“The Ideology of the PLD”, an article by Dr. Leonel Fernández

October 25, 2016

The ideology of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), developed in terms of a conception of the world and of politics, is expressed in its Declaration of Principles, in the theorizing of Professor Juan Bosch, and in the political practices derived from the party itself and its terms in office.

According to its Declaration of Principles, the PLD is a progressive organization, as it rejects populist, authoritarian, and neoliberal thinking
and practices; a popular organization, due to its fundamental commitment to the people; a modern organization, because while respecting the values, culture, and traditions of the Dominican people, it remains committed to a vision of the future; and a democratic organization, as it struggles to protect the right to economic, social, political, and institutional participation by the Dominican people.

Based on those
criteria, the Purple Party develops its own novel organizational and methodological principles inspired by the values of solidarity, patriotism, teamwork, and party discipline.

Its basic aim consists of struggling unreservedly “in favor of the liberation of the human race from all forms of subjection, subordination, discrimination, or marginalization; whether it be of an ethnic, religious, economic, political, social, or gendered nature or of any other
type.” As its founding texts state, the PLD promotes a national project of building, in a setting characterized by globalization, a social and democratic state under the rule of law, promoter of development, and regulator of the market, while guaranteeing the full exercise of citizen rights.

The Contribution of Juan Bosch
Of course, the ideological conception of the PLD is closely related to the political career and thought of Dr.
Juan Bosch, founder and historical leader of the Purple Party.
This political career began with the struggle in exile against the dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. This led him, alongside other renowned leaders of that period, to organize the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) in Havana, Cuba, in 1939.

Juan Bosch’s exile extended for around a quarter-century.

During this period he participated in the Cayo Confites
expedition in 1947 and got close to the so-called Legion of the Caribbean, whose objective was to engage in fierce struggle against the era’s Caribbean and Central American dictatorships.

As a result of these battles, Bosch built links of friendship and political collaboration with a group of personalities including José Figueres in Costa Rica; Rómulo Gallegos and Rómulo Betancourt in Venezuela; Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre in Perú; and Luis Muñoz Marín in
Puerto Rico, all deemed leaders of the democratic left.

But besides dedicating himself to fighting the dictatorships, Bosch was also devoted to reflecting on them. He worked to determine their origins; the forces at play in bringing them about; what makes them endure; and the role of the military as an apparatus of oppression.

From these reflexions arose his book Póker de Espanto en el Caribe, written in 1955 in Chile when the region
found itself subjected to the dictatorships of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua, Marcos Pérez Jiménez in Venezuela, and Fulgencio Batista in Cuba.

Later, in 1959, he published Trujillo: Causas de una Tiranía sin Ejemplo, in which he outlines the thesis that the local dictator was the synthesis and the incarnation of all the evils in Dominican history.

With the execution of Trujillo in
1961, the Dominican Republic entered a phase of democracy-building in which Juan Bosch became the first democratically elected president in nearly four decades.

Nonetheless, seven months into his term, in September 1963, the fateful coup d’état was carried out that would topple him, and when the people took up arms in that heroic feat of April 1965 to ask for his return to power and the reinstatement of constitutionality, it prompted the second military
intervention by the United States in the Dominican Republic in the 20th century.

After these events, a disillusionment with democracy was planted in the spirit and thinking of the founder of the PLD.

He understood that the material conditions did not exist in the country to enable the bringing forth of a rule-of-law based state and the separation of powers.

In the face of this, he embarked on a new intellectual venture in search of an
alternative that would allow the Dominican people to surmount secular backwardness and gain a better future.

From that search arose his works published from 1966 to 1970: Dictadura con Respaldo Popular; El Pentagonismo, Sustituto del Imperialismo; Composición Social Dominicana; De Cristóbal Colón a Fidel Castro; and Breve Historia de la Oligarquía.

When he
couldn’t get his old Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) to adopt his new political concepts, he opted to abandon it, and in 1973 founded the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD).

The Experience of the PLD
Upon its constitution, the PLD laid out, in the first place, a national patriotic aspiration as as strategic aim: to complete the work of Juan Pablo Duarte; and next, a project of universal dimension: to be a national liberation

It was a difficult stage in which there seemed to be no democratic route to power. The PLD thus felt like part of the Latin American revolutionary movement.

But as a result of a set of both national and international factors that allowed the Dominican Republic to pioneer Latin America’s democratic transition in the 1980s, the Purple Party inserted itself into the electoral system and advanced progressively in every electoral
contest until reaching power for the first time in 1996.

From that moment until today, 20 years later, the PLD has become the most successful political organization in the history of the Dominican Republic.

Not only is it the case that during this period it has won control of the executive branch five times – four of which were consecutive – but also has in all cases won a vote above 50 percent, an unprecedented achievement in the
history of the country.

In addition, it’s gone on to hold majorities in both legislative chambers, as well as in various mayorships and municipal districts around the national territory.

The reason for the PLD’s electoral success is due to the achievements made during its different terms in office.

As is now recognized, during the PLD’s different administrations, the Dominican Republic has seen an
acceleration of economic growth, to the extent that at one point, the country’s wealth generation capacity quadrupled in only eight years.

Along with the sustained economic growth, the country has seen a radical transformation of its infrastructure, with the construction of highways, bridges, hospitals, schools, universities, public buildings, aqueducts, dams, and electricity installations at an impressive rate.

Likewise, with the application
of effective social policies, there’s been an increase in life expectancy, a reduction in maternal and infant mortality, control of contagious diseases, a broadening of social security coverage, a diminution of indigence, a reduction of poverty, and an expansion of the middle class.

Likewise, there have been reform and modernization in the state, with greater quality of public services, greater professionalization of the public administration, better access to
information, more transparency, and better yields on accounts.

In short, during the periods the PLD government has governed there has been more progress to the wellbeing of the Dominican Republic than at any other period in its history, and it has occurred in the context of full democracy and liberty.

Obviously this has not been a perfect story. There are undoubtedly failures and weaknesses. But more than anything what matters is that the bright spots
outnumber the shadows.

By the yellow star that lights it, the criteria make clear that the ideology of the PLD is of a political party that over more than four decades has shown itself to be a progressive, popular, modern, democratic, solidarity-focused organization.

In short, a party that upon rejecting both populism and neoliberalism ended up becoming a unique party in the Americas.

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