By Elizabeth Eames Roebling
SANTO DOMINGO, Nov 5 (IPS) – On the island where the African slave trade was first introduced to the western hemisphere in 1520, the United States embassy in Santo Domingo hosted more than 1,000 people to view the possible election of the son of an African to the U.S. presidency.
While the current ambassador, Robert Fannin, is from Arizona and a close friend of Republican Sen. John McCain, there was a clear pro-Barack Obama sentiment in the room.
At the entrance to the elegant Jaragua Hotel, Dominicans could cast mock ballots for either Obama or McCain and have their photographs taken next to cardboard cutouts of the candidates.
The gathering reflected the skin tones of the Dominican Republic, whose population is described as 15 percent white, 15 percent black, and 70 percent mixed race. For Dominicans themselves, the issue of race and skin colour is more subtle than the simple “black-white” line in the United States, with six different shades of skin tones, including “blond”, “wheat”, “indian” and “negro (black)”.