This is the first Christmas to be celebrated in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Santo Domingo, DR
During an economic crisis resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, the realization of Christmas dinners such as Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, and others before these holidays that Dominicans want to prepare will be affected.
These activities imply significant expenses for Dominican families that live first hand the scarcity of economic resources.
Every December, family members meet for dinner and celebrate the festivities, following tradition.
However, the multiple extensions of curfew, unemployment, and post-Covid suspensions, and the increase in prices of articles in the basic basket threaten to alter the festivities’ custom.
Rice, oil, chicken meat, red onions, cheddar cheese, pork, eggs, and cabbage are some of the foods that are part of the families’ Christmas tables, who are with “the cry to heaven” for their high prices.
According to the latest price monitoring carried out by the National Institute for the Protection of Consumer Rights (Pro-Consumer) from November 16-20 of this year, some of the food products that have increased their prices the most concerning 2019 are 64-ounce soy oil, with an increase of RD$25.11; cabbage, grown by RD$21.66; rice, enriched by RD$15.82 per 10 pounds; the 30 egg carton increased by RD$16.78.
The survey carried out among the country’s leading supermarkets also includes ground meat, which increased by RD$14.50 per pound; pork leg, up by RD$1.45 per pound; cheddar cheese, up by RD$15.70 per pound; red onion, up by RD$11.06 per pound; and tomato paste, up by RD$12.05 per pound.
What people are saying
On a tour, Maria Rosario, a company janitor, guided us to the Mercado Nuevo, and on the way, she told us that her husband had a thrombosis and had to “go out to the street to feed his three children.
Her Christmas dinner, consisting of chicken, Russian salad, empanadas, grapes, apples, and coquito, is the product of her effort and sacrifice. When she prepares dinner, Maria also shares it with her neighbors.
Another case is Felix Antonio Castro, a fruit seller at the Mercado Nuevo. He has chosen to save three months before Christmas from being able to afford his family’s dinner and buy clothes for his five children.
“I’m throwing RD$600 into a piggy bank so that it doesn’t hurt me so that my capital is untouchable. That way, it won’t hurt in January,” she said. When asked about how much she usually spends on Christmas dinner, Castro said it is difficult to estimate because of the constant variation in prices, but she estimates about RD$7,000. Clarisa Gabriela, a mother of three, also saves “the little pesos she earns” working in a beauty salon to be able to afford Christmas dinner because “things are difficult.”
“In my house there are seven in total plus the family members that arrive, for dinner, I leave some RD$8,000 or RD$9,000. That’s a lot,” she said.
A colleague of Clarisa’s exclaimed from the other side of the salon that “rice, oil, and eggs cannot be bought either in the supermarket or in the grocery store.”
At the home of Jeannette Abud, an employee of a distributor in the Duarte market, for Christmas dinner at her house, “they make a saw” to cook two-pound Moorish rice, pork, baked chicken, a pound of spaghetti, and a Russian salad.
Jeannette celebrates the holidays with her mother, brother, two daughters, and grandson.
For the poor
The head of the distribution company where Jeannette works, Theo Martinez, called on the Republic’s Government to care about the poor and lower food prices.
“The government is not concerned with the sale of the eggs. The eggs are too expensive. The population cannot stand the price of the eggs, paying one egg at 6 pesos,” he complained.
Through the roof
He added that all the first necessity articles are “by the clouds” since for the Christmas season, “they take advantage and raise the prices.”
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