Distributed Organizing in the Dominican Republic: Lessons on Movement-Building

Victory Institute’s International Team is midway through its 6-module “LGBTI Political Leadership Academy in the Dominican Republic”, organized with our local partner, Diversidad Dominicana. The LGBTI population (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex) in the Dominican Republic face high levels of discrimination and violence. At the same time, there is a rare legal opening for building political capacity because the Dominican Republic does not have anti-LGBTI sodomy laws, unlike most other post-colonial countries.

From July 20-22, over 30 LGBTQ trainees attended the workshop on, “Structure of the State and human rights of LGBTI persons”, which focuses on the processes of passing legislation while leveraging non-profit and social movement advocacy tools. To help drive home the practical aspects of intra and extra-systemic models of change, participants heard from experts in analogous social campaigns that have been successful in the DR — namely the anti-corruption and environmental movements.

Jhonatan Liriano was the Communications Director for the anti-corruption movement called ‘Marcha Verde’ (green march). Liriano and his team revealed public officials had accepted $92 million in bribes from Odebrecht, a scandal-ridden Brazilian conglomerate, between 2001 and 2014. He discussed the process of identifying and lobbying elected officials, and the process of using direct actions to build public awareness around the campaign. According to Lemonwire.com, last January tens of thousands of Dominicans marched with green banners to express their frustration and anger. Over the next month, about 300,000 people signed a Green Book demanding the appointment of an independent prosecutor to look into the links between Oderbrecht and public officials.” Just last month, the Marcha Verde occupied a public space outside Attorney General’s Office in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to publicly criticize the Public Ministry’s decision to ignore over have of the initially charged parties involved in this case.

Trainees also heard from Escalin Gutiérrez of the environmental collective, ‘Campamento Loma Miranda‘.  After the government announced plans to open a nickel mine at Loma Miranda, Gutiérrez organized more than 1,500 protesters at the mountain to raise awareness about the environmental impact. They contended the jobs would have been limited/dangerous, and that removing the mountaintop would cause irreparable damage to the entire ecosystem. Gutiérrez discuss the process she used to built a distributed network of activists across the country, develop an escalation strategy, and persuade elected officials. 

In order to advance of this opportunity and to facilitate the reduction of this violence, it is essential to strengthen the capacities of LGBTI leaders so that they know the functioning of State institutions, participate in the democratic process from civil society and have access to elected positions. popular. The remaining modules will focus on communications/public speaking and managing electoral campaigns.