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Student Dies in Protests in Dominican Republic

In the wake of the Fiscal Reform submitted to the National Congress, which was met with strong disapproval by civil society, the business sector and trade unions, various movements in opposition to the bill have been organized [es]. Demonstrations have been taking place since the 4th of October, when the draft bill was announced. However, since Tuesday the 6th of November, citizens have increased the intensity of their protests, with daily numbers up.

On Thursday, the 8th of November, the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, the sole public university in the country, was the scene of one of these anti-government protests. But as is customary—and in spite of different regulations which prohibit it—students were confronted by a unit of armed police,  culminating in the death of 21-year-old William Florián Ramírez [es], a third-year medical student, hit by a bullet to the chest.

El estudiante asesinado, Willy Florian, siendo llevado por encapuchados fuera de la zona de disturbios.

Killed student, Willy Florián, as he was taken away from the disturbances by hooded individuals. This image has been widely disseminated over the Internet.

The indignation took little time to be felt on social networks and on pirate radio. Civic leader Elizabeth Mateo, popularly known as the leader of the fight to get 4% of GDP spent on education, published the following on Twitter:

@ElizabethMateo: Condeno la muerte del estudiante de la UASD. Exijo justicia.

@ElizabethMateo: I condemn the killing of the UASD student. I demand justice.

Likewise, investigator, consultant and columnist Olaya Dotel, stated:

Young man calls for civil mobilization.

Young man calls for civil mobilization. Taken from the page of the Bonó Centre and reproduced with permission.

@OlayaDotel: Los corruptos que hoy controlan el Estado no valen una gota de sangre de nuestros jóvenes… Ni uno más!!!

@OlayaDotel: These corrupt individuals in control of the State are not worth a drop of the blood of our young people…not one more!!!

The controversy has spread so far that René, vocalist in the popular Puerto Rican group Calle 13, commented on the incident:

@Calle13Oficial: El mundo está mirando a República Dominicana esperando que se haga justicia por el asesinato del joven estudiante de medicina Willy Warden!

@Calle13Oficial: The world is looking at the Dominican Republic, hoping that justice will be done for the death of the young medical student Willy Warden!

All of these incidents have taken place as it was revealed that, during the precarious economic conditions and high social tension the country is currently facing,

Young people hold up signs outside the National Congress, in protest against the Fiscal Reform.

Young people hold up signs outside the National Congress, in protest against the Fiscal Reform.Taken with permission from the page of the Bonó Centre and reproduced with their permission.

the Minister of Education, Josefina Pimentel, increased her own salary by 62% [es], from RD$185,000.00 to RD$300,000.00 a month, equivalent to USD $7,500.00.

The fusion of these and other trigger issues, far from discouraging protestors, has renewed their revolutionary spirit. A group of around 100 people, including public figures and media, congregated in front of the buildings of the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development [es] (FUNGLODE), an institution set up by former president Leonel Fernández Reyna, who is deemed responsible for having bankrupted the nation during his eight years in power (see video here) [es].

Protestors placed candles in the street and sang their condemnation in unison, at the top of their lungs. Twitter was the medium which gave the most coverage to the event, with Twitterers grouping themselves together under the hashtag #FrenteaFunglode. Reporter Maribel Hernández shared this from her Twitter account:

@MaribelNexos: Policía Nacional una banda criminal, vocifera la masa #FrenteaFunglode.

@MaribelNexos: The National Police, a criminal gang, shouts the #FrenteaFunglode crowd.

@MaribelNexos: La masa grita La Fundación Global verguenza nacional.  #FrenteaFunglode #FrenteaFunglode

@MaribelNexos: The crowd is screaming Global Foundation, national shame. #FrenteaFunglode #FrenteaFunglode

But things don't stop there. Both civil organizations and individuals have flooded the Internet with a grand display of creativity, via numberless ads and images against the pro-government party and the current administration, such as those displayed below. In the same vein, various mobilizations at all levels were planned for Friday, the 9th of November, as well as for the rest of the week. I leave you with some of the calls to protest and examples of graphical artwork focused on the events.

 http://youtu.be/S6IskZCANfI

 

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