Dominican Republic News & Current Events
President Fernández Lights Fire Under Dominican Republics Failing Economy
In Aug. 2000, the center-left Hipólito Mejía was elected president amid popular discontent over power outages in the recently privatized electric industry, but in May 2004 presidential elections, he was defeated by former president Leonel Fernández (1996–2000). Fernández instituted austerity measures to rescue the country from its economic crisis, and in the first half of 2006, the economy grew 11.7%.
On May 16, 2008, incumbent president Leonel Fernández was reelected, taking 53% of the vote. He defeated Miguel Vargas of the Dominican Revolutionary Party, who won 41%.
Among the First to Offer Aid to Haiti
After the devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010 in Haiti, the Dominican Republic was one of the first countries to offer aid despite the two countries having a history of conflict. The Dominican Republic sent food, medicine, and teams to assess the damage. The country also eased visa requirements so the injured could seek treatment at Dominican hospitals.
Over a year later, in the spring of 2011, protests started and signs were posted, calling for the refugees to go home. By August 2011, Haitian refugees were turned away at the border and in some cases, deported. The shift in attitude showed impatience with Haiti's slow recovery as well as other concerns, including a high unemployment rate, among the highest in Latin American, and cholera, which had killed more than 90 people in the Dominican Republic, many of them Haitian migrants.
In October 2011, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) received over 450 complaints from people in the Dominican Republic who said their citizenship had been revoked. The complaints came from people who have been recognized as citizens for decades. The IACHR condemned the policy, but on December 1st, the country's Supreme Court rejected a Dominican-born male's request for a birth certificate so he could relocate to the United States. The new policy could affect some 200,000 Dominicans of Haitian origin.
Ruling Party Candidate Wins Presidential Election
In May 20, 2012, Danilo Medina, candidate of the ruling Dominican Liberation Party, won the presidential election. Medina narrowly defeated Hipólito Mejía, receiving 51.24 percent of the vote. Voting fraud allegations followed the election, including claims from other political parties that votes were bought. The Organization of American States confirmed vote-buying, but concluded that it was not enough to determine the outcome of the election so the organization approved the results.
On August 16, 2012, Medina takes over for Leonel Fernández, who has been president for 12 of the last 16 years. Fernández's wife, Margarita Cedeño, will serve as Medina's vice-president. Fernández is eligible and expected to run for another term (his fourth) in 2016.
See also Encyclopedia: Dominican Republic
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes: Dominican Republic
National Statistics Office (In Spanish Only) www.one.gov.do/ .