Another general strike in Dominican Republic

At least 10 people were injured and 55 arrested during an 24-hour general strike Oct. 2 in the Dominican Republic called by the Alternative Social Forum (FSA), a coalition of grassroots organizations. The groups were demanding higher wages for civil service workers, police and the military; a reduction in the prices of food and medicines; a halt to evictions; and changes in the Hydrocarbon Laws.

The FSA called participation in the strike “overwhelming.” The coalition’s spokespeople said the strike was 85% effective nationally and almost total in the south and in the northern Cibao region, especially in Santiago. This was a democratic plebiscite, they said, because a majority of the population observed the strike call without threats of reprisals against those who didn’t honor it. The government didn’t offer an estimate of participation in the strike, but media reports called the strike partially successful in the capital and in Santo Domingo province but more effective in other parts of the country. The day was largely peaceful, but the police reported that a number of people were injured by homemade bombs and by firearms.

The government had maneuvered to weaken the strike before it began. President Leonel Fernandez met with owners and union leaders in the transportation section and got them to withdraw their support for the strike. Police appeared to be aggressive in arresting strike supporters, both on Oct. 2 and earlier. FSA spokesperson Victor Geronimo charged that activist Luis Felipe Rivas was arrested on Sept. 29 and was held in prison for posting fliers about the strike. Geronimo said actions would continue throughout October, with a picket at the office of the Agricultural Institute on Oct. 9, a picket at the National Congress on Oct. 12, and an assembly on Oct. 13 to plan the next steps. (El Nacional, Santo Domingo, Oct. 3; El Diario-La Prensa, Oct. 3)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Oct. 7

See our last post on the Dominican Republic