Grassroots organizations protested here Friday against the Dominican government's proposal to raise taxes.

Representatives of the groups gathered in front of Congress to denounce President Danilo Medina's fiscal plan and to demand sanctions against his predecessor, Leonel Fernandez, for having created the budget deficit that is being cited as the reason for tax increases.

In a letter to lawmakers, the organizations also argued for a public housing program and an agrarian reform.

The groups vowed to keep up their struggle until Medina, who took office in August, "fulfills his campaign promises and helps the poorest."

Ordinary Dominicans "don't have to pay for anybody's theft," protest spokesman Victor Jeronimo said.

Medina's plan calls for raising an additional 53 billion pesos ($1.36 billion) to address a budget deficit of $3.8 billion, equivalent to 6.5 percent of gross domestic product.

"The reality is hard," Medina said recently, calling for "effort and sacrifice from everyone" to put the country back on the path of sustainable development. EFE