(CNSnews.com) – The Dominican Republic has problems with human trafficking and “sex tourism,” according to the U.S. State Department.
The small island nation in the Caribbean has been in the news recently because Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) flew there twice in 2010 on the private plane of a friend and political donor, and failed to pay for the flights, which cost a total $58,500.
Also, in a CNN interview on Monday, Menendez vehemently denied allegations that he had engaged in sexual trysts with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. On Jan. 4, Menendez reimbursed his friend, Dr. Salomon E. Melgen, a Florida eye surgeon, for the two flights in 2010.
The Senate Ethics Committee in investigating whether Menendez acted inappropriately in not reporting the plane trips. Last week, the FBI raided the West Palm Beach, Fla., office of Dr. Melgen.
According to the Country Reports on Human Rights 2011, the most recent of the annual country reports released by the U.S. State Department, “child prostitution and other abuses of children, trafficking in persons” are among the criminal and social problems occurring in the Dominican Republic.
The report also identifies “sex tourism” as a problem.
“Sex tourism existed throughout the country, particularly in Las Terrenas, Cabarete, Sosua, and Boca Chica,” reads the State Department report. “NGOs [non-governmental organizations] conducted education and awareness programs on the problem for hotel and industrial zone workers, male and female prostitutes, and other high-risk groups.”
Prostitution is legal in the Dominican Republic. But child prostitution is illegal, according to the State Department.
Menendez, during the CNN interview on Monday, called the prostitution allegation, first reported by The Daily Caller in November 2012 as “smears that right-wing blogs have been pushing since the election.” As to why he only recently reimbursed Melgen for the travel – after a Senate ethics complaint was made – Menendez told CNN, “The bottom line is, when it came to my attention, I paid for it.”
A third flight in 2010 by Menendez aboard Melgen's plane was a campaign fund-raising journey to the donor's residence in the Dominican Republic. That trip was reported to the Federal Election Commission, the AP reported.
However, Menendez categorized the other two trips as personal; one from Aug. 6-9, 2010, a round trip from South Florida to the Dominican Republic; another from Sept. 3-6, 2010, from New Jersey to the Dominican Republic and back.
Sex tourism booming in the Dominican Republic
caribbean360.com – While many Caribbean countries are exploring innovative approaches to boost their tourism industries, the Dominican Republic reportedly continues to attract large numbers of visitors, thanks, in part, to the world’s oldest profession.
The popular destination, which attracted 4.6 million visitors in 2012, making it the most visited nation in the Caribbean, is renowned for its breathtaking scenery, pristine beaches and quality accommodation.
But in the paradisiacal resort areas, it’s not unusual to spot foreign men with attractive local women a fraction of their age, providing visible evidence of an aspect of the tourism industry neither promoted nor condemned by the government and tour operators.
Way before allegations surfaced claiming United States Senator Bob Menendez and a political contributor visited the country for wild parties with prostitutes, the Dominican Republic had acquired a reputation as a sex tourism haven.
According to the Centre for Integral Orientation and Investigation, a Santo Domingo-based health and outreach organization, studies suggest that between 60,000 and 100,000 women work in the country’s sex trade.
“The Dominican Republic has been associated both on the island and off the island with sex for sale,” noted Georgetown University professor Denise Brennan, author of What’s Love Got to Do With It?, which examines sex tourism in the country. “Dominican sex workers strategically position themselves and talk about themselves and make use of foreigners’ expectations of them as being hot and sexy.”
While countries from Brazil and Costa Rica to Thailand and Cambodia are also known to have thriving sex tourism industries, the Dominican Republic’s proximity to the United States and Europe, bolstered by its inexpensive travel packages, have made it a favoured spot.
There’s also a wide range of options available, from 30 minutes with a woman in a small hotel for about US$40 to various packages often arranged privately via the internet.
“We’ve become known as a place where foreigners feel they can come and live out their fantasies,” according to former prostitute Jacqueline Montero, who now heads an organization that assists sex workers. “It’s not illegal. … It’s easy and, for tourists, it’s inexpensive.”
While laws prohibit sex with minors, prostitution is neither illegal nor legal in the Dominican Republic. As such, it is practiced openly and widely accepted as legal by police.
Was Sen. Robert Menendez a classic sex tourist in the Dominican Republic?
(mstarz.com) - According to several recent reports, the Spanish-language news network Univision tracked down a woman by the name of Yaneisi Fernández on Monday (Feb. 4) to find out if she was one of Bob Menendez's alleged Dominican Republic call girls. Fernández denied any ties to the prostitution case, and it remains unknown why Univision decided to question this specific Yaneisi Fernández. Meanwhile, New Jersey Senator Menendez continues to heatedly deny any prostitution charges, insisting that such claims are merely false "smears."
Earlier this year, the FBI launched an investigation against the popular Democratic politician in regards to allegations that he engaged in sexual relations with underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic during several trips with a campaign contributor. The Senator and his office deny the shady accusations.
Meanwhile, the Daily Caller reports that the contents of a revealing email were published on Jan. 30 by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). An English translation of the email provided by a native Spanish speaker suggests that nine months ago, a young Dominican Republic woman wrote that she slept with the 59-year-old Senator at a series of sex parties organized by Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Menendez campaign donor. According to the woman in the email, "That senator also likes the youngest and newest girls" (wrote on April 21, 2012). This woman's name has since been identified as Yaneisi Fernández (or sometimes spelt with a "y," Yaneysi).
However, according to Peter Williams (the tipster who gave the emails over to the Daily Caller), the Fernández who allegedly wrote the informative emails is a "a high-class prostitute" who is also "white, thin, 5.6 feet tall [with] light eyes, [a] pointed nose, [and] big exciting mouth." None of those descriptions match the Yaneisi Fernández that Univision tracked down on Monday... a small-town, 21-year-old college student who still lives with her mother.
In fact, no evidence proves that Fernández (the prostitute) even lives in the Dominican Republic. The Daily Caller recently found that at least 12 separate women in the U.S. go by the name Yaneisi Fernández.
As for the young woman question on Monday - "Her mother says that this month she is going to get married, and that she is a virgin," according to Univision reporter Esperanza Ceballos as translated by the Daily Caller. "Yaneisi Fernandez says that she has never heard the names of either senator Bob Menendez or that of the doctor Salomon Melgen."
Fernández's mother claims, "My daughter is here at her house and at the university and returns from there to her house. And the hour she returns is the hour that she should be here. What's more, she does not know that house in the countryside [Melgen's Casa de Campo resort residence, where Menendez's alleged inappropriate trysts apparently took place]. She knows nothing of that house in the countryside. This is not the truth."
Fernández also told Univision, "This is completely false. I don't know anything, and I didn't even see it on television... I've never been to Casa de Campo, I've never participated in those activities, don't know those people or that man."
Meanwhile, Univision insists it will continue its reporting into the case. CREW also continues its search online through social networking outlets such as Facebook to find the right Yaneisi Fernández… no such luck yet.
Two minors were rescued from brothels and at least 109 people were taken into custody during raids on prostitution centres and bars in the Dominican Republic. WARNING!! Haiti and Dominican Republic have 80% of the Caribbean’s HIV/AIDS......
Watch out before picking up your next girlfriend and sex partner in DR!! The country faces a difficult situation with the international financial crisis which affects major donors in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Dominican Republic has more than 60,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, and only one-third receive medication......
TRUE WORDS SPOKEN, but was he including government offices? That is where most of this country's sellouts work - The problem is the lack of education !!!
Economist Pavel Isa recently said that the head of state Leonel Fernandez would leave a fundamentally negative legacy especially in terms of institutionalism. It's here all the problems began.....