Violence is a major issue

As well as scandals and serious questions, 2008 will end dominated by an increase in crime and with an uneasiness among many Dominicans that shows a marked feeling of insecurity.

According to El Caribe, although the authorities insist on supporting their statements with statistics to try and show that crime has diminished, attributing the increase to erroneous perceptions by the people, the impressions that reach the media and the public opinion contradict the official take on things, and others do not even make the news, sometimes because there is no report or because the incident happened to a person with no public profile.

Nobody feels secure, not even in their homes or businesses at any hour of the day, because criminals walk around armed and shoot to kill with a startling coldness just to take a wallet, a cell phone, or a vehicle at the entranceway to a house or along a public street.

The impression of different sectors and social classes is that criminal violence is so prevalent that the authorities do not have the means to control it effectively.

Institutions and private citizens are constantly calling for greater and drastic action against crime, but they also complain when the answer to these calls leads to deaths in confusing circumstances and in the so-called “exchanges of gunfire”, strongly criticized by human rights organizations.

According to data from the National Security Council, so far this year the number of violent deaths and crime has fallen by 17.31% and 20.62% each in relation to the same period last year.

Minister of the Interior Franklin Almeyda says the results of the Democratic Security Plan have been “highly reassuring” but the residents of several sectors and barrios do not share this opinion, often recounting their own experiences.

The chief of police has personally taken on crime fighting, along with his team of investigators, but criminal acts have increased so much lately as to render their efforts useless and allow crime to get out of control. Among the victims are officers, policemen, military personnel and ordinary citizens.

Armed Forces Minister Pedro Antonio Pena has stated his firm support for the work done by the police to stem the crime wave, such as the incident that cost the life of Colonel Nestor Guaroa Santana, but the public sees little progress, says the newspaper.