Donald Trump should be living with 150$ a month, like many in south America

A man sleeping in the street with no shoes

 

Being like a Caribbean for a month: Dream or Nightmare?

For Mr. Donald Trump it may be a fairy tale, surrounded by women, luxurious yachts and servants.

What if I tell you: “I am living like someone from the Dominican Republic”?
Would you consider me a poor or a rich person?

The answer is in the question, which means that I am either poor or rich, there is not much between.
Extreme poverty is rampant in  the most of south-central America. Meaning that people have no home, not enough money for food, water or health.
Still, you see plenty of extremely expensive cars and posh people living in their luxurious villas  with the very poor just few hundred meters away.
This is what will become of US if Trump is elected.

Colonialism, Christianity, Capitalism and Corruption, the poisoning cocktail with the four “C”; this is the busine$$ plan of Donald Trump.

Walking around many south American countries, you can’t miss men, of all ages, playing domino with a table right in the middle of the street, big cucarachas on the sidewalk, kind street vendors that sell anything, poverty: the result of political corruption, coming out here and then with the shape of a human being.

There is no balance, here you have to pray god (the most people is strongly Christian) to not get sick, because if you do, you will need a lot of money to cure yourself in a private clinic.
Cars drive like there is no tomorrow, it’s not hard to get hit by a car, and if you are poor, you would be without a leg, in the street,  for the rest of your life. With no social support from the institutions.Begging money to buy food.

Food in the supermarket is more expensive than in Europe or the US, in some cases is the double.
A piece of bread may cost two dollars, but the most of the people earn 150 $ per month,  ten times less than in the USA, that’s equal of 1/20 buying power difference, in a place where institutions help the rich and nearly nothing is public or free: Hospitals, Universities, Social Care, they are made just for the rich.

I test on myself how it feels like to live with 150 dollars per month in the Dominican Republic, because this is the salary the lower class gets, including public officers.
It’s hard, complicated and frustrating, I don’t even count in the 150$ the accommodation, cause I already arranged it outside that budget.
It’s actually harder to live here with this average ´salary’ than in Europe or the US with no salary.


The Ass, the only thing Trump is not racist with.

The most ironic thing is, that in the Dominican Republic, I start to feel the need of money, food, and services. While for the public opinion ,this place is supposed to be cheap and affordable.

The most ironic thing is, that in the Dominican Republic, I start to feel the need of money, food, and services. While for the public opinion ,this place is supposed to be cheap and affordable.

I have done one week of “technical fasting”, which I also did to keep my expenses low but I need even to do a second “technical fasting”, because of my budget.
Even more ironically, during my fasting, while taking a course to improve my Spanish skills, I get to the ‘food and eating’ chapter of my study course, which is not helping my hunger.
This country has been the toughest one to live as a freegan. Even for me, born in a big south Italian family, where the fridge was often empty because of the bad financial’s administration of my father. But being in such a situation with a whole family is different than being alone, it could be both better or worse.

I often have the wish to give small amounts of money to the ones in need that I punctually meet in the street, sometimes I do it, but doing it means having less to eat myself, cause my budget allows me barely to have enough to buy my own food and water.
This is actually a good training to understand what sharing means, it means to give what you have, even if you then have less for yourself. The privation of what you don’t necessarily need.

When I go to the market, doing some bargain, sellers ask me where I am from, I answer saying I am partially Dominican partially North African (which is not completely a lie), at this point they look at me with open wide eyes and give me the lowest price.

POLITICIANS IN SANTO DOMINGO
Politics affiches are everywhere to see, I even saw an ambulance doing political propaganda with stickers of a certain party. They have great political speakers here; this is the best they can do: to speak.
How can those politicians allow higher classes to thrive while there are kids, young boys, in the street asking for FOOD? Not even money, they simply ask for food and they are skinny, the most of them clean shoes in order to get few cents, which are never enough to buy a meal.
While walking along the beach I see one of them asking some people a bit of food, those persons had plenty, but they were not really keen to give him much.
While walking along the beach I see one of them asking some people a bit of food, those persons had plenty, but they were not really keen to give him much.
In this country, you don’t have drinkable water in the tap, neither you have fountains to drink, to get drinkable water you have to pay for it.
At home–for those who have one–you don’t even have a centralized water system, but a truck has to come and refill the tanks of those who can afford to have water, non-drinkable of course.
Many people drink non-clean water just because they can’t pay to buy it.
I am saving even drops of water because otherwise, I am not able to get within my budget.
I have witnessed people refilling their bottles from the rich one´s garden, risking to get diseases just to drink any water. To survive.

Many good political speakers talk to people in squares to convince them to vote for their party. I have to admit, they are quite attractive, as speakers. But not as men: the people does not really love to get involved in politics, they are disinterested in the topic, because “politicians are all the same” they say.
I would say that politics it’s like getting building works at home : if you are are not participating in the process or not pay attention, the professionals may mess up things quite a bit.

DISEASES
There is a mosquitos-diseases emergency in Santo Domingo and all Caribbeans, I went to the supermarket to search for a repeller, the cheapest one, in sales, costs almost ten dollars. It may last for one month. I am not surprised Dengue Fever, malaria, chikungunya and zika viruses are out of control. How can a poor–or average–person afford to avoid or cure it if they don’t even have clean water?
I am even developing the skill to kill mosquitos by hands in order to protect myself from those diseases. Mosquitos here fly really fast and they are really silent.
I am walking every day, and night, for about four hours, everywhere in the city. It´s shocking to see luxury villas just few hundred meters away from the ´favelas’, areas where many sleep in the street and have no more than few bricks or a field as a toilet.
I see a man, woman and kids nearly naked in an abandoned piece of land that they use as ‘home’, the smallest kid could be three years old, she does her physiological needs a couple of meters next to the space where they sleep, all in open air, on dirty grass surrounded by garbage.
In the marginal districts of Santo Domingo, which are the biggest part of the city, the most people live between trash, feces, and dogs. The only exception is for the Historical Center and few other streets where the higher class lives their fairy life.
Garbage collection is done by big trucks, which drive around with a couple of persons taking the trash with bare hands and pieces of wood sometimes, throwing the trash to the top of the vehicle. Often they jump inside the pile of trash to reduce its volume.If the area is in a poor neighborhood, they don’t collect all the trash of the street. The most common trash to find in the streets is the soft,foamy, plastic food case that eateries (comedor) give. In many places the most people is not educated about not throwing trash in the street, recycling does not exist.
Electricity is not always working, in average you have a blackout every couple of days, or daily. In all the city–the capital–, paradoxically you can see street lights on all day round, even with a bright sun–just in the rich streets, of course, don’t get me wrong–.

Water is also not always available and even the higher class may not have hot water. This is actually the least problematic thing, cause the temperature rarely goes below 25 degrees celsius, the perfect temperature for insects to reproduce.

 

CHRISTIANITY AND CARS ARE AT EVERY STEP

Almost one car on five has a sticker about Maria, Jesus or God. The church has been forcibly imported and took a big place in society. This is the common factor for the people here, poor and rich, they all believe in Christianity and want to display it. You may find cars with no number plates, driving like crazy possibly killing anything in front of them, but showing a plate with a biblical aphorism.

Cars are everywhere, the air is well aromatized with exhaust gas flavor and you don’t have to worry about dying of cancer because you will probably end up hit by a car before cancer can progress.
That’s also a demographic control from the government I guess.
Big, luxurious churches are displaying the power of God, a big power, but not strong enough to fight poverty, or actually they do fight poverty, and they won the war against poverty, internal poverty, cause the churches have never been poor themselves, they rather keep poverty outside their doors, I am not sure this was what Jesus was teaching.

 

THE POSH UPPER CLASS INDIFFERENT AND FEELING SUPERIOR

The wealthy neighborhoods have well maintained clean streets, luxurious cars, expensive shops and people dressed in brand clothing. Many of those persons don’t seem to be noticing the problem of poverty, or at least, they don’t do much to balance their wealth.
How can you feel proud of yourself inside a sportive Porsche, while you see from the black windows of your supercar, five years old children begging or an older woman homeless peeing in her pants because she has not even where to do it?

Maybe the black windows of your car are not just made to protect you from the sun, but also from the shame of being indifferent and a parasite?  Those black glasses are not enough to isolate you from the poor, even your high-class hotel, resort, shopping mall, business center, it will not isolate you keeping you out of responsibility.
If you can help someone next to you, but you don’t do it, you are guilty.
There are always ways to help, even just talking.

 

PEOPLE AND BUSINESS

The only place where they’ve tried to cheat me so far it’s a big posh supermarket, where they tried to charge me more at the counter.
While in the markets, where poorest people is, I always get better prices than the one for locals.

 

DARK, BLACK, MORE BLACK, BLACKER

Talking with Dominican people I discover that they like Europeans, especially Spanish, even if during the colony time Spanish people massacred all the local population.
The just love white people.
Maybe that’s why they like them, because there is no autoctone anymore who cares about the matter.
By looking at the face of the people you can easily see that the most are a mix of European and African, having dark skin.
No traces of the native people.
In spite of the fact that most of the population is brown/black, still, Dominicans make huge differences between the level of ‘skin darkness’.
It seems that the darker you are the more you are marginalized.
Locals point at the darkest persons as “African”, too dark to have mixed up with the European in the past and probably from Haiti.

While in a basketball game with kids, I am told by pubers that the darkest ones are African–born in Santo Domingo but originally from Haiti–and they are less smart than brown people.
I tell them that I am a bit North African, as every south-Italian is–because of Hannibal–they are quite surprised and don’t answer.

 

WHO IS ACCOUNTABLE

I was talking to Esperanza, a sweet old lady that lives in the streets since a while, I was telling her that she could do some volunteering in exchanging for a bed and food. A woman nearby, just passing, that heard about this ‘work’,  interrupted  my conversation and told me: “I want to do it, she does not need it because she lives in the street and she is used to this lifestyle, she would not wake up on time to work”.

Hearing that is  actually really sad, because even common people, from average income families, are thinking that once someone is in the street, has to end his life in the streets. While Esperanza was really interested in ending her homelessness.

The passing woman was arguing that Esperanza is adapted to street life and this is supposed to be until the end of her life, because in this ‘gentlewoman’ mind, the homeless lifestyle would give Esperanza freedom, more liberty than living in a house.

I am quite sure that woman never slept in the street, otherwise, she would not link freedom with social margination as result of a capitalistic, egoistic society.

It’s easy to be indifferent and say that the poor is in that condition because of himself, that they are lazy, criminals, drug addicted and maybe they even have more money than a middle-class person but they hide it. This kind of thinking is what I hate the most.

Each person in the street is different, each of them has a different problem, which is mostly psychological, physical and economical. But what they need for sure is help, respect, and consideration, each of them in a different way.
Whom to blame if a child of eight years is in the street with no food, no water, no place? We may say their family, they were not supposed to make a child if they didn’t have the resources to let him grow. But if the family didn’t have the education to know enough about it, if the family didn’t even have condoms or didn’t technically know how to prevent pregnancy. If maybe the family is not even there, who is accountable?
We can say the state and institutions of course, but who is accountable to watch and push state and institutions to do the right thing?
We are all responsible, starting from the richest, which is using the most resources.

We can do many things to fight poverty, the first is to choose honest politicians with a program to have the rich pay for who has no money. We don’t just have to give a vote, we have also to participate and keep an eye on the results, providing feedback.

We can help the people next door, if you see someone in need for some food, give them food.
If you see someone needing clothes, give them clothes.
The most of us have a bathroom, people in the street don’t, we can offer them to take a shower.
If someone is needing some social contact or psychological help, talk to that person.

Ah, another thing you can do to save the planet, if you don’t want a world of tramps, DON’T VOTE TRUMP.

Belarus, Elections? 2015. Minsk, the city of Lukashenko or Stalin? Photo Reportage

High tower with a Communist Star on the top

It’s election time in Belarus, in Europe there is maybe not much discussion on the media.

The Belorussian folk I met was not really keen to say much about this topic, they didn’t trust much the voting system and their point was: “we already know the winner, there should be not even need of making elections”. I even heard someone saying: “Lukasheko is good for stability”.

EPIDEMIC OF VOTING ADS

Minsk is full of posters, and any kind of advertising, to remind everyone about voting on 11 of October 2015, but nowhere to see the candidates, except for him…

Judging from the amounts of sings and election ads, it looks like the only problem of Belarus is that people may forget to go to vote. You should be blind not to notice any of those signs/ads/videos/posters/decorations/flags etc… Even sms’s on your phone. Actually a blind can notice it because there are non stop audio propaganda too, also in the metro.

During some walks in the city I see stands with ‘activists-like’ individuals giving information’s, I go to talk with them, one of them speaks English, I ask about who are the candidates – after receiving some suggestions from the others – he tells me he does not speak English(anymore) and therefore he can’t tell me about the other candidates.
In a short while I see another stand,  they are young boys and girls speaking English, they look like alternative, genuine persons. I get to know it’s the stand of Lukashenko and they can’t give me any information’s about the other candidates. I ask how to know who else is candidate and why there is nowhere any information about them, the answer is: I have to go on in the internet and find it out by myself.

COMMUNISM OR CAPITALISM

It’s a monumental city, where they keep Christmas decorations all year round, both in the streets and in cafes, almost to keep the place from changing, quite soviet style.
Shopping malls become more and more popular in Minsk, but here you have to pay even for the WC, and not just in the shopping malls, public toilets are all for paying.

Many private places, such as casinos, luxury hotels, restaurants, discotheques, have an extremely posh style, in high contrast with the communistic ideology. This maybe shows a reaction of the rich people trying to show – as much as they can – that they don’t belong to the average-low class.

It’s quite paradoxical for me to see that here in Minsk, being communist means to be from the side of the government. I remember when I was a teenager, I was often in environments where the Italian communist party people was involved, because it represented the alternative and the freedom of expression – in Minsk is not the case.

In the Baltic states (ex USSR) I had chance to hear quite many locals talking extremely negatively about the Soviet time. I though they where just complaining because of the appealing modern  consume-capitalist society. Now that I am in Belarus I understand what they were talking about. I understand how frustrating it feels to not have freedom of speech.

Often the most important thing people want to have is not money or power, but an identity.

OVER-SUPER-EXTRA BUREAU-CRAZY SYSTEM AND PEOPLE CONTROL

To just get inside a library they needed all your data, passport, telephone number, exact address and you have to pay.
I asked to just have a look to the library, after almost half hour of BUREAUCRAZY, they asked me to pay fix membership. Okay, I can’t complain, I was born in Italy, there were BureauCrazy was born too, and now is still strongly alive!

Belorussian Police officers don’t look like to be annoying or arrogant.
They are quite professional and even pay the ticket to enter the metro. Many other police agents in other countries, Italy especially (which are the specialists of taking advance of being in a uniform),  could learn a lot from them.
Maybe they are a bit too strict, but I didn’t have much interaction with them, except for the registration at the migration office, which was quite annoying (because of the wild queue).

 

BELORUSSIAN WOMEN AND THE BELORUSSIAN ARMY

Women spend a lot of time and energy in dressing up like models, the same does the Government, in dressing up the city and the army. Waste of time, resources and energy.

Friendship and marriage are used in  conservative societies, to support each other in any field, even for legal matters, political or economical. Having often people selecting partners and friends based on non-affective interests.
Northern, and progressing society, have strong, accessible, public services that supports people, that’s why friendship and love are more selective and genuine in those cultures. More rare as consequence.

Even if people seems at first a bit cold and distant, they are approachable, just remember to say the following first : “Disvinize Pajalusta” – which I wrote completely wrongly!

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION vs PROPAGANDA

One easy sign regarding the limitation of expression is the internet upload speed, it’s almost impossible to find anywhere a connection with an higher speed than 0.5mbs, which means that it’s really hard for anyone to broadcast or upload videos or audio…

While everybody looks the TV, state owned, the ‘distraction’ mass tool.


SQUARES AND PUBLIC PLACES IN MINSK, NOT EVEN ARTISTS IN THE STREET

In Belarus you feel to be in an unreal place, out of the time. Back to the history.
Many public places look majestic, imposing and clean but, at the same time, they are mostly empty and sterile.
It looks like that the public authorities don’t really like the gathering of a persons in squares, they see it as an “unauthorized manifestation”. This gives as result people gathering in really ugly and hidden spaces, just to have a chat, drink or picnic.

Even street artists are not really welcome, because it seems that the governments sees them as ‘non tax payers”
This is such a big contrast, I even find it back inside myself, where is in me a fight between two characters of me, one side, as my big brother, always shy and submissive. The other part of me, like my other brother, really proud and ambitions…

UNIVERSITIES, WORK and UNEMPLOYMENT

University buildings are simple, they look like hospitals.
The most students seem to come from upper classes.
After asking around I find out that if you get good points, studies maybe for free, otherwise you have to pay for it.

If you don’t find a job you can join the army (which always welcome people) or clean the streets (almost for free). If you decide to not do any of those, being unemployed, you will have to pay a tax (240$/Year).

You can evaluate the welfare of a government from how much weak individuals and animals are treated. Here homeless people is not well seen. Meat is eaten in every meal.

ALTERNATIVE PEOPLE & MONO-LIFE

Some of non aligned, artistic and anti-conformist persons may be found in McDonald or “west-style” bars. Maybe as form of ‘rebellion’ to the system.

I noticed that the still-soviet-style cafes and restaurants where I go to eat, play always the same music (soviet pop mostly). I don’t know if people likes it or realize this situation, but I am almost able to sing like the Ramazzotti-of-Minsk.

CYCLING & ARCHITECTONIC BARRIERS IN MINSK

The urbanistic structure of the city is definitely capitalistic.
I have to admit that I loved the “countdown timer” on the traffic lights, it’s so practical, you always know what time to cross! (except once that the countdown didn’t show green after the red and I was almost killed by the speeding cars).
Although Public transportation is cheap and efficient, the cars are king here. Or maybe more thank king.
Often as pedestrian you have to take tunnels or longer ways in order to cross the huge car road.
As cyclist you don’t even have possibility to cross big roads, because pedestrian tunnels are totally bike-(or wheels)-unfriendly, you have to carry your bike by hand.
Also at home I have to carry the bike up to my place, for three floors, cause nobody leaves bicycles outside and they may get stolen.

I didn’t even see one person on wheelchair or with handicap, this means one of the two:

  • Everybody is perfectly healthy in Belarus;
  • They are ashamed and not supported by the local welfare, to move or be independent, because there is not even one proper wheelchair-friendly ramp in the whole country.

THE TITLE MAY BE NOT APPROPRIATE

I apologize if anyone find that the title is not appropriate, actually I should have written it in a different way, not -Minsk, the city of Lukashenko- but -Belarus, the country of Lukashenko-.
The thing is that, expect Minsk, the rest of the country looks pretty much forgotten by the administration, that’s why I didn’t bother to write “the country”.

Do you think I wrote any bull***t?
Comment please!

(due limited connectivity in Belarus I was not able to edit and upload the videos I wanted to…)