Dominicans Peacefully Protest for Transparency and Democracy
Peaceful protests have been going on in the Dominican Republic since the suspended elections.
Ana Fernandez Portela
Silenced voices. The wake-up call. Dominicans are now roaring with passion, vitality, and determination. The voices unite, everywhere in the world, with the same purpose: to peacefully protest, demanding transparency and reliable explanations about the suspended elections.
The awakening of an entire generation has occurred, and the voices are screaming, sharply, and powerfully: “SE VAN!”
On February 16, 2020, the Dominican Republic was having its municipal elections to elect all local government officials, with a supposed new and more reliable voting system. However, four hours through the elections, the machines presented “technical difficulties,” which resulted in suspended elections.
The renewed devices, which cost 19 million US dollars, and which came from the national budget, supposedly weren’t operating correctly. Dominicans are particularly concerned because one party, the Dominican Liberation Party, has held the presidency for almost all of the last 24 years.
They have enough money, stolen from the homeland, to bribe their ways through the electoral win, depicting a dictatorship dressed as a democracy.
After the suspended elections, the next days, hundreds, and later thousands of Dominicans gathered in front of the Central Electoral Board (Junta Central Electoral) in Santo Domingo, to demand answers about the suspended elections.
Although the protests were enticed by fury, it was passionately expressed with peace, as the crowds marched with pride, and sang their chants of freedom. However, the second day of protests, tear gas bombs were launched into the air by the opposing side to stop the protests.
This only seemed to ignite a higher intensity of anger and displeasure from Dominican citizens, prompting a response of global, rising protests. On February 19, 2020, an abundance of Dominicans all over the world from Madrid, Paris, New York, Toronto, and many other countries, joined the peaceful protests.
On February 23, leaders of political parties, some of which were the ones Dominicans were protesting against, asked their crowds to protest with them at the same place and time Dominicans were.
Thus, Dominicans decided to protest from home through cacerolazos: a form of protest which consists of making noise by banging pots and pans to peacefully call for attention.
Cacerolazo is my favorite type of protesting because Dominicans demonstrate how they don’t need to be seen, as they can always be heard. As the pans and pots are hit with fierceness, hearing them collectively is somehow hearing an apparent demand for change and a small grasp of freedom.
February 27 marked Dominican Republic’s 176th independence day anniversary, and the 12th consecutive day of peaceful protests. That day, a massive, historical and influential manifestation took place at La Plaza de la Bandera in Santo Domingo, and many more occurring all over the world, dubbed as Trabucazo 2020.
The word, trabucazo, comes from our independence day 176 years back. When a trabucazo was shot at the legendary Puerta de la Misericordia in Santo Domingo, the signal was given that the country was finally independent and free.
It was the first call to raise the flag with its legendary phrase ¡Dios, Patria y Libertad! It’s what defined the Dominican Republic as a nation. Back then, the young generation was protesting for freedom from Haiti, and now 176 years forward, everyone is joining the fight for democracy and justice.
When the protests were taking place, dejectedly, I had been traveling for spring break, but I was informed of what was happening. Although I yearned more than ever to be in my homeland to defend my nation and march for the democracy we all deserve, I made sure to help in the ways I could: by being conscious of what was happening and raising awareness of the issue through social media.
This article is one of my ways of doing so. I consider myself a passionate, pure Dominican, born and raised in the small Caribbean Island, known for its lively spirit, its peacefulness, and its people with a heart of gold. I became exhilarated when I saw the video of an enormous multitude of souls, who intensely crave change, which gathered to sing, “Dominicana, fuerte y valiente,” on our independence day.
I suffer seeing the injustices my country faces every day, and how they let cases like Odebrecht slip by because government officials are the ones behind it. I suffer seeing how many Dominicans have to flee their nation to have a better life.
And for the same reasons I suffer, the country suffers. And that is why, under the glaring intense sun, Dominicans marched for the dream that one day, people can leave the DR because they desire to, instead of fleeting it because they have to.
They marched for the idea of a better tomorrow, where no matter the social class, everyone is respected and served justly. They marched for the stop of corruption at all levels: the severe lack of funding from the health care and educational system, to the reduced use of the national budget to favor politicians and their family members.
They marched for electoral transparency and just democracy, where all rights are respected, and where anyone can aspire the future they long for.
Dominicans’ desire for change is more elevated than the clouds surrounding Pico Duarte. Their voices and chants for freedom can be heard across the oceans surrounding the glorified land. Their union is unbreakable.
They will win, because the nation has woken up, it’s conscious and aware, and they have decided that enough is enough. The world will hear Dominicans’ roar.
Ana Fernandez Portela