Rocked by scandals, lawmakers seek to muzzle the Dominican media - In an apparent legislative effort to curtail the press’ role as the watchdog of the powers of the State and the transparency in the handling of public issues, several senators and deputies are drafting of have submitted bills to stifle freedom of expression.

The first to reveal the intention is the ruling PLD party deputy from Puerto Plata Alfonso Crisóstomo, who submitted a bill to substantially amend the Free Access to Public Information Law, by making the procedure to obtain information extremely difficult.

A few days later the also PLD senator (La Romana) Amarylis Santana submitted another bill which would force the yielding of spaces by the media, written or digital, to publish messages prepared by a government agency, in the guise of contributing to educate the Dominican people.

The National Assembly’s Verification Commission, inexplicably distancing itself from the formula adopted in the first roll call of Article 21 on Freedom of Expression, has proposed a different text, which includes the controversial and deceptive concept of “truthful information,” an allegation the public powers can manipulate to quell public liberties.

The legislative offensive against freedom of the press coincides with the recent scandals involving legislators including the “barrilitos” or little barrels, a scheme which considerably increases their income.

In the last few days the media has also denounced the large amounts of tax exemptions for the lawmakers to import luxury vehicles, some of which have ended up in the hands of drug traffickers, as well as their rampant nepotism.

Grim precedent

The concept “truthful information” has been used in several countries as an attempt to limit freedom of expression and of the press, as the State itself would determine what meets that requirement.

Here are a few reader comments from the article in DominicanToday:

Written by: gmiller261, 17 Sep 2009 8:29 AM
From: United States

LF, you empty suit. You better speak up an squelch this absurdity.

Otherwise you liable for the end of Democracy in your country.
Written by: jonbonz, 17 Sep 2009 8:55 AM
From: Dominican Republic, santo domingo part time afghanistan the rest
Progressive government at work
Written by: generoso, 17 Sep 2009 9:37 AM
From: United States, Santo Domingo
Instead we should be demanding from the sponsors of such ridiculous measures, that will never pass, and are just futile attempts to intimidate the press:
What are the legislators personal attendance records?
Or demanding accountability of their personal ONG's and the disposition of the public moneys that they dispense with no accountability.
Where is the transparency of these legally appointed ruffians?
In the US they would have been impeached a long time ago.
Written by: JD_Dominguez, 17 Sep 2009 9:41 AM
From: United States, Reality Check
Why would Prez LF speak out against an idea that he 'blessed" before initiated?

It is sad, they even think that this is the "fix to the country's problems" and the spillover of bad press.

Does anyone notice another connection between law makers (RD Gov officials) and Drug Traffickers on usage of the formers tax exemption on importing luxury vehicles? 

Still, the USA DEA doesn't get it!
Written by: Lopez31, 17 Sep 2009 9:59 AM
From: United States
Lets take to the hills people! We can overthrow these fools. YES WE CAN. YES WE CAN.
Written by: Belly, 17 Sep 2009 10:14 AM
From: Dominican Republic, San Francisco and Houston,Texas
Criminals of democracy at work here. WOW if LF let this get thru he will be label as the killer of democracy in DR and maybe win the award from estupido Mejia or perdon Hipolito Mejia.
Written by: JimHarrington, 17 Sep 2009 10:18 AM
From: United States
There goes democracy.
Transperancy is a thing of the past.
Welcome the new Castro-Chavez regiem under Teflon Fernadez
Written by: juanb, 17 Sep 2009 10:24 AM
From: Dominican Republic

You took the words out of my mouth. Do these ideas have a familiar ring to them. Think Cuba. Think Venezuela. Think Iran. Think cold war Russia. Think China. Think Libya. Think of any Totalitarian state.

Nice work LF. If you can't stop the corruption then I guess the next best thing is to prevent the truth about it from being told.

Written by: Cacique, 17 Sep 2009 10:30 AM
From: Dominican Republic
I sense a wave a comin'...I feel it in my soul, these f--ks need to be buried, in the darkest deepest hole...
Written by: MannyTav, 17 Sep 2009 11:01 AM
From: United States
I would say unbelieveable but this is totally to be expected from a state that is failing. I hope the public is as outraged as they should be and make sure these bums are voted out of office, if that's even possible anymore.
Written by: vacanos, 17 Sep 2009 11:02 AM
From: United States
Estos son los que estaban de fantamoso haciendole frente al govierno de Balaguer. toda este libertinaje era su gran ambicion. Balaguer una vez dijo esto 

Written by: josean, 17 Sep 2009 11:04 AM
From: United States
I am waiting for all the Lie-onelitas and closet PLDers on DT to come and defend this fascist move.

The very discussion of this regressive piece of legislation demonstrates the disdain these criminals have for the Dominican masses and their contempt for Democracy.

What Alicia Ortega and Nuria should do (and other journalist with testicular fortitude) is to go after them even harder. Encourage whistleblowers to come out spill the beans on corruption and any other criminality in government. The way to fight attempts to curtail freedom of speech is to encourage more speech.
Written by: VeronicaDR, 17 Sep 2009 11:07 AM
From: United States
If this is passed it spells the end of Democracy and the start of either Socialism or a Dictatorship. These corrupt politicians better be stopped before they ruin the DR. If this happens there will be a lot of problems in the future for us Dominicans. 

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