SANTO DOMINGO – Thousands of Dominicans took on Sunday to the streets of Santo Domingo demanding justice in the Odebrecht case, in which the Brazilian construction giant confessed to having paid $92 million in bribes and kickbacks between 2001-2014.
The so-called “Million March” was organized by the “Green March” collective, which was formed in January 2017 after it was revealed that Odebrecht paid off as many as 14 people, of which only seven remain facing accusation.
Waving flags and banners with captions such as “End Impunity” and “Jail to Thieves,” demonstrators marched in a peaceful, family-friendly manner, mostly under the rain.
“There are a million reasons to march, fight and vanquish corruption and impunity,” professor Maria Teresa Cabrera, one of the organizers, told EFE.
According to Cabrera, the record presented by the Prosecutor’s Office leaves out the period “during which more than 67 percent of the bribes were paid,” as well as a list of current and former public officials and legislators implicated.
Demonstrators marched through one of the city’s main thoroughfares and gathered at the square where the Prosecutor’s Office, the Supreme Court and the (bicameral) National Congress buildings are located.
The march had support by an assortment of social organizations, as well as political parties, among which is the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), the country’s most important opposition group.
Dominican Justice Francisco Ortega began a preliminary hearing against the seven defendants, but postponed it until Aug. 21, when the Prosecutor is expected to hand in the evidence it claims to have against them.
The defendants are former Senate presidents Andres Bautista and Jesus Vasquez – both PRM militants – as well as businessman Angel Rondon, senator and ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) member Tommy Galan and former Minister of Public Works Victor Diaz Rua, also a PLD militant.
Diaz Rua’s alleged straw man, attorney Conrado Pittaluga, is also on the list, as well as former senator Roberto Rodriguez, of PRM affiliation.