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Dominicans In Miami Celebrate Independence Day While Protests On The Island Continue

People demonstrate outside the Central Electoral Board in Santo Domingo on February 17, 2020, the day after electronic voting systems failed forcing authorities to suspend municipal elections across the country.

Last month, the Dominican Republic suspended municipal elections when officials realized the electronic voting machines were malfunctioning. Protests followed in front of the Central Elections Board building and throughout the country. In Miami, protests held in solidarity with the Dominicans were held Downtown.

Credit Courtesy Karol Vargas
Last month people in the Dominican Republic took to the streets in Santo Domingo to protest election malfunctions.

This weekend a festival in Downtown Doral celebrated the country’s independence day, but not everyone wanted to talk politics.

Peter Landestoy organized the event, which was full of food and dancing. He said he wanted to keep politics separate from the celebration.

“This is not the scenario in order to expose that. We want to show how Dominicans abroad or the Diaspora can get along and show respect to people that gave their life for independence,” he said.

But the political unrest was on the minds of some Dominicans like Karol Vargas, who lives in Miami and has family in the Dominican Republic. He was visiting them when a protest formed in Santo Domingo.

“The youth was the largest demographic at the protest and that shows that this could really be the signs of change like real change in the country,” Vargas said.

Vargas said there was a feeling of hope during the protest. 

“The chant that kept going on was we’re not hungry for food we’re hungry for justice liberty and democracy,” he said.

The elections are now scheduled for March 15, two months before the country votes for their next president. Meanwhile, the automated voting systems are being audited by the Organization of American States. But Vargas said it’s too late for his family, they lost trust in the government a long time ago. 

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