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HE Alejandro Garcí­a Padilla

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - Diplomacy

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Governor, Puerto Rico

Bio

Alejandro Garcí­a Padilla was born in 1971 and attended college and law school in Puerto Rico before clerking on the Appellate Circuit, serving as a legislative aide, directing the Association of General Contractors, and practicing law at a well-reputed firm, focusing on contracts and real estate. He went on to serve as Secretary of the Department of Consumer Affairs, where he championed the rights of ordinary Puerto Ricans. His work kept gas prices in check during critical periods of the Iraq War, with the Commonwealth having the lowest prices of any US jurisdiction, despite international turmoil and the higher costs of bringing fuel to an island market. In 2008, Alejandro was elected to the Commonwealth Legislature with the most votes of any senator from either party. In 2011, after announcing his intention to run for Governor of Puerto Rico, he was unanimously elected President of the Popular Democratic Party.

It was a privilege to be able to visit the Dominican Republic once again. As soon as I arrived I felt at home, as indeed I also want all Dominicans […]

It was a privilege to be able to visit the Dominican Republic once again. As soon as I arrived I felt at home, as indeed I also want all Dominicans to feel at home when visiting Puerto Rico. We have had fruitful business meetings with the ambassador and President Medina. Bilateral ties have been highly significant and I want to strengthen that link between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. For example, President Medina attended the inauguration of my term in January 2013, a year in which trade between both countries was valued at $700 million, a rather small amount taking into account that in the 1980s, the figure had stood at $2 billion. We want to raise trade figures to those levels again. Over the past 20 months, we have already increased trade activity to $500 million. Moreover, we have taken positive steps within the free trade business for the Dominican people in Puerto Rico. These measures have been focused on respecting Dominicans and other foreign communities in our country. For example, we pulled down social barriers when it comes to the migratory status of people and are the only country providing people with a driving license regardless of their migratory status. I passed this new law in August 2014 and more than 100 Dominicans have already obtained a license. We have also held talks with President Medina on the importance of increasing educational support and scholarships for higher education students from both countries and increasing exchange programs, especially for post-graduate students. Several of my colleagues in our office completed their higher education in the Dominican Republic. We also need to strengthen cultural exchange and increase cooperation in security matters. The latter is one of our top priorities in Puerto Rico, and I am proud to say that we have reduced the murder rate by 30%. This has been possible thanks to the Anticrime Strategic Plan, which provided police forces with more equipment and resources. We are ready to share this with the Dominican Republic in order to fight crime and drug cartels. We need to increase our efforts to fight drug cartels; they are the main source of crime in both countries. Thanks to the Anticrime Strategic Plan, we have also increased drug seizures at borders, airports, and ports by 300%. We have also opened dialog with the Dominican Republic to increase tourism cooperation, as we have an important flow of citizens from Puerto Rico visiting the Dominican Republic. I took the opportunity on this visit to stay for some days in this beautiful country. I want my children to feel the kinship that exists between our two countries, too.

As we become more effective in protecting the La Mona Canal, we will discourage people from using this channel to illegally enter the country. For us, the main issue is the safety of all people who that risk their lives by transiting the La Mona Canal. We feel a brotherhood with the Dominican Republic, and this is not a migratory status issue; we do not even like the term “illegal immigrant.” We consider our government to have a human face, as our focus is on dealing with our social and economic problems for the benefit of our people. It is difficult to get a figure for the number of Dominicans to have benefited from our new social policies. For me, the most important consideration is that all Dominican expatriates in Puerto Rico feel safe and comfortable, that a woman about to give birth has the certainty of being able to go to a hospital, and that when someone needs emergency medical attention, they can comfortably do so. We have many more social policies to be implemented in the near future to assist expatriates living in Puerto Rico.

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