushuaia we would appreciate if you could advise/comment on your club’s procedures in regard to the following;
a. your policy on identification and recruitment of security staff
b. your vetting procedures in recruitment process
c. training and other monitoring you provide for security staff in the incidence of crowd control, first aid and dealing with conflict situations
d. any other statement you wish to advise of in light of people in Ibiza saying security are out of control in clubs
Printed Press Reference (in chronological order)
Demonstration at Ushuaia protesting the death of Abel Ureña
9 September 17.00-19.00 – Ushuaia Beach Hotel
Friday, 9 September, more than 3000 people have pledged to gather in front of Ushuaia Beach Hotel in a demonstration to honour Abel Ureña and to demand improved screening and training of club security personnel. The Facebook page created to publicise the event “Manifestacion por la muerte de Abel Ureña” has a clear and reasonable set of expectations for anyone hired as a security person in Ibiza. It reads, in part, that any professional club bouncer must have no criminal record, be of Spanish or EU nationality, legally resident and legally allowed to work in Spain, must have a medical certificate testifying they are physically and mentally fit for the job, and must complete training which includes information on public health and safety, human rights, laws governing large gatherings, and instruction in psychology and first aid.
Ibiza Voice encourages everyone who is able to join the manifestation at Ushuaia to show solidarity for the family and friends of Abel Ureña after their tragic loss. What happened at Ushuaia is not representative of the spirit or ethos of Ibiza, and by coming together to condemn the murder we can let the world know that this is not how Ibiza operates. The demonstration is also important to show club owners/promoters, security guards, police, and other authorities that we will not tolerate violent club security. Everyone understands that working security at a busy club is a tense, stressful, exhausting job – and that it is likely to generate frustration and confrontation. This does not excuse abuse, however. Demanding better screening of staff, and increased training, is a way to give bouncers a greater sense of confidence and control without resorting to violence. If they are equipped to deal calmly with difficult situations it reduces the risk of aggression.
By joining the manifestation we can show the clubs that we won’t tolerate the carelessness or indifference that led to this tragedy. Nothing will change or improve unless we demand it. So please head to Ushuaia Beach Hotel tomorrow between 17.00-19.00 and show your solidarity.