July 9, 2009
Calls for better infrastructure and government services have intensified after an elderly woman died of respiratory failure yesterday, which reports indicate was the result of police use of tear gas against protestors in the province of Santiago. Colonel Jesus Cordero Parderes, the regional police spokesman, denied accusations that the police used tear gas and rejected linking the woman's death with police actions. During another protest last Friday in Los Guandules in southwest Santiago, a young man was injured with a bullet and five people were detained in a demonstration calling for road improvements and demanding greater attention to the recent power shortages.
The Broad Front for the Popular Struggle (FALPO) organized protests across Santiago province to demand better public services. Victor Breton, a leader of FALPO, said that the protests are calling for an end to the blackouts, better access to drinking water, improvements in local roads, and better security for the residents, among other demands.
There has been a history of clashes between FALPO and the police in the Dominican Republic and accusations of police misconduct, particularly during protests at the time of the economic crisis in 2003 and previous power shortages. In 2004, during a demonstration in Navarrete, Santiago, a member of FALPO was fatally shot by a police officer, and in 2007, a spokesman for FALPO was also killed.