Archive for the ‘dominican politics’ Category
Thursday, October 5, 2006
We visited the local municipal council offices – in the center of town a very short stone’s throw from the Central Park – last month with the simple intention of paying Playa Vista’s regular garbage collection bill… and ended up noticing that even in Boca Chica ‘the times they are a changing’!
Without much thought we went as “usual” to the rear entrance because construction, reconstruction, additions and renovations had been going on for so long it had become normal for us to step over and around building materials and certainly never walk through the main front entrance due to it being constantly blocked and or locked apparently due to the constant program of building works. On reflection it seems to us that the changes are further evidence of the continuing modernization of our little town which, as far as civic administration is concerned, took a significant leap forward exactly four years ago when it was designated as independent from the control of Santo Domingo for the first time and duly elected its own mayor and governing council.
As the seat of operations it is obvious that quite some importance has been attached to this, the principal office, as we looked around with new eyes on this day. At least in the rear bill-paying section each of the small operation rooms seem to be fully fitted with computers, monitors and printers… all in a fully air-conditioned environment and on the day in question, for the first time ever, we received our refuse collection receipt of payment in the form of a computer print-out. We could see down the hallway of the main building that the front entrance was now open and we ambled towards the entrance increasingly taking note of the changes that had taken place and were now on view. We noticed a large conference room on the right furnished with top quality wooden chairs and a very large conference table and then passed towards and through the front entrance which itself had a smart reception desk.
As we spilled out on to the street the impact of the improvements was complete when we stood and took in the fullness of the impressive main entrance area. The large brass lettering of “AYUNTAMIENTO MUNICIPAL DE BOCA CHICA” arcing across the high arch supported on Roman columns leaves you in no doubt as to this is where you will find Boca Chica´s municipal council. The entire frontage, and exterior of the building for that matter, is painted a calming and pleasant cyan color, bordered attractively in white and last, but not least, there are neatly planted garden areas with flowers and palm trees on either side at ground level before you walk up the four tiled-steps to the main entrance.
All this – for better and for worse – an extreme far cry from when we arrived to a Boca Chica that looked a lot like a stage-set for an old wild-west movie almost ten years ago, we reminisced. We trust that the newly elected mayoral government of Joselín Peña, as only Boca Chica´s second, will be able to get down to some serious work in the modern and comfortable environment they now have created and finally give a substantial, objective and positive helping hand in the ongoing renovation of Boca Chica beach and the general modernization of good old Boca Chica… but that, of course, knocks on the door of politics and is a story for a different time.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
We from Playa Vista were invited by the President himself… having received not one but two cordial invitations to the inauguration of a plan of crime prevention and security for three residential and well known tourist areas in the south and one in the north of the country: the Colonial zone in Santo Domingo, good old Boca Chica, Juan Dolio further up the coast and Las Terrenas in the north.
In recent months we have been hinting at impending intervention one way or another by the authorities to make improvements in the Boca Chica environment, and here was the proof positive of at least the intent. The country as a whole has, after the chaos and affect of all too many economic scandals left by the former government, experienced an increase in crime levels which the current administration almost a year ago began trying to combat with a pilot plan of greater police presence and general security measures in one of the worst hit poorer areas of Santo Domingo, namely Capotillo.
In the fantastic setting of the impressive Parque Colón (Columbus Park) in Santo Domingo, right in front of the oldest Cathedral of the Americas, all the important dignitaries of the country, presided over by Leonel Fernández, gathered to give this ‘Plan de Prevención y Seguridad para las Zonas Turísticas’ a fine send off. On a very sunny almost breezeless morning we heard from one dignitary after the other the good reasoning and good intent for this plan. It is the fourth act in a very successful nationwide movement that as mentioned began in Capotillo last August. There will be more policemen, more vehicles – including brand spanking new Harley Davidsons – and other equipment to support the plan principally initiated to assist in creating greater security for local citizens as well as touring visitors.
As was very evident that morning in Parque Colón the country has wonderful natural assets and a growing young population looking for the kind of direction specifically referred to by the various speakers at the inauguration. The country is in fact relatively new to modern democracy and therefore the possibilities are undoubtedly waiting to be harnessed. Alternatively, if you wanted, you could have shown up in the ‘Parque’ just for the spectacle and enjoy some of the natural displays that this multi-facetted country offers: the famous merengue singer Sergio Vargas and his band were there together with numerous other performers – some parading on stilts in grandiose costumes and others banging out quite a Caribbean rhythm on their drums – all exuberantly enhanced by the innate enthusiasm and energy of the cheering people.
The Procurator General in particular talked of future possibilities… stressing that improved security is a symbol representing nothing less than the advance of the country carrying the hope that it contributes to the Dominican Republic in the future being one of the most visited places in the Caribbean! We from Playa Vista Boca Chica hope and think so too… the Latin-Caribbean is – sure thing – up and coming!
Thursday, October 14, 2004
The extraordinary hurricane activity of September seems a long time ago now. The only visible evidence that something untoward happened is the still debris-strewn reef which is either waiting for the local council to get their launch out there with a cleaning team or for a very high tide to release the stranded material mostly consisting of bark-denuded tree branches.
As is usual for this time of year beach visitors mid-week are none too plentiful but the weather gives us it’s best with a recent sequence of stunning sunsets that as always can be viewed ideally from the Playa Vista terraza.
Bar talk frequently refers to the new government still getting its feet under the table. Much is reported nationally on a daily basis regarding changes. The peso appears to have reached a stability midway between the value that the previous government inherited four years ago and its lowest point to the end of their administration currently, for better or worse depending on your viewpoint, about 32 pesos to the dollar. Lack of electricity continues to present difficulties in many parts of the country but happily in Boca Chica we are spared almost all inconveniences. Long may that continue and hopefully spread further afield too. The more underlying changes will almost certainly need more time to bear fruit.
Meanwhile… as tourism is one of the cornerstones of economic development in the Dominican Republic in general, and therefore needy of government attention, we remain very hopeful that planning and support of international standard tourism will be further spurred on in our small corner of the country in a way good old Boca Chica deserves!
Meanwhile seven years later:
Frankly speaking not even the most enthusiastic PLD/Fernandez supporter can claim much progress was made for the man in the street. The peso has been kept under that 40 to the dollar level throughout that Fernandez administration and the second that has followed however the polls currently indicate that Hipolito Mejia is favorite to be the new president next year as a very disappointing signal to that PLD/Fernandeez government over these last seven years.
Saturday, May 22, 2004
HURRAH… was indeed the word on Monday last. The streets were full of purple flag-waving supporters of the new president-elect: Leonel Fernández. According to the official figures he easily passed the required 50% achieving a convincing 57.11% of the national vote and carrying a full 26 of the nation’s 29 provinces. Here in municipality number 226 of Boca Chica he also carried the day obtaining a close to national average of 53.56%.
Monday was announced as a public holiday and the people celebrated with equal verve, their relief that the uncertainties were all over and their hopeful expectations for the future. Unfortunately violence, though limited but always looming potentially ruinously, did rear its head in full down in Barahona where a total of 6 people ended up losing their lives for alleged politically motivated reasons. Happily in the rest of the country incidents were reported to be few and far between and none of any note whatsoever in Boca Chica where the jubilation flowed through the streets nearly all day long. People who had seemingly kept their colors hidden took them out of the closet in the upsurge of joy, while those who had supported the white party ditched their old white flags and surprisingly seemed to fully embrace the change to come.
We had the pleasure of visiting an important government institution in Santo Domingo the following day and observed that the atmosphere in general in the city was very upbeat although those employed in the institution itself are phlegmatically resigned to the fact they will have to seek new employment because a change of government in this country means a clearance of nearly all public employees too.
Speaking of presidential change, this week sees the change of the label on the bottle of the exceedingly popular and indisputably good Presidente beer. Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana, the makers of the beer, claim the new label to be fresher, more modern and more stylized which appears to be a fair claim. Not a bad formula for our new president to follow when he is finally, according to the Dominican constitution, sworn in three months from now. He is reportedly by now busy with his plans for a new four year period within which the popular slogan from the election-campaign: ‘Vuelve el Progreso’ (Return to Progress) hopefully will come true sooner rather than later… and we wish him all the best!
Meanwhile seven years later:
We now know that Fernandez will be giving way to somebody else in next year’s May election but coincidentally headline news in the Dominican Republic this week asks what has been gained from the RD$6 billion that has been distributed among the political parties in the past 12 years. At least less violence might be part of the answer to the question if nothing else.