Hipólito Mejía

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Hipólito Mejía
Hipólito-Mejía-2000.jpg
Coat of arms of the Dominican Republic.svg 51st President of the Dominican Republic
In office
August 16, 2000 – August 16, 2004
Vice President Milagros Ortiz Bosch
Preceded by Leonel Fernández
Succeeded by Leonel Fernández
Personal details
Born (1941-02-22) 22 February 1941 (age 73)
Gurabo, Dominican Republic
Political party Revolutionary
Spouse(s) Rosa Goméz
Alma mater North Carolina State University

Rafael Hipólito Mejía Domínguez (born February 22, 1941) is a Dominican politician who served as President of the Dominican Republic from 2000 to 2004.

During his government the country was affected by one of the worst economic crises, generated by the bankruptcy of three major commercial banks in the country, which resulted in high inflation, high country risk rating, currency devaluation and increasing local poverty.[1][2][3]

In the presidential election of 2004, he ran for a second term as the candidate of the Dominican Revolutionary Party but he was defeated by Leonel Fernández from the Dominican Liberation Party.[4]

Early life[edit]

Born at Gurabo in Santiago Province being the first child of Hipólito de Jesús Mejía Díaz and María Josefa Domínguez, Mejía received a high school diploma from the Loyola Polytechnic Institute in San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic, graduating in 1962. Two years later, he attended special programs at North Carolina State University in the United States.

At age twenty-four, he was appointed director and undersecretary of the national Tobacco Institute. In 1978, he was appointed Minister of Agriculture under the government of President Antonio Guzmán Fernández. During this period, agri-business incentive laws were passed and programs to promote rural agriculture development and technification were undertaken.[citation needed]

In 1982, Mejia was defeated in his campaign to become senator from Santiago Province. In 1990, he was named vice-presidential candidate on the ticket of Dominican Revolutionary Party leader José Francisco Peña Gómez.

Presidency[edit]

Mejía ran for president as the candidate of the left leaning Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) on a program to increase health, education, and social security services through tax hikes. He led the field in the 2000 presidential election, taking 49.87 percent of the vote in the first round—just under 1.5 million votes short of outright victory. His main opponents, Danilo Medina and former president Joaquín Balaguer, received 24.9% and 24.6% of the vote, respectively.

However, Medina concluded that he stood no chance of closing a nearly 25-point gap with Mejía, especially when Balaguer suggested that some of his supporters might cross over to the PRD in the runoff. Accordingly, Medina pulled out of the runoff, handing the presidency to Mejía.[5] Mejía took office on 16 August of that year.

During his presidency, he supported many popular issues, like social security, helping small businesses, agriculture, improving education and helping with adequate housing. He received considerable support from the people during the first two years of his mandate, which caused his party to win the congressional and municipal elections taking control of the Senate with 29 out of 31 senators.

During Mejia's term, the country's second largest privately held commercial bank, Baninter, collapsed in a spectacular failure tied to long-standing political corruption. However, no evidence has ever linked Mejia to any corruption nor taken to court. Actually, it was later proved by international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund that the bank was fraudulently caused to fail − something for which its President and CEO Ramon Baez Figueroa was years later found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

During his term, Mejía attempted to spread government resources and services to thousands of smaller, rural communities scattered around the country instead of the traditional efforts to concentrate on big cities (where most voters live). He established the country's first social security type retirement system, and created a fixed advanced corporate tax of 1.5% to aid in government revenue collection.

Criticism[edit]

In his time, Mejía faced both the highest and then the lowest approval ratings for a Constitutional President in recent times.[6][7] [8]

Mejía's first presidential campaign in 2000 won him the first Dominican presidency under then new electoral rules that required a "50 más 1" (50 percent plus one of the total votes in order to win in the first voting round.) This was in stark contrast to the late PRD leader, José Francisco Peña Gómez, who unsuccessfully ran for office three times consecutively (1990, 1994 and 1996) and never received the support that Mejia received in his first attempt.

While holding the seat of Head of State, Mejía actively sought to change the then current constitution in order for it to allow consecutive (while in term) presidential re-elections. This was achieved with the aid of his party's majority stake at both legislative chambers (Senate and Lower Chamber). The original constitution prevented the previous president from contending against him in 2000.

References[edit]

Most references are translated into English, although their external verifiable sources are written in Spanish. No attempts of 100% textual translations are or will be attempted, but the message conveyed is mostly accurate and following Wikipedia's Neutral Point of View.

  1. ^ http://www.pciudadana.com/crisisbancaria/index.html
  2. ^ es:Economía de la República Dominicana
  3. ^ http://www.hoy.com.do/el-pais/2005/4/1/40581/Citan-causas-quiebra-bancos-2003
  4. ^ http://pdba.georgetown.edu/Elecdata/DomRep/DR04.html
  5. ^ Gonzalez, David (2000-05-19). "Dominican Wins Presidency As Opponent Shuns Runoff". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-15. 
  6. ^ "El ex presidente Hipólito Mejía ha perdido popularidad entre los electores."
    The ex president Hipólito Mejía has lost popularity among the electorate. www.ElCaribeCDN.com
  7. ^ "En las últimas encuestas la popularidad de Mejía ha declinado y la de Fernández ha ido en aumento. En la encuesta de El Caribe, por ejemplo, realizada por Penn, Schoen & Berland, el ex presidente tiene 60% de opinión favorable, mientras que el Presidente tiene sólo 51% de opinión favorable."
    In the last polls, the popularity of Mejia has been dwindling ... in the poll conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland ... the President only has a 51% of approval. www.pcciudadana.com
  8. ^ "La popularidad de Mejía se sitúa, en todas las encuestas, en el 10%, más o menos." The popularity of Mejía is placed, in all the polls, in the 10%, give or take. www.AmericaEconomica.com
Political offices
Preceded by
Leonel Fernández
President of the Dominican Republic
2000–2004
Succeeded by
Leonel Fernández