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    Posted November 8, 2012 by
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    Dominican Republic's Financial Crisis: Adding Insult To Injury


    The greatest corruption scandal in the Dominican Republic is going on right now, and the local press (for the most part) has remained silent.


    After a mandate characterized by rampant estate spending, politicians getting lavish houses and cars, pensions of about USD$12,500 a month for top party officials for four years of work while still having a thousand of dollars government job in another position (Minimum wage is still a bit over $200 a month), crazy salary hikes, blatant corporate cronyism and tax evasion, millions in government money to fund the official party's presidential campaign, among many other things, the party ends and the people have to pay the bill.


    The congress has approved a Fiscal Reform that is being largely rejected by the majority of people. It proposes raising taxes in general and taxing basic food items, as well as small internet purchases that were one of the few ways to circumvent the abusive local retailers (Currently people must pay double the online price + shipping for basically anything).


    Not a single politician has been put in jail or even tried, even those for whom there is incontrovertible evidence of ghastly instances of fraud and corruption. Today the reform was approved by a government controlled Congress in just 19 minutes with no room for debates. Dissenting congressmen were silenced and not given the opportunity to speak.


    Willy Wander Florián Ramírez, a medical student from Santo Domingo's UASD University, was killed during riots, and it is believed to be the first of several deaths in the near future. Ángela Moquete Méndez, a teacher in the town of Barahona, was also injured with bullets during a protest in that town.


    A central figure in the current situation is Leonel Fernandez, who until 84 days ago was the President of the Dominican Republic during twelve years. It is widely believed that he personally controls all of the State Powers: Government, Congress and Supreme Court. It is also assumed that he also controls most of the media. Many facts during his government have enraged Dominican citizens, such as countries like Canada giving him an award as Statesman of the Year and naming him "the Oracle of Santo Domingo," only due to allowing a Canadian-based gold mining corporation named Barrick to begin operations on the island, with very little concern over environmental issues.


    Another fact that seems suspicious to many is that Fernandez' wife, Margarita Cedeño de Fernández, is currently the Vice-President of the Caribbean nation. This has led a great number of citizens to raise concerns of cronyism, as well as Fernández' continued involvement in political affairs, despite his terms having officially ended.


    President Danilo Medina (who belongs to the PLD, the same political party as Fernández), voted into power earlier this year, has plans to leave the country on Tuesday, November 13th, while no plans to address the public in general have been made known. On Saturday, November 10th, he officially signed the Fiscal Reform into law and taking effect immediately, instead of in January as it was originally proposed.


    While the people were merely beginning to organize in order to manifest their discontent, another law was quickly approved by the Senate. This measure penalizes "insulting expressions" against the President, members of the Senate, and politicians in general, with up to two years in prison, as well as six to nine months of their salary absolutely retained by the Government.


    Several massively-attended protest manifestations have been planned throughout the island, including:


    — On the night of November 8th, many protesters met in front of the FUNGLODE building (Global Foundation for Development) to show their displeasure with the recent measures.


    — On November 9th at 6pm, protesters are meeting at Puerto Plata's Parque Central, and on the same day in Santiago, a manifestation is being planned at 5pm at its landmark Monumento.


    — In Santo Domingo, in the Parque Independencia (Independence Park), citizens are being invited to protest this Sunday, November 11th at 2pm. (A prior location of the Plaza de la Bandera (Plaza of the Flag) had been announced.)

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