"It doesn´t matter here. It is not like the States. It won´t make any difference."
That is familiar refrain.
We spoke for a bit about the responsibilty of living in a democracy, about the history of the DR, which suffered 30 years under the terror of Trujillo, and has only had a barely viable democracy since 1990. During the last Congressional election here, the majority changed from one party to another, clear evidence of a functional democracy.
The political actors here in the Dominican Republic have not yet learned the value of hiding their corruption behind blind stock holdings (i.e. Bush, senior, in the Carlyle group, Cheney, in KBR and Halliburton) but instead have just the old fashioned hand in the till.
The presidential election here has a certain comedy factor, missing from the US. From the news translation at dr1.com:
Political dirty laundry
The PLD now seeks to focus the public on corruption regarding the personal fortune of PRD presidential candidate Miguel Vargas Maldonado. In addition to questioning the alleged RD$800 million villa of the PRD candidate in Casa de Campo, the party is asking about the purchase by Vargas Maldonado of 577,000 square meters of protected area in Samana and subsequent sale of this for US$12 million. At the time, Vargas Maldonado was Minister of Public Works. The PLD is also asking Vargas to explain the deal whereby he purchased the Hotel Hispaniola for US$16.5 million to later sell it to a Spanish group for US$23 million. At the time of the purchase, Vargas Maldonado was also Minister of Public Works.
The PRD earlier sued the Fernandez administration for the controversial Sun Land US$130 million loan, pointing to corruption in the transaction. While President Leonel Fernandez has said the debt is private, not governmental, failure to meet payments has affected the country's capital markets risk rating. The case was taken to the Supreme Court that has remained mute on the issue. Luis Arthur writes in the El Caribe that the Supreme Court has not responded because the ruling party has threatened to use their majority in Congress to make a move that could send several of the elderly Supreme Court judges into retirement.