The US was not the only country marching peacefully for a worthy cause this past weekend. In light of recent revelations in the Caso Odebrecht – in which a Brazilian construction firm was discovered to have secured contracts across Latin American and Africa with $788 million in bribes – citizens of the Dominican Republic took to the streets demanding an end to impunity. Dubbed “la Marcha Verde,” the massive demonstration was organized by a long list of civil society organizations, including Participación Ciudadana and el Foro Ciudadano, and demanded that the politicians and public servants involved in the nearly $100 million corruption case be brought to justice.
— #MarchaVerdeOficial (@CeroImpunidadRD) January 23, 2017
According its stated mission, the march was positioned as a non-partisan, family friendly call for national renovation, rejecting party colors in favor of a unifying green motif intended to symbolize peace. As organizers stated in a document announcing the march, which was signed by over 20 organizations, “This time the citizens will win, and the corrupt will lose. With each step we come closer to the end of impunity and the beginning of a new Dominican Republic, with more justice and well-being for all.”
In all, several thousand protestors took to the streets of Santo Domingo this Sunday, with over a thousand more in New York City calling for an independent investigation, and the recuperation of all public funds lost to bribes and overvaluations related to projects carried out by Odebrecht. But most importantly, it appears to be the first step in what could be a long process of citizen’s empowerment that paints the way forward for a country brimming with potential but held hostage by deep-rooted corruption.
Now it will be up to Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Perú, Venezuela, and more countries tarnished by this shocking case to begin forging their own paths toward a more transparent and just society.