SANTO DOMINGO – Thousands of Dominicans marched on Sunday in Santo Domingo to repudiate corruption and impunity for corrupt acts, one of the main ills affecting the Caribbean nation.
The “End Impunity” march drew thousands of people from different social strata and different parts of the country, most of them dressed in green.
The protest is part of an initiative coinciding with the investigation opened by Dominican authorities into the alleged paying of bribes by Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht to gain access to Dominican contracts.
The marchers set out from the intersection of the capital’s downtown 27 de Febrero and Maximo Gomez avenues and made their way toward the National Palace.
However, when they attempted to approach the government headquarters the marchers came face to face with a police contingent that prevented them from staging the “civic parade” they had planned at the site.
Thus, they had to shift their route and take another street to move toward Independence Park, where the Altar to the Fatherland is located and where the remains of the country’s founding fathers rest, and it was there that the march came to an end.
The march was convened by a group of social organizations and received support from well-known Dominican radio and television figures who are demanding punishment for everyone who has engaged in acts of corruption in the country’s recent governments.
“We’re here taking on a civic duty and demanding that the corrupt people pay for their deeds,” Alexandra Montero, an attorney who participated in the march, told EFE.
Another participant, Jhonatan Perez, a young university student, told EFE that he decided to march “to demand that the corrupt ones be brought to justice and pay back all they have stolen to a people who are dying of hunger.”
Also participating in the march were assorted politicians, including former presidential candidate for the main opposition Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), Luis Abinader, who lost the May 2016 election to current President Danilo Medina.
Also on hand was former Vice President Milagros Ortiz Bosch, also with the PRM, who said that with the march “the people are sending a message to the branches of the state that the time has come to change.”
According to documents published on Dec. 21 by the US Justice Department, Odebrecht paid approximately $788 million in bribes in 12 countries, $92 million of which was handed out in the Dominican Republic to secure contracts over almost two decades.
Odebrecht promised to pay $184 million in economic compensation to the Dominican Republic, the country’s general prosecutor, Jean Alain Rodriguez, announced on Friday, adding that the firm would be temporarily declared ineligible to bid on any public works projects.