Things That Matter

Something Is Going On In The Dominican Republic As The 11th American Dies And Countless Others Return Sick

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There have been varying reports of illnesses and deaths that have come out of the Dominican Republic that has many wondering what’s going on. At least seven Americans have died this year already in the Dominican Republic, with questions being raised about how is this happening. But despite the news, the island nation says that there is nothing for tourists to be concerned about.

Here is the list of American tourists that have died in the Dominican Republic in the last year.

Donette Edge Cannon. Died in May 2018 if kidney failure after staying in Punta Cana.
Yvette Monique Sport, 51. Died June 23, 2018 at the Bahia Principe in Punta Cana. 
David Harrison, 45. Died July 14, 2018, at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana. 
Robert Wallace, 67. Died April 12, 2019, at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana.
John Corcoran, 60. Died at the end of April inside his hotel room in the Dominican Republic.
Miranda Schaup-Werner, 41. Died May 25, 2019, at the Bahia Principe Bouganville. 
Edward Holmes, 63. Died May 30, 2019, at the Bahia Principe La Romana.
Cynthia Day, 49. Died May 30, 2019, at the Bahia Principe La Romana. 
Leyla Cox, 53. Died June 10, 2019, at the Excellence Resorts in Punta Cana.
Joseph Allen, 55. Died June 13, 2019, at the Terra Linda Resort in Sosua.
Vittorio Caruso, 56. Died June 17, 2019, at the Boca Chico Resort in Santo Domingo.

Officials in the Dominican Republic aren’t buying that there is a problem going in there.

All 11 Americans who have died over the last 12 months in the Dominican Republic were staying at luxury hotels and all died under somewhat similar circumstances. The FBI is assisting Dominican police with investigations and the State Department has stated there has been no evidence of foul play or sign that the deaths are connected.

Ministry of Public Health spokesman Carlos Suero told Fox News this week the deaths shouldn’t bring alarm or fear to potential visitors. She says the people that passed died of natural causes.

“It’s all a hysteria against the Dominican Republic, to hurt our tourism, this is a very competitive industry and we get millions of tourists, we are a popular destination,” Suero told Fox News. “People are taking aim at us.”

Two of the sudden deaths happened at the Hard Rock Cafe in Punta Cana. Liquor from the minibars is suspected in the deaths and the resort is responding by removing the dispensers in the guest rooms. According to CNN, General Manager Erica Lopez said the decision was made to “provide more tranquility” for the guests and tourists.

Despite these reports, many agree that the Dominican Republic is still a safe place to travel.

The U.S. State Department currently rates the D.R. as a level 2 (“exercise increased caution”) out of 4 on its Travel Advisory alert system. Visitors in countries rated as 1 should “exercise normal precautions” while Americans aren’t encouraged to travel to countries rated as 4.

“Millions of Americans travel to the Dominican Republic every year,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement. “Speaking generally, we have not seen an uptick in the number of US citizen deaths reported to the Department.”

People on social media aren’t letting these reports stop them from visiting the Dominican Republic.

Many aren’t buying the news that they should be “fearful” when traveling to the Dominican Republic. Some say the recent string of deaths and illnesses are a huge coincidence that’s being blown out of proportion.

According to CNN, there were an estimated 6.5 million tourists that traveled to the Dominican Republic in 2018. Out of that number, 2.2 million of those were American. Tourism makes up about 17 percent of the Dominican Republic’s economy which might be the reasoning behind why officials have dismissed the idea of an epidemic or growing danger there.

“People die all over the world,” Suero told Fox News. “Unfortunately, very unfortunately for us, these tourists have died here. We had about 14 deaths last year here of U.S. tourists, and no one said a word. Now everyone is making a big deal of these.”

READ: Eighth American Dies In The Dominican Republic And Families Are Pressuring The US Government To Demand Answers

An American Died In The Dominican Republic In March But The Death Was Ignored And Treated As Natural Causes

Things That Matter

An American Died In The Dominican Republic In March But The Death Was Ignored And Treated As Natural Causes

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More Americans have died while on vacation in the Dominican Republic. News agencies have been reporting on the increasing number of American deaths in the Dominican Republic and now one more death has come forward from March after being ignored.

A Georgia man’s death and under investigation months after dying in the Dominican Republic.

Credit: @LaurenPozenWSB / Twitter

Tracy Jerome Jester Jr., of Forsyth County, Georgia died in March while vacationing in the Dominican Republic with his sister. Allegedly, Jester started to complain of not being able to breathe after a day of sightseeing with his sister.

Jester Jr.’s mother told ABC News that his death certificate references “respiratory illness” as the cause of death.

Credit: @ABC7Chicago / Twitter

Jester Jr.’s mom told ABC News that he did have lupus. Yet, the man’s mother remembers her son telling her about a “nasty” Sprite he drank in the Caribbean country shortly before his death.

According to ABC7, Jester’s mother got a call from her son the night before his death and he told her about his activities, including the questionable taste of the soft drink he purchased at the hotel. While she told him that it might be a different flavor in the country, he insisted that something was odd about the drink.

At 4:40 a.m., she got a call from her daughter and the conversation was troubling.

Credit: @jockosims / Twitter

At this point, Jester Jr. was vomiting blood and telling his sister that he wasn’t able to breathe. Their mother instructed her daughter to call emergency services but there was a delay in someone assisting, according to ABC7.

There was no toxicology performed because of when the young man died in connection to the increase in tourist deaths.

It wasn’t until there was increased media attention to the deaths and three deaths at one hotel that toxicology screenings started to happen. So far, the FBI is performing toxicology screenings on the three victims from the same hotel.

Officials in both the U.S. and the Dominican Republic claim that there has been no significant increase in deaths.

Credit: @ulisesjorge / Twitter

People are trying to calm down the fears of everyone talking about the deaths in the Dominican Republic. While it is not abnormal for tourists to die while on vacation, the deaths of those in the Dominican Republic have left Americans stunned.

READ: Dominicans Are Taking To Social Media To Make Sure That People Stop Trying To Cancel The Dominican Republic

The Black Majesty At The Afro-Latino Fest NYC This Weekend Is What Dreams Are Made Of

Culture

The Black Majesty At The Afro-Latino Fest NYC This Weekend Is What Dreams Are Made Of

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With six years of celebrating Afro-Latinidad behind them, Afro-Latino Fest took to New York City for the seventh time running and it was better than ever. Latino Rebels and Futuro Media group partnered to create a social entrepreneur workshop, creating more much-needed access, and Afrolatin Talks launched their Podcast series to a live audience.

With live music, indoor and outdoor stages, and coalescence of uninterrupted culture-affirming celebration all weekend long, you can bet the whole event was like a POC dream come true.

In the last U.S. Census, more than 25 percent of all those claiming Afro-Latino heritage report living in New York City.

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So it makes sense that Afro-Latino Fest would go down in Brooklyn, where the bulk of the community already lives. In the last census, only 2.5 percent of all Latinos also identified as Black, which makes Brooklyn an especially special place.

Latin flags were held and celebrated showing the diversity of the Afro-Latino community.

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That’s just what you do at the Afro-Latino Fest. You don’t have to be afraid of someone coming up to you asking if you’re an American or be in fear to express cultural pride.

The music was next-level increíble.

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Internet community Black Owned Brooklyn couldn’t have described the event any better: “Celebrating all things Afrolatinidad — from music, dance and food to politics, philosophy and religion — the Afro-Latino Festival (@afrolatinofestivalnyc) returned to Brooklyn last weekend for its seventh edition. Run by husband-and-wife duo Amilcar Priestley and Mai-Elka Prado Gil (both from Brooklyn by way of Panama), the event started in 2013 as a small gathering at Flatbush’s Parkside Train Station Plaza to “affirm, celebrate and educate” around the contributions of people of African descent from Latin America and the Caribbean. It has since evolved into a two-day festival, most recently at City Point in downtown Brooklyn, featuring music from eight countries across three stages. 🇵🇦 🇩🇴 🇵🇷 🇭🇹 🇭🇳 🇨🇺 🇨🇴 🇧🇷 ⠀”

There were chingona level DJ’s setting the party mood.

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These identical twins, Coco and Breezy, were just one set in a lineup of incredible performance artists like Puerto Rican spoken-word poet, Felipe Luciano, Dominican singer, José Alberto “El Canario,” Haitian-American singer Tadia and all-women Mariachi group Flor de Toloache. 

Afro-Latinos of all ages were able let loose a little bit.

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Every child was made to feel like royalty, with Afro-Latino owned vendors like “A Princess Like Me” in attendance. This was a family event.

Of course, there were bubbles for los niños.

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Who doesn’t love a good bubble machine?! Unlike the parties many of us went to as kids, there were actual children’s events to look forward to after rubbing the red lipstick off your face from all the tía besitos. Plus, who doesn’t want to hang out with Elena of Avalor?

The festival was all about community.

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And representing your whole heritage with pride. With the festival in its seventh year running, some of the children knew each other from the year before and others made fast friends.

The festival empowered Afro-Latino vendors to empower young Afro-Latino niños to be themselves.

Credit: @aprincesslikemenyc / Instagram

Caption: “Thank you @afrolatinofestivalnyc for booking us and giving OUR kids a place to freely run, play, dance and color with PRIDE! Our Latina Princess met amazing little Latina princesses too 👑👑👑🥰 where we hosted the entire kids zone at @citypointbklyn !!! Empowering our girls one princess & party character at a time. With live singing, makeup, nails, tattoos, dancing and more we bring the party to you! Ensuring your child has the best party possible for the lowest cost in NYC it’s no wonder we only have top ratings! Ps ask us about our customized characters and package options.”

We hope they get even more business after the festival’s long over.

It also empowered Afro-Latina‘s all over the place.

Credit: @bxmary80 / Instagram

“I am so excited! #laborinqueña #Brooklyn,” wrote this festival goer. She even got to meet the artist that created the highly anticipated “La Borinqueña” superhero comic, which celebrates a Black Puerto Rican woman as the protagonist.

At the end of the day, the event was all about family.

Credit: @cjrbarnes / Instagram

The young man in this photo expressed his gratitude for the event with a post on Instagram that read, “As the son of a 🇯🇲 [Jamaican] Immigrant and a 🇨🇺[Cuban] American, I’m blessed to be able to identity with both my Caribbean and African roots. @AfroLatinoFestivalNYC exemplifies all of the richness that Africa has on our beautiful Latinx counterparts—culture personified!🌍”

READ: From Maxwell To Cardi B, These Afro-Latinos Are A Driving Force In The Music Industry Today

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