A while back they started to fix the roads where we live. Apparently it had been a problem for some time and there was a lot of fighting and politics involved. A lot of things happen here during election years, and because this was a huge election year, the national government (as opposed to the city government who is supposed to fix their own streets) allotted a boat load of money to fix the roads in Santiago.
Like all well planned government actions, they started fixing the roads in every single neighborhood with bad roads at once. No problem if you’ve got the materials and equipment to do it. But this project was short on everything from the start.
When we moved in, I had a little bit of hope that they’d finish the roads – or at least my road, because we live on the principal street. It was, after all, an election year, and there were still 6 weeks until election day. After two weeks living here, though, I gave up. They had come to work on the roads every day for an hour. And mostly what they were doing was fixing the work they had done the day before.
A few days before election there was a protest – complete with news coverage and angry neighbors association members. What had happened was that the heavy equipment was taken to another neighborhood because that neighborhood had burned tires and threw stones in protest of the lack of work. But guess what? That’s what our neighborhood was prepared to do if they didn’t get those trucks back here a.s.a.p.
And miracle of miracle, the very next working day, those trucks were rolling up and down the street doing a whole lot of looking pretty and very little work.
The neighbors were happy that work was being done – but deep down I think everyone knew they wouldn’t finish in time for elections. They had just “inaugurated” streets in the barrio next door even though half of the streets weren’t finished! It’s amazing what poor, illiterate, uneducated people fall for during elections.
After elections they worked for a week. We haven’t seen them since. Supposedly there is a deficit of 25 million Dominican pesos because of the project to fix Santiago’s streets (and win votes on the correct side of the ballot). I’ve heard everything from there is no asphalt to finish to the disaster in the gulf has left us without petroleum to mix the asphalt. Nobody really knows what happens because the government just pretends the situation never happened.
There’s another election – a presidential – in 2012. I’m thinking that by the time that rolls around, we’ll get a paved street. And because it’s that important to win a vote, they might even paint the lines down the middle.