Local August 16, 2020 | 1:44 pm

Read the complete inaugural speech of new Dominican President Luis Abinader

Honorable Mr.  Eduardo Estrella, President of the National Assembly;  

His Excellency Mr. Jovenel Moïse, President of the Republic of Haiti;

His Excellency, General Umaro Sissoco Embaló, President of the Republic of Guinea Bissau and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces;

Honorable sir Hipólito Mejía, Former President of the Republic;

Your excellence  Michael Pompeo, Secretary of State of the United States;  

Your Excellency, Mevl ȕ t Cavuşoğlu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey;

Your excellence, Maria Aranzazu González Laya, Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of the Kingdom of Spain;

Your excellence, Pedro Brolo Vila, Secretary of State for Foreign Relations and International Cooperation of the Republic of Guatemala;

Your excellence Lisandro Rosales Banegas, Minister of Relations of the Republic of Honduras;

His Excellency Zoran Djordjevic, Minister of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Policy of the Republic of Serbia;

His Excellency Most Reverend Monsignor Ghaleb Bader, Apostolic Nuncio and Head of Special Mission of His Holiness Pope Francis;

His Excellencies, Heads of Special Missions and International Organizations;

Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps accredited in the country;

Distinguished Special Guests;  

Her Excellency  Raquel Peña Rodríguez,  Vice President of the Republic;  

Honorable Mrs. Milagros Ortíz Bosch, Former Vice President of the Republic;

Her Excellency  Raquel Arbaje de Abinader,  First Lady of the Republic;

Honorable  Luis Henry Molina, President of the Supreme Court of Justice;  

Honorable Mr.  Milton Ray Guevara, President of the Constitutional Court;

Honorable Mr.  Román Jáquez Liranzo,  President of the Superior Electoral Tribunal;

Honorable  Julio César Castaños Guzmán,  President of the Central Electoral Board;  

Honorable Mr. Hugo Álvarez Pérez, President of the Chamber of Accounts ;  

Honorable Mrs.  Zoila Martínez Guante,  Ombudsman;  

Honorable Mr. Alfredo Pacheco Osoria, Vice President of the National Assembly;

Honorable Senators and Deputies, Members of the National Assembly;   

My Mother, Rosa Sula Corona Caba;

Senior Civil and Military Officials;

Distinguished representatives of the media;      

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Before starting my speech, allow me to ask you to stand up to pay tribute and remember the victims of Covid-19 and their families.

They are not alone in this terrible trance, and they have the solidarity and affection of all the Dominican people represented here, as well as the fraternal encouragement of the sister and friendly nations whose representatives honor us today with their presence.

And let us also give applause that serves as support for all those who are hospitalized, as well as those who are recovering at home and, especially, for the health personnel who take care of us and cure us in an effort of solidarity and unprecedented professionalism in our history. 

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. 

Dominican people.

This morning I appear before this National Assembly to receive the Presidential Band honored by the public trust placed in the polls and well aware of the current challenges, but also full of faith regarding the future.

As befits our civic and political tradition, this act is celebrated on August 16, 157 years after, in Cerro de Capotillo, fourteen men under the command of Colonel Santiago Rodríguez raised the national flag under the shout of ¡Viva la República Dominicana!

With that brave action, a hard and sometimes bitter path began but also guided by the hope that more than one hundred and fifty years later, has brought us to a new solemn moment of relief and continuity in the highest magistracy of the Dominican Republic. 

Today we take another step towards that future of freedom, prosperity, and justice that those heroes dreamed of and whose memory we honor by making the date of their epic coincide with the act of inauguration of the President of the Republic.

When those brave patriots starred in El Grito de Capotillo, they knew that the path they had to travel was full of obstacles. However, their legs did not tremble, nor did their spirits fail to face the historic task ahead. 

Almost a century later and in circumstances that are also bleak for our country, the painter Aurelio Crosiet’s talent did not fail and, with his brushes, he left on the walls of this venerable room a symbolic map of what – I announce now – will be our journey for the next few years; a period in which difficulties and challenges will not be lacking, but neither will the determination to solve them or the work to overcome them.

The Crosiet murals that we can now contemplate, show us teachings of freedom, justice, the value of the law, the homeland, and faith.

But despite the inspiration and pride that we produce these paintings, I’m not cheating anyone with sweet hollow words, bright horizons, or false promises because neither the high magistracy today assume no decency I allow such irresponsibility because we live one of the most difficult hours in our history for which we do not have precedents or have proven recipes because they simply do not exist. 

Even so, on this solemn day, I offer work and unlimited dialogue so that, together, we can move forward stronger, more united, and full of hope.

As a preamble, I want to warn that this speech will not be a government program, nor a list of works to be undertaken, which we have already detailed throughout the campaign, and in the transition. Nor is it an inventory of the painful legacy in many areas of the State, which will be reported by the officials who will make up the work team of this government. Because this will be a government of systematic communication and accountability.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The Covid has exposed the serious structural situation that our country is going through. A global pandemic has shown us how our country has weaknesses that make it very vulnerable to the current situation and its economic and social consequences. We have had decades of inaction and bad politics, but today we have no more time to waste.

However, the urgent should not make us forget the important. The haste with which we have to arbitrate measures should not be an excuse for not undertaking the profound reforms that our country needs to contain the ravages that the pandemic is aggravating in the short term, and also to overcome our structural deficiencies.

For this reason, this presidency that begins today will be one of urgent changes. But also that of irreversible changes.

COVID AND HEALTH

Covid-19 is a global evil that hits us all in a way that is as silent as it is especially cruel because it punishes the need that, as human beings, we have to live together.

An adversary so terrible that it forces us to take exceptional measures to defend life and our way of living it.

The virus is putting our entire social structure to the test, with consequences for our health and our health system, but also for economic, educational, cultural, and social activity. That is why we must act now and forcefully.

The current public health system, despite its good professionals, has not had enough means to alleviate the pandemic, or to articulate prevention policies in the face of this or other health crises.

I want to announce to you today that our government will launch a national plan for the detection, isolation, tracking, and treatment of infected persons on an unprecedented scale in our history, with the commitment to guarantee access to the virus vaccine to the entire Dominican population. as soon as it is available.

We will increase the health budget to more than 66 billion pesos in the first 4 months of government to attend to this emergency but, at the same time, to forever transform our health care model, under criteria of deconcentration, decentralization and empowerment communities, as well as the reinforcement of primary care.

Today I pledge to dedicate myself body and soul to placing our health system where Dominicans deserve it to be: among the best in Latin America.

Therefore, this act of reception of the Presidential Band serves to acquire a solemn commitment here: No one is going to be left unattended or left to their own devices because we are going to leave this crisis, all and together. 

Under my presidency, the health system will not collapse. But it is important that we understand that after almost six months of the onset of the pandemic in the country, we received the leadership of the government in full expansion of the virus, with 1,400 deaths and more than 85,000 infected.

In the coming months, we will increase the number of beds where needed, double our bed capacity in intensive care units, open 12 temporary hospitals, and train more than 1,000 doctors and nurses in a large national program to be more effective in the fight against the pandemic.

Such an endeavor will be possible because we are going to restructure the institutional architecture of the State to eliminate unnecessary bodies and institutions or those with duplication of functions and we will allocate these funds to the inclusion of more than two million citizens to family health insurance so that by December This year, the Dominican public health care system will be UNIVERSAL AND FREE.

ECONOMY

Dominican people:

The pandemic is global. And the economic crisis that it has brought with it is too. The damage caused is already the greatest since World War II. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development projected a negative global growth, so recovery will not come rapidly nor easily.

The reduction of the global economy will mean dramatically lower trade exchanges between countries. The technological revolution that allowed the global to become local also causes a reduction in world demand to have consequences for the external sector of our economy and repercussions on production, employment, and domestic consumption.

Prohibitions and fear of traveling reduce the number of tourists on our island; our exports suffer from the depression of world demand. Small and medium-sized businesses close, jobs are lost and savings are consumed without anyone being able to predict the impact or the end of the nightmare.

This crisis threatens to put the maximum strain on fiscal policies and forces us to properly manage public spending to alleviate the damage already suffered by sectors that generate foreign exchange. And all this is triggered in a context in which the levels of public debt – even before the pandemic – had already reached the limits of recklessness. The consolidated debt of the entire State was doubled in the last decade, and this week alone the deficit has grown by 25.6 billion pesos.

In the past, there was no increase in the well-being of citizens, but an increase in debt and our deficit. This is the scenario we face. This is the balance that we have found. A balance that we are firmly committed to reversing.

Improving the quality of spending and eliminating waste and corruption that for years have only increased the deficit and consequently the public debt without improving the quality of life of Dominicans. Don’t let the sponsors of embezzlement waste their time. Nothing and nobody will make us change this commitment.

Never before has any government faced such a combination of challenges and threats.

The crisis and its effects bring us many months of sacrifice and discipline, but always keeping hope for a better future. Therefore, the priority is to create the conditions to recover production and employment using all the mechanisms that are within our reach to achieve this objective, that is why I announce that:

  1. We continue aid programs FASE, Quédate en Casa and Pa’ti for the remainder of the year 2020
  2. We will extend tax facilities, especially for small and medium-sized companies, and we will implement a Guarantee and Financing Program aimed at sectors affected by the pandemic for more than 100,000 million pesos.
  3. We will initiate a repair and construction plan that will impact more than 30,000 homes to reactivate local economies throughout the country.
  4. We will encourage the Reserve Bank to give priority to projects in the tourism, industrial and export sectors that create employment and that are halted due to lack of financing.
  5. We will present on Monday 24 the Tourism relaunch Plan with the aim of promoting it and recovering the influx of visitors prior to the pandemic.
  6. We are going to have, through Banco Agrícola, five billion pesos of financing at a zero interest rate for the new planting. And it will provide marketing support and technical assistance to ensure food safety.

To achieve all these objectives, it will be necessary to resort to internal and external sources of financing that allow meeting extraordinary needs, which will imply an increase in debt beyond what we had programmed before the pandemic. 

The scale of the crisis is so staggering that this new government will do whatever it takes whenever it takes, and for as long as it takes to rescue the economy and protect people and their jobs.

Once the health and economic crises are over, we will have to take measures to change the trajectory of our public debt.

Fiscal constraints drive us to be creative and make the most of public and private partnerships to generate investment in areas that involve the creation of formal jobs and strategic works. Some that we will start planning and assigning immediately are:

  • The construction of the Amber Highway, which would allow getting from Santiago to Puerto Plata in just 25 minutes and from Santo Domingo to Puerto Plata in two hours.
  • The tourist development of Pedernales, which would develop its own airport as well as the construction of 3,000 hotel rooms in various hotels.
  • E l port of Manzanillo which will give us access to banana exports and free zones of Santiago and the Northwest.

Perhaps now the private sector has its logical reservations to start new projects given the delicate international situation. But this government wants to tell national and international entrepreneurs that this is the time to invest in the Dominican Republic.

We will create a favorable investment climate by guaranteeing legal security, transparency and speed in the hiring processes. And furthermore, as of tomorrow, I am ordering all public institutions to accelerate the knowledge and decision of any investment that is paralyzed, and that involves job creation. 

EXTERNAL RELATIONSHIPS

Assemblymen

Dominican foreign policy must be positioned as one of the axes of government action. Its weight and importance in such a global context are essential today.

I want to remember here, at this point and in such an important act, that our nation is not limited only to the 48,000 square kilometers it occupies. 

We can also find the Dominican Republic beyond the turquoise blue coasts of the sea that bathe this dynamic and diverse Caribbean region. The Dominican Republic also lives among the skyscrapers of the Big Apple of New York, and in the bustling streets of Madrid.

This Dominican Republic of which I want to share with you today, we are each and every one of us, men and women who live on this island or who develop their life projects in the distance. It is the Republic of those who carry the eternal flame of the homeland that the Trinitarians, Gregorio Luperón and the Mirabal Sisters bequeathed to us throughout the world.

That republic that lives far from this island is the one that has maintained its effort in a time as hard as this, increasing remittances to help their families. They continue to demonstrate their immense attachment to this land, placed in the same path of the sun and the light. They have their bodies outside, but their soul and their culture remain with us. To this beloved diaspora abroad we can only say: THANK YOU.

Dominican foreign policy has traditionally been ineffective, and appointments to its foreign service often dealt as political spoils. But this is going to change NOW. From today there will be a government that serves its people, that is at their service and that helps their people wherever they are.

We are fully aware that the prosperity of the country will also depend on our placing our foreign service where a modern and decent nation deserves. We have great challenges ahead, such as its professionalization, modernization and the adaptation of its structures, today disproportionate and ineffective.

Through our Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we will promote trade and investment at a time when they will be crucial for our recovery. We will strengthen our strategic relationships with the United States, our main commercial partner, and the place where two million compatriots reside.

And we will continue to strengthen our relations with all regions of the world, including the European Union, especially with our Spanish partners and of course, we will redouble our efforts to be an actor of economic transformation and promoter of democracy and its values ​​throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Dominican Republic is perfectly positioned to make the most of this historic challenge. We have a robust industrial and Free Zones ecosystem, and enviable proximity to the world’s main consumer markets.

The time has come to maximize our geographic position in the Americas for the reestablishment of businesses and the creation of jobs.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The bilateral relationship with Haiti is very important for the Dominican Republic. We are aware that success in this relationship depends on the active, consistent, and persevering presence of both states. Hence, we must continue to strengthen the instruments for a good neighborhood, promote the comprehensive development of the border, and design an effective security policy to help the well-being of the two nations.

EDUCATION 

Dominican people,

The true raison d’être of a government is the welfare of its people. And you cannot aspire to higher degrees of well-being and equality without Education. The true transforming lever of society is training and knowledge.

Bertold Brecht said, “What times will these be, you have to defend the obvious.” Well, here I am, defending once again a truism as great as it is forgotten: That the Dominican Republic must have the educational system it deserves and that it must be none other than the best.

Not by chance, the Dominican people turned into a standard the legitimate and necessary demand that 4% of the Gross Domestic Product be allocated to Education.

However sadly, that 4% has not been invested as it should, there was more business than education. 

So we don’t start with any advantage. According to the World Bank, the schooling expectation of a Dominican child is 11.3 years, but the effective schooling by skills management is reduced to 6.3.

20 percent of our students do not complete the primary school cycle and the mismatch between the model of educator training institutions and the current curriculum of our educational centers is evident.

We’ve gotten worse in PISA reports since 2015, today ranking last out of 79 countries in math and science and second to last in reading. 

The diagnosis of our educational system is, without a doubt, serious and I do not intend to make up such a condition, nor am I going to allow it to continue like this.  

The current educational model in our country does not work, or at least it does not generate quality in education, employability of graduates, nor does it contribute to the development of the nation.

For this reason, we propose to guarantee the incorporation of all Dominican women and men into the educational processes: that no one is left without a school space, without an opportunity to train, to train, to develop, and to have access to success.

We are going to promote an educational model based on the generation of useful skills for social insertion, but also useful so that our young people can effectively carry out a quality job – a formal job – or create their own businesses if they so decide.

Likewise, we are going to fill the extended round with skills and useful content, so that our educational centers become laboratories of values ​​and citizenship.

To achieve these purposes, the commitment and enthusiastic participation of the entire educational community is essential, especially of the teachers to whom we are going to improve their working conditions in recognition of their training and education as good educators and the quality of the teaching they provide. to our children and youth.

The critical situation that drags Dominican education is further aggravated by Covid-19, which puts the 2020-2021 school year in serious difficulties, scheduled to start on the 24th, that is, within eight days. We cannot take that risk.

However, we are not going to resign ourselves to waiting for the storm to pass. Next week, the new education minister will present the plan through which we are going to face the situation to guarantee the progress of education while preserving the health of the educational community.

This forces us to resort to distance and virtual education, for which technological resources are required that the outgoing government did not prepare.

Hence, I announce today that, for the beginning of the school year, all children and young people in schools and high schools in the Dominican Republic will have a Tablet or Laptop so that they can continue their training regardless of how the pandemic evolves. and its economic level.

We will also launch an ambitious plan to involve all telephone service operators in the country and ensure the connectivity of the entire educational system in minimum time.

We have also met with the rector of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo to provide her with special help, in such a way that we can guarantee her semester safely and in the best possible way.

With these measures, we will save the school and university year and eliminate once and for all the digital divide that is so large and unbearable in our country.

This is a change that will transform our educational system forever.

Because this government that begins today is convinced that the commitment to education is the only one in which it is always won since we are talking about the transforming engine of an unstoppable change without turning back. By betting on our young people and their training, we are betting on talent and the future. If we succeed, we will arrive on time to the historic appointment of progress that the Republic demands.

INSTITUTIONALITY

But there are no transformations without the necessary institutional reforms that guarantee that we are a people of laws and not a community subjected to the changing will of its rulers. History is not linear and in the Dominican Republic, we have learned that lesson the hard way too many times.

The inventory of tragic setbacks since our Independence confirms this. Nothing without effort is guaranteed forever. For this reason, the vigilance to maintain democracy never ends.

Those of us gathered here in the National Assembly, from our different institutional responsibilities, are the guardians of the democratic legacy and, as such, we cannot fail in the objective of reconciling freedom with Justice.

Because without Justice democracy cannot exist.

The historical heritage of hundreds of thousands of Dominicans who, in the course of more than a century and a half, have marched demanding justice and who, too many times, have shed their blood in the effort, must not be spoiled. If we forgot those sacrifices, we would not be worthy to even look in the mirror without feeling ashamed.

Nor can we forget all those who fought with determination to guarantee respect for the Constitution and our laws. We will not let you down.

Therefore, one of the first decrees that I will sign today will be to appoint a politically independent Attorney General capable of doing the right thing, even if everyone is against it, and to avoid the unfair, even if everyone is in favor. 

SECURITY

Assemblymen,

Without law there is no security, without security there is no freedom and without freedom, there is no democracy. And whoever is tempted to sacrifice one of these values ​​to preserve another will lose them all.

In a free, modern, democratic, and advanced society like the one that the Dominican Republic aspires to be, we all deserve to develop a project of life without violence.  

Insecurity affects thousands of Dominican men and women. 77% of society considers crime as their main concern.

I believe that this problem must be solved by overcoming the old concept of the public order because the causes of this evil are much more complex and profound.

For this reason, we must improve and address prevention, creating opportunities that close the door to recourse to crime while we carry out intense educational programs on the negative impact of alcohol and drugs among the youngest. We will also strengthen deterrence actions by strengthening the collaboration of the police with the society they must serve and protect.   This requires a collective effort as great as the goal we want to achieve: a country without violence.

For this great objective, we know that we need to involve all the Dominican people, but especially those who watch over our security and freedom: the national police force.

The police service is entrusted with such vital tasks for the development of our nation, such as protecting life, the physical integrity of people, preserving public order, or promoting citizen coexistence. Our debt to this service is as great as the obligation we have to improve it.

In this new time that is beginning, we will undertake a comprehensive reform of the national police that promotes changes in the institutional culture, promotes the professionalization and modernization of the service, improves the working conditions of our agents, and makes police services more efficient.

A battery of measures and purposes that are crucial for the democratic quality of our country. Well, it fully affects its people and conditions our lives.

TRANSPARENCY

AND FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION

Assemblymen,

A quality democracy, on the threshold of the third decade of the 21st century, requires vertical accountability. This supposes a system of checks and balances between the powers of the State so that no one prevails over another. The government must be subject to permanent and transparent citizen oversight. This is also democracy and not only the specific issuance of the citizen expression that represents the deposit of a ballot in a ballot box every four years. 

A full recognition of the fundamental rights of citizens also requires the existence of a just regime of consequences for those who violate the Law, without any type of privilege or impunity, and of a socially equitable distribution of the fruits of economic growth and of the national wealth.

And today, here, I tell you that our democracy has been damaged. 

At this point, I want to be very clear, precise, and forceful. In the government that we start today, under no circumstances will the corruption of the past go unpunished, stole money from the people, must necessarily pay for their actions through justice.

In the same way, I want to give a warning to the new officials who will accompany me in the government of change: I will not tolerate any act of indelicacy, much less corruption in my government. The official who makes a mistake with the people’s money will be immediately dismissed and brought to justice. We are convinced that corruption from above encourages corruption from below, which is criminal, which translates into insecurity. And both have to be fought relentlessly.

I want to reiterate so that no one is confused, that there will be no impunity for the corruption of the past, nor for that committed in the future.

I am committed to the Dominican people, my family, and the memory of my father to head a transparent and ethical government, where the people’s money is handled with total and absolute neatness.

As you can see, the challenges are difficult and there will be those who feel their spirits falter before the colossal magnitude of the task. This is not the case of the Dominicans and, thanks to their inspiration, neither that of their president. 

Although material resources are always limited, the capacities on which success depends – creativity, persistence, discipline, solidarity, courage, and faith – are infinite and constitute the best heritage this country has.

However, these gifts will be of no use without unity of action. A unit that concerns us all, beyond acronyms, ideologies, and partisanship.

The road is long and dark and whoever is tempted to walk it alone and without lights, will not get anywhere. For this reason, in the coming days, I will meet with the entire national leadership to address and discuss together the solutions that our country requires.

The health emergency and its tremendous consequences on the economic and social fabric require us to rise to the occasion as has rarely happened in the history of our nation. 

We have an examination with History and with the next generations that will ask us to account for our actions. We must show the world what we are capable of doing united in our diversity and strong in our struggle.

With that spirit to the utmost this investiture as president of all Dominicans, as his first servant and with the commitment that this government be remembered as the one that began a new time of change, unity, and true economic and social development.

This government will not be against each other. I am the president of all in a nation of free and equal citizens whose historic goal is to protect and rebuild our country. 

We are much more than ten million people who live in this part of the world.

We are a way of seeing life with the values ​​of peace, coexistence, solidarity, and progress, as befits a country that wants to be built and enjoyed the way its people want. Our people. Us. An “us” that excludes no one because it is the expression of a collective spirit of freedom and justice that has always guided our people.

And that was the flag that those 14 men raised 157 years ago on the Capotillo hill.

The flag with which I dress today.

The flag of freedom.

The flag of hope.

The flag of progress.

The flag of all Dominicans.

Long live the Dominican Republic!

Thank you very much and God bless our people!!