The development of cybernetic communication allows us to have immediate and constant access to information that shows the perverse praxes of the industrialised countries in the destruction of the environment and its effects on the high indexes of social inequality and discomfort. This occurs at the margin of international conventions to which they are signatories and through which they establish unfulfilled commitments to protect and safeguard the global environment. A good example of the violation of these agreements was the irreverent action of Danilo Medina, president of the Dominican Republic, to build coal plants in Punta Catalina and reduce the budget of the Ministry of the Environment by 378 million pesos (about eight million dollars) after his participation in the XXI International Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris, in which he pledged to invest in solving the problem of climate change, global warming as well as the improvement of the environment.
With the construction of coal-fired thermoelectric plants, Medina intends to score a political success in the solution of the country's endemic electricity problem, regardless of the fiscal cost and the perverse environmental effects at a time when the world is clamouring for the use of non-polluting renewable energy. The control of the congress by the Partido de la Liberation Dominicana (PLD) facilitates the realisation of the project and submerges in indifference the international accusations of corruption that surround it. And, while the PLD congressional majority approved the contracts with the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht for double the actual price of the work and with benefits estimated at 92 million dollars in bribe payments.
In the Dominican Republic, authoritarian and quasi-polyarchical regimes have been bent on destroying reefs, beaches, rivers and mountains for the benefit of foreign companies, who, in exchange for political payoffs and immeasurable benefits to their local and foreign partners, are degrading the aquifers that provide the sustenance of the population's livelihood.
In brutal consonance with this painful reality, while Medina was presenting his administration plan (2016-2020) with the proposal of the "water quadrennium", residents of four communities around the Barrick Gold-Pueblo Viejo mine, owned by multinational companies operating under the commercial umbrella of Las Lagunas Ltd, were requesting to be evicted because of high levels of environmental contamination around the Maguaca River, as well as damage to crops and concomitant health problems caused by chemical waste from mining and deposition in the El Llagal reservoir. The impacted communities complain about the indifference of the authorities. Furthermore, in the municipality of Tamayo, in Bahoruco province, 54% of the population suffers from diarrhea and 75% from parasitosis due to water contamination from industrial waste, while the hoarding of water by large producers harms the subsistence of small farmers. The provinces of Azua and Bahoruco have the highest rates of infant mortality due to the dismal conditions of the water sanitation system.
Recent studies on the foreign relations of the Dominican Republic show how, in the course of time, and except for certain more or less prolonged periods, the Caribbean nation has lacked a foreign policy, since [according to Pablo Marínez]:
"Strictly speaking, what it has had is a reactive foreign policy, that is, passive, so that the State has only acted on the defensive, depending on each situation, without a project aimed at influencing the international arena in terms of national interests. This reactive foreign policy, lacking, therefore, an articulation with domestic policy, has not prevented the country from maintaining diplomatic relations, sometimes very intense, with a number of European, Latin American and Caribbean countries, as well as, of course, with the United States, and even with Israel and, in recent years, with Asian nations such as Japan, Korea and Taiwan."
The ineffectiveness of the regional governments is the result of the political, administrative and financial centralisation of the State by the central government in Santo Domingo and the existence of the gobernaciones and alcaldías offices as clientelistic structures, where influence peddling favours the exoneration or reduction of taxes, the granting of millionaire nominations to party members, relatives and friends, and the execution of public contracts without any legal financial support. Los gobernadores, alcaldes y regidores barely govern, they do not participate in plans and projects that promote an integral development of provinces and municipalities to improve the quality of life of the citizens. Tax centralisation leaves governors' offices and municipalities with few options for raising additional revenues.
Lacking autonomy and with low levels of institutionalism, corruption and incompetence prevail in the provincial and municipal administration, which for more than three lustrums has been led by the ruling PLD. Several town councils have been accused of violating municipal legislation and of committing illicit acts, such as embezzlement, prevarication, breach of trust and criminal actions by municipal representatives, including murder and organised crime association. There are also allegations of hitmen, kickbacks to judges, drug trafficking, money laundering and homicide.
In conclusion, there is a prevailing lack of credibility in Dominican society regarding the government's foreign policy and its internal articulation through public policies for social and environmental protection. Cybernetic communication in the viral era of information shows the high levels of distrust of the population towards national, provincial and municipal officials due to the misuse of human and financial resources and the fraudulent advantages given to foreign private entrepreneurs and non-governmental organisations (NGO), should be a matter of concern, not only for the domestic security and sovereignty of the Dominican Republic, but also to the entire world.
Corruption in the Dominican Republic
Jacqueline Jiménez Polanco
March first, 2017
Priest Juan de Jesus Vargas denounces the Falconbridge Ltd. for contamination in Bonao. (May, 1989)