In Santo Domingo: Beauty Pageants and Bank Fraud

We have finished taping for the documentary that will feature Lima, Mexico and Dominican Republic as portraits of Catholic faith. The crew is exhausted but very happy. I watched the footage thus far and, gracias a Dios, it looks great. The interviews are amazing, proof that the eternal spirit is brightly alive. I’m producing the documentary for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In Santo Domingo everyone was happy about Miss Universe, although several young Dominicans told me that “we get good news like this, but the reality is that there is a lot of bad news. We go back and forth and make the best of it.” A 2002 film, “Miss America” gives insight into the pageant phenomen. The site at PBS gives very funny (at least they are funny to me) downloadable video clips of Miss America moments.
In April a major bank fraud scandal was uncovered. Fraud and diversion of US$ 2.2 billion dollars caused not only the collapse of the Banco Intercontinental, the jailing of the principal executivies, but loss of confidence of many Dominicans, although the Central Bank has vowed to guarantee that depositors do not lose their money. The scandal has disheartened most in this country, since part of the loss is owed to contributions to the Catholic church, to political parties and to other not-for-profit groups. The report of this tragedy by the Central Bank makes it clear that the Catholic church and other not-for-profit groups did not know that the contributions they received were coming directly from depositors by means of fraud.

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