Foto: Orlando Barría, EFE

Two detainees over elections system manipulation and what I think happened

This Monday police informed that two men had been detained over their connection with what happened during the night and early morning of the elections day. The news reports say that Manuel Antonio Regalado Martínez, a technician from the Internet and Cable company Claro, was in communication with a colonel of the Dominican Police, Ramón Antonio Guzmán Peralta, who was since January the head of personal security of Luis Abinader, the candidate for the Partido Revolucionario Moderno (PRM).

A press release by the PRM that same day asked for protection for the colonel’s life who has over 30 years of experience in the police force. The document also expressed a resumed version of what happened on the day before the elections.

The technician was reporting to the colonel that individuals tried to penetrate one of the company’s building with a “suspicious attitude”. In a conversation later published by the news site Noticias SIN, Manuel Antonio tells the police officer Peralta that some different configuration was uploaded to the system probing that the count didn’t reflect on the candidates. He also states: “Since yesterday they knew that after loading that (configuration) you wouldn’t be able to visualize the candidates that were to be affected”. He added that those same people asked him to get a car and uniforms from the company to take out a device they had inside the building. Manuel even tells the colonel he recorded an audio he would be sending later. This conversation over WhatsApp was way past the suspension of the elections, at 1:26 p.m.

Although the director of the police, Ney Aldrin Bautista, said the two men have ties with what occurred, they are not officially imprisoned. For now, both of them are detained and under interrogation to hear their version of events.

This new situation has raised new questions. Now public opinion is wondering why are these two men in custody and there’s no more information about what the technician says. Why isn’t there more information about the people who tried to enter the building; aren’t there cameras in the company’s building? Why release only part of the conversation between the two? What happened to that audio that the technician was talking about?

Government officials have avoided statements about this and said to wait for the investigation to be finished. Instead they have redirected the accusations to the last president of the JCE, Roberto Rosario, -who is a political ally of Leonel Fernández-, of meddling and being connected to what happened on Sunday.

But one mistake was committed by the interim president of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD), Temístocles Montás, who said in an interview over radio that they have a system that lets them know who is voting for which party and candidate. “I think that many of you know that we have a system of control over the elections”, said Montás. And he went on saying that “it assures us what’s going on hour after hour in every voting table”.

From all these facts I understand what happened on Saturday and Sunday was the following:

  • The government installed their system to manipulate the voting.
  • The PRM opposition had spies inside the Internet company and JCE.
  • PRM learned about the intention of manipulation and problems with the electronic system and raised alarms.
  • PRM informed the Organization of American States (OEA).
  • OEA called JCE officials and presented themselves at the electoral building headquarters.
  • The JCE felt exposed and tried to restart the system to its previous configuration but it was too late.
  • Elections started late and many of the devices were not ready and presented the wrong configuration.
  • JCE suspended the elections after the opposition delegates refused to continue only with the manual vote.

A journalist from Dominican Republic. I work at Diario Libre.

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