History, The PRD Wins Power
Jose Francisco Pena Gomez, presidential runoff election, world sugar prices, protest riots, presidential years
In the mid-1970s a sharp decline in world sugar prices adversely affected the Dominican economy, and Balaguer’s support began to dwindle; in the 1978 elections he was turned out of office, defeated by the PRD candidate, Silvestre Antonio Guzman. After foiling a plot by right-wing military men to prevent him from taking office, Guzman purged the armed forces of many Balaguer supporters, released some 200 political prisoners of the previous regime, and eased press censorship. The economy remained troubled by low sugar prices and was further damaged by two hurricanes in 1979 that left more than 200,000 people homeless and caused $1 billion in damages.
Guzman chose not to run again in 1982. He died in July of that year, an apparent suicide, shortly after Senator Salvador Jorge Blanco was elected to succeed him. To rescue the country from its deepening economic crisis, Jorge Blanco turned to the International Monetary Fund, which demanded austerity measures in exchange for a three-year loan package. These measures, including price increases for basic foods and gasoline, led to protest riots throughout the nation in 1984 and 1985. Balaguer was returned as president in 1986. In 1988, Jorge Blanco was tried in absentia and found guilty of corruption during his presidential years. In the 1990 presidential election, Balaguer defeated Bosch by a narrow margin. He was reelected in 1994 but agreed to serve only a two-year term after he was accused of electoral fraud. In a presidential runoff election held in June 1996 Leonel Fernandez Reyna of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) defeated Jose Francisco Pena Gomez of the PRD to win the presidency of the Dominican Republic. The PRD was not in opposition for long, however, and in 2000 the party returned to power with the election of Hipolito Mejia to the presidency.
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