BEIRUT – A large banner of Luis Abinader welcomes the visitors of Baskinta, a small Lebanese town of 15,000 inhabitants who are proud of their connection to the elected president of the Dominican Republic.
Botros Abi Nader, an 89-year-old retired pilot, gets comfortable in the balcony of his home as he recalls the tales his father told him.
“My grandfather used to hide inside the tiny cave in the mountain when the Ottomans came looking for him,” he tells EFE.
His grandfather and Abinader’s were brothers. They lived in Baskinta after World War I, when many people decided to leave the area as the Ottomans approached.
The Abi Naders were among those celebrating Abinader’s win on July 5 in Baskinta.
“The family celebrated the news with joy but also a bit of sadness because they were never able to meet their family members that were forced to flee Lebanon in World War I. Some decided to emigrate, others to stay,” he says.
Amal Abi Nader had to go through the family history book she got from her father to find her blood relation with elected president Abinader.
“My father did not know anything about his uncle, who is the father of president Luis. Back then they waited for letters to hear from people, they stopped hearing from them,” Amal, 68, tells EFE.
“I feel very honored that the president of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader is one of Baskinta’s sons, it’s an honor and reason for joy,” she adds.
The elect-president visited the city in 2017, a brief stop in a business trip that did not leave time for meeting people due to his tight schedule, and some, like Botros, could not meet him because they were not in town.
“When he came to Lebanon in 2017, he wanted to see the town, where his grandparents were born and to get to know the village. We felt how proud he was of his town and origin,” vice president of the Baskinta municipality, Sabee Amin Abou Haidar, tells EFE.
“We in Baskinta are very proud of him and it is not the first time people from Baskinta reach very high positions in several countries within Latin America, especially in Brazil.”
It is one of the few good news they have received in this town, which has not escaped Lebanon’s great crisis that has led to protests demanding a change in the county’s system.
“With this beautiful news, a light of hope came and filled the hearts of people, making them feel that despite the pain and suffering, they have a place in this world,” he adds.
On the balcony of his home, in one of the most mountainous areas of Lebanon, Abu Haidar shows his disappointment with the political situation and takes advantage of the political comparison to highlight the opportunities Lebanese find in other places.
“In Lebanon, regarding corruption, there are obstacles the Lebanese people are facing and I hope we get a good outcome with the reform Lebanon is going through now and everyone gets what they deserve and the worthy reach positions that they deserve.”
Botros is hoping to “organize an invitation for Luis Abinader to visit Baskinta again and meet his relatives.”
The entire city shares Brotos’ feeling, with the banner at its entrance reading “Baskinta is proud of her son, Dr. Luis Abu Nader, elected President of the Dominican.”