For many aspiring baseball players in the Dominican Republic, the sport is often seen as the ticket out of poverty. Young men live and breathe the successes of players such as Pedro Martínez and Sammy Sosa, seeing them as testaments to the promise that baseball holds—the chance to shape a life different from the one they’ve known.
The baseball industry is important culturally, socially and economically to the island of the Dominican Republic. As of 2005, there were 30 baseball academies in the Dominican Republic sponsored by major league organizations. Most were located in predominantly poor communities. Their existence is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it provides the young men of the area with an opportunity to do something. Many of these young men, however, choose to drop out of school to be able to train seriously.
With so much at stake, the chances for exploitation of the players are high. Common in the game are buscones, “agents” who promise to oversee the player’s career in exchange for a steep commission if the player is signed. In 2001, a buscón based in Santo Domingo charged a reported $150,000 of Yankee prospect Melky Cabrera's $175,000 signing bonus.
A principios del 2006 visité El Chapare. Iba en busca de datos biográficos sobre Evo Morales; también quería escuchar anécdotas de los propios cocaleros sobre la lucha contra la erradicación de la coca, batalla que los ha enfrentado desde hace más de dos décadas con los Estados Unidos.
Mientras recorría los pueblos del trópico cochabambino, me llamó la atención un hecho curioso: en las oficinas de las federaciones de cocaleros no ondeaba la bandera tricolor boliviana, sino la whipala—la bandera de los pueblos indígenas andinos—y casi todas las paredes estaban pintadas con la imagen de Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
Desde el triunfo electoral de Evo Morales, el gobierno ha rendido tributo abiertamente al guerrillero argentino asesinado en Bolivia en 1967. Se construyen monumentos en honor al Che Guevara. Morales ha adoptado en muchos de sus discursos el saludo “Patria o muerte!”, característico de la revolución cubana, y llegó a compararse a sí mismo con el Che.
In the last few months conventional wisdom has said that all bets are off when it comes to investments. While most sectors of the economy are starving for cash and credit, Latin American film makers are hoping to attract foreign investors looking to lower costs by investing in non-U.S. projects.
Andres Calderón, executive producer at Dynamo capital, was in New York last week to test that hypothesis. Calderón, who worked as an investment banker for eight years before joining the Colombian production firm Dynamo, is hoping that the credit crunch affecting Hollywood will provide new opportunities for Latin American movie makers.
“There’s no money in Hollywood, so [investors] are thinking of ways to do more with Colombia and Latin America. One way to reduce budgets is to shoot in places that are cheaper to shoot,” he said, estimating production costs in Colombia to be between 30 and 40 percent cheaper in Colombia.
The film industry in general has become considered a relatively safe investment. According to The New York Times: “Wall Street, real estate, the art market — all of those other supposedly stable investment areas — are now such a mess that Hollywood is one of the safer places you can park money. Although the movie business has been hurt along with nearly every other industry, it’s proving far more resilient to recession than most.”