Courting The Dominica Vote
From El Diario
By Wilfredo Polanco
New York Governor George Pataki, and Democratic hopeful for that spot, Andrew Cuomo, moved their political activities for a day to the Dominican Republic, and for the first time two political figures campaigning for U.S. office coincided upon the Caribbean isle, on what was clearly a political visit.
Both men on their trip made campaign promises. Pataki spoke of helping illegal Dominicans living in New York and declared his solidarity with the families of the victims of Flight 587.
Cuomo, not wanting to be left behind, promised to intervene on the countrys behalf, before the U.S. government, to be included in a possible free trade agreement with Central America. He also expressed his condolences to the families of the 175 Dominicans killed in the November 12th air tragedy.
The candidate and the governor held meetings with members of different sectors and were both received by President Hipolito Mejia.
In order to underscore the conjecture that Santo Domingo became the center of the aspirations of both American politicians, Cuomo highlighted the economic and political importance of the Dominican community in New York, acknowledging his desire to gain their vote in his campaign for governor.
Meanwhile, Pataki became the first U.S. official to visit the country on a non-US sponsored trip for his own personal gain. The governor walked through an impoverished barrio in the countrys capital and play basketball at a local court.
According to local political observers, Cuomo was able to downplay the effectiveness of Patakis visit, now that the local press is questioning the real reasons behind the visits.
For former president Leonel Fernandez, who met with Cuomo, stated the politicians visits demonstrate the influence that the Dominican Republic has on the political and economic decisions of New York State.
The ex-leader emphasized that in this age of globalization one of the countrys most important sectors are its countrymen residing in New York, Boston, Massachussets and New Jersey.
He stated that the entire country should feel good about the Dominican community residing in the "capital of the world" and the "clear evidence of the strength that it has gained."
Translated from Spanish by Armando Reyes.