Dark Side of the Dominican Republic

By Swaffield, Bruce C. | The Quill, September 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Dark Side of the Dominican Republic


Swaffield, Bruce C., The Quill


BY MOSTACCOUNTS, the Dominican Republic is a lovely place. In fact, 4 million tourists - a new record - visited the country last year, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

If you look deeper, past the white-washed resorts with their clear-blue pools, you will discover an unattractive side to all this beauty. And the picture is growing dimmer each year.

The real trouble in paradise is that the Dominican Republic acts as a sort of weigh station for drug trafficking. The cartels use the tiny nation to transport cocaine between Colombia and Mexico as well as to other places throughout the Caribbean.

Journalists are doing what they can to expose the corruption, but it is risky business. On Aug. 2, one reporter was assassinated because he knew too much.

"It is a tale of the killing of a muckraking journalist on a crusade to expose links between drug traffickers, public officials and businessmen in the Dominican Republic," Fox News Latino said on Aug. 10. The report continued:

"A resort owner is suspected of orchestrating the killing of a Dominican journalist, José Silvestre, a prosecutor said.

"Hotel owner Mafias Avel ino Castro wanted to preven t journalist José Silvestre from publishing a planned story that linked Avelino to a murder and drug trafficking. Deputy Attorney Genera! Frank Soto said at a news conference."

The article added that a police investigation showed Avelino also wanted revenge because of past stories Silvestre had reported both in his weekly magazine and radio program, "The Voice of Truth." Silvestre revealed information that linked Avelino to the recent assassinations of at least two business owners in La Romana.

In May, Silvestre was sued for slander by a local prosecutor whom he also accused of dealing in illegal drugs. Silvestre spent six days in jail and was then released on bond. The case was still pending at the time of his death.

Known to his friends as "Gajo," Silvestre had 1 1 children and was well known in the southeastern province of La Romana. It is interesting to note that several rounds were fired at his house after his allegations against the prosecutor aired on Caña TV and that he was driven off the road a few days after leaving prison.

The details of Silvestre's death were recounted in Diarioubre.com: "The investigators established that Manon Gutiérrez, following the orders of his boss 'Daniel' [Matías Avelino Castro], during the early dawn hours of Tuesday, 2 August, set out headed for La Romana in company of three other persons to carry out the criminal action.

"The authorities stressed that the accused related how after they kidnapped the journalist José Silvestre and putting him in the SUV, in order to take him to the capital, he started to resist and he, Manon Gutiérrez, hit him with the Hanger revolver that he carried with an outof-date license. …

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