This post is the fourth entry in a blog series detailing the itineraries of both current and former Heads of State who participated in a Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) project arranged by Meridian International Center. The entry below summarizes the IVLP itinerary of Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina.
Visitor: President (as of August 2012) Danilo Medina
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Program Year: 1991
Travel Itinerary: Washington, DC; Annapolis, MD; New York, NY; Grand Island, NE; East Lansing, MI
A year into his second term as President of the Dominican Republic, we are taking a look at Mr. Danilo Medina’s IVLP itinerary, which Meridian designed and implemented in 1991. This blog entry will provide insights into his program and his professional background at the time of his participation in the exchange.
When Mr. Medina was selected for the IVLP, he had been serving as a Member in the Chamber of Deputies of the Dominican Congress representing the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD). At the time he was also serving as the Party’s spokesperson.
In July, 1991, Mr. Medina joined his fellow Congressman and Spokesperson for the Independent Revolutionary Party (PRI), Mr. Leonidas Abigail Soto, for a three-week program titled, “The American Political System,” which provided an introduction to “an array of issues of bilateral concern to the Dominican Republic and the U.S.”, give an “in-depth look at the nuts and bolts of the American Congress,” and “visit communities outside of Washington D.C. to take on issues of more direct common concern.”
The itinerary began in Washington, DC where Mr. Medina and Mr. Soto were welcomed by officials from the United States Information Agency (now the Office of the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs) and the programming team from Meridian. Meetings in Washington were scheduled with Drs. Stephen Wayne and Clyde Wilcox from Georgetown University, representatives from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Latin American – Caribbean Business Development Center, and staff members from the Office of Personnel Management. The participants also had the opportunity to meet with former Congressman Bill Barrett (Republican – Nebraska, 3rd District) before gaining an additional perspective from the Democratic National Committee. Prior to their departure to Annapolis, they were able to visit the National Zoo and participate in the Latin Festival alongside other groups from Latin America.
While in Annapolis, Mr. Medina and his college received an overview of state government and its relationships with federal agencies. The local program contact also arranged a briefing on the budget process with the Department of Fiscal Services of the Maryland General Assembly and an introduction to bill writing with the Department of Legislative Reference. Before traveling on to New York, the visitors were able to visit the Baltimore Aquarium.
“This concluded our visit to Maryland and the visitors expressed to me more than once their great satisfaction with the Annapolis program and the warm attentions they received there.”
In New York, the group was given an in-depth examination of drug issues through meetings with law enforcement officials, narcotics prevention and education programs for the local community, and rehabilitation efforts. They also interacted with organizations including the Project Return Foundation, the Narcotics and Drug Research, Inc., and the Mayor’s Office for Latin American Affairs. Mr. Medina and Mr. Soto were able to spend some time with relatives and friends before flying to Grand Island.
During this mid-western stop, the program began with a “wonderful picnic dinner” that proved to be the “beginning of an excellent three-day visit to the heartland”. Their itinerary began with a follow up meeting with a representative from the office of Congressman Bill Barrett. Following this, Mr. Medina and Mr. Soto had an appointment with Mayor Ernest Dobesh at City Hall, staff members from the local YWCA, and representatives from the Hornady Manufacturing Company. They also enjoyed a tour of a small farm and an evening of home hospitality before flying to their final city-stop.
“The first thing the Mayor did was introduce Mr. Medina and Mr. Soto and then present each one with a key to the City of Grand Island. The event was photographed and a TV crew was there.”
The group finished their program in East Lansing, which gave them the opportunities to meet with staff from the College of Education at Michigan State University, teachers at Lansing Middle School and East Lansing High School, and members of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Project, a state-run agency providing nutritional information to immigrant and poor families. At the conclusion of these appointments and before their return home, both Mr. Medina and Mr. Soto expressed their “total satisfaction with their visit to the U.S.”
After the “The American Political System” IVLP concluded, Mr. Medina returned home to be appointed in succession: President of the Chamber of Deputies (1994-1995); Secretary of State to the Presidency (1996-1999, 2004-2006); and President of the Dominican Republic (2012-Present).
*Quotes taken directly from State Department Closing Report written up by Mr. Gilbert Grassley, U.S. Escort Officer/Interpreter
If you are interested in reading more about the Heads of State that have traveled on Meridian administered IVLPs throughout the years, check out the following blogs:
A Profile of IVLP Alumni Becoming Heads of State
IVLP 75th Anniversary Time-lapse Map
Meridian IVLP Alum Becomes U.N. Secretary General
UK Prime Minister is a Meridian IVLP Alumna
Norwegian Prime Minister is an IVLP Alumna