No end to incidents with street window cleaners in Dominican Republic
The most recent case in the country occurred on Tuesday, January 31. ( Diario Libre / EDDY VITTINI )
Incidents with window cleaners in the main streets and avenues of the Dominican Republic seem to be a never-ending problem. Violent and threatening actions on the part of these people are frequent in the country, despite the fact that authorities have tried to put a stop to them on several occasions.
The drivers’ disagreements with the window washers have resulted in broken windows, scratched vehicles, aggressions with stones, and even deaths.
The most recent case occurred on Tuesday, January 31, when a window cleaner threw a block at the window of the vehicle of a young woman, who was wounded in the forehead for allegedly refusing to give him money for a service he did not request.
The incident took place on Olof Palme Street, on the corner of Núñez de Cáceres Avenue in the National District, after the driver left her residence to pick up her sister, who was at the university, at around 9:00 p.m., according to a relative of the victim who did not want to reveal her name.
“The guy wanted her to give him forced money and, as she had no coins, he grabbed a block and hit her on the glass of the door and slashed it, causing a deep wound on her forehead,” he said.
Regarding this case, the National Police identified the aggressor as “Cuatro Dedos” (Four Fingers) and called on the girl’s relatives to file a formal complaint to proceed with the necessary investigations.
In July 2018, a window cleaner was killed during an operation carried out by the Municipal Police of the National District, which was seeking the exit of the same on Los Proceres Avenue, a corner of John F. Kennedy, in this capital.
During the operation, one of the municipal police officers took a gun from the military officer assigned to the unit, pointed it at the window cleaner, handled it, and shot him.
In July 2017, the Council of Aldermen of the National District approved Resolution 17-2017, ordering the removal of window cleaners from the streets and avenues of the city. This measure was not complied with due to the lack of coordination between the related entities, such as the Directorate for the Defense of Public Spaces, the National Police, and the Municipal Police.
The resolution instructed, on that occasion, to hire at least 30 of the 50 people registered in the streets and avenues in the Directorate of Public Service and Urban Cleaning; however, over time, this practice was discontinued.
At that time, the window cleaners confronted several municipal police officers in the National District who carried out the program Cero Limpiavidrios which prohibited the presence of people engaged in this activity at the traffic lights of the streets and avenues of the city.
The same year, the Mayor’s Office of Santiago de los Caballeros decided to prohibit window cleaners in the main intersections of the city. This action was complied with when it was observed that these characters disappeared from public spaces.
One of the reasons that led to the prohibition of these individuals on the streets of the National District and Santiago was the aggression against a journalist at the hands of a window washer on Abraham Lincoln Avenue and John F. Kennedy for refusing to accept his services.
“I had not been detained for thirty seconds when a window cleaner approached me, and I told him that I did not accept his services, and he left, but immediately another very insistent one arrived, and I signaled him that I did not want to accept his services. When I told him with my hands that I didn’t want to accept his services, he punched my front window several times.”
What is unsaid is many of these window washers are compelled to work for street mafias, told to bring in a certain amount of cash each day to the mafia jefes. If not, they may suffer abuse from them that may involve beatings. When their services are not needed they take it out on the drivers who deny them the pesos.
How do you know that Paul? We live here in the capital and have to deal with them everyday. It seems like the aggresive ones have a drug problem and are trying to get money for a quick score.
There have been reports in the media over the years of mafias operating in the big cities who recruit people including illegals to operate at intersections. They control who works the intersections and thru fear demand big cuts from their own crews. Of course, there are limpiavidrios who are drug users. If they do not earn enough to satisfy their drug habits and/or their handlers they may become violent.