Leonel Fernández

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Leonel Fernández
A portrait shot of a middle-aged man smiling somewhat and looking straight ahead. He has light brown skin, slightly African/Negroid facial features, curly dark hair. He is mustachioed and wears a suit and tie.
Leonel Fernández, 2010
50th & 52nd President of the Dominican Republic
In office
16 August 2004 – 16 August 2012
Vice PresidentRafael Alburquerque
Preceded byHipólito Mejía
Succeeded byDanilo Medina
In office
16 August 1996 – 16 August 2000
Vice PresidentJaime David Fernández Mirabal
Preceded byJoaquín Balaguer
Succeeded byHipólito Mejía
Personal details
Leonel Antonio Fernández Reyna

(1953-12-26) 26 December 1953 (age 66)
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Political partyLa Fuerza del Pueblo (Since 2019)
Other political
Dominican Liberation Party (1990-2019)
Spouse(s)Rocío Domínguez (m. 1987–d. 1996)
Margarita Cedeño (m. 2003–present)
Alma materAutonomous University of Santo Domingo
SignatureLeonel Fernández

Leonel Antonio Fernández Reyna (About this soundPronunciation of "Leonel Fernández") (born December 26, 1953) is a Dominican lawyer, academic, and was President of the Dominican Republic from 1996 to 2000 and from 2004 to 2012. Since January 2016, he is the President of the EU–LAC Foundation.[1]

Fernández became the first elected president of the Dominican Republic under his political party, the Dominican Liberation Party (Partido de la Liberación Dominicana, or PLD), although party founder Juan Bosch was also sworn in as president in 1963 after the first democratic elections held in roughly four decades in the country. Fernández's administrations have focused much on technological and infrastructural development and macroeconomic and monetary stability.

On 20 November 2018, Leonel Fernández was elected President of the World Federation of United Nations Associations at the 42nd Plenary Assembly of the Organisation devoted to the promotion of multilateralism and the values of the United Nations.

He is a native of Villa Juana, Distrito Nacional and lived for much of his childhood and early adulthood in New York City.

Early life[edit]

Fernandez is the son of sergeant major José Antonio Fernández Collado and Yolanda Reyna Romero. His family moved to New York City in the United States. They lived most of the time in the Washington Heights neighborhood,[2] a dense neighborhood dominated by ethnic Dominicans.

After he finished high school, Fernandez returned to his country and started law studies in the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo.[3] He joined the Dominican Liberation Party when it was founded in 1973 by former Dominican President Juan Bosch, leaving the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) to do so. Fernández was known as a close pupil of Bosch. He accompanied him as a vice-presidential candidate in the 1994 presidential election.[3]

First presidential term (1996–2000)[edit]

Leonel Fernández in 1996

The 1994 presidential election results, which resulted in a reelection of President Joaquín Balaguer, were widely opposed by runner-up opposition leader José Francisco Peña Gómez and his party.[citation needed] In the meantime, the international community rose their concerns on the tightening of the political tensions and fear the country was on the verge of a civil uprising. Upon an official agreement widely known as "Pact for Democracy" ("Pacto por la Democracia" in Spanish) a special election was scheduled for May 1996 and President Balaguer acceded to not run in this election as part of the arranged treaty.[4] PRSC opted to present Vice-President Jacinto Peynado as their candidate,[5] however PRSC supporters feared he wasn't properly endorsed by their historical leader, therefore creating a vast independent mass of electors.[4]

In the first-round election on 16 May 1996 Fernández received 38.9% of the votes in the first round achieving second place behind José Francisco Peña Gómez and PRD[citation needed]. Peynado obtained 15% of the votes, the lowest outcome in Balaguer's party history which initiated a long-term downfall. After 2010 Presidential election, PRSC lost briefly its official recognition as a majority party, but regained it after an alliance with PLD was announced by Leonel Fernández for 2010 mid-term elections, in where both parties achieved 100% of Senate positions and obtained over 2/3 of the seats on the Chamber of Deputies[citation needed]. In the run-off election, held on 30 June 1996, the "Patriotic Front" integrated, and Fernández thus secured 51.2% of the votes to win the election[citation needed]. He was sworn in as President on 16 August 1996, succeeding Balaguer.

During his term in office, Fernández's political agenda was one of economic and critical reform. He helped enhance Dominican participation in hemispheric forums, such as the Organization of American States and the Summit of the Americas[citation needed]. The Dominican economy enjoyed an average growth rate of seven percent, the highest in Latin America for that period, and was among the highest in the world along with South Korea's and People's Republic of China[citation needed]. Inflation was stabilized in the low single digits, also among the lowest of Latin America[citation needed].

Fernández also began a visionary plan to run the Dominican Republic. When developers proposed the country's first modern port during his first term, he said that "We could be the Singapore of the Caribbean".[6] In Santo Domingo and Santiago, which comprised 40% of the country population, he favored then-called "mega-projects", building numerous highways and tunnels which improved transit across the greater extent of these cities and created OMSA (Metropolitan Office of Autobus Services in English). His administration also gave incentives for foreign direct investment.

In 2000, Fernández was unable to run for a consecutive term as the 1994 constitution prohibited it. His party held primaries to elect a presidential nominee, which were won by Danilo Medina with 52% of the votes against Vice-President Jaime David Fernández Mirabal.[7] Medina, who was sworn as the PLD candidate for the 2000 presidential election,[8] was defeated by the PRD candidate, Hipólito Mejía.[9] Mejia did not satisfy the 50% rule to avoid a feared run-off election, but Medina, who placed second, recognized Mejia's win immediately.[10]

Second presidential term (2004–2008)[edit]

George W. Bush welcomes Fernandez to the White House

Fernández was elected to a second term of office in the presidential election held on 16 May 2004 with an absolute majority and the second highest percentage ever in Dominican history of 57%. He was sworn in on 16 August 2004. His victory was due in large part to the collapse of the Dominican economy. This collapse has been attributed to skyrocketing oil prices and a slumping international economy post-9/11, excessive borrowing under the Mejía administration and the failure of three banks in the country: Banco Intercontinental (Baninter), Bancrédito and Banco Mercantil. In an effort to avoid further economic chaos, the Mejía administration effectively underwrote all three banks, repaying their customers but generating even greater public debt. Some of the bankers involved have been or are on trial, yet the extent of their fraud is hard to measure as their widespread largess with officials within both the Fernández and Mejía administrations has made it nearly impossible to achieve a true accounting of what conditions led to the banks's demise.

According to local sociologist José Oviedo, "The country trusts him with the economy, but he doesn't seem to pay that much attention to social issues." The economic prosperity which his government prided itself on seemed to fail in reaching enough people.[6] According to The Wall Street Journal,[11] the economy situation worsened during his last term.

Fernández received World Peace Culture Award on 6 April 2008.

Third Presidential term (2008–2012)[edit]

Barack and Michelle Obama during a reception at the Metropolitan Museum in New York with Fernández and Margarita Cedeño de Fernández

During the Mejía administration, the constitution was changed to again allow the immediate re-election of presidents. Although Mejía was ultimately unsuccessful in his bid for re-election, this opened the door for Fernández to attempt a similar run. On 7 May 2007, despite great controversy over whether the PLD party should support the concept of re-election, Fernández won the PLD primary election with a 72% voting percentage against his former Chief of Staff and confidant, Danilo Medina.

As a result, Fernández became the official PLD candidate for the presidency in the May 2008 General Election.

Fernández was declared the victor of the 2008 election, defeating six others, including the PRD candidate and former president Mejía's right-hand man, Miguel Vargas, and the PRSC's candidate, Amable Aristy. Fernández defeated Vargas 53% to 41%.[12] Vargas accepted the defeat the same day, 16 May.[13] Fernández was sworn in for his third term on 16 August 2008, with the traditional ceremony at the National Congress.[14]

Family and personal life[edit]

Fernández married for the first time to Rocío Domínguez Quezada in 1987 (the daughter of Juan Domínguez and the mayoress of Jarabacoa Josefa Piedad Quezada), and had two children, Omar and Nicole. They divorced in 1996.[15][16] In 2003, Fernández married Margarita Cedeño Lizardo, his former Presidential Legal Adviser and an associate attorney of his law firm, having another child, Yolanda América María.[17][18]

In addition to Spanish, his mother tongue, Fernández is fluent in English and French.[19]

Interest in Poitics

Leonel Antonio Fernandez graduated with honors in law from the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo. For a while he worked as a teacher and a journalist before getting into politics. His interest in politics derived from his outstanding student leader abilities, and his dominant role in the General Secretariat of the Students' Association University of Santo Domingo. Moreover, Leonel Antonio Fernandez partook in many protests against the Balaguer regime, was a member of the Central and Political Committees of the Party of Dominican Liberation, which was founded by Juan Bosch. He began expanding his political interests and won Presidency in the Dominican Republic in 1996. [20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "EU- LAC Foundation: Former President of Dominican Republic Leonel Fernandez will chair Bi-regional Foundation". Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Movilidad Humana de Ecuador. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  2. ^ "Leonel Fernández Urges Bicultural Youth to Connect With Dominican Republic". Fox News. 25 February 2011. Archived from the original on 4 May 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  3. ^ a b COPDES. "Dr. Leonel Fernández" (PDF) (in Spanish). Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 March 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  4. ^ a b Morgan, Jana and Espinal, Rosario (2006) Cultura política de la democracia en la República Dominicana. p. 3.
  5. ^ Grullón, Sandino (2006) Historia electoral dominicana : siglo XX 1900–2004. Imp. Servicios Gráficos Tito. ISBN 8495119226.
  6. ^ a b Stier, Ken (16 April 2006) Tropical Paradox, Time
  7. ^ DR1 (29 June 1999). "More on the PLD presidential candidate". Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  8. ^ laverdad.es (26 June 2011). "Medina, un estratega pragmático, vuelve a ser candidato presidencial del PLD" (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  9. ^ Los Angeles Times (19 May 2000). "Populist Is Winner of Presidential Race". Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  10. ^ "Dominican Wins Presidency As Opponent Shuns Runoff". The New York Times. 19 May 2000. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  11. ^ Mary Anastasia O'Grady (25 November 2012) The Dominican Republic's Taxing Turn, The Wall Street Journal
  12. ^ "Election propels Dominican president to third term". Reuters. 17 May 2008. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
  13. ^ "Miguel Vargas reconoce su derrota". Diario Libre (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 21 June 2008. Retrieved 29 September 2010.
  14. ^ "Dominican president sworn in for third term", Xinhua (People's Daily Online), 17 August 2008.
  15. ^ "Portada". El Caribe. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  16. ^ "Loading..." acentoinformativo.com. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Margarita le dedica algunas palabras a Leonel por su aniversario de bodas". Diario Libre. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  18. ^ "¿Quién será? Margarita, Danilo o Leonel". Listin Diario. 17 July 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  19. ^ "Leonel Antonio Fernández Reyna". Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  20. ^ {{cite web: http://www.clubmadrid.org/miembro/leonel-fernandez/

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Joaquín Balaguer
President of the Dominican Republic
Succeeded by
Hipólito Mejía
Preceded by
Hipólito Mejía
President of the Dominican Republic

{{s-aft|after=[[Danilo Me blic}}