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Leonel Antonio Fernández Reyna (born 26 December 1953) is a Dominican politician and the current President of the Dominican Republicmarker.

Early life and beginning of political career

He was born in Santo Domingomarker, the capital of the Dominican Republicmarker, in December 26th, 1953. Son of Mr. José Antonio Fernández Collado and Mrs. Yolanda Reyna Romero. His family moved to the United Statesmarker and he spent his childhood and formative years in Washington Heightsmarker, New York Citymarker.

When he finished high school, he returned to his country and started Law Studies in the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo. There he joined the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) at its inception in 1973, when Juan Bosch left the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) to create the new party. Fernández was a close pupil of Bosch, and was presented as a vice-presidential candidate with the latter during the 1994 presidential election.

First presidential term (1996–2000)

A special election was slated for May 1996 after the 1994 presidential election had been widelyIn the first-round election on 16 May 1996 he received 38.9% of the vote in a three-way race, placing second behind José Francisco Peña Gómez of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD). In the second round on 30 June, however, the PLD and PRSC agreed to an alliance for that round, and he secured 51.2% of the votes to win the election and was subsequently sworn in as President on 16 August, 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 Statesmarker and the Miami Summit. The Dominican economy enjoyed an average growth rate of seven percent, the highest in Latin American in that period, along with countries like South Koreamarker. Inflation was stabilized in the low single digits, the lowest in all of Latin America. He served a four-year term as President between 1996 and 2000.

Fernández also began a very personal and visionary plan to run the Dominican Republic. When developers proposed the country's first modern port during his first term, he said that "We can be the Singapore of the Caribbean".

In Santo Domingo, he built highways and tunnels and favored foreign investment, but delayed fundamental social reforms, like education and public health.

Fernandez was unable to run for a second term, as the constitution did not allow it, and thus, his party chose his right-hand man, Danilo Medina, as its candidate for the 2000 election. However, Medina was defeated by a charismatic populist PRD leader, Hipólito Mejía, who captured the popular sentiment at the time, as many Dominicans felt that the Fernández reforms had not improved their lives greatly, and questioned claims of unprecedented economic growth.

Second presidential term (2004–2008)

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 (57%), representing the PLD. 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 of the biggest 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 their demise.

Fernández was sworn in for his second term on 16 August 2004. He is seen by many Dominicans as a forward and innovative thinker yet he is considered very traditional regarding social investment. According to local sociologist José Oviedo, "The country trusts him with the economy, but he does not seem to pay that much attention to social issues." Economic prosperity, which his government boasts of, doesn't seem to reach enough people.

Many argue that his tight focus on technological development is often at the expense of basic needs such as food, health, and education and judicial reforms. Perhaps Fernández's biggest issue during both terms in office is his inability to resolve the country's chronic energy problems, as well as his unwillingness to contend with governmental clientelism and corruption. His position as legal counsel for the failed Banco Intercontinental during its spectacular collapse brings to light his possible participation in the bank's alleged government influence peddling.And despite his rhetorical intolerance of corruption, Fernández hasn't seriously challenged the country's long-standing culture of impunity enjoyed by thieving élites. According to political analyst Pedro Catrain, "Leonel is the most capable politician we have, and he understands very well what the country needs to do to modernize, but politically he is proving to be very traditional, indulging in the most perverse forms of Dominican politics, paternalism and corruption."


These are the current ministers of the cabinet, named as State Secretaries:

Changes in the cabinet

  • Secretary of the Presidency: Vacant (Danilo Medina Sánchez resigned, Nov 2006)
  • General Procurator of the Republic: Radhamés Jiménez Peña (16 August 2006)
  • Secretary of Agriculture: Salvador Jiménez (16 August 2006)
  • Secretary of Armed Forces: Lieutenant General Ramón Antonio Aquino García (16 August 2006)
  • Secretary of Public Health and Social Assistancy: Bautista Rojas Gómez
  • Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources: Omar Ramírez (20 August 2007)
  • Secretary of Public Works: Víctor Díaz Rua (20 August 2007)
  • Secretary of Industry and Commerce: Melanio Paredes (20 August 2007)
  • Secretary of Public Administration (New) : Ramón Ventura Camejo (8 February 2008)

Presidential Elections 2008

Primary Election 2007

During the Mejía administration, the constitution was changed to allow the sitting president to run for a new term. 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 PRD's candidate and former president Mejía's right-hand man, Miguel Vargas, and PRSC's candidate, Amable Aristy.

President Fernández defeated Vargas 53% to 40%, while the third big-party candidate, Aristy, got only around 4%. This allows LF a second consecutive term, and a third term overall. Vargas accepted the defeat on 16 May at around 11:30pm. President Fernández was sworn in for his third term on 16 August 2008, with the traditional ceremony at the National Congress.

Third presidential term (2008–)

Fernández was elected to a third term of office in the presidential election held on 16 May 2008 with an absolute majority (54%), representing the PLD. Fernández was sworn in on 16 August 2008.


These are the current ministers of the cabinet, named as State Secretaries:

Awards and honours

He is a member of the Club of Madrid.

President Fernández has been distinguished with the honorary degree of Doctor Honoris Causa by the following institutions:

Dominican Republic


  1. Tropical Paradox, by Ken Stier.
  2. Decree of the President
  3. Decree 342-06 of the President
  4. Decree 343-06 of the President
  5. Decree 437-07 of the President
  6. Decree 447-07 of the President
  7. Law 41-08 of Congress of the Republic
  8. Decree 71-08 of the President
  9. [1]
  10. Miguel Vargas reconoce su derrota -
  11. "Dominican president sworn in for third term", Xinhua (People's Daily Online), 17 August 2008.
  12. The Club of Madrid is an independent organization dedicated to strengthening democracy around the world by drawing on the unique experience and resources of its Members – 66 democratic former heads of state and government.

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