Antonio Guzmán Fernández
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|46th President of the Dominican Republic|
August 16, 1978 – July 4, 1982
|Vice President||Jacobo Majluta Azar|
|Preceded by||Joaquín Balaguer|
|Succeeded by||Jacobo Majluta|
|Born||February 12, 1911
La Vega, Dominican Republic
|Died||July 4, 1982 (aged 71)
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
|Political party||Dominican Revolutionary Party|
Antonio Guzmán was born in the town of La Vega. He studied in the primary and secondary schools of La Vega.
He worked in the fruit exportation business and soon became a wealthy rancher as well.
An early member of Juan Bosch's Dominican Revolutionary Party, he served as secretary of agriculture in Bosch's brief 1963 administration. In May 1966 he was the vice-presidential candidate for the PRD, with Bosch as the candidate for president. The elections were won, however, by Joaquín Balaguer.
He ran for president in 1974 as the candidate of a united opposition ticket. However, he pulled out after Balaguer changed the rules in a way that the opposition felt was unfair and undemocratic.
Guzmán ran for president again in 1978 as the PRD candidate, with Jacobo Majluta as his running mate. When election returns showed an unmistakable trend in Guzmán's favor, the military stopped the count. However, amid vigorous protests at home and strong pressure abroad, the count resumed. When the returns were all in, Guzmán handed Balaguer the first loss of his electoral career. When Balaguer left office that year, it marked the first time in the Dominican Republic's history that an incumbent president peacefully surrendered power to an elected member of the opposition.
Guzmán's political plan was to move slowly to reform the social and economic aspects of the Dominican Republic, while he tried to have direct contact with the armed forces because of their threat concerning pressure in the political field. To directly attack the last problem, he implemented a program that reassigned or even removed officers who were skeptical of his plans and also promoted younger officers who stood behind Guzmán. This new program also called for an institution for more formal training for officers and personnel that enlisted in the armed forces. This program proved to be a great success, and it was a major part of the legacy Guzmán left behind.
Politically though, there was not a lot Guzmán could do because he was restrained to some extent since the majority of Congress consisted of Balaguer's Reformist Party—which gave them benefits when it came to vetoing the different reforms Guzmán wished to launch. Since Guzmán was a wealthy cattle rancher—he knew how to implement well-mapped economic policies. He also helped make the nation’s public transportation system better and increased minimum wage. But even though Guzmán made many reforms that were beneficial to the country, he was still criticized for not responding to the economic decline. One big event that made the criticism even stronger was Hurricane David that hit in 1979, which slowed the economy even more.
Guzmán committed suicide by a gunshot to the head on July 4, 1982, while still in his office in the Palacio Nacional.1 Vice president Jacobo Majluta became acting president and ruled for the remaining 43 days of the four-year term.
Basically, Guzmán’s administration symbolized a bridge that crossed over from Trujillo’s dictatorship and Balaguer's heavy hand to a more liberal style of a democratic government.
- "Antonio Guzmán Fernández". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved June 24, 2009.
|President of the Dominican Republic