Open Letter: Prevent political bloodshed in Dominica

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November 25, 2019

Luis Almagro

Secretary General

Organization of American States

H.E. Ambassador Irwin LaRocque

CARICOM Election Observation Mission (CEOM)

communications@caricom.org

Gaston Browne

OECS Chairman

Open Letter: Prevent Political Bloodshed in HaitiVenezuelaBolivia Dominica

Dear Sirs,

Nine days away from national elections, Dominica is locked in an electoral crisis that risks devolving into deadly violence. Protestors are resolute in their demands for electoral reform after enduring more than 10 years of patient action and broken promises form the government. The government of Dominica seems committed to using any means necessary to curtail civic dissent and carryout an openly flawed election. Unfortunately, your calls for peace and offers to observe an election already proven to be corrupt are woefully insufficient to ensure a peaceful and just election cycle.

To prevent political bloodshed in Dominica, regional organizations need to provide technical assistance to support our electoral commission in cleansing the voter list before the nation goes to vote. Our constitution allows 90 days from the dissolution of parliament to hold elections, leaving a narrow but feasible window of opportunity for regional organizations to act. If your organization is committed to a peaceful election, preventative action on electoral reform in Dominica is the only reasonable course to ensure free, fair, and peaceful elections.

Electoral violence in Latin America and the Caribbean region is a real and pertinent issue, with regional bodies seemingly intensifying efforts only after lives are lost. Dominicans do not want to join the ranks of nations experiencing political violence, when our constitution clearly outlines the procedures to enact reform before elections are held.

We ask that you intercede in Dominica’s electoral crisis now by providing technical support to the President of Dominica and the Electoral Commission to postpone elections until the voters list is cleansed, and/or the institution of Voter ID cards is enacted. Without these measures, Dominica’s peace remains fragile, as citizens are no longer willing to risk another fraudulent election with results that are deleterious to their standard of living.

The call for electoral reform did not begin with the recent spate of protests. Consider that:

  • In 2012, the Government of Dominica promised the issuance of National ID Cards, but never upheld this commitment;
  • The 2014 election was conducted with a severely bloated voter list, as noted by the OAS, along with importation of hundreds – if not thousands – of overseas residents to vote.
  • Between 2014 and 2019, several protests, town hall meetings, petitions, and open letters were conducted to persuade the government to implement the needed electoral reforms, all to no avail.
  • This year, 1,343 objections to names on the voters list were submitted, and are constitutionally bound to be reviewed before the official list is published.
  • Dominicans desiring a peaceful resolution to this electoral crisis have created petitions with wide support for a postponement of elections. One such petition can be accessed here: http://chng.it/CvY8dDvyqN

Dominican citizens have grown weary and frustrated with an electoral process that is in open opposition to electoral laws, and results in the stagnancy of their economy and standard of living. In a period when the rest of the Caribbean has enjoyed economic growth with record-breaking accomplishments in the field of tourism, many Dominicans make less than $2 USD an hour and rely on migration as the pathway to personal economic improvement.

Our region is small, and any crisis that occurs in Dominica will impact its neighboring islands as history has repeatedly confirmed. If your organization truly desires peace in Dominica, and the region by extension, it is incumbent upon your organization to help usher in electoral reform in Dominica, NOW.

Sincerely,

Cherry Pacquette and Concerned Dominican Citizens

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