Dominican medical student Willy Warden Florián Ramírez was shot dead on Nov. 8 as police attempted to break up a demonstration by students at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD) protesting a "fiscal reform" that the Chamber of Deputies passed that day. Police reportedly used tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition as masked students threw rocks at the agents and at passing cars. According to the human rights organization Amnesty International (AI), witnesses said police agents shot Florián and then used tear gas against people who tried to come to his aid. Police officials claim a video shows a masked protester firing at police agents. At least three other students, two police officers and a bus ticket collector were injured in the clashes. (El Diario-La Prensa, New York, Nov. 8, from correspondent, via La Opinión, Los Angeles; AP, Nov. 9, via Hoy, Dominican Republic; AI press release, Nov. 9)
Although the worst damage from Sandy took place in Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba, the storm also affected other parts of the Caribbean. One man died in Juana Díaz in southern Puerto Rico on Oct. 26 when he was swept away by a river swollen because of rain from the edges of the storm, and 3,500 homes were damaged in the Dominican Republic. Sandy hit the Bahamas after leaving Cuba, and one man was killed there. The total number of deaths from Sandy in the Caribbean islands was at least 68. (AP, Oct. 28, via Miami Herald) [The reported death toll in the US, which Sandy struck starting on Oct. 29, was 110 as of Nov. 4. (CNN, Nov. 4)]
The case of a pregnant 16-year-old Dominican with leukemia has reignited controversy over the amended 2010 Constitution's Article 37, which holds "that the right to life is inviolable from conception until death." The anti-abortion amendment was part of a series of constitutional changes pushed by rightwing forces; other amendments in the 2010 document ban same-sex marriage and limit citizenship to people with Dominican parents, in effect leaving many Dominicans of Haitian descent stateless.
Police agents stopped a group of Dominican youths of Haitian descent from marching on Aug. 13 in Monte Plata, in the central province of the same name, to demand that the government respect their rights as citizens. The protesters, members of the youth movement Reconoci.do, were trying to march from the city's central part to the local Civil Status office, the registry for identification documents. According to the group's spokesperson, Ana María Belique, the protesters applied for a permit from the Monte Plata government but were turned down on the grounds that they weren't Dominicans and had no right to demonstrate. When they attempted to march without a permit, a police contingent commanded by a Col. Antígua dispersed them with tear gas, arresting eight protesters. Three of those arrested were beaten by an agent from the robbery unit identified only as "Papo," who told them to hold their demonstrations in "their country."
Residents of the area around the city of Cotuí, the capital of the Dominican Republic's central province of Sánchez Ramírez, held a protest against the Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corporation on Aug. 8, charging that the company's giant Pueblo Viejo gold mine was contaminating drinking water and affecting residents' health and their crops. The residents also complained that the company's trucks had been causing accidents. Pueblo Viejo, constructed on the site of a state-owned mine shut down in 1999, is scheduled to open this month. Barrick Gold is the largest open-pit gold mining company in the world; it maintains 27 mines, in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Tanzania and the US. (Adital, Brazil, Aug. 8, from TeleSUR; Prensa Latina, Aug. 8)
The Pueblo Viejo gold mine in Cotuí in the Dominican Republic's central province of Sánchez Ramírez is starting operations this August, Jamie Sokalsky, CEO of the Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corporation, told investors on July 26. The new mine, on a site abandoned by the state enterprise Rosario Dominicana in 1999, will produce up to 125,000 ounces of gold this year and reach full capacity during 2013, Sokalsky said.