El Cibao Protests: Signs of Growing Opposition to Socioeconomic Problems

By Daniela Morales, 10th Grade

Crowds of people chanting with banners, tires lit up on fire in the hot pavement of streets, and the palpable feeling of anger were all among the protests that struck El Cibao, the northern region of the Dominican Republic. A coalition of social organizations announced the strike would begin on April 24th at 6:00 am and end the next day at the same hour (Aneudy, 2023). The protests had the purpose of stopping economic activity across the 14 provinces in the Cibao region, all to push the government to meet certain socioeconomic demands these citizens have. The main complaint surrounding the protest was the high cost of living which is constantly on the rise, as seen in the prices of the canasta familiar, another issue that is part of the process. 

The “canasta familiar”—the average measurement of what a family spends on basic necessities like clothing, food, education, electricity, healthcare, water, among others—was valued at $43,625 Dominican pesos in March 2023. With someone who works in a medium enterprise having a minimum salary of approximately $19,000 Dominican pesos, just imagine what it is like for those working at even smaller enterprises or that have informal jobs. El Cibao has especially suffered from high prices. From 2021 to 2022, the Cibao region was the one that saw the highest increase in prices of the canasta familiar, by a 10.51% (Mejía, 2022). The rise in prices of medicines and fuels were also driving protesters out into the streets. 

Aside from these economic issues, other causes of protests were the opposition to the construction of hydroelectric facilities in San José de las Matas, Boca de los Ríos, and Las Placetas. Protesters also want more highways, more asphalted streets, better salaries, better access to healthcare insurance, and more public access to water (Aneudy, 2023). During the day of the protests, schools were closed, and authorities responded to protesters by reinforcing security on the streets. 3,000 officers as an effort backed by the Ministry of Defense and the National Police, were distributed around the Cibao. The government emphasized that these officers were stationed not to intervene with the protest, but to ensure public order as strikes like this can get violent in little time. 

El Cibao is known for its big protests and on some occasions they have become so chaotic that people have died in the aftermath. From 1990 to 2013, 30 people have died in protests in the region alone (Batista, 2023). The possibility of this chaos combined with the economic losses that a protest brings, even if just for a day, is why some influential sectors in society reported their discontent with the Cibao protests. For example, the leader of the Confederación Nacional de Trabajadores de Transporte (National Confederacy of Transportation Workers), agreed with the demands of protesters but not their way of protesting, saying “the country can’t just stop” (Laureano, 2023). He suggested that dialogue was the best way for protesters to achieve their demands without compromising the economy all citizens rely on. Some leaders of the protests were arrested, and while the protests ended on Tuesday, the fire that fueled them will not die down for a while. 

The discontent will still be there until the government gives protesters a response they deem appropriate, but the issues they are protesting about such as socioeconomic inequality, don’t seem like they’ll improve in the near future. Evaluating the demands of the protesters, I think that if more protests occur, the demand that will most likely be met are the improvements in the asphalting of streets, because it’s something that won’t take a lot of the government’s money and time. The increase in salaries is already being discussed for workers in small enterprises, but as the cost of living keeps increasing, products will continue to be expensive. When it comes to better access to healthcare insurance, a lot of these protesters are especially demanding better health services from AFP, which being a private company will handle the issue according to its own interests. Lastly, when it comes to hydroelectric facilities, the government likes to invest in these projects because they bring back public revenue, employment, among others. Unless protesters can convince them there’s something more valuable than these benefits or look for environmental regulations to use in their favor, the power in their hands is limited. 


Mariela MejíaSanto Domingo – ago. 10, 2022 | 12:01 a. m. | 4 min de lectura. (n.d.). Costo promedio de la Canasta familiar sube casi RD$2,000 en siete meses. Diario Libre. Retrieved May 1, 2023, from https://www.diariolibre.com/economia/consumo/2022/08/10/costo-promedio-canasta-familiar-sube-casi-rd2000/1998778

Irmgard De la Cruz. Santo Domingo – abr. 16, 2023 | 12:01 a. m. | 12 min de lectura. (n.d.). Carnes y tubérculos, entre los productos que más han subido de precio en lo que va de año. Diario Libre. Retrieved May 1, 2023, from https://www.diariolibre.com/economia/consumo/2023/04/16/productos-de-la-canasta-familiar-que-mas-han-subido-en-2023/2284467#:~:text=Entre%20marzo%20del%202022%20y,cara%20que%20al%20finalizar%20enero.

Ministerio de Trabajo Aclara Salario Mínimo es mayor que en seis países de latinoamérica. Ministerio de Trabajo aclara salario mínimo es mayor que en seis países de Latinoamérica | Presidencia de la República Dominicana. (2023, January 17). Retrieved May 1, 2023, from https://presidencia.gob.do/noticias/ministerio-de-trabajo-aclara-salario-minimo-es-mayor-que-en-seis-paises-de-latinoamerica

Video: Más de 3 mil agentes ante llamado a paro en el Cibao. Hoy Digital. (2023, April 23). Retrieved May 1, 2023, from https://hoy.com.do/video-mas-de-3-mil-agentes-ante-llamado-a-paro-en-el-cibao/

 Batista, C. (2013, October 28). Protestas Sociales han dejado 30 muertos en dos décadas en el Cibao. Acento. Retrieved May 1, 2023, from https://acento.com.do/actualidad/protestas-sociales-han-dejado-30-muertos-en-dos-decadas-en-el-cibao-1131912.html# Aneudy, T.  & Edward, F. (2023, April 24). Huelga en el cibao se cumple parcialmente durante primeras horas. Diario Libre. Retrieved May 1, 2023, from https://www.diariolibre.com/actualidad/nacional/2023/04/24/convocatoria-a-huelga-en-el-cibao-se-cumple-casi-total/2294281


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