May 22, 2008
The President of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernandez, won reelection on Sunday, with 53 percent of the vote, and observers from the Organization of American States confirmed that the process was proper. Fernandez leads the Dominican Liberation Party, in the center of the political spectrum. The opposing candidate, Miguel Vargas Maldonado, refused to congratulate Fernandez, accusing him of "shameful" use of government resources for political purposes. Vargas Maldonado belongs to the leftist Dominican Revolutionary Party. Even though the Dominican Republic remains one of the poorest countries in Latin America, its economy has benefited from increased trade with the United States, thanks to DR-CAFTA. That agreement clearly worked in Fernandez's favor. He was first inaugurated as president in August 1996, but was prohibited from running for reelection in 2000, under the terms of a law which has since been rescinded. His current term began in August 2004, and he will serve until of his second term ends in August 2012. See BBC.
After the election, President Fernandez called on his poltical opponents to join in a cooperative spirit, reaching out to the Dominican Revolutionary Party in particular. He denied accusations that taxpayers' money was used in his reelection campaign. See dominicantoday.com.
Nevertheless, what is on the minds of most people in the Dominican Republic right now is the visit by Pedro Martinez to see his father, who is suffering from terminal brain cancer, and the recent signing of young slugger Hanley Ramirez to a seven-year contract with the Florida Marlins. The Dominicans are loco for baseball.
The next presidential election in Latin America will be next March, in El Salvador.