Update: 22.09.2005

Update: 11.06.2005  






(list see below)

PLEASE HELP TO DISTRIBUTE THE FOLLOWING TOURIST ALERT AND THE LIST OF RECOMMENDED HOTELS - also feel free to make double sided copies and distribute them along the beaches and in the hotels –

THINK TWICE BEFORE YOU BOOK and consult this List of Fame and Shame:


These Hotels have terminated business with Manati Park and registered their protest against the illegal capture of dolphins as well as their support of the demand to close the Manati Park dolphin facilities. 


Riu Melao

Riu Naiboa

Riu Palace Macao

Riu Taino

LTI Punta Cana Beach Resort

We applaud also the Community of Bayahibe and the Community of Boca de Chavón for their proactive stand against Manati Park and their nature conservation efforts.



a) These Hotels have expressed their understanding for the terrible situation or registered their protest against Manati Park, but they continue themselves or allow within their premises business as usual with Manati Park (this is based on clear and proven reports by our independent investigators).

Iberostar Bavaro

Iberostar Dominicana

Iberostar Punta Cana

Bavaro Princess All Suites & Resort

Occidential Flamenco Bavaro

Fiesta Bavaro

Fiesta Beach/Palace Resort

Fiesta Dominican Hotel

H10 Bavaro Resort

Barcelo Villas de Bavaro

Barcelo Bavaro Village

Barcelo Bavaro Ocean Village

Barcelo Bavaro Palace

Barcelo Bavaro Beach

Barcelo Bavaro Casino

Barcelo Bavaro Garden

Barcelo Bavaro Golf

Natura Park Resort

Allegro Resort Bavaro

Melia Caribe

Melia Tropical

b) The management of these hotels is ignorant, their activities unclear  and they have not responded at all.

Secrets Excellence Resort Punta Cana

Hodelpa Caribe Club

Carabela Bavaro Beach Resort

Catalonia Bavaro Resort

Club Med

Punta Cana Beach Resort




These Hotels have not registered any protest against Manati Park, continue to have business with Manati Park or even support their activities.

Sirenis Tropical & Cocotal Beach Resort

Breezes Punta Cana Spa & Casino Beach Resort



… and it is a SCANDAL that European taxpayers money was misused by the EU to finance  them.

Manati Park Bavaro

President & Manager: Sr. Jose Miguel Moreno Nigorra

Ctra. Manati, s/n Bavaro/Higüey

Republica Dominica

Tel. 001-809-221 94 44

Fax. 001-809-221 92 82


Manati Park mother company:

Inversiones Arrecife

President: Sr.Jose Miguel Moreno Nigorra,

resides at: Plaza Espana 1, Atico A

07002 Palma de Mallorca /SPAIN

Tel. 0034-971-712 185

Fax. 0034-971-726 947



We do up to now have no feedback for the following hotels and would ask tourists for reporting if they notice advertisment for Manati Park in those hotels, which clearly have expressed their intent to stop any cooperation with Manati Park.  (Please send any credible information and updates to: !) :

Paradisus Punta Cana

Sunscape Punta Cana Grand

This list might change over time since more and more Hotels stop to have any affiliation with Manati Park.


(details below)

Update February 2003

For the first time in history of the Dominican Republic the civil society of the Dominican Republic in the defence of dolphins take on the owner of Manati Park and the State in a lawsuit. The Dominican lawyer who represents the community of Bayahibe and the Dominican Academy of Science informed that the Dominican State has ratified the Cartagena Convention and supported petitions before the Senators and legislators asking them to dictate resolutions to prevent alert and reject dolphin capture in this country.

The civil society of the Dominican Republic fighting for the freedom of the dolphins deserves all our respect and support.


We therefore also ask YOU to support the efforts of the local communities to free the dolphins of Manati Park Bavaro, to urgently demand that this mistreatment has to be stopped immediately and Manati Park can no longer make money out of the suffering of these animals. We ask that the remaining dolphins are returned to the areas from which they were captured or rehabilitated in a natural environment.

Please address your protest ( Sample letter below but please feel encouraged to modify it with your own words. 

Model protest letter :


Honorables Señores,

Nos dirigimos a ustedes para solicitarles que se unan a   los movimientos internacionales y nacionales de protesta contra las instalaciones de delfines de Manati Park Bavaro - las cuales, desde su establecimiento, han sido criticadas tanto por expertos como visitantes por las condiciones en que mantienen a los delfines: pequeñas y vacías piscinas de cautiverio de cemento, mala calidad del agua, falta de instalaciones de refugio, etc. Pero, lo especialmente preocupante es el Programa de Nadar con Delfines en que los delfines son sometidos a intensas horas de interacciones con los visitantes y, debido a la crueldad de la actividad, estos han mostrado ya signos de agresividad contra algunos turistas y hay un alto índice de mortaldad de delfines en esta instalación.


Tour operadores y hoteles ya han dejado de cooperar con Manati Park y los medios de comunicación internacionales han mostrado reportajes impactantes. Estamos indignados por el hecho de que, a pesar de las terribles condiciones de vida y nivel extremo de explotación de los delfines en el programa de Nadar con Delfines, en Agosto de 2002, Manatí Park utilizó un permiso ilegal y capturó 8 delfines más en aguas nacionales, lo cual viola, además de la Ley 64-00, las normativas del Parque Nacional del Este, una zona especialmente protegida. Es inaceptable que, hasta ahora, nadie sepa donde están estos ocho delfines y el parque se ha negado a dar información.


Nosotros- los abajo firmantes- queremos apoyar los esfuerzos de las comunidades locales de Bayahibe para liberar a los delfines de Manati Park Bavaro y pedimos urgentemente que se ponga fin inmediatamente a este maltrato y que Manati Park no siga ganando dinero del sufrimiento de los animales. Solicitamos que los delfines restantes sean devueltos a las zonas de donde fueron capturados o rehabilitados en un medio natural.

Atentamente - Nome - Lacacion






Honourable Sirs,


We address you to join the international and national movements of protests against the dolphins facilities of Manati Park Bavaro - which since its establishment has been criticised by experts and visitors alike concerning the conditions the dolphins are kept: Small and barren cement captive pools, the quality of the water, lack of refuge or sanctuary facilities, etc. But of particular concern is the handling of the Swim with Dolphins Program by which the dolphins have intense hours of interactions with visitors and due to its cruel outline have shown already aggressive behaviour against some tourists. Also the mortality rate of dolphins at this facility is horrendous.


Tour Operators and Hotels stopped co-operation and international media aired shocking reports. We are outraged about the fact, that despite the poor living conditions and extreme level of exploitation of the dolphins during the swim program in August 2002 Manati Park used an illegal permit and captured further eight dolphins in national waters, which violates Law 64-00 as well the regulations of the Parque Nacional del Este, which is a specially protected area. It is unacceptable that up to now nobody knows where the eight dolphins are being held and that the park is allowed to refuse any information.


We - the Undersigned - would therefore herewith support the efforts of the local communities of Bayahibe to free the dolphins of Manati Park Bavaro and urgently ask that this mistreatment has to be stopped immediately and Manati Park is no longer allowed to make money out of the suffering of animals. We ask that the remaining dolphins are returned to the areas from which they were captured or rehabilitated in a natural environment.

Sincerely - Name - Address

The text send please to:

Lic. Jose Antonio Trinidad Sena 


(in absence of a direct e-mail address please send to:) 

e-mails will be handed over directly)


H.E. the Honourable

Presidente del Estado

Mr. Hipolito Meja

Fax: 001-809- 686-7830



To Sr. Frank Moya Pons

Secretaria de Estado de Medio Ambiente y de Recursos Naturales (Minister of Environment)

Fax: 001-809- 540-2667 or Fax 001-809-540-7561





Sr.Rafael Subervi Bonilla

Secretario de Estado de Turismo (Minister of Tourism)

Fax. 001-809 682-3806


  Copy to: 



Manati Park is a zoo-like establishment in the Dominican Republic / Punta Cana offering disgusting swim-with-dolphins programs. Five bottlenose dolphins are confined in a very small chlorinated pool.  The size of the pool is alarmingly inadequate for dolphins who typically swim up to forty miles a day in the wild. The dolphins are forced to participate in swim-with-dolphins program three times per day,  seven days a week. They are also made to perform in the arena twice per day, seven days a week. They are forced to pose for pictures outside the water in the scorching sun and their slavers allow 200 customers per day to cling to their pectoral fins while they have to circle around the pool. They have to, since they are fodder-dependent.

Since its establishment the dolphins facilities of Manatí Park, Bavaro has been criticised by experts and visitors alike in relation to the conditions dolphins are kept: Small and barren cement captive pools, the quality of the water, lack of refuge or sanctuary facilities, but of particular concern is  the handling of the Swim with Dolphins Program by which the dolphins have intense hours of interactions with visitors and due to its cruel outline have shown already aggressive behaviour against some tourists. The mortality rate of dolphins at this facility has been difficult to evaluate, due to the lack of information given by the authorities, but at least 3 dead dolphins are documented.

Tour Operators and Hotels stopped co-operation and international media aired shocking reports even showing a dolphin attacking a child in the pool because he was so overworked. VISA International, Nestle and Pepsi Cola, originally mentioned as sponsors of Manati Park, ordered and achieved that their logos had to be removed from the Manati Park brochures and billboards. The only remaining advertiser affiliated to Manati Park is the local bottled water company ATLANTA, which is now boycotted by most tourists and local communities.

The History of Dolphin Slavery at Manati Park


Manati Park was opened in 1995. In November 1995, the government of the Dominican Republic through its Department of Wildlife of the Secretariat within the Ministry of Agriculture, granted a permit to capture 10 bottlenose dolphins in local waters.


According to a document provided by Manati Park and dated November 14, 1996, two dolphins out of the permitted quota of 10 were captured in local waters. According to the 1996 annual report of CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) four dolphins were imported from Cuba.


Additional two dolphins were imported from Cuba (CITES annual report 1999)

As a summary it is herewith documented, that between 1996-1999 eight wild dolphins have been provided for Manati Park.


January 2002:

Only five dolphins survived at the park, thus indicating the death of three dolphins since 1996. However it is presumed that the information is incomplete and that the death rate much higher than the one official stated by Manati Park.

Despite the poor living conditions and extreme level of exploitation of the dolphins during the swim program, the Ministry for Natural Resources, Sr. Frank Moya Pons, in January 2002 granted permission to Manati Park to utilise the original capture permission issued in November 1995, though in the meantime the laws had changed in the Dominican Republic. Every new capture done now therefore violates the national Dominican Republic Law 64-00 Article 175 promulgated on August 18, 2000, which prohibits the capture of protected species. A separate article in this law in particular even states that permits are not valid if they are contrary to the principles of the Law.

August 2002:

In August 2002 Manati Park used this illegal permit and captured another eight dolphins in national waters at a location near the village of Bayahibe, on the east coast of the D.R.. Besides the violation of Law 64-00  this capture was done in the specifically protected area of a national park, the Parque Nacional del Este. The illegal capture therefore violates also the regulations of the national park. None of the local contacts up to now knows where the eight dolphins are being held – Manati Park refuses to give information – and their whereabouts are unknown to the public since their August capture. Attempts to capture more dolphins in August faced the protest of different sectors of society, specifically the communities near the park and the local environmental and tourist organisations and more captures could herewith be avoided.

December 2002

The inspection by experts from the “Human Society of the United States” reports that „the facility is perhaps one of the worst we have ever seen. There are standard concrete tanks, all the tank walls had algal growth on them – the cleaning schedule appears insufficient to keep the growth to a minimum.  The paint is chipping and all the metal in the tanks and on the gates was rusting.  The holding tanks were separated from the primary enclosure by wooden gates – this is not optimal (the gates should be stainless steel), as wood can harbour dangerous levels of bacteria, even after cleaning.  The animals are fed fish held in plastic-lined, Styrofoam coolers – this is also not optimal (the fish should be held in stainless steel pails), for the same reasons.  We could not see the quality of the fish from our vantage point. The music accompanying the performance was exceptionally loud. The show also had no educational content – it was purely entertainment.“


Eight Dolphins of the Virgin Mary

Story and Photo by  Ric O'Barry, One Voice France

(December, 2002)


The legend began in the small fishing village of Bayahibe, (pronounced buy-a-hebay) which is located on the southeastern coast of the Dominica Republic.

In the year 1925, an annual celebration was organized by the local fisherman to give thanks to the Virgin Mary whom they considered to be the "divine shepherd" of the fishing boats of Bayahibe. The nine-day event climaxed with a colorful boat procession along the coast. Word of this event traveled far and wide, and in 1954 a Franciscan Monk who had heard of the celebration traveled from Brazil to the village to participate. He brought with him the gift of a beautiful painting of the Virgin Mary, which was lovingly restored and then hung in a place of prominence, above the alter in the village church. On May second of each year, which is the ninth and final day of the celebration, the painting is carefully removed from the church and placed into the lead boat in the procession. The boat is beautifully decorated with flowers that surround the painting of the Virgin Mary.

To this day, the nine day celebration is very important to the village people of Bayahibe. It is their way of giving thanks to the Virgin Mary for protecting the fisherman throughout the year. It is also the time that they pray to Virgin Mary for protection during the upcoming year.

On May 2, 2002, a very unusual and beautiful thing happened. During the parade of boats, a group of dolphins -- some say a group of eight--- surrounded the boat that carried the painting of the Virgin Mary. This was the first time that this had ever happened. In fact this was the first time that the villagers have ever seen the dolphins up close. The dolphins of Bayahibe have always kept their distance from humans, as most wild dolphins do, and nobody in the village could remember a time that the dolphins came so close.

This beautiful scene amazed the people who witnessed the procession boat full of flowers, the beloved painting and the dolphins leading the procession, it was indeed a sight to behold. In fact, the village people were so impressed with this unusual event, they have commissioned a group of artists to paint a mural of this spectacular scene in the village.

In August 2002, just three months after the celebration, a cruel and terrible thing happened in the early morning hours as the village slept. Eight dolphins were violently captured in the nearby waters of the Parque Nacional del Este, which is the largest protected natural reserve in the Dominican Republic. The captures were the work of the local dolphinarium known as Manati Park. The village was outraged and vowed to liberate the eight dolphins that had been taken from their waters. The villagers started a search for the dolphins, guessing that the dolphins were kept in a temporary sea pen someplace along the coast. Had this been the case, they would have simply freed the dolphins by cutting the fence that separated the dolphins from their family and pod members. But the villagers could not find the dolphins, and with good reason: The eight victim dolphins were hidden away, out of sight and under heavy security in a tank on the back lot of Manati Park, just one hour by truck from the village.

The village prayed to the Virgin Mary for guidance in their efforts to liberate the eight dolphins. The local environmental group Fundation Bayahibe took the lead role and organized a campaign to free the eight dolphins of the Virgin Mary, with help from the Academy of Science, local animal welfare/environmental organizations "Fundation Dominicana de Estudios Marinos" (FUNDEMAR), and "Patronato Amigos de los Animales" (PADELA) and ECOTERRA Intl.. Lawyers for the coalition maintain that the captures were a violation of Dominican Republic law; article 175 of the law 64-00 of the environment, which declares that the capture and exploitation of resources that could be a detriment or cause the death of legally protected species like dolphins is forbidden. Furthermore, it underlines that these actions violate the protocol on flora and fauna of the Agreement of the Cartagena Convention as well as other treaties, both regional and international.

Therefore, according to these statutes, both the Minister of the Environment, who issued the capture permit, and Manati Park, who captured the dolphins in the marine sanctuary known as Parque National del Este, are in violation of the laws of the Dominican Republic.

Dolphin advocates are fighting for the release of the dolphins taken under these illegal circumstances and to halt any further captures in the waters of the Dominican Republic.


January 2003:

The lawyer of the Academy of Science, files a denunciation with the Ministry of Environment, citing violations of the SPAW Protocol of the Cartagena Convention and the domestic environmental statute, #64-00.  The plaintiffs are the local Marine Mammal Group Fundemar, the community of Bayahibe where the illegal captures took place, and the Academy of Science of the Dominican Republic.

As there are no known norms or  regulations for marine mammals in captivity in the Dominican Republic local institutions have suggested, on several opportunities, to the environmental authorities the need of these measures in order to protect the species and to comply with the requirements  of the various international conventions which the Dominican Republic has subscribed. There is no public research on population and distribution studies of Tursiops truncatus in Dominican waters.

A national and international movement of  protest has been organizsed to  free the dolphins initiated by the joint community groups of Bayahibe ( City council, church, environmental groups, etc.) intellectuals, scientists and lawyers from the Dominican Academy of Science and of course, representatives of local protection societies.

February 2003

For the first time in history of the Dominican Republic the civil society of the Dominican Republic in the defence of dolphins take on the owner of Manati Park and the State in a lawsuit. The Dominican lawyer who represents the community of Bayahibe and the Dominican Academy of Science informed that the Dominican State has ratified the Cartagena Convention and supported petitions before the Senators and legislators asking them to dictate resolutions to prevent alert and reject dolphin capture in this country.

The civil society of the Dominican Republic fighting for the freedom of the dolphins deserves all our respect and support.

WEBMASTERS / LISTOWNERS: Please feel free to post the information and the list on your website or mailing list and inform us respectively in order to also be furnished with the updates, which are based on a continuous flow of documented reports from the Dominican Republic.

LOCAL SUPPORT GROUPS: Please make copies and distribute them  politely to the travellers at the respective airport counters especially in Hamburg, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, München, Madrid, Miami, Bruxelles, Paris, London, Roma and Wien, from where most charter flights start to the DR. Speak to your local travel agent and make them aware! Feedback to: 



Manati - Park

Dear Sirs,

please allow me to turn to you in desperation about the cruel abuse of five dolphins in the Dominican Republic and the hope and kind request for your support in our work to stop this horrible treatment. Below I will let you know some words about the situation there. Up to now we have handed over more then 5.000 protest signatures from people and tourists all over the world - the only outcome is absolute ignorance. The animal welfare organisation in the Dominican Republic I work with says the only hope to bring the suffering of these poor creatures to an end is worldwide opposition, which means, that we need as many animal welfare groups from all over the world as possible to write a fax to the address below to join our concerns and frustration. You need not get involved, just to write a fax expressing your concerns about this treatment. You need neither be dolphin expert nor be familiar with this case in detail - the only thing that would already be of help is if you would be prepared to write just a short fax to the address stated saying that you have heard about the situation of the five dolphins in that tiny concrete tank at Manati park Bavaro in the Dominican Republic and you are against keeping wild dolphins in captivity abusing them in concrete tanks for assembly line work day by day and you would ask to bring this desaster to an end.

I hope I can convince you to write this fax - after one year of fighting and struggling - a common fax writing  campaign from as many groups as possible is the only hope left for these dolphins. 

Download a model protest letter in english or in spanish  ( as Word.doc ) !

Please write to:

Secretario de Estado de Turismo

Mr. Rafael Subervi Bonilla

Edif. Governamentales

Av. Mexico/Santo Domingo

Dominican Republic

Fax. 001-809-682 3806


(but please let me have a copy of your fax as well as I am collecting concerns worldwide, my fax number is in Europe 0043-1-7187480-4166.

This is a description of the problem:

Manati Park in the Dominican Republic keeps five dolphins in tiny concrete tanks, where they have to perform several shows during the day and are allowed to be touched by almost 200 people a day - an expert says he has never seen dolphins as overworked as those at Manati park.

Please load a flyer !

Starting back in 1999 already this dolphin tank was investigated by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, who claimed that the living conditions of these dolphins are not acceptable. Worldwide protests to ask for a change of this cruel situation started. During 2001 international TV channels like ABC 20/20, European TV channels, International Newspapers like the Time Magazine and the New York times published shocking reports and photos of the conditions these dolphins have to survive in that chlorinated tiny concrete tank. Several European TV Channels aired a video where a dolphin attacked a child in the pool because he was so distressed and overworked. The issue of May 21st, 2001 of Time Magazine stated Manati Park as “... on of the world’s most controversial facilities.” “Worse, critics charge that several dolphins have died prematurely at Manati Park because of toxic waters”. According to CITES documentation only five of the original imported and captures eight dolphins are still there now. But the owner even wants to add five additional dolphins to the tank this year.

At a further investigation from the World Society for the Protection of Animals beginning 2001 the responsible consultant pointed out: „It seems that these dolphins work harder and longer than all the dolphins I have ever seen before and since 40 years I am involved in that. They are mistreated and overworked and they live in a very small and confined area.“

Besides the unacceptable living conditions to these dolphins and the stress they have to bear with often more then 200 people per day in the pool who are allowed to touch them without any supervisor in the pool, it is very interesting to realise that at both investigations of animal welfare groups attacks on tourists in the pool occured. Various attacks at the visit in 1999 being wittnessed as well as one attack at the visit in 2001 being videoproofed.

Several tour operators as well as several big hotel chains have already cancelled their contract with Manati Park. VISA, NESTLE and PEPSI, who were mentioned as sponsors on the park’s leaflet, have withdrawn their logo from all advertisment material. But - the park is still open and they go on to abuse these dolphins.

I beg you for your help - it would take you just a view minutes to write a short fax but it could make a difference. You are of course as well welcome to widespread this report and to publish it on your website as well as sign the online petition at:

Thank you very much for your cooperation!

Eva Schandl


Update: 11.06.2005



We are fighting for the survival of the dolphins in a dolphinarium in the Dominican Republic called “Manati Park Bavaro”, a facility which is under international attack for it’s miserable dolphin treatment since it’s opening. Even worse - in August 2002 Manati Park used an illegal permit to capture another eight dolphins in national waters on the east coast of the D.R.. Besides the violation of Law 64-00 this capture was done in the specifically protected area of a national park, the Parque Nacional del Este. The illegal capture therefore violates also the regulations of the national park and conservation conventions to which the DR is signatory. A lawsuit was filed against Manati Park . Up to now no official information was provided as to where these eight dolphins are being held and if they are still alive at all.

In October 2004 - despite the fact that the lawsuit is still pending - Manati Park opened a second caged facility on the Bavaro beach called “Dolphin Island Park” which is just a swimming platform and a dolphin cage in 500 meters distance from the beach, where the dolphins are extremely exposed to low tides in shallow water and to the hot sun. The risk is high that this fragile structure is blown away completely by the next hurricane. It is most obvious that the four dolphins that are “used” in this park are the ones that have been illegally captured in the Parque Nacional des Este in 2002 and employees announced that it is planned to add more dolphins to this facility.


With the election of a new President in the Dominican Republic and a new Government in place it seems that the Dominican Republic is now starting to pay more attention to environment and the necessity to protect it. For example last week the Ministry of Environment honoured the Hotel Association of La Romana and Bayahibe during an event held at the Presidency office for its commitment to conservation and sustainability in the Bayahibe area.

If there ever is a chance to convince the Ministry of Environment to finally take the necessary steps to stop the dolphin cruelty at Manati Park this time is NOW.

Therefore we need all of you to help !

What you can do is:

  • Do not visit Manati Park or Dolphin Island Park - both are captive dolphin prisons in the Dominican Republic

  • Put this alert on your websites

  • Distribute this alert widely and ask all your friends and colleagues to widely distribute it

  • Sign the Petition to free the Manati Park dolphins at:

  • Complain if you find a tour operator that still offers one of this disgusting parks to their tourists and report this to us

  • Urgently write an email to the Ministry of Environment to urge them to finally act and stop this cruelty. Sign with your name and the country you are coming from. Simply copy the text below and paste it in an empty email or write an email with your own words (please be so kind to bcc us at and share with us the answers you might receive).


- for further background info see:

Jose Miguel Moreno Nigorra, investigated in Spain concerning shady
construction deals, managed to receive money even from the European
Development Bank for his deals in the Dominican Republic. He is the man
responsible for the continuous suffering of the captive dolphins in the DR.



Sample Email to the DR Ministry for Environment and Natural Resources:



Lic. Daneris Santana,
Subsecretario de Areas Protegidas y Biodiversidad ,
Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales

Ref: Manati Park Bavaro/Dolphin Island Park Owner: Jose Miguel Moreno

Honourable Sir,

Since years we are supporting the efforts of Dominican Republic local environment protection societies and the international movement of protest against the disgusting swim-with-dolphins program that is offered at Manati Park Bavaro and since October 2004 now as well at a so called “Dolphin Island Park” in Bavaro - both facilities owned by Sr. Jose Miguel Moreno.  

As you are aware Manati Park is under international pressure for the unacceptable holding conditions (small and barren cement captive pools, quality of water, lake of refuge or sanctuary facilities, but of particular concern is the handling of the Swim with Dolphins Program by which the dolphins have intensive hours of interactions with visitors and due to its cruel outline have shown already aggressive behaviour against some tourists) and the high death rate of dolphins in their facility already since its establishment. Many tourists have cancelled the Dominican Republic from their holiday destination list as they are not prepared to visit countries where animal mistreatment of that kind is accepted.

In spite of the international protest and due to non reaction of the responsible Authorities Manati Park was able to capture another eight dolphins in national waters in August 2002 in the National Parque Este – a special protected area of a national park - and although legal actions has been initiated (violation of the SPAW Protocol of the Cartagena Convention and the domestic environmental statute # 64-00) the whereabouts of these dolphins could not be investigated till now.

We herewith would like to express our sincere concerns about that situation and express our support for the need of all measures in order to protect these dolphins and to comply with the requirements of the various international conventions which the Dominican Republic has subscribed. The only reason why dolphins are allowed to be legally held in capitivity as stated in SPAW are “education or scientific research”, non of which are given at Manati Park and Dolphin Island park, where the dolphins are just misused for entertainment and money making, and beside that there is not one moral reason to hold any animal in captivity.

In your new responsibility in the Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos we urgently ask you to inform us about the results of your inspection of the facility “Manati Park Bavaro”, provide update if inspection of “Dolphin Island Park” is as well planned and let  us know about the measures that will/have been taken to end the dolphin cruelty in these amusement parks.


Name / Country




Update: 22.09.2005

Children like Dolphins only mean business for the DR

Dominican Republic accused of turning a blind eye to thriving trade in youngsters
Haitian children sold as cheap labourers and prostitutes for little more than £50

Gary Younge in Santo Domingo
Thursday September 22, 2005
The Guardian

On market day in Dajabón, a bustling Dominican town on the Haitian border, you can pick up many bargains if you know where to look. You can haggle the price of a live chicken down to 40 pesos (72p); wrestle 10lb of macaroni from 60 to 50 pesos; and, with some discreet inquiries, buy a Haitian child for the equivalent of £54.22.

"You just ask around town," says Hilda Pe-a, who monitors border crossings for the Jesuit Refugee Service. "People know who the scouts are. You just tell them what kind of child you are looking for and they can bring across whatever it is that you want."

There is a thriving trade in Haitian children in the Dominican Republic, where they are mostly used for domestic service, agricultural work or prostitution. Eight-year-old Jesus Josef was one of them. Numbed by a mixture of trauma and shyness, this small boy with huge eyes cannot recall how he left his three brothers and mother in Haiti and ended up doing domestic work for a Dominican family in Barahona, 120 miles from the capital, Santo Domingo.


Jesus sits quietly as Father Pedro Ruquoy, who runs a refuge near Barahona, tells how he escaped from the family and ran away to a local hospice. When he arrived his neck was twisted from carrying heavy loads on his shoulder and the marks on his slender torso suggested ill-treatment. The Dominican family found out where he was and came to the hospice demanding either his return or 10,000 pesos for the loss. "They used him as a slave," says Mr Ruquoy. "And they tortured him."

Nobody knows quite how many Haitian children like Jesus there are in the Dominican Republic. A Unicef report in 2002 put the figure at around 2,500, although some NGOs think it might be twice that. Most boys under the age of 12 end up begging or shoe shining and giving their proceeds to gang leaders; most girls of that age are used as domestic servants. Older boys are taken to work in construction or agriculture; teenage girls often end up in prostitution.

Tensions have long existed between the two countries that share the island of Hispaniola. In May, and then again last month, the Dominican Republic summarily deported thousands of Haitians, many of whom had the right to stay. A former Haitian consul to the republic, Edwin Paraison, says the situation had not been this bad since the former Dominican military leader Rafael Trujillo massacred 20,000 Haitian sugar cane workers in 1937. "This is the first time regular people are trying to run Haitians out of the country," he says. "There is an organised campaign to reject Haitian presence."

But even as Haitians are reviled, they are also needed for their cheap labour. The manner in which the children arrive varies. Some are kidnapped but most often their parents not only know, but actually pay "busones" or scouts to ensure their safe passage in the hope that they will have a better life.

"Half of all Haitians struggle to eat even once a day," says Helen Spraos, Christian Aid's Haiti representative. "It doesn't take much to push people over the brink. If the rains fail or someone falls ill, they have to sell what little they have - perhaps a pig or a goat - to buy medicines. Eventually they have to sell their land. Once they reach rock bottom, the one way they can provide for their children is by sending them to live in the cities or in the Dominican Republic. There at least they may be fed and have some prospects for making a living."


Such stories are familiar in the narrow alleyways in the barrios of Christo Rey, an area of Santo Domingo. Nine-year-old Louseny's mother died when she was a baby and she was raised by her grandmother in central Haiti. Last month, her grandmother paid her "aunt" to bring her over the border and leave her with people Louseny did not know. Louseny says she misses her home.

Florencia Talon, who looks after 10-year-old Violetta after her mother left her, says people have approached her in the street to ask her to take in children. "In most cases the Haitian family is told that the child will go to someone who will help raise the child," says Father Jose Nu-ez, the director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Santo Domingo. "They are told they will get an education and have a better chance. But this actually happens very, very rarely. In most cases they are verbally or physically abused and mistreated."

Getting them over the border is the easy part. According to Unicef, about a third of trafficked children come through the mountains; the rest go through official border checkpoints. On market day in Dajabón, the only papers you need to get across the bridge that links the two countries are peso notes to bribe the border guards. Those who are turned back simply wade across the Massacre river.

"The scouts are paid around 600 pesos, half of which goes to the scout and half of which is paid to the immigration authorities as a bribe," says Angelica Lopez, the Jesuit Refugee Service director in Dajabón. "The Dominican state and the military are completely complicit in the trafficking." Once across, the child will be passed through series of more informal networks until they are placed with a family, gang or into work.

There is a law against trafficking in the Dominican Republic, but it is rarely enforced and the authorities remain in denial. "There is no trafficking," says Juan Casilla, the state prosecutor for Dajabón. "I have never had one case of trafficking lodged with my office."
Mr Ruquoy says the sugar companies are also complicit, paying Haitian traffickers 2,000 Haitian gourdes (£26.44) for each worker.
Over at the sugar fields near Barahona, the smell of burning cane stems and the sound of slashing machetes suggest a scene from another century. Hundreds of men, their ragged clothes held together by sweat and grime, hack away beneath a high sun and above the smouldering stems, which are easier to cut when burned. From 6am until 6pm they are there, swinging, yanking, slicing and burning for about £1 a day. Ask any of them and they will tell you they are 18. Look and you will see that about one in eight could not possibly be older than 16.


Jesus Nord, 15, used to be one of them. Two years ago he paid a Haitian scout 50 gourdes to smuggle him over the border and then went to work in the fields for a year. After being cheated of his earnings and physically abused, he left. "I was never there when they weighed the sugar so they would give me less then they owed," he says. "They also used to beat me to make me work faster."
The Barahona refinery, the Consorcio Azucarero Central, is part of a consortium, whose main shareholder in Guatemala could not be reached for comment.

The trafficking of Haitian children represents the bottom rung of a migratory ladder through the Americas that sees Dominicans striving to get to Puerto Rico, and Puerto Ricans moving to the US. "The market for cheap labour keeps people moving," says Mr Nu-ez. "Since so many other countries have closed their doors to Haitians the only chance they have is to go to the country that is slightly less poor than Haiti and the easiest to get to. The economy could not function without them. But it takes a terrible toll on the individuals."




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