Antonio Guzman was sworn in on Wednesday (16 August) as President of the Dominican Republic in the first peaceful transfer of power in the Caribbean country this century.
Antonio Guzman was sworn in on Wednesday (16 August) as President of the Dominican Republic in the first peaceful transfer of power in the Caribbean country this century. He took over from outgoing President Joaquin Balaguer, who had been in power for 12 years, following elections last May which brought the country to the brink of a military coup.
SYNOPSIS: Crowds outside the Palace of Congress cheered and shouted "Balaguer is out today" while inside the Palace, representatives of several countries attended the formal ceremony which marked the handover of power. One of them was U.A. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, his presence seen as a mark of the importance the Carter administration attaches to the handover -- also reinforced by the presence of Andrew Young, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
President Guzman, known throughout his country as "Don Antonio", represents the conservative wing of the Revolutionary Party. When he took a commanding lead in the May elections, the Army moved in and interrupted vote counting. It took a public warning of economic reprisals from President Carter and messages from some of the civilian governments in Latin America before the Army backed down and counting was resumed. It was an ailing Dr. Balaguer, the outgoing President, who handed over the presidential sash for the man whose party was removed from office by a military coup 15 years ago. Over the past few weeks, President Guzman's Revolutionary Party has complained bitterly about Dr. Balaguer's Reformist Party, and observers note that the outgoing Congress, which frequently failed to meet for lack of a quorum, has been unusually active, passing laws aimed at limiting President Guzman's powers.