By the Communist Party of Labor (PCT), Dominican Republic.
Notes on the situation
In this political period in the country, leaders of the PLD (Party of Dominican Liberation1), former officials of the government of Danilo Medina (2012-2020), have been arrested on charges of corruption by the Attorney General’s Office. This is the most relevant political issue. Popular opinions, debates and demonstrations are taking place. Among other things, former President Danilo Medina and at the time of the government of Leonel Fernández and his officials must be included in the investigations. Also the corrupt members of the current government can already be seen. This is happening in a pre-election year. The PCT (Communist Party of Labor) is participating actively in this process, with particular interest in popular demonstrations, where it must develop a democratic and left-wing political proposal.
Since 1978 the Dominican electoral experience shows that when a party comes to office and does not meet the expectations of its voters, they vote for the one that this government succeeded, the immediately previous one. This is especially the case when there is no new option with significant possibilities of coming to power.
If this is the case, the disaffection towards the current party-government would go to any of the heads of the PLD2, and this should not be the case. Thus, it is our historic responsibility to build an electoral political option that contests the power of the current party-government and avoids going backward.
In this sense, it must be understood that there is an electoral space being contested, between the new option that is being built, and the PLD in either of its two versions, pro-Leonel or neo-Danilo3. Although today they are two different parties, it could be said that both formed the model of 20 years of PLD government, so they have in common the corruption protected by the justice system at their service.
Right now, in today’s situation, Leonelism can be seen as a corridor through which the masses of the purple party (PLD) can escape from the persecution of the public ministry.
In essence, Leonelism and Daniloism have formed a model of government administration, with essentially the same behavior, and that was built processually and continuously in the governments that each presided over.
The distancing of voters from the current government will either lead to a new option, or to the PLD model of government.
That is why, in this electoral contest, the 20-year PLD model of government is the main target. The question is understanding that a new option of power must be built and prevent that model from leading to disenchantment with the current government, recycling and re-administering public affairs.
Who is threatening to take away our space? It is a pertinent question that must be answered much more pertinently, so as not to miss the target.
After the government of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) led by Dr. Salvador Jorge Blanco (1982-1986), which we confronted with determination and just cause, what happened was something we never foresaw and which in fact we had ruled out since the victory of that party in 1978. What was it? The return of the Social Christian Reformist Party (PRSC) of Dr. Joaquín Balaguer to the government (1966-1978 and then 1986-1996).
We fought until that government wore out, but we did not build the political alternative, and Joaquín Balaguer, whom we had helped to oust from power in 1978, returned as the alternative of a large popular majority.
The Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) of Professor Juan Bosch gained an opening in public life by consistently combating corruption in the governments of that time, mainly those of the PRD; until it won the presidency of the Republic in 1996, with Dr. Leonel Fernández at the head.
From there, he began the growing practice of illicit use of public resources; he also worked on creating a cover of impunity for this, through the elimination in fact of the essential attributes of the Republic.
Little by little, the separation of the powers of the State came to nothing, and more than that, it was also co-opting through petty theft, buying off social leaders with public money, and splitting those organizations that resisted being co-opted. The PLD turned many trade unionists and democratic organizations into supporters of its governments.
This aimed at governing continuously at least until 2044, when the bicentennial of the Republic would be commemorated; this was proposed by Dr. Leonel Fernández in a speech delivered on January 26, Duarte Day4, in 2014 on the occasion of the installation of the Central Committee Norge Botello elected at the VIII congress of the PLD.
He would repeat that purpose at a political conference held in Madrid, Spain, in November of that same year.
This was a planned and growing process, under a capricious interpretation of Bosch’s thesis of “dictatorship with popular support.”5 In the final years of the government of Danilo Medina (2012-2020), he had already become a Regime. Thus is what you would call a government in which, without officially or formally abrogating the constitution of the Republic, the president, at the head of the Executive Power, puts the justice and the legislative branches under his total control.
The formation of the justice system and its absolute control would be the guarantee that the 20-year model of PLD government would be able to carry out a daring, unscrupulous and scandalous practice of accumulation of wealth by its officials in office through the basis of the public treasury.
“They passed over, their hand went away… they went crazy,” is the popular saying referring to the officials pointed out by Operation Calamar, undertaken by the Attorney General’s Office, according to which they appropriated 19 billion pesos ($365,384 USD at the current exchange rate) of State funds, in just one year.
This was scandalous for the amount, the period and the time in which they did it. 19 billion pesos in an election year in which the possibility of leaving office was at stake, and they did everything unspeakable to retain it, contravening the official electoral regulations.
But the previous ones, in the period of Leonel Fernández, were no less scandalous. The only thing was that in that time the nation’s budget was almost 350 billion pesos in 1997; reaching 430 billion in the years 2004-2012, in which he was also head of the government.
What was diverted to particular purposes would correspond to the size of the national budget. Proportionate to this, what was then the corrupt practice of officials of the time was also “scandalous.”
Moreover, including only those facts reported, during the governments of Leonel Fernández the sum of 36 billion pesos ($900 million at the rate of 40 to 1 in those times) was considered embezzled. This was about 10% of the national budget in 1997. And it is 8.38% of what the 2012 budget was.
Not including the “fiscal hole” of 187 billion pesos in 2012, nor the $137,000 of “Aduanazo II,” nor the bribes in dollars for the Toucan planes purchased from Brazil; nor the accusation of the 35 billion that moved in Public Works in contracts with Odebrecht; etc.
In the administration of Danilo Medina, the budget was multiplied many times over, — 108.1% — it reached 711 billion.
The greater the amount of money managed, the greater the amount diverted to private pockets.
The essence to be considered is the common practice of both Leonel and Danilo, and the use of the justice system to protect them both. That is why we can speak of a PLD model of government administration.
Since he took office in 1996, the enrichment of a broad section of the PLD has been evident. More and more often it was said that part of the PLD leadership had formed its own economic group, competing in the amount of money held with the groups of the traditional families, some of which began to hoard wealth at the end of the 19th century.
That is why he no longer needed those groups from the old oligarchy to finance his electoral campaigns.
The Sun Land cases, the Toucan planes; “Aduanazo I of Santiago” in 2010; the dubious enforcement in OPRET [Office for the Reordering of Transport], in charge of building the Metro in Santo Domingo; the “fiscal hole” made by the government of Leonel Fernández to finance the 2012 electoral campaign in favor of the candidate Danilo Medina, which came to prominence in 2013 when he was already this president of the Republic. When he was called on by the people to initiate proceedings to punish this act, he freed his comrades from the previous government saying: “I am not going to throw stones backwards.”
Scandals of corruption and abuses appeared in the Office of Supervisory Engineers of State Works (OISOE), brought to light by the protest suicide by the architect David Rodríguez García in 2015, among many other cases.
Over the 12 years of Leonel Fernández’s government (1996-2000 and 2004-2012), there were dozens of accusations of acts of corruption, accusations that continued non-stop in the governments of Danilo Medina (2012-2020).
Almost all the cases reported and investigated by prosecutors’ offices, ended in “definitively shelved.” “There is no merit because of insufficient evidence” or “there was no crime according to the Criminal Code,” according to the decision of the judges appointed for such occasions.
There was no punishment, because the PLD officials created public policies and practice to obtain economic benefits at the expense of the public treasury, and at the same time they arranged the justice system to protect themselves.
Faced with this monstrous reality, in 2014, after an exhaustive investigation into dubious management of resources in the Ministry of Public Works, and the Judge of the Fourth Criminal Chamber of the National District having ordered “the definitive shelving of the case,” Yeni Berenice Reynoso, Prosecutor of the National District at that time, said in the social media a judgement of what that justice system represented. She said with much propriety and responsibility worthy of praise: “18 months of investigation, hundreds of pieces of evidence, but it is judicially forbidden to prosecute corruption.”
Today, the Dominican people, with their struggle seen in Marcha Verde (Green March), have won an independent Attorney General’s Office, whose incumbent, Mrs. Miriam Germán, enjoys a moral authority earned in a long academic, judicial and civic career. From her we can expect a firm attitude in the investigation and bringing to judgement cases of corruption, yesterday and today, about which there are already public demonstrations in one or another area of the current government, and that must be investigated and condemned.
Thus, one can expect that electoral disaffection with the dominant parties and their governments will continue. It is the duty to form a different political option in favor of a new era in the country. It should not be 20 years of the PLD model.
The policy approved by the PCT at its 10th Congress aims toward building this new left-wing political option, and works for that purpose, with important advances.
1. Party of Dominican Liberation, founded in 1973. It came to office in 1996 through an alliance with the Social Christian Reformist Party of Dr. Joaquín Balaguer. For years it claimed to be on the left, and was even a member of the Forum of São Paulo and claimed to be part of the same current as Ignacio Lula Da Silva, Rafael Correa and Evo Morales.
2. Derivation of the membership of the PLD.
3. Tendencies of Leonel Fernández and Danilo Medina within the PLD. Both were presidents of the Republic for that party in several periods, and each developed their own forces. Their governments were marked by corruption. They split in 2020, over who would be the leader of the party. The PLD was in the hands of Danilo Medina, although he was not a candidate; and Leonel Fernández formed the Force of the People, and was a candidate. Both claim the tradition of the PLD and Professor Juan Bosch (deceased) as their mentor and guide, and compete to lead the opposition to the current government of the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), which is a majority derivation of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD).
4. Refers to the date of birth of Juan Pablo Duarte, founder of the Dominican Republic. It is an official holiday in the country.
5. Thesis written and promoted by Professor Juan Bosch in 1969; in which he argued that the government of the Dominican Republic which he stated should supersede the system of “representative democracy” and rely on unions, clubs and other social organizations. He always made clear that it had nothing to do with the dictatorship of the proletariat proposed by the communists; nor that it would be the result of a revolution. When the PLD came to power in 1996, it began to dust off that and other theses, and leaders such as Hugo Chávez at times declared that this thesis was their guide.
Categories: Dominican Republic, International