SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (ViaNews) – After years of a monumental struggle, the law that regulates the Dominican political parties has finally left the Congress towards its ultimate signature by the Dominican President, Danilo Medina.
According to the Dominican newspaper, Diario Libre, Bishop Masalles, of the Baní diocese stated that “We must give thanks for the approval of the Law of the Parties” with this piece of legislation this country begins to set rules aimed at regulating the political parties. He went on adding that “some like it and others do not“ but the rules are the rules and they benefit the country.
Additionally, this approval is a victory for the Danilo Medina sector of Congress. The Minister of the Interior and Police, Jose Ramón Fadil, added that the Constitution should be amended to allow for the reelection of Medina for four more years.
Dominican politics are well aware of the internal struggle and the declared political war between ex-President Leonel Fernandez and Medina.
The “Marcha Verde” Movement
In addition to the turmoil in the Liberation Party over these issues, the organizing committee of the “Marcha Verde” (Green March) has declared that the anti-corruption march will be carried out this Sunday (in remembrance of August 16 anniversary of the second Dominican Independence). It will be a public protest against corruption and impunity and will be carried out peacefully, The march is directed against Danilo Medina and his “corrupt government”.
The March for the End of Impunity, also known as the Green March or Green Movement, was an event first held on January 22, 2017, in Santo Domingo. The march was called by a conglomerate of civil society organizations demanding that all those implicated in corruption scandals be brought to justice. Its most prominent case is the Brazilian transnational company, Odebrecht, and the payment of bribes to officials of three Dominican governments, namely the administrations of Hipólito Mejía, Leonel Fernández, and Danilo Medina.
According to El Nacional, a Dominican Newspaper, the well-known left-wing leader, Narciso Isa Conde, requested a “massive backing” from diverse sectors of the Dominican society who are waiting for this opportunity to “repudiate and condemn President Danilo Medina and his government and the vile system of impunity that they currently head.”
Isa Conde spoke in the name of the left wing revolutionary Movement, Izquierda Revolucionaria (IR), the Movimiento de Acción Nacional Dominicano (MANDO), and other organizations. “From all across the country, people are determined. They come from their neighborhoods, communities, and towns, with all the means available,” she stated.
As reported by the Dominican Newspaper Listin Diario, the Green March spokesperson, Carlos Jimenez Briceño, stated that “this march is necessary because we need to put an end to corruption and impunity. It’s about time to end political delinquency.”
Another of the Green March organizers, Maria Teresa Cabrera, said that “today´s march is a cry of the Dominican people to demand an independent judicial system.”
What Changes in the Political Parties Law Landscape
The Political Party bill is now in the National Palace ready for the President´s signature which would institute the “open” primary system in the political process in the country.
Following the alleged corruption landscape over the last years, big parties were left in dire straits. One such example is the PLD where Fernandez and Medina struggle for the leadership of the party. Corruption cases such as the ones related to Odebrecht reinforced the conviction, among Dominicans, that there is massive corruption going on in the political system.
Open primaries means one of the parties main functions is removed. The recruitment of members for the selection of candidates becomes unnecessary. The end result is that it mobilizes a larger number of people, being that sympathizers are now included. Only four countries in the region contemplate this model: Argentina, Chile, Honduras, and Uruguay.
According to the Dominican Newspaper, Diario Libre, the bill on the Political Parties and Political Groups is going forward with a majority favoring President Danilo Medina´s sector in the Chamber of Deputies sub-commission and is now moving to full approval in the bi-cameral session.
Votes in favor were cast by congresswoman Miriam Cabral, of the Medina sector, the spokesperson for the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), whose leader, Miguel Vargas, is the Foreign Minister of Medina´s government, and the spokesperson of the Reformist Social Christian Party (PRSC), Máxima Castro Silvério.
The PLD response
Dominguez Brito, presidential candidate for the PLD criticized ex-President Leonel Fernandez because he thinks it’s a serious error “to not desire compulsory primaries.“ He accused Fernandez of opposing the internal democracy in the Dominican Liberation Party and “thus suggesting that all decisions are a result of agreements, damaging to the country, a result of negotiations for the election of party candidates”.
Even within the ruling PLD grave discrepancies exist. One question remains, how will the Dominican party system survive?