LAWRENCE, MA — On Saturday, December 15, a large gathering of Dominicans participated in a walk in the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts. They were demonstrating against what they called ‘El Paquetazo’ or a tax hike, the fiscal hole, corruption and impunity in their country, the Dominican Republic. The starting point was Broadway Haverhill streets.
Once it ended, dozens of protesters were seen in one of the busiest intersections of the city, the corners of Broadway and Essex Street standing on the four corners. While participants chanted slogans, passing vehicles sounded their horns in solidarity.
It accuses the former President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), from mishandling of the national budget, violating the constitution. That fiscal hole represents a deficit of $225 billion pesos (about U.S. $5,756 billion).
Increasingly, civil society sectors are demanding that the former president goes to court and explains how his administration handled the country’s treasury management. Equally, it is required that other government officials who have been accused of corruption, go to court. This deficit has been the excuse of the current government, Danilo Medina, to approve a tax hike that will affect from January 2013 all Dominicans.
However, it has shown no signs of recovering the money taken by several notorious state officials. On the contrary, the President has called for a ‘clean slate,’ i.e. the impunity that has so damaged against the development of the Dominican Republic.
Participants in the “March for Dignity” came from various cities. Several of them confessed that they had never participated in political activities and that this was the first time they did. They felt that it was time to change the country from going the wrong direction with regard to corruption, impunity and crime. One could observe the participation of women and youth.
At one point, Pedro Payano-Safadit addressed the crowd thanking them for their participation while congratulating them for daring to defy the cold, low temperatures, and for demonstrating a high patriotic spirit.
He noted that “this struggle is just beginning to straighten the country.” He said, “Next year when the grocery basket costs more thanks to the effect of the tax ‘paquetazo,’ the Dominicans in the Diaspora also have to pay the piper because we will have to send more remittances to our families.”
Some of the slogans were: “Leonel, Najayo is waiting for you,” “The corrupt to jail,” “By popular decree the people canceled the clean slate,” “Corruption is perversion and impoverishes the nation,” “It’s time, wake up,” “Stealing is forbidden, the government does not want competition.”
After the protest, they sang the national Dominican Anthem.
For more information about Project Duartiano, contact Pedro Payano by calling 978-509-4838 (M) I DARE YOU!