[Marxism] Tweedling the Dominican Republic This Sunday

Tony Abdo gojack10 at hotmail.com
Sat May 15 15:00:43 MDT 2004


Dominicans choose between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum this Sunday. See 
article about Dominicans in New York City preparing for tomorrow's vote.
http://biz.yahoo.com/rf/040428/dominican_election_newyork_1.html

Below is yet another article about the upcoming DR elections.  Interesting 
to compare Cuba not to the US, but to Hispaniola.  Why on earth would Cubans 
want what the fate of the Dominican Republic?  No wonder a million Cubans 
marched this week with Fidel Castro against US efforts to overthrow the 
Cuban government. God save them if they were to be returned to the fate of 
Hispaniola.

The Dominican economy's #1 source of income is tourism.  Read prostitution 
here, and some of it child prostition. And where is the AIDS problem, in 
Cuba, or in the DR, not to mention Haiti?

And the #2 source of income is dollars send back home from one of the most 
impoverished group of workers in the US, the Dominicans living here.  So 
much conservative crocodile tears shed for the Cubans supposedly under the 
tyranny of an evil dictator. But who cares much about the 9,000,000 
Dominicans in the US? It surely is not George Bush and the Republicans.  Nor 
the US and international press.

Tony
...............................................
Dominicans Consider Presidential Vote
By IAN JAMES, Associated Press Writer

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic - On the streets the complaints are flying 
— prices of rice and milk have quadrupled, electricity is constantly off and 
jobs are scarce.  As the Dominican Republic nears presidential elections 
Sunday, the ever-present gripes across the country reveal the stormy mood of 
a nation fed up with hard times.

"I've never seen it as tough as it is now," said Roberto Antonio Javier, a 
35-year-old who works odd construction jobs, earning barely enough to feed 
his five children. "The government doesn't want to know about the poor. It 
doesn't help the poor."

President Hipolito Mejia, who has presided over the worst economic crisis in 
decades, is trailing in polls behind his predecessor, former President 
Leonel Fernandez, who has campaigned under the slogan: "Progress is coming 
back."   It is a welcome message as inflation has soared to 43 percent in 
the past year and the value of the peso has sunk to new lows. An estimated 
16 percent are unemployed in the Caribbean country, while many others search 
for work week-by-week.

In Santo Domingo's riverside slum La Cienaga, Zenobia Cedano has grown used 
to two meals a day. It is all she can afford with the meager earnings her 
husband makes doing odd jobs.

"There are days when you can buy a pound of chicken, but if you buy it today 
you can't afford it tomorrow," said Cedano, 60.

She recalled that prices were lower during Fernandez's 1996-2000 term.

Mejia has blamed the troubles on a world recession and a fraud scandal that 
led to the collapse of the country's second-largest bank last year, costing 
the national treasury some $2.2 billion.
His aid programs for single mothers and rural housing have helped him win a 
loyal core of followers, but others blame him for the downturn.

"Most people are really desperate and fed up," said Rosario Espinal, 
director of the Latin American Studies Center at Temple University in 
Philadelphia. "I think the worst nightmare for most Dominicans would be to 
see the government staying in power."

The U.S. Coast Guard has already picked up more than 3,200 Dominican boat 
people trying to cross to wealthier Puerto Rico this year — up from 1,469 in 
all of 2003. At least 25 people have died this year attempting the crossing, 
the Coast Guard said.

Meanwhile, blackouts have grown increasingly common, sometimes setting off 
violent protests in the country of 8.8 million, the second-most populous in 
the Caribbean after Cuba.

While the Dominican Republic has not seen any armed struggles for power in 
recent years like those in neighboring Haiti, fraud has seriously tainted 
elections as recently as 1994. This year, some 200 international observers 
are on hand from the Organization of American States and other groups to 
ensure a clean vote.

Mejia, an affluent farmer-turned-president, is drawing on his image as a man 
of the people. He says Fernandez is out to protect the rich and treats the 
poor like criminals.

Fernandez, an articulate technocrat, has promised to revive the country by 
going back to the tight fiscal policies of the late 1990s. He wants to 
reduce public spending by cutting the state work force and social programs 
while courting investment and renegotiating much of the $7.6 billion foreign 
debt.

The latest poll shows Fernandez with 54 percent to Mejia's 30 percent, 
followed by Eduardo Estrella with 10 percent. The Gallup survey questioned 
1,200 people during the first week of May and has a 3 percentage point 
margin of error.

In the final days before the vote, candidates held rallies with booming 
merengue music, and party loyalists rode through the streets leaning out car 
windows and waving party flags.

The debate also played out among the shacks crammed along Santo Domingo's 
Ozama River, where on a recent day a lone Mejia supporter stood arguing with 
a dozen unemployed men around an empty cockfighting ring, some slapping 
their hands down on the concrete benches for emphasis.

"There is no work," insisted Javier, the part-time construction laborer. 
"You don't know what's happening!"

"The situation isn't of one man's making; the situation is of the world," 
argued Rafael Hernandez, a 38-year-old who bet the others that Mejia would 
win another term.

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