By Nelson Santana
July 1, 2019
U.S.-based mainstream media outlets are spreading lies about the Dominican Republic with no context
Recent news reports focused on tourist deaths fail to provide in-depth investigative journalism to readers and viewers in the U.S.
News reports paint a rather sinister picture of the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean that is far from the truth
In recent weeks, news of tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic have made headlines in U.S. media due to right-wing and Republican propaganda and racist viewpoints toward the country. Conservative U.S.-based journalists have mounted an aggressive campaign against Quisqueya. Conservative outlets including Fox News and New York Post are among those leading the charge. Unfortunately, the information being reported by most news outlets is inaccurate, misleading, and reported without any context.
According to statistics NBC Connecticut pulled from the U.S. Department of State, United States citizen deaths in the Dominican Republic have been on the decline in the past decade. In fact there has been a sharp decline since 2015, when 30 deaths were reported. One must then wonder whether or not the mass hysteria created by conservatives is part of a larger plan to discredit Dominican Republic’s tourism industry and divert tourists to another destination.
For weeks, U.S. media outlets have reported stories regarding tourist deaths with the uncertainties found in a horror film. Contradicting the reports of right-wing and Republican mouthpieces Fox News and New York Post, a recent article by The Washington Post notes that although the tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic are “mysterious,” the number of deaths are in fact normal, noting that there is no uptick in the amount of tourists dying when compared to previous years.
Several public figures including celebrities have come to the defense of the Dominican Republic. Shark Tank star Barbara Corcoran’s brother, John, is among the recent tourists who have passed away. Corcoran shared the following on her Instagram account:
He loved the DR and vacationed there frequently. My brother had an existing heart condition and we believe he died of natural causes, but you're still never ready for the death of a loved one.
Corcoran does not absolve the Caribbean nation of any wrongdoing, but she does not condemn it either. Meanwhile, other celebrities such as comedian David Alan Grier have contributed to the hysteria:
Non-celebrities like Twitter user Sharice Stickley—hashtag @SherpasinSpace—, have taken to social media to ridicule the nation and joke about the recent occurrences via insensitive and borderline racist commentary. Stickley wrote, “Why am I not feeling better all these days in. Did I come into contact with someone back from Dominican Republic?? Gravy.” The comment alludes to the Dominican Republic being a cesspool for disease.
Why am I not feeling better all these days in. Did I come into contact with someone back from Dominican Republic??— Sharice Stickley (@SherpasinSpace) June 24, 2019
Adding to the hysteria is the recent shooting incident involving World Series Baseball Champion and Boston Red Sox legend David Ortíz. In a black-eye for the nation, Ortíz suffered from a gunshot wound when a “hitman” opened fire and injured the former slugger on June 9. Since the news broke, the media have included this isolated incident in reports regarding tourist deaths, thus painting Dominican Republic as an unsafe destination cesspool.
One death is one too many. The problem with the conservative media is that it fails to provide context when writing their articles, which are also coupled with sensationalized headlines.
Tourism Minister Francisco Javier García has rebutted the claims, noting, “It's not true that there has been an avalanche of American tourists dying in our country, and it's not true that we have mysterious deaths here. He also noted that the media’s reporting of an “avalanche of deaths does not correspond to reality.”
One could argue that tourists are better protected than Dominican nationals. The Cuerpo Especializado de Seguridad Turística (CESTUR) or Specialized Unit of Tourist Security is a special unit under the National Police that ensures the safety of everyone in tourist areas throughout the country. Created in 1975, this special force ensures the safety of tourists. Hence, tourist safety is a priority of the Dominican government given this is the most profitable industry for the nation.
Among the strategies employed by conservative news outlets is reporting in 2019 and sharing stories regarding tourists who lost their lives in the Caribbean nation years prior. A recent article by the New York Post sheds light on the deaths of Chris Palmer and Barbara Diane Maser-Mitchell, who died on April 18, 2018 and September 17, 2016. The Post’s article even links to the Fox News article that broke the two-year-old story.
A map within a Business Insider article notes 2019 tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic, but also includes deaths from 2018.
Instagram user drvisitor uploaded a post with statistics. According to this Instagram user:
In the 50 most dangerous cities in the world index, 43 are located in the American Continent, 5 in the United States and none in the Dominican Republic.
drvisitor also notes the following:
Comparison of similar size city destinations violent crime rates:
Las Vegas, USA: 36.83 per 100,000 people
New Orleans, USA: 36.87 per 100,000 people
Santo Domingo, DR: 8.66 per 100,000 people
You can read the full post below:
View this post on Instagram
What a weekend! I’ve been busy packing for an upcoming work trip but also responding to messages and comments rolling in about my recent article on the DR resort incidents. 3,000 shares and increasing! . You know something? I actually learned a lot this past week about statistics in other US resort/vacation areas that are as popular as Punta Cana. And here is the actual data - thanks to the gentleman who runs DominicanRepublic.com. The numbers blew me away on Las Vegas! Who knew. I’ve been there before 4 times and might have been terrified if I knew the stars beforehand. 😆 . *Comparison of similar size city destinations violent crime rates: Las Vegas, USA: 36.83 per 100,000 people New Orleans, USA: 36.87 per 100,000 people Santo Domingo, DR: 8.66 per 100,000 people ⠀⠀ American Tourist deaths per year comparison: Las Vegas: 1,100 per year Mexico: 238 per year Costa Rica: 31 per year Dominican Republic: 19 per year ⠀⠀ In Las Vegas: Of 1,100 visitor deaths, most are found dead in their hotel rooms. 6% (66) no cause of death could be determined. Heart attack is the determined cause of death for 1 in 4 of all Americans who die inside U.S. territory. . In the 50 most dangerous cities in the world index, 43 are located in the American Continent, 5 in the United States and none in the Dominican Republic. . The reported 10 U.S. tourist deaths by natural causes have occurred in the DR in a one year period, not in 3 weeks as reported by U.S. media. (You know this from my post as well). . Side note: Did you know that this time last year, it was Mexico travel that the media was bashing? Well actually they get gross generalizations all the time in the press - and yet they still are a favorite vacation destination. Same with DR! . In the meantime: thanks to those who answered my question on what you'd like to see next on the blog. I've taken note! . Got an upcoming trip or questions? Drop’em below or DM me. . Wishing you a ☀️🏝 week ahead. Remember to stay away from NY Post, turn off @jimmykimmellive, and instead come enjoy some merengue, mangú, beach and mountain air in the DR this summer! . #dominicanrepublic #befairwithdr #ilovedr #caribbean
A United States woman in military garb commented:
If you’re worrying about dying, you might want to leave the United States because 290 people die in New York every year but people still go. Most people who comment on the situation in the Dominican Republic have never been there…If you noticed, almost all of the deaths took place in a resort. Maybe Americans should stop being bougie and really go to another country to learn the culture and not stay at a place that’s Americanized and ran by Americans.
You can view the video below:
An Anglo tourist who claims he has been to the Dominican Republic 27 times, came to the defense of the Caribbean nation:
“The Dominican Republic is the second greatest country of the world. Canada is number 1. Dominican Republic is number 2…It is safe here. Don’t believe all the bullshit you see on Facebook. I’ve been here 27 times to this resort. My granddaughter had her ninth birthday today. I would not bring her here if it wasn’t safe. “
Other Social Media Reactions:
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"We have shown first of all that it is not true that there is an avalanche of deaths of American tourists in the country and it is not true that there are mysterious deaths. That is why we are the favorite destination of American tourists who visit us. The Dominican Republic is a safe country, because here we have absolutely nothing to hide. Our first priority in tourism is the safety of tourists, more than the amusement of tourists, our priority is the safety of the tourists who visit us." @foxnews @fox5ny . . . . #DominicanRepublic #ILoveDR #tourism #travel #caribbean #bucketlist #RepubliqueDominicaine #BeFairWithDR #wanderlust #press #RepublicaDominicana #godr #news #caribe #summer #history #culture
Think the Dominican Republic Is Suddenly More Dangerous? Take a Look at These Charts | NBC Connecticut https://t.co/nnitevu7Qf— Flavio Darío Espinal (@fdespinal) June 22, 2019
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🇩🇴📍lately a lot of bad news about my country and I admit it, it is not an advanced country like others, the government: better not to talk🤦🏽, delinquency, YES! there is, as in all other countries, and on defamation and sensationalist news (more / not to say only in America) confirmed by many Europeans, I think YES! you have to investigate those deaths, it's really a pity, that people die here, some of them from natural causes, or from intoxication and some simply from their own negligence☝🏾 we must be aware of what is happening, thousands and thousands of tourists visit us every year, thousands of tourists live here, this is a tourist country which is being judged by incidents that happened in ONE part of our island, we must be aware of what is happening, thousands and thousands of tourists visit us every year, and thousands also live here, THIS IS A TURISTIC COUNTRY which is being judged by incidents that happened in ONE part of our island, my sincere condolences for the people who have lost a loved one during this bad period that we are going through, irregularities in a hotel, that must be investigated !. we do not kill tourists, but we can not judge and point to the whole country when in other places of the world much more horrible things happen, in the statistics these events do not represent even 2% as much, we deserve the benefit of the doubt! more are those who speak wonders of this beautiful country than the few who want to defame with their sensationalist news at their own convenience! #BeFairWithDR #notmore #spreadthegoodnews #showsomelove #ilovedr #dr #🇩🇴 #🇩🇴❤️ #spreadlove💙 #spreadthegood #travel #vacation #safety #fox5ny #dominicanrepublicdeaths #🤦🏽♀️
Conservative and Republican media outlets will continue to tarnish the name of the Dominican Republic. Given the political climate during the era of “Fake News,” they will continue to push their agenda by disseminating inaccurate and misleading information with no context, not only in the Dominican case, but across the board.