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Dominican Republic: The death of an exemplary human being

Freddy Beras Goico. Republished under CC License.*

November 18th was a sad day for Dominicans. One of their heroes departed this world; made popular by the famous small screen, that of television, which he transcended to all levels of Dominican society. It was Freddy Beras Goico, communicator, TV host, who in his last years was involved in philanthropist activities, helping low income people.

Born in the province of El Seibo, Dominican Republic, good humor was always on his side from the start in the air ways, starting as a comedian recreating characters and scenes of local folklore on television. He was an icon of several generations of Quisqueyanos when he participated in local ads, and with greater notoriety in El Gordo de la Semana, a variety show that was his flagship for over 30 years and one of the shows with the most ratings en the country. In his long media career, he began other projects (interview shows, night talk shows and also radio shows at different times).

A revolutionary since he was young, a twenty-something Beras Goico took the microphone of Radio Santo Domingo (now Corporación Estatal de Radio y Televisión) during the Revolución de Abril de 1965 to announce to the citizens when he went through each sector of the capital city which was being attacked by foreign troops. A video rescued in the documentary The April War, of the filmmaker René Fortunato, shows silent images of the Beras Goico:

His political views, his opinions on social safety and similar themes, went hand in had with his artistic career. Freddy was an acerbic defender of the country’s interests, and in recent years, a critic of how the Dominican politicians managed the interests of the nation. The thousands of videos in places such as YouTube, not only demonstrate how eclectic the Dominican humorist was, but also his position on local issues of Dominican interest. In 2008, a year in which juvenile delinquency reached critical mass, Beras made a declaration that resounded in the media.

Freddy was part of a generation of comedians who reached fame together. Cuquín Victoria, Felipe Polanco (Boruga), Milton Peláez, Luisito Martí, Nany Peña, Julio César Matías, Cecilia García, and many other artists, many of them continue to entertain Dominicans. Their comedies were and will continue to be part of a Dominican generation. This video, made in 1982, shows a sketch on the social, economic, and political situation with a street character played by Cuquín Victoria, while being interviewed in El Show del Mediodía, another popular variety show that continues to run:

The night of November 17th, celebrities and the general public and media used social sites to provide details of Beras Goico’s health, frail since three years ago, when he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. His health deteriorated in the last weeks. He was taken to the US for treatment, as confirmed in the blog Cristal y Colores [es]. Officially in the early hours of November 18th Freddy’s relatives communicated his passing via Twitter. His son Giancarlo Beras commented on his death and thanked everyone for their support:

With great sadness I report my father's passing. Many thanks to all for your solidarity during these days. May he rest in peace!

Beras Goico’s family received messages of support throughout the day. Journalists such as Roberto Cavada, only reported the passing. Yaqui Núñez, one of his nephews, said a few words of support:

Mi tío no ha muerto. Se ha mudado al cielo a seguir ayudando a quienes más lo necesitan. Paz a los restos del otro padre que me dio la vida.

My uncle has not died. He has moved to heaven and will continue helping those who most need him. Peace to the remains of the other father that life gave me.

Artists and celebrities such as Kinito Méndez and Tony Dandrades added to the chains of messages in 140 characters. Pelegrín Castillo, who is a well known Dominican congressman, also added his support in the now famous social platform:

Ángeles y santos, tambien San Pedro, reirán con su compañía. Nos hará falta su presencia corporal, pero su espíritu y ejemplo nos inspirará.

Angels and saints, even Saint Peter, will laugh with his company. We will miss his physical presence, but his spirit and example will inspire us.

Mexican actress Angelica Vale also microblogged a message about the loss for the country. “My deepest sympathy to the Dominican Republic for their loss… much courage and love! Kisses,” she wrote.

The event took a central place globally within Twitter and the name Freddy Beras was the key to see the messages. The journalist Yolanda Martínez, who is well known in the country’s media, encourages her Twitter followers to give each other comforting and positive messages about Don Freddy:

What do you think about a simple homage? Let's remember his pranks and social action with an HT

Blogs and traditional media immediately announced Beras Goico's death. Remolacha.net [es] created an obituary. The newspaper Diario Libre wrote an extensive article [es] on Beras’ lifetime achievements. A well known humorous blog in the country, Esomismo.com [es], transcribed the emotions with a farewell that is painful to Dominicans.

Don Freddy, as many called him, had experimented with social media during his last months of life. He had a Twitter account, which was followed by more than 18,000 persons. His messages, funny, critical and very emotional, remain as memories for many of his followers, who have been redistributing them as a posthumous homage as someone considered one of the representative Dominicans of all times. This was one of his last messages:

Friends, until later. I want to sit down and chat with my parents in the cemetery for a while. I find it comforting and I feel close. They are waiting.

In the end, he always wanted to be remembered with joy.

*Photo republished under CC License R-CI-3.0.

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