The development where I owned that home for many years had nominal security, but nothing that would have truly protected someone from a criminal who was intent on doing harm. But then again, criminals who are intent on doing harm exist all over the world. From 2009 until 2017, when I sold the property, I along with many of my family members and friends, enjoyed endless days at that home on the beach and not one of my guests ever felt unsafe or experienced anything unsavory. However, tourists are losing their lives and the media is hyper-focused on the background of these deaths, including the shooting of “Big Papi”.
Is the Dominican Republic unsafe? Should tourists reconsider their vacation choices? This is not about crime statistics or comparing the number of American deaths in one country to another. All countries have crime, albeit some have a lot more than others and that can be contributed to any number of reasons PR agencies will choose to utilize to promote their position. I had a close friend call me this week and ask if she should move her impending wedding this December in the Dominican Republic to a new location. After a straight forward and to the point conversation, my answer was…. No! It is very sad that 11 Americans have died while on vacation there, very sad, and their families I have no doubt will grieve their losses for a long time to come, and that is a fact. “Big Papi” was shot in a crowded public place and though we may not know the reason why, that is also a fact.
However, as with any sojourn outside the United States for a U.S. Citizen, there are precautions you need to take. I lived in the Dominican Republic as a diplomat for 3 plus years, and I observed millions of Americans enjoy themselves in this part of paradise while on vacation. But just like any place one would travel where they are not intimately familiar with their surroundings, we all have to take precautions and do a little research.
I actually know personally someone who experienced a death while on vacation in a foreign land and the last thing a family needs when that happens is for it to be called “fake news”. These families need compassion and a line of communication to ensure they obtain all the possible information available about how their loved ones died, not only for their comfort, but for the comfort of those of us who may be planning trips to the Dominican Republic. Hopefully the authorities in the Dominican Republic and the U.S. State Department will make very concerted efforts to cooperate with and comfort those families.
I am more than comfortable telling my friends to visit the Dominican Republic but I also tell them; DO NOT leave your all-inclusive resort alone. DO NOT travel with flashy expensive jewelry, DO NOT drink until you are blind drunk just because it is free or you feel you paid for it in the price of your stay! DO NOT take midnight romantic strolls along the beach. DO NOT take a local taxi, they are for locals! If you want to leave your resort to visit historical sites, which I highly encourage you to do, then HIRE a reputable guide and one that speaks fluent English in the event you do not speak fluent Spanish. And last but not least as a U.S. Citizen register with the U.S. Embassy for the time period you are going to be there in the event a major issue happens and you need help. The U.S. Citizens Service hotline is available to U.S. Citizens 24/7 in the event of emergencies. Anyplace can be dangerous but with a reasonable approach and precaution you can and most likely will enjoy a wonderful relaxing vacation in paradise.
You can read more about the Dominican Republic, it's incredible beauty and my experiences in my new book BREAKING PROTOCOL: Forging A Path Beyond Diplomacyavailable this Summer 2019 where your favorite books are sold!