Tag Archives: dominican republic

Medina headed for easy reelection in Dominican Republic

Danilo Medina, one of Latin America's most popular leaders, is set for reelection as the president of the Dominican Republic. (Facebook)
Dominican president Danilo Medina, one of Latin America’s most popular leaders, is set for reelection after the May 15 general election. (Facebook)

No one should be surprised that Danilo Medina has easily coasted to reelection in the Dominican Republic’s general election on Sunday.Dominican Republic Flag Icon

As the incumbent president in a country that registered 7% GDP growth last year, Medina is one of the most popular leaders in Latin America or, indeed, even the world. Preliminary results gave Medina over 60% of the vote in Sunday’s general election, with just around 36% for center-right challenger Luis Abinader, a businessman who has never held elective office.

But the real victory for Medina came last year, in June 2015, when he successfully pushed to amend the constitution to allow Dominican presidents to run for reelection.

His predecessor, Leonel Fernández, won reelection in 2008 only after the Dominican Congreso Nacional (National Congress) passed a similar law. It later revoked that law in 2010, however, once again forbidding consecutive reelection.

Fernández, who was first elected to the presidency in 1996, had long been the driving force of the governing Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD, Dominican Liberation Party), which has now extended a period of rule that began with Fernández’s return to the presidency in 2004. When Medina narrowly won the 2012 election, he did so in large part because of Fernández’s enduring popularity. Medina’s running mate, Margarita Cedeño, is Fernández’s wife, and it was widely assumed that Fernández would try for a fourth term again in 2016. Fernández opposed last year’s constitutional changes, alternatively arguing that they should be subject to popular referendum.

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RELATED: Race, politics looms behind
potential deportation of Haitian Dominicans

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Medina’s push, coupled with a reform to harmonize legislative and presidential voting in the same general election, effectively sidelined the former president, cementing Medina as the central figure in Dominican politics and paving the way forward for his successful reelection bid this year. Continue reading Medina headed for easy reelection in Dominican Republic

Race politics looms behind potential deportation of Haitian Dominicans


It’s not an exaggeration to say that relations between the two nation-states that occupy the island of Hispaniola have been strained for centuries.Dominican Republic Flag Icon

The Dominican Republic celebrates its national day on February 27, marking not its independence from Spain but the anniversary of the end of the Haitian occupation of 1822 to 1844. The country’s autocratic leader, Rafael Trujillo launched a 1937 military attack on Haitians living near the nebulous border that, even today, remains particularly porous. The attack left an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 Haitians dead. Following the assault, known today as the Masacre del Perejil, Trujillo tried to install a puppet government in Haiti.

Joaquín Balaguer, Trujillo’s successor, won a narrow victory in the highly disputed 1994 election in part through attacks on the Haitian ancestry of his opponent José Francisco Peña Gómez. Leonel Fernández, the candidate of the country’s now-dominant Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD, Dominican Liberation Party), which has held power in 15 out of the past 20 years, deployed similar tactics against Peña in 1996.

So racism, both subtle and blatant, against darker-skinned Dominicans of Haitian descent has always been a feature of life in the Dominican Republic.

As Greg Grandin and others are reporting in recent days, the country is gearing up for what might become yet another difficult moment, with up to 500,000 Haitian Dominicans in danger of being deported after June 17 — even though many of them have lived most of their lives in the Dominican Republic, speak Spanish and not Haiti’s French creole and, indeed, have never even set foot on Haitian soil. The debacle has led to a rush of Haitian Dominicans attempting to register for citizenship before today’s deadline, fearing that failure to acquire the right paperwork could result in a massive disruption in their lives.

A decade of setbacks for Haitian Dominicans


The current crisis stems from a December 2011 decision by the Dominican supreme court that affirmed the government’s decision to reject a request from a Dominican-born man for his birth certificate. The ruling’s effect threw into doubt the citizenship of Dominicans born to Haitian immigrants after 1929. Under significant international pressure, Dominican president Danilo Medina (pictured above), a popular leader who now hopes to run for reelection in May 2016, tried to resolve the situation by allowing undocumented Dominicans to register. Continue reading Race politics looms behind potential deportation of Haitian Dominicans

Medina takes power as Dominican president

Danilo Medina was inaugurated yesterday as the new president of the Dominican Republic — with 10 million people, it’s the most populous country in the Caribbean after Cuba. 

A member of the ruling center-left Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (the Dominican Liberation Party), Medina won the presidential election with 51% in May over former president Hipólito Mejía.

Medina succeeds the popular Leonel Fernández, who served as president from 1996 to 2000 and who has served as president since 2004.

So what to look for as Medina takes power? Continue reading Medina takes power as Dominican president

Medina apparent winner in Dominican presidential race

Although his opponent is claiming fraud, it appears that Danilo Medina, the candidate of the ruling Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (the Dominican Liberation Party) has won Sunday’s presidential election on a vote of 51.21% to just 46.95% for former president Hipólito Mejía, with 99% of the official count complete.

Medina will succeed outgoing PLD president Leonel Fernández, who served as president from 1996 to 2000 and who has served as president since 2004 — Fernández is barred from seeking more than two consecutive terms as president, but his wife, Margarita Cedeño, was Medina’s running mate, fueling speculation that Fernández may yet be viewing a third comeback in 2016.  Cedeño, as first lady, was especially active in health and education policy.

Medina has defeated Mejía of the center-left Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (the Dominican Revolutionary Party). Mejía served from 2000 to 2004 and defeated Medina himself in the 2000 election.  Mejía presided over a banking crisis that led to a faltering economy; in the ensuing eight years, the Dominican economy has been one of the fastest-growing in the Western Hemisphere, especially in marked contrast to Haiti, the other nation with which the Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola.

Medina campaigned on a platform of reducing income inequality and reducing unemployment — despite a robust economy, almost a third of Dominicans live under the poverty line.

Although outside observers have not raised any red flags about voting irregularities, Mejía has refused to concede defeat and the PRD has alleged massive voter fraud.

New York a swing state — in Dominican presidential election

Electoral geography fans, take note: New York could be the deciding constituency in Sunday’s Dominican presidential vote:

Thanks to a law passed in 1997, expatriate Dominicans no longer have to fly to the country’s capital of Santo Domingo to vote in presidential elections. Dominicans voted locally for the first time in 2004 and tens of thousands of Dominican expatriates registered to vote for the 2012 contest – making New York one of the island nation’s most important constituencies in the neck-and-neck election scheduled for May 20….

On Feb. 5, the Board reported that it had registered 328,649 Dominicans living abroad in countries such as the U.S., Canada, Spain and Italy—about 5 percent of the total pool of 6.5 million registered voters, according to the JCE.

The number of Dominican residents of New York City registered to vote has almost doubled over the last four years, from 55,989 in 2008 to over 103,000 today….

About 20 percent of the Dominican Republic’s nearly 10 million citizens currently live abroad. The majority, over 1.4 million Dominicans, live in the U.S., according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

Almost half of them, approximately 674,000, live in New York State. New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida and Pennsylvania also have high Dominican populations.

Voters in New York help make the U.S.-based voting bloc larger than 27 of 31 provinces within the Dominican Republic.

Indeed, both major presidential candidates visited New York — as well as Miami and New Jersey — over Holy Week and Easter, when campaigning traditionally pauses in the Dominican Republic.

Sunday’s election will see a tight race between Danilo Medina, the candidate of the centrist Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (the Dominican Liberation Party) and Hipólito Mejía, former president from 2000 to 2004 and candidate of the center-left Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (the Dominican Revolutionary Party).  Outgoing PLD president Leonel Fernández defeated Mejía in 2004, but is term-limited by the Dominican constitution to just two four-year terms.  Mejía, in turn, defeated Medina in the 2000 race.

Although many Dominican business interests and voters looking for change support Mejía, other voters are wary of Mejía’s first term in the early 2000s, which coincided with an economic crisis that improved after Fernández’s election in 2004.

Within Dominican politics, both parties are seen as fairly leftist, although the PLD is seen has having moved to a more centrist position (although it was once further left than the PRD).  The third major party, the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (Social Christian Reformist Party) was once the major center-right of the Dominican Republic, and was the party of longtime former president Joaquín Balaguer, who governed the Dominican Republic from 1960 to 1962, from 1966 to 1978 and again from 1986 to 1996.  The PRSC is not fielding a candidate, however, in this election, and its supporters are backing both Medina and Mejía.

The Santo Domingo-based Hoy shows Medina with a slight 54% lead over Mejía’s 44%, as both campaigns launched their final swings this week.