Flor Para Todos Foundation Inc.
The Flor Para Todos Foundation, founded through Presidential Decree 360, on 4 August 2000, is the Chinese cultural organization in the DR that promotes cooperation, education, communication, art and the general integration of Chinese culture in the Caribbean. The overall goal of the Flor Para Todos Foundation is to help in the creation of the Santo Domingo Barrio Chino (Chinatown) with the intention of strengthening the relationship between the Dominican and Chinese communities. There is also the added aim of honoring the memory of Chinese immigrants, and the current Chinese community in the DR. The Barrio Chino’s completion will also represent a way of recognizing the contributions that Chinese immigrants have made to Dominican culture in general.

The Barrio Chino
The original idea for a Chinatown in Santo Domingo was hatched in the early 1990s, but it took some years before the idea was to materialize. Chinatown took one step closer to becoming a reality when the non-profit organization Flor Para Todos was recognized. On 8 December 2004, through an agreement with the Santo Domingo municipal authorities, the Foundation was given the go-ahead to start construction on the project. Aside from the agreement with the city municipality, agreements with the Tourism Ministry were signed to promote Chinatown as a tourist attraction, agreements with the Culture Ministry were signed in order to develop cultural activities and an agreement with the Police Department was signed in order to increase police protection in the area.

The Chinatown project has enjoyed strong support from President Leonel Fernandez as well as from the Chinese government (PRC) and the Taiwanese government. There is no political affiliation to the project, just an interest by all parties involved to see it through. China has taken on 50% of the RD$3.5 million initial investment while the Foundation has taken on the other 50% in costs. The Foundation, the only organization in the DR that does this type of work with the Chinese community has received the assistance of the Chi Tack Tong Association, the Chi Kung Tong Masonic Lodge, the Joa Family Association, and other organizations. Interestingly enough, Dominicans in the US have also strongly supported the building of this project because they, living in the diversity that surrounds them in the US, clearly understand the concept of a Chinatown.

In terms of the overall costs, estimates range in the area of RD$41 million. The Chinese community in the DR has provided much-needed support towards the project. The Taiwanese government has given US$40,000 towards the building of one of the large gates at the entrance of Chinatown, and the Taiwanese firm Overseas Engineering and Construction, Co, Ltd S.A, OECC has been contracted to build the gate. The Ministry of Public Works is providing RD$25 million in funds for the construction of the second gate and the various plazas that are being built. There are also plans for building a Confucius Plaza, a Chinese Zodiac Plaza and a Duarte walkway, where visitors can stroll through and enjoy the sights and sounds of the community.

Rosa Ng, Flor Para Todos President
President of the Flor Para Todos Foundation Rosa Ng explains that this Chinatown is different from any other one in the world because of the circumstances that have brought it to light. As one of the driving forces behind the project, Ng thought that a Chinatown would be a great way to honor her father’s legacy and the legacy of the many Chinese people who have contributed to the wider Dominican community. She also says that the Chinatown project is more than just a collection of beautiful statues but an ambitious plan that seeks to take the concept of Chinatown into the 21st century.

Besides being a new tourist attraction and business and job generator for the city of Santo Domingo, the hope is that it will bring the wider Dominican community closer to the Chinese community. Also, this Chinatown has an environmental element to it because of the conscious effort to focus on sustainability and causing the least amount of environmental damage possible. Add to this the fact that this Chinatown will be one of the few in Latin America. Only Cuba, Panama, Peru, Argentina and Mexico have areas dedicated to the Chinese communities, although there are thousands of people of Chinese origin in the region. The Barrio Chino, in the simplest form is a representation of how the community, though vastly different, has been accepted by Dominicans, and the Barrio Chino is a way for the Chinese community to show its appreciation for the hospitality and friendship Dominicans have showed towards them since 1864.

A secondary benefit of the Chinatown project is the revitalization of this part of the city. As part of the development of the area, abandoned buildings are being remodeled, businesses are being asked to improve the quality of the products they provide, increased police patrolling has become more evident and the goal is to create an area in the city where Dominicans can enjoy an outing at an affordable price.

The future
Although the initial Barrio Chino project includes a variety of installations that should be completed by December 2007, there is a larger goal for Santo Domingo’s Chinatown. The next steps in the development of the area include a theater, a museum of Chinese history, a Chinese language school, and a Chinese clinic dedicated to Eastern medicines. These projects have been started, in some way or another, on a small scale.

There are many obstacles still to be overcome, but what has been done here, once finished, will be a model for other Chinatowns in the region, not only in the physical sense, but in the cultural sense as well.

*Additional historical information taken from:
"Historia de la migracion China en Republica Dominicana" by Lic. Jose Chez Checo and Dr. Mu Kien Adriana Sang, which was referenced in a paper by Graciela Azcarate.
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