Things That Matter

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

Leyla Cox, 55, will be the second American tourist whose body was found in their hotel room in just three days. Joseph E. Allen III, a New Jersey tourist, was found dead on June 13 after feeling sick the night before. Leyla Cox was found on June 10 in Excellence Resorts in Punta Cana.

A forensic report obtained by the hotel reveals that Cox died of a heart attack. Officials say the country is “no less safe than it was before,” according to a CNN report.

Leyla Cox’s family is reluctant to accept the country’s autopsy report.

@OstapiukJ / Twitter

Cox was visiting the Dominican Republic to celebrate her birthday and planned to be back in New York within a week. Her son, William Cox, told ABC 7 News that, “it’s been a non-stop nightmare ever since I got that phone call.”

Dominican officials are calling the deaths isolated events.

@rodrigmarchena / Twitter

“In the last five years, over 30 million tourists have visited the Dominican Republic, but this is the first time the international media report such an alarming situation,” Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia responded. “These are isolated incidents and the Dominican Republic is a safe destination.”

But people don’t want to hear the same lines. They want answers.

@diegoarisot / Twitter

“These tweets against the negative reports from The New York Times and FOX News serve nothing,” reads the tweet. “Clarify the deaths and let the world know, starting with your said means.”

Authorities continue to state the same stances–these are isolated incidents. Americans are growing more and more frustrated with the lack of local investigations into the matter.

The family of Joseph E. Allen III, found in his hotel room on June 13th, won’t stop searching for answers.

@essence / Twitter

Joe’s family has been told that Joe started feeling sick on Wednesday night. He felt like he had a fever, and decided to skip going out with his friends to take a cold shower and rest. By Thursday morning, his friends were worried that he wasn’t answering his hotel phone. They asked the hotel staff to let them into his room, where his body was found in rigor mortis.

Joe’s only son arrived a couple of hours later for a scheduled celebration of Father’s Day.

@ArubaRuthnell / Twitter

He didn’t find out his dad had passed until after he landed. Joe’s brother, Jason, told Essence that once Joe’s son “got there that they were performing an autopsy on my brother without any consent and [my nephew] was told that it was the law of the land.”

The family has penned New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez to demand justice for Joe.

@SenatorMenendez / Twitter

“My family and I are afraid that my brother was a victim of a wrongful death,” Jason wrote. “Being aware of the recent number of mysterious deaths occurring in the Dominican Republic, we immediately attempted to contact the U.S. Embassy…for answers and seeking any help they could offer in getting an investigation started with an autopsy done back in the United States.”

On May 30, a couple was found dead in their hotel room.

@JesusComing2033 / Twitter

Edward Nathaniel Holmes, 63, and Cynthia Day, 49, were found in their rooms at the Bahia Principe La Romana Resort. They both had internal bleeding and damage to their pancreases. Holmes was reported by authorities to have an enlarged heart and cirrhosis of the liver–significant signs of a pre-existing, dangerous condition.

The New York Post reports that they collapsed and died after drinking from the minibar.

In April, a California man reportedly died after drinking from his hotel minibar.

Robert Wallace, 67, died in his Hard Rock Hotel room. After having scotch from the minibar, he started experiencing blood in his urine and stool immediately afterward.

The FBI is now investigating the cause of these deaths–suspected to be poisoning.

@nypost / Twitter

Many of the official reports of death have not been released to the public just yet, and families are feeling frustrated. Not a single toxicology report, which would indicate poisoning, has been released.

There are no travel advisories for Americans regarding the Dominican Republic just yet.

@jayracruzz / Twitter

Though many Americans are taking to Twitter to announce their plan to avoid the DR until more information is released. Others are making sure that the world knows: “Dominican Republic is not bad.”

READ: This Dominican Republic Hotel Just Claimed Its 6th Victim And Experts Think The Mini Bar Is To Blame

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Ben Watkins Of ‘MasterChef Junior’ Has Died From A Rare Form Of Cancer

Things That Matter

Ben Watkins Of ‘MasterChef Junior’ Has Died From A Rare Form Of Cancer

Fox

The “MasterChef Junior” family is sadly in mourning.

Ben Watkins, a fan-favorite contestant on the show for children who love to cook, has died. Watkins was just 14. He passed away on Monday, after a year-long battle of fighting a rare form of cancer.

According to Chicago Tribune Watkins passed away after struggling with a rare form of cancer for a year and a half.

MasterChef Junior/ FOX

Just three years after Watkins lost both of his parents to a domestic violence incident, the teen’s family is being forced to say ‘goodbye’ to him. Watkins uncle Anthony Edwards and grandmother Donna Edwards issued a statement on Monday that said their beloved family member had gone “home to be with his mother.”

“After losing both of his parents in September 2017, we have marveled at Ben’s strength, courage and love for life. He never, ever complained. Ben was and will always be the strongest person we know. When Ben’s rare illness was shared with the world, he was so heartened by the outpouring of love he received from every corner of the globe–especially here in his hometown of Gary, Indiana,” the statement, which was shared on a GoFundMe campaign page, stated. “We cannot thank this community enough for holding our family up in prayer and for all that you’ve done. Ben suffered more than his share in his fourteen years on this Earth but we take solace in that his suffering is finally over and in that, in the end, Ben knew he was loved by so many. #Love4Ben.”

Watkins was diagnosed last year with Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma, just days before his 13th birthday.

MasterChef Junior

Angiomatoid Fibrous Histiocytoma is a rare soft tissue cancer. It occurs in only a small number of children and young adults and is characterized by cystic blood-filled spaces and made up of histiocyte-like cells.

“Young Ben is one of only six people in the entire world diagnosed with this illness. Ben is currently undergoing treatment at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Despite all of Ben’s trials and tribulations, he remains positive and looks forward to getting back in the kitchen and pursuing his dream to become an Engineer.   Members of the community have joined together to see that the life challenges that Ben has gone through does not derail him from reaching his full potential and fulfilling his dreams,” the statement concluded.

According to Chicago Tribune, Watkin’s had a golf-ball-sized tumor in his neck that had grown into a grapefruit-sized mass. Watkins underwent chemotherapy treatment for tumors located on his lungs, spine, and shoulder.

“Despite all the pain and sickness Ben went through, he never complained, not once,” Edwards told the Chicago Tribune. “We were praying for a different outcome. But Ben’s lungs could no longer give him the air he needed to breathe. It’s been devastating.”

According to the Chicago Tribune, “When Ben was first diagnosed, one of his doctors began writing a medical paper on Ben’s rare disease. Adhering to privacy rules, the doctor didn’t use Ben’s name. You can use my name,” Ben told the doctor. ‘Do whatever it takes. I don’t want another kid to have to go through what I’m going through.’ Ben and his family also consented for tissue to be extracted from his cancerous tumors after his death, to be shared with researchers. By doing so, Ben’s altruistic legacy will continue in the medical community as well as in his family.”

Speaking about his nephew, Edwards told Chicago Times that “Ben will always be our superhero.”

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Quino, Cartoonist And Creator Of Mafalda Comics, Dies At 88

Culture

Quino, Cartoonist And Creator Of Mafalda Comics, Dies At 88

Juan Mabromata / AFP via Getty Images

Mafalda is one of the most iconic cartoon characters for millions of Latinos around the world. The little girl highlighted the social inequities and pitfalls of dictatorships and authoritarian governments. Quino, the man who created Mafalda, died Sept. 30 at 88.

Joaquín “Quino” Salvador Lavado, famed cartoonist who created Mafalda, died at 88.

The world was first introduced to Mafalda in September 1964 in Primera Plana in Argentina. Soon after, the comic strip went global with readers on three other continents. The world fell in love with the young girl’s strong political statements.

Comic fans are mourning the death of Quino.

Lavado created the Mafalda comic strips from 1964 until 1973 being critical of dictatorships around the world, including in Argentina. The cartoonist stopped creating the Mafalda comic strips when the coup d’etat installed Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Three years later, the cartoonist fled to Spain to avoid being killed during the military dictatorship in Argentina.

Mafalda was a cultural icon that touched people from different walks of life.

At its height, Mafalda was being printed in 26 different languages for millions of readers around the world. Mafalda took complex and real issues facing the world and boiled them down into bite size moments people were able to understand by bringing it down to a child’s pure level.

“However, even if Mafalda is dissentient and rebellious, she is still a child, this is why she does not abandon the world to its fate, but she speaks with it and nurses it putting even plasters on its wounds if necessary,” reads part of Mafalda’s bio on Quino’s official website. “She invites it to improve, she exhorts it to resist, she makes it promise her that it would be still there when, as an adult, she’ll be an interpreter at the UN.”

Many in the English-speaking world do not know or know very little of Mafalda.

The Argentinian cartoon found wild success in Latin America, Europe, Asia, and Quebec. Fans are sending their condolences through social media giving Mafalda and her quick wit and political prowess a time to shine.

Mafalda got people interested in the way the world and its governments work.

The young girl was always very politically active and interested. Her dreams and her zingers always went back to the heart of the issues the world was talking about. Mafalda influenced generations of young Latinas into being politically engaged and involved because of her involvement.

It’s hard not to honor Mafalda and her undying will to move the world forward.

When Mafalda speaks, she has a way of letting people feel like they have been seen. She is not afraid to speak up on the things she sees and doesn’t like. She is not afraid to be the one to voice the opinion everyone else is thinking.

Rest in peace, Quino.

You work will forever guide people through this world with intention and purpose. Thank you for giving us someone to see ourselves in.

READ: Here’s Why You Should Be Familiar With Mafalda, One Of The Best Latino Cartoons Of All Time

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