Archive for the ‘Dominican police and the law’ Category
Friday, January 27, 2006
It has to be said that from time to time we are forced to embrace technical difficulties here. Shall we just say that the anomaly in our New Year’s posting has to be put down to one of those Caribbean “technical” matters being out of our control.
However… on a completely different note we are delighted to announce that the authorities, in the form of ‘Politur’ -the police arm of the Ministry of Tourism- finally, after years of promises promises promises, have come up with a seemingly quite realistic plan to make good old Boca Chica more visitor friendly… actually by simply policing the existing law!
At a meeting held on Wednesday January 25th at the Don Juan Hotel in Boca Chica the chief of this particular department, Colonel Alexis Peña, led the field of a group of other high ranking members of the police force in outlining how they had identified the problems that confront Boca Chica and revealed their plan and determination to slowly, methodically and steadily make the improvements that many of us have been calling for over a number of years.
With a professional slide show presentation by way of introduction it was obvious that they had done their homework and very effectively conveyed to the gathered representatives of established legal beach businesses, as well as not-so-legal beach vendors, playeros and other groups involved with the Boca Chica Beach, that they had also grasped the bigger picture. On top of it all – and not very typical for around here – they further boldly claimed they would, “start today so that results can be seen tomorrow”!
After awaiting the promised and, for a better visitor service, much needed full legalization of the of the capital’s laden-with-potential beach for such a long time, we at Playa Vista welcome the new initiative, though it still has to be seen how long in this tradition-ridden Caribbean island it will take to shake off the ingrown habits and outlived traditions that have to go in order to adjust Boca Chica to the twenty first century… we hope and believe it can be done without losing the raw natural charm that Boca Chica, for better and for worse, is known for by locals as well as by international tourists… Time will tell!
Sunday, July 11, 2004
With reference to garbage-free streets our thoughts strayed off to the famous spotlessly clean streets of Switzerland and Singapore when the local council’s magistrate stated that here in Boca Chica too it is strictly against the law to throw garbage into public thoroughfares. We were very pleased, indeed relieved, to hear this at a meeting held this week in the principal office of the local Boca Chica council.
With this pronouncement as the starting point we felt very hopeful that a garbage disposal problem in our vicinity that has been gnawing at us for all too long could be resolved fairly soon. The problem is a simple one: irresponsibility. Incomprehensibly it is not even the usual adage of “not in my back yard” that applies, for there are four businesses in our immediate vicinity who have been consistently throwing all kinds of garbage into our common street area precisely in their and our own back yard. We are pleased though to be able to report that general garbage collection improved markedly with the introduction of an almost unfailing daily pick up when the council distributed a set of garbage disposal rules as far back as early 2001. However this has merely served to make our very local problem even more pronounced.
After numerous approaches and complaints one of the local council officers took it upon himself to circulate a letter of invitation to the meeting… at least we presume it started out as a circular although we never saw any other copy than that received by our friend in another affected neighboring business, Restaurant Verde Luna. We pounced upon this long-awaited opportunity and breathed new life into the circular by copying it and handing it on. At the appointed hour on Tuesday morning there were four representatives of the affected area, notably all only because of our circular-regenerating effort, and predictably none of the alleged street trashers were present.
Fortunately for us the council officers and the magistrate took the matter, having photographic evidence placed in their hands, seriously and called for representatives from the four alleged street despoilers. Three of the four were found and the magistrate spelt the situation out very clearly: that what they were doing is against the law and that if anybody is seen doing the like again it should be reported directly to him for it is he who has the authority to send the police and apply sanctions. There was talk of fines being applied, also of more punctual garbage collection and even of a public sign being erected for information purposes, but more importantly the meeting broke up in positive mood with more than one of the former miscreants acknowledging how good it would be for even for their own business if the back yard were to be kept just as clean as the front yard.
We were left to ponder just two things: how would a Swiss or Singaporean local council have handled the three year ebb and flow of street garbage and what actually happened to the original circular of meeting invitation?
Meanwhile seven years later:
We may be critical, though usually with tongue in cheek, of organizational difficulties from time to time in these parts but it has to be said garbage collection has maintained its high level of efficiency ever since those awkward days.
Friday, February 6, 2004
Once upon a time about 4 years ago there was a substantially-sized, well-positioned hotel in Boca Chica, located immediately behind us at Playa Vista, owned by a businessman from Santo Domingo but seemingly without the kind of visitor traffic that such a well situated hotel merited.
From seemingly out of the blue there arrived one day an apparently personable couple of French nationals in company with their English basset hound, Octavio, to run the hotel. They told us on their arrival they had suddenly bailed out of running a hotel on Margarita Island because of an increasingly foreigner-hostile environment in Venezuela.
As time passed, casual observation of the entrance way to the hotel indicated that our French threesome indeed were helping to boost business and they were soon proudly stating in our frequent chats that occupancy rates were regularly above 50%.
That situation seemed to happily continue for months extending into years with the one notable exception that the exceptionally articulate-in-English French manager was increasingly less visible on the beach and around town where previously he had been seen very frequently taking the basset for walks and talking with the locals.
Then quite abruptly… early one morning a few weeks ago quite a number of lucky bargain hunters were seen leaving the hotel with base-bargain purchases of refrigerators and televisions! The lady working on reception had received a phone call from the ‘personable’ couple who now were somewhere in a distant land instructing her to sell items from the hotel rooms and send the proceeds by Western Union to them. Whether the lady on reception did or did not smell a rat at this stage quite a number of electrical appliances were allowed to walk from the hotel before the police in substantial numbers were on hand.
The son of the owner then took charge and informed us that the French threesome had certainly left without notice, leaving behind an unpaid debt to his father of five million pesos and a substantial tax bill… not to mention numerous rooms no longer furnished with TVs or refrigerators and even one without a lavatory pan.
The straight forward English-speaking and New York educated son of the owner now fully in charge of the establishment has inherited an unenviable situation, but assures us he is intent on rebuilding the damage, continuing to offer a good service to visitors to his hotel and re-establish the good relations we ourselves had at one time with the Hotel Europa until those Frenchies withdrew firstly into the background of Boca Chica and then disappeared into the sunset of another country.
If any of you out there step across the threshold of another hotel run by the infamous threesome you should be advised that the police in this country would like to talk to them about a few loose ends!
Meanwhile seven years later:
Nothing more was ever heard of from the erstwhile Dominican hoteliers again and Braulin Perez, the son’s owner, was true to his word soon putting the Hotel Europa back in shape and continuing his good friendship with us at Playa Vista throughout the years. It was not included at the time but members of the police, which perhaps would not be a surprise to those of you who know the police here, were also seen to be transporting some of those bargain-hunter items for private safe custody out of the hotel to be picked up later when the dust settled.
Monday, November 24, 2003
Uncertainty is rather a certainty in these parts. We try to maintain at least a modest level of efficiency in our daily operations but we are unbelievably often thwarted by the irregularities of other over-imposing agendas. That might be due to accident, someone’s illness, new requirements from officials and last but not least all kinds of totally unreasonable demands from all kinds of passers by… but there is another more sinister reason that rears its head from time to time that has other worrying undertones as we were reminded again recently.
This particular story relates to our good man – beach and bar helper Carlos, alias Flaco. His uncle turned up the other morning to tell us that we would have to get along without Flaco because he had been arrested the night before in the adjacent town of Andres. His “crime” was nothing more than being present in the area where the police chose to conduct a raid to round up young men so that they could demonstrate they were doing something in order to combat a shooting that had taken place in the neighborhood that same night. He was rounded up with about 30 others and spent the night cooped up in a room no bigger than about 12 feet by 12 feet just enough for him to rest on his haunches… no sitting and certainly no lying down. For those of us who are used to different systems of “criminal” investigation and treatment it is a shocking revelation. The whole thing is based on the, to us, strangely topsy-turvy legal code here ordaining that one is guilty until proven innocent. On that premise it is easy to see what can eventuate. The police are permitted to hold anybody for up to 48 hours without charge… for “investigation”, and in reality they can even extend that because they just have to transfer the person to a prison in another location and they can continue for another 48 hours, and so on and so on. We will pass on, with no further comment, past the obvious point that this procedure is so commonly known by all that it is highly unlikely any culprit would linger in the vicinity of any crime, making it even more ludicrous that the police round up people based purely on location.
Anyway, in our man Flaco’s case – once the police had satisfied themselves that they didn’t have the man they were looking for, they released him along with all the other ’inmates of the night’ the following morning. Flaco promptly went off to catch up on his sorely needed sleep and is now back to take care of business on the beach as usual. The moral is: don’t visit your girlfriend in Andres when there are crooks on the run?
Meanwhile seven years later:
In September 2004 a new penal code was adopted in the Dominican Republic where it was specifically stated that presumption of innocence would now be the form of law. According to locals the arbitrary arrest of people has not changed at all over the six years since the change of the penal code. They also say that rapid release from detention can still usually be secured with a donation to the police officers on duty, also just exactly as it used to be!