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 1990.
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 from PRD.
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 as president.