The crime rate in the Dominican Republic continues soaring, with even small towns in the periphery of the capital of Santo Domingo experiencing economic blight and insecurity which has rendered the night unlivable. In the once-thriving village of Villa Altagracia, where our editor's grandfather was mayor during the Joaquin Balaguer era, crime was virtually unknown and a cardboard factory complemented a thriving citrus industry and Korean-run free trade zone.
Today, the small city experiences water problems despite being near water sources and providing much needed aqueduct services for the capital, just 45 kilometers away. Like a lot of towns in the Dominican Republic, Villa Altagracia is being depleted of young people, and now only the most desperate of youth have stayed behind, often turning motorized crime to make ends meet.
And it was by two men on a motorcycle that, just a few blocks from her home, our editor's first aunt was dispossessed of a cell phone and 50 cents at gun point. A senior citizen came close to losing her life for a meager sum of money, barely enough to purchase a bottle of rum.
|Killing for a bottle of rum. Listin|
The modus operandi was the same in the most recent mugging, and a woman whose grandfather paved the very street where she was walking almost lost her life for a quantity of money that she doesn't even precisely remember, or much care for.
The men didn't bother wearing proper masks during their endeavors because they knew that police reports wouldn't be filed.
Those men are still roaming around, and it is unlikely, given the current climate of resignation in the town, that their next victims will risk going to the police to speak out against them.
Villa Altagracia was one of the few towns that the ruling Dominican Liberation Party lost during the elections this past May, and it may be because people are so desperate for change and safety that they yearn for a past before digital technology and when the Santo Domingo Subway was but a laughable dream.
Despite being just 45km from the capital and on the road to Santiago, the second most important city in the country, the president just doesn't seem to stop there. It is a town that some would say he almost wants to hide.