Quickly fulfilling a campaign promise, Mayor-elect Eric Adams is in the Dominican Republic, meeting with political and business leaders and pledging to create a strong relationship between the country and the nation’s largest city.
After attending a political conference in Puerto Rico with New York politicians, Adams arrived Sunday and traveled to Santiago De Los Caballeros, the country’s second-largest city which is considered a hub for new industries and business.
Upon arrival, he was greeted by a throng of local reporters at a gathering of prominent business leaders, developers and law-enforcement officials who hosted a reception for the incoming mayor.
“It surprises me that we have not had a mayor-elect visit the Dominican Republic from New York,” Adams said. “I am the first to do so.”
Dominicans are the largest Latino group living in New York City, with about 700,000 residents having direct roots in the Caribbean country.
Adams was accompanied by several members of his campaign as well as labor leader Henry Garrido, the head of District Council 37. Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez is leading the delegation and serving as Adam’s translator. Rodríguez is a Democrat who represents parts of Northern Manhattan, home to a large Dominican community in New York.
Over small bites of vegetables and glasses of wine, officials heaped praise on Adams for his win. They also stressed their desire to build economic partnerships with the city and pledged to work with the new mayor on his ideas for stronger collaboration.
Adams promised to create a student and cultural exchange program.
“Day one, January 2022 you’re going to see young people coming here you’re going to see business delegations and you’re going to see exchange in cultural programs,” he said.
Adams also said his administration will work with local business leaders in both countries to spur growth.
“We are a global city and we have not utilized our international appeal and I’m going to do that,” Adams said.
Meanwhile, Councilman Rodriguez got somewhat of a hero’s welcome in Santiago. He emigrated to the United States as a young man and washed dishes and drove a cab before eventually earning his degree to become a public school teacher.
“He’s my hermano, (my brother) I love when he tells his story over and over just like I do, he means a lot to me,” Adams said.
Sources say it’s possible Rodriguez will likely get a top position in Adams’ administration. The mayor-elect demurred when asked about that possibility.
“He meant a lot to me during the election and he’s going to mean a lot to me as we govern, because we need people to understand what we’re going through to get them out of those situations,” Adams said.
Adams has another full day of events ahead of him. He’s expected to meet President Luis Abinader and local politicians, including members of the Senate.