SAMANA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Relatives of 18 Dominicans missing for 23 days after setting sail for Puerto Rico on Monday asked the U.S. Coast Guard for help in finding their loved ones.
The missing people set sail in a rickety boat from a beach in the municipality of Sanchez in the northeastern province of Samana.
The president of the Fishermen’s Association of Sanchez, Mateo Reyes Ventura, said that anguish and desperation were prevailing among the relatives of the possible shipwreck victims, who happened to begin their sea journey when several storms were besetting the region.
Ana Miledys Sanchez, the mother of one of the missing men, 25-year-old Francisco Sanchez, blamed the Dominican navy for the situation and said that it had not been explained how the boat set sail without the navy learning of it.
The woman, who admitted that she did not know whether her son was with the group, said that Sanchez is a small town and the townspeople all learn of the smallest local occurrence, including when migrants set sail illegally for Puerto Rico.
Sisters Enerolisa and Cristina Medina said that when they learned that their father, Cornelio Medina, was one of the missing they went to the navy command center in Samana, where they were told that the navy knew nothing about the case.
However, the navy said that it learned of the alleged disappearance through some of the relatives of the Dominicans who went missing and immediately began a sea and air search to try and locate them.
Every year, thousands of Dominicans try to reach the U.S. commonwealth of Puerto Rico, risking their lives rather than remain in poverty in their homeland. Scores, if not hundreds, are believed to drown annually during the journey across the shark-infested Mona Passage. EFE