José Francisco Peña Gómez
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José Francisco Peña Gómez (March 6, 1937 – May 10, 1998) was a politician from the Dominican Republic. He was the leader of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), a three-time candidate for president of the Dominican Republic and former Mayor of Santo Domingo. He is considered, along with Joaquín Balaguer and Juan Bosch, as one of the most prominent Dominican political figures of the 20th century. His widow Peggy Cabral is currently one of the two co-Presidents of the PRD.
Born to María Marcelino, a Dominican woman, and Oguís Vincent, a Haitian immigrant, on March 6, 1937 in Mao, Valverde, Dominican Republic, Peña Gómez was adopted as an infant by a Dominican peasant family when his parents had to flee to Haiti (where they died) in order to save their lives as the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo enacted the Parsley Massacre against Haitians that same year. In later years, Peña Gómez’ opponents would use his Haitian ancestry against him; Dominicans have a deep fear and mistrust of anyone with Haitian blood owing to Haiti's occupation of the country from 1822 to 1844.
The April Civil War and Exile
Since 1961, Peña Gómez became a supporter of Juan Bosch, then leader of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD). Bosch won the presidential elections of 1962, the first democratic president in 32 years, but his government was ousted in a military coup on September 25, 1963. In 1965, Peña rose to political prominence as he went on Radio Santo Domingo and called for a popular insurrection against the military coup and a return of Bosch. U. S. President Lyndon Johnson ordered a military invasion to prevent what he feared was a possible communist movement within the country.
Leadership of the P.R.D.
In December 1973, Bosch formed the Dominican Liberation Party (P.L.D.). Under Peña's leadership, the P.R.D. won the presidential election in 1978 (Antonio Guzmán) and 1982 (Salvador Jorge Blanco), and he himself was Mayor of Santo Domingo from 1982 to 1986. His period is mostly remembered for the creation of the Plaza Güibia (Güibia Plaza), on the seaside boulevard and plantation of ornamental trees in mayor Santo Domingo city avenues.
In 1990, Peña ran for the presidency, coming in third behind Balaguer of the Social Christian Reformist Party (PRSC) and Bosch of the PLD.
By 1994, the PRD was solidified and motivated, and Peña was once again the party's standard-bearer in the presidential election. Even by Dominican standards, the 1994 campaign was violent and dirty. Peña lost to Balaguer in an extremely tight election marred by numerous irregularities. A number of Peña supporters showed up to vote only to discover their names had vanished from the rolls. Peña called a general strike which was widely supported by his followers. After international protest, an investigation was mounted that raised grave concerns about the poll's legitimacy. The electoral board didn't know the total number of registered voters, and the voting lists distributed at polling stations didn't match those given to the parties. The investigation also revealed that about 200,000 people had been removed from the polls. After intense negotiations, Balaguer announced that he would leave office prematurely in 1996 after serving seven terms in power.
In the 1996 poll, Peña won the first round of voting but fell short of the majority needed. In the second round of voting, Leonel Fernández, a lawyer representing the PLD, won a narrow victory due to an alliance between the PLD with Balaguer’s PRSC.
Peña Gómez was one of the most popular leaders in recent political history in Dominican Republic, especially among the poor masses.
Being a key political figure until his death, the main Dominican Republic international airport was renamed from "Aeropuerto Internacional Las Américas" to "Aeropuerto Internacional Las Américas José Francisco Peña Gómez". Honoring his memory was not the motivation, but mainly a political retaliatory action excised by the PRD congressional members against the executive branch's naming the newly founded Puente Presidente Bosch (President Bosch Bridge) after the winning party’s late founder, Juan Bosch.
- "La sentencia no afectaría a Peña Gómez" (in Spanish). El Caribe. Retrieved 3 May 2014. "A prueba en contrario, Peña Gómez era hijo de María Marcelino, dominicana, y Oguís Vicent, haitiano ilegal."
- Embassy of the Dominican Republic in Haiti (January 2002). Peña Gómez en la Sociedad Haitiana (in Spanish). Editora Manatí. pp. 38, 52. ISBN 99934-20-20-4. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
- Buckman, Robert T. (2007). The World Today Series: Latin America 2007. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia: Stryker-Post Publications. ISBN 978-1-887985-84-0.