The Dominican Republic Woke Up to a New President and a New Mentality

Luis Abinader BELatina Latinx

After 16 years governed by the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (Dominican Liberation Party), the Dominican Republic woke up today to a new President and a new national mentality. Becoming the first country in Latin America and the Caribbean to hold presidential elections during the coronavirus pandemic, Dominicans on the island and those living abroad took to their ballot boxes en masse to show politicians that the nation’s democracy is not something to be toyed with. 

On February 16, the municipal elections — a poll to select office-holders in local government, such as mayors and councilors — got suspended by the president of the Junta Central Electoral (Central Electoral Board), Julio César Castaños Guzmán, due to a glitch found in the electronic ballot machines. This sparked a fiasco in which almost the entire nation, commanded by the Dominican youth, called out the government for allowing the sabotage. Dressed in black, the outraged citizens, from kids to the elderly, took the streets to protest and demand answers chanting “Zero dictatorships, we want democracy,” in Spanish, while Dominicans living in other parts of the world shared their sentiment on social media using the hashtags #JusticiaParaRD (Justice for DR), #SabotajeElectoralRD (Electoral Sabotage RD), #JCErenunciaYa (JCE Resign Already). 

Tired of injustice and corruption, and after not receiving the answers of what really happened that day, cédula holders (Dominican ID) walked and drove to their polling places on July 5 ready for a change. The country’s eligible voters decided to give an opportunity to a newly founded party with inclusive and fresh ideas. The Partido Revolucionario Moderno, or PRM (Modern Revolutionary Party), led by Luis Abinader, came to power after winning the general election with 52.83 percent in favor as of this writing, as reported by the Listin Diario, the nation’s largest and oldest newspaper. 

Abinader, the elected President of the Dominican Republic, and whose party identifies as a “political organization of a polyclassist nature and of a democratic, liberal and progressive orientation, whose objective is to guide the Dominican people towards human development, guaranteeing the material and spiritual improvement of the population, in an environment of democracy and freedom,” said “We all won!” on Twitter.  “Dominicans demonstrated today our democratic vocation by exercising the right to vote in favor of the change. May the joy continue as we await the official results of the Central Electoral Board.” 

According to Dominican Today, the Abinader government will reduce or eliminate the “differentiated impact on men and women of all the policies and programs carried out by the government, both in their formulation, execution, and evaluation.” The elected president promised to “strengthen the management capacity of the Ministry of Women,” as well as expanding “women’s sexual and reproductive health services,” plus “establish a program to reduce the pregnancy rate among young people and adolescents, with an emphasis on the most vulnerable areas.” He also promised to establish women’s rights by “implementing incentive programs that promote decent work for women, that increase their employability and their employment position both in the public and private sector.” 

The publication added Abinader’s assurance that he “will support women’s entrepreneurship through credit programs, technical assistance, technology packages, market identification, and re-education for work, including training in technological areas that the new digital economy is demanding,” adding that his government will tackle “the country’s high maternal mortality rate,” and will incorporate “the gender perspective, expand the coverage of services and insurance, and guarantee quality service and humane treatment throughout the national territory.”