It's official. The first lady of the Dominican Republic, Margarita Cedeño de Fernández, has been approved by her party as a possible presidential candidate for the 2012 election.
The Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) accepted the 45 year old's pre-candidacy to become the nations first female president, although, she remains in complete silence about her aspirations to succeed her husband and current president Leonel Fernández.
On Friday, President Fernández officially announced he would not seek a fourth term in order to "avoid possible tensions to Dominican society" and "further entrench the new constitution." Fernández also promised to maintain a "neutral position" during the (PLD) primary elections. He also promised to "unconditionally"and "enthusiastically" work for the successful winning primary candidate.
The country's constitution currently bars more than two consecutive terms, but leaders of Fernández's party had been lobbying for constitutional reform that would allow him to run next year. The decision not to run means the country is open to new leadership for the first time in nearly a decade.
The pre-candidacy of the first lady was approved by 230 of the 400 members of the party's Central Committee. The committee also approved Vice President Rafael Alburquerque and ex-presidential candidate Danilo Medina. Former senators Francisco Domínguez Brito and José Tomás Pérez, former Minister of the Interior and Police Franklin Almeyda, and political leader Radhamés Segura are all seeking to run for President.
Of all of the possible candidates, Medina has the best possibility to become the Dominican Liberation Party's pick for President, according to various surveys.
Cedeño and the other six politicians will face off in the Liberation Party's internal elections which will be held on June 26th, according to the secretary general of the party and Senate President Reinaldo Pared Pérez.
The winner will then face former President Hipólito Mejía (2000-2004), of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), who lost to Fernández in 2004 when he sought re-election.
As of now, Cedeño nor Fernández have publicly commented on the political aspirations of the first lady.
Since last year the Dominican lawyer has been pictured on unofficial campaign billboards and posters throughout the Dominican Republic accompanied by various slogans, including "Llegó mamá" or "Mom has Arrived," a popular chant among her supporters.
The Dominican first lady is the latest example of Latin American first women vying to become President before the elections in 2012.
In Guatemala, the first lady Sandra Torres, has filed for divorce from current President Alvaro Colom in an outright attempt to bypass constitutional restrictions so that she may compete in September's presidential election.
There are currently three female presidents in Latin America. Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil, Laura Chinchilla (President of Costa Rica), and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, President of Argentina.