In the Dominican Republic, four weeks of demonstrations to defend democracy

In Santo Domingo, February 23.
In Santo Domingo, February 23. RICARDO ROJAS / REUTERS

"Outside thieves disguised as leaders", "Since when dictatorship is a democracy? "," You will have the truth and it will set you free "… For the past four weeks, the Dominicans have been mobilizing daily in Santo Domingo and in other large cities of the country, carrying signs and typing in pans. On Friday March 13, on the eve of a weekend of municipal elections, they were still on the street to defend democracy.

Protests started after Sunday February 16. On that day, the organization responsible for organizing the elections, the Central Election Junta (JCE), announced the cancellation of the municipal elections, four hours after the opening of the polling stations. In question: a technical problem on the electronic voting terminals. Some parties did not appear among the voters' choices.

This new voting system was tested for the first time in 18 of the country's 158 municipalities, in preparation for the presidential and legislative elections on May 17. However, the affected communities hosted 60% of the country's electorate, including the inhabitants of Santo Domingo. The same evening, dozens of demonstrators gathered in the huge Plaza de la Bandera to demand the resignation of the judges of the JCE and an independent inquiry into the cancellation of the elections.

Pan concert

This is a first in a country which has organized democratic elections since the end of the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in 1961, despite episodes of fraud during the presidency by Joaquín Balaguer in the 1990s. The small island state of eleven million inhabitants, which has found political stability in recent decades, has the largest economic growth in Latin America and the Caribbean, with 7% in 2018, d after the World Bank.

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Despite the rapid announcement of the postponement of municipal elections to Sunday, March 15, for a new poll "Extraordinary", mobilization has increased. Every evening at 8 pm, the noise of the “cacerolazo” (concert of saucepans) resounds in Santo Domingo. "We will continue until we have an explanation of what happened on February 16", explains Ingrid Luciano, protester and young theater teacher in Santo Domingo, contacted by phone. Thousands of people flocked to Plaza de la Bandera on February 27, the country's Independence Day. Several very popular artists, such as Juan Luis Guerra, Rita Indiana or Vicente Garcia gave concerts in support of the demonstrators.


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