#OnlyAtGW: Dominican Republic President Speaks at Virtual Event

CCAS student Gaetano Pellicce Sebelen introduced President Luis Abinader at an online GSPM seminar evaluating the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

Luis Abinader
CCAS student Gaetano Pellicce Sebelen (r) introduced President Luis Abinader at an online GSPM seminar evaluating the upcoming U.S. presidential election on Tuesday. 
October 29, 2020

By Tatyana Hopkins

Gaetano Pellicce Sebelen, a sophomore studying political science in the George Washington University Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, began interning in the Senate of the Dominican Republic with the country’s Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) while in high school.

He’s returned to the Senate each summer, and he now works in the National Palace, which houses the offices of the Dominican Republic’s executive branch, during GW’s virtual learning period.

“The president gets a bunch of letters requesting things like a new house, medicine and scholarships for school, and we work on them,” Mr. Sebelen said. “We investigate each case and give them the money or supplies. We’re like social aid from the president, and we work directly with the president and the people of the country.”

So, Mr. Sebelen was excited when he was informed that he would be introducing the Dominican Republic’s newly inaugurated President Luis Rodolfo Abinader ahead of his appearance Tuesday in an online discussion hosted by the Graduate School of Political Management.

The event kicked off a week-long seminar focusing on elections in the United States as well as in Latin America that runs through Nov. 4. The conference will cover topics ranging from the upcoming U.S. presidential election to voting rights and the political situation in Mexico.

Mr. Abinader, who contracted and recovered from Covid-19 during his presidential run, discussed how to conduct a political campaign during a pandemic. He ran as an opposition candidate with modernizing the state and fighting corruption high on his political agenda and unseated the center-left Dominican Liberation Party after 16 years in power.

While introducing the Dominican president, Mr. Sebelen discussed Mr. Abinader’s success as a businessman and economist as well as his contributions to civic engagement and community service. He also shared how Mr. Abinader, who happens to be a family friend, has personally inspired him, including giving him personal advice to apply to GW and pursue a career in public service.

“He has been a role model not only for me but for many young generations in the Dominican Republic,” Mr. Sebelen said. “We’re waiting, and we’re in need of their new face and new spirit. The president definitely symbolizes a light and hope that things are going to get better. We’re going to improve politics and show that it can be done by serious people that actually want to work.”

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