|Official Country Name:||Dominican Republic|
|Region (Map name):||North & Central America|
|Area:||48,730 sq km|
|GDP:||19,669 (US$ millions)|
|Number of Television Stations:||25|
|Number of Television Sets:||770,000|
|Television Sets per 1,000:||89.7|
|Number of Radio Stations:||180|
|Number of Radio Receivers:||1,440,000|
|Radio Receivers per 1,000:||167.8|
Background & General Characteristics
The Dominican Republic, a former Spanish colony, occupies the eastern two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which is located west of Puerto Rico and southeast of Cuba in the Greater Antilles. The Dominican Republic has an area of 48,730 sq. km (18,704 sq mi), and its population was estimated at 8.6 million by the World Bank in 2001. The island is the second largest of the Caribbean island chain strung from Cuba in the northwest to Trinidad in the south. Its only border is with the Republic of Haiti.
Although they share a common border, the two countries occupying Hispaniola are culturally and linguistically distinct. The Dominican Republic is Hispanic, Spanish-speaking, predominantly mulatto or white, while Haiti is French and African culturally, racially black, with an official language of Haitian Creole (Kreyol). The Dominican population is a racial "melting pot" in which the mulatto (Caucasian and black mixture) has become the dominant element numerically (73 percent). Caucasians represent 16 percent of the population and blacks 11 percent. Also adding to the ethnic composition has been the influx of diverse immigrant populations of Chinese, Japanese, and Middle Eastern nationals as well as immigrants from neighboring Caribbean countries such as Haiti and Cuba. Traditionally, race and class tend to be closely related with whites forming the elite. More recently, social trends follow Brazil's model of phenotypic upward mobility. Changing rapidly from the dominantly rural mode of the past, the population is now 61.8 percent urban with a population density of 161.7 people per sq km (rural density 293.0), a fertility rate of 2.9 live births per woman and an annual growth rate of 1.8 percent. Well over 1 million Dominicans live as immigrants in the United States, making them the second largest group of incoming migrants into the American economy and remittances from Dominicans living abroad are a substantial addition (10 percent) to the capita gross domestic product.
Since the restoration of macroeconomic stability in the early 1990s, the Dominican Republic (DR) has been the fastest growing economy in Latin America. This Spanish-speaking and strongly Roman Catholic nation has emerged from the financial crisis of the late 1980s with an unprecedented growth, which has averaged eight percent per year from 1996 to 1999 and which is having a positive impact in the quality of life of the average Dominican. Recent government estimates indicate that between 1992 and 1998 more than fifteen percent of the country's poor emerged out of poverty. This finding is consistent with improvements in other indicators of welfare such as life expectancy, access to water and sanitation, and average educational attainment of the labor force. Since the year 2000, however, this promising rate of growth has leveled off to the now current GNP growth of 4.3 percent, according to Banco Central 2001-2002 figures, a trend that leaves fewer funds available for government investment in social welfare programs.
With a 2000 income per capita of US$2,080 but a highly skewed distribution of income, two million of some 8.6 million Dominicans live in poverty. The Dominican poor share most of the characteristics of the poor across the world: large families, little or no education, and limited access to water and sanitation services. Poverty tends to be especially severe in rural areas (35 percent of the total population), where misdirected agriculture practices and insufficient public investments, particularly in education, limit opportunities. Illiteracy runs at about 16 percent and the average level of educational attainment is 4.9 years of schooling. Those able to achieve higher levels of education (5.7 percent) tend to migrate out of the rural areas leaving behind the most disadvantaged, creating in the process entrenched pockets of poverty. Nowhere is that more true than in the areas bordering Haiti, where extreme poverty is prevalent. The poor are also vulnerable to catastrophic losses as the country is routinely subjected to hurricanes. Publicly provided safety nets are practically non-existent, while the private safety nets, mainly in the form of remittances from the very large number of Dominicans living in the United States, benefit primarily the middle and higher income groups.
Considerable controversy surrounds the question of Haitians present within the Dominican Republic. Prejudice against Haitians runs through society, disadvantaging many Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian ancestry. The government has not acknowledged the existence of this discrimination nor made any efforts to combat it. Existing mostly as illegal immigrants, Haitians constitute an important economic factor as they fill the need for low-paid, unskilled labor in construction and agriculture, working with salaries as low as 8 dollars per day. Estimates range as to their numbers, but official reports are unreliable, as their presence remains undocumented. Lack of personal documentation hinders the ability of children of Haitian descent to attend school where there is one available. Despite their large numbers, as of yet there are no Haitian publications within the Dominican Republic or any appreciable publications in Kreyol, the official language of Haití , a fact that is not surprising given the low literacy attainment of the average Haitian. National newspapers, on the other hand, tend to reflect popular Dominican opinion concerning their presence. However, recently some radio stations have began to include broadcasts in Kreyol.
The newspaper with the largest circulation in the Dominican Republic is the Listín Diario with a daily circulation of 166,000, a Saturday edition with a circulation of 180,000, and a Sunday edition with a circulation of 150,000, numbers that nearly double those of any major competitor. Formerly in private hands, it is now run by Editora Listín Diario, which is owned by the BanInter Group. Other newspapers, in order of circulation, are the Hoy with a daily, Saturday, and Sunday circulation of 82,000; El Nacional with a daily, Saturday, and Sunday circulation of 42,000; and the Última Hora (statistics NA), all of which are published out of the capital of Santo Domingo. Other national papers are El Caribe , circulation 40,000, whose former editor, Germán Ornes, won special recognition from the International Press Institute in 2000 as one of 50 "Heroes of Journalism of the last 50 years", and El Nuevo Diario, circulation 20,000. The largest circulation of regional interest is La Información of Santiago, circulation 22,000, and one English language paper, The Santo Domingo News .
Most Dominican magazines that focus on the news are generally weekly productions. The most important ones are Ahora and Rumbo . Of lesser importance is the yellow press weekly Sucesos which specializes in graphic depictions of violent events. Religious groups also issue some publications such as El Semenario Camino and Despertar !.
The history of television in the DR has gone through various stages since its initiation with La Voz del Yuna in 1942. Today Radio Televisión Dominicana is government owned. The TV channels most watched, however, are Color Visión (Canal 9), Circuito Independencia, and Canal 6 (the only station with national availability). In total, there are seven land-based television stations to which must be added 30 cable operators whose coverage augments the average number of stations to that of 40. As concerns radio coverage, there are more than 180 stations with at least 56 FM stations throughout the country, two of which are nationally owned. These broadcast not only national news and events, but also radio educational programs such as primary grade courses directed to students living in remote areas. 1997 figures place television ownership at 770,000 units and radio ownership at 1,440,000 units.
Current Press Situation
Dominican journalists reported very few restrictions on press freedom in 1999, a situation that had changed by 2001. Two major developments raised concern among the local press. In September, the electoral board passed a resolution imposing restrictions on campaign advertising for the May 2000 presidential elections. The resolution requires news organizations to accept price controls for advertising and denied them the right to reject advertisements at their own discretion. Some local journalists viewed this law favorably because it also prevents newspapers from charging different advertising fees to different candidates. Another resolution, passed in July by the National Commission on Public Performances, required newscasters and other journalists to secure credentials from the Commission before appearing on radio or television. By the end of the year, this new regulation had been used to prevent 24 journalists from going on the air. Local press groups have condemned the resolution as unconstitutional.
In the Dominican Republic, defamation is a crime punishable by jail terms of up to six months. In 1997, the penal code was amended to ban publishing montages of an individual's image(s) or quoted speech without the individual's consent, unless the product is clearly identifiable as a montage. This "crime" carries a prison sentence of up to two years.
The Dominican press has been accused of not providing impartial coverage of presidential elections of May 16. The government party, the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD), lost control in a three party split between their candidate Danilo Medina (PLD) and Hipólito Mejía of the Partido Revolucionario Democrático (PRD) and the late ex-president Joaquín Balaguer of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC). Mejía obtained a little less than 50 percent of the votes, the quantity necessary to avoid a second round of voting, but he was declared the winner by the Electoral Council, the Junta Central Electoral after the other contenders bowed down claiming that a second round of voting would lead to political and economic instability.
Press coverage of the elections came into question when newspapers partial to the PLD began to portray Mejía as violent and unstable. Other newspapers also began to publish very inaccurate results from opinion surveys, which led many to question whether these surveys had been manipulated to favor the official party.
The Dominican economy has undergone profound changes in the last two decades. Until the mid-1970s, traditional export products, mainly from agriculture, represented 60 percent of the total value of the country's exports. Over the last two decades the service sector has led the economy, particularly economic and financial services related to tourism and industrial free trade zones, which by 1995 accounted for more than 70 percent of exports. The shift came with major dislocations and economic and social imbalances. Annual per capita expenditures on education during 1987-1990, adjusted for inflation, were 40 percent of what they had been in 1980. In 1992 the gross domestic product (GDP) began to recover, and by 1996 it was maintaining an average annual growth rate of more than five percent and negative inflation. In 1999, the country was singled out as the best economic performer in Latin America after having sustained a growth rate of more than six percent for several consecutive years.
The government maintains a high tariff on imported reading materials. The high cost of these and local materials and the isolation of many areas from television coverage increase the importance of newspapers as a universal source of popular reading material and information. While the government does not subsidize the press, competition between rival publishing concerns has led to the publishing of free newspapers. The Última Hora, previously the leading circulating afternoon paper, is now given away free. Also El Expreso and Diario Libre are published for free distribution. The former is published by Editora Listín Diario, while the latter is published by The Hoy group. These newspapers, people speculate, are distributed freely to both increase future circulation, and to compete with El Caribe, which came out under the ownership of Banco Popular at RD$ 5.00, instead of RD$ 10.00 for the other newspapers. Newpaper prices are now universal for the major papers, however, now that El Caribe has raised its rates back to RD$10.00 with Saturday and Sunday editions costing RD$15.00. The current cost of periodic quality paper now runs at US$ 700 a ton. Transmission of pictures and the elaboration of graphics are now run off digital systems that streamline all publishing processes. Distribution of newspapers, which is completely owner controlled, has also become streamlined so that all newspapers are on sale by 8 a.m. daily despite distances of 350 km from the central publishing area of Santo Domingo, with distribution agents present at all distribution points.
The Constitution of 1994 in Art. 8, Section 6 states that:
All persons have the right, without being subject to censure, to express freely their thoughts in either written words or any other medium of expression, either graphic or oral. When such expressed thought be an attack against the dignity or morality of other persons, public peace, or against community standards, those sanctions as dictated by law may be applied. All subversive propaganda is prohibited, either by anonymous agents or by any other means of expression that has as its object the provocation of disobedience of law, yet without impinging by this the right to analyze or give critique of those same legal precepts.
Defamation is a criminal offence under which the press may be punished both as a crime against the press code and also under the common civic code. The difference lies in the procedure as it is handled in court. When defamation is committed as a published entity, it is subject to the guidelines established in the press code. When the defamation or slander is committed outside of the published medium (as crimes of expression), then its persecution is through common law with a penalty of up to three years with prisión preventiva while crimes as adjudicated within the press code carry penalties of up to 2 months in prison with no prisión preventiva . The law of Expression and Diffusion of Thought establishes a civil and penal responsibility in the minds of the proprietor and director of newspapers, even when they have delegated to others all or part of their executive functions.
The press code speaks of the responsibility of proprietors as indicated in Article 48: "The owners of newspapers and other news publications are responsible for the impecunious condemnation pronounced by third parties against those persons described in conformity with Art. 1382, 1382, 1384 of the Civil Code." Paragraph d) of Law 1951 from the year 1949 mandates that all directors of newspapers and radio broadcasters be Dominican, of legal age, residents within the country, and in full possession of their civil liberties.
In June of 2000, former president Leonel Fernández appointed a commission to review the legislation regulating the press. The commission was to take its guidelines from the ten fundamental principles as outlined in the Declaration of Chapultepec. Fernández created a special decree to form the commission, commenting that, "A study of the norms that govern the freedom of expression and the diffusion of opinion must be made so that mechanisms can be created that would guarantee public liberties which would eliminate legislation gaps, insufficiencies, and errors." The special commission was to revise and modernize Law 6132, the 1962 Law of Expression and Dissemination of Thought, within a period of 45 days so that a draft would be ready to present to Congress for discussion. Continuing work on this legislation has progressed despite the change of government from Fernandez to Mejía in August 2000. In September, President Mejía submitted a bill to revise as Law 6132. Drafted by local press organizations, newspaper executives, and media law specialists, it widens access to information and provides for civil penalties in cases of defamation committed through the press. Some local journalists criticized the proposal, arguing that there has been insufficient debate on the bill, and little disclosure of its content. The bill was still pending at year's end.
In terms of civil liberties that influence the expression of opinion and the dispersion of news, the Dominican Republic presents a mixed picture of unbalanced censorship. World Bank reports suggest that the country presents negative indicators for voice and participation in public affairs compared to the Caribbean nations of Jamaica and Belize, but compares favorably with Cuba, neighboring Haiti, and the rest of the developing world in general. It also scored negatively in government effectiveness and level of graft. Conversely, positive growth was indicated in the areas of rule of law, absence of political instability and violence, and economic growth. USAID reports of comparative exercise of political rights varies from a 1985 high of "free" (one on a scale of seven) to a 1994 low of partly to not free (four) to the current score of two for relatively free.
The communication media is regulated to a considerable degree by the government and is considered only partially free, especially as this control is based on financial considerations: the press depends heavily on both the publicity that the government generates and the rates that they impose. The frequency of elections adds to the amount of influence political factions have in the reporting of the news. During the last ten years, daily newspaper ownership has shifted from being privately owned to being owned by banks and large corporations. The BanInter group now owns the Listín Diario , once a family-run enterprise. Banco Popular, the country's largest private bank, has purchased El Caribe and Editora Corripio, the publishing subsidiary of a large Dominican corporation, now owns the second largest morning daily the Hoy . Even La Informacion , the Santiago local newspaper, is owned by local economic groups, which, it would appear, have strategic interests as to how the news is told.
Strong economic growth and poverty reduction has taken place in the midst of positive changes in governance. After a deep political crisis in 1994, democratic institutions have emerged strengthened, and both the legislative and judicial systems now enjoy unprecedented levels of independence. Civil society and the organized business community are also playing an increasing role in influencing policy making through their growing demands for accountability of state actions. In this climate of limited literacy yet enhanced democratic participation, the newspaper plays a critical role in the formation of public opinion and democratic action.
A nadir reached in 1994 in press/state relations was the heavily commentated disappearance of university professor and political columnist Narciso González who had been openly critical of the then incumbent president, Joaquín Balaguer. Subsequent investigations seem to point to his death at the hands of the Dominican military at the direction of Balaguer adherents.
On a brighter note, the murderers of another presumed victim of Balaguer's military was sentenced to thirty years in jail for the assassination in 1975 of the executive director of Ahora , Orlando Martínez. While the Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa applauded the judicial action, they also lamented the lack of accused before the bench, commenting that the twenty-five year lapse between crime and punishment had allowed many of the perpetrators to die of natural causes. In a landmark August 4 decision, Judge Katia Miguelina Jiménez delivered stiff prison sentences to three defendants who had been found guilty in the 1975 murder of Orlando Martínez Howley, the director of the magazine Ahora and a columnist for the Santo Domingo daily El Nacional . Retired Air Force general Joaquín Pou Castro and two accomplices were sentenced to the maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, along with a 5 million peso (US$300,000) fine. On December 21, the defendants appealed the decision to a higher court. The journalist's family and friends had ignored death threats and pursued the case for years, arguing that Martínez's murder resulted from the fact that his reporting had angered then-president Balaguer and other senior officials. In 1997, President Leonel Fernández ordered the case moved to trial. Balaguer, who was 93 years old when he died in 2002, was subpoenaed but declined to testify on health grounds, although he was healthy enough to run for president again in 2000. The August judgment was seen as a major victory for the journalist's family and others who demanded justice for press freedom and other human rights violations committed under Balaguer, president of the Dominican Republic for 22 of the last 40 years.
Dominican president Hipólito Mejía has received mixed reviews for his policy toward the press since he took office in August 2000. Although Dominican journalists are generally free to express their views, and the government does not officially restrict the press, journalists have complained of government attempts to influence coverage. President Mejía, with his blunt and sometimes confrontational style, has used insulting language when referring to journalists and editors who criticize his administration. In late June, the Santo Domingo daily El Caribe reported that Mejía's government had diverted funds from public works programs to buy buses for a public transportation plan. Mejía said of the story, "That is a lie. That's only in the mind of Bernardo Vega [ El Caribe's editor], one of those idiots who writes things that are not true," according to the daily Listín Diario .
In an August 17 interview with the Santo Domingo daily Última Hora , José Tejada Gómez, then-president of the journalists' association Colegio Dominicano de Periodistas (CDP), noted that Mejía's insults were common, and that his first year in office was marked by "constant conflicts" with journalists. According to the CDP, signs of government intolerance toward the press abound. In late June, Darío Medrano and Ramón Carmona, reporter and cameraman, respectively, for U.S.-based Univisión TV network and the Santo Domingo TV channel Color Visión-Canal 9, were threatened, allegedly by government officials, for their coverage of nationwide street protests against a government-imposed economic adjustment package. Gen. Luis Rodríguez Florimón, of the National Police, meanwhile, warned in early August that he would monitor radio and TV programs and threatened to jail anybody who criticized or offended the president. The general did not carry out his threats, but his words were typical of the government's hard-line reactions to criticism. Dominican journalists have also complained about low salaries and job instability, which makes them vulnerable to bribery and other economic pressures.
Another case of the press in confrontation with civil authorities came in the investigation of alleged corruption and abuse of public trust by the department of Bienes Nacionales. In May of 2001, reporters from major news services were barred from the courtroom despite affirming their constitutional right to be there. This action by judge Adrilya Vales Dalmasí was later criticized by both the president of the Supreme Court, Jorge Subero Isa, and the Attorney General, Virgilio Bello Rosa.
In another case in July of 2001, a daily program of political commentary, "Los Hechos y la Historia" directed by ex-government representative and political party advocate Rafael Flores Estrella and lawyer Tomás Castro and produced by the radio/television chain Teleradio América was shut down. According to the station executives where the program is produced, they had received "pressure" from a high-ranking government official to close down the program on the grounds that Flores Estrella and Castro had used slanderous language meant to reflect negatively against the honor of the president. The association of journalists, the Colegio de Periodistas, requested that the station release the name of the "high government official" referred to in the incident, but that request has not yet been complied with.
That same month, cameraman Cristino Rodríguez from the program "Detrás de la Noticia" of the city of Santiago was hurt by gunfire. The director of that same program, journalist Esteban Rosario had suffered a beating earlier in the year. The police state that an investigation is underway which points to a government party member as responsible for the shooting of cameraman Rodríguez. Coincidentally, the day following the shooting Rosario was arrested under orders from a Santiago judge wherein he is accused with the rape of a minor. After arraignment and subsequent to two days of questioning, Rosario was freed under bail.
Attitude toward Foreign Media
Under Dominican law, foreign ownership of national companies or corporations is restricted to 49 percent, a law that in truth does not actually discourage foreign influence in Dominican affairs as many Dominicans eager for financing will accept a nominal role as major shareholder. As indicated by the switch in ownership of many news networks, foreign investment in Dominican journalism has increased substantially since 1990. Entry of foreign news is unrestricted both through international cable news services and the distribution of foreign news publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Spanish language editions of Newsweek magazine.
Dominican journalists have been very active in Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa which seeks to seeks to protect free press thoughout Latin America and ten news organizations are active members. In 2002, the Dominican Republic hosted their semi-annual meeting at Casa De Campo.
All of the newspapers mentioned are subscribers to the major international news services available such as AP, UPI, EFE, and Reuters. Others have created contracts with major news sources. Hoy , for example, subscribes to biweekly editions of Fortune Americas . International editions in Spanish of the New York Times , the Miami Herald , and the Wall Street Journal arrive electronically and are published by local printers daily.
The Dominican Republic also provides its own 24-hour CNN style news service through the recently organized radio-TV-Internet network entitled Cadena de Noticias CDN that is owned by Banco Popular.
The Telecommunications Law of 1966, Law 1951 of 1949, Regulation 824 of 1949, and other complementary regulations establish certain norms for television and radio broadcasting. Prohibited activities include the broadcasting of events or taped materials that would offend public moral traditions or good taste, or damage international relationships. There is also a proscription against the airing of movies that contain high erotic content, scenes or dialog that would pervert morality, and in a general sense, all material that in its detail or plot demonstrate pernicious experiences that would be inappropriate for children. Despite regulation, however, the TV media is in practical terms barely if ever regulated as to content or scheduling.
Electronic News Media
The Dominican Republic rates 55th worldwide as advanced in technological advancement showing a score of 0.244 as compared to Finland, the most advanced with an indicator of 0.744 and the United States at 0.733. As of the year 2000, 1.7 hosts per 1000 had Internet access, 90 percent of which were located in the capital city of Santo Domingo. With more than 709,000 telephone main lines in use, Internet use should increase substantially within the immediate future as the infrastructure for more advanced telecommunications is being expanded from the relatively efficient system based on an island-wide microwave radio relay network, one coaxial submarine cable and a satellite earth station -1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean).
In the Dominican Republic, as is true in the rest of the world, Internet access is not subject to any regulation, and as such, there is no control or pressure in respect to its use. As concerns the news media, the arrival of Internet access has allowed the local journalist a wider access to international opinions and styles that in themselves have created changes of both style and substance in the way that the news is reported.
Newspapers that maintain electronic circulation on the Internet are DEDOM (Diario Electrónico Dominicano), Diario Resumen (a summary of many newspapers and sources), Dominican Republic One (DR), the Hoy , the Listín Diario , El Nacional , and the Última Hora .
Education & TRAINING
Even though the Colegio Dominicano de Periodistas was created by law, this has never had an obligatory character to its function. Indeed, the Supreme Court of Justice ruled in 1989 that ruling 148 in 1983 that created the institution null and void. Nonetheless, the Colegio has a disciplinary tribunal and a functioning code of ethics. The Instituto Dominicano de las Telecomunicaciones (INDOTEL) regulates the use electronic media and the interrelationship of its users, assigning television and radio frequencies and monitors its lawful use. It is currently attempting to elaborate regulations for the use of the Internet.
Most major universities such as Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, the oldest university in America, Pontífica Universidad Católica Madrey Maestra, UNIBE, and UTESA maintain departments dedicated to the study of Communications. The Department of Communication Sciences at the Universidad Católica de Santo Domingo is the most renowned in the country. In actuality, the study of telecommunications gains more popularity than the more traditional studies of journalism, despite the still limited number of job positions available for this field.
Academic publishing is generally limited to publishing houses sponsored by the different universities such as the Universidad Autónomo de Santo Domingo (UASD) and the Pontífica Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCAMAIMA). National and local papers, however, welcome the input of scholarly articles, particularly in the areas of social welfare, cultural, and literary criticism. The Listín Diario , El Nacional , and El Caribe maintain special weekly cultural segments that focus on such issues.
Beyond those stated events wherein the state has directly or indirectly blocked unrestricted reporting, there have been other events that have taken place in the last eight years which many see as just as threatening events. During this period, newspaper ownership has shifted from privately owned to be owned by banks and large corporations. The newspaper with the largest circulation, the Listín Diario , is now owned by the BanInter group, El Caribe has been purchased by Banco Popular, and the Hoy , the second largest morning newspaper, is now owned by Editora Corripio, a subsidiary of a large Dominican corporation. Even La Informacion , the Santiago local newspaper, is owned by local economic groups. Symptomatic of this trend is the introduction of the publication of "free" newspapers, an event that may greatly change the way the press is received by Dominicans. Such developments are already viewed as circulation wars among rival economic entities and most major newspapers are popularly believed to reflect media manipulation in rivaling bids for power and influence among the competing commercial alliances.
Given this transparent rivalry for media control as a means to influence the politics and economy, the future of Dominican media is not easily predicted. In a state of steady flux both in terms of financing sources and reader-ship, even well established news sources must struggle to maintain their audience. With the rapidly expanding use of Internet, however, Dominicans may become increasingly sophisticated in the use of media sources and eventually make their own choices as to the quality and influence of news coverage.
- 1994 -Balaguer is re-elected, but agrees to serve only a two-year term after being accused of fraud. This disputed election of Balaguer results in change of the electoral process. Presidential elections start a 4-year sequence beginning in 1996, while congressional and local elections start a 4-year sequence beginning in 1998. Journalist Narciso González disappears, and a New Constitution with media laws is approved.
- 1996: Leonel Fernández Reyna of the leftist Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) is elected president. Election of Pres. Leonel Fernández is considered by many to be the first free election in recent history.
- 1997: Forty-eight hour general strike in protest against frequent power cuts, the cost of living and deteriorating public services.
- 1998: Hurricane George causes widespread devastation.
- 2000: PRD returned to power with Hipólito Mejiá as president.
- 2001: Convictions served on defendents in the 1974 murder of newspaper editor and journalist Orlando Martínez.
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Virginia Davis Nordin
Charlene E. Santos