Things That Matter

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

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

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

These Long-Time Best Friends Just Found Out They’re Biological Sisters

Things That Matter

These Long-Time Best Friends Just Found Out They’re Biological Sisters

Photo via Cassandra Raquel Madison/Facebook

We’ve all had those friends that are so close to us that they feel like they’re family. Well, in the case of these of two Connecticut women who had the same feeling, that ended up being the case.

Best friends Julia Tinetti and Cassandra Madison learned that they were biological sisters, adopted from the Dominican Republic.

The story is stranger than fiction. Julia and Madison met in 2013, when they both worked at a bar called The Russian Lady in New Haven, Connecticut. The women immediately bonded when they discovered that they both had tattoos of the Dominican Republic’s flag.

Cassandra rehashed the meeting via a Facebook post: “Julia notices the Dominican flag on my arm and makes a comment about how she’s Dominican too BUT she’s adopted from there. I stop her in her tracks and tell her I’m adopted from there too.”

“After that moment, we were so tight,” Julia told Good Morning America. “We started hanging out. We would go out for drinks, for dinner. We started dressing alike.”

Apparently, Cassandra felt the same way. “I thought she was cool,” Cassandra said to GMA. “We just kind of hit it off right away. It was very natural.”

According to them, coworkers were always telling them that they looked like sisters. But when the two of them cross-referenced their birth certificate, their information didn’t add up.

“Papers said we were from two different cities [with] different last names,” Julia explained. “And, our mothers’ names on our paperwork were different.” But the two women believed they were somehow connected–they just didn’t know how.

The mystery finally began to unravel after Cassandra took a 23andMe DNA test.

Through 23andMe’s genetic database, Cassandra tracked down her biological family in the Dominican Republic through a first cousin. She then traveled to the DR where she met her bio-family for the first time–an incredibly emotionally experience. While Cassandra’s bio-father was still alive, her bio-mother had passed away in 2015 from a heart attack.

Years later, Cassandra finally pressed her bio-father on whether or not he had put up another child for adoption. While at first he was hesitant to talk about the painful memory, he finally admitted that he had, indeed, put another child up for adoption years ago.

It was then that Cassandra finally urged Julia to take a DNA test so they could finally put their questions to rest.

The results came back on January 28th, 2021 and finally confirmed what they had long suspected: they were biological sisters.

The entire ordeal has been both thrilling, joyful, and emotionally taxing for the women. At times, it has even been bittersweet, considering the trauma their biological family endured in the past.

“On top of the DR being a very poor country, [our family] couldn’t take care of us,” Julia explained. “I was [born] 17 months later and they weren’t ready.”

All in all, Julia summed up how she feels about the situation in a very direct way: “This is the type of thing you see on TV.”

We couldn’t agree more!

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Filmmaker’s Short Documentary Shines A Light On Woman Who Fought For Cuban Revolution

Entertainment

Filmmaker’s Short Documentary Shines A Light On Woman Who Fought For Cuban Revolution

Filmmaker Celina Escher wanted to capture a historic moment in the Caribbean through the eyes of someone you might not expect. As an assignment from the Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV (EICTV), Escher was tasked with finding a compelling character to cover. Her response was a woman who fought for the Cuban revolution and her excitement for President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba in a film titled “Verde Olivo.” CiNEOLA is bringing the short documentary to the U.S. audience to have a peek into this historic moment.

“Verde Olivo” captures one of Cuba’s most historic moments through the eyes of a revolutionary soldier.

Escher wanted to speak to someone from the Cuban Revolution because of the influence it had on her own home country: El Salvador. The filmmaker wanted to see the people who encouraged the guerilla fighters she learned about growing up. Her search led her to Teresa, a woman who fought for the revolution and has maintained her unwavering support for Fidel Castro and his vision.

“When I met Teresa we spoke about her life and the woman’s role in the Cuban Revolution. On one occasion, Teresa mentioned that she needed to repair her television for the arrival of Obama,” Escher says. “It was a historical moment for Cubans, and especially for Teresa who had devoted her life to the revolution. I was inspired by her and it was then I began to film Teresa’s preparation process.”

Escher appreciated that Teresa and her husband were getting their television repaired in order to watch President Obama’s visit. Cubans are known for maintaining old cars and appliances because of the scarcity of stuff available on the island.

“In Cuba, what is broken is repaired. The Cuban people don’t throw away what is broken and replace it with a new one, like most other western consumerist societies,” Escher says. “Cubans found a way to survive and thrive despite the U.S. embargo. In this precarious situation, the Cubans have been forced to be creative, to repair and recycle.”

“Verde Olivo” shows the resilience of some in Latin America to retain socialist ideals.

The documentary, according to Escher, is important to highlight the strength some in Latin America have maintained against “U.S. imperialism.” Despite the U.S. embargo, life has continued to go on in Cuba after the revolution.

“There have been numerous U.S. military interventions and coups d’etat throughout Latin America where left wing leaders have been replaced with authoritarian military regimes,” Escher says. “There are 76 U.S. military bases in Latin America and the Caribbean with the purpose of securing their economic and political interests. It’s remarkable how Cuba managed to survive all the aggressions and violence.”

The civil war in El Salvador is a strong example for Escher. She grew up knowing of the violent civil war the killed tens of thousands of Salvadorans. The civil war was funded in part by the U.S. government and adds to the overall narrative of U.S.-backed coup d’etats in Latin America.

President Obama’s visit was a wonderful experience while on the island.

Escher remembers that the island was electric as the Cuban people waited for President Obama’s arrival. He was the first president to visit the island in decades and created a renewed hope in cooperation between the two countries.

“It was as if a superstar was arriving. The streets of Havana were cleaned, streets were closed for his arrival, and overall the Cubans were very excited,” Escher recalls. “First of all it was the first U.S. President to arrive in Cuba since 1928, and it happened to be the first Black U.S. President. There has never been a Black president or comandante in Cuba which added to the excitement of many Cubans.”

Despite the visit, many of the Cuban people remained frustrated and disappointed with the overall impact. Escher spoke with Teresa, and her husband Orlando, after the visit. The couple has soured a bit on the visit because the embargo remained and Guantanamo Bay remained occupied.

You can watch the full documentary through CiNEOLA here.

READ: Cuban Embassy Reopens. Cigars, Protests and Food Ensue

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com