I was caught in a group fraud in Santiago involving a Texaco station which said it took the Amex card, then tried to run it through an ATH transfer box... they gave the card back... and said to call the bank.. so I hightailed it out of there. Was chased to somewhere around a big intetersection where about 50 people surrounded the car... some insisting that they were police (in uniforms with guns but no official ids)...with the guy from the Texaco station insisting that I had to return to pay the 1800 pesos in gas. I said i was willing to go proceeded and followed by a police car but would not open the door to let an armed man into the car.The U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo informs U.S. citizens visiting the Dominican Republic there has been an increase in armed robbery against U.S. citizens arriving at Las Americas International Airport near Santo Domingo during the evening hours. Criminals impersonating police are stopping travelers along various highways after they depart the airport. Some of these incidents have been violent as the assailants used gunfire to pull over vehicles which failed to respond to the flashing lights. The gunmen forced the occupants out of their vehicles and robbed them of valuables. In some incidents, travelers staying in private residences instead of hotels are followed to where they will be staying and attacked and robbed as they try to enter the premises.
While no U.S. citizens have been killed during these robberies, the U.S. Embassy has received reports of several injuries. These incidents have occurred at night and in either private vehicles or public taxis. It is currently unknown how the victims are targeted and whether they are identified within the terminal. U.S. citizens arriving at the Las Americas International Airport should take necessary precautions, or consider scheduling arrival times during the daylight hours.
The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy is located at the corner of Calle César Nicolás Penson and Avenida Máximo Gómez. The American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit can be reached by telephone at 809-731-4294, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. ACS Unit office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, Friday 7:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., except on U.S. and Dominican holidays. The Chancery of the U.S. Embassy is located a quater-mile away from the Consular Section, at the corner of Calle César Nicolás Penson and Calle Leopoldo Navarro. The telephone number is 809-221-2171.
After about an hour... by which time they had one cop wannabe with a night stick in through the driver's window... they had to smash a window in the back since it was the middle of the day and me and my dog were really in danger since it was too hot to run the ac. Then I was taken in a more official police car to the fiscaleria of Santiago.. where I was held for five days... in a Trujillo style cell with no running water or toilet or lights
From there I was transferred fo the psych wing of the public hospital , put under heavy medication and finally released today after 8 days into the custody of my nephew who flew in from Puerto Rico.
While I was pretty frightened, I also felt that there were guards who were on my side and that I was never in mortal danger. (although I was relieved when one of the guards at night promised to shoot me if I could not stand it anymore.
Please note that I am sure that I was getting extraspecial attention because I am credentiallied press with my press card out of the United Nations and I have accused the government here of narcotrafficking. I turned all my papers and directions into the US Consular Services before I left SD. And as a journalist I was well aware of the dangers facing me. But I have worked all my life to become credentialed press and I knew once I had information about narcotrafficking here and did not print something, I either had to be prepared to die or cut up my press card and move.
And, since I am already 65, I felt this was a stand I was willing to take.
None the less... Since I have lived here for almost 8 years and travelled almost the entire country... And have NEVER seen or heard of such an organized operation,
But the parking lot in Santiago DAs office was full of cars which most likely been "acquired" in such a fashion.
So by this means I wish to officially inform the US Embassy that I am fine but that they should extend this warning to Santiago as well.
Right now, I could only recommend tourism inside the all included resorts.
As I said before, the US Embassy has no facilities to do anything except to call someone inside the United States.
I believe that they can help a stranded US citizen to return to the US but do not have actual information on what they can do.
As I have done before, I wish to warn any foreign citizens who are here, particularly those with children, that there is NO protection here from any sort of US military or intervention.
I remember when I first started posting here when Ginny was still with us eight years ago and I asked her why she felt so safe here and she said that she thought that in case of crisis the United States would protect them.... Ginny was British and had been here for 12 years before I go here -- and was operating perhaps under more of a Cold War mentality. I just want to underline for any foreign residents who may be here thinking that they are under some sort of implicit protection from the USA that no such protection is availale.
The Dominican Republic is an independent nation. The United States has no armed forces here officially and cannot offer any protection.
Please make your travel or retirement or second home investments with this information.
And many thanks to all the DR1ers who held me in their prayers... Thanks expecially to JR and AE and Frank who checked in with me after Las Terrenas before Santiago. I am fine, in a nice hotel with my nephew,,, and resting to return to SD tomorrow.
My dog has been delivered to friends and freedom in LT... where she will live in freedom and happiness with a friend who has two little dogs like her and who will train her to ride on the handlebars of her pasola. This is what Iko wished.... I am proud and pleased to report that she crawled through the bars in the cell to share my imprisonment. WHAT a DOG!! officially a shihpoo.... born in SD este. You should be so blessed.
I will decide my personl plans from there.