1PUNTA CANA TV – JULY EPISODE OUTLINE
By Maria Williams – Broker- Reliable Realty SRL
(Film location, Balicana Restaurant in Cocotal, 10:30 am, Wednesday June 19, 2019)
YES! PUNTA CANA IS SAFE, and so are other DR areas!
This information has been provided to readers who have a strong interest in balanced news. The information provided below is (to the best of my knowledge) closer to the truth. Let’s face it, nowadays, it’s hard to know what is the truth in the media and online. So, if there is content that may not be 100% accurate, I claim no responsibility for others mis-information. This is my DISCLAIMER.
- INTRODUCTION – Maria Williams
My full name is Maria Heydenburg Williams. I am from a suburban city near Grand Rapids, Michigan. I am the proud mother of 2 successful children. My daughter, a confident and intelligent mother herself, and my son, an easy-going and patient father, who, with their awesome spouses, have collectively, blessed me with eight beautiful and brilliant grandchildren (7 girls, and 1 boy). My mother is from Puerto Rico. My father is an American-European mix, primarily German. Both my parents met while serving in the U.S. Army. My father was military police. I personally served in the Army and my son is a Chief in the USAF (5th generation of military service!).
My latin mother is a very social and an active “young 81-year-old great-grandmother” (she’ll be mad at me for disclosing her age😊) Whereas, my father was a calm, intellectual who loved his large family, reading the newspaper, crossword puzzles, research, a good discussion, and statistical data. He unfortunately passed away last August. He survived a heart transplant in 2004, a car accident 2005, then a bad fall in 2018 that sent him to the ER where he died of kidney failure from contracting MRCA in a US emergency room. I was raised in a hardworking middle class Christian family. My four siblings and I were taught that truth, integrity and morals were the most the important values. These core family values have been carried down generation to generation and remain firm.
My business partner Todd and I selected the Punta Cana area as the best option for our “new life attempt.” After we physically researched other Caribbean and Central American countries, we found the east coast of the Dominican Republic (Punta Cana & Bavaro) to be the safest area to set up our real estate/ property management business. We feel comfortable in the DR because of its sincere people and its democratic government that's structured similarly to the US with the same three legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
Starting a real estate/ property management (vacation rental) business in 2008 was not easy. We did not speak Spanish, there were dirt roads, limited housing to sell, only two gas stations (which ran out of gas often), and only a couple public internet areas. Most business owners at that time still manually wrote and calculated the costs. It was rare to find anyone who took credit cards. We worked hard, long, and sacrificed much to build our business. Now, less than ten years later, the area has had an entire face-lift thanks to all the foreign real estate investors. These investors are fueled by the impressive tourism economy with one of the highest and consistent (4-year average) GPD ratings in the world! The DR has caught the world’s attention!
Since 2015, our agency has hosted several episodes on HGTV Caribbean Life. Additionally, I am featured on a local monthly television show called Punta Cana TV, where I discuss the real estate market and opportunities here. I also have an occasional presence in a couple international travel magazines, and have been featured on an international real wstate radio podcast. All these venues have gained our agency exposure and attracted a consistent market share. We now service approximately 85% North Americans clients.
- WHO I AM, AND WHAT MAKES ME TICK..
I am a loyal American who loves the U.S. and our primary generous and caring Americans. However, after our employment was eliminated (downsizing in 2007) with other employment opportunities dwindling between 2006 – 2008, we sought out other opportunities abroad. I enjoy traveling, learning and adapting to new cultures. I am a person who fights for sound principals. I believe in strong and fair government. I think North Americans should serve for some time in their countries military, to become more disciplined, tolerant, and to better respect their country. I desire fair and balanced (international) news. I don’t believe hear-say… I look for the truth, expect the truth, and if in question, look for the truth through research. I am passionate and energetic in speech and action. I care about the world as a whole, and for a better future for all mankind, especially my children and grandchildren. I go after my goal to help cleanse the world of greediness one day and one person at a time. I don’t understand why so many people frown on being ethical and honest and instead prefer to cling to greed and propaganda. Money shouldn’t be our God, especially because the temptation and hunger to always have more is within us all. When I was a young teenager, I loved kids and babysitting so much, I forgot I got paid for it even though I needed the money! So, find and do what you love and change your course if needed. When I see something that needs to be done, I do it, even if it’s not in my job description. i.e. While walking my dog, I still pull weeds in the Cocotal, the condo community I live in. The gardeners do a great job, but they don’t have time to tackle every weed. Weeds need to be pulled as they will consume and strangle the intended tropical “happy plants.” Same principle applies to people of bad intent, and/ or money-hungry agendas, vs humble people who work hard and enjoy what they have rightfully earned.
- OUR BUSINESS IS REAL ESTATE/ PROPERTY MANAGEMENT…so is this episode about protecting our own market share?
- In part, yes, of course! And why not? We worked hard, long and with a sizeable capital to build our thriving business here (real wstate sales and rentals). However, and more importantly, I am attempting to protect the resorts and all the other businesses who provide jobs for both Dominicans and expats. As many “skimming researchers” know, these businesses and their employees rely on the success of resorts as resorts account for 17% of the direct resort jobs. But what most people don’t know… (except those who live and work here) is that there is an estimated 14% more jobs from those businesses who provide products, supplies, and services to all our resorts. (i.e. excursions /tours, transportation, gas, food, drinks, sundries, cleaning/ repair/ maintenance products and services, etc.). Many of these legal businesses are owned by foreigners from all over the world!
- PLUS…this combined 31% doesn’t include that thriving businesses outside the resorts (like restaurants, mega new malls, grocery stores, souvenir, clothing, gift shops, salons, gyms, spas, and YES… real estate agencies, developers and property management agencies to name a few. These are the businesses that cater to the tourist outside the resorts, the growing middle-class Dominicans, and the foreign expats. These businesses not only supply essential food, supplies and services to those of us living here, but also to those growing number of tourists who own or rent properties located in the fun, safe beach-town areas, and the several residential golf course communities. These friendly neighborhoods are often sandwiched between our numerous resorts located in Punta Cana and Bavaro. These are the kind of tropical communities you dream about when you watch an HGTV Caribbean Life, Beach Bargains, or HouseHunter Intl. episode.
- So, this Punta Cana TV episode is also my attempt to protect the country as a whole, its economy, and it’s helpful and caring people from this recent destructive, embellished and/ or untruthful news.
- Destroying the reputations of an entire country has enormous trickle-down effect for the entire world! American tourism has increased in the Dominican Republic nearly three times in just 10 years. This was achieved through successful tourism which led to global awareness. And Americans… please… we are not the only tourists who come here!
- Unfortunately, other countries listen intently to the sensationalism of many U.S. News broadcasts. Often to make fun of our “circus politics” as politics and news media is discussed often in the expat hangouts. Hearing (and defending) several of this opinion can be embarrassing.
- Already resorts here are laying people off. Restaurants and businesses are closing…SHAME ON THE U.S. NEWS!
I WARN ALL VIEWERS/ READERS; GOING FORWARD, I BE MAY BECOME INTENCE AND PASSIONATE about this recent news coverage – I realize some folks might feel I am “over the top” but I don’t care!
- SO, WHAT HAPPENED TO FAIR, BALANCED AND ACCURATE JOURNALISM?
The following are excerpts from the article “Journalism’s First Obligation Is to Tell the Truth” BY BILL KOVACH/ TOM ROSENSTIEL@tbr1
“On this there is absolute unanimity and also utter confusion: Everyone agrees journalists must tell the truth. Yet people are fuddled about what “the truth” means…. This desire that information be truthful is elemental. Since news is the material that people use to learn and think about the world beyond themselves, the most important quality is that it be useable and reliable.…
Truth, it seems, is too complicated for us to pursue. Or perhaps it doesn’t exist, since we are all subjective individuals. There are interesting arguments, maybe, on some philosophical level, even valid.
So, what does a journalist’s obligation to the truth mean? …journalists themselves have never been very clear about what they mean by truthfulness. Journalism by nature is reactive and practical rather than philosophical and introspective.
…The serious literature by journalists thinking through such issues is not rich, and what little there is, most journalists have not read.… Rather than defend our techniques and methods for finding truth, journalists have tended to deny they exist. Whether it is secrecy or inability, the failure by journalists to articulate what they do leaves citizens all the more suspicious that the press is either deluding itself or hiding something”.https://niemanreports.org/articles/journalisms-first-obligation-is-to-tell-the-truth/
- SO WHY ALL THE BAD PRESS? (The real reasons & questions we should be pondering and asking)
- In part, I believe Tammy-Lawrence- Daley’s ridiculous resort assault accusations initiated this Domino effect propaganda. Her Facebook post drew lots of attention and unfortunately, without even investigating her claims first, the U.S. top news stations ran with this crazy story, which then led to international attention. Now that the truth is out, the U.S. news doesn’t seem to even post Tammy’s story, which all admit is full of holes. Her bogus story was posted after the resort denied her 2.2 million demand once it had time to investigate and found no supporting evidence. She refused to file a police report when prompted by the resort many times and even refused to have them call the U.S. embassy on her behalf. When a story like this starts going south… so does the news (and their reputation, I hope)!
- The world loves social media…and it is almost impossible now to find trustworthy and reliable news in the U.S. because BAD NEWS SELLS! The world follows what the U.S. news says… how wrong!
- Unfortunately, many Americans are followers, and sadly, many actually believe all the news.
- Is it possible the U.S. wants to keep Americans afraid? Calculating if they don’t travel outside the U.S. they won’t invest outside the U.S.?
- Maybe it’s not the U.S. instigating all this bad press? Perhaps it's being fueled by another (lower GPD) jealous country that losing tourism market share? Or perhaps the core truth and true motive is even bigger than we realize?
- Why keep Americans afraid? Maybe because if too many “real Americans” leave; who will pay the taxes and benefits for all the illegal immigrants pouring into the U.S.?
- It appears as if the DR is an unfortunate victim of this recent media frenzy and it has to stop now!
- IS CHINA INSTIGATING THIS? - Money? Power? Respect?– A FB report posted by a resident of the Dominican Republic… which turns out to only be partially true. On May 1, 2018- China and Dominican Republic formulate additional Diplomatic Relations – This FB report claims China request the DR to lift the China Visa requirements. HOWEVER, this FB broadcast was not entirely correct. It turns out, like many nationalities, the Chinese, have been able to come here without a visa for a long time. In fact, the request is reversed. It was the Dominican Government request to China that Dominicans be able to travel to China without a visa… Which China approved last year, and will be implemented in this year. China is so over-populated, it is understood the Chinese government is offering a NO TAX POLICY to any Chinese who want to relocate to another country. However, one part of this “Money?Power? Respect” post was correct. Historically, when the Chinese come into any other country, their goal has often been to take over that country, (like they are trying to do now with Sri Lanka right now). Indeed, China and the U.S. both want strong ties the DR because of its strategic location. But the difference is, the U.S. (a Democratic society like the DR) is fine with having the DR as a strong ally… and doesn’t want to take over the government. However, China (a communist country) perhaps has more long-term goals that are much more radical and more in line with their quest for world dominance.
- Are other countries instead behind these strings of deaths as well? Like the tourism losses in Puerto Rico? Cuba? Or Mexico? CNN jokes about these “tourism rivalries” but could there be some relevance? In fact, some reports indicate it is possible the bootleg / contaminated alcohol have been imported here from these places. Investigations specific to this are still pending.
6) ABOUT THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - LOCATION, SIZE, POPLULATION, CUTLURE, TOURISM, CRIME:
- Dominicans are perhaps, some of the most non-violent people in the world! (NOTE, I tried to find data on this, but nothing came up… so, obviously, if Dominicans were violent people, there would be pages of online articles). So, I am basing this statement on my own personal experience of 11 years living and traveling throughout the country, and the 8 years of traveling to the Dominican Republic as a tourist before relocating here in 2008. To include the same thoughts expressed by other expats from around the world who live & work here.
- The Dominican Republic has a stable government with a representative democracy with three arms of power; the executive, legislature, and judiciary. Just like the U.S.
- The DR has desirable strategic location, with strong and important political ties with the U.S. The Dominican Republic is strategically located between Puerto Rico (territory of the U.S.),and Cuba (and like China, Cuba is still a communist country) Let’s hope our ties with Cuba grow, but let’s not also forget history can repeat itself.
- The DR consistently assists other smaller islands in the Caribbean… including Puerto Rico.
- The Dominican military has the largest military force in the Caribbean, next to Cuba
7) PEACEFUL DOMINICANS: 95% OF DOMINICATIONS ARE CHRISTIAN, primairly Catholic. It is the only country where the Christian cross and Bible are on its coat of arms and flag.
1. The DR encompasses about two-thirds of the Island called Hispanola. One-third is Haiti. Haiti is about 415.31 km from the Punta Cana International Airport, or 258.06 miles / 8+ hour drive away.
2. Yes, like the U.S. the DR is working hard to protect its border from illegal Haitians attempting to cross the border, and some trying to give birth to children just within the DR, so they can claim residency.
3.The DR military is active along the DR/ Haitian border on a daily basis, fighting hard to keep the border closed to illegal immigrants who cannot support themselves.
4. Haiti is the 19th poorest country in the world. This is because of its bad and corrupt government, who does not care about its people. This is opposite of the Dominican Republic, where the government does its best to serve its people. The situation in Haiti is indeed a sad situation. However, the DR cannot financially support them.
5. Money, medical attention, supplies, food, materials and construction materials, continue to pour into Haiti from the DR, and from other countries, including the U.S. and Canada (as the top contributors in the world). Unfortunately, the Haitian Government seizes most of these resources for themselves and makes it difficult for outside organized world assistance. So, the Haitians are currently revolting against their own government (as it should be).
6. Despite the Dominican’s kind gestures to help the Haitian people, many Haitians want to make war with the DR for not allowing them to illegally stay here. But why should the DR Govt. let them? Those Haitians complaining have no real skill sets, lack education, and don’t want to legally attain residency. Some were born here by illegal parents, so they automatically get to call the DR their “Country of Birth”. Those who primarily revolt are those who have been rejected for employment by legal companies or resorts. However, it is true; Haitians do a very good job working on construction sites… and have helped tremendously in keeping the construction costs down, as it is true, the legal Haitian residents are willing to work for fewer wages than most Dominicans. They are happy to work and live here, even if for less as their country can be a “death sentence.”
7. The distance from Punta Cana (East Coast) and Haiti (west oast) is over an 8 hour drive. Even with the new highway, which has cut the time in most areas in half.
8. The distance from Punta Cana to La Romana (where Bayahibe Principe Resort is located where most of these deaths occurred), is nearly an hour drive away, and the Capital of Santo Domingo is now about a 2.5 hour drive from Punta Cana, even with the new highway cutting drive times in half!
9. The Dominican people come in all colorswith 72% multiracial. Like most Caribbean Islands, the Spaniards were the forefathers, who were (are) primarily white. There are black African roots, and many claim the (brown) Taino Indian has historical roots here as well. Dominicans come in variations of “white to dark chocolate.” European facial features and shapes, with body frames that differ somewhat from their black African roots.
There is debate still about the Taino Indian integration, as it is believed all the Taino Indians died from diseases brought from the Spaniards.
Mulatto (not used anymore), Mestizo, or Multiracial (Mixed Ancestry)
White Dominican (European Ancestry)
Black Dominican (African Ancestry)
Asians, Arabs, and Other Groups of People
8) PRIMARY INCOME FOR DOMINICAN FAMILIES: Let's keep the people and thier families fed!
- The average income for a common Dominican in 2010 was only 6000 pesos (= $150.00 U.S.).
- The Dominican Republic's minimum wage as of 2019, is 8,310 Dominican pesos a month. Which equates to about $2,000 a year.
- The unemployment rate for 2017-2018 averaged 5.65%. Whereas, in 2004 (before resorts) the unemployment rate was over 19%
- According to the World Bank; Dominicans living in poverty from 2014 to 2016 dropped by almost six percent.
- The median household income of the Dominican Republic is the second lowest when comparing other Latin American countries at approximately $27,000 in 2015. Puerto Rico was not shown on this study, but in 2010 was shown as slightly ahead of the DR. Remember this is the combined household income, and for Latin families, this could mean two or more family providers.
9) ECONOMIC STATUS OF THE COUNTRY OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
1. THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC IS NOT A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY! That word hasn’t been used since the cold war and Americans need to stop using this. There is no starvation in this lush and plentiful country!
2. TOURISM provides the highest percentage of stable jobs in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is also strong ontrade (sugar, coco, coffee, tobacco, fruits and vegetables, etc.), finance, and government services. These industries account for a little over half of the Dominican workforce and nearly half of the GDP. Service providers are among the nation’s more dynamic and rapidly growing businesses.
3. The Dominican Republic is considered a “rapidly growing developing country” and ranks 83 of 195 when comparing the richest countries. To provide some perspective and to keep the size of the country in perspective; The U.S is no. 13, Mexico #68, Costa Rica #80, China #87, Peru #96, Egypt #101, Cuba #107, and Belize #114.
4. The DR is the fastest growing country in the Caribbean and ranked 10 out of 193 countries in the entire world! The U.S. was ranked at 107.
From the World Bank: “The Dominican Republic has enjoyed strong economic growth in recent years, averaging 5.1 percent annually between 2008 and 2018, the second highest in LAC. The pace accelerated to an average of 6.6 percent per year between 2014 and 2018 -- and 7 percent in 2018, fueled by robust domestic demand. It was also the fastest-growing LAC economy over that five-year period. The sustained growth has reduced poverty and inequality, helping to expand the middle class.”
5. In 2018, the DR's GPD (Gross Product) at 6.40. Whereas, in 2018, the U.S. was 2.40. The GPD is the world indicator showing which countries are best to invest in.
*These are just a few of the reasons we selected the Dominican Republic to work and invest in vs. other places we physically visited: Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, and even Puerto Rico (a territory of the U.S. and where my mother is from).
10. COMPARING THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC’S TOURISM – TO DEATHS RATES OF OTHER COUNTRIES WHO RELY ON TOURISM
- The number of tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic has always been a tiny fraction compared to touristic places around the world. Especially in the U.S. I could write another 20 pages on these stats alone! So much U.S. News reporting is out of control!
- From 2017-2018 in Mexico alone,there were over 192 tourist deaths!
11. CRIME IN THE U.S.
- According the FBI 2017 crime clock, VIOLENT crimes in the U.S. occur every 24.6 seconds. This number does not include; minor assaults, minor robberies, domestic violence, deaths related to drugs / drinking overdoses or property or fraud crimes like, arson or insurance fraud. HOWEVER, I UNDERSTAND COMPARING THE U.S. TO THE DR WOULD NOT BE A FAIR ASSESSMENT AS THE U.S. IS MUCH LARGER, AND MORE POPULATED THAN THE DR.
- The U.S. reported 1,247,321 violent crimes in 2017. That’s one million-two-hundred-forty-seven, three-hundred-twenty-one!!
- The U.S. reported 121,126 strong armed robberies in 2017.
12. COMPARING THE SIZE AND POPULATION OF A COUNTRY IS VITAL WHEN REPORTING CRIME
- The Dominican Republic surface size is 48,442 sq. km
- The closest U.S. State to this size is Georgia at 69,700 sq. km
- The population of the Dominican Republic (2017) was approx. 10.77 million people
- Connecticut is about four times smaller than the DR. New Jersey is about three times smaller; Vermont, Whereas, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maryland are approx. 2 times smaller than the Dominican Republic. Washington DC, Rhode Island, and Delaware are considerably smaller.
- West Virginia is closer in size to the DR at 62,361 sq. km, however, in 2018 the reported population as 1,815,857, so obviously, there were only 85 reported murders.
The closest match to the Dominican Republic is the US State of Georgia which is approximately 69,700 sq. km, while the Dominican Republic is approximately 48,442 sq. km. In 2018, however, Georgia’s 2018 reported population was approximately 4.9 million people, whereas the Dominican Republic reported approx. 10.77 million in 2017. This means the Dominican Republic has 5.8 million more people than those living in Georgia, although the country and state are about the same size.
Sorry Georgia, I like you. My amazing daughter-in-law is from Georgia and I have been there several times. However, as mentioned, when comparing the closest state by SIZE and POPULATION, Georgia is the closest match.
13. GEORGIA CRIME IN 2018
- According to the 2018 “Georgia Bureau of Investigations”; 48 people were killed alone in 92 police officer-involved shootings across the State
- The 2017 Summary Report Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program; from the Georgia Crime Information Center: 701 people were murdered in Georgia, 2684 rapes, 9,878 robberies, 23,256 aggravated assaults, with 53,414 crisis calls.
- According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) 2010 report, when comparing Georgia’s death by alcohol (with and without other drugs), GA ranked in the lower 20% percentile when comparing to all the 51 U.S. States. Not terrible. However, in 2018, the rate has increased to nearly 30%. A 10% increase in just 8 years.
14. HOW SAFE IS THE CARIBBEAN / LATIN AMERICAS AS A WHOLE? Balancing populatin to crime, your chances of being a victim of a crime, or dying form drugs or alcohol are much higher in the US.
ACCORDING TO THIS 2018 REPORT, THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC IS RANKED 8 OF 21 SAFEST LATIN COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD
1. PER THIS REPORT, the Dominican Republic is in the blue…and only 0.8 behind Panama (in the turquoise/ ranked safest). So, less than one point. The DR is safer than Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico, and much safer than Mexico, Brazil, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Honduras, and Jamaica.
MEXICO AND COSTA RICA HAVE THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF DEATHS TO AMERICAN TOURIST ACCORDING TO THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT. From 2015-2018 some 953 American tourist died in Mexico of different reasons (like shootings). In Costa Rica 125 Americans died during the same time. The Inter-American Development bank (IDB) reviewed 50 of the most violent cities in the world. Tijuana Mexico is number one. In that list of 50 dangerous cities; Santo Domingo, Santiago, Puerto Plata (and of course not Punta Cana)did not even appear. In fact, the Dominican Republic was not a part of this “Top 50 dangerous city List” at all! For comparison, New Orleans (population 391,000 – June 2018)had 6.87 homicides per 100 thousand inhabitants. Whereas even the capital of Santo Domingo (estimated 2.2 million,and one of the largest and most populated cities in the world)showed. 8.66 per 100 thousand inhabitants.
- Cruise ships report approx. 200 deaths per year. Expected, as many people find it more affordable, with better care to die on a cruise than in a hospital. In fact, there is an Annual Archive list of deaths posted each year.
- Suicide is also under-recognized as a cause of death for Americans abroad.The Department of State has records of 1,461 suicides abroad (2018), with 250 suicides reported in Mexico alone.
15. TOURISM NUMBERS FOR THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ARE OFF THE CHART!
- The Dominican Republic is the most visited destination in the Caribbean.
- The DR receives over 2.7 million American tourists annually and is the seventh most vacationed destination in the Americas. Considering its much smaller size, these numbers are extremely impressive.
- Approximately 100 flights a day come into the Punta Cana Intl. airport from all over the world.
- RESORTS JUST IN PUNTA CANA: Punta Cana encompasses over 60 hotels, of which 52 are All-inclusive resorts along a 100 km (or 62 miles) and primarily reef protected coastline. This resort number is up from 44 in 2012.
- Punta Cana/ Bavaro have more resorts within this sq. km beach, than any other country in the world!
- Mexico has 102 resorts, but they are spread over 9,330 km, (5,797 miles) of shoreline.
- The Dominican Republic is part of "the Americas.” In 2017, there were 208.7 million international tourist arrivals to the Americas, an increase of 4.0% from 2016. The Dominican Republic is ranked #7.
- Tourism is the largest economic business with nearly 8 billion in tourism dollars in 2018. Is the DR supposed to be ashamed of this? U.S. News articles imply this.
Since when did the word profit and job creation become dirty words? If resorts loose tourist, Dominicans and other nationalities working here lose jobs, businesses close, and the country will suffer significantly. So, the world must have balanced and fair new reports!
16. SO, AS OF JUNE 23, 2019 (date of this final report) WHAT HAS TRANSPIRED THUS FAR?
1. The World Health Organization and the FBI are in the Dominican now (June, 2019), investigating these resort alcohol related deaths. IN FACT, IT WAS THE DOMINICAN GOVERNMENT WHO INVITED THE FBI TO INVESTIGATE THESE SITUATIONS HERE. If the DR was guilty or worried about something they intentionally did, would they freely invite the FBI here to assist? Besides, WHY would the DR sabotage their own tourism? Why would resort workers contaminate alcohol, or why would resorts poison the air? What is their motive? This is the first things many Americans would say (or have said) when the tables were turned. According to Mr. Garra, a consultant in the DR, It was the Dominican Republic that got the FBI involved… not the other way around.
2. No one officially knows at this time what caused the mysterious deaths. According to the New York Post, police are investigating whether 7 of 8 American tourist deaths were poisoned by “counterfeit alcohol” supplied to the resort by outside providers and placed in the minibars of resort rooms. Venessa Vasquez at Delray Beach Medical Center talks about the dangers of bootleg alcohol / or mixing of methanol, (a type of alcohol not safe for humans) which could have been used to cut the liquor. Officials are working to find out who supplied the alcoholic beverages the victims drank before they died, to see if there were any dangerous chemicals in them. The U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo says at this point there is no solid proof the deaths are linked.
3. According to The Washington Post (June 21, 2019), the deaths in the DR could seem mysterious, but so far, all signs point to normal.
17) BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE STORIES IGNITED BY THE US: I am not cold and my sincere sympathy goes out to all the families of these victims. I don’t blame them for wanting answers. However, I can’t stand idly by and watch while this beautiful country has to endure so much unnecessary scrutiny!
1) January 22, 2019 – Jerry Curran (age 78) dies at the Dreams Resort in Punta Cana- had drinks with his wife and friends- goes to hospital and dies of a pulmonary edema and other causes.
2) April 2019, Robert Bell Wallace (age 67) dies at the Hard Rock Hotel in Punta Cana
3) April, 2019 – Shark Tank Host, Barbara Corcoran’s brother John (from NJ) found dead of a heart attack. Resort not disclosed. Smart sister.
4) May 25, 2019: American female Miranda Shop Warner (age 41) from Pennsylvania was found dead in her room at the Bahia Principe Resort in La Romana. Husband claims she had a drink with soda from the mini-bar and died in less than an hour. Respiratory failure and pulmonary edema.
5) May 30, 2019: Engaged American couple, Edward Holmes (63) and Cynthia Day (49) found dead in their room at Bahia Principe (La Romana). Same situation. Investigation still pending since both victims died of heart attacks at the same time, although medication was found on the scene.
It is my understanding in the case of three of these deaths that the victims were known to have health or heart problems and were on medications. Were they mixing with too much alcohol and perhaps excessive fun?
6) June 10, 2019 - Leyla Cox (53) from NY dies of heart attack at Excellence, a Punta Cana Resort
7) June, 2019- Joseph Allen (55) from New Jersey found dead in an entirely different resort in Sosua (a 5.5 drive from Punta Cana).
18) NON-ALCOHOL RELATED DEATHS IN 2019
- January, 2019: American Tammy- Lawrence Daily, from Delaware, writes a post on FaceBook (of all media) claiming she was a victim of an assault by a resort worker. However, she posted this report four months after the alleged crime, she refused to file a police report in the DR even when strongly asked two times. She also refused assistance in calling the U.S. embassy. She posted this report after her attempt to get 2.2 million dollars from the resort. The resort said NO because they were still investigating this peculiar story that did not add up. She claims she could not see her assailant but insists it was a resort worker. Hospital checkup here revealed only her face was beaten, the rest of her body was fine. No rape was evident. So how did she not see the attacker since the violence was frontal? And why did she claim she was dragged into a remote water pump area and could not move when her body, legs, arms and even eyes were functional and intact? (insurance fraud? Domestic violence?) Why did she refuse to file a police report and the U.S. embassy so they could immediately investigate (tells me there was no assailant). The media stopped highlighting this story now that U.S. investigations point to possible insurance fraud.
- March 27,2019: Two American tourists Portia Ravenell and Orlando Moore crashed their rental car into the ocean driving a rental car and were found in the bottom of the sea in Santo Domingo. Portia was taken to the hospital where she died on April 4th. The U.S, reported their deaths are not suspicious They were driving in unfamiliar area, at night, and while drinking.
- June 2019: Married, BIG PAPI – David Ortiz, Dominican/ Red Sox, American Baseball player(slugger) is shot in a club in Santo Domingo. He was known to have a Dominican mistress and allegedly purchased an expensive car for her. Mixed reports on if the club owner was a jealous ex-boyfriend or if the shot was intended for a known drug lord who was with David Ortiz. There is more to this story amd I am sure the U.S. news will pick it up soon. So far, the Dominican police have captured 11 Dominicans who were part of this shooting in one way or another. Two more assailants are being questioned about their possible involvement.
19) NEGATIVE STORIES ARE COMING OUT OF THE WOODWORK NOW...WOW! HOW MANY MORE "ATTEMPTED" HANDOUTS FOR MONEY? THE MORE THE PRESS TALKS ABOUT IT, THE MORE CASES OF ILLNESS OCCURING MONTHS AND EVEN YEARS AGO!
October 25, 2018 - Awilda Montes from Queens, NY claims she vomited blood after drinking 7up from her hotel. She survived.
June, 2018 - Yvette Monique Sport of Pennsylvania dies – Her death certificate said the cause of death was a heart attack. Her sister claims she took a drink from the mini-bar
June, 2018 - Kaylynn Knulls says her boyfriend got sick at the same DR resort as the Denver couple claimed. She survived.
July, 2018: David Harrison (age 45) dies of a heart attack at the Hard Rock. Alcohol was found in his blood. Now that the news is picking up on all these other “drink related stories”, they now want to re-open this case.
NO DATE WAS NOTED: Colorado Couple claimed they were poisoned at a DR resort – They survived.
20. COULD SOME OR ALL OF THESE FACTORS BE THE REAL REASON FOR SOME OF THESE DEATHS?
Excessive alcohol & eating, mixed with medication, existing medical conditions, being “over 50”, out of shape/ overweight, too much sun, resort clubbing/ dancing into wee hours of the morning???
- Why do so many tourists continue to overindulge in everything when they come to a resort! Do they think they entered heaven & are now invincible?
- It’s amazing how the news initially “implied” the alcohol dispensers were “tampered with.” WOW! And now the investigation has turned to imported contaminated alcohol. My first question was “Why would a Dominican resort worker do this, and four to five different resorts, when Dominicans are non-violent and have to work so hard to even get a resort job?" Many of these people have large extended families to support. What is their motive”?
- Have we forgotten that alcoholism is the leading killer in the U.S., and is root cause to so many other diseases, heart problems, and YES… crime too.
The “Talbot Recovery Report;2018 Alcoholism Statistics You Need to Know: Alcoholism affects people from all walks of life. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 88,000 people die from alcohol-related deaths each yearin the United States. Alcohol continues to be one of the nation’s most preventable causes of death, second only to tobacco and a poor diet/sedentary lifestyle. Alcoholism has a profound effect on the entire body, especially the brain, heart, pancreas, mouth, liver and immune system. In spite of its negative impact, more Americans than ever before, consume alcohol on a regular basis.2
21. HAS THE WORLD GONE SUE HAPPY NUTS? – Now FORMER TOURISTS are claiming to have been sick while at a resort in the DR. Even as far back as 2014 REALLY???
On Christmas day of 2017, I was involved in a horrific car accident here. No other car involved, it just a freak accident when my car lost control when going over an approx. 10’ long dip in the new highway that quickly filled with water during a short tropical rainfall, causing my car to hydroplane, then rolling approx. 7-8 times before landing off the road into a sugar-cane field. Doctors both here and in the U.S. saved my life through 8 different surgeries over a year span. I am happy to report that thanks to prayer by many, and primarily because of my daughter and her family attending to my intense recovery of 6 of 8 surgeries over ten months iin Colorado, I feel blessed that today I am healing well! Here in Bavaro (Punta Cana) I have a great DO doctor who is also my physical therapist. As of this report, I now only limp a little, and my nerve damage is now minimal. My family, friends, and clients have been my inspiration. I am often told that God must have great plans for me. I do worry His plans might be bigger than I my abilities and that I might not be worthy enough.
Blaming others or trying to get money from a business or institution is not in my nature, even if I could have. There are too many “sue-happy” or ”Litigious” people looking for easy money.
There are numerous good people in the U.S. and throughout the world, who, despite the negative and inflated news… are too busy working, raising families, and enjoying life.
Perhaps many Americans are too afraid if they do speak out, their well-intended opinions and real-life stories will be embellished or distorted, even by the news, or worse yet, could be attacked by a biased or ill-willed person on social media. This is a shame because I thought we Americans still had “FREEDOM OF SPEECH.”
22) REGARDING THOSE WHO WANT QUICK CASH FROM OTHERS. In my opinion, many of these people are lazy, and have no respect or regard for what others have sacrificed much for…
- Like Tammy-Lawrence-Daley, for example. If I were in the government here, I would subpoena her to come back the Dominican Republic and face trial in the country she is accusing. Since it is obvious, she has no money, have her make a public and international apology to all the resorts, for the millions of lost revenues, to all the resort workers and other hardworking people with businesses here that support tourism and investments, and apologies to the government, the DR Ministry of Tourism here… who also work hard in making the Dominican Republic such a fun, safe and beautiful destination. She should also appologize to the tourists for creating unjustified fear. AGAIN… Dominicans would not jeopardize losing their only source of income.
- The U.S thinks the DR is soft on criminals… then let Tammy personally check out our (supposedly) “weak criminal justice system”.
- If Tammy doesn’t apologize, shouldn’t she serve time in a Dominican jail? I would think if the tables were turned this is what the U.S. would expect. REMEMBER, jail is supposed to be where criminals go to suffer for their crime(s). No worries… there are no beatings here and she’ll get water. However, she will share a cell, and her food must be provided from someone she knows outside. If she’s lucky, maybe she’ll get a cot to sleep on, and perhaps a view of coconuts out the jail bars.
23. SUMMARY- SO REALLY… HOW SAFE IS IT FOR AMERICANS TO TRAVEL TO THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC RIGHT NOW?
1. Even CNN has a positive report about the data does not match the public perceptions.
2. First, travel so the world stops thinking ALL Americans are ignorant. It’s important that Americans are more educated about geography, world history, and culture.
3. The best way to learn about other countries, is to visit (vacation), as well as to other safe countries. And even when traveling (even in the U.S.) always use common sense & caution.
4. The DR as a whole is still and has been considered a safe country compared to the rest of the world. Especially when comparing Mexico, Jamaica, Venezuela, and yes… even (especially) The United States. Even with the three deaths by possible contaminated alcohol in Punta Cana, the East Coast of the DR is still ranked as a specific province in having the lowest crime in the Caribbean.
5. Of the DR crime mentioned above, 68% of crime occurring in Santo Domingo, yet Santo Domingo is not even on the top “Dangerous World Cities List.”
6. More than 41 million tourists have visited the DR since 2012. Of which, 14 million came from the U.S. With over 6.6 million visitors in 2018 alone, of which approx. 2.8 million were American That’s nearly 43% of the tourist population in 2018 being American. Meaning a high number of American deaths is in part due to the high volume of American’s alone.
7. Dominican Republic is the fastest growing tourism destination of the insular Caribbean.
8. Dominican Republic is ranked 76th of 195 safest country in the world. But this statistic does not factor in population… bringing the Dominican Republic approximately into the upper 25thpercentile.
9. Crime in the DR is primarily robbery, and generally not violent, with the majority of these incidences occurring in the metro-city areas of Greater Santo Domingo with approximately 2,202,000 inhabitants, where most robberies occur among the Dominican locals themselves.
10. In 2018, total domestic homicides in the Dominican Republic continued to decrease, dropping to 1,353 compared to 1,561 in 2017 and 1,616 in 2016.
I’d say, overall the Dominican Police and Military are doing a GREAT JOB!
11. Terrorism? Here’s an interesting tid-bit that no one has even mentioned and is the #1 fear of the world…. The Dominican Terrorism Threat (Local, Regional and International) says “There are no known organized domestic terrorist groups”. Santo Domingo experienced its first incident of Domestic terrorism in 2014 when a civilian male ignited an incendiary device on a crowded subway car, killing 1 person, and injuring dozens. None were tourists. THAT’S 1 INCIDENT PERIOD! PROVIING THE MAJORITY OF DOMINICANS ARE NOT VIOLENT PEOPLE!
24) PERSONAL RECOMMENDATIONS & CLOSING REMARKS FROM AN AMERICAN WHO LIVES AND & WORKS HERE
A) GOVERNMENT / INVESTIGATION DEPT.
- Continue to work side by side with the World Health Organization and the FBI and document and record every finding. Thank you for inviting these experts to come and investigate these incidences.
- Get the roads fixed on an ongoing and regular basis
- Secure more sea-weed-sweeping machines and keep ALL your amazing beaches AMAZING!
- When you are confident with the results of the investigations (with the DR’s cooperation with the U.S.) please stress to the U.S. news it’s time to stop making the DR look bad. The Dominican Republic is awesome and needs to hold its head high! Most Americans are aware of the puppeteering attempts by the news who sensationalize just about everything!
- Make an official statement to the world about the pros of the Dominican Republic and its beautiful Dominican people (in Spanish and English).
- Express your respect and appreciation to all the friendly tourist.
- Disclose Reports pertaining to these “contaminated drinking” investigations.
- Report all the POSITIVE SAFETY MEASURES you and other agencies have already enacted… i.e. investigation collaborations, the increase in the number National Police, the Cestur (or Politur- Police for tourist), the Military, the MOPE highway patrol, and even the AMET (Traffic cops).
- Offer higher wages to police and military with special bonuses for those who also speak English. Afterall, both Spanish and English are the most spoken languages in the world.
- Pay for police and military English classes
- Offer higher wages to those police on the force with more than 10 years of good service and bonus incentives if they stay. These steps will promote “less communication time breakdowns” so police can better assist English only speaking tourists and assist better in investigations.
- Stronger measures to reduce corruption. Starting with the government!
- And while I hopefully have the DR hovt. attention… PLEASE, PURCHASE SOME BEACH COMBER MACHINES WITH ALL THAT TOURISM MONEY, TO KEEP ALL OUR BEACHES CLEAN OF THE SEAWEED FOR ALL TOURIST… NOT JUST THE RESORT TOURIST! The Punta Cana/ Dominican Republic beaches are one of the best attributes to this country and to tourism, yet lately, another big complaint by tourist is the damn seaweed! I don’t blame them! Resorts are not the only entities who occupy the beaches! Aren’t the first 90 mtrs of the beaches supposed to be owned by the government?
- Learn English
- Avoid corruption
- Start issuing more traffic tickets for excessive speeds, drinking and driving, and especially for those motorcycles missing or malfunctioning headlights or taillights.
- If offenders can’t pay tickets, then they should spend time in jail.
- Fines for polluting would be a huge relief too!
- Continue to be the kind and helpful people you are.
- However, PLEASE ;earn how to drive. Get real drivers licenses and learn the universal rules of the road.
- STOP throwing your trash outside. This gives tourist the false impression Dominicans are pigs… when reality is, you are perhaps one of the cleanest (people) nationalities in the world!
- Stop trying to over-capitalize off tourist. Dare to be different than other touristic countries, and other smaller Caribbean Islands. Learn other trades and think outside the box.
a. Remove tap access liquor bottles from all rooms. Add cameras for bartenders serving alcohol
b. Stop importing / buying alcohol from questionable countries with histories of booze contamination/ bootlegging.
c. Have tourists sign a waiver of liability for overdrinking, combining medication with over-drinking, and what the heck… even tummy aches from over-eating and sunburn 😊
d. Offer great vacation incentives to Americans… “See it's Safe for Yourself” campaigns
E)PUNTA CANA INTL.AIRPORT (and other airports)
a. We already have one of the most beautiful airports in the world. Now please offer discounted airfare to Americans for now… sheer volume will make up for the loss in airfare revenue!
- Please provide the world accurate and fair reporting like it used to be when I was a young girl and woman. News you could TRUST! RATINGS and competition with the other media shouldn’t be your primary goal. Truthful reporting should be! It shouldn’t be only about your ratings (i.e. money) but about fair and accurate reporting. Shouldn’t the U.S. be strengthening world-wide alias?
- Keep negative reporting to your own country till you know the facts. Let’s face it, there are way more shootings, drownings, and… yes, alcohol deaths reported in U.S. hotels and resorts than anywhere else in the world. And let’s not forget about drunk drivers!
- What so little reporting about the 192 deaths in Mexico last year (many Americans) Shootings even… We know their tourism numbers are down – is there something deeper to this?
a. Now is the time to buy, as this embellished and inflated news always passes in time.
b. Similar concept to buying strong – longevity contenders,(specific) stock when they are down for a bit… but you know they will rise up again.
c. Already smart investors are taking notice and investing with more negotiation opportunities.
- Show the world you are not afraid to travel and stop cancelling your trips. What a great time you’ll have missed out on if you cancel!
- Post your positive photos and input on twitter and FB… #BeFairwith DR
- Communicate that you're tired of propaganda and embellished news!
- Keep coming to the Dominican Republic without fear. Resorts are awesome! Our fun, safe, tourist towns are equally awesome. The Dominicans are friendly and they still love Americans (I hope 😊
- Be responsible travelers: Many middle-class American’s work hard and long to afford a vacation every 1-2 years on an average. However, is it possible their mind-set changes to thinking, once they enter a resort, they have entered the pearly gates heaven… where no harm can come to them… that they are invincible? Poor existing health conditions combined with excessive eating and drinking; Heatstroke are ignored.
- Maybe you want to try what so many other tourists from all over the world (especially Americans) continue to do here, year after year… Renting a beautiful vacation rental condo located in the fun safe beach-town areas of Punta Cana,where there are so many beach accesses, international cuisine restaurants, gift shops, grocery stores, natural juice stands, gyms, and a short drive away, several championship golf courses, new malls, and everything else “under the sun”. All condo communities are gated with private security, that are patrolled day and night by “cestur” (police for tourist) and where there are no liquor bottle dispensers.
Yup, the last two remarks are MY PLUGS on behalf of all our developers, repeat vacationing guests, and all the loyal property owner clients we have serviced for over 10 years here
THE LAST PORTION OF THE TV EPISODE FEATURES AN AMERICAN WOMAN FROM KANSAS CITY. SHE AND HER PARTNER RENTED A CONDO IN OUR BEACH TOWN AREA OF Los Corales and El Cortecito (in Bavaro)….
MY CHALLENGE: If you love social media, and you also love the DR and have shared your POSITIVE stories about the Dominican Republic and especially Punta Cana (Bavaro, El Cortecito, Los Corales, White Sands, Cocotal), THANK YOU! If you have not shared your good experiences, then I challenge you to share your story on social media. This invite is ONLY offered to those tourists who have actually visited the DR please… AND OF COURSE, OUR REGULAR VISITORS. Whether you stayed in a resort or outside of the resort is not important. Mentioning how many times you have visited with no concerning issues, however, IS important. (No reporting of your own overindulgence or neglect please!
THE NEW YORK POST - July 12, 2019. The Dominican government on Monday launched the #BeFairWithDR social media hashtag to try to keep up with the online spread of news, the report said. “Unfortunately, the unrelated incidents coincided in timing,” André Van Der Horst, the tourism adviser to the Dominican Republic government, told the Washington Post. “With social media today, we are exposed and require an immediate response to the current public relations dynamic, a new reality worldwide. “We are not used to this type of viral communicational outburst and are working with crisis management specialists to establish reaction protocols.”