New York. The leading Democrat in the US Senate He called on the government to intensify its efforts to investigate the deaths of several Americans who traveled to the Dominican Republic while the Dominican Ministry of Tourism rejected a massive cancellation report.
Chuck Schumer, Democrat for New York, specifically asked the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to get involved.
The senator said the agency should intervene to provide investigative support to the FBI and local law enforcement officials after at least eight Americans died in the Dominican Republic this year.
Family members of tourists have asked the authorities to investigate if there is any connection between the deaths and have raised the possibility that those deaths may have been caused by adulterated alcohol or by the improper use of pesticides.
The ATF – which primarily investigates firearms-related offenses, but is also responsible for regulating alcohol and tobacco – is in a unique position to provide forensic and technical expertise in the investigation, Schumer added.
The agency also has offices in the Caribbean. “Given that we still have a lot of questions and very few answers about what, in any case, is the cause of the recent wave of illnesses and several deaths of Americans in the Dominican Republic, federal agents should double their efforts to help get there at the bottom of things, “Schumer said.
The Dominican Minister of Tourism, Francisco Javier García, said that the deaths of Americans this year in the Dominican Republic are not part of a mysterious chain of deaths, but a normal phenomenon from the medical and statistical point of view. Autopsies have shown that tourists died of natural causes, Garcia told the press. Five of the autopsies were completed last week and in three the toxicological tests continue with the assistance of the FBI due to the circumstances of the deaths.
Francisco Javier García categorically denied that there have been massive cancellations of reservations for tourists who plan to enjoy their vacations in the Dominican Republic.
Garcia denied that a cancellation of 74% in the reserves has been registered due to the disinformation campaign that has been mounted against Dominican tourism. “To say that 74 tourists out of every hundred who were going to visit the Dominican Republic decided not to do it these days is an absurdity, a lie that no one believes,” the official told reporters, after meeting with businessmen and tour operators in the Big Apple.
He affirmed that hotel occupancy is high, despite the season and he quoted that, “in Puerto Plata, for example, there are hotels that are literally full.”
The Minister of Tourism traveled to the city of New York where he held meetings with tour operators and other entrepreneurs in the sector as part of his strategy to counter the disinformation campaign that was mounted against Dominican tourism. The official also met with the Supermarket Owners Association of New York City and executives of the Public Relations company that is managing the campaign in the United States.