D R. L E O N E L F E R N A N D E Z
P R E S I D E N T O F T H E D O M I N I C A N R E P U B L I C
Dr. Leonel Fernandez, President of the Dominican Republic, is the Chairman and President of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) and the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (FUNGLODE), respectively.
President Fernandez is member of various foreign councils and institutions, including Circulo de Montevideo (since 1996), Council of Freely Elected Government Heads of the Carter Center (since 1997), Spanish Foreign Affairs (since 2000), Inter-American Dialogue (since 2001), and Club of Madrid (since 2001). Also, since 2000 he has presided over the US-Caribbean Executive Club, organized and sponsored by the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), and since 2002 has been the acting Chairman of the Dominican Republic United Nations Association.
Fernandez has been awarded Honoris Causa Degrees by various renowned universities, including Sorbonne University in 1999; Harvard University in 1999; Universidad Pedro Henriquez Urena in 2000, and Seton Hall University in 2000.
Leonel Fernandez was born on December 26, 1953 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to Jose Antonio Fernandez-Collado and Yolanda Reyna-Romero.
As a child, he moved with his family to New York City, where he spent his first school years and also attended high school.
When he returned to the Dominican Republic, he enrolled at Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) (Autonomous University of Santo Domingo). At such time, Fernandez became fascinated by the most progressive ideas that were forcing their way through in the political debate that would soon drive him to read the work of the person who would later become his guide and mentor: Professor Juan Bosch. Fernandez, along with a legion of Dominicans, accompanied Juan Bosch when in 1973 founded the Dominican Liberation Party.
During his early college years, he joined the vigorous student movement of the 1970s, where he ended up occupying the post of Secretary General of the Student Association of the Faculty of Political and Judicial Sciences at Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo (UASD), and took active participation in the vindicative events held back then.
In 1978, Leonel Fernandez earned his degree of Juris Doctor with honors, which won him the "J. Humberto Doucudray" award, for being the best student of his class.
His college thesis titled "The Public Opinion Offense," enriched the national bibliography in such a complex and novel subject matter.
Other books authored by Fernandez include: Los Estados Unidos en el Caribe: De la Guerra Fria al Plan Reagan, and Raices de un Poder Usurpado. Further, he has been a collaborator to various local and foreign newspapers on subjects related to communication, culture, history and law.
His increased incidence in and through the intellectual circles and conferences, news work and debates went hand in hand with a progressive ascendancy in the bossom of his political party, leading him to fill posts of great political responsibility, and become a member of the central committee and political committee in 1985 and 1990, respectively. Within the Dominican Liberation Party organization, he has filled the post of Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Press Secretary, and additionally was Editor in Chief of the magazine Politica, Teoria y Accion.
An avid reader, Leonel Fernandez is recognized as one of the most brilliant academicians and professionals of his generation. He has earned prestige thanks to his solid educational background, great talent as a communicator, and good command of the English and French languages.
In the academic life, his work as a professor at Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo and Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (Latin American Faculty of Social Science) has been rated as outstanding, in the fields of communication sociology, rights of the press, and foreign relations.
His political and personal path led Fernandez in 1994 to be chosen by the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) as candidate for the country's vice presidency and Professor Juan Bosch's running mate. Later, the militant core of his party chose Fernandez by an overwhelming majority as its presidential candidate for the 1996 election, which he won after a vibrant political campaign to become the first Chief of State coming out of the PLD and one of the youngest statesmen in Latin American.
Since his taking over the national destiny on August 16, 1996, Fernandez set out a dynamic and aggressive foreign policy, which rescued the Dominican Republic from its traditional isolation and positioned it in the very center of the regional integration processes, market opening and globalization. Fernandez has participated actively in international forums, including the United Nations General Assembly, Ibero-American and Central American Summits of Chief of States and Governments, Summit of the Americas.
Fernandez made official visits to sister nations, including the first visit by a Dominican president to Europe (France and Italy, 1999), Japan and Singapore (2000), and the first official visit, after the era of the Dictator Trujillo, by a Dominican Chief of Sate to its neighbor country, Haiti. As government head, he strengthened Dominican ties with CARICOM and Central American nations, and integrated the country into the Rio group and ACP Nations, for which he was elected president in 2000. The Free Trade Agreement with CARICOM and Central American Nations was put together during his presidential term.
Internally, president Fernandez reoriented the public investment towards social spending, favoring education and public health. Convinced that the development of the communication and information technology represents the most powerful moving force for the progress of any modern nation, Fernandez concentrated special efforts towards equipping all national public high schools with computer labs. He instituted nationwide a monthly-awarded prize to honor roll students, promoted the culture of reading competitions, the so-called Reading Olympics, and instituted the International Book Fair of Santo Domingo.
Economywise, Fernandez's administration set up programs for the creation of jobs, providing financial support for micro, small, and medium-size businesses, erecting new industrial free zones, and setting an active strategy to attract foreign capital through the Investment Promotion Office, created at Fernandez's initiative. The Cybernetic Park, and high-technology free zone, along with the Technological Institute of the Americas, were also established while Fernandez was in office. During the four-year office term of Leonel Fernandez, the Dominican Republic exhibited a commendable macroeconomic performance and became one of the world countries with highest growth rate, with a nearing 8% annual average.
The aggregate of such components in the country's exceptional economic development during Fernandez administration won him the name of the "Dominican Miracle."
The government led by Leonel Fernandez executed a program of public institutional reform and streamlining. Government offices were equipped with computers, and the foundations for the regularization of the civil service and administrative carrier were laid down. Public services were enhanced and provided with swiftness and transparency.
On the other hand, Fernandez administration was able to bring to decent standards and organize the traditionally chaotic and ineffective urban public transportation, as well as bequeath valuable public works in the urban and rural road structure.
His initiative to hold a National Dialogue with the participation of all national sectors not only enabled a participative search for solutions to the leading challenges faced by the Dominican Republic and the creation of a consensual agenda for the nation's future, but also was observed with much interest by other nations interested in promoting new democratic participation modes.
Finally, Leonel Fernandez administration has been recognized locally and internationally for the strict respect of public liberties and human rights, as well as the notable impetus to the economic growth with macroeconomic stability and democratic institutionalism in Dominican Republic.
The most relevant speeches delivered by Leonel Fernandez during the presidential campaign and while in office are compiled in the following volumes: Discursos I y II; Temas de Campana I y II, La Republica Dominicana Hacia el Nuevo Siglo, "Ningun Gobierno Habia Hecho Tanto," La Globalizacion y la Republica Dominicana; Hablando la Gente se Entiende, and Leonel: Vision del Futuro.
After leaving office in 2000, Fernandez continued to contribute to the development of the Dominican Republic and the Latin American region as President of the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development, a nonprofit institution established by him with the intent to analyze vital subjects to the nation and its international context, prepare innovative proposals of a strategic nature, design public policies, enhance the quality of the national debate, and promote the training of local human resources. The foundation does and hosts research, conferences, seminars, workshops and training in the field of democratic institutionalism and the Rule of Law and Legal Equity; economic development; social development and education; the environment and natural resources; science and technology; public opinion and mass media; globalization, regional integration, and foreign relations.
In January 2002, Leonel Fernandez became elected, almost unanimously, President of the Dominican Liberation Party. On 16th May, 2004, Dr. Leonel Fernandez was re-elected as President of the Dominican Republic.
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President elect Dr. Leonel Fernandez
and his support of Samana College.
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President elect Dr. Leonel Fernandez
and the Columbia University Event.