After being sworn in yesterday as president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina addressed the community of Quisqueyanos in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere:
“Dominican brothers living abroad, you can be sure that I’ll also be your President and look after your needs,” he said.
We hope he does for the sake of the loyal expats who each year send about $3.1 billion in remittances to the Republic, contribute to its tourism industry and perform countless acts of formal and informal charity.
This matters for Dominicans here and there. The large and growing stateside Dominican community needs major reforms in transnational services to improve how it interacts with the country that relies of its progress.
Medina reiterated his campaign promise to create an Institute for Dominicans Overseas. The new agency should tackle lingering problems:
There are Dominicans who want to retire in “the DR” but who are unable to because they lack social security and health care. Proposals to address this – including the creation of a fund for repatriated retirees financed by a percentage of the incoming remittances-have thus far not made the light of day.
Some Dominicans avoid visiting the country because they’re afraid of being mugged or targeted by mafias who know they are visitors. Medina has promised to implement police reforms and improve public safety. Reinforcing security at airports and touristic areas must be a priority.
Legal security is just as important. Dominicans must feel confident in investing their money in their homeland without fear of being scammed and having to deal with a confusing legal labyrinth.
Shipping cars is also a problem. Laws should be adjusted to allow Dominicans to transport their cars to the island without overly burdensome restrictions.
Like his former rivals, Medina visited New York to stir up support for his campaign and election. He has the opportunity to deliver signature policies and results to a diaspora that will continue to be an important voter base for Dominican candidates and parties.