Video: Aruba travel boycott
updated 11/8/2005 10:41:23 PM ET 2005-11-09T03:41:23

In an exclusive interview, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) tells MSNBC-TV's Rita Cosby that he supports a travel boycott of Aruba "to let the people of Aruba know that their law enforcement and their investigative authorities...have botched this whole operation" to find missing teen Natalee Holloway.

In an interview to air tonight on MSNBC's "Rita Cosby: Live and Direct," Shelby also says this move sends a strong message with economical consequences.

The following is the complete transcript of the interview. "Rita Cosby: Live and Direct" airs weeknights at 9 p.m. ET.

RITA COSBY, MSNBC ANCHOR: Senator Shelby, how do you feel about the boycott?

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: I think it's a thing that we should have been pushing months ago. I'm glad that Governor Riley's come out today. I'm certainly going to support a boycott. But more than that, John Walsh the other night, from television, he said this one of the things that we could do that would be positive, to let the people of Aruba know that their law enforcement and their investigative authorities and so forth have botched this whole operation.

COSBY: You know, the governor of Alabama talked about calling other governors, basically all 49 other states, saying, "Please join on board." Are you planning on doing the same thing with other senators?

SHELBY: Well, I would join him, and I would join and call for a boycott because, you know, you try to get the attention of the Aruban government. I started at the beginning. I was dealing with the FBI director, I was dealing with the ambassador, the Dutch ambassador. I was dealing with our secretary of state, everything. And there was a lot of double talk here.

But, you know, when I see somebody like Beth Twitty, the mother of Natalee Holloway do what she's done, persevere as she's done on behalf of her daughter, I think the least we could do as public officials is support her, to speak out — although she is from my state of Alabama and Natalee Holloway is of course too, this wouldn't matter.

I think we, as Americans, ought to send a message to the people of Aruba that we're not going to just sit by, ignore what's gone on here. This has been reprehensible conduct, I believe, on the part of the government. It looks like it's cover-up, lack of cooperation. I think it's a sad case of investigation.

COSBY: Are you prepared now to call for a boycott yourself, and urge others to do so?

SHELBY: Absolutely. I would join in what Governor Riley, what Beth Twitty, and what John Walsh, who's very respected in this area all over the world, have called for. I think it's the thing to do. Will it work? I don't know, but I would hope so. This is the winter season coming. That's when, you know, thousands and thousands of people from the United States support the Aruban economy.

COSBY: That's the question, you know when you look at the travel agencies and you look at the specifics, 75 percent of the people who go there, the tourists, are American. How is this going to work?

SHELBY: Well, we don't know how it will work. I think a lot of it will depend on whether or not people heed the boycott, in other words, stay away. A lot of people will say, "Oh goodness, it's a beautiful place. We ought to go anyway." But I think this is the strongest message we could send right now, a message that would hurt them economically, would get there attention. What we're looking for here is justice, honesty in the government, and I don't believe it's there.

COSBY: What kind of steps do you think you can do as a senator, as a powerful and respected senator there on the Hill, to make a difference here? I mean, are you planning on going to the State Department? Are you thinking about petitioning traveling agencies, calling the airlines? Is there something else that you can do to have some force behind the boycott?

SHELBY: I can speak out on the floor of the U.S. Senate.  That gets the attention of a lot of people.

Secondly, I can certainly speak out on behalf of the family doing what they've tried to do and how hard they've worked to get it done before is a fair and impartial investigation over the loss of their daughter.

COSBY: Could you call the State Department? Could you do some of those other things, is that within your means?

SHELBY: Oh, sure. I will work with my office, try to coordinate it with others and the family and Governor Riley. We're just several voices out here, and it will take a lot more than us to make a boycott effective.

COSBY: What are some of the other things that you think that you can do? I suggested some of the things, but are you planning on calling the State Department, airlines, travel agencies? Are you planning on doing those things?

SHELBY: I will do those things, but I'm also aware of the fact that a lot of people wouldn't worry, if they were in the travel business. They just want to sell a deal. And I think now, people ought to think. They have a lot more options in the Caribbean than just Aruba, and this would be a time to exercise them.

COSBY: You know, I talked to the deputy chief of police, Dompig, about this case, and he said some interesting things. I want to share a little comment. This is what he had to say about the three boys in the case, Senator.

"I still believe that these boys have been lying, they're still lying, and everybody knows that by now. So there's no doubt in my mind that they know something, they're guilty of something," said Aruban Police Chief Gerold Dompig.

COSBY: You know, Senator, he even went as far as saying, "I think they're guilty as hell, but I just have to prove it." We have that coming from the deputy chief of police, he's the acting police chief right now. What surprises you most about this case, and do you think that this boycott is going to push it forward, make a difference in the investigation?

SHELBY: We hope the boycott will push it forward because we've tried it everything, and this would be another weapon in the arsenal, that is economic hurt.

But I believe there are just so many unanswered questions regarding these three young men from the beginning.  They were with her, they've obviously told different stories, a lot of those stories you wouldn't believe, a lot of them have not panned out. So there's a lot of information for proper investigators to go on, but it looks like the government down there has turned the other way.

Watch 'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' each night at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC.

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