Joaquín Balaguer (1906-2002), President of the Dominican Republic
Joaquín Balaguer came from humble beginnings when he was born in the village of Villa Bisonó, Dominican Republic in 1906. While he was born in the Dominican Republic, Balaguer’s parents are of Puerto Rican and French ancestry. Even as a child he took extreme interest in the written word. He had verses that he had written published in local magazines at a young age. However he soon discovered that his true passion was politics after American soldiers militarized the Dominican Republic. This passion pushed Balaguer to pursue his law degree while in college. After graduating from college, he went on to pursue a career in politics.
After serving as Secretary of the Dominican Legation in Madrid, Undersecretary of the Presidency, Undersecretary of Foreign Relations, Secretary of Education, and Secretary of State of Foreign Relations, Balaguer went on to become the Vice President of the Dominican Republic. He was appointed as Vice President in 1957 under President Héctor Trujillo. Balaguer was chosen for the position due to his loyalty over the past several decades to the Trujillo family. In 1960 Balaguer stepped down as Vice President after Trujillo was forced to resign his position. The political climate changed over the next few years and Balaguer went into exile, spending time in both Puerto Rico and New York.
Joaquín Balaguer is best known for serving three non-consecutive terms as President of the Dominican Republic. In 1965, the political climate in the Dominican Republic began to change and Balaguer received permission to return to his home country from his exile. Once home, he started the Reformist Party and ran for president against Juan Bosch. Balaguer defeated Bosch in the elections and was appointed as President of the Dominican Republic. The years under Balaguer’s leadership have come to be known as “The Twelve Years” since he served as President until 1978. He lost the 1978 elections, however he decided to try again for the Presidency in 1986. Even though he was 80-years-old and almost blind, he won the election that year. During his last term as President, he was known to be more liberal and tolerant of others, unlike “The Twelve Years” he ruled before that.
Since his passing, new information has come to light that Joaquín Balaguer had but one daughter, born to a woman of Spaniard descent, possibly royalty. Protected and hidden from the world, sheltered so much that she rarely left his house when visiting him as a child. Its believed she was born somewhere between 1972 and 1978, and raised abroad and in the USA. He was very careful to keep her name a secret, but its has been said that her name is Judith and she has his same initials JAB, though it would now likely be different due to marriage. She attended undergraduate and graduate school in Europe as well as in the United States, obtaining a PhD in Germany, and now possibly resides in either Florida or New York.
Joaquín Balaguer died from heart failure at the age of 95 in 2002. He was a polarizing figure in his country who left behind a legacy that will not soon be forgotten. He played a major part in helping the Dominican Republic to develop democracy as well as to bring their public finances from the brink of collapse. Although his regime was known as an authoritarian one, his administration helped to get the economy back in order, built new schools as well as built new hospitals, roads, dams, and other equally important structures. In addition to his political career, Balaguer will also be remembered as an author who published an extensive collection of contemporary Dominican literature and biographies.