Dominican: Chasing the President to the Airport?

We just had our first-ever performances in the Dominican Republic in a couple of gorgeous theaters. Our performers certainly enjoyed both the time at the beach and on stage. I got to watch all the shows in the audience and can attest the houses were completely packed with people who were impeccably dressed and left much impressed.

But, of course, the Chinese Embassy tried hard to make none of this happen in one of the craziest stories of their behavior that I’ve heard so far.

On November 9, 2022, Shen Yun’s performances in the Dominican Republic’s Santo Domingo and Santiago were publicly posted online on the company’s website, with seven shows in five days. Once the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Santo Domingo got the news, it immediately began trying to block the performances.

As both theaters (Eduardo Brito National Theater in Santo Domingo, and Grand Theater of Cibao in Santiago) are subordinate to the Ministry of Culture, the Chinese Embassy’s first move was to contact the theater managers and the Ministry of Culture and ask them to cancel the shows. When that proved unsuccessful, it then immediately scheduled an appointment with the office of the president of the Dominican Republic and strongly demand the shows be canceled. The president’s reply was that the contracts were already signed and there was no way to nullify them now.

According to an advisor to the president who relayed to us this information, the Embassy then contacted the Santiago theater manager, offering him a monetary bribe and promises of future investments. The Embassy also slandered Shen Yun and Falun Dafa. The manager then wrote a letter to the presenter, Asociación Falun Dafa de la República Dominicana, saying that due to theater renovations, Shen Yun’s two performances in Santiago will need to be canceled (looking at cases in other countries, this is a common explanation used by theaters, perhaps at the embassy’s suggestion, to cancel performances). The presenter then reported this to the Ministry of Culture, and the Minister directly stated that the shows will not be canceled.

The Embassy then began contacting a range of influential individuals – legislators, ministers, media. The Embassy wrote them letters seeking their help to cancel the performances. These efforts did not lead to any results.

Finally, in January, one week before Shen Yun was set to arrive, the Embassy learned that Dominican President Luis Abinader was set to depart from Santo Dominigo’s Las Americas International Airport. According to information from someone who was present at the scene, the PRC Ambassador and Consular General rushed to the airport, found the President and again strongly insisted that the President must cancel the shows. The President replied: The situation is not reversible. Later that day, due to a mechanical problem, the President’s plane had to return to the airport. When the Ambassador and Consul General learned of this, they again rushed back to the airport. They told the President that if he insists on not canceling the shows, this will negatively impact the countries’ bilateral relations, and the PRC will discontinue its investment of over 100 million dollars. Their tone was directly threatening the President and he became very unhappy. Putting his hands up he said: “Whatever.”

With all this having failed, unknown individuals tore down Shen Yun’s advertisements in front of both theaters.

In the end, all these efforts were for not. The seven Shen Yun performances took place as scheduled and were sold out. Many VIPS attended and issued public statements of support, such as former Minister of Culture Carmen Heredia and Rosa Santos, Governor of the Province of Santiago de los Caballeros.

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