The Dominican opposition took to the streets this Sunday, in an unprecedented joint demonstration of thirteen political parties, to demand that the Government and the electoral authorities ensure that the next elections are fair and equitable.
The demonstration gathered thousands of people along the avenues of downtown Santo Domingo, under the flags and colors of their respective parties, which together add up to 88 of the 190 deputies of Parliament.
The caravan took place a week after a political crisis opened following the annulment of the municipal elections on February 16, due to an alleged technical failure in automated voting machines, which were used for the first time.
“It’s pa ‘out that they are going”, the loudspeakers installed by trucks organizers who livened up the march shouted insistently at the rhythm of meringue.
The expression, in this case, was a direct allusion to the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) of the president, Danilo Medina, a formation that has been in power uninterruptedly since 2004.
The former president Leonel Fernández, who left the PLD last October, and the opponent Luis Abinader, led the march, but did not participate in the main speeches and gave only brief statements to the press.
The march was convened in reaction to the annulment of the municipal elections a week ago, in an attempt by the opposition parties to channel the popular unrest towards the ruling party.
WE CLAIM THE GOVERNMENT
Opponents directly blamed the government for ordering the suspension of the elections, claiming that in this way it tried to avoid a defeat at this election date, which is key to the presidential and legislative elections next May.
“A blockade of the municipal elections was planned and executed when they saw that they would suffer at the polls one of the most dramatic rejections of Dominican electoral history,” denounced the opposition policy Faride Raful, when reading a joint manifesto of the thirteen forces.
The manifesto stressed that the alleged defeat of the ruling party at the polls would reflect the “fatigue” that Dominican society has been showing “by the abuses of the State, by citizen insecurity, the growth of inequality” and “by the most high levels of corruption and impunity. ”
Likewise, the opponents presented a manifesto with ten claims in order to “recover credibility and confidence” in the elections, guaranteeing that they are fair and equitable.
Among those demands, the parties demanded that the government party cease to take advantage of its position of power and the economic resources of the State to take advantage of the elections and favor its candidates.
Specifically, they called for officials to stop campaigning, to immediately suspend “all clientelist deals” and to cease all state publicity of a political nature.
In the same way, the opponents demanded a greater presence in the electoral boards and that the electoral crimes be pursued, especially the purchase of votes, a practice that is still common in the Dominican Republic.
AN ELECTORAL ACT?
The demonstration, in some moments, resembled an electoral act, since many of the attendees wore campaign clothes with the name of their candidates and the position they aspire to in the elections.
In fact, one of the formations that was going to participate in the march, the Alianza País party, which has a deputy, refused to go to it on the eve, claiming that some parties had “distorted” it.
Similarly, groups of young people who have promoted partisan protests in the last week were also unmarked from the call, gathering thousands of people daily in front of the headquarters of the electoral authority.
THE PROTESTS OF YOUNG PEOPLE
The summoners of those non-partisan protests, in which mostly young people participate, decided not to go out on the street this Sunday so as not to be confused with the opponents.
However, they organized three cacerolazos throughout the day, which could be heard in the wealthy sectors of the Dominican capital, as in the last two days.
Young people intend to resume their protests tomorrow in front of the headquarters of the Central Electoral Board (JCE).
Next Thursday, they aspire to organize a demonstration with hundreds of thousands of attendees, coinciding with the Independence Day of the Dominican Republic and with the speech to the nation that President Medina makes annually on that date.
The protests add uncertainty to the municipal elections, which will be repeated on March 15, and to the presidential and legislative elections of May 17, which will draw a new map of power in the Caribbean country.
Manuel Perez Bella