Archive for the ‘Banking’ Category
Saturday, April 17, 2004
For better or for worse an atypical quiet period has fallen over the Dominican Republic. For those of you who are DR ‘watchers’ you will know that there is an important general election coming along in a month’s time and, in spite of the tremendous fanfare of public rallies and noisy street cavalcades put on by the main political parties, all the public sector offices strangely seem to take it as given that everything should be put on hold or seriously decelerated at the very least. Even stranger that once a new government is elected then there is a further three month hand-over transition period of even less activity before the wheels start rolling again.
For those of you who are DR-economic watchers you will note that a certain quiet has spread to the peso exchange rate too: consistently in the range of 42 to 44 pesos to the US dollar for quite some weeks now – a stability that is very welcome although it remains to be seen if there is a direct link between this and the pending election itself!
Quietness currently also extends to us in Boca Chica as the Easter break is over and people feel a far less urgent need to escape from the cold north. This week we have even noted a number of our regular long-term Playa Vista visitors packing up their belongings before making the return trek to ‘summer it out’ back in those northern latitudes.
So, pop by for a quiet drink… and stir things up a bit!
Meanwhile seven years later:
Election talk is very much in the air again – for 2012. After two successive terms in charge Leonel Fernandez has recently made it clear that he is not going to seek a change in the constitution that would allow him to run again. So the run off in 2012 could even be a complete repeat of 2000 which saw Hipolito Mejia of the PRD defeat Danilo Medina of the PLD leading to a disastrous downward lurch in the value of the peso by 2004. Based solely on currency values the incumbent PLD has done an unbelievable job. The peso started to strengthen once the new Fernandez administration took over in 2004 and has remained in the 33 to 37 range ever since!
Monday, January 5, 2004
It wasn’t at Playa Vista and not even in Boca Chica, but not so many miles removed in the Avenida Mella branch of Banco Popular in Santo Domingo that this little piece of irreverence was experienced.
We were in line waiting our turn at the tellers’ counter when a poor disheveled middle- aged woman came shuffling up to the first person in line with her hand outstretched begging for money. She was for sure in the right place for getting money but she was clearly going about it the wrong way especially as she had her back turned to the counter itself. The first guy in the line stepped back a mere half a step to avoid her advances. The woman then turned around and went back more on the regular track by approaching the nearest teller although the technique was unfamiliar because she slumped over the counter as she made her request. Apart from anything else she had of course no bank book or withdrawal slip in her hand and especially as she was crowding in on the poor customer being attended to, the teller waved her back in our direction. At this point we, in self-defense looked around to see where the nearest security guard might be. Strangely, where there are usually several parading around bristling with intimidating weapons in almost every Dominican bank, there were none in this case. At this point somebody shouted out “watchi” which is a commonly used Dominican abbreviation of watchman or more realistically (should it be surrealistically) security guard. The “watchi” was sitting in the middle of the bank on a comfortable rotating chair enjoying a couple of half spins for good measure. Clearly the intrusive woman had passed right by him, because as the cordon of security he had naturally positioned himself between the tellers and the main entrance. Having now acknowledged the watchman’s presence we naturally assumed the matter would be quickly dealt with and calm and order secured.
The persistent woman returned to the line of waiting customers, as directed, and when one customer raised his arms claiming he “didn’t have any money for her” the woman immediately responded to his defenseless raised arm gesture by not only making a lunge for his private parts but triumphantly grabbing the bills in his hand claiming “Oh yes you do!”
She moved on to the next customer begging him for money in the same way. He had learned that raising the arms was an inadequate defense and so stepped well back out of reach. Meanwhile… what on earth had happened to the security guard who was only about 20 feet away spinning his way to the rescue, wasn’t he? Nope. Spinning he still was but not to any rescue. We called over for him to do his job i.e. watch and secure things but he remained steadfast… apart from the spinning that is. The woman carried on down the line to us without the slightest intervention from our spinning watchman or any other member of the bank staff. Enough was enough… so we went right over to the watchman to insist that he do his job. It seemed he thought his job was to carry on swiveling in the chair and direct the customers as to what they should be doing, “just get back in the line and wait your turn” he said. Did he mean for money or a private grabbing? The bucket of patience had now overflowed so we thanked Banco Popular for nothing and left the building. Fifteen minutes later we were graciously received by Scotiabank which, at least on this occasion, to our great relief, did not sport any groping beggars or spinning watchmen.
Meanwhile seven years later:
In Boca Chica there are currently only two bank branches and I do not know if it is coincidence but the Banco Popular branch has a reputation of being distanced from their customers sometimes to the point of arrogance. However I have never had a problem with the other Boca Chica bank which is run by Banco Reservas.