Geopolitics temper US envoy’s ‘magnificent journey’ in the Dominican Republic
Exclusive for Dominican Today
by Miguel Terc, US Editor
Santo Domingo.- United States ambassador Robin S. Bernstein has had to wrangle with a major geopolitical tit-for-tat since she assumed the post on September 3, just days prior to the China foreign minister Wang Yi’s visit to the country to open Beijing’s embassy after Dominican Republic and the Asian giant forged diplomatic ties.
The Dominican Republic, in addition to El Salvador and Panama, recently established relations with China -much to Washington’s chagrin- on claims that the measure “destabilizes both sides of the Strait of Taiwan.”
Nonetheless a “most magnificent journey” is how Bernstein labels her experience of just a few months in the Caribbean country, where her predecessor James W. Brewster, ruffled a few feathers with his aggressive activism in support of the country’s LGBTQ community.
“The journey to the DR has been one of the most magnificent journeys of my life. From the minute I stepped off the plane at the airport I was treated with caring. I felt the warmth of the Dominican people, it’s exciting, it’s beautiful, and since it is so much like Florida I feel that we have shared challenges,” she said.
She acknowledges the need to deal with the economic and environmental challenges, the importance of protecting the beaches and coastlines and since she hails from Palm Beach, “I feel very much at home in the DR.”
She says that she wants to use her seasoned track record in business to help young, local entrepreneurs, especially women.
The diplomat also reveals having a moral obligation to express her gratitude for the treatment of Jewish refugees who settled in Sosua during WWII, for which she’s willing to promote faith and cultural tourism to the Dominican Republic.
Though willing to address the gamut of bilateral issues, she cited only her short time in the post as a condition.
Bernstein’s first diplomatic lesson on how to ruffle feathers occurred during her confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate when her comment regarding assistance for Dominicans of Haitian descent. Local nationalists jumped on the statement to wrongly accuse her of ‘meddling’ in Dominican internal affairs.
The US does support stricter border security for the Dominican Republic and Haiti, she said and “we respect the DR and Haiti’s absolute sovereignty to determine the issue.”
“It’s a matter of sovereignty, the US respects the absolute sovereignty of the Dominican and Haitian people to determine their own border.
“I think that there is absolute respect- we like to help where they need us -it’s complicated,” she said.
“Certainly from a humanitarian point, when we are called upon we will continue to provide support, especially with health issues. The US will be happy to be a point of light and be a participant in resolving this challenge.”
The US diplomat added that her country’s priorities also include providing assistant to fight crime, trafficking in persons and interdiction of narcotics shipments.
Editing by Jorge Pineda
Robin S. Bernstein
Ambassador of the United States of America to the Dominican Republic
Ambassador Robin S. Bernstein was sworn-in as the United States Ambassador to the Dominican Republic by President Donald J. Trump, on July 3, 2018. She served as President and Director of Richard S. Bernstein and Associates, Inc. and Vice President and Director of Rizbur, Inc., both of West Palm Beach, Florida, until her resignation on June 29, 2018, after her confirmation as an Ambassador by the U.S. Senate. Her four decades of experience in business, government, and the non-profit community have demonstrated her dedicated and successful leadership and management. Her wide variety of contacts in the business, political and non-profit sectors have enabled her to contribute in many fields, such as education, disaster relief, and women’s empowerment.
Over the course of her career, Ms. Bernstein has developed extensive experience as an entrepreneur, business consultant, insurance broker, real estate broker and registered representative of numerous companies. She accompanied Florida Governor Jeb Bush as a member of his international trade mission to Israel in 1999. She was the Administrative Assistant to a County Commissioner of the Palm Beach County Commission, West Palm Beach, Florida and Executive Secretary to the Assistant Secretary for Policy at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Ms. Bernstein has worked as a campaign manager for Federal election campaigns and as a member of a Presidential transition team. She has shown a demonstrated commitment to the non-profit sector and has served on many boards and councils. She is the Co-Founder of Palm Beach County Cares, a Florida relief effort for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands.
Ms. Bernstein earned a B.A. in Language Area Studies from the American University, School of International Service, and an M.B.A. from George Washington University. She received the Women in Leadership Award from the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches. Ms. Bernstein speaks French and intermediate Spanish.