Fernández Reyna, Leonel Antonio

Fernández Reyna, Leonel Antonio,

1953–, Dominican political leader, president of the Dominican Republic (1996–2000, 2004–12), b. Santo Domingo. He spent his childhood in New York City and later earned a doctorate in law and politics from the Autonomous Univ. of Santo Domingo. He practiced law, and joined the Dominican Liberation party (PLD) when it was founded (1973) by former president Juan BoschBosch, Juan
(Juan Bosch Gavino) , 1909–2001, president of the Dominican Republic (Feb.–Sept., 1963). A teacher and writer, he spent 24 years in exile during the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo and helped found (1939) the Dominican Revolutionary party.
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, his mentor. Fernández held several party posts but was relatively unknown until he was Bosch's vice presidential running mate in 1994. After Bosch lost and then stepped down as head of the party, Fernández succeeded him as PLD leader. Joaquín BalaguerBalaguer, Joaquín
(Joaquín Balaguer Ricardo) , 1907–2002, president of the Dominican Republic (1960–62, 1966–78, 1986–96). A lawyer by trade, he held posts under the dictator Rafael Trujillo Molina.
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, who had won in 1994, left office under pressure after two years, and in 1996 Fernández was elected president. He was defeated by Hipólito Mejía Dominguez in 2000, but in 2004 Fernández was again elected to the presidency, and he retained the office in 2008. He sought but failed to win the PLD's presidential nomination in 2019.