Dominican journalists push back — And why it matters to the USA

Fighting corruption and malfeasance in the Dominican Republic is a task of Sisyphusian proportions.

The government — not wanting to seem to be too corrupt — pushes back when the media focus on the corruption and poor management that goes on.

The private sector — wanting to keep their sweet ride going — also push back with economic boycotts of media outlets that dare to call out the corruption and illegal activities of the companies.

And then there are the individuals — in both government and business — who decide the only good journalist is a dead journalist or at least one who is severely wounded.

Freedom of press in the Dominican Republic was a hard-won freedom. Not only from the Trujillo dictatorship but also from the subsequent governments that thought any criticism should not be aired for the public to hear.

Recently the DR has faced a number of attacks and killings of journalists for doing their jobs. (The latest was August 3 when José Agustín Silvestre, was found dead after being beaten and then shot. He was critical of corrupt politicians and the growing influence drug cartels were exercising in Dominican society.)

Well, the journalists are pushing back publicly and naming names.

Dominican Republic journalists again rail the Government

Now, you may ask, what does this have to do with life in the United States?

Let’s look at the basic numbers first: There are about 9 million Dominicans in the world. About 7.5 million live in the DR. Another 500,000 live in Europe and South America. that leaves about 1 million (mas o menos) living in the United States. (And many of them illegally.)

The corruption and crime of the Dominican Republic drive out people and investments. With fewer job opportunities in the DR (investments are being driven out, remember), the people who want to work go where the jobs are. And believe it or not, they are coming to the United States.

Now remember that those Dominicans already in the States are here for economic reasons: They want more opportunities for work.

But what would happen if the economic refugees were joined by others fleeing a dictatorship? What dictatorship, you ask…

The journalists right now in the Dominican Republic are doing what journalists do in a democracy, they hold the feet of the power-holders to the flame of public opinion and transparency.

The corrupt political and business leaders know that if the journalists keep pursuing corrupt practices, they will soon be out of work and out of power. So the corrupt forces must fight to control the media.

Once the news media are no longer free (or find it safe) to report the news of corruption and malfeasance, democracy will die in the Dominican Republic.

Now think about how many refugees the U.S. will face then.

So, it is in the best interest of the United States for its news organizations to keep an eye on what is going on in the DR. And it is in the best interests of the US government to support those fighting to defend free media in the DR.

Seems like a pretty obvious set of connections between LOCAL! LOCAL! LOCAL! and the rest of the world to me.

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Filed under International News Coverage, Press Freedom

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