Wednesday, May 14, 2008


No, I am not talking about the heated primaries or upcoming November elections. As important as they are, right now (as in, at this current moment), other elections are more directly impacting Daniel and me.

This Friday is the presidential election for the Dominican Republic. In many ways, this has a bigger effect on the D.R. than the U.S. elections have on the U.S. Why? Well...

1) Campaigning

Ok, so presidents in the States campaign. A lot. It's the same here. But, the campaigning is VERY different. Each party has a color. You see the parties' colors everywhere. I don't even know the names of the parties. I know them as: the white party, the purple party, and the red party. Currently, the national government is purple. Our local government is red. Everyone here is passionate about their party. There are few swing votes. Politics is brutal. (In the States, some may see crumpling up a picture of the opposition, throwing it on the ground and trampling on it a little over the top, at least for a presidential candidate). They have politial rallies that stop traffic, as lines of cars and pickups drive through packed to the max with people. Colored trucks with huge speakers drive around regularly blasting the "theme song" for that particular candidate for all to hear. Daniel and I are very glad we moved; our last house was above a purple party office and in the center of town where more of these trucks frequent. They also do things like give away free gas. Which of course blocks more traffic as there are long lines for free gas.

2) No school

Everyone goes to their hometown to vote. Because so many people are traveling, we have no school on Friday. Or Thursday (for more traveling, and in case of riots).

3) Traveling

Once again, everyone must go to their home town to vote, so lots of traveling.

4) Strikes and Riots

Yes, riots can occur in the States. But, they are not usually "scheduled." Scheduled "strikes" are legal here, and illegal riots are common too (luckily, not as common here in Jarabacoa). Strikes/Riots include fun things like burning tires in the road, nails in the road, road blockades, etc.

5)Nation Wide curfew

Friday night there's a curfew of 6:00 to keep people off the streets.

6) Family Connections=danger

Anyone related to/involved in politics can be in danger. We have a student related to the current president, and they have armed gaurds around their house right now. We know someone who was kidnapped last election because she was distantly related to the president and was with his niece at the time.

7) Corruption

Yes, politics in the U.S. has it's share of corruption. However,

The D.R. was 99 out of 163 countries surveyed in a 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index. (The United States was 20, Haiti was 163). See here and here.

For more news on the Dominican election, see here.

For more information on the current president, see here.

For more info on Dominican gov/politocs, see here.


ashley @ twentysixcats said...

This sounds like Peru somewhat, with the country shut down because of riots and protests. The elections were always held on Sundays and we weren't allowed to have church. They didn't have the whole traveling thing though.

BY THE WAY, having to go back to your hometown to vote TOTALLY makes me think of the story of Jesus and His birth.

Daniel said...

I had told Teresa that there was going to be a curfiew Friday night. At this point, we have not been able to verify that... so we're not 100% sure about the curfiew thing.
What we do know is that alcohol sales are prohibited during voting hours and 3 hours after.