OBITUARY:Jacobo Majluta

Jacobo Majluta was one of the generation of politicians in the Dominican Republic whose ambition was continually thwarted by the country's labyrinthine power struggles and explosive sectarianism. He was elected Vice-President in 1978 and served as President for 42 days in 1982, replacing the disgraced Antonio Guzmn who had committed suicide, but he never again held the highest office which he so openly craved.

Born in 1934 into a merchant family of Middle Eastern origin, Majluta studied finance at Santo Domingo University before working as an accountant in the banking and state sectors. He joined the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) in 1961, in the wake of the dictator Leoni-des Trujillo's assassination, and rose quickly, becoming the youngest minister in Juan Bosch's short-lived government of 1963. When it was overthrown by a military coup later that year, Majluta went into exile, returning to rebuild his political career and winning the PRD's vice-presidential nomination for the 1978 elections.

In power, Majluta was out of sympathy with the PRD's more radical social- democratic wing. As head of Corde, one of the large state-sector companies, he was also allegedly involved in corruption, although charges were never proven. His real concern, however, was to beat off the challenge of rival caudillos or strongmen within the PRD, and this struggle dominated the rest of his career.

After Guzmn's suicide, Majluta hoped to win the PRD's presidential nomination, but lost out to Jorge Antonio Blanco. When Blanco won the 1982 elections, Majluta became president of the senate, using his position to side with the opposition and block his rival's policy programme. As Blanco's administration gradually slid into bankruptcy and scandal, Majluta again aimed for the PRD's nomination. This time, however, he faced the formidable Jose Francisco Pena Gmez, and open war broke out between the two men's factions. After several rival supporters were killed in shoot- outs, Majluta finally grabbed the nomination for 1986.

Despite his considerable political skills, Majluta was no match in the elections that year for Joaqun Balaguer, the grand old man of Dominican politics. Balaguer defeated Majluta by a narrow margin to return to the presidency at the age of 78. The brutal in-fighting which had won Majluta the PRD ticket had also alienated a large section of the party, and many of the PRD faithful voted against their own candidate.

Majluta did not enhance his standing by claiming victory as soon as voting ended and by demanding a rerun of the election. In the end a series of meetings with emissaries from the military and Church - the country's real power-brokers - forced him to accept defeat.

In 1987 Majluta was expelled from the PRD as Pena Gmez reasserted his influence, but an electoral court ruled the move illegal. In 1989 he left to form his own Independent Revolutionary Party (PRI), an organisation geared specifically towards his own electoral aspirations. The PRI never gained genuine popular support, but the 7 per cent it won in the 1990 election was enough to undermine Pena Gmez's chances.

Ironically, in the weeks before his death, Majluta had sought a rapprochement with his old rival and had even endorsed Pena Gmez's candidature for the forthcoming May elections. It was an uncharacteristic gesture on the part of a hard-nosed, cynical fighter who always valued personal power far higher than party democracy.

James Ferguson

Jacobo Majluta Azar, politician: born 9 October 1934; Vice-President, Dominican Republic 1978-82, President, 1982; married Ana Elisa Villanueva (one daughter); died Tampa, Florida 2 March 1996.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions