It’s the innocent that always pays for the sins of the sinner.

The Susana Reyes-Hamilton Story

Susana is a Dominican national, who has not seen her twin daughters in almost ten years. Where are they? They are in Canada and the mother believes, they were legally kidnapped by a higher power. Susana met her husband, Keith Hamilton in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic in 1997, while she worked as a bartender in Costambar, a small tourist complex. Her husband owned a small hotel there. After they married, they had twin daughters —who were born in Puerto Plata in 1998—, he adopted Susana’s first daughter, Emilcen in 1999.

Susana traveled to Canada for the first time on a visitor visa in May of 1997—her visa was issued for two years. However, after she came to Canada for a visit, she went back to the Dominican Republic eight weeks later. One day, a man by the name of Douglas LeBreton, a friend of Susana’s husband came to visit for a week.

Susana didn’t know who the man really was until later, when something happened for which she says, she will pay a price for the rest of her life. Although, Susana didn’t know who Mr. LeBreton was, he made sure she knew who he was, when he gave her a business card from his wife: Canada’s Senator, Marjorie LeBraton. At the back of the car, the senator’s husband also wrote down his residence telephone number in Ontario.

The day, Mr. LeBraton arrived in Puerto Plata, he asked his friend —Keith Hamilton— to call him a cab: “I am going for a drink,” he said. Mr. LeBreton ended up at Amadito, a well known prostitution bar in Puerto Plata. He took a young escort service home after offering her 3000 pesos for her services—the equivalency of approximately $70. According to the prostitute, the influential tourist refused to pay her after spending the night with him.

“I am not paying you a dime; I was too drunk, so there was no sex between the two of us,” Mr. LeBreton said. “Yes, we did have sex; besides, I don’t care if you performed or not—you still have to pay me. I stayed with you all night,” the young companion argued. Several people including employees and Susana heard them arguing and Susana did what she thought was right: She went over to the room and offered the young prostitute —a person she did not know— the equivalency of fifteen dollars and asked her to leave.

The young prostitute left; however, the following day, she came back to the hotel. According to a security guard, who worked at the motel, it would’ve been around 9 PM when he saw the same prostitute arrived at the hotel, with two beers in her hands. Allegedly, the woman went up to Mr. LeBreton’s room and knocked on his door.  She stayed with him all night.

In the morning, it would’ve been around 10 AM when Merecia, one of Susana’s female employees went and knocked on Mr. LeBreton’s room. According to Merecia, Mr. LeBreton communicated that he wasn’t feeling well. “He was shaky and having problem walking.” In the evening, Susana told her husband that she was concerned: “I don’t want to go to bed and leave your friend like that,” Susana said. “Mr. Hamilton told me to call a cab and take Doug to the hospital; that he would stay with the girls,” she said referring to her husband. It is common for younger Dominican spouses to address their foreign husbands (Canadians, Americans, English, Europeans, etc.), as Mr.

Susana called a taxi and took Mr. LeBreton to —Centro Medico— the clinic. They took his blood pressure and advised him to come back the next day, because the doctor had gone home for the day. However, at the clinic they gave him some type of injection. Mr. LeBreton asked Susana to go with him to an ATM to withdraw money to pay for the clinic’s consult and the cab. “My only crime was to go to the clinic with my husband’s friend to help him,” she said.

After withdrawing the cash from the ATM and paying for the consult at the clinic, Susana took Mr. LeBreton back to the hotel, where her husband waited with their daughters. The following morning, they took Mr. LeBreton back to the clinic, where he was examined. He ended up staying there for a few days. The official diagnosis from the doctor was that “something was put in his drink that made him sick.” This was likely done by the prostitute after she came back for a second time. It is believed that she did it to get even, she could’ve even robbed him; however, this is unclear. Mr. LeBreton begged Susana to talk to the doctor, so he wouldn’t send the hospital records to Canada; or at least to omit his finding: “Please, talk to him, so he doesn’t send them [records] to Canada. I don’t want my wife (Marjory LeBreton) to find out about this; my wife is a senator with the government and this is going to cause me problems,” he pleaded. “It would be unethical for me to withhold the hospital records; besides, I have to send them to get paid,” the doctor said.

Eventually, Senator LeBreton did find out about it after Keith Hamilton called to let her know. It is worth pointing out that Mr. Hamilton worked with Senator LeBreton for nearly ten years during the Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney’s area. Senator LeBreton paid to have her husband flown to Canada and she paid for Keith’s as well, so he would accompany Mr. LeBreton, as he was ill. It is not clear who paid for the flight: She or the Canadian government, as she got the Department of Foreign Affairs involved.

After Keith returned to the Dominican Republic, someone from the Canadian government and a Dominican police officer asked him and his wife to come to the police station to answer questions.

“We were asked how things happened, but not even ten minutes later, we were let go. We did nothing wrong. My husband and I were not guilty of anything; we were not responsible for what happened to Doug,” Susana narrates. “He was on vacation and he went out the very first day that he arrived.” But, according to Susana, the aftermath of that incident has turned her life into a nightmare.

In 2003, her twin daughters travelled to Canada for a visit with their father and that was the last time she saw them. Shortly after they travelled to Canada for what the mother thought was a short visit, or until she rendezvoused with her husband, he took her to court in Canada. They sent her court documents in the Dominican, giving her weeks to come to court and fight for her daughters.

Distraught, betrayed and broken-hearted, Susana ran to the Canadian embassy in Santo Domingo and applied for a visa. She was denied a visa because according to immigration, she had a criminal record in Canada. As a result, they awarded custody to her husband and she has not seen her daughters in almost ten years.  Despite being in Canada three times and leaving the country voluntarily, she has repeatedly applied for a visa and the Canadian government always turn it down.

“You have not satisfied me that you would leave Canada at the end of your stay as a temporary resident. In reaching this decision, I considered several factors including: You are a member of an inadmissible class of persons described in the section of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. As a result, you are inadmissible to Canada,” the last rejection letter from the government said.

Susana believes that her husband’s powerful friends in Canada have used their influence to basically separate her from her daughters. “I have not been the same person since my daughters were taken for me,” she said. She has even considered committing suicide over the loss of her daughters. Why is the mother so concerned? “My husband,” she said is an old man and if he dies what is going to happen with my daughters? She asked.

Susana has knocked on many doors on her quest to see her daughters, again. She has visited the Catholic Church in Santo Domingo several times, where she spoke to the Dominican cardinal; she has told her story to the media, and she even visited the office of the Dominican’s First Lady, but to no avail. She even contacted the National Council for Children and Adolescents in the Dominican capital.

Letter to Susana from CONANI in Santo Domingo.

“Your case has very little chance of ever changing, because of the strong opposition you have to enter Canada, especially now that that lady (Marjorie LeBreton) has more state power (as she was appointed Leader of the Government in Parliament). What nobody can take away from you is the right to have your daughters, to be with them. You have to talk to your husband and make him understand the situation. Failing to make him understand and you could start a process with —National Council for Children and Adolescents— CONANI. This is a special procedure that might help with the return of your daughters to the Dominican Republic. Do not forget the best place of a child is to be with their parent and nothing would compensate your love.”

I was sceptical when I first heard about Susana’s story. I wanted to know if there was a tinge of truth about this story and investigated the circumstances surrounding the issue. It wasn’t until she provided me with documents, including pictures to back up her story. She even provided me with the direct telephone number of Mr. LeBreton’s residence, where I called trying to contact him. “They poisoned my husband over there and had to get the Department of Foreign Affairs involved,” his wife (Senator LeBreton) said. She threatened with calling the police if I ever tried calling her husband again, I didn’t call, again.

How can the Senator blame Susana for what happened to Mr. LeBreton when he went on vacation? He went on vacation! When tourists visit the island, it is what many do—enjoy their holidays. Susana did not even know the prostitute. How can she be responsible for what happened to Mr. LeBreton. If she is guilty, Mr. Hamilton is as guilty as she is; but they are not guilty of any wrong doing.

How can Senator LeBreton hold Susana accountable for what happened to her husband? Unfortunately, it is the innocent who always pays for the sins of the sinners.

Dalbert Sánchez, Prensa Latina, London, ON