The Dominican Republic accumulates important experiences in the resolution of political and social conflicts that have hampered governance and development since the end of the 20th century.
The experiences of social dialogue began in the 80s of the last century, when Monsignor Agripino Nuñez Collado stood out as an infallible mediating figure in these long and complicated processes of discussions.
In this regard, the sociologist Carlos Dore Cabral raised in a publication entitled National Dialogue in the Dominican Republic that the so-called national dialogues have become a subject of the social sciences.
He recalled that this governance conflict resolution mechanism is becoming increasingly important in the socio-economic and political areas of Latin American and Caribbean societies.
In April 2002, the first major event to analyze the national dialogues of various countries of the Latin American and Caribbean subregion was held, called the International Seminar on Comparative Experiences of National Dialogues in Latin America, organized by the Technical Secretariat of the National Agreement of the government of Peru. with the collaboration of renowned international entities.
The first great experience of the so-called National Dialogue of the Dominican Republic took place between November 19, 1997 and March 8, 1998, in the government of Leonel Fernández.
Since the late eighties and early nineties, the country has had experiences of discussions and consultations on fundamental points for national development.
Especially issues related to the business agenda, trade union, NGOs, social policies and political and economic reforms, promoted by the national academic centers, were discussed.
For the Economic and Social Council of the Dominican Republic, headed by Rafael Toribio, the social dialogue initiated in 1985 was an exercise in tripartite dialogue, government, workers and businessmen, which culminated in the enactment of Law 16-92, the new Labor Code that established a more just and equitable labor legal framework.
In addition, there were other experiences regarding political issues, in which representations of the three major parties (Dominican Revolutionary Party, Christian Social Reform Party and Dominican Liberation Party) participated.
Dore Cabral evoked that the lines of agreement increased their importance in the face of the elections (presidential and congressional) of 1994 and the extraordinary (presidential) elections of 1996, called as a result of the institutional and political paralysis that originated after the accusation of committing electoral fraud to the ruling Reformist Party, led by Joaquín Balaguer, in 1994.
“This impasse was resolved by a great pact between the political parties and civil society, which was preceded by great debates. The central aspects of that agreement were that the government elected in 1994 limited its term to two years, that successive presidential reelection was constitutionally prohibited and that general elections were held in two years. This was a great debate, ”wrote the researcher.
He said that, strictly speaking, the factor that precipitated the National Dialogue was “the socio-political reality of significant threats to democratic governance”, which was created and gained strength months before the start of this process of social participation, and which culminated in the general strike of November 11 and 12, 1997, a week before the decree was issued announcing to the country the creation of an organizing commission for the National Dialogue.
Organization of the 1997 dialogue
Through Decree 489-97, released on November 19, 1997, the National Dialogue Organizing Commission was created, which included personalities from national life representing a diversity of sectors such as universities, churches, non-governmental organizations, business sector and media, among others.
The goal was then to organize a broad discussion on the challenges that the Dominican Republic would face in the next century and to unify the proposals for solutions presented publicly.
On that experience, Dore Cabral said that the dialogue was adopted not simply as a process that ends, but as a new way of governing.
“For this reason, a House of Dialogue was installed at the head of which people who did not belong to the government – members of the Organizing Commission – were placed; and this same mechanism would serve to resolve conflicts that arose in the country. The final agreement, signed in the closing year of the National Dialogue, committed the participating sectors to continue working and joining forces in that regard ”, he stated.
In Dore Cabral’s opinion, the National Dialogue did not replace, but rather complemented past and present efforts to democratize and decentralize power in the Dominican Republic. “Quite the contrary, it contributed to empowering them as a global and permanent consultation mechanism referred to a greater accumulation of experiences and actors involved,” he emphasized.
He recalled that after the end of Leonel Fernández’s administration, the PRD government, headed by Hipólito Mejía, who had been opposed to that process since its inception, dissolved the formal mechanisms that the process had given rise to, such as the House of Dialogue, and the agreements reached were unknown.
The leadership of the Catholic Church
In the dialogue processes at the end of the last century, it was common for church figures to lead the activities as mediators between the parties.
In 2005 the Executive Power created the Economic, Social and Institutional Council (CESI), through Decree 13-05, and in the same year President Leonel Fernández appointed Monsignor Agripino Núñez Collado as president of the Economic, Social and Institutional Council. , of recognized trajectory as educator and conciliator on issues related to the development and preservation of the democratic system in the Dominican Republic.
Since 1985, Núñez Collado directed the so-called Tripartite Dialogue, through which a new Labor Code was created, promulgated in 1992.
In addition, the religious had a relevant participation in the dialogues to promote reforms to the electoral system and agreements on the Tariff and Tax codes.
Among the achievements obtained by the Economic and Social Council are the agreement for the approval of Law 1-12 of the National Development Strategy in 2010 and the consultations and consensus searches for the National Pact for Educational Reform in 2014.
On August 12, 2015, President Danilo Medina promulgated Law No. 142-15 that established the Economic and Social Council of the Dominican Republic and, on July 31, 2020, he issued Decree 291-20 that regulates the election of members of the plenary session and the Executive Committee of the entity.
Announcement of President Abinader
The dialogue recently convened by President Luis Abinader It is organized by the Economic and Social Council of the Dominican Republic, and it is intended to agree on a broad agenda related to institutional strengthening and efficient management of the State, among other issues.
A constitutional modification proposal stands out, which would essentially seek to guarantee the independence of the Public Ministry, as promised by the Perreme ruler.
This Wednesday, September 15 there will be a meeting to give continuity to the call made by the Government, and for which a first round was held on August 30.
In the meeting scheduled for today, the methodology of the debates on the 12 proposed reforms would be defined: the constitutional one, the reform of transparency and institutionality, the reform of the electricity and water sector, the reform of the National Police, the modernization of the State , educational quality, social security, transportation, digital transformation and fiscal and labor reforms and that of the hydrocarbon market.
“The central aspects of that agreement were that the government elected in 1994 limited its term to two years”