viernes, junio 26, 2015

Junot Díaz: No hay peor ciego que el que no quiere ver

El escritor participa activamente en campaña para desacreditar su propia gente

Fuente: Facebook
Junot Díaz es un aclamado escritor de origen Dominicano que al igual que muchos otros en su posición usan su notoriedad para defender o promover ideas, preferencias políticas o cualquier otro asunto que les interese.  Esto es algo que yo apoyo y defiendo como cuestión de principio, ya que defiendo a rajatabla el derecho que tenemos todos a la libertad de expresión.

Ya quisiera yo ser una figura prominente y que solo por eso una gran cantidad de personas tome interés en mis ideas y pronunciamientos.  En ese sentido Junot Díaz es una persona muy afortunada, sin restarle méritos y reconocer que su prominencia se debe a que es un buen escritor.

Desafortunadamente para los Dominicanos y todos aquellos que aún no siendo natural del país aman y defienden nuestra patria, Junot Díaz se ha dado a la tarea de usar su prominencia para propagar mentiras sobre nosotros y nuestro país.  También se ha sumado a un llamado de ciertos sectores que apoyan presión política y económica internacional en contra de nuestro país.

Según el escritor la capital Dominicana esta en un "estado de terror", en donde los críticos del gobierno reciben "amenazas de muerte" y fueron forzados a esconder a sus familias.  En un evento realizado ayer en la ciudad de Miami y ante la presencia de un numeroso público y representantes de los medios de comunicación el Sr. Díaz se expreso como sigue:

Díaz inició diciendo que “la República Dominicana hoy es un estado de terror tanto para los extranjeros como los haitianos como para los mismos ciudadanos que tienen miedo a salir de sus hogares” indicando que “la corrupción por todos los lados de los gobernantes del pais ha creado ese clima de inseguridad”.

Junot Díaz expuso que “hay un problema global con la inmigración como lo vemos en el mediterráneo, Australia, los desplazados en Medio Oriente, etc y que la comunidad internacional se mantiene indiferente ante esta grave situación, llegando a una negligencia absoluta”; agregando que “República Dominicana es el perfecto ejemplo de esa indiferencia de lo que este país esta haciendo” e indicó que “esa es una dictadura como la de los tiempos de Balaguer”.
Debo señalar que Junot Díaz y quien le escribe somos contemporáneos; yo le llevo unos meses, pero a diferencia de él yo viví en el país durante los primeros doce años de gobierno de Joaquín Balaguer.  Yo tenía solo 10 años cuando Antonio Guzmán Fernández fue elegido presidente en 1978.  Junot Díaz a los seis años se fue a vivir a los Estados Unidos, así que el no conoció de cerca el gobierno de Balaguer y no se como lo puede comparar con la situación actual del país.

Esto es evidencia de que Junot Díaz es muy dado a la hipérbole, que si bien es una figura literaria muy efectiva en el genero de la nóvela, no lo es así cuando se habla de la realidad de un pueblo.  No importa que opinión tengan los Dominicanos sobre Danilo Medina, él no es Balaguer.  Que yo sepa, el presidente Medina fue elegido democráticamente y siempre ha demostrado a través de sus acciones el respeto por nuestras instituciones y leyes.

Recuerden que en las elecciones del 2000, Hipólito Mejía gano la primera ronda y Danilo Medina llegó en segundo lugar.  Danilo Medina, aún estando en su derecho en continuar a una segunda ronda y tratar de ganar la presidencia decidió abandonar sus aspiraciones y permitir que Hipólito Mejía fuera proclamado presidente.  Dudo mucho que Joaquin Balaguer hubiera hecho lo mismo.

Pero, ¿Qué podemos decir sobre las otras acusaciones que lanza Junot Díaz contra el pueblo Dominicano?  ¿Por qué nos acusa de racismo contra nuestros hermanos Haitianos?  ¿Es que el no sabe de el plan de regularización y los sobre 350,000 personas que se beneficiaron del mismo?  ¿Ignora Junot Díaz que la gran mayoría de estas personas son Haitianas y de la raza negra?

¿Y que sobre la ayuda que los Dominicanos ofrecieron a Haiti luego del devastador terremoto del 2010?  ¿Sobre la decisión de nuestro gobierno de no cerrar la frontera luego del brote de cólera en el vecino país?  Cerca de 500 personas murieron en República Dominicana a causa de esta enfermedad, muertes que se pudieron evitar o disminuir si hubiéramos cerrado la frontera y nadie nos hubiera criticado por eso.

Todo lo que le acabo de decir es de público conocimiento; estoy seguro que en algún momento y ante las acusaciones de supuesto racismo y abusos en contra de los Haitianos algunos de ustedes ha repetido lo mismo.  Entonces, vuelve la pregunta a Junot Díaz: ¿Amigo, usted ignora eso?

La respuesta: A Junot Díaz no le importa en lo absoluto la verdad.  Defender la verdad no quiere decir que Junot Díaz tiene que aceptar como valido lo que yo, usted o el gobierno diga sobre la situación real del país.  El esta en la libertad de dudar todo y no creerlo hasta que lo pueda verificar.

Aún si el gobierno de Danilo Medina estuviera mintiendo y usando todos los recursos del estado para presentar una imagen que se aparta de la realidad, la verdad sale a flote.  ¿Ustedes creen que nuestros padres y abuelos que crecieron y vivieron durante la dictadura de Rafael Trujillo se creían la propaganda que el país vivía su mejor momento y que Trujillo era "el benefactor"?  No.  Como dije, la verdad sale a flote.

Junot Díaz (supongo yo) tiene todos los recursos a su disposición para viajar por todo el país y ver por si mismo cual es la realidad.  No lo hace porque no quiere.  No hay peor ciego que el que no quiere ver.

Termino este blog exhortándolos a no perder el tiempo respondiendo a Junot Díaz.  No le envíen enlaces con documentos, fotos, videos o cualquier medio que ustedes entiendan le ayudara a él a conocer la verdad... porque él no esta interesado en conocer la verdad.  Esta es la primera y última vez que yo escribo sobre este señor.

Amigas y amigos, les sugiero que hagan ustedes lo mismo.

Reporting and Storytelling

Surprising revelations on a Twitter conversation

Today I had an interesting Twitter exchange with Huffington Post reporter Roque Planas. I have been meaning to write about it, but before I do this there is something that I need to tell about Mr. Planas.  

I have not had the honor to personally meet him, although I've been having periodic Twitter exchanges with him regarding his coverage of certain news about the Dominican Republic (where I was born and raised).  These conversations have in my opinion been cordial; maybe a little intense because we both have strong opinions about this particular subject matter.

I consider Mr. Planas a very patient interlocutor and it appears that it is his modus operandi to engage via social media with his readers. If you look at this Twitter account you will see various conversations with other readers that also have strong opinions about his work.  I have to applaud that, because I don't think I could do it.

I do have a lot of interest about the news; I'm what most people will call a "news junkie" and have been for as far as I can remember.  But news is not my occupation; it is for Mr. Planas and I wouldn't be able to effectively do my job if I had to deal with readers looking over my shoulder and commenting about my work.   To be fair, if I was Mr. Planas I would have muted or blocked my Twitter account long time ago.

Aside from that he is actually covering the recent news about undocumented immigrants in the Dominican Republic in the country, which is commendable.  Twitter user Giselle Corporan echoed a lot of Dominicans when she wrote the following:



But I was still apprehensive and frustrated by what I consider the lack of balance in the coverage in Mr. Planas work.  And sure, there it was on the day of my birthday this "gift" from Mr. Planas and his colleague Julia Craven:



"Almost All of Them Are Black", reads like an implication that this is the reason why they are being deported.  Otherwise, why even mention the race of the people at risk of deportation? The fact is that 87.3% percent of the immigrant population in the Dominican Republic was born in Haiti, according to a census carried out in 2012 with the assistance of the U.N. and the European Union (source, page 30).

Another fact, according to the CIA World Factbook, 95% of Haitians are either black or mulatto.  Some back of the envelope calculations reveals that the probability of a random immigrant being black is 83%.  Any action that the Dominican government takes that affects immigrants will have a large impact on black immigrants because they are the absolute majority of them.  Is that evidence of racism?

That is a good question for a reporter to ask.  How to answer it? Well, is every black immigrant being expelled from the country?  Local media reports that 288,000 immigrants were able to successfully apply to regularize their status and now have an opportunity to stay in the country. Are all of them white?

That's unlikely if we apply the same formula used above and assuming the same proportion, at least 240,000 of them are black people from Haiti.  That's where I retook my conversation with Mr. Planas when I asked the following:


I went and checked Mr. Planas entries at the Huffington Post and found the following:

I was at work, but in a break I read both pieces.  Apparently Mr. Planas was unable to find any of the 288,000 who the government claims successfully applied.  Checking his Twitter feed, I found the following entry:


In fact, he showed a few pictures of a march by cane cutters demanding residency and the payment of pensions.  I asked again, now with a little exasperation if he had been able to interview anyone who had successfully applied to regularize his/her status:


That exchange ended with the following tweet:


So we both moved on, but I couldn't get this conversation out of my head and this is the reason for this very long post.  This is because my understanding of reporting differs a lot from how Mr. Planas describes it.  Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I decided to look and see if the actual definition of a reporter is different from what I always thought it was (somebody that gather facts and transmit them to a larger audience, usually via a newspaper or other mean of publication).

I hate to use Wikipedia, but that's where I headed first and found the following definition:

reporter is a type of journalist who researches, writes, and reports on information to present in sources, conduct interviews, engage in research, and make reports. The information-gathering part of a journalist's job is sometimes called reporting, in contrast to the production part of the job such as writing articles. Reporters may split their time between working in a newsroom and going out to witness events or interview people. Reporters may be assigned a specific beat or area of coverage.
This definition matched closely with what I thought a reporter did, but like I said I don't trust Wikipedia a lot and I couldn't find a source for that particular definition.  So I kept looking and found this definition in the Houston Chronicle Website:

A reporter has a more specific function within the realm of journalism. Reporters are usually engaged in the direct gathering and communication of public information, usually through primary information sources such as first-person interviews, news conferences and attendance at news events. The material they communicate is usually -- but not always -- limited to the facts they have gathered; editorializing or sharing opinions on the news is not considered part of the reporter's role.[emphasis mine]
It's important to notice that the Houston Chronicle is one of the largest newspapers in the United States (in fact, the largest in the state of Texas).  It has a daily circulation of 360,000 copies (over a million for their Sunday edition) and 300 of its 2,000 employees are journalists and reporters.  We should presume that they know what they are talking about when it comes to their definition of a reporter.  And it does not seems that they agree with Mr. Planas that "Reporting for the most part is storytelling".

Now, I agree with Mr. Planas that what he is doing is storytelling, because its definition is "the telling or writing of stories".  Stories are in turn defined the following way:

  • A narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader; tale.
  • A fictitious tale, shorter and less elaborate than a novel.
So I will accept Mr. Planas advice and move on.  It's clear that he and I have a difference of opinion regarding the role of a reporter.  But given that he is the one who works as one and is putting his reputation on the line I should defer to his understanding of what his role is.

I for one will heed my own advice and will from now on just continue to follow the news and read between the lines to try to find out the real facts behind the "stories".

NOTE: This post was update on June 26th to correct grammar errors.  Sorry, but I wrote the first draft really late at night and I was tired.








miércoles, junio 17, 2015

Dominicans should ignore the outcry about the country immigration laws

Reaction is fueled by a deliberate attempt to hide the real story


If you happen to search for the #DominicanRepublic hashtag on Twitter or like me you have a “Dominican Republic” Google News alert you really can’t escape a torrent of “news articles”,   opinion pieces and hostile tweets about our country and our immigration policies.

If we were to believe the social media storm, our country is about to embark in an ethnic cleansing campaign aimed to expel black Dominicans of Haitian descent.  As an example I offer Abby Phillip’s “The bloody origins of the Dominican Republic’s ethnic ‘cleansing’ of Haitians”, that went up in the prestigious Washington Post website last night.

In her piece Ms. Phillip quotes from a few individuals living in the United States and present their claims as facts.  Among them:

  • The Dominican government is expected to round up not only Haitians, but "anyone black enough to be Haitian”
  • The government initiative to "cleanse" the country's immigration rolls is "reminiscent of the Holocaust”
  • The Dominican government is "identifying Haitian-sounding names, then forcing Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent to prove that they are citizens”


No official from the Dominican Republic government apparently was contacted by Ms. Phillip to present their side of the story for balance, even though in her Twitter account she indicates that she is in fact a reporter.  I contacted Ms. Phillip at her Twitter and email accounts about this apparent oversight, but never got a reply.  Finally I called her at the Washington Post and had a very brief conversation about what I though was lacking in her article.

Even though I was bothered by the content of her piece I was polite, didn’t raise my voice and explained my concern.  Ms. Phillip limited herself to listening to my points and just said “O.k., thanks for calling”.  At that point I thanked her for listening and ended the conversation.

I would have expected that a professional journalist would at least make a cursory attempt to engage me in conversation about a topic that she is covering (I made sure to ask at the beginning of the conversation if this was a good time to call and she said that it was).  Nothing of the sorts, and my impression was that she really was not interested in discussing her piece.  

The point of my post is not to rail against Ms. Phillip and others like her that are covering this important issue in a similar manner.  I was not at all surprised by her reaction, because it’s clear by her writing that she’s not really dedicated to her profession and even less in pursuing the truth.

No, this post is addressed at my fellow Dominicans, to whom I say the following: Just ignore the whole thing.  Don’t pay attention to the “journalists” that file reports after reports describing a situation that we do not recognize because is not true.  Those of us who have been following the news about our relationship with Haiti and Haitian immigrants living in our country know that the international media coverage is one-sided and no serious attempt is made at covering what is indeed a very complex situation.

Why this is so is not important; theories abound, people talk about international conspiracies, lazy journalism or whatever… but in reality, it really doesn’t matter.  The news will always be presented following this template:

  • After an incident or major news about Haitians in the Dominican Republic…
  • The press will skim over the facts and find a way to make it about race…
  • The incident will be tied to our immigration laws and about the “hatred” that Dominicans feel toward Haitians.
  • Optional: Dominicans are called racist who are ashamed of their African heritage and that “think they are Spaniards”.  Also, they may call for a boycott of the country


My fellow Dominicans: I know that a lot of you will head to the comments section of the offending “news article”/opinion piece and respond with our side of the story.  You will reply about the Haitians that study in our schools, that use our hospitals, the women in labor that cross the border and are cared for at no cost to them, about he help provided during the earthquake in 2010, and so on.  To which I say: Don’t waste your time, because they either know this already or most likely do not really care to learn these facts in the first place.

There is nothing that prevents them from learning more about this issue if they really wanted to; they probably work for large media organizations with the reach and resources to get to the bottom of any story they are interested in.  Your facts are irrelevant to their interest in pushing their story and will be discarded as background noise.  You don’t exist to them, except as traffic for their websites in which they sell advertisement….which is another reason not to engage them.  They are insulting you and at the same time profiting from your visits.


Let’s not do this anymore.  We have more important things to do as a people and as a country.  They, whoever they are and whatever their motivations, have no power over us.  They can’t force us to change our immigration laws to accommodate their desires or prejudices.