The Dominican Republic has a love affair with guns that makes Virginia and Texas look like Sweden. (When I lived there, it seemed that everyone was packing heat.)
And many in DR society are not known for, shall we say honest and ethical behavior. (See Transparency International report.) The Dominican Republic was rated in 21st place of 31 countries in the Americas. (The higher the number the more corrupt.) That put it as more corrupt than Mexico and El Salvador. But less corrupt than Honduras and Haiti.
To be fair, there are honest politicians. Organizations that try to end corruption and make the government more responsive to the citizenry, such as Citizen Participation, are growing in influence. But they still have a long way to go.
Besides the civic groups, the DR is fortunate to have strong and independent media. The pursuit of stories by some Dominican reporters can and do make many politicians and government leaders nervous.
So with the use of guns in the DR as common as Tombstone in 1880 and political leaders looking to prevent reports of their activities, no one was surprised that some journalists were shot at while pursuing a story of questionable use of government vehicles.
Below is a summary of the event from DR1, a news service that translates the Spanish-language news into English.
Note: The PLD, the Dominican Liberation Party, is the ruling party. La Romana is a city about an hour from the capital of Santo Domingo. In the recent past, drug runners brought their product in either by boat to the La Romana port or by airplanes with late-night landings on the new highway leading to the city. (Some landed at the regional airport after making the proper “contributions” to local political leaders and security forces.)
Who shot at Alicia’s reporters?
For several weeks reporters for El Informe, the SIN channel investigative television show hosted by Alicia Ortega, have been trailing trucks loaded with appliances from the Lottery headquarters to several PLD warehouses. According to the reporters, on Friday night their vehicle was following a truck from the National Lottery to a Price Stabilization Institute (INESPRE) building in La Romana where it unloaded its cargo of appliances. The SIN reporters say that they were shot at by armed men in a gray and black L200 Mitsubishi and another that the SIN reporters could not identify due to the darkness, except for the fact that it was flying the PLD flag. The shooting occurred just outside San Pedro de Macoris.
In La Romana, the PLD candidate for re-election in the Senate is Amarilis Santana, who happens to be married to National Lottery administrator Enrique Martinez.
A video of the incident was broadcast on El Informe de Alicia Ortega Monday night.