Yesterday evening, two people were injured in Santiago, Dominican Republic, after two separate incidents of gun violence.
19-year-old Jonathan Cabrera was shot in the abdomen at the Lovera Bar discotheque and 31-year-old Federico Lara Tapia was shot in the foot at Lovera Bar 2.
At this time, the motivation behind the shootings is not known. Whilst the victims may have been connected to the perpetrators somehow, it is also likely that they were shot after being mistaken for other people.
The Cibao Central Regional Directorate of the National Police is set to thoroughly investigate the incidents after the perpetrators fled the scene. The victims are currently receiving treatment at Jose Maria Cabral y Baez Hospital in Santiago.
This comes after another shooting on May 16th, when a 24-year-old male was fatally shot in Santiago by unknown criminals. The three cases are not thought to be connected at this time, after an investigation by the National Institute of Forensic Sciences (INACIF) in the Dominican Republic.
Whilst multiple shootings occur in the Dominican Republic every year, many Dominican citizens fear reporting incidents of violence out of fear that the perpetrators will retaliate. After the shooting of a 25-year-old student in Los Giarsoles in March, Dominican citizens in the region have struggled to talk to police about similar incidents: one citizen, who wished to remain anonymous, stated
“Here, the shootings are a daily occurrence. That same day that they killed that boy, there were about four more shootings… here, it is impossible to live”.
Compared to other nations in the Caribbean and Latin America, the Dominican Republic ranks 17th for gun-related homicides out of 21 countries, with just 10.3 homicides per 10,000 inhabitants. Other countries in the Caribbean region rank much higher, including Jamaica (with 49.4 homicides per 10,000) and Honduras (38.6 homicides per 10,000).
Most shootings take place in residential areas late at night, after disagreements, or in response to petty crimes. Gun violence also circulates around gang culture in the Dominican Republic, especially in the areas of Capotillo, Guaricano and La Cienega in Santo Domingo. Most violence they commit will involve rival gang members, but some initiation processes do involve harming random strangers, which tourists should be aware of.
In 2019, 11 American tourists died in the Dominican Republic from a mixture of tainted alcohol and natural causes. There has been one major incident of gun violence against famous Dominican-American baseball player David Ortiz , who was shot in a bar in Santo Domingo, 2019.
However, there have been no reports of any suspicious deaths of American tourists in the last 24 months, including shootings. Whilst the American government has placed the Dominican Republic at danger Level 2 for tourism (suggesting modette caution should be exercised when visiting), this relates more to the spread of the coronavirus and petty crime.
The highest rate of homicides caused by shootings in the Dominican Republic tends to occur in larger, more central cities, such as Santo Domingo, Santiago, Distrito Nacional and San Cristobal. Tourist hotspots, such as Punta Cana, Puerto Plata and La Romana are less likely to be affected by gun violence, but visitors should remain vigilant of any suspicious activity.
Tourists entering the region are encouraged to report any evidence of criminal activity, including gun violence, to the Tourist Security Specialised Corps (CESTUR), who are specially trained to aid visitors in the country.
If CESTUR are not available, the local police force in each district will be able to process any report of a crime.
Any emergencies, including incidents of shootings, against U.S citizens, should be directly reported to the U.S Embassy of the Dominican Republic located in Santo Domingo, by telephone or in-person.
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