While I have been visiting the Dominican Republic once a year since the late 1990s, I went through a period of time from the early ‘90s until the late ‘90s in which three years would go by and I would not go back. It got to the point that I did not even want to hear news of the Dominican Republic – I was that disillusioned. This period of disillusionment started around 1991 when there was mass fraud in the political elections. The United Nations and even the president that won by fraud admitted that there was fraud! The president of the party that truly won called the membership to take up to the streets in protest, but they didn’t, simply because any part members who had actually won – as senators, legislator, or mayors – figured “I didn’t lose, I won! So why should I fight?” They sold out. In New York City we did a protest in front of the United Nations, calling for an intervention. I was part of the protest, but I was also taking pictures. I went across the street – we were right across the United Nations, in a little plaza – and there were some diplomats coming out of the U.N. building. They were asking amongst each other, “What is going on?” One tapped me on the shoulder and asked, “What is that about?” All of a sudden I asked myself, “Well, what am I doing here, then? I mean, what is the point of this? We are here protesting so that you people do something about it and you have no clue what I’m doing over here. I’m wasting my time.” I packed up my camera without saying goodbye to my friends and I left. Since that day, for years, I refused to read news about the Dominican Republic. I thought that it could burn up and go to hell, with my family included, and I don’t want to hear it.
In 1996 there was a government change. I went back in the ‘90s because I wanted my girlfriend at the time to meet my family and see where I came from. In going there, I saw a marked difference politically and I became hopeful. That is when I started going once every year.