“Don’t worry!” Says the biggest bloke of them all, as he points his flashlight in our face. “We’re not gonna be talking with you for long. I’ll rather be honest and say it straight: All of us are poor and what we want… is your money.”
The incident: We had been stopped by some policemen on our drive home from a merengue-night in zona colonial. The location: A dark street in the Governmental quarter of Santo Domingo. In the street where suit-dressed politicians goes to work every day, and in the street where short-skirted women goes to work every night. Or so I am told in the seconds between we first spot the officials till our car is surrounded by them. The reaction: My instant thought is therefore that the officials are there to protect the political area and rinse it from prostitution. But oh no!
Luckily, I’m not alone this dark rainy night. And luckily the sisters’ cousin (the family I stay with in Santo Domingo -in reference to my previous post) does the talking on behalf of all of us from the drivers seat.
A few milliseconds after the 0,29 second it takes for the policemans request to get to the cousins frontal cortex (the reasoning part of our brain), he comes up with a brilliant answer. “I’m so sorry, but we didn’t bring any cash. We’ve been using our credit cards the whole evening! You can search us if you want, but there is nothing to be found…”
The outcome: The cousin seemed so cool and calm and his lie must have sounded very trustworthy, as the policeman says something (I don’t understand) in Spanish – and let us go.
Some sort of conlusion: The norm over here is that you can’t trust anyone in power: Rafael Trujillo, the dictator who ruled the country from 1930 until his assassination in 1961, is known for the Trujillo Era (Spanish: La Era de Trujillo), which is considered one of the bloodiest ever in the Americas.
During his time he killed more than 50 000, including 20 000 Haitians in the 5-days Parsley Massacre. Soldiers would hold up a parsley to the Haitians living on the Dominican boarder and ask them “What is this?”. If they couldn’t pronounce the Spanish word perejil, they were assumed to be french-speaking Haitians. And a bullet would hit their head.
During the Trujillo Era, all citizens were forcefully obliged to have photos of their “leader” in every corner of the house… Bad things would happen if they disobeyed. Also if the women he wanted to have sex with (he pointed out women in the streets) refused, she and her family would be brutally killed.
It is not as bad now, but the people here don’t really trust the present Dominican president, Leonel Fernández. He seems to be doing a lot of dodgy stuff… The campaigning for the next election (april 2012) has illegaly been going on allready since 2010. And one of the candidates is campaigning under the parole: “Who’s your daddy?” And “DR hearts daddy”. The tacky posters on every street corner looks like a good old communistic propaganda-machinery. And although Santo Domingo, with all it’s facilities, feels like a little US, the encounter with the corrupt police-officers and the stories I hear about their government, reminds me that this in fact is a third world country. But indeed a very happy one. In fact, the world’s second happiest country, according to a British report on happiness and satisfaction. Pretty fucked-up politicians and pretty happy people these DR’s!