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The Environmental Repercussions of Electoral Campaigns in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic celebrated its elections last May 15thwhere municipal and congressional authorities and the President of the Republic were chosen.

In an effort to be favored by the voters, the different candidates for the posts (president, senators, deputies, mayors and aldermen) used various forms of advertisement to promote their candidacies, which when overused, generate an impact on the environment.

Within these impacts are different types of pollution.

Visual contamination:
Promotional posters placed throughout the country are the most common way to promote candidates. This is the first approach to reach potential voters and also the one that most affects the aesthetics of the landscape where the posters are placed.

The different graphic pieces of candidates’ advertisements (posters, billboards, banners) occupy the spaces in urban and rural areas, making it difficult sometimes to identify streets names and avenues and overburdening an anthropic landscape with a mixture of colors, faces and phrases to suit all tastes.

Without thinking of the final destination and of the trees extracted from forests for these purposes, millions of printed advertisements promoting candidates circulate among potential voters. Depending on the type and quality of materials they were made from, they may take between three months and two years to decompose and adding to this aggravation is the difficulty to recycle this material.

Additionally, in recent decades, these materials are often thrown from vehicles, often causing them to not reach their destination but instead fall in green spaces or storm drains.

Promotional items (hats, flags, posters, t-shirts, stickers) increase the amount of solid waste generated, since they are used only during the campaign and often only on the day of the proselytizing activities, they leave behind an uncalculated carbon footprint.

What is the real use of electoral promotional items (hats, flags, posters)? Did you know that the process of developing these materials demand a high consumption of water, fuel and other raw materials?

Noise pollution:
As a Caribbean island, the musical and rhythmic part is no stranger to the process: which Dominican or foreign resident has not enjoyed the beat of the electoral candidate’s¬†jingles¬†through the famous “disco light”?

Often these “disco light”, mobile structures composed of large speakers and amplifiers, circulate through the streets exposing the citizens to noise pollution that can be harmful to their health, often contradicting the World Health Organization (WHO) who invite people to respect the safe levels of exposure to noise.

The way to express the most popular success is to generate as much noise (horns, sirens and dragged objects) as they can throughout the campaign trail.

According to an otolaryngologist consulted for this article, the human ear has an exposure limit of 80 decibels. The anthropocentric approach of our society does not weigh the damage to domestic and wild animals and birds that make up our ecosystem.

The experience in traffic during these “expressions of force” is horrible: a journey in rush hour which is usually 30 minutes can absurdly be extended by 2 hours if you run into one of these manifestations.

This indirectly affects the quality of life, increases the consumption of fossil fuels and causes noise exposure damages, without any possibility to recover from those seeking to be favored by the vote.

No doubt we are exposed and condemned to follow a propaganda model that not only damages the environment but keeps us from being a truly democratic society.

Today’s world invites us to have a more austere society and for that we need politicians more aware of environmental issues. We call on political activism and the parties’ leadership to make a commitment so that future generations can enjoy the natural resources we have at our disposal. We promote actions to ensure their well-being.