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Transparent Democracy

July 24, 2013

By: Giselle Deñó

Giselle_BloggerIDInteRDom Correspondent, Giselle, has completed the first year of her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Sciences Po, Reims, France. She is participating in the 2013 10-week Dominican International Student Program. You can read more about Giselle and her participation in the Correspondent Program here.

It is the age of questioning and preoccupation for the future, the age of contestation of authority. We breathe politics through media and technology, and news travel in the twinkling of an eye, faster than we can digest all the information. Our generation is destined to reinvent positions, to be cynical of traditional political orders; but worry not, it is not a crisis of democracy I’m describing, but on the contrary, we are witnesses of the perfect context in which democracy can thrive through the voices of the youth who participate more and more through unconventional ways. Governments are obliged to open the door to the public and ready or not, here we come. My internship in the House of Representatives is exactly that. I was given the opportunity to participate in, rather observe and listen carefully, ardent political debates and other processes that conform the life of legislation in my country.

The House of Representatives of the Dominican Republic is an undecipherable maze I was put in, a bureaucratic organism full of departments and busy schedules. I have gotten lost not once or twice, but innumerable times. The first week of my internship I was given a tour around this huge building and I stood amazed by the magnitude of the paintings of ex-presidents and important political legislators that hanged on the walls. My first day was spectacular. I shook hands and presented myself as the new intern while others explained to me their career trajectories as deputies or lawyers. I was sure it was the beginning of a good and endurable experience in my life.

Day two, I’m put in the Legislative Audit Department where they already have an office prepared for me, Dominican Republic’s Constitution, the House of Representative’s Regulation, notepad, pen and pencil. I believe the fear and intimidation could be easily perceived as coming out of every pore in my body but I tried by best to keep my composure and pretend like I knew what I was doing. But whom am I fooling? First thing it occurred to my boss was to give me, a complete law amateur, a bill of law that had just passed in Congress and ask me to verify the whole record as to identify any type of anomalies or disjunctions with the Constitution, and if the due process and rules were followed. All I can say is that that day I left at 7p.m when I was actually supposed to leave at 4p.m.

The fact that I’m able to see zoomed in the way laws are being made each day in my country means that transparency is definitely taking place. Even though the international community is sure that Latin America is a cradle for corruption and deficient governmental powers, as an intern of one of the most important institutions in my country I can say that we’re advancing at a steady pace towards a good place. Everyday I come to work happy because I know that this famous “rule of law” does exist and no one is above it; we’re mandated to be meticulous and rigorous about our reports corresponding every resolution or bill that passes our hands. I’m able to read about what will be implemented in my country, how this will affect the population and be already prepared mentally and informed about it. Knowledge is the key to a transparent democracy and it can only be gathered if we look for it in the right places.

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