Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Pre Clearance in Punta Cana

Punta Cana could soon become the first Dominican airport to offer pre-clearance facilities for entering the United States. This means that passengers flying out through PUJ would clear US immigration and customs in the Dominican Republic, allowing for an expedited entry into the United States. The facility at the present time is offered in 15 international airports around the world.
The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it has begun negotiations to expand its Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) preclearance program to ten new foreign airports, Punta Cana International Airport included. Other airports are Brussels International Airport (Belgium), Narita International Airport (Tokyo, Japan), Amsterdam Schipol International Airport (Netherlands), Oslo International Airport (Norway), Madrid Barajas International Airport (Spain), Stockholm Arlanda International Airport (Sweden), Istanbul Ataturk International Airport (Turkey) and London Heathrow International Airport and Manchester International Airport (United Kingdom).

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

US-Cuba Relations

WASHINGTON, USA -- The United States and Cuba formally agreed on Wednesday to restore diplomatic relations on July 20, setting up a trip to Havana by John Kerry, who would become the first US secretary of state to visit the country in 70 years.

Sealed by an exchange of letters between US President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, the deal fulfills a pledge the two countries made six months ago.

The letters set a date of July 20 for the re-establishment of relations, and embassies could be opened at that time or later.

Kerry, speaking from Vienna, said he would visit Havana to raise the US flag outside the future US embassy, currently known as an interests section.

"The progress that we mark today is yet another demonstration that we don’t have to be imprisoned by the past," Obama said from the White House Rose Garden. "When something isn’t working, we can -- and will -- change."

Obama noted that ties were severed in the year he was born, 1961.

Isolating Cuba had been a foreign policy objective under ten US presidents and Obama declared it had failed to promote democracy or improve the lives of Cubans living in a one-party state.

"It hasn’t worked for 50 years. It shuts America out of Cuba’s future, and it only makes life worse for the Cuban people," Obama said, while noting stark differences between the two governments would remain.

Cuba's Communist government controls the media and represses political opponents, a policy it has justified based on US attempts to destabilize the government and Washington's open support of dissidents.

Raul Castro, 84, Fidel Castro's younger brother and Cuban president since 2008, welcomed diplomatic ties that he said should reinforce the principles of sovereign equality and non-interference in his country.

"Cuba is encouraged by the reciprocal intention to develop respectful and cooperative relations between our two peoples and governments," Castro wrote in his letter to Obama.

Obama said the agreement would increase US contact with ordinary Cubans, permit a larger staff of diplomats and grant them more freedom of movement across the island.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Friday, June 19, 2015

Luis Is Another Name
                Before he was Macana Man he was a Miami Boy.
                                      See more HERE!

Monday, June 15, 2015

DR To Be Cleaned In 2 Days

In two days about a quarter of a million people will be made stateless. They will have no homes, no passports, and no civil rights. There are several reasons for this, but the primary reason is racism.

At issue is a ruling by the Constitutional Court in the Dominican Republic to strip away the citizenship of several generations of Dominicans.

According to the decision, Dominicans born after 1929 to parents who are not of Dominican ancestry are to have their citizenship revoked. The ruling affects an estimated 250,000 Dominican people of Haitian descent, including many who have had no personal connection with Haiti for several generations.

What we are witnessing is one of the largest humanitarian crisis in the western hemisphere, except this one is completely by choice.

As a recent Peace Corps volunteer in the DR, stationed near the border of Haiti, I have a very personal perspective on this issue.
This may be hard to believe for most Americans, but racism in the DR is much worse than racism here in the United States. The idea of being black in the DR is wrapped up with being Haitian, and then takes on a xenophobic quality.
The thing is, 90% of Dominicans would be considered 'black' by American standards. So there is a huge difference between being considered moreno (brown) and negro (black). The Policia Nacional Dominicana are so underpaid and openly corrupt that being mistaken for being Haitian means having to bribe officers (which I've personally witnessed) or be arrested and possibly beaten. Being mistaken for being Haitian means being denied job opportunities, public education, bank accounts, and health care.
In other words, being black in the DR means being a second-class citizen with no legal protections. And now it means being stateless.

What the Dominican Republic is doing is ethnic cleansing, pure and simple. It's shocking that we haven't heard anything in US media about it. Also, Haiti, being the Western Hemispphere's poorest country, has problems of its own. What would happen if Haiti refused to take these people in?

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Not Jumping Ship

From the time I first travelled to the DR I loved it. Granted it was not the capitol city as the travel agent had said, but looking back she probably didn't know it herself. Not many people had even heard of the Dominican Republic then, and much like today, people are still guided to the north coast or to the resorts, though word has spread about the benefits of staying in Santo Domingo proper, especially if you are LGBT.

That said, my first trip was glorious! My group had the best of both worlds. We stayed at a nice resort in Juan Dolio and enjoyed its accommodations, then ventured into Santo Domingo to party and to explore the city. We made the best of it. During that initial trip we met some long-time acquaintances and picked up on the unspoken and spoken codes. One thing was for sure, we were definitely returning to SDQ and would be staying in the city when we did.

Yes, so many things have changed since those days of Paradise, Penthouse and the others. Even the short-lived Atlantis was a great dance and mingle spot on the Malecon. There have been others to make their mark, such as Monaga, JD's Disco and the Sports Bar SDQ  and I agree that Bar Phoenix, aka Bar Freddys aka Bar Friends, is a bit cheesy, but that's what makes it the gathering place that it is. It has never tried to be something other than what it is, even under the auspices of "Dr" Leon.

There has always been a need to have a place to let your hair down, somewhere unpretentious, where one can be uninhibited. Even if it seems a bit seedy, that is its calling card. That's why places like The Lido stay in business. And don't pretend you don't know about The Lido theater.

Yes, there have been changes in our little piece of paradise. Fact is, there will continue to be. This is life, honey. Change is inevitable. I have learned that things cycle back around. I have also learned that we, LGBT, can be a fickle bunch.

No, I'm not ready to give up on my beloved DR yet. Cuba is forthcoming on the travel list, but I have history with the DR and I just believe that there is much more to discover. I believe that beautiful tropical flower will continue to blossom and reveal even more.