Monday, January 28, 2008

Why discuss Aristide?

One of my biggest "changing perspectives" down here on Hispaniola was the revelation that the liberal left (heretofore my tribe) was wrong about Haiti, wrong about Aristide. I am accustomed to the mainstream media being wrong, wrong about WMD, wrong about Iraq, wrong basically about the cowboys and the Indians. But I had a naive confidence in Amy Goodman, Pacifica radio, organizations such as WILPF.

What a shock to discover what I have come to learn as the truth.

I had a teacher in Quaker school - stay with me a bit while I digress - for those of you who are not Quakers, the basic tenant is that there is that of God in everyone , so the teachers were expected to respect the students as a someone through whom God might speak. We had some teachers who were fired for "unQuakerly behavior" such as intimation -- back to my teacher, whose question was "How can one discern the Truth, what makes it different from a story?"

The answer that he finally presented us with (because we were just stumped) was that the Truth cannot be suppressed, it returns time and again. Thus, for example, the lessons in the Gospels and Bagavad Gita are essentially the same. And from Lincoln, that one cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

We wander through the political landscape like the blind men surrounding an elephant, each of us certain that we know the whole truth. Inside Quaker meetings, we strive to reach that of God within us and speak from that place, startled to discover that those other people who are doing the same are hearing wildly different messages. Quaker beliefs go from Christocentric evangelical Biblicals to non-theists which is an enormous range. As a religious community we have been torn asunder more than once by the variety of our "messages" from God. Currently our larger family is struggling with the issue of gay marriage - a topic which appears frivolous when one is faced with the issues of war and starvation and planetary dissolution. It bespeaks the luxury of a life where the essentials of life- food, shelter, personal security- are already met.
I long for my Quaker community to take a greater interest in the outer world, to be less focused on ourselves - to reach out a bit to the larger world.

I landed here three years ago believing that I knew the truth about the abduction of Aristide in 2004, the plot to overthrow the liberation theology priest by the "great powers". the injustice of the intervention.

I was wrong. Amy Goodman is wrong. Paul Farmer, whose medical work deserves the greatest respect, is wrong, WILPF is wrong. Aristide had become a corrupt dictator. Now his greatest support comes from the white, liberal left inside the United States and Canada who focus on the removal of the UN peacekeeping forces, the forgiveness of the foreign debt (to give more money to a government that is known as one of the most corrupt in the world), and the mistreatment of the Haitian workers here in the Dominican Republic. All of those positions are -- well --- wrong - in that they will not lead to progress, to healing, to an improvement in the lives of the people. That, of course, is just my opinion. But it has been my work in the last three years to become truly informed - in three languages.

I want to get on to other stories, other topics - to leave Aristide and the broken dreams that he fostered behind.

But Haiti is completely aid dependent, far from self sufficient. So the political opinions of the "Northern" hemisphere matter very, very much.

The current (and former) president of Haiti, Preval, is reputedly a good man, an honest man - the very first president in the history of his nation who retired in peace within his country as all his predecessors were either assassinated or went into exile. Yet there are members of his government who are drug dealers, who are thieves, who are murderers. One of Aristide's supporters, a woman named So Anne Auguste, travels about the leftist circles in the United States being hailed as a "human rights activist" while inside Haiti she is known as Aristide's vodou priestess, someone who gave out guns, ordered attacks, perhaps murdered a new born baby in a hideous ritual. How can we be so wrong about the character of a person?

Haiti is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. It holds the core of our racial history, the source of our deepest wound. It is listed as one of the ten most dangerous places on earth. Yet..... there is much that we - poisoned by affluence, searching for simplicity- can learn from the dignity of her people.

As the news of Africa - of Kenya, of the Sudan, of the Democratic Republic of Congo - draws the attention of the world, please remember Haiti, no more than 500 miles off the coast of Florida. Our only little piece of Africa- now with no more than 1% of its trees left, with 70% unemployment, has people who -- literally - eat dirt.

What do we, who built our wealthy nation on the backs of their African ancestors, owe them?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Lavalas Corrupition under Aristide

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Haiti: New Lavalas Dissident Makes Revelations About Aristide Government> >>> >>> >>LAP20030813000040 Port-au-Prince Radio Vision 2000 in French 1130 GMT 13> >>Aug 03> >>> >>[From the "Info Vision" Newscast]

Defections are multiplying within the Lavalas regime. It is now the turn of Jean Michard Mercier to leave the Lavalas boat. Mercier was the deputy mayor of Port-au-Prince from 1995 to 2000.

He is now making revelations about the regime's practices, notably the various meetings led by Jean-Bertrand Aristide at Tabarre [Aristide's residence] prior to the 2000 elections. He recalls Aristide's words regarding the elections. Aristide said: We do not want the majority of votes, but the totality.

He also reveals the role played by Police Inspector General Jean-Robert Estere in the electoral fraud on the eve of the May 2000 elections. Estere made more than a million voter registration cards disappear. He also affirms that criminal acts have been planned at the home of Annette Auguste [known as So Anne -- Sister Anne; Aristide's voodoo priest. According to Mercier, Sister Anne was apparently involved in the disappearance and murder of Nanoune Myrtile's baby from the General Hospital. He also mentions the names of other personalities, such as Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert, Angelot Bell, police officers, such as Jean-Robert Faveur, and other state bank officials who are apparently involved in criminal acts.

Wendy Richard reports: [Begin Richard Recording] Former Port-au-Prince Lavalas Mayor Jean Michard Mercier wants people to believe him when he says that Haiti is being led by murderers and power-obsessed individuals. The new Lavalas dissident, who is now in exile [in France], says it is unthinkable and unbelievable that Jean Dominique was killed by the people he was defending. While not wanting to accuse anybody, Mercier tends to draw attention to the presence of Harold Severe, who was at the murder scene on 3 April 2000. Mercier says "he personally saw Severe with three other men in a white pickup at the crime scene." Just like those men, people like Estere, of the Haitian National Police [PNH], should be questioned by the court because they are all reputed professional killers of the Lavalas regime.

Mercier underscores that most of the reprehensible acts were planned in conjunction with government officials at the house of Lavalas supporter Annette Auguste who, according to him, is a US citizen.Government personalities such as Interior Minister Privert; Bell, who is> director general of the Interior Ministry; Lavalas Senator [Louis]Gerald Gilles; Jean-Robert Faveur who was then police superintendent; and others, such as Leveque Valbrun, of the National Bank of Credit[BNC], and Reginald Mondesir, of the Bank of the Republic of Haiti[BRH]. With regard to the meetings that took place at Tabarre prior to the May 2000 elections, Mercier affirms having heard Aristide say on several occasions: "We do not want to have the majority of votes, but the totality."

He adds that Estere was fully involved in the election fraud. The current central director of the administrative police apparently made more than a million voter registration cards disappear on the eve of the 21 May elections. Mercier also talks about the disappearance of Nanoune Myrtile's baby from the General Hospital. He says the abduction was planned at the home of Sister Anne for mystical ends and sorcery. With this, Mercier confirms what Johnny Occilius said about that issue. He says that he got that information from current Lavalas Deputy Andre Jeune Joseph, who apparently took part in that meeting. He adds that the baby's remainswere buried by Felix Bien-Aime, a powerful OP [People's Organization) leader who was then the director of the Port-au-Prince cemetery and who was executed a few months later by a commando from the Port-au-Prince police station, led by Police Superintendent Ralph Dominique. Bien-Aime was killed because he threatened to reveal everything.

Mercier also talks about the generosity of the Lavalas regime toward two powerful Lavalas activists. The National Pension Office [ONA] has apparently bought two houses in the Belvil area for $800,000 for Paul Raymond and Rene Civil.

These were the accusations, revelations, and denunciations by the former mayor, who has come to broaden the list of the Lavalas dissidents. Nobody knows who the next dissident will be. [end recording]

[Description of Source: Port-au-Prince Radio Vision 2000 in French --> >>Independent, centrist commercial radio station]

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Church State - State Church

It astonished me to hear from a Dominican studying computers with Peace Corps volunteer, Jessica Heckart, in Pedernales, that she had learned more in one month in a few weeks with Jessica than in an entire semester at a branch of the State university in the next city, two hours away.

When I asked why, she answered: "There was very little time on the computers. We had to study religion."

I had another shock when visiting the "Faro de Colon", a huge monument in the form of a cross, which may or may not hold the remains of Columbus, and read inscribed there a bloody quote of Christian conquest and the beginning of the decimation of the natives, the importation of slaves. It is something along the lines of "we claim these lands in the name of Christ." I could not find it on the Internet but will write it down if I am ever out there again.

I had thought then this had always been a "Catholic" country. But no, not officially.

It was not until 1954, that the Catholic Church signed an agreement with Raphael Trujillo, who had already held power for 25 years, certainly a dictator, certainly a tyrant who was known to simply throw his enemies out to sea, most certainly corrupt. Almost 20 years before the signing of this document, in 1938, an Episcopalian minister had been beaten to death by Trujillo's forces for smuggling information to the United States government about the slaughter of Haitians along the border.

So much for the moral influence of organized religion, particularly the Church of Rome.

[16 June 1954 ]

In the name of the Most Holy Trinity
The Holy See and the Dominican Republic, desirous of promoting fruitful cooperation for the better good of the religious and civil life of the Dominican Nation, have decided to draw up a Concordat establishing the rules that shall govern reciprocal relations between the High Contracting Parties, in accordance with the Law of God and the Dominican Republic’s Catholic tradition.
To this end, His Holiness the Supreme Pontiff Pius XII has appointed as his plenipotentiary his Excellency the Most Reverend Monsignor Domenico Tardini, First Secretary of State for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs;
and his Excellency the President of the Dominican Republic has appointed as his plenipotentiary Dr Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina.
Having exchanged their respective full powers, which were found to be in due and proper form, the Plenipotentiaries agreed the following articles:
The Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Religion is the Religion of the Dominican Republic, and shall enjoy the rights and prerogatives due to it under Divine and Canon law.
1. The Dominican Republic recognises the international legal personality of the Holy See and the Vatican City State.
2. So as to maintain traditional friendly relations between the Holy See and the Dominican Republic, an Ambassador for the Dominican Republic shall be accredited to the Holy See, and an Apostolic Nuncio in Ciudad Trujillo. The latter shall be the dean of the Diplomatic Corps in accordance with common law and tradition.
1. The Dominican Republic recognises that the Catholic Church is a perfect society, and guarantees that the Catholic Church shall freely and fully exercise its spiritual power and jurisdiction, and shall be able to freely and publicly organise acts of worship.
2. In particular the Holy See shall be able to adopt and publish any provision relative to the Church in the Dominican Republic without impediment, and shall communicate with Prelates, clergy and the faithful in the Dominican Republican; and Prelates, clergy and the faithful shall be able to communicate with the Holy See.
Ordinaries and other Ecclesiastical Authorities shall enjoy the same rights with regard to their clergy and faithful.
1. The Dominican Republic shall recognise the legal personality of all religious institutions and associations established under Canon Law in the Dominican Republic on the entry into force of this Concordat; in particular the legal personality of Dioceses, the Prelature Nullius and related institutions, Religious Congregations, Societies promoting communal life, and lay accredited Institutions promoting Christian perfection, whether established by pontifical or diocesan right, as well as to their provinces and houses.
The competent Ecclesiastical Authorities shall submit to the relevant department of the Dominican Government a list of the afore-mentioned religious institutions and associations within two months of the ratification of this Concordat.
2. Similar bodies established or approved in the Dominican Republic by the competent Ecclesiastical Authorities shall enjoy official recognition provided that the act establishing them or approving their establishment is officially communicated in writing to the competent State Authorities.
1. For the appointment of an Archbishop, resident Bishop or his coadjutor with the right of succession, the Holy See shall communicate the name of the candidate to the Dominican Government with a view to establishing whether there are any general political objections to the appointment. If the government does not respond within thirty days of the afore-mentioned notification, it shall be deemed that there is no objection. These procedures shall be conducted in strict secrecy.
2. When appointing the Archbishop and Bishops, the Holy Father shall consider appropriate priests that are citizens of the Dominican Republic. However, the Holy Father may, if he deems it necessary and appropriate for the greater religious good of the country, appoint priests that are not Dominican Nationals, on the grounds of a shortage of Dominican priests.
1. The territory of the Dominican Republic shall be divided into the following ecclesiastical areas: the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Santo Domingo; the Diocese of Santiago de los Caballeros; the Diocese of La Vega; the Prelature Nullius of San Juan de la Maguana.
2. The Holy See shall seek the agreement of the Dominican Government prior to establishing new Dioceses or Prelatures nullius, or to effecting other changes to dioceses as may be deemed necessary, except in the case of minor alterations required for the good of souls.

1. The Dominican Government undertakes to build the Cathedral, Church of the Prelature, the residences of the Bishops or Prelate Nullius, and the offices of the Curia as may be required in current existing Dioceses and Prelature, as well as in Dioceses established in the future.
2. Furthermore, the Government shall provide a monthly subsidy for administrative costs and for poor churches to the Archdiocese of Santo Domingo, and to each Diocese or Prelature Nullius such as currently exist or that may be established in the future.
The Archbishop of Santo Domingo shall have the title of Primate of the Indies, in accordance with the Bull of Pius VII Divinis Preaceptis of 28th of September 1816.
The title, rights and privileges of the Metropolitan Church of Santo Domingo as a Minor Basilica, granted by Benedict XV in Breve Inter Americae of 14th of June 1920, are hereby confirmed.
1. The establishment, alteration or suppression of parishes or other ecclesiastical offices or posts, the appointment of the Vicar General, Curia officials, parish priests or other officials of the Church shall be determined by the competent Ecclesisastical Authorities in accordance with the provisions of Canon Law. Furthermore, the relevant authorities shall inform the Government as soon as possible of the appointment of the Vicar General, parish priests, and, in cases where a parish is vacant, of the priest temporarily charged with that parish. In making appointments, the Authorities shall, where possible, give precedence to appropriate priests who are Dominican nationals.
2. Any Government objection to the conduct of an ecclesiastical official shall be considered and decided on by the competent Ecclesiastical Authorities.

1. The Ecclesiastical Authorities may avail themselves of the services and cooperation of foreign clergy or lay staff, and appoint foreign priests to ecclesiastical posts when it is deemed appropriate for the good of the Country, the Diocese or the Prelature.
2. Foreign priests or clergy invited to the Country by the Church for the purposes of their ministry or apostolic duties shall be exempt from any and all immigration taxes.
3. General or regional Superiors of Holy Orders or Congregations who reside outside the Dominican Republic, even if they are foreign nationals, shall have the right to visit their orders or their houses in the Dominican Republic, either personally or by delegation.
1. Ecclesiastics shall enjoy the special protection of the State in the exercise of their ministry.
2. Ecclesiastics may not be cross-examined by judges or interrogated by other authorities on matters of which they have acquired cognizance as part of their holy ministry, and which therefore fall under the secret of their spiritual duties.
3. Clergy and holy orders shall not be obliged to assume public office if these duties are deemed incompatible with their ordained status by Canon Law.
In order to exercise other duties or public office, they shall require the Nihil obstat of their own Ordinary, and the Ordinary of the place where the duties are to be carried out. If the Nihil obstat is revoked, they shall not continue to exercise these duties.
Clergy, philosophy and theology seminarians, and holy orders (whether professed or novices) shall be exempt from military service, except when there is a -general mobilization.
In the case of a general mobilization, priests shall perform military service by providing religious assistance; other clergy or holy orders shall be assigned to the health services and the Red Cross.
The following shall be exempt from military service even in the case of a general mobilization: Bishops, priests who charged with the cure of souls, such as parish priests and their assistants, and priests required in the service of diocesan and prelature Curias, or Seminaries.
If a criminal charge is brought against an ecclesiastic or member of a religious order, the state jurisdiction charged with the matter shall duly inform the competent Ordinary, and forward to him the results of the investigation, and, should the eventuality arise, the ruling or sentence at Court of first instance, appeal, review or cassation.
Should an ecclesiastic or member of a religious order be placed under arrest, he shall be treated with the respect due to his ordained status.
If a prison sentence is passed on an ecclesiastic or member of a religious order, that sentence shall, as far as possible, be served in facilities separate to those for lay persons, unless the sentenced person has been reduced to lay status by the competent Ordinary.
Ecclesiastics or members of religious orders who have been forbidden to use the ecclesiastical and religious habit by order of the competent Ecclesiastical Authority, which should be officially communicated to the Authorities of the State, are forbidden from doing so; such use or the unlawful use of religious habit by other persons shall be subject to the same penalties as the unlawful use of military uniform. The abuse of ecclesiastical jurisdiction or unlawful exercise of ecclesiastical functions shall be subject to similar penalties.
1. The Dominican Republic grants full civil recognition to marriages contracted under Canon Law.
2. In accordance with the inherent nature of Catholic matrimony it is understood that by virtue of contracting Catholic marriage, spouses renounce the possibility of divorce, which shall not be applicable to these Canon marriages.

1. Cases for the annulment of Canon matrimony, the dispensation of unconsummated marriages, and procedures relative to Pauline Privilege shall be the exclusive competence of the relevant ecclesiastical Tribunals. The Holy See agrees that cases for separation shall be dealt with by civil Courts.
2. Definitive decisions or rulings of ecclesiastical organs and Tribunals shall be submitted to the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura for review; the Supreme Tribunal shall then forward the rulings together with its own decrees by diplomatic channels to the competent Dominican Court, which shall implement them and enter them into the civil registry, and append them to the marriage certificate in question.
The Dominican State shall guarantee religious assistance to the army, navy and air force; to this end the State shall cooperate with the Holy See to establish and organize a corps of military chaplains. These chaplains shall be assigned the rank of officer, and shall be subject to the Metropolitan Archbishop in matters pertaining to their ministry, and subject to the discipline of the armed forces in matters pertaining to their military service.
The State shall observe the following feast days:
1) Feast days determined by the Church under Canon Law, namely: every Sunday; the feast of the Circumcision (January the 1st), the Epiphany (feast of the Three Kings, January the 6th), Saint Joseph (19th of March), Ascension, Corpus Christi, Saints Peter and Paul Apostles(29th of June), Assumption(15th of August), All Saints (1st of November), the Immaculate Conception (8th of December), Christmas, the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ (25th of December);
2) Feast Days in the Dominican Republic, namely: the feast of Our Lady of Altagracia (21st of January);the feast of Our Lady of Mercedes (24th of September).
The State shall adopt legislative provisions to allow the faithful to perform their religious obligations on these feast days.
National and local lay authorities shall observe these feast days as days of rest.
1. The Dominican Government shall provide the religious assistance necessary to national establishments such as schools, hospitals, old people’s homes, children’s homes, prisons, etc.
To this end, if an establishment does not have its own chaplain, the State shall allow free access to the local parish priest, or to the priest so charged by the competent religious Ordinary, so that he may provide spiritual succour to the establishment.
2. The Catholic Religion shall be taught, and its precepts applied, in orphanages, official educational establishments, and correctional establishments for minors.
3. Where possible, the Dominican Government shall charge religious orders with the management of hospitals, old people’s homes, orphanages and other national charitable institutions. The Holy See shall encourage this project.
1. The Church shall be free to establish Seminaries or any other type of ecclesiastical training institution; these shall not be subject to the supervision of the State.
2. Awards, degrees or school certificates conferred by these institutions shall have the same legal validity as awards, degrees or certificates conferred by the State, and shall be deemed equivalent.
To this end, the competent Ecclesiastical Authority shall forward to the relevant State Authority the texts used in the aforementioned educational establishments for the teaching of subjects other than theology or philosophy.
3. Degrees and qualifications awarded at Pontifical Universities or Higher Educational Establishment shall receive the same official recognition in the Dominican Republic as degrees awarded by the State.
1. The Dominican State shall guarantee the Catholic Church full freedom to establish and run all and any type of school, which shall remain under the authority of the Church. Given the social utility of such schools for the Nation, the State shall grant official protection to these schools, and shall provide appropriate subsidies.
Religious education in the aforementioned schools shall be freely organised and imparted by the Ecclesiastical Authorities.
2. School certificates granted by primary educational establishments under the authority of the Church shall have the same validity as those granted by equivalent State educational establishments.
3. Exams or tests for the awarding of official certificates of secondary education to pupils of secondary educational establishments under the authority of the Church shall be held on the premises of these establishments at the request of the Ecclesiastical Authorities; the exams or tests shall be organised by special committees made up, at least in part, of State teaching staff.
1. Education provided by the State in public schools shall be guided by the moral and doctrinal principles of Catholicism.
2. All public primary and secondary schools shall teach Catholic religion and morality to pupils and students, unless their parents, or those substituting them, have requested an exemption in writing; this instruction shall follow programmes drawn up by common agreement with the competent Ecclesiastical Authority.
3. For the aforementioned instruction only texts previously approved by the Ecclesiastical Authority shall be employed; the State shall appoint primary and secondary education teachers who have been issued a certificate of suitability by the competent Ordinary. The withdrawal of this certificate shall have the immediate effect of disqualifying him or her from teaching religion.
In appointing primary and secondary education teachers the State shall take into account recommendations of the Ecclesiastical Authority; for secondary schools, if there is a sufficient number of priests or clergy in holy orders, and if they have been proposed by the local Ordinary, they shall be given precedence over lay teaching staff by the State.
4. The parish priest or his delegate shall have access to primary schools to provide regular Catechism instruction.
5. Local Ordinaries may visit schools personally, or delegate such visits, in order to ascertain how religious and moral education is being imparted.
The State shall ensure that information services and institutions under its aegis, and radio and television programmes in particular, assign sufficient priority to the presentation and defence of religious truth; it shall do so through priests and clergy in holy orders appointed in agreement with the competent Ordinary.
1. The Dominican State recognises that the religious institutions and associations mentioned in Article IV have full capacity for the acquisition, ownership and management of all categories of property.
2. The normal and extraordinary management of property belonging to the aforementioned religious institutions and associations, as well as the supervision and inspection of their management shall be the responsibility of the relevant Church authorities.
3. The Dominican Republic recognises and guarantees the Church’s ownership of movable and immovable property acknowledged as belonging to the Church under Law nº 117 of the 20th of April 1931, clarified by Law nº 390 of the 16th of September 1943, as well as Church ownership of property legitimately acquired after this date, including properties declared national monuments.
The Dominican Republic declares that all places of worship or other premises built by the State since 1930 are the property of the Church, as are other buildings built by the State in the future.
4. The Church may receive any type of donation or gift intended for achieving its aims; it may organise special collections inside or outside places of worship or other premises owned by the Church.
1. Holy buildings, Seminaries and other buildings for the training of clergy, buildings owned by the Church used for public purposes, the residences of Bishops or other clergy, shall, if they are the property of the Church, be exempt from all taxes or levies.
It is expressly agreed that all property acquired by the Church as a donation from a living person, or through inheritance from the will of a deceased person, shall be exempt from capital gains or inheritance tax,provided that the properties thereby received are employed for worship or public purposes, either at the behest of the donor or testator, or if the competent Ecclesiastical Authority so decides.
2. Ecclesiastical property not covered by the foregoing paragraph shall not be taxable or subject to special levies.
3. On the grounds of their spiritual ministry ecclesiastics shall not be subject to any tax or levy.
4. Local Ordinaries and parish rectors shall have the free use of postal and telegraph services for their official correspondence within the country.
5. Edicts and notices relative to the sacred ministry which are affixed to the doors of places of worship shall be exempt from any tax or levy.
The State guarantees the freedom of organisation of Catholic associations of a religious, social or charitable nature, and in particular that of Catholic Action associations under the authority of local Ordinaries.

On Sundays, feast days of precept and National holidays, a prayer forthe prosperity of the Republic and its President shall be recited or sung at theend of the main liturgy in all Cathedrals, Prelatura Churches and parishes inthe Dominican Republic.
All other matters relative to ecclesiastical persons or property not dealtwith in the preceding articles shall be settled under Canon Law currently inforce.
Should any doubt or difficulty arise in the future with regard to theinterpretation of this Concordat, or should the need arise to settle mattersrelative to ecclesiastical persons or property which also affect the interests ofthe State, the Holy See and the Dominican Government shall proceed bycommon accord with a view to finding an amicable settlement to any dispute.
1. This Concordat, the Spanish and Italian language versions of whichare equally valid, shall enter into force upon the exchange of ratificationinstruments, which shall be verified within two months of the signature of theConcordat.
2. The entry into force of this Concordat shall imply that other Laws,Decrees, Orders or Regulations that oppose the provisions of the Concordatshall be repealed.
The Dominican Republic shall adopt the internal provisions necessaryfor the implementation of this Concordat within a period of six months.
In faith whereof, the Plenipotentiaries sign this Concordat.
Two copies have been drawn up.
Vatican City, 16th of June 1954.
Signed: Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina
Signed: Domenico Tardini
I, Máximo Antonio Ureña Hernández, Head of the AdministrativeDepartment of the State Secretariat for Foreign and Religious Affairs, certifythat the foregoing copy is true and in accordance with the originalCONCORDAT between the HOLY SEE and the DOMINICAN REPUBLICfiled in the archives of this State Secretariat.
Ciudad Trujillo, 1st of July 1954.
Máximo Antonio Ureña Hernández.


In signing the Concordat today concluded between the Holy See andthe Dominican Republic the Plenipotentiaries signing have by common accordmade the following declarations, which shall be an integral part of theConcordat.
With regard to Article VII, paragraph 2
In implementing the provisions of Article VII, paragraph 2 of the Concordat the Government of the Dominican Republic shall donate:
a) five hundred gold pesos a month to the Archdiocesan Curia of Santo Domingo
b) three hundred gold pesos a month to every other Diocese or Prelature Nullius
With regard to Article X
When a foreign religious order or congregation is to be invited to the Dominican Republic, the competent Ecclesiastical Authority shall inform the Government.
With regard to Article XV
A) For the State to recognise the civil validity of matrimony governed by Canon Law, it shall be sufficient for the marriage certificate to be transcribed into the relevant civil registry. This shall be carried out in the following way:
Within three days of the celebration of the marriage the Parish Priest shall forward a true copy of the marriage certificate to the competent State Civil Registry official so that it may be transcribed into the civil registry.
This transcription shall be carried out within two days of receipt of the certificate; within three days of the transcription taking place the State Civil Registry Official shall duly notify the Parish Priest of the date of transcription.
Parish Priests who, without serious grounds, fail to forward a copy of the marriage certificate within the stipulated time period shall be deemed guilty of disobedience; Civil Registry Officials who fail to transcribe the certificate in due time shall be subject to the sanctions provided for in the internal rules of the service.
B) It is understood that the civil validity of a marriage duly transcribed into the civil register shall commence on the date of the celebration of the Canon marriage. However, when the transcription of a marriage is requested five days after its celebration, this shall take place without prejudice to the legitimately acquired rights of third parties.
The transcription into the civil registry of the marriage shall not be prevented by the death of one or both spouses.
With regard to Article XX
1. The Holy See confers the title of Pontifical Institute to the Seminary of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Ciudad Trujillo.
Furthermore the Government undertakes to carry out extensions to the buildings donated to the Seminary, as deemed necessary by common agreement of the Parties; the Government undertakes to defray the costs of the aforementioned institution by means of a monthly contribution of fifteen gold pesos for each Dominican seminarian pursuing his studies in the Seminary.
2. In order to increase the prestige of national clergy, the State shall grant the Ecclesiastical Authority four scholarships for Dominican seminarians to pursue their studies in the Pontifical Athenea in Rome.
With regard to Article XXI
It shall be understood that:
1) No permit or other formality shall be required for the establishment of a school under the aegis of the Ecclesiastical Authority.
2) State supervision of schools subject to the Ecclesiastical Authority shall be restricted to health and safety standards; it shall also include, to a limited extent, the development of curricula in the establishments mentioned in paragraph 2 of this article; State supervision shall always be carried out in such a way as to take account of the special nature of the aforementioned schools, and with the agreement of the relevant Ecclesiastical Authority.
With regard to Article XXII
1. The State shall not declare other ecclesiastical property national monuments without the agreement of the competent Religious Authority.
2. It shall be understood that an ecclesiastical property declared a national monument shall be inalienable, and that the Ecclesiastical Authority, owner of the property, shall not carry out alterations or modifications without the agreement of the competent civil Authority.
With regard to Article XXVI
The prayer shall be:
v. Domino, salvam fac Rempublicam et Presidem ejus.r. Et exaudi nos in die qua invocaverimus te.v. Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedice heritati tuaer. Et rege eos et extolle illos usque in aeternum.v. Domine, exaudi orationem meamr. Et clamor meus ad te veniatv. Dominus vobiscumr. Et cum spiritu tuo
Populuum tuum, quaesumus, Domine, continua pietate custodi, ejusque Rectores sapientiae tuae lumine illustra; ut, quae agenda sunt, videant, et ad implenda quae viderint, convalescant. Per Christum Dominum Nostrum
V: Amen.*
Vatican City, 16th of June 1954.
Signed: Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina
Signed: Domenico Tardini

I, Máximo Antonio Ureña Hernández, Head of the Administrative Department of the State Secretariat for Foreign and Religious Affairs, certify that the foregoing copy is true and in accordance with the original FINAL PROTOCOL to the CONCORDAT between the HOLY SEE and the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC filed in the archives of this State Secretariat.
Ciudad Trujillo, 1st of July 1954.
Máximo Antonio Ureña Hernández.
DONE in the Sessions Chamber of the Palace of the Senate, Ciudad Trujillo, District of Santo Domingo, Capital of the Dominican Republic, on the seventh day of the month of July of the year one thousand nine hundred and fifty-four, 111th year of Dominican Independence, 91st year of the Restoration, and 25th year of the Trujillo era.
M. de J. Troncoso de la Concha,President.
Julio A. Cambier,Secretary.
José García,Secretary.
DONE in the Sessions Chamber of the Chamber of Deputies, Ciudad Trujillo, District of Santo Domingo, Capital of the Dominican Republic, on the seventh day of the month of July of the year one thousand nine hundred and fifty-four, 111th year of Dominican Independence, 91st year of the Restoration, and 25th year of the Trujillo era.
The President:Porfirio Herrera.
Secretaries:Pablo Otto Hernández.Virgilio Hoepelman
HECTOR BIENVENIDO TRUJILLO MOLINAPresident of the Dominican Republic
Under the prerogatives accorded to me by Article 49, indent 3 of the Constitution of the Republic:
I ADOPT this Resolution, and order that it be published in the Official Gazette so that it may be known and enacted.
DONE in Ciudad Trujillo, District of Santo Domingo, Capital of the Dominican Republic, on the seventh day of the month of July of the year one thousand nine hundred and fifty-four, 111th year of Dominican Independence, 91st year of the Restoration, and 25th year of the Trujillo era.

* Celebrant: Lord, bless the Republic and its President. Congregation: And hear us, who call out to you Celebrant: Bless your people, oh Lord; and bless your inheritance. Congregation: Rule over them, and praise them forever and ever. Celebrant: Lord, hear my prayer. Congregation: And may my cries reach you. Celebrant: The Lord be with you Congregation: And with your Spirit. Celebrant: Let us pray. Abide by us your people, oh Lord, and guide our Leaders with the light of your wisdom, so that they may see what they must do, and be strong in fulfilling their duty, through Christ Our Lord. Congregation: Amen.

Translation of Concordato Estado Dominicano-Vaticano, 1954, by Brian Connor of the National Secular Society

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Virgin of Altagracia

The Virgin of Altagracia

Today is the celebration of the Patron Saint of The Dominican Republic. Tens of thousands of pilgrims have gone east to Higuey to worship at her shrine.

The streets here in the Capital are empty and silent.

Julia Alvarez , the premier Dominican-American writer, now a professor at my alma mater, Middlebury College, has writen a book on the legend of the Virgin's appearance here.

Official Catholic documents tell this legend of the oil painting which now hangs in the Cathedral .

Legend says that the pious daughter of a rich merchant asked him to bring her a portrait of Our Lady of Altagracia from Santo Domingo, but no one had heard of that title. The merchant, staying overnight at a friend's house in Higuey, described his problem as they sat outdoors after dinner.

An old man with a long beard, who just happened to be passing by, pulled a rolled up painting from his bundle, gave it to the merchant, and said, "This is what you are looking for."

It was the Virgin of Altagracia. They gave the old man a place to stay for the night, but by dawn he was gone, not to be seen again. The merchant placed the image on their mantle, but it repeatedly disappeared only to be found outside. They finally returned it to the church.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A picture of corruption

I spent some time this morning trying to convince a young Dominican, a bi-lingual college student that it was important for him to vote in the upcoming election.

"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

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.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Corruption and Transparency

While visiting my home in Asheville last year, I was shocked by the comments of one Friend, whose husband regularly travels to Haiti with medical missions.

"It is so corrupt there" she said "Even to bring in medical missionaries, you have to pay so many bribes."

My shock was not that they had to pay bribes, but that she did not perceive that the bribers themselves were the corrupting influence.

The "developing world" is constantly subject to scrutiny from international organizations, like a patient in intensive care.

The NGO Transparency International issues an annual survey on the perceptions of corruption, defined as :the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.

Last year, Haiti came in last out of 163 nations with a score of 1.8 (out of 10). It moved up perceptibly this year, to third from the bottom but (alas) not because it had become less corrupt, with a score of 1.5, but that other nations (Iraq, Mynamar, and Somalia) on the expanded list of 177 had fallen even lower.

The Dominican Republic held is place at 99th but improved its score from 2.8 to 3.0.

Lest my American readers begin to superior ( a grave national flaw, I fear), the United States is only ranked at 20th, with a score of 7.3 in 2006, and 7.2 in 2007. It fell well below its northern neighbor, Canada which rose from 14th to 9th with scores of 8.5 and 8.7

Denmark, Finland, and New Zealand all tied for first place.

More shameful is the list of bribe payers from the "developed" nations. With shock and chagrin, I note that Canada ranks even higher than the US on this list.

Some days, it is hard to hold on to optimism.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Different Types of Quakers

My parents (Episcopalian if one could call them anything) scoured Greenwich Village for a school that might have 1) a semblance of discipline, 2) a tuition program that was not on a sliding scale,3) teachers who did not wear jeans and 4) the students did not address the teachers by their first name. When they discovered Friends Seminary, with its suitable exterior, stiff tuition, competitive entry requirements even at the kindergarten level, they were smitten.

It was not for another 12 years after I refused to make my debut (I mean, can you imagine a Quaker debutante?) and started marching with the Congress of Racial Equality.that they discovered what the Quakers had wrought. By then, of course, it was much too late.

Here from the Facebook group --- are the children I would have had. Had I had any.

Quaker Hippie Children
Common Interest - Beauty
*you're only really alive when in a cuddle puddle
*you eat whole-wheat bread and organic salad mix at home
*you indulge on the occasional Newman-O
*your threshold for weirdness, quirkiness, and everything avant-garde seems to be much, much higher than that of anyone around you
*you laugh and dance in the sunshine, with a garland of flowers in your hair
*you will put a daisy into the barrel of a gun
*you have a hippie bumper sticker present anywhere in your life
*you attend Quaker meeting (although not necessarily required; there are many of us who are QHCs at heart, but aren't actually Quaker...)
*you have ever been asked to use an "I" statement to describe your feelings
*your parents would rather have bombed San Francisco than even consider spanking you
*the people who raised you opposed 'Nam or ripped up draft cards
*there was a time when your parental units could have been plucked off the street and deposited into the cast of HAIR
*there is more than one person in your life obsessed with Latin America and adopting Latin American children
*you have ancient LPs lying around the home
*you light a stick of Nag Champa when the mood strikes
*you go to retreats surrounded by an odd mix of really straight-edged people and hard-core potheads
*you play Ultimate Frisbee, Capture the Flag, or Wink ;-D
*you are completely for any kind of love, in any form
*there is a copy of Rise Up Singing somewhere in your home
*you own at least four tie-dyed or political t-shirts
*your parents were hesitant about voting Kerry because, although they are anti-Bush, they felt that Kerry was too conservative. Nader?
*you're NOT Amish!
*you don't (always) eat oatmeal
*your parents have nearly been arrested for protesting nuclear defense facilities
*you use only eco-friendly products in your home
*you compost
*you know at least one woman who doesn't shave
*you know at least one person who spells "woman"/"women"-- "womyn"
*you remember attending protests from a very young age
*someone close to you owns an accordion, an acoustic guitar, or a banjo
*at least half the people you know are vegetarian (or vegan!)
*you know at least one person who doesn't eat eggs, dairy, wheat, refined sugars, or anything grown further than 50 miles from home
*on the occasions when society demands that you confine yourself to shoes, they are probably the most expensive thing in your wardrobe and are very likely Chacos, Birkenstocks, Tevas, Crocs, Keens or the like [ADMIN COMMENT: God, I fucking hate Crocs.]
*you know more long haired men than you do women
*as a child, you played the card game "War"... er,"Challenge"
*as a young girl, your parents subscribed to New Moon magazine for you
*immediately after you came into the world, you were slipped into a CLOTH diaper, complete with large pins (and you remained diapered in cloth for the next few years)
*your parents not ONLY used cloth diapers, but made them themselves!
*you have the ability to insert tofu into any meal and make it taste halfway decent (most of the time)
*you enjoy dancing in the rain
*you go skinny-dipping in the Ocean of Light (hhahha)
*you go skinny-dipping anywhere else
*you know at least one woman who doesn't wear a bra
*you've grown up on hand-me-downs and thriftstore-bought clothing (rather than support corporations and overproduction)
*your family has participated in boycotts against corporations like Gap, Nike, Walmart, etc.
*you have one or more friends who can smoke anything out of anything
*summer means Ultimate Frisbee and Capture the Flag!
*granola has been a part of your childhood for years
*you have fallen asleep during Meeting at least once
*you'd rather go barefoot than confine your feet to the harsh reality of shoes
*you'd rather dream than confine your soul to the harsh reality of life

YOU ARE A QUAKER HIPPIE CHILD if any of the above, or all of the above, or even NONE of the above apply! As QHCs, we are not about to be anal about who is a QHC and who isn't!

Thee should INVITE your sistyr and brothyr Quaker Hippie Children! Ahhaha.
And feel free to declare yourself an OFFICER... just reveal to me your TRUE INNER HIPPIECHILDE NAME, so I can make it official.

I'm really bored, so here's a list of possible officer names to choose from, if you so wish to be promoted:
Bohemian Babe
Hippy Hippy Shake (actually a song... who knew?)
Natural Womyn
Cannabis Rex (not advocating pot, either...)
Communist Whore
Child of Light
Contact InfoOffice:
Make Love, Not War
Across the Universe

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Making Peace

I spent a bit of time chasing a story between these two nations - the DR and Haiti, which turned out to be a non-story - in that the ban on the importation of eggs was lifted within two days.

Yet the story went out over the wire service, was sent to my inbox via Google, was picked up and run by at least 15 media outlets, including the Forbes Magazine.

Why, I wonder, did this Associated Press reporter, chose to pick this story - among all the possible stories which could be written on these two nations.

How to be a reporter for peace?

Many days, I chose silence.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

So War is indeed the answer?

Glenn Greenwald at provides the information that US military spending now exceeds --THE REST OF THE WORLD COMBINED.

Perhaps it might be acceptable to take the moral comfort in voting for Denis Kucinich or Ron Paul?

Just how much should we render to Cesar?

Greenwald quotes the candidates:

Hillary Clinton:
To help our forces recover from Iraq and prepare them to confront the full range of twenty-first-century threats, I will work to expand and modernize the military so that fighting wars no longer comes at the expense of deployments for long-term deterrence, military readiness, or responses to urgent needs at home.
John Edwards:
I will double the budget for recruitment and raise the standards for the recruitment pool so that we can reduce our reliance on felony waivers and other exceptions. In addition, I will increase our investment in the maintenance of our equipment for the safety of our troops.
Barack Obama:
To renew American leadership in the world, we must immediately begin working to revitalize our military. A strong military is, more than anything, necessary to sustain peace. . . .

We must use this moment both to rebuild our military and to prepare it for the missions of the future. . . . We should expand our ground forces by adding 65,000 soldiers to the army and 27,000 marines. . . .

I will not hesitate to use force, unilaterally if necessary, to protect the American people or our vital interests whenever we are attacked or imminently threatened.

We must also consider using military force in circumstances beyond self-defense in order to provide for the common security that underpins global stability -- to support friends, participate in stability and reconstruction operations, or confront mass atrocities.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Why Not Hillary?

Because, honestly, I am tired of the Hillary and Bill show.

I remember when Bill (you don't mind if I call you that, do you? You were always a shirtsleeves rolled up kind of a guy) was first running for the Presidency and I called another savy political woman friend of mine. "I don't know", she said "I don't trust him. I don't trust his thing around women."

She certainly was right on that. How many months of precious collective time and consciousness did we have to spend dealing with Bill's "thing around women?" Bright he may have been but surely we all know the meaning of the word "is".

Retire gracefully please. Your personal conduct was a national and international disgrace.

Gloria Steinem (deep bows to you, much respect, great gratitude) is supporting Hillary in part:

I’m supporting Senator Clinton because like Senator Obama she has community organizing experience, but she also has more years in the Senate, an unprecedented eight years of on-the-job training in the White House, no masculinity to prove, the potential to tap a huge reservoir of this country’s talent by her example, and now even the courage to break the no-tears rule.

I resent the implication that the job of "wife" to the President is on the job training to be the president. Where are our boundaries here? Are we not tired of dancing backwards in high heels, manipulating and manovering the men in our lives to do the actions we want them to? No wonder so many kids are on drugs.

Not good enough for me. My deep feminist spirit is appalled at the way she allowed herself to be humiliated in front of the world. Why didn't you leave the guy? I don't think that Mrs. Clinton set a good example to our daughters, withstanding public humiliation and abuse for the sake of ....what? exactly? My answer is : her own political ambitions.

I have my own dysfunctional family. I don't want to have to observe yours - once again.

Certainly men (and women) are behaving badly all over the world. Some of them are even making war on foreign countries that did nothing to them, all for the sake of oil.

Does anyone believe that Mrs. Clinton would have been elected as Senator from New York, a state in which she had no roots, no kinfolk, had she not been married to a former president?

What are we, Argentina? Pakistan?

Could anyone even tell me what Mr. Thatcher looked like?

Let us wait for the right woman. One who made it to where she is under her own steam, her own power. Take a look at Chile. That's the kind of woman I want and I am prepared to wait for her.

Nor do I support Senator Edwards. My primary reason is that I lived in North Carolina when he was our "Senator " The consensus among my friends was that he did nothing, absolutely nothing, for the state, for his constituents. What he did was position himself to get noticed in Washington, to get on the ticket as the Vice Presidential candidate. Too lean. Too hungry.
Nor do I like his tone - his "them is the bad guys we is gonna get 'em" brand of populism. He has an "axis of evil"mentality.

But more that that: Senator Edwards, your wife is terminally ill.

I do not wish to witness the public demise of a First Lady. Take her home and let her last days be in peace with you and your children.

Barack Obama is my only choice.

I do not think that I could bring myself to vote for a Republican.

But I might just not vote - for the first time in my long and politically active life.

Ah - say it ain't so.....

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Light for Kenya

We Quakers (or at least the branch of the tree that I grew on) use the expression "Holding in the Light". This is a loving witness, to hold someone, or a piece of this troubled planet, up into the Inner Light of the Spirit within us all.

In this process, I have learned not to "pray" - not to "petition" - but simply to witness, sending loving energy.

I have, in the course of my life and witnessing, fallen into difficulties and asked my Friends and Meeting to Hold me in the Light.

I can testify that I was, indeed, "lightened"- that I was strengthened, Lightened, soothed - by the conscious, calm, centered and loving attention of Friends.

Kenya has the largest concentration of Quakers in the world.

Please take a moment to read the following reports that have been written by people on the ground in Kenya.

I ask that you take a moment to Hold all of this nation in the Light.

For some on the ground reports from Kenya:

from the Quakers- here

from a British mother living there: here

Another woman's perspective: here

A gentle missionary: here

The Three Kings

The holidays are just barely over here. Seems that those who have less, celebrate more. There is an understanding perhaps that time is more precious than money.

The Three Kings bring gifts on Twelfth Night. I remember watching at dawn one morning in a little town in Puerto Rico as the Three Kings, all beautifully costumed, rode into town on finely decked out horses, just before dawn.

The entire town had assembled in the dark, setting up tables and passing out cocoa and sandwiches. The Kings took the stage and sang a bit. Then one started handing out candy to the children, who, one by one, held out their hands and took, Sit Back, America- ONE piece each.

The only commotion in the crowd was to when the people in front turned around and motioned for the children who had not yet received their candy.

My heart turned a bit Latina that morning. I started to wear more hot pink with turquoise.

And here, even more Latin than Puerto Rico,(which is an associated free state of the US - a unique and peculiar relationship) I watch my neighbors' families all arrive for Sunday dinners together. They eat together then sit all afternoon and talk. No video games, no NFL.

It is only weddings and funerals that have brought my family together.

So even though the "poverty" figures for this country are heart rending: 42% of the population lives on less than $2 a day , the reality in observation is a bit different.

Poverty in possessions does not mean poverty of spirit. Indeed, there appears to be an inverse relationship.

Evenings at the colmados (the little corner stores that sell the essentials, milk, beer, sugar, canned goods, toilet papers), the younger unmarrieds sit around the little plastic tables, in the plastic chairs sharing fine local beer as couples dance merengue together.

Estimates are that by 2050, the US will be almost one quarter Hispanic.

I think it will be an improvement. After we do a little bit re-education on machismo.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Our Man Barak!!

After a real dip yesterday, reading the news from Kenya, feeling - again- the suffering in Haiti- I was energized by watching Barak. For the first time in forty years, we (the collective American public) is falling in love with a presidential candidate.

Not since JFK have we seen this sort of emotion in the presidential race.

Here is the real change that our nation and the world is hoping for.

If you have not done so, please read both his books. He wrote the first one when barely out of graduate school, many years ago. You will discover him to be extremely bright, delightfully personable, well trained, compassionate, erudite, and honorable.

I, for one, have already sent him a campaign contribution.

If you are a US citizen, please consider donating to his campaign. As you will see on the link above, Obama is not accepting contributions from political action committees.

We might actually have a DEMOCRACY within our sights.

Makes my heart sing.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Holiday Binge

I'll admit it. I went on a binge over the holidays.

Despite trying to lower my consumption of all and everything, I spent money that I was saving and took a plane(oh disastrous hole in the ozone- but I live on an island) back to DC to visit family.

OK -- it was priceless to hold the new infant gurgling in my arms, and I am not sure what I was saving the money for, if not for him -- but still I binged. I went to bookstores. I bought in a frenzy. I bought an IPOD shuffle since the 16 assured me that he would help me figure it out- as indeed he did. I ate -- for we have a fine chef in the family-- Salmon from Alaska, chocolate from Switzerland (more holes in the ozone).

I drove aimlessly (well, ok, I let the 16 year old with the learners permit drive for the practice but it was, on my part, an old indulgence - just burn those fossil fuels aimlessly while listening to the car stereo, using the heat, enjoying the scenery).

I am now glad to return to my less-than-first world consumption footprint.

For three years, I have washed all my dishes in cold water, with never an ill effect.

The only hot water in my apartment is from a little in-line heater on the shower. It is welcome on rainy and cold (a relative thing - it is probably around 70 degrees but it feels like 40 from the rain and I am now tolerant of 90) morning.

I can walk to everything I need - the little supermarket, the meditation center, the English library, the sea, the (OK - here comes the big luxury) big swimming pool at the gym club.

I pay (overpay by local standards) someone to do my laundry- primarily by hand although she takes the sheets and towels back to her home machine.

If I go out of district, I take a bus or one of the private cabs that ply Santo Domingo for about $5 a rid, or on one of the long distance buses.

It took some drastic measures for me to reduce consumption. I live in a furnished apartment which eliminates the temptation to do the really big things -- the fridge here is still avocado color which gives you an idea of its vintage- the stove rocks when you touch it - which tells you how much metal is in it.

But I don't recycle- except the few bottles which have deposits on them. My food often comes packed in styrofoam for the fresh veggies and fruit as I am too lazy to walk to the local

It feels better.

But that lure of consumption-- wow--- that is powerful.