Thursday, April 26, 2007

Nightmare in the Dominican Republic

The harrowing experience of a couple from Labrador in the Dominican Republic is quite an eye-opener. On their first day at the resort, a “guest” who was clearly a local thug accused Andrew and Dawn Sinnott of stealing his cell phone. The hotel manager sided with the thug and the couple was taken to a fake police station where they were shaken down for a $1000 ransom. After their ordeal, the couple was ordered to leave the hotel by the manager, who seemed to be in cahoots with the thugs.

Fortunately, the item (by reporter Peter Cowan) was picked up by CBC national news, so this story will have an impact across the country. The questions that I would like to see answered in future media coverage include, how widespread is this racket? Will charges be laid against the kidnappers? Will the hotel manager be fired? The way the government of the Dominican Republic handles this case will tell you much about whether or not it is a safe vacation spot. I am also curious about other people’s experiences in this country. Have you been robbed while on vacation there? If so, please leave a comment.

A quick google search for “Dominican Republic nightmare” turns up some results, such as these resort horror stories, but I can’t see any references to kidnapping and extortion. This post will help to correct that.


towniebastard said...

Not that I'm unsympathetic to what they went through. It was undoubtably highly stressful and I would have been freaked out if I had to go through a similar experience.

But there is one question I had going through my mind...why didn't they call the Canadian Embassy? That's what you do if you're a traveller in a foreign country and you run into trouble. You call your embassy and they help you as best they can.

Maybe officials would have been helpless. But I think constantly saying "I want to speak to my embassy" might have thrown these people.

If nothing else, it's a good reminder for the next time I travel - always have the number for my local embassy (or a 1-800 number that's also available if you don't know what number to call in that country) on me in case of trouble.

Geoff Meeker said...

Did you hear the interview with the couple? They were basically detained against their will and felt threatened. While I do agree that it is wise to attempt (or threaten) to call the Canadian Embassy, I am not sure it would have have helped in this instance. They were abducted against their will. Still, it is good advice. Based on the following advisory that you can read here, I do think it is wise to stay on your toes while in the country: "Valuables left unattended in parked cars, on beaches, and in other public places are subject to theft. Burglaries of private residences have increased. Some resort areas have experienced an increase in violent crime. The larger resort complexes, which rely on private security services, have generally not been affected."

towniebastard said...

I'd actually heard the story before it broke. When my wife was talking to her mom, she relayed the story along. Apparently it was making the rounds. But no, I haven't listed to the CBC story, only what I've read on the site.

But I still think saying you aren't going anywhere until you contact your embassy, so that they know what's going on and where you are is essential.

For that matter, where was the rest of the resort's guests? If someone is trying to haul me off to an unknown location without letting me call my embassy, I'm kicking up holy hell.

They got blindsided and freaked out. That's understandable and unfortunate and I'm glad they're speaking out about it. But it is a lesson for the rest of us when we travel, not just to the Dominican, but anywhere in the world.

Table Mountains said...

most tourists priorities when traveling to those destinations are what to wear,how much to tip,what to see while there. maybe they should consider having their embassies phone number in their cell phone on speed dial or at least marked down before they step off the plane or cruise ship.