Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic: Yesterday in the Capitolio neighborhood one thing did not quite add up, and I finally figured out what was not settling easily – I was in Santo Domingo physically, but mentally I was still in Havana.
When the civic associations were explaining their actions, we were confused because they did not believe that they could convince the government to do anything. So, they were bending over backwards to figure out how to move money, because they took as a first principle of their strategy that they could rarely move the government in the Dominican Republic.
In Cuba the government was the first source, while here in the DR it was the last resort. We had moved through the looking glass into a parallel universe somehow. A government that provided health, education, jobs, social security, and much else in Cuba versus a government that was curtailing all of these services and struggling at that. What are the models here!?!
Today was more of the same. We visited a low-income neighborhood and its voluntary community center in Gualey and then a health clinic in the Lebron community. One was next to a garbage pit, and in the other we could see the black water flowing through the ditch separating parts of the neighborhood. We walked around Lebron after visiting with the volunteers at the clinic – which was mainly a shed at the back of a house with some band aids and light meds – where doctors visited patients on a regular basis. Heather Appel, ACORN‘s head organizer in the Bronx commented later that she could not understand how they were able to patch up the kids and send them home to drink the black water again which had sent them to the clinic in the first place – she said all she could think of was getting on her marching shoes. We were all there!
We had met earlier with the PLD – the Partido de la Liberacion Dominicana, favored to win in the upcoming election. Tomorrow we meet with another party. We were pushing. This is the first time that Dominicans who are US Citizens will also be able to vote in the DR election if they are properly registered with dual citizenship. This first shot will be modest, because many Dominicans are not being allowed to register to vote easily, but one can imagine that this will also be a huge block for change.
Change needs to come here.