International Workers’ Unity-Fourth International
In an attack on democratic rights that shows the acceleration of the decomposition of the Dominican regime, the municipal elections scheduled for February 16th of this year were suspended a few hours after they began. A massive fraud through the manipulation of the equipment for electronic voting, which was to be implemented in the municipalities that concentrate 62% of the voters, was aborted. In at least half of the voting centers, the electronic ballots were defective because they did not show one or more of the opposing candidates. The Central Electoral Board (JCE), surrounded by complaints and protests, suspended the elections.
This fact reflects the weakness of the regime led by the PLD, which has governed in five of the last six presidential periods, the last four consecutively. The failure of President Danilo Medina’s re-election attempt and the division of the PLD after the primary elections in October last year placed them on the verge of electoral defeat, both in the municipal elections in February and in the presidential elections scheduled for May. In desperation, the government tried to perpetrate a major fraud but its internal divisions led to a new disaster.
The Dominican Republic has a long tradition of electoral fraud since the OAS-endorsed U.S. invasion in 1965. The fraudulent elections of 1966 initiated the twelve years of pro-imperialist dictatorship by Joaquin Balaguer. In the 1978 elections, the Balaguer regime was defeated, but perpetrated fraud in the election of deputies and senators to protect the outgoing dictatorship. In 1990 and 1994, once again the PRSC of Balaguer carried out scandalous frauds to win the presidential elections.
With the PLD in power, the manipulation of the elections has become systematic by buying votes and putting pressure on public employees. As in most Latin American bourgeois democracies, electoral legislation prevents the participation in elections of workers’ and popular organizations that do not have hundreds of thousands of dollars. Corruption is also rampant in the electoral institution, which in 2016 invested $40 million in the largely unsuccessful automation of voting, and again more than $20 million in 2020 that was entirely wasted.
PLD leader Temistocles Montas, who was involved in the Odebrecht corruption scandal, blamed the opposition for sabotaging the election. Applying this policy, the repressive bodies arrested one of the escorts recently assigned by the government to opposition presidential candidate Luis Abinader of the PRM, as well as a technician from the Claro telecommunications company, accusing them of conspiring to sabotage the elections. Both of them claim to have been tortured during their detention. Published telephone communications between them indicate that they knew about and questioned the manoeuvres of security agents in the service of the government to manipulate voting equipment.
The OAS, true to its anti-democratic and pro-imperialist tradition, has played a shameful role of complicity with the attempted fraud. Its observers have not published any reports on the irregularities of the electoral process. The mission, led by former Chilean President Eduardo Frei, has limited itself to calls for dialogue. In spite of this, the PRM and FP parties have insisted that the OAS audit the failed electoral process, demonstrating that together with the PLD they are guarantors of the capitalist order and that their main concern is to prevent popular indignation from being expressed in the streets. Part of the behind-the-scenes negotiation is the increase in the allocation of financial resources by the State to the parties for the prolongation of the campaign, for which there would already be an agreement.
The fraud and subsequent attempts to cover it up have increased popular repudiation. After the popular protests in East Santo Domingo and San Francisco de Macoris on the day of the failed election, self-convened protests have been held in the capital and the interior, which have grown to bring together thousands of people nationwide demanding the removal of the JCE leadership, and increasingly the departure of President Danilo Medina himself. The bosses’ opposition, led by PRM, however, responded to the JCE’s call for a meeting in which the elections were rescheduled for March 15, with manual voting only, and continues to call for a political pact with the government. Unable to confront the government, they leave the door open for a new electoral fraud.
We accompany the slogans raised by our comrades of the Socialist Workers’ Movement of the Dominican Republic:
Jail those guilty of the fraud! Out with the JCE and its accomplices from the OAS!
Clean elections open to the participation of all organizations!
For a coordination of workers’ and popular organizations that together with the left will put itself at the forefront of the struggle with its own independent program!
No to the political pact proposed by the PRM and its allies! Out with Danilo and the PLD! Let the working people govern!
February 20, 2020