President of the Dominican Republic
Danilo Medina, President of the Dominican Republic (since Aug 16, 2012)
Danilo Medina Sánchez (born 10 November 1951) is a Dominican politician who is the President of the Dominican Republic since August 16, 2012. He was President of the Chamber of Deputies of the Dominican Republic from 1994 to 1995 and subsequently served as Secretary of State of the Presidency from 1996 to 1999 and again from 2004 to 2006.
Medina was the presidential candidate of the Dominican Liberation Party in the 2000 presidential election, and he was defeated by Hipólito Mejía. In a rematch 12 years later, he won the May 2012 presidential election, defeating Mejía with 51% of the votes.
Medina was born in Arroyo Cano, San Juan Province, in the southwest of the Dominican Republic. He is the oldest of eight brothers born of Juan Pablo Medina and Amelia Sánchez. Since he was 18 years old he was a student leader, founding the San Juan de la Maguana branch of the Frente Revolucionario Estudiantil Nacionalista at the UASD. When Professor Juan Bosch founded the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana in 1973, Medina joined him. He studied economics at Instituto Tecnológico Santo Domingo (INTEC), and graduated magna cum laude in 1984. He has been a member of the Central Committee of the PLD since 1983. In 1986 election he was elected a deputy in Congress. In 1987, he married psychologist Cándida Montilla and has three daughters, Sibeli, Vanessa and Ana Paula.
In 1990, Medina was elected member of the Political Committee of the Dominican Liberation Party together with Leonel Fernández and Juan Temístocles Montás. He was selected by his political organization to be the President of the Chamber of Deputies in the Dominican Republic.
As president of the Chamber of Deputies in the National Congress (1990–94), he was a key figure in congressional negotiations that led to the resolving of the 1994 political impasse. In that year, a close finish between Joaquín Balaguer and José Francisco Peña Gómez brought about a major conflict, as one side accused the other of fraud. The conflict was resolved with a pact that instituted separate presidential and congressional elections, the need for a candidate to receive 50%+1 of the vote to win in a first round, and prohibited presidential re-election. The agreement eventually worked in favor of the PLD, which won the presidential in the 1996 election, with Leonel Fernández defeating José Francisco Peña Gómez in a second round.
Danilo Medina is considered the PLD leading political strategist and negotiator. As such, he was one of the brains behind the presidential campaign of President Fernández. He was appointed Secretary of the Presidency in 1996 and was one of the President’s closest aides. In 2000, as President Leonel Fernández could not run due to a Constitutional ban on reelection, Medina was the presidential candidate of the PLD. He finished a distant second behind opposition candidate Hipólito Mejía of the Dominican Revolutionary Party, taking only 24.9 percent of the vote to Mejía’s 49.87 percent. However, Medina concluded he had no chance of overcoming Mejía’s first-round lead, especially after third-pace finisher Joaquín Balaguer hinted some of his supporters would vote for the PRD in the runoff. Accordingly, Medina pulled out of the runoff, handing the presidency to Mejía. In his concession speech, Medina said that a runoff would not be in the country’s best interest.
As President Fernández acceded to a second term in 2004, Danilo Medina was once again appointed Secretary of the Presidency (Equivalent to Chief of Staff) and considered second in command on internal corridors of Government. As a new election approached in 2008, Danilo Medina was considered the main competition for President Fernández, as he was considered by some to have complete political control of the ruling party, the PLD. He resigned from the post on 8 November 2006 in order to launch his bid for the PLD presidential nomination against President Fernández.
After running a campaign under the slogans “Ahora Es” and “Lo Mejor Para Todos”(“Now Is the Time” and “The Best for Everybody”) Danilo Medina was eventually defeated by President Leonel Fernández in the 6 May 2007 PLD internal election to choose the party’s candidate for the 2008 presidential election. Since its foundation the PLD had maintained an implicit non re-election policy, but President Fernández changed that allowing him to campaign against Medina from the Presidential Palace and opt for a second consecutive term in power (his third).
In the internal PLD vote Danilo Medina obtained 28.45% of the votes against President Fernández’ 71.55%. Minor irregularities were confirmed during the election process. In the evening of 6 May 2007, Danilo Medina made a brief public appearance saying he had been “beaten by the state” (in reference to the fact that government resources had been used to suppress his candidacy and to promote that of Fernández).
Subsequently Danilo Medina and his supporters maintained a low profile. During this period he was considered the most likely contender for the PLD candidacy in the 2012 Dominican Presidential Elections.
Danilo Medina ran for and was elected President of the Dominican Republic in the 2012 Dominican Presidential Elections, that ended on the morning of 21 May, with 51.24% of the votes.
Leonel Fernandez Reyna, Former President of the Dominican Republic
Leonel Antonio Fernández was born in Santo Domingo on December 26th, 1953, to José Antonio Fernández Collado and Yolanda Reyna Romero.
Dr. Fernández went to public schools in New York City for the primary schooling of what would later on bloom into a brilliant professional career
Upon his return to the country, he entered the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD), establishing his domicile in the residential sector of Villa Juana, where he spent the first years of his youth. At the time, Dr. Fernández felt attracted to the more advanced ideas emerging in the political debate of the time, and which would soon lead him to study the works of whom would become his mentor and guide, Professor Juan Bosch, and whom he would accompany, along with a host of other Dominicans that together founded the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) in 1973.
During his initial years at the university, he formed part of a vigorous student movement in the 1970’s, and concurrently, he became General Secretary to the Student Association of the Law and Political Science Faculties of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, having actively participated in the protest activities of the time.
In 1978, Dr. Fernández was bestowed a postgraduate honors degree in Law (Magna Cum Laude), entitling him to the “J. Humberto Doucudray” award, as the most outstanding student of his class.
His thesis, “The Crime of Public Opinion”, which later would become one of the most requested books by Law scholars and the mass media, enriched the national bibliography regarding such a complex and novel subject for the nation.
Other books authored by Dr. Fernandez were “The United States in the Caribbean: From the Cold War to the Reagan Plan” and “Roots of an Usurped Power” –an analysis on the Dominican elections of 1990. In addition, he is the author of an infinite amount of articles on the subjects of Communication, Culture, History and Law which have been published locally and abroad.
His increasing repercussion within the intellectual circles by means of conferences, press articles and debates, has been coupled by a progressive scaling in prominence within his party, which has lead him to uphold positions of great political responsibilities, starting as an apprentice of the party’s doctrines, going on to the post of intermediate leader, until achieving membership within the Central Committee in 1983, and in the Political Committee as of 1990. In the PLD, he has held the positions of Secretary of International Affairs and Secretary of the Press, and was director of the news magazine, Politics, Theory and Action.
Dr. Fernandez, an incessant reader, is renowned as one of the most brilliant academic and professional individuals of his generation, with a well-deserved prestige, thanks to a solid formation and prized qualities such as those of an excellent exponent, in addition to his acute skills as lawyer, totally fluent in the English and French languages.
He was coordinator to the Cultural Promotion Center and was also involved in the organization of the Spanish Language Rescue Campaign, which was sponsored by the Latin Union International Organization, in 1984. He has taken various courses, among which are: Social Transformation in Latin America, lectured by Professor Howard J. Wiarda of Amherst University in February 1979; during that same year, he attended the seminar on “Sugar Cane: Origins and Perspectives”, with Professor Manuel Moreno Fringinals, from the University of Las Villas de Cuba and in April 1980, he participated in a course “Updating Teaching Techniques”, sponsored by the Department of Pedagogy of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo.
Likewise, Dr. Fernández took part in the courses “Contemporary Political Procedures in Latin America,” offered in May 1980 by professors of the Central University of Venezuela, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (NAUM) and the Mexican College; in October of that same year, he studied “Political Economy and Economic Crisis” with Professor Pedro López Díaz from NAUM; in February 1981, he participated in the course “Multinationals and Communication Systems”, with Professor Armand Mattelar, in the University of Paris.
He also participated in the following courses: “Sketch of Social Investigation”, by Professor Ezequiel Ander-Egg in 1983; “Foreign Policy of the United States of America for Latin America”, taught by the professors of the Center for Investigation and Lectures on Economy in May of that same year, and, “The Roads to Execution in Dominican Law”, at the Catholic University Madre y Maestra Catholic University, in March of 1986.
Dr. Fernández is an aficionado to journalism and, in spite of not having practiced the field professionally, in September 1984, he took a course on Journalism for Minorities, in Columbia University in New York City. He has been a columnist of the newspapers El Siglo and El Nuevo Diario, and has also collaborated with the daily newspaper Listín Diario, all of them from Santo Domingo; he has also acted as Chief of the International Section of the official organ of the Dominican Liberation Party, Vanguardia del Pueblo.
Dr. Fernández has been a prominent figure in the academic field, working as Professor of ‘Introduction to Social Science’, ‘General Sociology’, and Fundamentals of the ‘Communications Sociology’, in the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo. In January 1981, he performed as Professor of a postgraduate course on Community Psychology entitled ‘Ideology and its Impact on Behavior’, and in December of that year, he was Professor in a course of Political Currents and Contemporary Philosophies, offered by the Philosophy Department of the Humanities of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo.
Additionaly Dr. Fernández participated as delegate from the Dominican State University in the First National Seminar on Communications, Population and Development sponsored by UNESCO and in 1983, he gave a lecture at the First National Symposium on Delinquency, organized by the Latin American Institute of the United Nations for Felony Prevention.
He is currently a faculty member for postgraduate students of the State University’s Latin American Faculty of Social Science, and is also member of the Latin American Research Association located in Pittsburgh.
For his political and personal merits, in 1994, Dr. Fernández was selected by the Dominican Liberation Party as the their vice-presidential candidate to figure on his party’s ticket along with Professor Juan Bosch. Subsequently, the party’s members chose him by an overwhelming majority as candidate to the Presidency in the 1996 elections, in which he emerged successful, thus becoming the first Head of State to emerge from the PLD.
Since he took office on the 16th of August of 1996, President Fernández has undertaken important steps meant to enabling the Dominican Republic to play a more dynamic role in today’s international arena where world trade is undergoing significant transformations. He participated in such transcendental forums as the General Assembly of the United Nations, various summits of Latin American and Central American Heads of State and Government. He traveled to sister countries –such as Venezuela, Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama-, thus contributing to an atmosphere of cordiality and collaboration in this region. President Fernández extended the Dominican international participation in such organisms of cooperation as CARICOM, Lomé and the Central American Common Market, among others.
Internally, President Fernández has reoriented public investment funding towards social expenditures, mainly favoring the education and public health sectors. In addition, he has launched programs that intend to create job opportunities, by financially assisting the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, by building new duty-free zones and by developing a dynamic strategy aimed at capturing foreign capitals. Simultaneously, his Administration is implementing a Reform and Renovation Program for State institutions. Also, he has paid special attention to the fight against poverty where numerous social projects and regional development programs have been designed and applied.
His initiative to carry out a National Dialogue with plural participation from all sectors of the country, has not only given way to the country’s collective and interactive search for solutions to the main challenges faced by the Dominican Republic; this exercise is also under the observation of other nations that are interested in promoting new methods of democratic participation.