Dominican Republic. During the year, Congress began
discussions on changing the Constitution, based on proposals
from President Leonel Fernández. Among other things, it is
proposed that the president, who according to the current
constitution can be re-elected for a second term, can also
stand for a third time. According to
countryaah, other proposals are to increase the
number of seats in Congress and to reduce the authority of
the Supreme Court. The proposals must be approved by
two-thirds of Congress before they can go to the referendum.
This is not the first time the country's constitution has
been rewritten or changed. On average, it has happened once
every four years since independence in 1844.
In 1990-91, the professional struggle rose to new heights.
The government was facing multiple general strikes that were
severely suppressed - 15 killed and thousands arrested in
Balaguer succeeded in renegotiating the country's foreign
debt, while at the same time the country's tourism
increased, making it the Caribbean's fourth most important
tourist country in 1993.
Due to the political crisis in neighboring Haiti, the
Dominican Republic became an important center for the
smuggling of goods into Haiti, which should bypass the
international blockade of the country. This was especially
true of oil smuggling.
As a result of the country's economic crisis, hundreds of
Dominicans fled the country annually - with visas, with fake
documents or by sea in fragile boats to reach Puerto Rico,
from where they could move to New York.
There are over 1 million Dominicans living in the United
States, half of whom are illegal. Further approx. 20,000
live in Spain, and half of these are also illegal. Most are
women who work as domestic workers. Ca. 25,000 are
prostitutes in Europe, to which they are lured by false
promises of work. (See International Prostitution).
Despite his earlier pledge to retire from politics,
87-year-old President Balaguer prepared his re-election on
May 16, 1994, as did his old opponent, Juan Bosch. With a
view to preventing new election fraud, 4 of the 5
participating parties in the election signed a "citizen
covenant" with the Catholic Church as guarantor. Still, the
election campaign turned violent with hundreds of wounded
and 12 killed.
The electoral action was monitored by international
observers who criticized irregularities - especially in the
interior of the country. The PRD criticized that about
200,000 had been deleted from the electoral rolls due to
fraud by the ruling party. Acc. the official result,
Balaguer won with 43% of the vote - 1½% more than Peña Gómez
The US government was interested in securing Balaguer's
support for the continuation of the blockade against Haiti
and therefore declared that it would respect the decision of
the Supreme Electoral Commission. It ended up giving the
victory to Balaguer.
Yet, in mid-August, Peña Gómez and Balaguer agreed to
hold new elections on November 16, 1995. At the same time,
they agreed to amend the constitution to prevent future
re-election of a president. Thus, Balaguer could be deployed