By Esteban Cabrera
Philadelphia, PA: A group of Dominican citizens who identified themselves as donors to an operation called “FOOD DRIVE”, which collected a container full of groceries and household items to help those affected by Hurricane Fiona in the province of Higüey, Dominican Republic, reacted annoyed and informed the editorial staff of the newspaper El Faro Latino that although the “FOOD DRIVE” activity was carried out on Saturday, October 8, 2022, which means “FOOD COLLECTION”, to date, exactly six months, Aid has not yet been delivered to those affected.
“It is painful to know that all the effort made by the Dominicans who live in and around Philadelphia who have sacrificed to help our brothers since October of last year, and that help was never delivered in the emergency for which they were sent. Worst of all was the silence of the organizers, who could not tell the community what had happened. At least we deserved to be informed”, wrote in a document sent to this newsroom the donors themselves who are preparing to ask the organizing group for clear explanations of what happened.
The newspaper El Faro Latino proceeded to open an investigation on the subject. In the process of verifying the information that we had received from the complainants, we verified that, indeed, the container with the aid had not been delivered to its recipients in the province of Higüey, when on Saturday, April 8, six months have passed since it was the collection activity was carried out.
Once the people who organized the aid collection operation have been identified, we exchange information with them. They also confirmed that despite the great efforts they have made to try to get the container out of Customs, according to them, all the procedures have been unsuccessful due to the lack of help from the Dominican authorities, especially that of the Dominican consul in Pennsylvania. Alexis. Henríquez, who was involved in the operation and promised to carry out any official procedure to help in Customs. This institution now wants to collect 150,000 pesos for the removal of the container, according to the organizers.
We have verified that said organizing committee is made up of Enerolina Meléndez, Charles Mendoza, Franklin Medrano and José Herera Galán, among other members of the community who joined the collective efforts to bring encouragement to the desperate victims of Hurricane Fiona last year in DR .
When contacted by this editor, the community leader, Charles Mendoza, confirmed the information that the container with the aid for those affected by Hurricane Fiona could not be withdrawn from Customs because the Dominican government, through that collection address, is raising the sum of 150,000 Dominican pesos to cancel the aid. “First, the aid left Philadelphia for Higüey, but the municipality of this province did not pick up the truck on time, and then interest was lost. Faced with this situation, I moved to the Dominican Republic in search of a solution that would allow us to remove the container from Customs and deliver it to those in need, but all these efforts were unsuccessful. So, the organizing committee decided to transfer the container to the Hato Mayor provincial council, authorities that showed more interest in removing the food and helping to distribute it among their most needy municipalities. However, this process could not be carried out either, so we hope that soon the container can leave Customs and be delivered to this last municipality,” Mendoza said.
Franklin Medrano, president of the Dominican Chamber of Commerce.
The communicator of Dominican origin, Franklin Medrano, who is designated as one of the people who contributed to the organization of the aid collection event and a facilitator for the transfer of merchandise, flatly denied having knowledge that this container had not reached your ultimate destination.
“The only thing I can tell you is that this activity was carried out by a group of community members, including Charles Mendoza, Enerolina Meléndez, José Galán, José Peralta, the Dominican consul from Philadelphia, Alexis Henríquez, who had Committed to being a facilitator for the delivery of the container in Higüey and helping with bureaucratic procedures, a server, Franklin Medrano, among other community members,” Franklin Medrano told this editor by telephone.
“As I was traveling, I only did several live and broadcast the activity the day it took place. From there to there, Enerolina Meléndez was going to resolve to send the container to the Dominican Republic. After the event, I went to Egypt and from there to Israel, but it would be interesting to investigate what happened that did not arrive, of course. Until today, for me, that van had reached its destination and that this aid had already been delivered,” concluded Franklin Medrano.
Enerolina Melendez, The former head of the Electoral Logistics Coordination Office (OCLEES) of the Central Electoral Board (JCE) of Philadelphia.
The former head of the Electoral Logistics Coordination Office (OCLEES) of the Central Electoral Board (JCE) of Philadelphia, Enerolina Meléndez, in response to a request from the newspaper El Faro Latino about her responsibility in coordinating the shipment of the aforementioned container, He responded by telephone that, indeed, the container could not be delivered to those in need, despite having taken so long, because the Higüey council did not show much interest in taking charge of removing the container as it was supposed to, which caused a shipment stagnation. “Given these circumstances, the organizing committee sought a second alternative, which was to divert the container to the province of Hato Mayor, whose municipality has shown interest in removing the container, but this process has not yet concluded, so the container remains in the warehouses of Puerto Punta Caucedo waiting to be withdrawn.
“Today the ones questioned are us, the ones who went ahead to organize the aid and send it, but no one says anything about the irresponsible political actors who promised to collaborate in the Dominican Republic to facilitate the container and did not do so. How is? Is it possible that the Customs Directorate of the Dominican Republic wants to collect 150,000 Dominican pesos to deliver the container that, after all, is carrying humanitarian aid for a natural disaster? asked Enerolina Meléndez, who delivered to the newspaper’s editorial office El Faro Latino a detailed list of income and expenses, which according to her, clarified that no cash donations were received, but rather all were in checks, which were deposited in the account of the Chamber of Commerce of the Dominican Republic, which she also presides over. Franklin Medrano, from where all the payments made for the transport of the container to the Dominican Republic come from.” Enerolina Meléndez clarified.
Dominican Consul in Pennsylvania, Alexis Henríquez.
The honorable Dominican Consul in Pennsylvania, Alexis Henríquez, who was very active in the “FOOD DRIVE”, even receiving items brought by donors in the reception room, apparently reneged on his promises to help in the Dominican Republic so that Customs would facilitate the procedures for the departure of the container, according to testimonies of the organizers who assure that they were left alone before the unfulfilled promise of the political actors. Although they do not mention him by his name; Obviously, they are referring to the consul, Alexis Heríquez, because it is not explained how this official, after having been publicly involved in the event, conspicuous by his absence so that Customs would facilitate the exit of the container.
This editor telephoned the consul, but he did not answer; We even used a close collaborator of his to return the call to include in this article his opinion on everything that happened with that container full of aid that could not be delivered to the people in need, supposedly due to bureaucratic obstacles and attempts to collect 150 thousand Dominican pesos at Customs. This means that the government of change headed by President Luis Abinader has lost social sensitivity about the efforts of the diaspora to help his brothers in a state of emergency. Cry in the presence of God that these goods are being damaged or have been damaged in the Customs warehouses due to the indifference of the Dominican government and the customs authorities.
This is a developing story, please check back to this journal for more updates.