Beachy bribes, Political palm trees and Corruption cocktails (A view of the international ODEBRECHT scandal in the Dominican Republic)

If you haven’t seen the news lately or have been in a cave since 2015, ODEBRECHT is a Brazilian company, with extensions in various countries in Latin American, North America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. It’s dedicated to various fields from engineering, construction, petrochemicals and chemicals. It was founded by Norberto Odebrecht in 1944 in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil.


Dominican Republic is a small island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea; home to Sammy Sosa, Amelia Vega, Manny Ramirez, Junot Diaz and Maria Montez. Dominican Republic has its own records, being the first settlement of the New World in 1492, having the first university of the New World in 1518, being the deadliest place to travel by road in 2010 and having five students read aloud for 300 hours straight in 2011.

In all of our +500 years of history, we’ve have our fortunate and unfortunate events, like having Rafael Trujillo as dictator for around 30 years, being occupied by the United States TWICE (1916 and 1965), having our first metro railroad in 2013 (being the most extensive in all central America and the Caribbean) and having received ODEBRECHT in our country with open hands in 2001.

The United States department of Treasury had announced that the Dominican Republic had received approximately 92 million dollars in bribes from ODEBRECHT to obtain 17 contracts for the construction of highways, dams and thermoelectric plants. Brazil started investigating into the bribes made in their own country way back in 2014; the year in which ODEBRECHT decided to “relocate” ODEBRECHT’s department of Structured Operations to Dominican Republic. Their director at the time, Hilberto Mascarenhas  Alves Da Silva, claimed back then that the “relocation” was due to “Business Security”…something that the Dominican government didn’t even bother looking in to.

Dominican Republic is the third country that most received bribes, right after Brazil and Venezuela. It’s funny that we have received 92 million dollars in bribes that go straight to the pockets of greedy businessmen and politicians, when our average income per family is barely 200 dollars. From the 17 contracts made by ODEBRECHT, 15 were done during the ongoing, never-ending corrupt presidential periods of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), which has been on the presidential stand since 2004.

You may have a lot of questions reading so far, so let’s start addressing them.

  1. How the hell did ODEBRECHT start their corruption bribe in Dominican Republic?

Ok so, the whole mechanism of the bribes is pretty easy to explain. Let’s say I sell apples. It takes me about 1.00 US dollars to produce an apple, so a dozen of apples will cost me 12.00 US dollars. If I’m growing apples to profit, I’ll have to have a financial gain in order to invest in the apple production and produce more apples. The Dominican law of purchasing and contracting allows me to rise 25% of the original price. This means, I’m allowed to sell a dozen of apples at 15.00 US dollars. What ODEBRECHT was doing was raising the original price up to 100 times of its worth. They were selling a dozen of apples at 1,200.00 US dollars.

A couple of examples are the Hydroelectric of Palomino, that was initially valued in 225 million dollars, and it ended up costing 400 million dollars; that’s 175 million dollars above the initial costs. Another example is the Pinalito Hydroelectric, that was initially valued in 131 million dollars and it ended up costing 300 million dollars, which is 169 million dollars more representing an increase of 129% of it’s pricing. Remember that the Dominican constitution allows a 25% rise, when ODEBRECHT had rises up to 129% of its valued price.


  1. Who were the ones that received or benefited from these bribes?

We Dominicans all know that our politicians were up to this bribery scandal. The bribes has intentions to make the politicians to vote in favor or to approve the constructions to be made by ODEBRECHT, even if they were overpriced…they would be receiving their cut anyway. The Attorney General of the island, Jean Alain Rodriguez and member of the Central Committee of the Dominican Liberation Party (DLP…the one who has 13 years in the Dominican political spotlight) received disclosed information of the involvement of Dominican figures in the corruption bribery made by ODEBRECHT. In May 29th of 2017, 14 people were arrested to involvements tied to the ODEBRECHT bribes. They are:

-Alfredo Pacheco; current deputy

-Julio Valentin; current senator

-Angel Rondon; buissnessman

-Maximo D’oleo; ex-official of the CDEEE

-Bernardo Castellanos; engineer

-Porfirio Bautista; ex-deputy and current president of PRM

-Cesar Sanchez; ex-administer of the CDEEE

-Ramon Segura; ex-vicepresident of CDEEE

-Conrado Pittaluga; notary and lawyer

-Ruddy Gonzalez; ex-deputy

-Juan Rodriguez; ex-deputy, ex-senator and ex-director of INAPA

-Tommy Galan; current senator

-Juan Montas; current minister of Industry and Commerce

-Victor Diaz; ex-minister


  1. What has been done with ODEBRECHT so far?

Not much really. Jean Alain Rodriguez made an agreement with ODEBRECHT executives on January 2017, in which ODEBRECHT can continue its operations in the Dominican Republic while the current executives wouldn’t be charged of bribery, in exchange of information on the 14 current accused and a penalty fee of 184 million dollars that should be paid in a period of 8 years.

The surprising fact is not only that they can keep working in the country, it’s the fact that they are currently working on a project called Punta Catalina. Instead of wiping the Brazilian company out of the country, our politician geniuses think that a penalty and “exchange of information” would be enough. And the curious part of it is that it has been widely discussed that Punta Catalina is another work of political bribery valued in 2,000 million dollars, with the purpose of being a thermoelectric generator based on carbon. Punta Catalina had various offers from diverse companies, in which ODEBRECHT, in spite of being the most expensive proposal, had a value of 500 million dollars more than the limited imposed by the same congress that approved the proposal.

The president, Danilo Medina, due to the comments of the possible corruption in his idealistic “solution to the energy problem” created a commission to investigate ODEBRECHT’s bidding. This supposedly commission determined that the price was “fair” and “adequate”…of course, who would doubt the president and his party who have had corruption in the government since 2004?

  1. What has happened with the 14 people arrested?

Well, not much either. Angel Rondon and Victor Diaz received preventive prison for 1 year and 9 months respectively, while Conrado Pittaluga and Roberto Rodriguez remain in house arrest for 9 months. The rest have received bail of amounts from 106,000 to 300,000 dollars conjoined with impediment of departure and a periodic presentation before the authorities for 9 months to some. Bernardo Castellanos has an international arrest warrant, since he hasn’t returned to the country, upon allegations that he was never quoted by the Public Ministry.

  1. What the people expect?

We expect justice of course…in an imaginary perfect world. Dominicans have grown up learning corruption schemes since we were in kindergarden. The history of Christopher Columbus tricking the Tainos into exchanging mirrors for gold makes us think that Dominicans have corruption in our veins. We want justice! We want to see these people pay for their corruptions and to make it as an example for future corruption acts. Of course it’s not that we don’t have faith, but we have been immersed in corruption in the past and nothing has been done to punish those responsible. It’s not that we gave up, it’s that although we have identified the supposed people involved in the ODEBRECHT bribes, we know that corruption is still at its large in the Dominican Government especially when it comes to Nepotism and Malversation of public funds and property. While corruption outside of ODEBRECHT is well known and has been investigated by various reporters and journalists, we still await for justice.

  1. How are The People responding?

Various independent organizations and concerned citizens have joined forces to start the “Marcha Verde” (Green March), having its first march on January 22nd of 2017. These marches take place in various cities within the Dominican Republic and gather together for the Great March in the city of Santo Domingo. It was created after the bribery scandal of ODEBRECHT in Dominican Republic.It’s members and citizens that support the “Marcha Verde” have 4 main demands which are: Taking the corrupt people involved in the bribery scandal to jail, the return of all the money that was robbed from the state to go to these briberies, cancellation of the contracts with ODEBRECHT (including the ongoing one for the construction of Punta Catalina) and an independent investigation made by a special commission with the accompaniment of the United Nations to investigate the bribes and the actions during the government of ex-president Hipolito Mejia, ex-president Leonel Fernandez and the current president of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina.

Currently, the “Marcha Verde” has an ongoing series of marches through 150 municipalities across the Dominican Republic, where thousands of citizens gather around to protest against corruption. Various personalities, reporters and politicians have accused the “Marcha Verde” to receive funds from the United States to perpetuate their marches, being communists, to be anti-democratic and to intend to make a coup against the actual president Danilo Medina…all of which haven’t been confirmed or proven to the moment. To me, it’s just a boycott to our freedom of expression, freedom of speech and freedom of association.

Marcha verde


We’re ending the month of August and we still await the alleged investigations to go through. Dominicans seek justice and plead for it to happen to set it as an example and important milestone in the history of our country for the years to come. We don’t want to be only known as a vacation paradise or Caribbean dream; we want to be known as a country with a just and honest government; we want to set a different era in our country. An era that brings justice to citizens, economical stability, security and a better standard of living.

We want people who rationalize and understand that change isn’t something that’s promised by a guy that already had a presidential period and did nothing; that change isn’t having the same political party in the government for 13 years; that change isn’t giving out 11 dollars and Chinese fried chicken to vote for a political party; that change isn’t being offered as a political position or job after voting for a political party; that change isn’t giving out social aids masked behind a certain political party. Change is progress, change is having a better outcome, change is having no corruption, change is having a better healthcare, change is being able to walk in the streets without fear of getting killed or mugged, change is being able to buy food at an average cost at a supermarket, change is being able to buy food because the minimum wage allows you to do so.

To this day I hope to enjoy our Dominican beaches, palm trees and cocktails without the bribes and political corruption.



First blog post

This is the post excerpt.

Hello Bloggers! Welcome to my blog “Atrium of words”. Some of you may wonder what the title even means. Well, first of all, I’m a senior Med Student at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo in Dominican Republic; from those anatomy textbooks I took the word “Atrium” which are 2: The Right Atrium and the Left Atrium. These are the chambers of the heart in which the blood enters. The Right Atrium receives the deoxygenated blood from the vena cava, while the Left Atrium receives the oxygenated blood from the pulmonary veins. Just like blood flows through these chambers, words flow through my heart as I, since a young age, have been writing all kinds of things.

I’ve never thought of writing in a public space until a Thought Catalog editor named Marissa Donnelly gave me the idea to open a personal blog to have a chance of expressing who I am through the written word. Since I’m always studying at school, I’ll take the chance to write whatever comes up at any time so you can read.

Feel free to comment and share my work!

Welcome and enjoy Atrium of Words.

XO, Gina Ramírez Rosa


One attempted marriage & one million lies to overcome

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. The dream of wearing the perfect white dress in a chapel next to the man who is supposed to fill in the shoes of a fictional character in one of those many Disney fairy tales was never one of my dreams.

Maybe the idea I formed in my head about marriage being just a piece of paper in order for society to accept two people conjoining their lives under the same roof made me reject the idea since a very young age.

If you were to ask me in early 2015: “Gina, would you ever get married?”, I would’ve responded: “Not in a million years”; and here I was 2 years later planning a wedding with The Guy I thought was the only one worthy of my signature on that piece of paper.

Maybe for other girls getting married was the ultimate life goal, or the ultimate gratifying sensation to ever experience. We’re talking about being next to that person until death comes upon both, which to me it meant staying by that man’s side until one of you were struck by lightning or died from “natural causes”.

Getting married is a really big commitment, not only towards your partner, but also towards yourself. It’s not like you wake up one day to the first day of school and see the hot new guy come in and instantly decide between leaving your lame, emo boyfriend for the new member of the water polo team.

Marriage is a lifelong commitment: through better and worse, through rich and poor, through sickness and health, and eventually until death. As you can see, I was definitely scared of that type of commitment…especially the part that says “till death”; so when I decided to say “yes” to the idea of getting married with The Guy (The Guy BOTH my parents loved, The Guy my girlfriends envied, The Guy carved out of a worldly Disney version of Cinderella), I knew I was totally fucked. All the spit I threw up in the air came hitting me hard in the face; and here I was 2 years later planning a wedding.

As many songs, films, parents and quotes say: “Nothing lasts forever”, my translucent powder lasted more than the wedding planning. And I know you may be asking: “How did it happen?”, I can answer you in 5 words: “I´m happy it did”.

So yeah, it all happened during the time I was down with the flu. I lasted a whole week in bed and my mother thought I was depressed because of the breakup, when in fact I had 6 tinder matches and 2 dates.

I started being more open to meeting people and getting in touch with old friends. Tinder was a great help (no, seriously it was). It was exciting to have the chance to taunt different possibilities with the people surrounding me: Maybe a good friend? Maybe not, he/she is a total idiot. Maybe a one-night stand? Maybe not, he seems like a child molester, and one of her boobs looks like it´s filled with silicone glue.


Life was giving me multiple opportunities and I was grabbing each and every one of them. As a result, I had very good experiences with different people. I also reinforced some friendships I had forgotten and strengthened those weakened bonds that debilitated over the years.

Everything was going fine and dandy until the day I discovered The Lies.

The Lies had been so evident to everybody over the years, that I had classmates (that barely know me) say “I´m glad things ended between you and That Guy”. They were Lies that changed the perspective and value I had about The Guy up until the point that up until an hour before I discovered them, you had me saying: “He is such a good man, it just didn´t work out for us”.

I was in a good place at the time and The Lies didn´´t affect me as much as people would´ve expected. I was just surprised to realize in 10 minutes what I didn´t realize in 30 months with The Guy. “How could those details escape me?”, I asked myself; and then, after a couple of hours I re-winded the tape in my head… “Ah, you poor thing”, my subconscious said.

The fact that I genuinely loved him; that I had broken every barrier, cemented wall; that I had planned out (with him, our families and friends) our wedding; the fact that he was the first person in my life in whom I deposited my trust; that I had given up time and effort into helping him become a better person; the fact that beyond a wedding, we had plans for our professional lives together…. I still desired, deep down, for him to get hit by a bus; but I was in a good place when I first started to hear about The Lies.

Just in that moment, I decided to take a glass of Moscato and toast. I toasted to me, in becoming the amazing person I am today; I toasted for my friends and family, who have always had my back better than any husband will ever be able to; I toasted to The Guy, because if he wouldn´t have dumped me in the first place, I probably still would have been feeding into His Lies; and I toasted for that one attempted marriage and one million lies to overcome (scratch that) that I have overcome.

Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgenders, PLUS…the other add-ons to come (Part 2)

The term “Queer” has been around some time now. I first heard it when the show “Queer Eye for the straight guy” came out in 2003. I associated queer with being gay at the time, but nowadays it has a wide range of meanings.

It wasn’t until 2016 when GLAAD decided to publicly add the Q to LGBT and encouraged the media to do so as well. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, Queer is defined as: “worthless, counterfeit”, “questionable, suspicious”, “differing in some odd way from what is usual or normal”, “mildly insane”, “sexually attracted to members of the same sex: Homosexual, Gay”, and “not quite well”.

As you can see, the term “queer” has various meanings in the dictionary. Even though words can mean various different things, I find it queer (forgive the redundancy), to associate someone attracted to members of the same sex with something “worthless”, “questionable” or “insane”. I think it doesn’t give the pride for those who identify as queer. Either way, this term has gathered another modern definition lately, between youngsters.

Between the other 8 definitions of “Queer” that the Urban Dictionary has, there is one I’d like to address; Queer: “an identity used to be vague or non-specific about a person’s sexual orientation, identifying with the LGBT community as a whole; also a description of people’s non-heterosexual sexual orientation in a non-specific and unbiased manner”.

So basically, a person who identifies themselves as Queer is someone who isn’t specific about their sexual orientation. I used to think that by this definition, being Queer was exactly the same as being Bisexual…which isn’t correct in the LGBT community.

The term Bisexual literally means “two sexes”. Biologically there are two sexes, which is the female and the male sex. This would mean that people that identifies as “bisexual” are interested in both men and women. In the case of being Queer, it means that not only can people be attracted to both men and women, but they are also attracted to those with a different gender. Queer people say that they abandon the “binary” (referring to a male and female sex); they don’t consider themselves female or male; they also feel romantically attracted to anyone in the LGBT spectrum and out of it. Generally being Queer is not limiting yourself to just being female or male or only being attracted to females or males; it’s just being whatever you want to be and liking whoever you want to like. Some LGBT’s may not identify themselves as queer, and some people that you would normally identify as “heterosexual” can identify as Queer.

Queer is also defined in the LGBT community as someone who isn’t heterosexual or cis-gendered (a person with a gender that corresponds to its birth sex/the opposite of transgender); in other words, someone in the LGBTQQIAAP range can be considered a Queer; but like a said before, not all LGBT’s consider themselves as queer, nor all apparent heterosexuals can’t consider themselves queer.

To keep digging into this complex universe, we also have the term “Questioning”. The Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee) defines Questioning as “an individual who is unsure and/or exploring their gender identity and/or sexual orientation”. This is basically the phase teenagers go through but, in this case, it’s a permanent state throughout their lives, which, could end with “coming out” or not.

The American Psychological Association has expressed throughout investigations that during the adolescence, kids go through a series of experiments in which they question their sexual feelings. Some go through same-sex experiences that may confuse their sexual orientation, but this eventually declines during adulthood.

Questioning one’s sexual orientation or gender is pretty normal during adolescence and early childhood; but apparently the term “questioning” refers to being a person (no matter the age) that is in a doubtful position to identify themselves to a specific gender or doubtful in being attracted to a determined sex or gender.

You may wonder then, isn’t Questioning the same as “Bi-curious” and/or “Bisexual”? In the LGBTQQIAAP, it’s different. A Bi-curious is someone who experiments with both male and female, and it generally refers to a “temporary phase”; while a Questioning experiments with anyone outside the typical “binary” male and female whilst being a more “permanent state”. The same goes with being Bisexual; bisexuals like both sexes while Questionings are attracted to whichever person, not minding their gender or sex in which they identify.

Now you might wonder, isn’t Queer and Questioning kind of the same thing then? Well, in the LGBTQQIAAP it depends. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Questioning and Queer have “unsettling qualities” and they are both associated in the same guide. In my understanding, Queer can refer to a much more secure and solid position meanwhile Questioning is more of a doubtful position.

A couple of years ago I read the book “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides. It talks about the story of an intersex person named Callie who has a genetic defect which causes a deficiency of the 5-alpha reductase enzyme, meaning that Callie was a man genetically, but had female traits. Intersexuals were formerly called hermaphrodites before 2006. The Intersex Society of North America defines an Intersex as: “a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of male or female”. This means that Intersex people can have genital ambiguity and combinations of chromosomal genotype and sexual phenotype other tan the XX-female and XY-male.

A person being Intersex revolves around a series of genetic disorders in which the sex chromosomes don’t match the internal reproductive genitalia or external genitalia, neither the main hormone essential to a specific sex. One noticeable case is of Hanne Gaby Odiele, a 29 year old Belgian model born with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, meaning Hanne is genetically male, having XY chromosomes with internal undescended testes, but was resistant to androgens (male hormones), which prevented the penis and other male body parts to develop, giving a girl physical appearance.

Intersex children usually struggle to identify themselves with a specific sex during their lifetime. A lot of parents opt to surgically define the sex of their intersex child, which is controversial since the child may or may not identify later in life with the gender or sex imposed by their parents.

In this case, since the child has ambiguous genitalia or a physical appearance that doesn’t match their sex assigned by their chromosomes, it’s more difficult to rather “choose” a male or female sex. It merely depends on the parent’s decision or the child’s decision later in life. I honestly don’t know why Intersex people are part of the LGBTQQIAAP to begin with. Intersexuals are people with a genetic disorder. They aren’t intersexuals due to a preference, environment or psychological influence. Yes, the fact that they eventually choose a preferred sex to identify with is a choice, but I wouldn’t consider an Intersex as part of the LGBTQQIAAP community. Maybe it’s because they, as a group, felt left out and opted to be part of the community since they aren’t the traditional Male and Female…which is something that the LGBTQQIAAP community wants to change (the binary ideology). But that’s the difference! Intersexuals actually do want to identify as one or another; that’s their eternal struggle.

Recently there has been another use of the term “Intersexual”. The so-called “New-Era for the Intersex”, in which being Intersex is considered a “third gender”, meaning that a Intersex person would be able to identify as Intersex legally, instead of male or female; but this has gone far away to parents with children who identify them as “Intersex”, without having the genetic condition of being so. Let’s say I have a newborn girl with genetic and physical appearances as a girl, but I decide to recognize her as “Intersex” to avoid the “stigmatization” of influencing her gender development just because she is physically a girl.

This is part has a good intention, but it is totally messed up. First of all, it robs the term use for the real Intersexuals with a real genetic condition. Second of all, it creates the idea in children that are neither a girl nor a boy, rather an “intersex”. The intention of not raising a child to a society based gender is understandable. Not because you’re a girl, you must wear pink dresses; and not because you’re a boy, you must wear blue pants. The stigma of relating colors, objects, clothing’s and even feelings and career choices to a determined gender is completely unbalanced from a psychological point of view, which is why various European countries have started to create a “gender-neutral” education in schools; where Ana can play with cars and Tim can play with dolls or Laura can dress in pants and Tom can dress in skirts.

The good intention of neutralizing the typical gender associations is actually a good way to balance out the traditional roles and norms for men and women in society. The bad part of this appropriation of the “Intersex” term is that parents are now creating a very confusing identity for their children. Parents with Intersex children are starting to call them as he/she, in which the child can identify with neither being a girl or a boy. It has got to a point where parents even ask their child on a daily basis how they would be like to be called for the day: as a she or a he. They also ask how they would be liked to dress up or style their hair for the day: as a she or a he.


I first learned about this “new-use” of the term Intersex in a VICE documentary, which I would like to share: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4sPj8HhbwHs where it goes to the typical lives of a Swedish family raising their children as Intersex. It’s pretty obvious here about the role psychology plays out when Dr. Eberhard, a Swedish psychiatrist, says that there are behaviors which are typical for boys and typical for girls; this all goes back to evolutionary traits that trace back to our first ancestors and are eventually passed on to generations and generations until we, eventually, are born. This means that even though you raise a male child as an intersex, he will eventually develop some typical male characteristics proper of his male nature; even though he opts to dress up in a skirt, he will eventually try to climb up a tree, play in the mud or with toy cars in some moment. This doesn’t mean girls can naturally prefer climbing trees, playing in the mud or with cars, but she would most of the time decide to play with dolls, play dress-up or try to pick out flowers in the garden.

In conclusion I think that people have been always trying to not stick with tags or names, but lately tags and names are what people are using to identify themselves as a person.

To me, Queer will always mean a person of the LGBTQQIAAP spectrum; it’s just a general term to use for a non-homosexual, non-transgender. Now, the fact about considering oneself as Questioning is rather questioning itself. People can’t live in an eternal indecision of whom they are or who they like. We undergo a very long experience called “adolescence”, which defines out who we are and what we want in general. You can’t be permanently in question of who you identify as and what your personal liking is. I consider this bring a lot of confusion and identity loss in the long run. It’s true that imposing tags are really overrated by society, but identifying as a Questioning is rather imposing a tag upon yourself, which is contradictory. I think that Questioning people haven’t gotten over their adolescence phase and justify their indecision as a category in the LGBT community named Questioning.

The Intersex part of the LGBTQQIAAP is rather offensive from my point of view. Trying to use a term for a medical condition for a personal whim is obnoxious. Why would you want your child to identify as a medical condition? Why would you want to identify your child as a “non-gender”? I’m all for breaking up the traditional colors, feelings, clothing’s and careers that society ties up to a specific gender, but creating a “gender-less” child just because you want to, is not sane. In the long run this may also create confusion and disaster in a future “gender-less” adult life. I’m all in for teaching my future daughter how to practice martial arts or to venture into the construction workplace; I’m all in for teaching my future son how to cook or to venture into the haute couture fashion workplace, but I’m not in on questioning my son or daughter’s natural gender development and make them “gender-less”. You don’t have to impose an Intersex concept into a child just to break stereotypical roles for girl and boys; you can do so without this “out of this world”, illogical and “unnatural” ideology.

Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgenders, PLUS…the other add-ons to come (Part 1)

Before I start expressing myself I’ve got to say that I don’t judge anyone from the LGBTQQIAAP community; instead I advocate to respect everybody’s rights (including those of the LGBTQQIAAP community) and I encourage tolerance towards each other.

Since I was a kid in the 90’s, the term LGBT was a new term used to refer to Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders. The idea that a man can like another man, a woman can like another woman and man or woman can like both the same sex or opposite sex, was something that I was exposed to during my growing years. The Transgender platform was something I understood more towards the late 2000’s when the famously Chaz Bono (former Chastity Bono, Cher’s daughter, now son) underwent a series of surgeries to change his appearance and have a female-to-male transition. I was merely a teenager back then and I honestly didn’t have a tough time to decipher a female-to-male transition.

I’ve been taught that you can do everything you want in life, as long as you don’t violate any laws or rules (if those laws or rules don’t violate your human rights). It wasn’t hard for me to understand that some girls or boys don’t feel like themselves, so the logical thing would be to transform yourself to who you truly feel as. Those of you who are skeptical of the transgender concept have to understand 2 main concepts: Gender and Sex.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Gender as: “The behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex”. The same Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Sex as: “Either one of two major forms of individuals that occur in many species and that are distinguished respectively as female or male especially on the basis of their reproductive organs and structures”.

In definition, you can be born as female, but have gender qualities of a male; and vice-versa. You are born with a Sex but you develop a Gender. That’s why, for me, it’s understandable the concept of being Transgender. We, humans, are composed of physical and psychological aspects that make us who we are. In my opinion, if both are balanced out, we have a pro-active and productive human being for society, which is why people with physical or psychological disabilities tend to have more social rejection, not permitting them to succeed in our productive society.

This concept of Transgender was doing A-OK for me, until I started seeing young children undergoing the surgeon’s knife to change their sex. HOLD UP! I don’t think our society has thought this through.

First of all, I would like to admit that being a child I used to play dress-up a lot. I used to take my sister’s clothes and dress up trying to imitate her. I would also wear my father’s shoes and glasses and imitate him reading the newspaper. My brother also accompanied me in my mischievous dress-us and would also dive into my sister’s closet with me, and dress up with female clothing. Does that mean that I was having a male inclination when I dressed up as my father? No. I’m considered heterosexual and comfortable with being a female. Does that mean my brother was having a female inclination when he dressed up as our sister? No. My brother is also heterosexual and comfortable being a male. I don’t think that a child in development and discovery of itself can decide to be a determined sex, just because of its behavior, culture and psych being typical of the opposite sex that they are.

In Freudian psychoanalysis, the phallic stage is where psycho-sexual development begins in children between 3 to 6 years old. It’s when the child discovers the bodies and genitalia of their own and the bodies and genitalia of their peers and parents. Children also discover their libido and what primarily satisfies them. They start to differentiate between female and male, thus the gender differences between them. According to Freud, boys adopt the Oedipus character and girls adopt the Electra character.

In the Oedipus character, boys focus their libido on their mother to subconsciously compete against their father, who sleeps with their mother. In time the child understands that the father has a greater strength and fears castration by his father, thus remaining ambivalent. In the Electra character, girls envy that they don’t have a penis, thus not being able to sexually posses the mother; this make the girls redirect their desire for a sexual union with the father which psycho-sexually progresses in being heterosexual. Both boys and girls develop 2 defense mechanisms:  repression of the previous ideas and memories, and identification with the same-sex parent. This concludes in boys identifying as a male sexual being, and girls identifying as a female sexual being; both having a secure sense of their sexual identity and power along with a moral stance.

This Freudian theory has various controversies, including the fact that he considers females as sexually and morally inferior to males and there haven’t been scientific supports on this theory either. From another point of view, we can interpret Freud’s theory as homosexuality being natural, since we are developed to search for the love and attention of the same-sex parent and later we repress it, thus, turning us into heterosexuals.

Based on Feud’s theory, homosexuality (occurring naturally in the Phallic stage) and trans-gendered expressions can manifest in cross-gender identification caused by early faults in parenting, especially in mother/child relationship, as explained by Arlene Istar in her book “Transgender Emergence: Guidelines for Working with Gender –Variant People and their Families (https://books.google.com.do/books?id=mwYsBgAAQBAJ&pg=PA120&lpg=PA120&dq=phallic+stage+and+transgenders&source=bl&ots=iSgz4STu6x&sig=rMPeWk7I7ymJJ-bWhOAVU44UD0s&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwidj9qJsfDVAhWF6SYKHcfACqUQ6AEITTAG#v=onepage&q=phallic%20stage%20and%20transgenders&f=false).

In my conclusions, being lesbian, gay and transgender fits well with Freud’s theory and Istar’s approaches. I truly believe that the Phallic stage (from 3 to 6 years old) is determinate in defining one’s gender. In fact, from a psychological point a view, homosexual-ism can be viewed as normal and natural, since it’s the natural tendency our subconscious has, but when the defense mechanisms intervene, then we can’t possibly draw the line between “normal” and “not normal”.

I guess that the question here should be why some children develop the defense mechanisms and why others don’t, which apparently is what defines Gender in boys and girls. Istar has a faulty parenting theory that may intervene in the defense mechanisms, but these haven’t been scientifically proven, same as Freud’s theory.

I do think having a sexual preference for both sexes or a same sex involve the lack of defense mechanism in the phallic stage, while considering oneself  a different gender than the one “assigned” by your sex, involves rather a faulty resolution of the phallic stage by interruption or erroneous defense mechanism. This can explain the desire of girls to have a penis not being resolved, leading to a future desire to be a man. This also explains the desire of boys to compete with the father, turning into an ambivalent position after entering fear. This ambivalent position may progress into a future desire to be a woman or a future desire to keep being a man.


Nevertheless, I still don’t agree on starting to change a young girl or boy’s name, physical appearance and genitals because they have a different gender role than the one “assigned” by their sex. Gender is in constant development and face changes during early childhood and adolescence. It’s not the parent’s choice to decide if their child is a he or she, it’s the own person to decide so later in life. The attitude that parents should have around child having a different gender than their birth sex is to go along with it and try to adapt around their child’s changes that are normal in the process of development. Punishment and rejection will accommodate for trauma and rebellion, resulting in the child or teen to make a choice just for rebellion and not because it is what they really feel.

The “hijitos de papi y mami” of DR

The “hijitos de papi y mami” is defined as: girls and boys who enjoy having a huge economical inheritance from their parents and they show so by driving expensive cars, wearing expensive clothes, eating at the most expensive restaurants and going to the most expensive places in Dominican Republic. They all attend similar universities,which are obviously again…the most expensive ones. They are the ones who post on Instagram their pictures at Dubai or their weekend home in Punta Cana; the ones that spend up to 1000 dollars in a club; the ones that go to hippie or hipster places to try to appear “humbling” or “cool” (since the new cool is to be humble after all right?). These are the “hijitos de papi y mami” of DR.

First of all, clearing up my game, I do have a couple of friends who are “hijitos de papi y mami” so I don’t have a problem with them as long as they don’t get up into their own heads. I actually like to observe people in their natural surroundings…them including; and no, I don’t include myself in that category because although I like to dress well, and frequent some places they tend to go, I haven’t got enough money to buy a Longchamp purse yet and my parents don’t even know what a trust fund is…so, yeah, you can say I’m part of the hard working middle class that still hasn’t been displaces from this uneven society pyramid. During my observance during the years, I’ve come to notice that these “hijitos” share an awful lot of characteristics. I will break them down into the following:

  1. They all go to the same universities. Unibe and PUCMM are the most expensive universities in DR, where a semester can cost up to US$2000 (you may not deem it as expensive, but the minimum salary per month here is US$250). These universities are packed with the sons and daughters of the recognized families or with those who have an immigrant, fancy last name along with European like features such as: light skin, light hair color, and type 1 hair (sometimes they have a type 2 but they make it a a type 1 (see: The “whitening” of my latin hair). Don’t get me wrong, attending an expensive university doesn’t automatically make you rich, there are students with scholarships and student loans that attend there too but let’s be real…no “hijito de papi y mami” thinks about going to the UASD, a public state university where students protest with homemade bombs and you can find up to 80 students in a classroom with no air-conditioning, and sometimes you have to find and carry a seat from the first floor all the way up to the third floor because there are no seats left on the third floor.
  2. They all go to the most hip restaurants and bars in the city…and if they’re hip, they are definitely expensive. If you’ve gone to night clubs and bars such as: Moriqueta, Doubles, Maquiavelo, Boca negra, Lulú; Restaurants like: La placette. Pata e’ palo, Laurel…then you’re definitely an “hijito de papi y mami“. Yes, I been to like one of those places before, but I barely bought a drink or too because any more would’ve broken my bank. Places where a drink can cost up to US$20, or charge you double the price for a beer (normally US$2.50-4.50). These kids rarely go for the individual things…they like to share with their friends, and when I mean share, it’s sharing at a great level. Buying 4-5 bottles of Grey Goose vodka, which normally would cost about US$35, but clubs can easily sell them for US$50-55 dollars the unit price, that’s without counting the plate of food that would normally cost between US$50-60 dollars per person at one of those high class restaurants and the cover entry to a night club that can range from 10-15 dollars per person. Easily a group of 10 would spend around US $200 in drinking, US $500 in eating, US $100 in entry fess…which sums up to US$800 dollars a night (approximately, US$80 per person), without counting gas or clothing expenses. On the other hand, if I spend more than US $45 dollars a night, I feel I’m breaking the bank already. Obviously, this is just one day of the weekend. If we do the math and calculate it for one day every weekend (total of 4 days), these kids spend up to US$320-350 dollars a month just on “going out on Saturdays” expenses. We both know that there are people that spend way more than that, but we’re talking about the average Dominican young adult (18-22 years old) “hijito de papi y mami”. 245A409700000578-2893136-image-a-12_1420090217988
  3. They have children of their own: Cars, Passports and Vacation Spots. You never see an “hijito de papi y mami” taking a bus, by foot or taking the train. Hell no! Those Valentino high heels and Oscar de la Renta shirt can get dirty and sweaty. No, the ones that use their parents ride don’t count. I’m counting those who drive Porsche’s, Ford’s, Mercedes and Jeep’s. They flaunt their rides on Instagram with pride and joy. They invest in them , just as their parents invest in themselves too. Passports? Of course! They have that schengen visa since they were 10 years old when they went to Paris for their Christmas family vacations. Pictures at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai? Check! Pictures at the Red Light District in Amsterdam? Check! Pictures at the Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong? Check! Pictures at the Miu Miu Runway at the Milan Fashion Week? Check! Don’t know what to do on Spring Break or that Labor Day weekend? No problem! They can pick between their father’s Yacht in Bávaro, the Beach House in Punta Cana or take a trip around the city in their uncle’s helicopter.
  4. They have nieces too: Clothes and Cellphones. Even though Dominican Republic is the 110th out of 189 most poorest countries in the world, we have the latest technology and the most high couture fashion brands in the world. From Rolex, Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Salvatore Ferragamo stores to having the latest iPhone 7 plus on it’s release date on September 16, 2016, Dominican Republic has it all…especially for the “hijitos de papi y mami”. Just the thought of paying US$ 2,800 dollars for an Yves Saint Laurent purse makes me want to faint, but for these girls and boys, it’s like asking for a latte at a Starbucks (if we ever get a Starbucks in Dominican Republic). They obviously don’t have that fear of getting mugged in the streets by the fact that they get driven around by their chauffeurs, ride their shocking Porsche around the Blue Mall (home to the couture stores in Dominican Republic) or even go shopping with their personal guard.
  5. They’re trying that new wave hipster/humbling/organic trend… “Yeah, I like to go to warehouse parties with super unknown Dj’s just drinking some beers and enjoying the culture and music; by the way I bought this Ferragamo purse on my trip to Florence.”…the newborn trend among the “hijitos de papi y mami”. “Yes, I eat totally organic, no Gluten, veggie food, but the only champagne that doesn’t give me indigestion is Moet”. “I’ll go to Haiti to volunteer in an UNESCO project, and I’ll be staying at the Marriott Port-Au-Prince Hotel during my stay time if you want to contact me”. It’s not like they flaunt it on purpose, but since it’s part of their daily routine, it’s normal for them to have access to all the best and comforting things *life gives them (*parents), so they talk about it like if it was what the majority has or experiences, since from their point of view, the majority of people surrounding them are just like them.

The “hijitos of papi y mami” of Dominican Republic aren’t all equal, to be just. Not all of them fall into the hands of money and luxury. To be honest, the few who are rather close to me are the most humble persons I know. I have friends from diverse social statuses and cultural backgrounds, since I like knowing and experiencing different points of views on life with no prejudice whatsoever. If you are an “hijito de papi y mami” I hope you enjoyed the post; if you feel identified, then I’m glad that my observational study has hit the spot; if not, than I would love to hear how different your lifestyle has been than the status quo.

My first Thought Catalog Acceptance

On July 17th of 2016, an article I wrote was published on Thought Catalog. After three submissions, I finally got a publication. Even though some dislike Thought Catalog for various reasons (myself agreeing with some), I see this as my first step into creating my blog. A month after having my article published, I sent another submission but they didn’t see it as a “great fit” for the site; so one of the producers, Marisa Donnelly, recomended me to create a blog as a way of showing readers who I really am; and it was an excellent advice. Thanks to her idea, I created Atrium of words.
Here is my first published piece:


And I’d do it again

It was dark, but I found light

And that light was full of love;

And just when I was about to touch it

Fear told me it was not time.

Fear told me it was imposible.

A light has shown upon all this mess,

A mess that has been burning my back,

A burden that marked me like a cow for butchering,

A burden that made me numb…

Towards people,

Towards life,

Towards love.

It was dark, but I found light

And that light had a future planned out;

And just when I was about to join it

Hesitation told me it was not time.

Hesitation told me that this has happened before.

A light gave me a hand and helped me get up from the ground,

A ground where I had shed blood,

A blood loss that made me lifeless…

Towards family,

Towards friends,

Towards love.

It was dark, but I found a vague light

And that light was confused and uncertain;

And just when he told me to walk away

Love told me not to.

Love told me that this light is my light.

The light that made me trust love one more time,

The last time I will ever need to be in the dark

Because I am too full of light;

And when I am with this light, everything is good,

Everything is posible,

Everything is understanding,

Everything is love…

And if I’d had a chance to meet him in another life, I’d do it again.