Joaquin Antonio Balaguer Ricardo (September 1, 1906 - July 14, 2002) was the President of the Dominican Republic from 1966 to 1978, and again from 1986 to 1996. He had been a protégé of Rafael Trujillo, and was accused of election fraud and of intimidating would-be opponents.
Balaguer studied law at the Sorbonne, then returned to the Dominican Republic and started working for Trujillo in 1930. After Trujillo was assassinated in 1961, he fled to the United States. In 1963, a military coup overthrew the leftist government of Juan Bosch. In 1965 military officers revolted against the junta to restore Bosch, whereupon U.S. President Lyndon Johnson sent 20,000 U.S. troops to defeat the revolt. Balaguer became the President of the Dominican Republic in 1966, with U.S. backing. He governed the country until 1978, when he was defeated at elections by Antonio Guzmán Fernández, leader of the Dominican Revolutionary Party.
He returned to office in 1986. This second government was in some aspects different from the first one (commonly referred as "The Twelve Years").
He left office for the second time, reluctantly, in 1996, after agreeing to hold earlier elections following controversy over his 1994 reelection, but he remained a power in Dominican politics to the very end of his life. He ran for president in 2000 but was placed third with 24.6% of the first-round vote. He died of heart failure in 2002. Balaguer never married and had no children; he was survived by a sister. He was also blind in later life.