Jose Pena Gomez is a 3 time presidential candidate within the Dominican Republic, he was from a humble background and rose to become a prominent politician in Latin America. Gomez died at the age of 61 from pancreatic cancer. Even at the time when he was ailing, he still contested for the capital of the Mayor of Santo Domingo. No politician from an African ancestry has ever been elected or close to the presidency in Latin America but Gomez was very close to realizing such a dream, and though de did not become president, he was known across the region as a great spokesman as well as defender for social, political and racial justice and equality.
This article focuses on Gomez as a person as well as his contributions towards helping the world understand the present life of African Latino. The life of Jose Gomez reflects a situation where in a democratically oriented nation, people from a Black ancestry particularly those with ties to Haiti faced a virulent racist campaigns especially during the 1990s. In the life of Jose Gomez, just like other people from Black ancestries, they felt the stigmatization of racism perpetuated against them by the Dominicans light skinned elites. His fundamental worth was evident in itself which enabled him to overcome all the odds and become a highly competitive presidential contender in such a nation.
Nevertheless, Gomez’s party (PRD) was against his nomination, disputing the handicap brought forward by the awkward, even ludicrous idea that a person with a black origin, particularly with ties to Haiti could become president in the Dominican Republic. This was because of the fact that no politician even those from African descent would openly associate themselves to African ancestry as none of them has ever become president in Latin America.
Jose Gomez came back from exile and even despite him being nominated for presidency in 1990 and 1994, he lost allegedly to Joaquin Balaguer. According to the Dominican government, the 1994 election highlighted a narrow victory over Jose Gomez, but it was because Joaquin was supported by the United States thus allowing him to become victorious, regardless of that, there was a popular belief that the elections had been rigged.
All the rumors surrounding the elections later resulted in Joaquin’s term being reduced to two years with a new election in 1996. This clearly indicates that indeed Jose Gomez had lost unfairly because of his African descent. This was a clear intentional racially motivated action to lock out Jose Gomez from becoming the first black president of the Dominican Republic. The United States, conservatives and the ruling elites thought of Jose Gomez as a negative figure of empowerment for all the black Dominicans as well as all those with Haitian descent.
Jose Gomez was also perceived as a reflection of the 1965 civil war in the Republic of Dominica. Around 1996, Jose Gomez lost an election for a straight third time. All these elections leading to a narrow defeat for Jose Gomez were mulled with irregularities. This is a clear indication that Jose Gomez truly won at least one of those elections perhaps even two.
Jose Gomez was a motivation to all those from the African Descent who aspired for leadership positions. Even though Jose Gomez never really become president, the irregularities that sullied the elections were proof enough that Blacks could also achieve what their white counterparts could. The case of Jose Gomez also showed the extent of racism in Latin America and even the influence of other nations such as the United States to foster such racism.
Jose Gomez was undoubtedly a gifted political figure an individual with strength of character and a towering morality who left a remarkable mark to his generation and those that follow. His exceptional politics and great intellect made him crudely left out of reach of several opportunities to take charge of the Latin American racially based politics, an injustice to democracy.
Nevertheless, the case of Jose Gomez reflects just what many leaders from African Descent face in white nations, American has underwent serious revolutions and perhaps the racial element in politics has faded away as evident in president’s Obama campaigns and presidential win. Regardless of this, there is need to highlight these issues well enough in history to avert similar occurrences in the future. The Dominican Republic never reaped the potential of Jose Gomez because of petty racism thus depriving the nation the opportunity to be led by a great leader of Gomez caliber.