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Delegation from the Dominican Republic engage over parliamentarianism and visit the University of Oxford

BGIPU was delighted to host a delegation from the Dominican Republic from 15 – 19 May 2023. The visit was led by Deputy President of the House of Deputies Olfanny Mendez Matos, and also included Deputy President of the Senate Santiago Zorilla, Spokesperson of the Opposition Aris Yvan Lorenzo, Senator Lia Diaz de Diaz, Deputy Brenda Oganda, Deputy Juan Carlos Echavarria, Deputy Felix Michell and Deputy Orlando Jorge Villegas. The visit also benefitted from the support of the Ambassador H.E. Elnio Duran and Political Counsellor Alfredo Suarez.

Monday morning began with a comprehensive ‘scene setting’ overview of Westminster procedures by Clerk of the Interparliamentary Relations Office, Lynn Gardner and BGIPU Director Rick Nimmo. This was followed by a tour of the Palace led by Fabian Hamilton MP, who shared some of the rich history of the Palace of Westminster. The tour ended in the IPU room where BGIPU Vice-Chair Rt Hon. Vicky Ford MP hosted a welcome lunch for our guests.

The first meeting after lunch was with Senior Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords, Lord Gardiner, where the delegation had an opportunity to speak about biodiversity in the Dominican Republic. As former DEFRA minister, Lord Gardiner spoke about the various partnerships between Kew Gardens and other island nations rich in bio-diversity, and the effect of climate change on the country.

Tuesday morning began with a meeting with the Caribbean Council, where the delegation met spoke about the political economy of Dominican Republic with representatives of businesses trading with the nation. BGIPU treasurer and President of the Young Parliamentary Dan Carden MP hosted the working lunch with the delegation and took the opportunity to discuss young parliamentarianism with Deputy Mendez, the youngest person to be elected Deputy Speaker in the history of the Dominican Chamber of Deputies. Following the lunch, Deputy Mendez met with her counterpart in the House of Commons, Deputy Speaker Dame Eleanor Laing. The delegation concluded the day with meetings with Treasury Select Committee Chair Harriett Baldwin MP and the Minister for Media, Tourism and Creative Industries, the Rt Hon Sir John Whittingdale MP.

Wednesday marked the delegation’s final day in Westminster. The day opened with a meeting with Shadow Minister for Procurement, Chris Evans MP, where delegates posed questions about the reform of procurement procedures following the UK’s departure from the European Union. The delegation then observed the Deputy Prime Minister’s exchange with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition at Prime Minister’s Questions in the Chamber of the House of Commons. The final meeting of the Westminster-leg saw the delegation meet with a diverse group of members with an interest in the Dominican Republic and the wider region. The precarious situation in neighbouring Haiti was discussed, and the delegation stressed the importance of international cooperation in establishing political stability within Haiti.

The final two days of the visit saw the delegation visit University of Oxford. In 2021, the University of Oxford and the Ministry of Education for the Dominican Republic signed an agreement to support graduate scholarships for students from the Dominican Republic to study at the prestigious university. The delegation visited several different colleges, including Sommerville, Oriel and Christ Church, engaging in discussions about Dominican representation in the University, and what they could do to encourage young people in their constituencies to make the most of the agreement.

The BGIPU was delighted to welcome the Dominican Republic delegation to Parliament, and we look forward to consolidating and reinforcing the strong parliamentary links the UK and the Dominican Republic enjoy.

BGIPU Secretariat