Miami (September 28, 2012)—Violent incidents yesterday in the north of the Dominican Republic in which some 30 people were injured, among them two reporters covering a protest march, should be investigated promptly, the Inter American Press Association told the Caribbean country’s authorities today.
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gustavo Mohme, urged Dominican officials “to investigate swiftly and determine who was responsible for instigating the violent reaction.” This was a reference to the disturbances that broke out yesterday morning in the town of Cotuí, the capital of Sánchez Ramírez province, in which journalists Ramón Antonio Salcedo Soto and Wilson Aracena were injured.
Salcedo Soto, Cotuí correspondent of the newspapers Hoy and El Nacional, and Aracena, an Hoy photographer, were covering a protest by more than a hundred people against Canadian mining company Barrick Gold, calling on it to hire local residents and in demand that the government act to control environmental pollution in the area when members of the National Police confronted them.
To prevent the march reaching the mining company’s plants the police fired tear gas and pellets at the demonstrators. Salcedo Soto, who is also general secretary of the Dominican Journalists Guild in the province, was struck by 18 pellets in various parts of his body. Aracena was injured in the neck, right arm and back. The two are now recovering.
Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, declared, “We trust that corrective action will be taken right away to guarantee the people’s right to express themselves and that of journalists to seek information of public interest safely and without fear of putting themselves at risk.”
After the police broke up the demonstration there were disturbances in the town that raised the number of injured to 40, among them a young man who was shot in the head and is in serious condition.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.