Local March 25, 2014 | 9:29 am

Dominican Foreign Service hobbled by cronyism, squandering

Santo Domingo.- Runaway spending on vice consuls, assistants and advisors in Dominican embassies and consulates abroad, most of them without functions and opt to stay at home, is what detonated the foreign service’s recent financial crisis.

The country has 95 vice consuls in the U.S., 36 of them in New York, as well as 102 assistants, 54 of them in New York. Vice consuls are paid US$1,750 per month, and assistants get US$920, without travel costs, which could be up to four times higher than those figures.

According to the Foreign Ministry’s payroll posted on its website, there are 21 vice consuls and 32 assistants in Miami alone; Spain has 34 vice consuls and 49 assistants, and 11 vice consuls and 28 assistants in Madrid.

When compared with countries with high populations such as Mexico, the number of Dominican staffers abroad is extremely high. Mexico has 33 diplomats at its Embassy in the U.S. while Dominican Republic has 62, including 10 alternate ambassadors paid US$3,000 per month.

Diplomats quoted by diariolibre.com complain that some consuls are paid US$2,500 while others get US$ 6,500, which varies “depending on who,” revealing widespread cronyism.

They also criticize that political cronies are assigned key posts and jeopardize many career diplomats.

Minou Tavárez Mirabal, who chairs the Chamber of Deputies Foreign Affairs Committee, said in telephone interview, that a bill drafted to reorganize the Dominican Foreign Service expired in the lower Chamber, for which she plans to resubmit it and seek for Congress to pass it.

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