What about your saucepans
Ten years in the life of a British woman
living in the Dominican Republic

The fight goes on

This is a preview to the chapter The fight goes on from the book What about your saucepans by Lindsay de Feliz.
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I thought now Danilo had won we would be able to get on with the business at hand and start campaigning for the main election in May. That should be a much easier battle. However, Danilo still had to be acknowledged by the party as the official candidate. He had won, there was no question, but the official confirmation was due on 13 December, only two weeks away. Unfortunately, Mr Custodio was not about to give up so easily.

The day after the election he started submitting complaints to the Party Electoral Commission. He presented one paper after another. First claiming the person in charge of counting the votes was biased in favour of Danilo. Then he said a box of votes had been found on the beach, which had not been counted. These were later found to be from San Pedro, although we had no idea how they ended up on the beach in Guayacanes.

During this time Custodio was involving the press, who have to be paid to print most of the political news, especially regarding individual candidates. Every day, in both the local and national press, there were articles suggesting Custodio was actually the winner and he would ultimately be declared as such.

This was not what I had expected. I thought he would accept he had lost. Obviously this situation was confusing the electorate as they read the papers, watched the television and heard on the radio that Custodio would be the candidate for the PLD.

At the same time as trying to change the result by contesting the legality of the election, Custodio kept sending Marcelino, the head of the Fire Brigade, to our house with offers of cash for Danilo to step down as candidate. After one such visit Danilo came up to me in the kitchen where I was cooking lunch.

“They want me to not be candidate. Custodio want me to sign paper saying he be candidate for party, not me. Do you want me to sign paper?” he asked neutrally, without expression.
“No, I don’t,” I said firmly, continuing to slice onions. “After all we’ve been through, do you think you could just walk away from this? The people want you for Sindico. They don’t want him. They voted for you – you can’t let them down now and walk away with a bag of money.”
Danilo smiled ruefully. “I think so too. But it may be dangerous. He is very, very angry. He wants be Sindico again.”
“Well, I can’t see what he can do,” I retorted. “You won and that’s that.”
“Okay. I told him I think about it, he will do nothing as he think I thinking,” he said confidently. “I have to sign paper, he say, before official results come.”
It didn’t take long for something to happen. Danilo met with Sosa, the candidate for Senator, and Sosa's aide, José Luis Bencosme, who told him that as he had not accepted the cash immediately, Custodio and Mariano, the PLD candidate for Sindico in San Pedro, and friend of Custodio, had made it clear Danilo was in serious danger. José Luis took Danilo to a secret location and we understood he could come back after the results were ratified on 13 December. At the time I was unaware of all this, as once again Danilo was giving me information on a ‘need to know’ basis, not wanting to frighten me. He told me he needed to go on a course for new Sindicos. I didn't buy the story, but was confident that wherever he was, he would be safe.

So there I was, almost alone in the house. Just me, Oui Oui, the dogs and two security guards. I felt safe enough, as it was Danilo they wanted not me, but I felt very disappointed that he had won and we should have been in the streets celebrating, visiting people and campaigning, instead of being apart.

The boys came home more often as they wanted to help with the campaign, and I warned them to be careful and to be on their best behaviour. We couldn’t afford for anything to go wrong.

“It’s fine if you want to move back home and help, but just don’t do anything stupid,” I instructed them. “And be warned, every girl will be after you as they think Danilo will be Mayor, and if he is Mayor they think you will have money. So no sex, as they will be trying to get pregnant so you will marry them. Come home if you want, but you had better bloody behave or there will be hell to pay, I promise you!” They meekly nodded their agreement and I hoped they would behave.

The 13 December date came and went. As usual in the DR everything was delayed and we were given no date as to when the results would be officially declared, although they were available online. Danilo was still in hiding and I tried to live life as normally as possible. Everywhere I went I was accompanied by at least one security guard, usually Elpidio. Elpidio is an old fashioned Spanish name, but its literal meaning is, ‘he who begs’. Nice name. I never found out what his real name was. He was single with no children, which he was desperate to have as he was now in his mid thirties. If I was meeting with female friends, he would ask them outright if they wanted his baby, which was disconcerting. He was sweet enough and my constant shadow throughout the day, guarding me when I was on the computer, coming shopping with me and he told my mother on Skype his job was to stop the bullet meant for me, which made her feel better.

Throughout all of this, Mum had been incredibly supportive. She provided money to back the campaign and would talk to me every day to check how things were going. It was lovely to feel she believed in what we were trying to do.

Danilo came home before Christmas, having been told by the party he was indeed the official candidate. At the same time it was announced there could be no official campaigning until 26 January, so we had a period of relative calm. Danilo told me the Junta Electoral, the Electoral Court, would give money to each official candidate for their campaign, and he was positive we would be able to raise money from local businessmen now he had beaten Custodio and was the PLD candidate for Sindico.

We had no Christmas as we had no money. No tree, no presents. My brother sent me money to buy presents for the boys and I went into San Pedro, bought them clothes and there was enough left to buy a turkey. I wanted to make a proper Christmas lunch. It was crazy. I walked into the supermarket and someone shouted, “It’s Danilo's wife!” That was it, I was mobbed. “Dame eso, yo necesito”, “Give me, I need”, was yelled at me from all over the shop. I only just escaped with my turkey.

Throughout this period Danilo was having constant visits from the local judiciary and assistant fiscal from San Pedro, warning him if he didn’t resign the candidacy there would be serious consequences for him and his family. But we carried on regardless and started campaigning quietly. We made house to house visits, giving presents to the children on Kings Day, 6 January (the celebration of Epiphany), and we had a meeting for the party activists, together with José Maria Sosa, where he confirmed Danilo was indeed the candidate. Danilo was out of the house most of the time. He said he was working like a prawn. Apparently that means he never slept, as if a prawn sleeps it gets washed up by the tide and dies. A well-known Dominican saying.

It was announced in the press the money from the Junta Electoral would be handed to the parties in March. This money was to be given to every candidate to help with their campaign expenses going forward to the main election. At least we knew now when it was coming.

My Mum was planning to visit for a couple of weeks. I was looking forward to seeing her and had arranged for us both to travel to the north of the island to visit some of my friends, especially Shirley and Charlie, who was back from hospital in the UK, and John, and Ginnie and her partner Grahame. I was still chatting to Shirley and John online daily, and Ginnie and I would talk endlessly about the campaign and how it was going. It would be too much for Mum to be in my crazy house all of the time. By now people started arriving at 6am, and by mid morning there would be over a hundred people in the garden. The dogs were happy as there was always food about. Dominicans need to eat constantly, and the dogs perfected their begging skills. Oui Oui spent most of the day picking up plastic cups and Styrofoam trays.

A few days before Mum arrived there was yet another blow. It was 6am and Danilo and I were in bed when suddenly there was a commotion outside. One of the security guards came to the bedroom window.
Candidato,” he whispered loudly. “There is a problem. Come quickly.” Danilo leapt out of bed and threw on his dressing gown. He rushed outside and went towards a group of fifteen people leaning over the table peering at one of the national newspapers.

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