The pain of not knowing: Dominican families search for missing loved ones
By María Montecelos
Santo Domingo, Oct 30 (EFE).- Raiza Javier Arias busies away painting a Christmas figurine. It distracts her from the void left in her life following the disappearance of her 20-year-old son Marino on October 7, and also helps fund the search for him.
Raiza and dozens of other families are going through a similar ordeal in the Dominican Republic.
Alexander, Erick, Jorge, José Antonio, Kendry, Londi, Yilin, Amber, Yeison, Fulgencio, and Roberto are just some of the names on a long list of people who have gone missing. Between January and September this year, the number has risen to 221, according to the general attorney’s office.
There were about 20 cases of disappearances in October alone, according to family investigations.
What is going on in the country? Why have so many gone missing in such a short period of time?
A LACK OF RESOURCES
All of the families who spoke with Efe share one opinion — the police are willing to engage in searches but lack resources and personnel.
Raiza began to look for her son the very night he went missing.
Marino’s family have trawled police stations, hospitals, churches, parks, have asked to see security camera footage and put up posters in their search for Marino.
“The problem is the slowness of the investigation because there are so few people. The number of missing is too big,” Raiza says.
“The families are doing what the authorities should be doing with our own resources,” she adds.
“We are not begging, we are just asking for the resources to help us look for our missing family members, and for someone to give us an answer because they are not turning up, dead or alive.
“Something is going on and the government is silent.”
This inaction and lack of answers is something that María Mercedes is also having to deal with in her search for her 22-year-old son Manuel Antonio ‘Tony’ Marte, who went missing on September 16.
He left the family house to work out and never returned.
“That night we stayed up looking in all of the hospitals, police stations, but we didn’t find anything, to this day we don’t know anything.”
The family is waiting for permission to carry out tests that could be crucial to locating Tony.
Three days after he went missing, Tony’s car was discovered in an area he was not known to frequent. His cell phone, still turned on and with battery, was found inside.
However, investigators must wait for a judge to approve testing on a laptop and fingerprints detected on the car.