by Luis Vega
When visiting third world countries, people in America are for the most part going on vacation to a resort, or a retreat of some sort. It is rare that tourists will notice the large disparity between the rich people and the poor people. Since the island or country is so rich in beauty, it is quite simple to overlook the existent conditions that countless third world societies are weighed down by.
The ghettos and “barrios” of these places are where you can get a good bird’s eye view of what’s really happening. If the time is actually taken to take a ride outside of paradise (the resort) things will appear much more gloomy and dismal.
On my most recent visit to Dominican Republic I was determined to correlate the amount worked to the amount in a society that has been victim to brutal and corrupt governments, hurricanes and the rising cost of necessary goods. I was on vacation but yet was still determined to go to the source to let people in America know how easy they really have it. It was sickening to see the amount of hours people worked in comparison to how much they were being paid. All that ran through my mind were the complaints of how much people in the states were getting paid compared to the amount of work they did.
I do realize that the economies are completely different and 250 a week in America is barely enough to get by even in section 8 housing. Just to give a different understanding of how much a person from the Dominican Republic makes in a month, one hardworking farm worker said “I work from Monday to Saturday from 5am to 7pm on a farm and I make 125USD a month.” Although this sounded ridiculous it was how most people made a living. It hurt my heart to this talk, all said with a smile on his face just happy because he has a job. “I don’t think that people who visit the country realize how much money anyone can make.”
Jobs in Evidence?
“They make it impossible for the majority of us to earn a decent living, most politicians say that they are for the people and will do anything in their power to help the lower working class, but once they get into office and all that money is thrown in their face they start singing a different tune.” This was said to me in not so many words but the resentment was felt.
Upon visiting family in the country it was evident that the man at least had a job, because in the country the best and only work is seasonal work. No job is sufficient enough to feed a family unless you are a politician or upper official. And it is only possible then to do so because of corruption and thievery. To understand the third world is to live in it and see how everything works in cycles. For example Police cannot feed their families on the salary that they make so they take bribes to arrest this person and not arrest that person. It all depends on what is good for politics, or the direction that the government is moving in.
A bodega regular told me “if so and so is bringing this much money to the community and he is doing it by drug trafficking, you know what the police are not going to arrest him because of the contributions that he is making. But if a lawyer or another police officer is trying to arrest that same man there will be immeasurable actions taken to deter such a thing including death.” Now we can claim democracy and its movement in the right direction all over the world, in all actuality it is just the face of the government not the true form.
It is so difficult to make money and maintain a job. The word “career” does not even exist, it only exist when the difficult decision is made to move to the United States of America. When you go visit the beautiful resorts take a day or two to see how people really live because it is not all pretty beaches and palm trees.
After my trip I questioned myself on many issues pertaining to Dominican Republic and the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean. What could be done to help the situation, and who could make it better? The thought of bringing American big business to many of these countries would go against many convictions that I have, but even though the big corporations are considered so evil, and greedy maybe it’s what keeps America strong and the economy growing.
If you bring a Wal-Mart type store to a city in Dominican Republic or in a city in any underdeveloped country for that matter it will do a great deal of things. Number one is that it will create hundreds if not thousands of jobs where people make a decent enough income to provide for their families and that is granted people get paid well enough. On the other hand it will destroy traditional market places where a deal can be made for any kind of goods. People who live in rural areas and cultivate crops for a living will be ruined because now consumers can go to Wal-Mart and could get it for possibly a cheaper price.
The creation of a mega store of this type not only ruins some people’s way of living but it will enhance others with a respectable income where people do not have to live at the poverty level. Children will be encouraged to go to school and receive higher education because now they will not be forced to work on the plantations at the tender ages of five and six. It is quite easy to give your testimonial and the way you feel about certain situations and dilemmas but until you leave your extravagant resorts and see the other 95% of the place in which you are visiting you will never know what poverty is.