Dominican Republic and Haiti : country studies / Federal Research Division, Library of Congress edited by Ricahrd A. H...


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Dominican Republic and Haiti : country studies / Federal Research Division, Library of Congress edited by Ricahrd A. Haggerty, 2ed, 1991
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Saint Louis University Law Library

Dominican Republic

and Haiti
country studies

Federal Research Division
Library of Congress
Edited by
Richard A. Haggerty
Research Completed
S D S December 1989
L NOV13'91 A

On the cover: View of mountains, Hispaniola

Second Edition, First Printing, 1991.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Dominican Republic and Haiti : country studies / Federal Research
Division, Library of Congress ; edited by Richard A. Haggerty. -
2d ed.
p. cm. (Area handbook series, ISSN 1057-5294)
(DA Pam ; 550-36)
"Research completed December 1989."
Rev. ed. of : Area handbook for Dominican Republic and Area
handbook for Haiti / coauthors, Thomas E. Well [et al.].
Includes bibliographical references (pp. 401-431) and index.
ISBN 0-8444-0728-3
1. Dominican Republic. 2. Haiti. I. Haggerty, Richard A.,
1954- II. Library of Congress. Federal Research Division.
III. Area handbook for Dominican Republic. IV. Area handbook
for Haiti. V. Series. VI. Series : DA Pam ; 550-36.
F1934.D64 1991 91-9495
972.93-dc20 CIP

Headquarters, Department of the Army
DA Pam 550-36

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington, D.C. 20402



This volume is one in a continuing series of books prepared by
the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress under
the Country Studies-Area Handbook Program sponsored by the
Department of the Army. The last page of this book lists the other
published studies.
Most books in the series deal with a particular foreign country,
describing and analyzing its political, economic, social, and national
security systems and institutions, and examining the interrelation-
ships of those systems and the ways they are shaped by cultural
factors. Each study is written by a multidisciplinary team of social
scientists. The authors seek to provide a basic understanding of
the observed society, striving for a dynamic rather than a static
portrayal. Particular attention is devoted to the people who make
up the society, their origins, dominant beliefs and values, their com-
mon interests and the issues on which they are divided, the nature
and extent of their involvement with national institutions, and their
attitudes toward each other and toward their social system and
political order.
The books represent the analysis of the authors and should not
be construed as an expression of an official United States govern-
ment position, policy, or decision. The authors have sought to
adhere to accepted standards of scholarly objectivity. Corrections,
additions, and suggestions for changes from readers will be wel-
comed for use in future editions.

Louis R. Mortimer
Federal Research Division
Library of Congress
Washington, D.C. 20540


The authors wish to acknowledge the contributions ofJan Knip-
pers Black, Howard I. Blutstein, Kathryn T. Johnston, David S.
McMorris, Frederick P. Munson, and Thomas E. Weil, who wrote
the 1973 editions of Dominican Republic: A Country Study and Haiti:
A Country Study. Their work lent perspective to several chapters of
the present volume. The authors also are grateful to individuals
in various agencies of the United States government and inter-
national and private institutions who gave their time, research
materials, and special knowledge to provide information and per-
spective. These individuals include Ralph K. Benesch, who over-
sees the Country Studies-Area Handbook Program for the
Department of the Army.
The authors also wish to thank those who contributed directly
to the preparation of the manuscript. These include Richard F.
Nyrop, who reviewed all drafts and served as liaison with the spon-
soring agency; Sandra W. Meditz, who reviewed drafts and pro-
vided valuable advice at all stages of production; Dennis M.
Hanratty, who contributed useful and substantive comments on
several chapter drafts; Vincent Ercolano, who edited the Domini-
can Republic chapters; Richard Kollodge, who edited the Haiti
chapters; Martha E. Hopkins, who edited portions of the manu-
script and managed editing; Marilyn Majeska, who also edited
portions of the manuscript and managed production; Barbara Edg-
erton, Janie L. Gilchrist, and Izella Watson, who did the word pro-
cessing; Alice Craig Harvey, who compiled the index; and Diann
J. Johnson and Linda Peterson, of the Printing and Processing Sec-
tion, Library of Congress, who prepared the camera-ready copy
under the supervision of Peggy Pixley.
David P. Cabitto, Sandra K. Ferrell, and Kimberly A. Lord
provided invaluable graphics support. David P. Cabitto designed
the cover illustration, and Kimberly A. Lord prepared the illus-
trations for the title page of the chapters on Haiti. Map drafts were
prepared by Harriett R. Blood, David P. Cabitto, and Kimberly
A. Lord. Various individuals, libraries, and public agencies pro-
vided photographs.
Finally, the authors would like to thank several individuals who
provided research support. ArviesJ. Staton supplied information
on ranks and insignia, and Karen Sturges-Vera wrote the geogra-
phy sections in chapters 2 and 7.


Foreword ....................................... ii
Acknowledgments ...... ........................
Preface ........................................ xv

Introduction .................................... xvii
Dominican Republic: Country Profile .............xxvii
Chapter 1. Dominican Republic: Historical
Setting ............................ .
Richard A. Haggerty
THE FIRST COLONY .............................. 3
HAITI AND SANTO DOMINGO ..................... 8
CH ARGE ....................................... 12
The Infant Republic .......................... 12
Annexation by Spain, 1861-65 .................. 16
The Contest for Power, 1865-82 ................. 18
ULISES HEUREAUX, 1882-99 ........................ 18
RENEWED CONFLICT, 1899-1916 .................... 21
THE ERA OF TRUJILLO ........................... 27
THE POST-TRUJILLO ERA ......................... 31
Transition to Elected Government ............... 31
Civil War and United States Intervention, 1965 ..... 32
Joaquin Balaguer, 1966-78 ..................... 33
Antonio Guzmin, 1978-82 ..................... 34
Chapter 2. Dominican Republic: The Society and
Its Environment ................... 37
Patricia Kluck
GEOGRAPHY ..................................... 40
Natural Regions ............................. 40
D rainage ................................... 41
C lim ate .................................... 43
POPULATION ..................................... 44
Size and Growth ............................. 44

M igration .................................. 45
Urbanization ................................ 47
RACIAL AND ETHNIC GROUPS ..................... 49
Ethnic Heritage .............................. 49
Modern Immigration .......................... 50
H aitians .................................... 52
URBAN SOCIETY .................................. 52
The Elite ................................... 52
The M iddle Sector ........................... 55
The Urban Poor ............................. 56
RURAL SOCIETY .................................. 58
Sugar Plantations ............................ 60
M ixed Farming .............................. 62
FAMILY AND KIN ................................. 64
RELIGION ........................................ 67
SOCIAL WELFARE ................................. 68
Education .................................. 68
Health and Social Security ..................... 70

Chapter 3. Dominican Republic: The Economy .. 75
Daniel Seyler
ECONOMIC POLICY ............................... 82
Fiscal Policy ................................ 82
Monetary and Exchange-Rate Policies ............ 85
LABO R ........................................... 87
Form al Sector ............................... 87
Inform al Sector .............................. 89
AGRICULTURE ................................... 89
Land Tenure and Land Policy .................. 90
Land U se .................................. 92
Farming Technology .......................... 92
Crops ...................................... 94
Livestock ................................... 100
Forestry and Fishing .......................... 101
INDU STRY ....................................... 101
Manufacturing .............................. 101
Mining ................................... 106
Construction ................................ 108
Energy ..................................... 109
SERVICES ......................................... 111
Tourism .................................... 111
Banking and Financial Services .................. 113
Transportation ............................... 115
Communications ............................. 118

Foreign Trade ............................... 119
Balance of Payments .......................... 122
Foreign Debt ................................ 122
Foreign Assistance ............................ 124
Chapter 4. Dominican Republic: Government and
Politics ............................ 127
HowardJ. Wiarda
THE SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT ................... 130
Constitutional Development .................... 130
The Executive ............................... 132
The Legislature .............................. 133
The Judiciary ............................... 136
Public Administration ......................... 137
Local Government ............................ 139
The Electoral System .......................... 139
POLITICAL DYNAMICS ............................ 141
The System of Dominican Politics ................ 141
Political Developments since 1978 ................ 142
Interest Groups .............................. 144
Political Parties .............................. 151
The M ass M edia ............................. 154
FOREIGN RELATIONS ............................. 156
Chapter 5. Dominican Republic: National
Security ........................... 161
Melinda Wheeler Cooke
FO RC ES ........................................ 164
M missions ................................... 170
M anpower .................................. 172
Defense Spending ............................ 172
EQUIPM ENT .................................... 174
The Arm y .................................. 175
The N avy .................................. 179
The Air Force ............................... 180
Ranks, Uniforms, and Insignia .................. 181
C rim e ..................................... 186
The National Police ........................... 187
The Criminal Justice System .................... 189

Haiti: Country Profile ........................... 195
Chapter 6. Haiti: Historical Setting .............. 201
Richard A. Haggerty
FRENCH COLONIALISM .......................... 205
French Settlement and Sovereignty ............... 205
Colonial Society: The Conflicts of Color and Class ... 206
THE HAITIAN REVOLUTION ....................... 207
The Slave Rebellion of 1791 .................... 207
Toussaint Louverture .................. ....... 209
INDEPENDENT HAITI ............................ 213
Christophe's Kingdom and P6tion's Republic ....... 215
Boyer: Expansion and Decline .................. 218
DECADES OF INSTABILITY, 1843-1915 ............... 219
THE UNITED STATES OCCUPATION, 1915-34 ........ 224
POLITICS AND THE MILITARY, 1934-57 ............. 227
FRANQOIS DUVALIER, 1957-71 ..................... 232
JEAN-CLAUDE DUVALIER, 1971-86 .................. 235
Chapter 7. Haiti: The Society and Its
Environment ........................ 239
Frederick J. Conway
GEOGRAPHY ..................................... 243
POPULATION ..................................... 245
Demographic Profile .......................... 245
M igration .................................. 246
Fertility and Family Planning ................... 248
SOCIAL STRUCTURE .............................. 248
The Upper Class ............................. 250
The M iddle Class ............................ 251
Peasants .................................... 252
Urban Lower Class ........................... 254
GENDER ROLES AND FAMILY LIFE ................. 254
THE LANGUAGE QUESTION ....................... 257
French and Creole ............................ 257
Changes in Language Use ...................... 260
Creole, Literacy, and Education ................. 261
RELIGIOUS LIFE .................................. 265
V oodoo .................................... 265
Roman Catholicism ........................... 267
Protestantism ................................ 268
EDUCATION ...................................... 269
Prim ary Schools ............................. 270

Secondary Education .......................... 273
Higher Education ............................ 273
H EALTH ......................................... 274
Nutrition and Disease ......................... 274
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome ........... 274
Health Services .............................. 275
W welfare .................................... 276

Chapter 8. Haiti: The Economy .................. 279
DanielJ. Seyler
ECONOMIC POLICY ............................... 286
Fiscal Policy ................................ 286
Monetary and Exchange-Rate Policies ............ 287
LABO R ........................................... 288
AGRICULTURE ................................... 290
Land Tenure and Land Policy .................. 291
Land Use and Farming Technology .............. 293
C rops ...................................... 295
Forestry .................................... 300
Livestock and Fishing ......................... 301
INDU STRY ....................................... 302
M manufacturing ............................... 302
Construction ................................ 307
M ining .................................... 307
Energy ..................................... 308
SERVICES ........................................ 309
Banking and Financial Services .................. 309
Transportation and Communications ............. 311
Tourism .................................... 314
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS .................. 314
Foreign Trade ............................... 314
Balance of Payments .......................... 317
Foreign Debt ................................ 318
Foreign Assistance ............................ 318

Chapter 9. Haiti: Government and Politics ....... 323
Glenn R. Smucker

1957-89 ......................................... 326
THE GOVERNMENTAL SYSTEM .................... 332
Governmental Institutions ...................... 333

The Functions of the State ..................... 334
Urban Dominance, Rural Stagnation ............. 335
POLITICAL DYNAMICS ............................ 337
Power M maintenance ........................... 337
Army Politics: Force and Counterforce ............ 337
The President as Strongman .................... 339
Perceptions of Democracy ...................... 340
The M ass M edia ............................. 341
INTEREST GROUPS ............................... 342
The Tonton Makout Network .................... 342
Political Parties .............................. 342
The Upper and the Middle Classes ............... 344
Other Groups ............................... 345
FOREIGN RELATIONS ............................. 346
Chapter 10. Haiti: National Security ........... 351
Georges A. Fauriol
Francois Duvalier, 1957-71 ..................... 356
Jean-Claude Duvalier, 1971-86 .................. 357
The Post-Duvalier Period ...................... 359
THE ROLE OF THE ARMED FORCES ................ 361
STRUCTURE .................................... 365
The Legal Framework ......................... 372
Public O rder ................................ 374
Appendix A. Tables ............................. 379
Appendix B. Caribbean Basin Initiative ......... 393
Bibliography .................................... 401
Glossary ........................................ 433
Index ........................................ 437
List of Figures
1 Dominican Republic: Administrative Divisions, 1989 ...... xxvi
2 Dominican Republic: Topography and Drainage .......... 42
3 Dominican Republic: Estimated Population Distribution
by Age and Sex, 1990 ............................ 44
4 Dominican Republic: Transportation System, 1989 ........ 116
5 Dominican Republic: Structure of the Government, 1989 134

6 Dominican Republic: Organization of the Armed Forces,
1989 ......................................... 177
7 Dominican Republic: Officer Ranks and Insignia, 1989 182
8 Dominican Republic: Enlisted Ranks and Insignia, 1989 183
9 Dominican Republic: Organization of the National Police,
1989 ......................................... 188
10 Haiti: Administrative Divisions, 1989 ................. 194
11 Haiti: Topography and Drainage ..................... 242
12 Haiti: Population Distribution by Age and Sex, 1982 ..... 246
13 Haiti: Employment by Sector, 1983 ................... 290
14 Haiti: Estimated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by Sector,
Fiscal Year (FY) 1987 ........................... 292
15 Haiti: Transportation System, 1989 ................... 312
16 Haiti: Civil Jurisdictions and Governmental Institutions,
1989 ......................................... 332
17 Haiti: Organization of the Armed Forces, 1989 .......... 368
18 Haiti: Officer Ranks and Insignia, 1989 ............... 370
19 Haiti: Enlisted Ranks and Insignia, 1989 ............... 371


Like their predecessors, these studies represent an attempt to treat
in a compact and objective manner the dominant contemporary
social, political, economic, and military aspects of the Dominican
Republic and Haiti. Sources of information included scholarly
books, journals, monographs; official reports of governments and
international organizations; numerous periodicals; the authors'
previous research and observations; and interviews with individu-
als who have special competence in Dominican, Haitian, and Latin
American affairs. Chapter bibliographies appear at the end of the
book; brief comments on sources recommended for further read-
ing appear at the end of each chapter. To the extent possible, place-
names conform with the system used by the United States Board
on Geographic Names (BGN). Measurements are given in the met-
ric system; a conversion table is provided to assist readers unfamiliar
with metric measurements (see table 1, Appendix A). A glossary
is also included.
Although there are numerous variations, Spanish surnames gen-
erally consist of two parts: the patrilineal name followed by the
matrilineal one. In the instance ofJoaquin Balaguer Ricardo, for
example, Balaguer is his father's surname and Ricardo, his mother's
maiden name. In nonformal use, the matrilineal name is often
dropped. Thus, after the first mention, just Balaguer is used. A
minority of individuals use only the patrilineal name.
Creole words used in the text may be presented in forms that
are unfamiliar to readers who have done previous research on Haiti.
The Creole orthography employed in this volume is that developed
by the National Pedagogic Institute (Institut P6dagogique Na-
tional-IPN), which has been the standard in Haiti since 1978.


SINCE THE SIGNING of the Treaty of Ryswick between the king-
doms of Spain and France in 1697, the island of Hispaniola (La
Isla Espafiola) has played host to two separate and distinct socie-
ties that we now know as the nations of Haiti and the Dominican
Republic. At first encounter, and without the benefit of historical
background and context, most students or observers find it incon-
gruous that two such disparate nations-one speaking French and
Creole, the other Spanish-should coexist within such limited con-
fines. When viewed in light of the bitter struggle among European
colonial powers for wealth and influence both on the continent and
in the New World, however, the phenomenon becomes less puz-
zling. By the late seventeenth century, Spain was a declining power.
Although that country would maintain its vast holdings in main-
land North America and South America, Spain found itself hard
pressed by British, Dutch, and French forces in the Caribbean.
The Treaty of Ryswick was but one result of this competition, as
the British eventually took Jamaica and established a foothold in
Central America. The French eventually proved the value of Carib-
bean colonization, in an economic as well as a maritime and stra-
tegic sense, by developing modern-day Haiti, then known as
Saint-Domingue, into the most productive colony in the Western
Hemisphere, if not the world.
Although the other European powers envied the French their
island jewel, Saint-Domingue eventually was lost not to a colonial
rival, but to an idea. That idea, inspired by the American Revo-
lution and the French Revolution, was freedom; its power was such
as to convince a bitterly oppressed population of African slaves that
anything-reprisal, repression, even death-was preferable to its
denial. This positive impulse, liberally leavened with hatred for
the white men who had seized them, shipped them like cargo across
the ocean, tortured and abused them, and forced women into con-
cubinage and men into arduous labor, impelled the black popula-
tion of Saint-Domingue to an achievement still unmatched in
history: the overthrow of a slaveholding colonial power and the
establishment of a revolutionary black republic.
The saga of the Haitian Revolution is so dramatic that it is sur-
prising that it has never served as the scenario for a Hollywood
production. Its images are varied and intense: the voodoo ceremony
and pact sealed in the Bois Cayman (Alligator Woods) in antici-
pation of the slave revolt of 1791; the blazing, bloody revolt itself;


foreign intervention by British and Spanish forces; the charismatic
figure of Franvois-Dominique Toussaint Louverture, his rise and
fateful decision to switch his allegiance from Spain to France, his
surprisingly effective command of troops in the field, the relative
restraint with which he treated white survivors and prisoners, the
competence of his brief stint as ruler; the French expedition of 1802,
of which Toussaint exclaimed, "All France has come to invade us";
Toussaint's betrayal and seizure by the French; and the ensuing
revolution led by Jean-Jacque Dessalines, Henri (Henry) Chris-
tophe, and Alexandre P6tion.
Given the distinctive and auspicious origins of the Haitian repub-
lic, there is some irony in that the Dominicans commemorate as
their independence day the date of their overthrow of Haitian rule.
The Dominican revolt, however, came as a response to annexa-
tion by a Haitian state that had passed from the promise of orderly
administration under Toussaint to the hard-handed despotism of
Dessalines and had then experienced division, both racial and
political, between the forces of Christophe and P6tion. By the time
of its conquest of Santo Domingo (later to become the Dominican
Republic), Haiti had come under the comparatively stable, but
uninspired, stewardship ofJean-Pierre Boyer. Although viewed,
both at the time and today, by most Dominicans as a crude and
oppressive state dominated by the military, the Haiti that occupied
both eastern and western Hispaniola from 1822 to 1844 can itself
be seen as a victim of international political and economic isola-
tion. Because they either resented the existence of a black republic
or feared a similar uprising in their own slave-owning regions, the
European colonial powers and the United States shunned relations
with Haiti; in the process, they contributed to the establishment
of an impoverished society, ruled by the military, guided by the
gun rather than the ballot, and controlled by a small, mostly
mulatto, ruling group that lived well, while their countrymen either
struggled to eke out a subsistence-level existence on small plots of
land or flocked to the banners of regional strongmen in the seem-
ingly never-ending contest for power. To be sure, the French colo-
nial experience had left the Haitians completely unprepared for
orderly democratic self-government, but the isolation of the post-
independence period assured the exclusion of liberalizing influences
that might have guided Haiti along a somewhat different path of
political and economic development. By the same token, however,
it may be that Western governments of the time, and even those
of the early twentieth century, were incapable of dealing with a
black republic on an equal basis. The United States occupation
of Haiti (1915-34) certainly brought little of lasting value to the


country's political culture or institutions, in part because the Ameri-
cans saw the Haitians as uncivilized lackeys and treated them as
Both nations of Hispaniola share-along with much of the develop-
ing world-the strong tendency toward political organization built
upon the personalistic followings of strongmen, or caudillos, rather
than on more legalistic bases, such as constitutionalism. This similar-
ity in political culture helps to explain the chronologicallystaggered
parallels between the brutal regimes of Rafael Le6nidas Trujillo
Molina (1930-61) in the Dominican Republic and that of the Duva-
liers-Frangois Duvalier (1957-71) and his son, Jean-Claude Duva-
lier (1971-86)-in Haiti. Both regimes lasted for approximately thirty
years; both were headed by nonideological despots; both regimes
sustained themselves in power by employing terror and ruthlessly
suppressing dissent; both drew the ire of an international commu-
nity that ultimately proved incapable of directly forcing them from
power; and both left their countries mired in political chaos and inter-
nal conflict upon their demise. One may only hope that the unsta-
ble situation in Haiti after the fall of the Duvalier regime will resolve
itself without further analogy to Dominican history-that is, without
a civil war. As of late 1990, however, the outcome of the situation
remained extremely unpredictable.
Lieutenant General Prosper Avril took power in Haiti in Sep-
tember 1988, ousting the highly unpopular military regime led by
Lieutenant General Henri Namphy. Avril, a product of the Hai-
tian military tradition and the Duvalierist system, initially gave
assurances that he would serve only as a transitional figure on the
road to representative democracy. Whatever his personal feelings
or motivations, however, Avril by his actions proved himself to
be simply another corrupt Haitian military strongman. Having
scheduled elections for 1990, he arrested and expelled leading politi-
cal figures and declared a state of siege in January of that year.
These actions triggered demonstrations, protests, and rioting among
a population weary of exploitation and insincere promises of reform.
Despite his public rhetoric, Avril presided over a military institu-
tion that perpetuated the Duvalierist traditions of extortion, graft,
and price-gouging through state-owned enterprises. At the same
time, the military made no substantive effort to address the problem
of political violence. By early 1990, Haitians had had enough of
promises; many decided to take action on their own, much as they
had during the uprising of 1985 that swept Jean-Claude Duvalier
from power.

Violent demonstrations began in earnest in early March 1990,
ostensibly in response to the army's fatal shooting of an eleven-
year-old girl in Petit Goive. Streets blazed across Haiti as demon-
strators ignited tires and automobiles, chanted anti-Avril slogans,
and fought with army troops. Avril soon recognized the untenable
nature of his position; the United States ambassador reportedly
influenced the general's decision to step down in a private meet-
ing held on March 12. Avril's flight from Haiti on a United States
Air Force transport added his name to a long list of failed Haitian
strongmen, and it left the country under the guidance of yet another
military officer, Major General (subsequently promoted to Lieu-
tenant General) H6rard Abraham.
Consultations among civilian political figures produced a provi-
sional government headed by a judge of the Court of Cassation
(supreme court), -Ertha Pascal-Trouillot, a woman little-known out-
side legal circles. Judge Pascal-Trouillot reportedly accepted the
post of provisional president after three other supreme court judges
declined; she was sworn in on March 13. Appointed along with
her was a nineteen-member Council of State, made up of promi-
nent civic and political leaders. Although the new government an-
nounced no clear definitions of the powers of the council vis-a-vis
the provisional president, some reports indicated that the presi-
dent could exercise independent authority in some areas. The most
compelling reality, however, was that all powers of the provisional
government had been granted by the Haitian Armed Forces (Forces
Armies d'Haiti-FAd'H), which would provide the government's
only mandate-and perhaps its major political constituency-until
valid popular elections could be held.
The Permanent Electoral Council (Conseil Electoral Permanent-
CEP) scheduled local, legislative, and presidential elections for
sometime between November 4 and November 29, 1990. The
prospects for their successful implementation, however, appeared
highly problematical at best. Seemingly unchecked political vio-
lence, which conjured up for many the horrible images of the bloody
election day of November 1987, presented the major obstacle to
free and fair balloting. Negotiations between the FAd'H and the
CEP sought to establish security mechanisms that would prevent
a recurrence of the 1987 tragedy. Popular confidence in these efforts,
however, did not appear to be very great.
In a larger sense, the utter absence of any democratic tradition,
or framework, in Haiti stacked the odds heavily against a smooth
governmental transition. Economist Mats Lundahl has referred to
Haiti as a hysteretic state, "not simply one where the past has
shaped the present, but also one where history constitutes one of

the strongest obstacles to change." Several conditions prevailing
in Haiti gave substance to this definition. Among the wide array
of personalistic political parties, only three-Marc Bazin's Move-
ment for the Installation of Democracy in Haiti (Mouvement pour
l'Instauration de la D6mocratie en Haiti-MIDH), Serge Gilles's
National Progressive Revolutionary Haitian Party (Parti Nation-
al Progressiste Revolutionnaire Haitien-Panpra), and Sylvio C.
Claude's Christian Democrat Party of Haiti (Parti D6mocrate Chr&-
tien d'Ha'iti-PDCH)-displayed any semblance of coherent pro-
grams or disciplined party apparatus. The odyssey of the Haitian
military, from dominant power before the Duvaliers to subordinate
status under the dynastic dictatorship, left uncertain the intentions
of the FAd'H under Abraham's leadership. The return of such
infamous Duvalierist cronies as former interior minister Roger
LaFontant and persistent rumors that Jean-Claude himself was con-
templating a return to the nation he had bled dry for fifteen years
provoked outrage among a population that wanted nothing so much
as to rid itself of the remaining vestiges of that predatory regime.
According to some observers, internal conditions had approached,
by the late summer of 1990, a sort of critical mass, which, if not
defused by way of fair and free elections, could explode into gener-
alized and ultimately futile violence.
In July one of the more responsible political leaders, Sylvio
Claude, exhorted Haitians to block the return of undesirables by
seizing the international airport outside Port-au-Prince. In a speech
on Radio Nationale, he declared, "Instead of letting [the army]
go kill you later, make them kill you now." Among the figures
targeted by Claude for such action was former president Leslie F.
Manigat, not previously considered a controversial figure by most
observers. Perhaps in response to such rabble-rousing, the provi-
sional government announced on August 1 that Manigat would
be barred from returning to his native Haiti.
In late July, the Council of State issued a communique, laying
down four conditions that it deemed necessary for holding success-
ful elections. First, effective legal action had to be initiated against
those who had participated in the November 1987 attacks and other
political murders; second, a general climate of public security needed
to be established in order to encourage voters to go to the polls; third,
the public administration should be purged of entrenched, corrupt
bureaucrats; and fourth, some checks had to be established over the
powers of the rural section chiefs (chefs de section), so that the rural
population could vote in an atmosphere free of coercion and intimi-
dation. It was not clear what action the Council would take if these
conditions had not been met by November.

In the Dominican Republic, events unfolded along a much more
predictable path. Although Dominican politics were boisterous, and
physical clashes-occasionally punctuated by gunfire-between the
members of contending political parties were not unusual, the
democratic system established after the 1965 civil war and the
United States intervention continued to function with compara-
tive efficiency (especially when compared with that of Haiti). The
elections of May 16, 1990, however, demonstrated the manifold
weaknesses of this system. The most glaring example of the lack
of institutionalization in Dominican politics was that the major con-
tenders for the presidency were the same two men who had opposed
each other in the elections of 1966, namely, Juan Bosch Gavifio
and incumbent Joaquin Balaguer Ricardo. Despite almost a quarter
of a century of relatively free political organization and competi-
tion, the two modern-day caudillos, both octogenarians, still sal-
lied into the arena flying their own personalistic banners rather
than those of truly established parties. The one party that had dis-
played some level of institutionalization, the Dominican Revolu-
tionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Dominicano-PRD), had
split into antagonistic factions-each with its own caudillo-and
never presented a serious challenge to the two elder statesmen.
The elections themselves, like most during the post-civil war era,
were lively, controversial, and bitterly contested. Despite debilitat-
ing national problems, such as a chronic shortage of electricity,
rising inflation, and persistent poverty, President Balaguer retained
enough support in a presidential race contested by sixteen politi-
cal parties (some running in coalition) to eke out a narrow victory
over Bosch. The final tally showed Balaguer with 678,268 votes
against Bosch's 653,423. Like most Dominican politicians before
him, Bosch did not accept defeat with magnanimity; he lashed out
at Balaguer and the Central Electoral Board, accusing both of fraud
during balloting that impartial observers had judged to be fair and
orderly. Bosch's early public statements exhorted his followers to
stage public protests against the alleged electoral fraud. Early fears
of widespread street violence initiated by disgruntled Bosch sup-
porters proved unfounded, however, and Balaguer's reelection was
confirmed by the Board on June 12, 1990.
Although it traditionally bends a little around election time, the
Dominican democratic system showed few signs of breaking com-
pletely. Economic developments, however, will exercise a decisive
impact on the nation's future stability. In that regard, Balaguer's
reelection could prove to be a storm warning for the republic. At
eighty-one years of age, Balaguer reportedly retained his enthusiasm
for hands-on administration of government policy. The major

economic aspects of that policy, however, did not promise a sig-
nificant degree of improvement in the short term. Balaguer, since
his days as a prot6g6 of Trujillo, has believed in the liberal appli-
cation of funds to public works projects-the construction of schools,
housing, public buildings-in order to boost employment and pur-
chase political support. Such gratuitous expenditures, however,
largely served to exacerbate the government's fiscal problems, while
masking to only a limited degree the consistently high levels of
unemployment prevailing in the republic. Another tenet of Bala-
guer's economic creed was a refusal to submit to an economic
adjustment program dictated by the International Monetary Fund
(IMF-see Glossary). By ruling out an IMF-mandated program,
Balaguer avoided further short-term austerity measures, such as
devaluation and price increases on subsidized items; this enabled
him to stand on a platform of economic nationalism and to proclaim
his opposition to economic hardship imposed from abroad (that
is, from the United States, which is strongly identified with the
IMF throughout Latin America). In the long run, however, his
obstinacy diminished Dominican standing with foreign creditors,
and it limited any new infusions of capital needed to sustain the
impressive growth of nontraditional exports achieved during the
latter 1980s. This, in turn, would hinder the accumulation of for-
eign exchange needed to finance the imports required to sustain
industrial development. Moreover, although an austerity program
undoubtedly would pinch still further an already hard-pressed popu-
lation, it might also help to balance the budget, to stabilize domestic
prices, and to boost exports, all highly desirable potential results.
If the Dominican situation demonstrated anything to Haitians,
it was that democracy is not a panacea for domestic turmoil. As
Winston Churchill observed, it is the worst political system "except
for all the others." Since Trujillo's death, Dominicans have strug-
gled to adjust to an imperfect system, under less than ideal condi-
tions; the final outcome of this process is still in doubt. For Haitians,
the small step represented by valid elections could be their first lurch
along a much longer road to peace and stability.

August 21, 1990


In the months following completion of research and writing of
this book, significant political developments occurred in Haiti. On
December 16, 1990, over 60 percent of registered voters turned


out to elect political neophyte Jean-Bertrand Aristide president of
Haiti. Aristide, a Roman Catholic priest and an advocate of libera-
tion theology (see Glossary), registered an overwhelming first-round
victory against a number of opponents. His popular identification
as an outspoken opponent of the regime ofJean-Claude Duvalier
apparently moved some 67 percent of voters to select Aristide as
their leader. More traditional politicians such as Marc Bazin, Louis
Dejoie, and Sylvio Claude trailed badly, reflecting their lack of
appeal beyond the upper and middle classes. Aristide's victory came
as a result of what was arguably the first free and fair election in
Haitian history.
Right-wing backlash against the election of the radical leftist
Aristide expressed itself in a coup attempt led by Duvalierist Roger
Lafontant on January 6, 1991. Assisted by a small contingent of
army personnel, Lafontant seized the National Palace, took prisoner
Provisional President Pascal-Trouillot, and announced over the state-
run television station his control of the government. Lafontant's
pronouncement turned out to be decidedly premature, however,
as loyalist army forces stormed the palace twelve hours later on
the orders of FAd'H commander Abraham. Lafontant and those
of his fellow conspirators who survived the fighting were captured
and incarcerated. The coup also ignited violent street demonstra-
tions in which mobs lynched at least seven people they accused of
Duvalierist-ties or sympathies. Violence continued in the interim
between the elections and the presidential inauguration on Febru-
ary 7, 1991. Particularly intense anti-Duvalierist demonstrations
took place on the night of January 26, leaving more than a dozen
dead. On the night of February 1, 1991, suspected Duvalierists
set fire to an orphanage in Port-au-Prince administered by Aristide.
Aristide's inauguration on February 7, 1991, was a gala event,
befitting its historic nature. As expected, the new president deliv-
ered a spellbinding inaugural address. In it, he renounced his
US$10,000 a month salary as a "scandal in a country where peo-
ple cannot eat." Although the address was short on specifics of
policy, its tone was one of gratitude and support for the poverty-
afflicted constituency that had provided such a striking electoral
mandate. The address was also conciliatory with regard to the mili-
tary. Aristide described a "wedding between the army and the peo-
ple," and hinted that the army would henceforth function as a public
security force in order to lessen the threat emanating from right-
wing forces such as those directed by Lafontant.
Beyond his rhetorical outreach to the rank and file, Aristide
moved quickly to shore up his rule in the face of possible opposi-
tion from within the officer corps of the FAd'H. In his inaugural


address, he called on General Abraham to retire six of the eight
highest-ranking generals as well as the colonel who commanded
the Presidential Guard. The appeal reflected Aristide's surprisingly
powerful position, based on his overwhelming electoral victory and
his demonstrated popular support, which extended even to the ranks
of the military. The fact that Abraham complied with the request
confirmed the already rather obvious disarray of the FAd'H and
the general unwillingness of the institution to reassume political
power in Haiti.
On February 9, Aristide proposed Rend Preval as Haiti's prime
minister. Prival, a Belgian-trained agronomist and close associate
of the president, was subsequently approved by the National
Assembly. Although Aristide won a smashing personal victory in
his presidential race, no one party or movement achieved a majority
in the assembly. This fact promised a certain degree of stalemate
and inertia in the legislative process under the Aristide adminis-
tration. Such a situation did not seem conducive to the develop-
ment of programs to deal effectively with the country's many severe
problems. At the same time, however, an assembly based on coa-
lition and compromise should serve to check any temptation by
the new government toward heavy-handed or even authoritarian
rule. In any case, the assembly was a new institution in a new
government in what many hoped would be a new and democratic

March 14, 1991 Richard A. Haggerty

70 I

North Atlantic Ocean

Provincial boundary
National capital
Provincial capital

Dominican Republic: Administrative Divisions

La Altagracia (11)
Azua (20)
Baoruco (27)
Barahona (29)
Dajabdn (12)
Duarte (6)
Elias Pilia (18)
Espaillat (4)
Hato Mayor (9)
Independencia (28)

Maria Trinidad
Sanchez (7)
Monser7or Nouel (22)
Monte Cristi (1)
Monte Plata (17)
National District (24)
Pedernales (30)
Peravia (21)
Puerto Plata (3)
La Romana (26)
Salcedo (5)

Samand (8)
San Cristdbal (23)
Sanchez Ramirez (16)
San Juan (19)
San Pedro de
Macoris (25)
Santiago (14)
Santiago Rodriguez (13)
El Seibo (10)
Valverde (2)
La Vega (15)

Figure 1. Dominican Republic: Administrative Divisions, 1989


Country Profile

Formal Name: Dominican Republic.
Short Form: Dominican Republic.
Term for Citizens: Dominicans.
Capital: Santo Domingo.

Size: Approximately 48,442 square kilometers.


Topography: Mountain ranges divide country into three regions:
northern, central, and southwestern. Seven major drainage basins,
most important that of Yaque del Norte River. Largest body of
water Lago Enriquillo (Lake Enriquillo), in southwest. Highest
mountain peak, Pico Duarte, rises in Cordillera Central (Central
Range) to height of 3,087 meters.
Climate: Primarily tropical, with temperatures varying according
to altitude. Seasons defined more by rainfall than by temperature.
For most of country, rainy season runs roughly from May through
November; dry season, from November through April. Rainfall
not uniform throughout country because of mountain ranges.
Tropical cyclones strike country on average of once every two years
and usually have greatest impact along southern coast.

Population: Annual rate of increase thought to be approximately
2.5 percent in mid-1980s. Projected total population to be just over
7 million by mid-1990.
Language: Spanish.
Ethnic Groups: Majority of mid-1980s population (approximately
73 percent) mulatto, a legacy of black slavery during colonial period.
Approximately 16 percent of Dominicans white; 11 percent black.
Education and Literacy: An estimated 74 percent of population
literate in 1986. Education system included six years of compulsory
primary education, an additional six years of secondary education,
and higher education at one of more than twenty-six postsecond-
ary institutions. Major university and sole public institution was
Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (Universidad Aut6noma
de Santo Domingo-UASD).
Health: State-funded health programs reached 78 to 89 percent
of population. Facilities concentrated in Santo Domingo and San-
tiago de los Caballeros (Santiago); service in rural areas suffered
accordingly. Main causes of death pulmonary circulatory diseases
and intestinal diseases. Average life expectancy 62.6 years for
1980-84 period.
Religion: More than 90 percent Roman Catholic. Protestant groups
also active; Evangelicals most successful in attracting converts.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP): Approximately US$5.6 billion
in 1987, roughly US$800 per capital.


Agriculture: Accounted for about 15 percent of GDP, employed
some 35 percent of labor force, and generated approximately half
of all exports in 1988. Sugar traditionally the major crop, although
its importance declined steadily during 1970s and 1980s. Coffee,
cocoa, and tobacco also produced for export. Exports of nontradi-
tional agricultural products, particularly pineapple and citrus fruit,
expanded in 1980s.
Industry: Manufacturing, mining, and construction combined to
contribute over 31 percent of GDP in 1988. These industries also
employed almost 10 percent of labor force and accounted for two-
thirds of country's exports. Assembly manufacturing subsector
achieved fastest growth in 1980s as a result of government expan-
sion of Industrial Free Zones throughout country. Major mineral
exports gold, silver, bauxite, and nickel, all of which had low prices
on world markets during 1980s. Construction benefited greatly from
government public works projects and expansion of tourist industry.
Services: Tourism leading service industry; replaced sugar as coun-
try's leading foreign-exchange earner in 1984. Government sup-
ported development of tourist industry, but economic shortcomings
such as inadequate water and energy supply and shortages of con-
struction materials slowed expansion of facilities and adversely
affected service to visitors. Financial services contributed 7 percent
to GDP in 1988; transportation and communications accounted
for additional 6 percent.
Currency: Dominican Republic peso (RD$), consisting of 100 cen-
tavos. Peso maintained on a par with United States dollar until
1985, when it was allowed to float against dollar. Value of peso
plunged, reaching a low of US$1 = RD$8 in mid-1988, but had
rebounded slightly to US$1 = RD$6.35 by 1989.
Imports: Approximately US$1.5 million in 1987, highest level ever
recorded. Oil imports declined on a percentage basis from 1980
to 1987, but imports of intermediate goods, consumer goods, and
capital goods increased over same period, contributing to nega-
tive trade balance.
Exports: Approximately US$718 million in 1987, a ten-year low.
Decline in export value mainly attributable to low sugar prices on
world market from 1984-87.
Balance of Payments: Overall deficit reached US$593 million in
1987, roughly 11 percent of GDP. Effect of deficit cushioned some-
what by cash remittances from Dominicans living abroad, tourism,


a draw down of reserves, and rescheduling of country's foreign debt.
Fiscal year (FY): Calendar year, except in case of State Sugar
Council (Consejo Estatal de Azuicar-CEA), which runs on cycle
October 1 to September 30.
Fiscal Policy: Fiscal deficits mounted in 1980s, mainly as result
of dwindling revenues. Revenues fell from 16 percent of GDP in
1970 to 10 percent in 1982, as Dominican governments provided
tax incentives to business without securing sufficient alternate
sources of revenue. Although not exorbitant relative to GDP, expen-
ditures continued to rise throughout 1980s as government main-
tained subsidies on imported foodstuffs, gasoline, public utilities,
and transportation in order to keep prices artificially low for low-
income consumers. Debt service accounted for 22 percent of total
expenditures in 1988 budget. Under President Joaquin Balaguer
Ricardo, expanded public works programs boosted capital expen-
ditures from 30 percent to over 40 percent of budget.

Transportation and Communications
Roads: Most common means of travel; in 1989 road network
approximately 17,000 kilometers, 70 percent of it paved.
Ports: As result of improvements to facilities during 1980s, Haina
replaced Santo Domingo and Boca Chica as country's leading port.
Other major shipping ports included Cabo Rojo and Barahona.
Cruise ships stopped either at Santo Domingo or Puerto Plata.
Railroads: Rail system existed mainly to transport sugarcane. Its
1,725 kilometers of rail made it one of longest in Caribbean.
Airports: Four international airports. Major facilities Las Am6ri-
cas, near capital, and La Uni6n, near Puerto Plata. Smaller air-
ports at La Romana and Santiago.
Telecommunications: Country boasted one of the most techno-
logically advanced telecommunications industries in Latin America
and Caribbean, offering wide range of services to consumers. Ser-
vice concentrated in urban areas, however.

Government and Politics
Government: Republic with elected representative governmental
system. Executive was dominant branch. Presidents served four-
year terms and could be reelected. Legislature, known formally
as Congress of the Republic, consisted of Senate and Chamber of
Deputies. Judicial power exercised by Supreme Court of Justice

and by other courts created by 1966 Constitution and by law. All
judges chosen by Senate, not by president. Provincial (state) gover-
nors appointed by president; municipalities (counties) governed
by elected mayors and municipal councils.
Politics: Following independence from Haiti in 1844, country
characterized by political instability for almost a century. Dicta-
tor Rafael Le6nidas Trujillo Molina took power in 1930 and ruled
in repressive authoritarian fashion until his assassination in 1961.
Brief civil war broke out in 1965 between liberal Constitutional-
ists-supporters of 1963 constitution promulgated during short-
lived presidency of Juan Bosch Gavifio-and conservative Loyalist
military factions. Conflict aborted by direct military intervention
by United States. Subsequent elections brought Trujillo prot6g6
Balaguer to presidency, an office he held for twelve years. Balaguer's
attempt to nullify 1978 elections thwarted by pressure from
Washington, allowing Silvestre Antonio Guzmin Fernandez of
social democratic Dominican Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolu-
cionario Dominicano-PRD) to assume nation's leadership. PRD
also won 1982 elections with lawyer Salvador Jorge Blanco as its
standard bearer. Both PRD governments plagued by economic
difficulties that forced them to institute austerity measures instead
of social reforms they initially advocated. Declining popularity of
Jorge government contributed to Balaguer's election for a fourth
term beginning in 1986.
International Relations: Diplomatic activities concentrated on
Caribbean, Latin America, United States, and Western Europe.
Relations with neighboring Haiti traditionally strained, owing to
numerous cultural divergences and long history of Dominicans and
Haitians meddling in each other's affairs. Most important inter-
national relationship with United States, on which Dominican
Republic has political, economic, and strategic dependence.
International Agreements and Membership: Signatory of Inter-
American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty) and all
major inter-American conventions. Member of United Nations and
its specialized agencies, Organization of American States, Inter-
national Monetary Fund (see Glossary), Inter-American Develop-
ment Bank, and other multilateral financial institutions. Also
adhered to General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

National Security
Armed Forces: Dominican armed forces consisted of army, navy,
and air force. Total personnel in 1989 about 20,800.


Organization: President constitutional commander in chief. Chain
of command extended downward to secretary of state for the armed
forces, then to deputy secretaries of state for individual branches
of service, each of whom administered through a chief of staff and
a general staff. Chiefs of staff exercised operational control, except
in emergencies. Country divided into three defense zones: Southern
Defense Zone, Western Defense Zone, and Northern Defense Zone.
Equipment: Army's equipment, mostly of United States manufac-
ture, largely outmoded or poorly maintained. Dominican Navy
in 1989 consisted of only one offshore and seventeen inshore ves-
sels, mostly United States-made craft of World War II vintage.
Dominican Air Force assets somewhat more modern and included
Cessna A-37B Dragonfly jets and C-47 transports.
Police: National Police only police organization in country. Total
manpower in 1989 about 10,000. Commanded by director general,
subordinate to secretary of state for interior and police.


Chapter 1. Dominican Republic:
Historical Setting

Sketch of the landing at Hispaniola, reputedly drawn
by Christopher Columbus

backs on the road to the democratic system under which it func-
tioned in the late 1980s. The nation did not enjoy full independence
until 1844, when it emerged from twenty-two years of occupation
by Haiti; this liberation came later than that of most Latin Ameri-
can countries. Reacceptance of Spanish rule from 1861 to 1865
demonstrated the republic's insecurity and dependence on larger
powers to protect it and to define its status. Dominican vulnera-
bility to intervention from abroad was also made evident by the
United States military occupation of 1916-24 and by a more limited
action by United States forces during a brief civil war in 1965.
Politically, Dominican history has been defined by an almost
continuous competition for supremacy among caudillos of authori-
tarian ideological convictions. Political and regional competition
overlapped to a great extent because mainly conservative leaders
from the south and the east pitted themselves against generally more
liberal figures from the northern part of the Valle del Cibao (the
Cibao Valley, commonly called the Cibao). Traditions of personal-
ism, militarism, and social and economic elitism locked the coun-
try into decades of debilitating wars, conspiracies, and despotism
that drained its resources and undermined its efforts to establish
liberal constitutional rule.
In the late 1980s, the republic was still struggling to emerge from
the shadow of the ultimate Dominican caudillo, Rafael Le6nidas
Trujillo Molina (1930-61), who emerged from the military and
held nearly absolute power throughout his rule. The apparent es-
tablishment of a democratic process in 1978 was a promising de-
velopment; however, the survival of democracy appeared to be
closely linked to the country's economic fortunes, which had
declined steadily since the mid-1970s. As it had throughout its his-
tory, the republic continued to struggle with the nature of its domes-
tic politics and with the definition of its economic and political role
in the wider world.
The First Colony
The island of Hispaniola (La Isla Espafiola) was the first New
World colony settled by Spain. As such, it served as the logisti-
cal base for the conquest of most of the Western Hemisphere.
Christopher Columbus first sighted the island in 1492 toward the
end of his first voyage to "the Indies." Columbus and his crew

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

found the island inhabited by a large population of friendly Taino
Indians (Arawaks), who made the explorers welcome. The land
was fertile, but of greater importance to the Spaniards was the dis-
covery that gold could be obtained either by barter with the na-
tives, who adorned themselves with golden jewelry, or by extraction
from alluvial deposits on the island.
After several attempts to plant colonies along the north coast of
Hispaniola, Spain's first permanent settlement in the New World
was established on the southern coast at the present site of Santo
Domingo. Under Spanish sovereignty, the entire island bore the
name Santo Domingo. Indications of the presence of gold-the life's
blood of the nascent mercantilist system-and a population of trac-
table natives who could be used as laborers combined to attract many
Spanish newcomers during the early years. Most were adventurers
who, at least initially, were more interested in acquiring sudden
wealth than they were in settling the land. Their relations with the
Taino Indians, whom they ruthlessly maltreated, deteriorated from
the beginning. Aroused by continued seizures of their food supplies,
other exactions, and abuse of their women, the formerly peaceful
Indians rebelled-only to be crushed decisively in 1495.
Columbus, who ruled the colony as royal governor until 1499,
attempted to put an end to the more serious abuses to which the
Indians were subjected by prohibiting foraging expeditions against
them and by regulating the informal taxation imposed by the set-
tlers. Being limited to this milder form of exploitation engendered
active opposition among the settlers. To meet their demands,
Columbus devised the repartimiento system of land settlement and
native labor under which a settler, without assuming any obliga-
tion to the authorities, could be granted in perpetuity a large tract
of land together with the services of the Indians living on it.
The repartimiento system did nothing to improve the lot of the
Indians, and the Spanish crown changed it by instituting the sys-
tem of encomienda in 1503. Under the encomienda system, all land
became in theory the property of the crown, and the Indians thus
were considered tenants on royal land. The crown's right to ser-
vice from the tenants could be transferred in trust to individual
Spanish settlers (encomenderos) by formal grant and the regular pay-
ment of tribute. The encomenderos were entitled to certain days of
labor from the Indians, who became their charges. Encomenderos
thus assumed the responsibility of providing for the physical well-
being of the Indians and for their instruction in Christianity. An
encomienda theoretically did not involve ownership of land; in prac-
tice, however, possession was gained through other means.

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

The hard work demanded of the Indians and the privations that
they suffered demonstrated the unrealistic nature of the encomienda
system, which effectively operated on an honor system as a result
of the absence of enforcement efforts by Spanish authorities. The
Indian population died off rapidly from exhaustion, starvation, dis-
ease, and other causes. By 1548 the Taino population, estimated
at 1 million in 1492, had been reduced to approximately 500. The
consequences were profound. The need for a new labor force to
meet the growing demands of sugarcane cultivation prompted the
importation of African slaves beginning in 1503. By 1520, black
African labor was used almost exclusively.
The early grants of land without obligation under the repartimiento
system resulted in a rapid decentralization of power. Each landown-
er possessed virtually sovereign authority. Power was diffused be-
cause of the tendency of the capital city, Santo Domingo (which
also served as the seat of government for the entire Spanish In-
dies), to orient itself toward the continental Americas, which provided
gold for the crown, and toward Spain, which provided administra-
tors, supplies, and immigrants for the colonies. Local government
was doomed to ineffectiveness because there was little contact
between the capital and the hinterland; for practical purposes, the
countryside fell under the sway of the large landowners. Throughout
Dominican history, this sociopolitical order was a major factor in
the development of some of the distinctive characteristics of the
nation's political culture such as paternalism, personalism, and the
tendency toward strong, even authoritarian, leadership (see The
System of Dominican Politics, ch. 4).
As early as the 1490s, the landowners demonstrated their pow-
er by successfully conspiring against Columbus. His successor,
Francisco de Bobadilla, was appointed chief justice and royal com-
missioner by the Spanish crown in 1499. Bobadilla sent Colum-
bus back to Spain in irons, but Queen Isabella soon ordered him
released. Bobadilla proved an inept administrator, and he was
replaced in 1503 by the more efficient Nicolds de Ovando, who
assumed the titles of governor and supreme justice. Because of his
success in initiating reforms desired by the crown-the encomienda
system among them-de Ovando received the title of Founder of
Spain's Empire in the Indies.
In 1509 Columbus's son, Diego Columbus, was appointed gover-
nor of the colony of Santo Domingo. Diego's ambition and the
splendid surroundings he provided for himself aroused the suspi-
cions of the crown. As a result, in 1511 the crown established the
audiencia, a new political institution intended to check the power
of the governor. The first audiencia was simply a tribunal composed

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

of three judges whose jurisdiction extended over all the West In-
dies. In this region, it formed the highest court of appeal. Employ-
ment of the audiencia eventually spread throughout Spanish America.
The tribunal's influence grew, and in 1524 it was designated the
Royal Audiencia of Santo Domingo, with jurisdiction in the Carib-
bean, the Atlantic coast of Central America and Mexico, and the
northern coast of South America, including all of what is now
Venezuela and part of present-day Colombia. As a court represent-
ing the crown, the audiencia was given expanded powers that en-
compassed administrative, legislative, and consultative functions;
the number of judges increased correspondingly. In criminal cases,
the decisions of the audiencia were final, but important civil suits
could be appealed to the Royal and Supreme Council of the In-
dies (Real y Supremo Consejo de las Indias) in Spain.
The Council of the Indies, created by Charles V in 1524, was
the Spanish crown's main agency for directing colonial affairs. Dur-
ing most of its existence, the council exercised almost absolute power
in making laws, administering justice, controlling finance and trade,
supervising the church, and directing armies.
The arm of the Council of the Indies that dealt with all matters
concerning commerce between Spain and its colonies in the Ameri-
cas was the House of Trade (Casa de Contrataci6n), organized in
1503. Control of commerce in general, and of tax collection in par-
ticular, was facilitated by the designation of monopoly seaports on
either side of the Atlantic Ocean. During most of the colonial period,
overseas trade consisted largely of annual convoys between mo-
nopoly ports. Trade between the colonies and countries other than
Spain was prohibited. The crown also restricted trade among the
colonies. These restrictions hampered economic activity in the New
World and encouraged contraband traffic.
The Roman Catholic Church became the primary agent in
spreading Spanish culture in the Americas. The ecclesiastical organi-
zation developed for Santo Domingo and later extended through-
out Spanish America reflected a union of church and state actually
closer than that prevailing in Spain itself. The Royal Patronage
of the Indies (Real Patronato de las Indias, or, as it was called later,
the Patronato Real) served as the organizational agent of this affilia-
tion of the church and the Spanish crown.
Santo Domingo's prestige began to decline in the first part of
the sixteenth century with the conquest of Mexico by Hernin Cort6s
in 1521 and the discovery there, and later in Peru, of great wealth
in gold and silver. These events coincided with the exhaustion of
the alluvial deposits of gold and the dying off of the Indian labor
force in Santo Domingo. Large numbers of colonists left for Mexico

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

and Peru; new immigrants from Spain largely bypassed Santo
Domingo for the greater wealth to be found in lands to the west.
The population of Santo Domingo dwindled, agriculture lan-
guished, and Spain soon became preoccupied with its richer and
vaster mainland colonies.
The stagnation that prevailed in Santo Domingo for the next 250
years was interrupted on several occasions by armed engagements,
as the French and the English attempted to weaken Spain's eco-
nomic and political dominance in the New World. In 1586 the En-
glish admiral, Sir Francis Drake, captured the city of Santo Domingo
and collected a ransom for its return to Spanish control. In 1655
Oliver Cromwell dispatched an English fleet, commanded by Sir
William Penn, to take Santo Domingo. After meeting heavy resis-
tance, the English sailed farther west and took Jamaica instead.
The withdrawal of the colonial government from the northern
coastal region opened the way for French buccaneers, who had a
base on Tortuga Island (Ile de la Tortue), off the northwest coast
of present-day Haiti, to settle on Hispaniola in the mid-seventeenth
century. Although the Spanish destroyed the buccaneers' settle-
ments several times, the determined French would not be deterred
or expelled. The creation of the French West India Company in
1664 signalled France's intention to colonize western Hispaniola.
Intermittent warfare went on between French and Spanish settlers
over the next three decades; however, Spain, hard-pressed by
warfare in Europe, could not maintain a garrison in Santo Domingo
sufficient to secure the entire island against encroachment. In 1697,
under the Treaty of Ryswick, Spain ceded the western third of the
island to France. The exact boundary of this territory (Saint-
Domingue-now Haiti) was not established at the time of cession
and remained in question until 1929 (see fig. 1).
During the first years of the eighteenth century, landowners in
the Spanish colony did little with their huge holdings, and the sug-
ar plantations along the southern coast were abandoned because
of harassment by pirates. Foreign trade all but ceased, and almost
all domestic commerce took place in the capital city.
The Bourbon dynasty replaced the Habsburgs in Spain in 1700.
The new regime introduced innovations-especially economic
reforms-that gradually began to revive trade in Santo Domingo.
The crown progressively relaxed the rigid controls and restrictions
on commerce between the mother country and the colonies and
among the colonies. The last convoys sailed in 1737; the monopo-
ly port system was abolished shortly thereafter. By the middle of
the century, both immigration and the importation of slaves had

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

In 1765 the Caribbean islands received authorization for almost
unlimited trade with Spanish ports; permission for the Spanish colo-
nies in the Americas to trade among themselves followed in 1774.
Duties on many commodities were greatly reduced or were removed
altogether. By 1790 traders from any port in Spain could buy and
sell anywhere in Spanish America, and by 1800 Spain had opened
colonial trade to all neutral vessels.
As a result of the stimulus provided by the trade reforms, the
population of the colony of Santo Domingo increased from about
6,000 in 1737 to approximately 125,000 in 1790. Of this number,
about 40,000 were white landowners, about 25,000 were black or
mulatto freedmen, and some 60,000 were slaves. The composition
of Santo Domingo's population contrasted sharply with that of the
neighboring French colony of Saint-Domingue, where some 30,000
whites and 27,000 freedmen extracted labor from at least 500,000
black slaves. To the Spanish colonists, Saint-Domingue represented
a powder keg, the eventual explosion of which would echo through-
out the island.
Haiti and Santo Domingo
Although they shared the island of Hispaniola, the colonies of
Saint-Domingue and Santo Domingo followed disparate paths. Cul-
tural differences explained the contrast to some extent, but the
primary'divergence was economic. Saint-Domingue was the most
productive agricultural colony in the Western Hemisphere, and
its output contributed heavily to the economy of France. By con-
trast, Santo Domingo was a small colony with little impact on the
economy of Spain. Prosperous French plantation owners sought
to maximize their gain through increased production for a grow-
ing world market. Thus, they imported great numbers of slaves
from Africa and drove this captive work force ruthlessly.
Although by the end of the eighteenth century economic condi-
tions were improving, landowners in Santo Domingo did not en-
joy the same level of wealth attained by their French counterparts
in Saint-Domingue. The absence of market-driven pressure to in-
crease production enabled the domestic labor force to practice sub-
sistence agriculture and to export at low levels. For this reason,
Santo Domingo imported far fewer slaves than did Saint-Domingue.
Spanish law also allowed a slave to purchase his freedom and that
of his family for a relatively small sum. This contributed to the
higher proportion of freedmen in the Spanish colony; by the turn
of the century, freedmen actually constituted the majority of the
population. Also in contrast to conditions in the French colony,

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

this population profile contributed to a somewhat more egalitari-
an society, plagued much less by the schisms of race.
Stimulated to some degree by a revolution against the monar-
chy that was well underway in France, the inevitable explosion took
place in Saint-Domingue in August 1791 (see The Slave Rebel-
lion of 1791, ch. 6). The initial reaction of many Spanish colonists
to news of the slaughter of Frenchmen by armies of rebellious black
slaves was to flee Hispaniola entirely. Spain, however, saw in the
unrest an opportunity to seize all, or part, of the western third of
the island through an alliance of convenience with the British. These
intentions, however, did not survive encounters in the field with
forces led by the former slave, Francois-Dominique Toussaint Lou-
verture (see Toussaint Louverture, ch. 6). In recognition of his
leadership against the Spanish (under whose banner he had begun
his military career), the British, and rebellious royalists and mulat-
toes, Toussaint was named governor general of Saint-Domingue
by the French Republic in 1796. By the next year, Spain had sur-
rendered the entire island to his rule. This action reflected not only
Spain's growing disengagement from its colony, but also its set-
backs in Europe and its relative decline as a world power.
Although France nominally enjoyed sovereignty over the entire
island of Hispaniola, it was prevented from establishing an effec-
tive presence or administration in the east by continuing conflict
between the indigenous forces led by Toussaint-and later by Jean-
Jacques Dessalines-and an expeditionary force dispatched to
Hispaniola by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802 in an effort to bring
the island more firmly under French control. Upon defeating the
French, Dessalines and his followers established the independent
nation of Haiti in January 1804. A small French presence, however,
remained in the former Spanish colony. Dessalines attempted to
take the city of Santo Domingo in March 1805, but he turned back
after receiving reports of the approach of a French naval squadron.
By 1808 a number of 6migr6 Spanish landowners had returned
to Santo Domingo. These royalists had no intention of living un-
der French rule, however, and they sought foreign assistance for
a rebellion that would restore Spanish sovereignty. Help came from
the Haitians, who provided arms, and from the British, who oc-
cupied Samani and blockaded the port of Santo Domingo. The
remaining French representatives fled the island in July 1809.
The 1809 restoration of Spanish rule ushered in an era referred
to by some historians as Espafia Boba (Foolish Spain). Under the
despotic rule of Ferdinand VII, the colony's economy deteriorat-
ed severely. Some Dominicans began to wonder if their interests
would not best be served by the sort of independence movement

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

that was sweeping the South American colonies. In keeping with
this sentiment, Spanish lieutenant governorJos6 N6fiez de Ciceres
announced the colony's independence as the state of Spanish Haiti
on November 30, 1821. Ciceres requested admission to the Repub-
lic of Gran Colombia (consisting of what later became Colombia,
Ecuador, and Venezuela), recently proclaimed established by Sim6n
Bolivar and his followers. While the request was in transit, however,
the president of Haiti, Jean-Pierre Boyer, decided to invade Santo
Domingo and to reunite the island under the Haitian flag.
The twenty-two years of Haitian occupation witnessed a steady
economic decline and a growing resentment of Haiti among
Dominicans. The agricultural pattern in the former Spanish colony
came to resemble the one prevailing in all of Haiti at the time-
that is, mainly subsistence cultivation with little or no production
of export crops. Boyer attempted to enforce in the new territory
the Rural Code (Code Rural) he had decreed in an effort to improve
productivity among the Haitian yeomanry, but the Dominicans
proved no more willing to adhere to its provisions than the Haitians
had been (see Boyer: Expansion and Decline, ch. 6). Increasing
numbers of Dominican landowners chose to flee the island rather
than to live under Haitian rule; in many cases, Haitian adminis-
trators encouraged such emigration, confiscated the holdings of the
imigr6s, and redistributed them to Haitian officials. Aside from
such bureaucratic machinations, most of the Dominicans' resent-
ment of Haitian rule developed because Boyer, the ruler of an
impoverished country, did not (or could not) provision his army.
The occupying Haitian forces lived off the land in Santo Domingo,
commandeering or confiscating what they needed to perform their
duties or to fill their stomachs. Dominicans saw this as tribute
demanded by petty conquerors, or as simple theft. Racial animosi-
ties also affected attitudes on both sides; black Haitian troops reacted
with reflexive resentment against lighter-skinned Dominicans, while
Dominicans came to associate the Haitians' dark skin with the op-
pression and the abuses of occupation.
Religious and cultural life also suffered under the Haitian occu-
pation. The Haitians, who associated the Roman Catholic Church
with the French colonists who had so cruelly exploited and abused
them before independence, confiscated all church property in the
east, deported all foreign clergy, and severed the ties of the remain-
ing clergy to the Vatican. For Dominicans, who were much more
strongly Roman Catholic and less oriented toward folk religion than
the Haitians, such actions seemed insulting and nihilistic. In ad-
dition, upper-class Haitians considered French culture superior to

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

Spanish culture, while Haitian soldiers and others from the lower
class simply disregarded Hispanic mores and customs.
The emigration of upper-class Dominicans served to forestall re-
bellion and to prolong the period of Haitian occupation because
most Dominicans reflexively looked to the upper class for leader-
ship. Scattered unrest and isolated confrontations between Hai-
tians and Dominicans undoubtedly occurred; it was not until 1838,
however, that any significant organized movement against Hai-
tian domination began. Crucial to these stirring was a twenty-
year-old Dominican, of a prominent Santo Domingo family, who
had returned home five years earlier after seven years of study in
Europe. The young student's name was Juan Pablo Duarte.
Dominican history can in many ways be encompassed by a ser-
ies of biographies. The personality and attributes of Duarte,
however, ran counter to those of most of the country's caudillos.
Duarte was an idealist, an ascetic, a genuine nationalist, a man
of principle, and a romantic in a romantic age. Although he played
no significant part in its rule, he is considered the father of his coun-
try. He certainly provided the inspiration and impetus for the
achievement of independence from Haiti. Shocked, when he re-
turned from Europe, by the deteriorated condition of Santo Domin-
go, the young student resolved to establish a resistance movement
that would eventually throw off the Haitian yoke. He dubbed his
movement La Trinitaria (The Trinity) because its original nine
members had organized themselves into cells of three; the cells went
on to recruit as separate organizations, maintaining strict secrecy,
with little or no direct contact among themselves in order to mini-
mize the possibility of detection or betrayal to the Haitian authori-
ties. Young recruits flocked to Duarte's banner (almost literally,
for it was Duarte who designed the modern Dominican flag) as
a result of the pent-up resentment under Haitian rule. Despite its
elaborate codes and clandestine procedures, La Trinitaria was even-
tually betrayed to the Haitians. It survived largely intact, however,
emerging under the new designation, La Filantr6pica, to continue
its work of anti-Haitian agitation.
Despite their numbers and their base of popular support, the
Trinitarios (as the rebels still referred to themselves) required a
political disruption in Haiti proper to boost their movement toward
its ultimate success. The overthrow of Boyer in the Revolution of
1843 provided a catalyst for the Dominican rebels. Charles Riviere-
H1rard replaced Boyer as president of Haiti. Like most Haitian
leaders, he required a transition period in which to deal with com-
petitors and to solidify his rule. Riviere-HIrard apparently identi-
fied one disaffected Haitian faction in the administration of the

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

eastern territory; his crackdown on this group extended to the
Trinitarios as well, because apparently there had been some fruit-
less contacts between the Dominicans and some liberal Haitians.
The increased pressure induced Duarte to leave the country tem-
porarily in search of support in other Latin American states, mainly
Colombia and Venezuela. In December 1843, a group of Duarte's
followers urged him to return to Santo Domingo. They feared that
their plans for an insurrection might be betrayed to the Haitians
and had therefore resolved to carry them through quickly. Duarte
sailed as far north from Caracas as the island of Curagao, where
he fell victim to a violent illness. When he had not arrived home
by February 1844, the rebels, under the leadership of Francisco
del Rosario Sanchez and Ram6n Mella, agreed to launch their up-
rising without him.
On February 27, 1844-thereafter celebrated as Dominican Inde-
pendence Day-the rebels seized the Ozama fortress in the capital.
The Haitian garrison, taken by surprise and apparently betrayed
by at least one of its sentries, retired in disarray. Within two days,
all Haitian officials had left Santo Domingo. Mella headed the provi-
sional governing junta of the new Dominican Republic. Duarte,
finally recovered, returned to his country on March 14. The fol-
lowing day, he entered the capital amidst great adulation and cele-
bration. As is so often the case in such circumstances, the optimism
generated by revolutionary triumph would eventually give way to
the disillusion caused by the struggle for power.
Santana and Baez: The Caudillos Take Charge
Two leaders dominated the period between 1844 and 1864:
General Pedro Santana Familias and Buenaventura Baez M6ndez.
Dissimilar in appearance and temperament, the two alternated in
power by means of force, factionalism, and repeated efforts to
secure their country's protection or annexation by a foreign power.
Their unprincipled, self-serving dominance did much to entrench
the tradition of caudillo rule in the Dominican Republic.
The Infant Republic
Santana's power base lay in the military forces mustered to de-
fend the infant republic against Haitian retaliation. Duarte, briefly
a member of the governing junta, for a time commanded an armed
force as well. He was temperamentally unsuited to generalship,
however, and the junta eventually replaced him with General Jos6
Maria Imbert. Duarte assumed the post of governor of the Cibao,
the northern farming region administered from the city of Santia-
go de los Caballeros, commonly known as Santiago (see fig. 1).

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

In July 1844, Mella and a throng of other Duarte supporters in
Santiago urged him to take the title of president of the republic.
Duarte agreed to do so, but only if free elections could be arranged.
Santana, who felt that only the protection of a great power could
assure Dominican safety against the Haitian threat, did not share
Duarte's enthusiasm for the electoral process. His forces took Santo
Domingo on July 12, 1844, and they proclaimed Santana ruler of
the Dominican Republic. Mella, who attempted to mediate a com-
promise government including both Duarte and Santana, found
himself imprisoned by the new dictator. Duarte and Sanchez fol-
lowed Mella into prison and subsequently into exile.
Although in 1844 a constituent assembly drafted a constitution,
based on the Haitian and the United States models, which estab-
lished separation of powers and legislative checks on the executive,
Santana proceeded to emasculate the document that same year by
demanding the inclusion of Article 210, which granted him un-
trammeled power "during the current war" against Haiti.
As it turned out, the Dominicans repelled the Haitian forces,
on both land and sea, by December 1845. Santana's dictatorial
powers, however, continued throughout his first term (1844-48).
He consolidated his power by executing anti-Santana conspirators,
by rewarding his close associates with lucrative positions in govern-
ment, and by printing paper money to cover the expenses of a large
standing army, a policy that severely devalued the new nation's
currency. Throughout his term, Santana also continued to explore
the possibility of an association with a foreign power. The govern-
ments of the United States, France, and Spain all declined the offer.
Santana responded to general discontent, prompted mainly by
the deteriorating currency and economy, by resigning from the
presidency in February 1848 and retiring to his ranch in the prov-
ince of El Seibo. The Council of Secretaries of State, made up of
former cabinet members, selected minister of war Manuel Jimenez
to replace Santana in August 1848. Jimenez displayed little enthu-
siasm and no aptitude as a ruler. His tenure, which would probably
have been brief in any case, ended in May 1849. The violent se-
quence of events that culminated inJim6nez's departure began with
a new invasion from Haiti, this time led by self-styled emperor
Faustin Soulouque (see Decades of Instability, 1843-1915, ch. 6).
Santana returned to prominence at the head of the army that
checked the Haitian advance at Las Carreras in April 1849. As
the Haitians retired, Santana pressed his advantage against Jim6-
nez. After some brief skirmishes between his forces and those loy-
al to the president, Santana took control of Santo Domingo and
the government on May 30, 1849.

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

Although Santana once again held the reins of power, he declined
to formalize the situation by standing for office. Instead, he
renounced the temporary mandate granted him by the legislature
and called for an election-carried out under an electoral college
system with limited suffrage-to select a new president. Santana
favored Santiago Espaillat, who won a ballot in the Congress on
July 5, 1849; Espaillat declined to accept the presidency, however,
knowing that he would have to serve as a puppet so long as San-
tana controlled the army. This cleared the way for Baez, president
of the legislature, to win a second ballot, which was held on August
18, 1849.
Baez made even more vigorous overtures to foreign powers to
establish a Dominican protectorate. Both France (Baez's personal
preference) and the United States, although still unwilling to an-
nex the entire country, expressed interest in acquiring the bay and
peninsula of Samani as a naval or commercial port. Consequent-
ly, in order to preserve its lucrative trade with the island nation
and to deny a strategic asset to its rivals, Britain became more ac-
tively involved in Dominican affairs. In 1850 the British signed
a commercial and maritime treaty with the Dominicans. The fol-
lowing year, Britain mediated a peace treaty between the Dominican
Republic and Haiti.
Baez's first term established the personal rivalry with Santana
that dominated Dominican politics until the latter's death in 1864.
President Baez purged Santana's followers (santanistas) from the
government and installed his own sycophants (baecistas) in their
place, pardoned a number of Santana's political opponents, reor-
ganized the military in an effort to dilute Santana's power base,
and apparently conceived a plan to create a militia that would serve
as a counterforce to the army.
Seeing his influence clearly threatened, Santana returned to the
political arena in February 1853, when he was elected to succeed
Baez. The general moved quickly to deal with BAez, who had once
been a colonel under his command. In a public address on July
3, 1853, Santana denounced Baez as a collaborator under the Hai-
tian occupation (which was true) and a paid agent of influence for
the Haitians after independence (which may have been true, al-
though not to the extent that Santana declared). Publicly charac-
terizing Baez's presence in the nation a threat to security, Santana
exercised his authority under Article 210 of the constitution and
expelled the former president from the Dominican Republic.
Although he enjoyed considerable popularity, Santana confront-
ed several crises during his second term. In February 1854, a constit-
uent assembly promulgated a new, liberal constitution that eliminated

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

the dictatorial powers granted by Article 210. With his control over
the army restored, however, Santana readily forced the adoption
of a new constitution restoring most of the excised prerogatives of
the executive. On the international front, renewed annexation talks
between the Dominican and the United States governments aroused
the concern of Haitian emperor Soulouque. Motivated, at least in
part, by a desire to prevent the acquisition of any portion of His-
paniola by the slaveholding United States, Soulouque launched a
new invasion in November 1855. However, Dominican forces deci-
sively defeated the Haitians in a number of engagements and forced
them back across the border by January 1856.
The final crisis of Santana's second term also originated in the
foreign policy sphere. Shortly after the Haitian campaign, the
Dominican and the United States governments signed a commer-
cial treaty that provided for the lease of a small tract in Samani
for use as a coaling station. Although Santana delayed implemen-
tation of the lease, its negotiation provided his opponents-including
baecistas and the government of Spain-with an opportunity to decry
Yankee imperialism and to demand the president's ouster. Pres-
sure built to such an extent that Santana felt compelled to resign
on May 26, 1856, in favor of his vice president, Manuel de la Regla
Regla Mota's rule lasted almost five months. An empty treasu-
ry forced the new president to discharge most of the army. Thus
deprived of the Dominican rulers' traditional source of power, his
government all but invited the return of Baez. With the support
of the Spanish, Baez was named vice president by Regla Mota,
who then resigned in Baez's favor. Not a forgiving man by na-
ture, BAez lost little time before denouncing ex-president Santana
and expelling him from the country. Once again, Baez purged san-
tanistas from the government and replaced them with his own men.
Baez had little time in which to savor his triumph over his rival,
however. Reverting to the policies of his first term, the govern-
ment flooded the country with what rapidly became all but worth-
less paper money. Farmers in the Cibao, who objected strongly
to the purchase of their crops with this devalued currency, rose
against Baez in what came to be known as the Revolution of 1857.
Their standard-bearer, not surprisingly, was Santana.
Pardoned by a provisional government established at Santiago
de los Caballeros, Santana returned in August 1857 to join the revo-
lution. He raised his own personal army and soon dominated the
movement. A year of bloody conflict between the governments of
Santiago and Santo Domingo took a heavy toll in lives and money.
Under the terms of a June 1857 armistice, Baez once again fled

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

to Curapao with all the government funds that he could carry. San-
tana proceeded to betray the aspirations of some of his liberal revolu-
tionary followers by restoring the dictatorial constitution of 1854.
Santanismo again replaced baecismo; only a small group of loyalists
realized any benefit from the exchange, however. Politically, the
country continued to walk a treadmill. Economically, conditions
had become almost unbearable for many Dominicans. The gener-
al climate of despair ensured the inevitable success of Santana's
renewed efforts to secure a protector for his country.
Annexation by Spain, 1861-65
On March 17, 1861, Santana announced the annexation of the
Dominican Republic by Spain. A number of conditions had com-
bined to bring about this reversion to colonialism. The Civil War
in the United States had lessened the Spanish fear of retaliation
from the north. In Spain itself, the ruling Liberal Union of General
Leopoldo O'Donnell had been advocating renewed imperial ex-
pansion. And in the Dominican Republic, both the ruler and a
portion of the ruled were sufficiently concerned about the possi-
bility either of a renewed attack from Haiti or of domestic economic
collapse to find the prospect of annexation attractive.
Support for annexation did not run as deep as Santana and his
clique had represented to the Spanish, however. The first rebel-
lion against Spanish rule broke out in May 1861, but it was quashed
in short order. A better organized revolt, under the leadership of
the baecista, General Sanchez, sprang up only a month later. San-
tana, now bearing the title of captain general of the Province of
Santo Domingo, was forced to take to the field against his own coun-
trymen as the representative of a foreign power. The wily San-
tana lured Sanchez into an ambush, where he was captured and
executed. Despite this service, Santana found his personal power
and his ability to dole out patronage to his followers greatly re-
stricted under Spanish rule. In a fit of pique, he resigned the cap-
taincy general in January 1862.
Resentment and rebellion continued, fed by racial tension, ex-
cessive taxation, the failure to stabilize the currency, the uncom-
pensated requisition of supplies by the Spanish army, heavy-handed
reform of local religious customs by an inflexible Spanish arch-
bishop, and the restriction of trade to the benefit of the Spanish
empire. The Spaniards quelled more uprisings in 1863, but guer-
rilla actions continued. In response to the continuing unrest, a state
of siege was declared in February 1863.
Rebellious Dominicans set up a provisional government in
Santiago, headed by General Jos6 Antonio Salcedo Ramirez, on

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

September 14, 1863. Their proclamation of an Act of Indepen-
dence launched what is known as the War of Restoration. For their
part, the Spanish once again turned to Santana, who received com-
mand of a force made up largely of mercenaries; however, this cam-
paign was the last for the old caudillo. By this time, his popularity
had all but disappeared. Indeed, the provisional government had
denounced Santana and had condemned him to death for his ac-
tions against his countrymen. On June 14, 1864, a broken and
despondent Santana saved the rebels the trouble of carrying out
their sentence. The timing of his death lent credence to specula-
tion that he had committed suicide, although this belief was never
Meanwhile, the guerrilla war against the Spanish ground on.
The rebels further formalized their provisional rule by replacing
Salcedo (who had advocated the return of Baez to rule a restored
republic) and by then holding a national convention on February
27, 1865, which enacted a new constitution and elected Pedro An-
tonio Pimentel Chamorro president.
Circumstances began to favor a Spanish withdrawal. The con-
clusion of its Civil War promised that the United States would make
new efforts to enforce the Monroe Doctrine, which barred Euro-
pean powers from the Western Hemisphere. Spanish military forces,
unable to contain the spread of the insurrection, lost even greater
numbers of troops to disease than they did to the guerrillas. The
O'Donnell government had fallen, taking with it any dreams of
a renewed Spanish empire. On March 3, 1865, the Queen of Spain
approved a decree repealing the annexation of Santo Domingo.
The Spanish left political chaos in their wake. A power struggle
began between the conservative, cacique-dominated south and the
more liberal Cibao, where the prevalence of medium-sized land-
holdings contributed to a more egalitarian social structure. The
two camps eventually coalesced under the banners of separate po-
litical parties. The Cibaefios (residents of the Cibao) adhered to
the National Liberal Party (Partido Nacional Liberal), which be-
came known as the Blue Party (Partido Azul). The southerners
rallied to the Red Party (Partido Rojo).
The conservative Reds effectively employed their numerical su-
periority in the capital to force the restoration of Baez, who returned
triumphantly from exile and assumed the presidency on Decem-
ber 8, 1865. Never again, however, would he exercise the sort of
dictatorial control over the republic that he and Santana had once
alternately enjoyed. The country's institutions had changed.
Regional forces mustered during the War of Restoration had
replaced the national army that previously had done battle with

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

the Haitians. Political power had likewise been diffused, particu-
larly between the opposing poles of the Cibao and the south. Un-
der these conditions, it was difficult, if not impossible, for one man
to dominate the entire nation.

The Contest for Power, 1865-82
After a successful uprising that forced Baez to flee the country
in May 1866, a triumvirate ofCibaefio military leaders, the most
prominent of whom was Gregorio Luper6n, assumed provisional
power. General Jos6 Maria Cabral Luna, who had served briefly
as president in 1865, was reelected to that post on September 29,
1866. The baecistas, however, were still a potent force in the republic;
they forced Cabral out and reinstalled Baez on May 2, 1868. Once
again, his rule was marked by peculation and efforts to sell or to
lease portions of the country to foreign interests. These included
an intermittent campaign to have the entire country annexed by
the United States. He was once again overthrown by rebellious
Blues in January 1874.
After a period of infighting among the Blues, backing from Lu-
per6n helped Ulises Francisco Espaillat Quiiiones to win election
as president on March 24, 1876. Espaillat, a political and economic
liberal, apparently intended to broaden personal freedoms and to
set the nation's economy on a firmer footing. He never had the
opportunity to do either, however. Rebellions in the south and the
east forced Espaillat to resign on December 20, 1876. Ever the
opportunist, Baez returned once more to power. The most effec-
tive opposition to his rule came from guerrilla forces led by a po-
litically active priest, Fernando Arturo de Meriiio Ramirez. In
February 1878, the unpopular Baez left his country for the last time;
he died in exile in 1882.
Both Santana and Baez had now passed from the scene. They
had helped to create a nation where violence prevailed in the quest
for power, where economic growth and financial stability fell
victim to a seemingly endless political contest, and where foreign
interests still perceived parts of the national territory as available
to the highest bidder. This divisive, chaotic situation invited the
emergence of a Machiavellian figure who would "unite" the re-

Ulises Heureaux, 1882-99
Ulises Heureaux, Luper6n's lieutenant, stood out among his fel-
low Dominicans both physically and temperamentally. The illegi-
timate son of a Haitian father and a mother who was originally
from the island of St. Thomas, he was distinguished by his blackness

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

from most other contenders for power, with the exception of Lu-
per6n. As events were to demonstrate, he also possessed a singu-
lar thirst for power and a willingness to take any measures necessary
to attain and to hold it.
During the four years between Baez's final withdrawal and Heu-
reaux's ascension to the presidency, seven individuals held or claimed
national, regional, or interim leadership. Among them were Ignacio
Maria GonzAlez Santin, who held the presidency from June to Sep-
tember 1878; Luper6n, who governed from Puerto Plata as provi-
sional president from October 1879 to August 1880; and Merifio,
who assumed office in September 1880 after apparently fraudu-
lent general elections. Heureaux served as interior minister under
Meriiio; his behind-the-scenes influence on the rest of the cabinet
apparently exceeded that of the president. Although Merifio briefly
suspended constitutional procedures in response to unrest fomented
by some remaining baecistas, he abided by the two-year term estab-
lished under Luper6n and turned the reins of government over to
Heureaux on September 1, 1882.
Heureaux's first term as president was not particularly notewor-
thy. The administrations of Luper6n and Meriiio had achieved some
financial stability for the country; political conditions had settled down
to the point that Heureaux needed to suppress only one major up-
rising during his two-year tenure. By 1884, however, no single poten-
tial successor, among the various caciques who constituted the
republic's ruling group, enjoyed widespread support. Luper6n, still
the leader of the ruling Blue Party, supported General Segundo Im-
bert for the post, while Heureaux backed the candidacy of General
Francisco Gregorio Billini. A consummate dissembler, Heureaux
assured Luper6n that he would support Imbert should he win the
election, but Heureaux also had ballot boxes in critical precincts
stuffed in order to assure Billini's election.
Inaugurated president on September 1, 1884, Billini resisted
Heureaux's efforts to manipulate him. Thus denied de facto rule,
Heureaux undermined Billini by spreading rumors to the effect that
the president had decreed a political amnesty so that he could con-
spire with ex-president Cesireo Guillermo Bastardo (February
27-December 6, 1879) against Luper6n's leadership of the Blues.
This precipitated a governmental crisis that resulted in Billini's resig-
nation on May 16, 1885. Vice President Alejandro Woss y Gil suc-
ceeded Billini. Heureaux assumed a more prominent role under the
new government; a number of his adherents were included in the
cabinet, and the general himself assumed command of the nation-
al army in order to stem a rebellion led by Guillermo, whose sui-
cide when he was faced with capture removed another potential

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

rival for power and further endeared Heureaux to Luper6n, a long-
time enemy of Guillermo.
Luper6n accordingly supported Heureaux in the 1886 presiden-
tial elections. Opposed by Casimiro de Moya, Heureaux relied on
his considerable popularity and his demonstrated skill at electoral
manipulation to carry the balloting. The blatancy of the fraud in
some areas, particularly the capital, inspired Moya's followers to
launch an armed rebellion. Heureaux again benefited from Lupe-
r6n's support in this struggle; it delayed his inauguration by four
months, but it further narrowed the field of political contenders.
Having again achieved power, Heureaux maintained his grip on
it for the rest of his life.
Several moves served to lay the groundwork for Heureaux's dic-
tatorship. Constitutional amendments requested by the president
and effected by the Congress extended the presidential term from
two to four years and eliminated direct elections in favor of the
formerly employed electoral college system. To expand his infor-
mal power base, Heureaux (who became popularly known as
General Lilfs, thanks to a common mispronunciation of his first
name) incorporated both Reds and Blues into his government. The
president also established an extensive network of secret police and
informants in order to avert incipient rebellions. The press, previ-
ously unhampered, came under new restrictions.
In the face of impending dictatorship, concerned Dominican
liberals turned to the only remaining figure of stature, Luper6n.
The elections of 1888 therefore pitted Heureaux against his political
mentor. If the dictator felt any respect for his former commander,
he did not demonstrate it during the campaign. Heureaux's agents
attacked Luper6n's campaigners and supporters, arresting and in-
carcerating considerable numbers of them. Recognizing the im-
possibility of a free election under such circumstances, Luper6n
withdrew his candidacy, declined the entreaties of those of his fol-
lowers who urged armed rebellion, and fled into exile in Puerto
Although plots, intrigue, and abortive insurrections continued
under his rule, Heureaux faced no serious challenges until his as-
sassination in 1899. He continued to govern in mock-constitutional
fashion, achieving reelection through institutionalized fraud. Despite
his relatively secure position, his repression of dissent became more
severe, and the number of political prisoners expanded along with
the dictator's paranoia. Like Santana and Baez before him, Heu-
reaux sought the protection of a foreign power, principally the
United States. Although annexation was no longer an option, the
dictator did offer to lease the SamanA Peninsula to the United States.

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

The deal was never consummated, however, because of opposi-
tion from the liberal wing of the Blue Party and a number of con-
cerned European powers. In 1891 Washington and Santo Domingo
did conclude a reciprocity treaty that allowed twenty-six United
States products free entry into the Dominican market in exchange
for similar duty-free access for certain Dominican goods. The
governments of Germany, Britain, and France all filed official pro-
tests over the treaty, which they saw as detrimental to their most-
favored-nation trading status.
Under Heureaux, the Dominican government considerably ex-
panded its external debt. Although some improvements to infra-
structure resulted, much of the money went to support the dictator's
personal extravagances and the financial requirements of his police
state. The failure to apply the funds productively exacerbated both
domestic budget deficits and shortfalls in the external balance of pay-
ments. In an effort to head off complete bankruptcy, the govern-
ment turned to the familiar expedient of printing paper money. The
huge issuance of 1897, however, debased the currency to such an
extent that even Dominicans refused to accept it.
Despite the dictator's comprehensive efforts to suppress opposi-
tion-his network of spies and agents extended even to foreign
countries-a revolutionary organization eventually emerged. Estab-
lished in Puerto Rico by Horacio VAsquez Lajara, a young adherent
of Luper6n, the group called itself the Young Revolutionary Junta
(Junta Revolucionaria de J6venes). Other prominent members of
the group included Federico Velasquez and Ram6n Caceres Vis-
quez. The three returned to their plantations in the Cibao and be-
gan to lay the groundwork for a coordinated rebellion against the
widely detested Heureaux. The impetuous Ciceres, however, opted
for a revolution at a single stroke when the dictator passed through
the town of Moca on July 26, 1899. He shot Heureaux several times
and left the longtime ruler fatally wounded amid a startled crowd.
Ciceres escaped unharmed.
Renewed Conflict, 1899-1916
After a brief period of armed conflict, the revolutionaries
prevailed. Vasquez headed a provisional government established
in September 1899. Free, direct elections brought to the presiden-
cy Juan Isidro Jim6nez Pereyra on November 15. The Jim6nez
administration faced a fiscal crisis when European creditors, led
by the French, began to call in loans that had been contracted by
Heureaux. Customs fees represented the only significant source
of government revenue at that time. When the Jim6nez govern-
ment pledged 40 percent of its customs revenue to repay its foreign

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

debt, it provoked the ire of the San Domingo Improvement Com-
pany. A United States-based firm, the Improvement Company had
lent large sums to the Heureaux regime. As a result, it had not
only received a considerable percentage of customs revenue, but
also had been granted the right to administer Dominican customs
in order to ensure regular repayment. Stung by the Jimenez govern-
ment's resumption of control over its customs receipts, the direc-
tors of the Improvement Company protested to the United States
Department of State. The review of the case prompted a renewed
interest in Washington in Dominican affairs.
The death of Heureaux, however, had by no means ushered in
an era of political tranquility. Jimenez's various financial negotia-
tions with foreign powers had aroused opposition among nation-
alists, particularly in the Cibao, who suspected the president of
bargaining away-Dominican sovereignty in return for financial set-
tlements. Government forces led by Vasquez put down some early
uprisings. Eventually, however, personal and political competition
between Jim6nez and Vasquez brought them into more serious con-
flict. Visquez's forces proclaimed a revolution on April 26, 1902;
with no real base of support, Jim6nez fled his office and his coun-
try a few days later. Although highly principled, Vasquez was not
a strong leader. Squabbles among his followers and opposition to
his government from local caciques grew into general unrest that
culminated in the seizure of power by ex-president Woss y Gil in
April 1903.
Dominican politics had once again polarized into two largely
nonideological camps. Where once the Blues and the Reds had con-
tended for power, now thejimenistas (supporters ofJim6nez; sing.,
jimenista) and the horacistas (supporters of VAsquez and Ciceres;
sing., horacista) vied for control. Woss y Gil, ajimenista, made the
mistake of seeking supporters among the horacista camp and he was
overthrown by thejimenista general, Carlos F. Morales Languas-
co, in December 1903. Rather than restore the country's leader-
ship toJim6nez, however, Morales set up a provisional government
and announced his own candidacy for the presidency-with Ci-
ceres as his running mate. The renewed fraternization with the
horacistas incited another jimenista rebellion. This uprising proved
unsuccessful, and Morales and Caceres were inaugurated on June
19, 1904.
Conflict within the Morales administration between supporters
of the president and those of the vice president debilitated the
government. By late 1905, it became clear that Morales had lost
effective control to CAceres and the cabinet. Morales resolved to
lead a coup against his own government; his plan was discovered

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

by the horacistas, however, and he was captured and dispatched into
exile. Caceres assumed the presidency on December 29, 1905.
The influence of the United States had increased considerably
during the first few years of the twentieth century. United States
military forces had intervened in a minor way to ensure the safety
of United States citizens and to prevent the deployment of war-
ships by European governments seeking immediate repayment of
debt. By 1904 Washington had begun to take a greater interest
in the stability of Caribbean nations, particularly those-like the
Dominican Republic-situated along the approaches to the forth-
coming Panama Canal. The administration of Theodore Roosevelt
took a particular interest in resolving the republic's economic sit-
uation. It negotiated an agreement in June 1904 whereby the
Dominican government bought out the holdings of the San Domin-
go Improvement Company. The Morales government also agreed
to accept the appointment by the United States government of a
financial agent to oversee the repayment of the outstanding debt
to the Improvement Company from customs duties. This agree-
ment was subsequently superseded by a financial accord signed
between the two governments on February 7, 1905; under the pro-
visions of this accord, the United States government assumed
responsibility for all Dominican debt as well as for the collection
of customs duties and the allocation of those revenues to the Domini-
can government and to the repayment of its domestic and foreign
debt. Although parts of this agreement were rejected by the Unit-
ed States Senate, it formed the basis for the establishment in April
1905 of the General Customs Receivership, the office through which
the United States government administered the finances of the
Dominican Republic.
The Ciceres government became the financial beneficiary of this
arrangement. Freed from the burden of dealing with creditors, CA-
ceres attempted to reform the political system. Constitutional re-
forms placed local ayuntamientos (town councils) under the power
of the central government, extended the presidential term to six
years, and eliminated the office of vice president. Caceres also na-
tionalized public utilities and established a bureau of public works
to administer them. All of these actions engendered both opposi-
tion and support. The curtailment of local authority particularly
irked those caciques who preferred to rule through compliant ayun-
tamientos. The continued financial sovereignty of the Yankees also
outweighed the economic benefits of the receivership in the minds
of many nationalistic Dominicans. Intrigues fomented in exile by
Morales, Jimenez, and others beset Caceres. On November 19,


Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

1911, a small group headed by Luis Tejera assassinated Ciceres
as he took his evening drive through the streets of Santo Domingo.
Occupation by the United States, 1916-24
The assassination of Caceres turned out to be but the first act
of a frenzied drama that culminated in the republic's occupation
by the United States. The fiscal stability that had resulted from
the 1905 receivership eroded under Ciceres's successor, Eladio Vic-
toria y Victoria; most of the increased outlays went to support mili-
tary campaigns against rebellious partisans, mainly in the Cibao.
The continued violence and instability prompted the administra-
tion of President William H. Taft to dispatch a commission to Santo
Domingo on September 24, 1912, to mediate among the warring
factions. The presence of a 750-member force of United States ma-
rines apparently..convinced the Dominicans of the seriousness of
Washington's threats to intervene directly in the conflict; Victoria
agreed to step down in favor of a neutral figure, Roman Catholic
archbishop Adolfo Alejandro Nouel Bobadilla. The archbishop as-
sumed office as provisional president on November 30.
Nouel proved unequal to the burden of national leadership.
Unable to mediate successfully between the ambitions of rival horacis-
tas andjimenistas, he stepped down on March 31, 1913. His succes-
sor, Jos6 Bordas Valdez, was equally unable to restrain the renewed
outbreak of hostilities. Once again, Washington took a direct hand
and mediated a resolution. The rebellious horacistas agreed to a cease-
fire based on a pledge of United States oversight of elections for
members of local ayuntamientos and a constituent assembly that would
draft the procedures for presidential balloting. The process, how-
ever, was flagrantly manipulated and resulted in Bordas's reelec-
tion on June 15, 1914. Both horacistas andjimenistas took offense
at this blatant maneuver and rose up against Bordas.
The United States government, this time under President Wood-
row Wilson, again intervened. Where Taft had cajoled the com-
batants with a clear intimation of military action, Wilson delivered
an ultimatum: elect a president or the United States will impose
one. The Dominicans accordingly selected Ram6n BAez Machado
as provisional president on August 27, 1914. Comparatively fair
presidential elections held on October 25 returned Jimenez to
the presidency. Despite his victory, however, Jimenez felt impelled
to appoint leaders and prominent members of the various politi-
cal factions to positions in his government in an effort to broaden
its support. The internecine conflicts that resulted had quite
the opposite effect, weakening the government and the presi-
dent and emboldening Secretary of War Desiderio Arias to take

Rafael Lednidas Trujillo Molina
Courtesy Library of Congress

Offices of the General Customs
Receivership, Santo
Domingo, 1907
Courtesy National Archives

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

control of both the armed forces and the Congress, which he com-
pelled to impeachJim6nez for violation of the constitution and the
laws. Although the United States ambassador offered military sup-
port to his government, Jimenez opted to step down on May 7,
Arias never formally assumed the presidency. The United States
government had apparently tired of its recurring role as mediator
and had decided to take more direct action. United States forces
had already occupied Haiti by this time (see The United States
Occupation, 1915-34, ch. 6). The initial military administrator of
Haiti, Rear Admiral William Caperton, had actually forced Arias
to retreat from Santo Domingo by threatening the city with naval
bombardment on May 13. The first marines landed three days later.
Although they established effective control of the country within
two months, the United States forces did not proclaim a military
government until November. Most Dominican laws and institu-
tions remained intact under military rule, although the shortage
of Dominicans willing to serve in the cabinet forced the military
governor, Rear Admiral Harry S. Knapp, to fill a number of port-
folios with United States naval officers. The press and radio were
censored for most of the occupation, and public speech was limited.
The surface effects of the occupation were largely positive. The
marines restored order throughout most of the republic (with the
exception of the eastern region); the country's budget was balanced,
its debt was diminished, and economic growth resumed; infra-
structure projects produced new roads that linked all the country's
regions for the first time in its history; a professional military or-
ganization, the Dominican Constabulary Guard, replaced the par-
tisan forces that had waged a seemingly endless struggle for power
(see History and Development of the Armed Forces, ch. 5). Most
Dominicans, however, greatly resented the loss of their sovereignty
to foreigners, few of whom spoke Spanish or displayed much real
concern for the welfare of the republic.
The most intense opposition to the occupation arose in the eastern
provinces of El Seibo and San Pedro de Macoris. From 1917 to
1921, the United States forces battled a guerrilla movement in that
area known as the gavilleros. The guerrillas enjoyed considerable
support among the population, and they benefited from a superi-
or knowledge of the terrain. The movement survived the capture
and the execution of its leader, Vicente Evangelista, and some in-
itially fierce encounters with the marines. However, the gavilleros
eventually yielded to the occupying forces' superior firepower, air
power (a squadron of six Curtis Jennies), and determined (often
brutal) counterinsurgent methods.

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

After World War I, public opinion in the United States began
to run against the occupation. Warren G. Harding, who succeed-
ed Wilson in March 1921, had campaigned against the occupa-
tions of both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In June 1921,
United States representatives presented a withdrawal proposal,
known as the Harding Plan, which called for Dominican ratifica-
tion of all acts of the military government, approval of a loan of
US$2.5 million for public works and other expenses, the accep-
tance of United States officers for the constabulary-now known
as the National Guard (Guardia Nacional)-and the holding of elec-
tions under United States supervision. Popular reaction to the plan
was overwhelmingly negative. Moderate Dominican leaders, how-
ever, used the plan as the basis for further negotiations that resulted
in an agreement allowing for the selection of a provisional presi-
dent to rule until elections could be organized. Under the supervi-
sion of High Commissioner Sumner Welles, Juan Bautista Vicini
Burgos assumed the provisional presidency on October 21, 1922.
In the presidential election of March 15, 1924, Horacio Vasquez
Lajara handily defeated Francisco J. Peynado. Visquez's Alliance
Party (Partido Alianza) also won a comfortable majority in both
houses of Congress. With his inauguration on July 13, control of
the republic returned to Dominican hands.
The Era of Trujillo
The Vasquez administration shines in Dominican history like
a star amid a gathering storm. After the country's eight years of sub-
jugation, Vasquez took care to respect the political and civil rights
of the population. An upswing in the price of export commodities,
combined with increased government borrowing, buoyed the econ-
omy. Public works projects proliferated. Santo Domingo expanded
and modernized. This brief period of progress, however, ended
in the resurgent maelstrom of Dominican political instability. The
man who would come to occupy the eye of this political cyclone
was Rafael Trujillo.
Although a principled man by Dominican standards, Vasquez
was also a product of long years of political infighting. In an effort
to undercut his primary rival, Federico Velasquez, and to preserve
power for his own followers, the president agreed in 1927 to a
prolongation of his term from four to six years. There was some
debatable legal basis for the move, which was approved by the Con-
gress, but its enactment effectively invalidated the constitution of
1924 that VAsquez had previously sworn to uphold. Once the presi-
dent had demonstrated his willingness to disregard constitutional
procedures in the pursuit of power, some ambitious opponents

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

decided that those procedures were no longer binding. Domini-
can politics returned to their pre-occupation status; the struggle
among competing caudillos resumed.
Trujillo occupied a strong position in this contest. The com-
mander of the National Army (Ej6rcito Nacional, the new desig-
nation of the armed force created under the occupation), Trujillo
came from a humble background. He had enlisted in the National
Police in 1918, a time when the upper-class Dominicans, who had
formerly filled the officer corps, largely refused to collaborate with
the occupying forces. Trujillo harbored no such scruples. He rose
quickly in the officer corps, while at the same time he built a net-
work of allies and supporters. Unlike the more idealistic North
American sponsors of the constabulary, Trujillo saw the armed force
not for what it should have been-an apolitical domestic security
force-but for what it was: the main source of concentrated power
in the republic. '
Having established his power base behind the scenes, Trujillo
was ready by 1930 to assume control of the country. Although elec-
tions were scheduled for May, VAsquez's extension in office cast
doubt on their potential fairness. (Vasquez had also eliminated from
the constitution the prohibition against presidential reelection.) This
uncertainty prompted Rafael Estrella Urefia, a political leader from
Santiago, to proclaim a revolution in February. Having already
struck a deal with Trujillo, Estrella marched on the capital; army
forces remained in their barracks as Trujillo declared his "neu-
trality" in the situation. The ailing Vasquez, a victim of duplicity
and betrayal, fled the capital. Estrella assumed the provisional presi-
Part of the arrangement between Estrella and Trujillo appar-
ently involved the army commander's candidacy for president in
the May elections. As events unfolded, it became clear that Trujillo
would be the only candidate that the army would permit to partic-
ipate; army personnel harassed and intimidated electoral officials
and eliminated potential opponents. A dazed nation stood by as
the new dictator announced his election with 95 percent of the vote.
After his inauguration in August, and at his express request, the
Congress issued an official proclamation announcing the commence-
ment of "the Era of Trujillo."
The dictator proceeded to rule the country like a feudal lord for
thirty-one years. He held the office of president from 1930 to 1938
and from 1942 to 1952. During the interim periods, he exercised
absolute power, while leaving the ceremonial affairs of state to pup-
pet presidents such as his brother, H6ctor Bienvenido Trujillo Mo-
lina, who occupied the National Palace from 1952 to 1960, and

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

Joaquin Balaguer Ricardo, an intellectual and scholar who served
from 1960 to 1961. Although cast in the mold of old-time caudillos
such as Santana and Heureaux, Trujillo surpassed them in effi-
ciency, rapacity, and utter ruthlessness. Like Heureaux, he main-
tained a highly effective secret police force that monitored (and
eliminated, in some instances) opponents both at home and abroad.
Like Santana, he relied on the military as his primary support.
Armed forces personnel received generous pay and perquisites un-
der his rule, and their ranks and equipment inventories expand-
ed. Trujillo maintained control over the officer corps through fear,
patronage, and the frequent rotation of assignments, which inhibited
the development of strong personal followings (see History and De-
velopment of the Armed Forces, ch. 5). The other leading bene-
ficiaries of the dictatorship-aside from Trujillo himself and his
family-were those who associated themselves with the regime both
politically and economically. The establishment of state monopo-
lies over all major enterprises in the country brought riches to the
Trujillos and their cronies through the manipulation of prices and
inventories as well as the outright embezzlement of funds.
Generally speaking, the quality of life improved for the average
Dominican under Trujillo. Poverty persisted, but the economy ex-
panded, the foreign debt disappeared, the currency remained sta-
ble, and the middle class expanded. Public works projects enhanced
the road system and improved port facilities; airports and public
buildings were constructed, the public education system grew, and
illiteracy declined. These advances might well have been achieved
in even greater measure under a responsive democratic govern-
ment, but to Dominicans, who had no experience with such a
government, the results under Trujillo were impressive. Although
he never tested his personal popularity in a free election, some ob-
servers feel that Trujillo could have won a majority of the popular
vote up until the final years of his dictatorship.
Ideologically, Trujillo leaned toward fascism. The trappings of
his personality cult (Santo Domingo was renamed Ciudad Trujillo
under his rule), the size and architectural mediocrity of his build-
ing projects, and the level of repressive control exercised by the
state all invited comparison with the style of his contemporaries,
Hitler in Germany and Mussolini in Italy. Basically, however,
Trujillo was not an ideologue, but a Dominican caudillo expand-
ed to monstrous proportions by his absolute control of the nation's
resources. His attitude toward communism tended toward peace-
ful coexistence until 1947, when the Cold War winds from Washing-
ton persuaded him to crack down and to outlaw the Dominican
Communist Party (Partido Comunista Dominicano-PCD). As

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

always, self-interest and the need to maintain his personal power
guided Trujillo's actions.
Although conspiracies-both real and imagined-against his rule
preoccupied Trujillo throughout his reign, it was his adventurous
foreign policy that drew the ire of other governments and led directly
to his downfall. Paradoxically, his most heinous action in this arena
cost him the least in terms of influence and support. In October
1937, Trujillo ordered the massacre of Haitians living in the Domin-
ican Republic in retaliation for the discovery and execution by the
Haitian government of his most valued covert agents in that coun-
try. The Dominican army slaughtered as many as 20,000 largely
unarmed men, women, and children, mostly in border areas, but
also in the western Cibao. News of the atrocity filtered out of the
country slowly; when it reached the previously supportive adminis-
tration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the United States,
Secretary of State Cordell Hull demanded internationally mediated
negotiations for a settlement and indemnity. Trujillo finally agreed.
The negotiations, however, fixed a ludicrously low indemnity of
US$750,000, which was later reduced to US$525,000 by agree-
ment between the two governments. Although the affair damaged
Trujillo's international image, it did not result in any direct efforts
by the United States or by other countries to force him from power.
In later years, the Trujillo regime became increasingly isolated
from the governments of other nations. This isolation compound-
ed the dictator's paranoia, prompting him to increase his foreign
interventionism. To be sure, Trujillo did have cause to resent the
leaders of certain foreign nations, such as Cuba's Fidel Castro Ruz,
who aided a small, abortive invasion attempt by dissident Domini-
cans in 1959. Trujillo, however, expressed greater concern over
Venezuela's President R6mulo Betancourt (1959-64). An estab-
lished and outspoken opponent of Trujillo, Betancourt had been
associated with some individual Dominicans who had plotted against
the dictator. Trujillo developed an obsessive personal hatred of Be-
tancourt and supported numerous plots of Venezuelan exiles to
overthrow him. This pattern of intervention led the Venezuelan
government to take its case against Trujillo to the Organization
of American States (OAS). This development infuriated Trujillo,
who ordered his foreign agents to assassinate Betancourt. The at-
tempt, on June 24, 1960, injured, but did not kill, the Venezue-
lan president. The incident inflamed world opinion against Trujillo.
The members of the OAS, expressing this outrage, voted unani-
mously to sever diplomatic relations and to impose economic sanc-
tions on the Dominican Republic.

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

The firestorm surrounding the Betancourt incident provoked
a review of United States policy toward the Dominican Republic
by the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The
United States had long tolerated Trujillo as a bulwark of stability
in the Caribbean; some in Washington still saw him as a desirable
counterforce to the Castro regime. Others, however, saw in Tru-
jillo another Fulgencio Batista-the dictator Castro deposed in
1959-ripe for overthrow by radical, potentially communist, forces.
Public opinion in the United States also began to run strongly
against the Dominican dictatorship. In August 1960, the United
States embassy in Santo Domingo was downgraded to consular lev-
el. According to journalist Bernard Diederich, Eisenhower also
asked the National Security Council's Special Group (the organi-
zation responsible for approving covert operations) to consider the
initiation of operations aimed at Trujillo's ouster. On May 30, 1961,
Trujillo was assassinated. According to Diederich, the United States
Central Intelligence Agency supplied the weapons used by the as-

The Post-Trujillo Era
Transition to Elected Government
At the time of his assassination, Trujillo was seventy years old.
He had left no designated successor. It soon became clear that the
conspirators had planned his assassination more thoroughly than
the subsequent seizure of government, which never took place. Pup-
pet President Balaguer remained in office, allowing the late dicta-
tor's son, Rafael Trujillo Lovat6n (also called Rafael, Jr., or Ram-
fis), to return from Paris and assume de facto control. Ramfis lacked
the dynamism of his father, however, and he eventually fell into
a dispute with his two uncles over potential liberalization of the
regime. The "wicked uncles"-H&ctor andJos6 Arismendi Truji-
1lo Molina-returned to the republic from exile in November 1961.
Ramfis, having little enthusiasm for a power struggle, fled the
Opposition from Washington, made very plain by the deploy-
ment of United States warships off the Dominican coast, blunted
the ambitions of the uncles and forced them to resume their exile
only days later. Balaguer retained the presidency. As a prot6g6 of
the fallen dictator, however, he had neither a power base nor a
popular following. Popular unrest, punctuated by a general strike,
forced Balaguer to share power with a seven-member Council of
State, established on January 1, 1962. The council included Balaguer

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

and the two surviving assassins of Trujillo, Antonio Imbert Barrera
and Luis Amiama Tio (the others having been slain by Truji-
llo's security service). The council lasted only sixteen days, however,
before air force general Pedro Rodriguez Echavarria overthrew it
in a coup d'6tat. Rodriguez's attempt at rule also foundered on
the rocks of popular protest and opposition from the United States.
Less senior officers seized the general, deported him, and restored
the council minus Balaguer, who had also been exiled.
The restored Council of State guided the country until elections
could be organized. The leading candidates were Juan Bosch
Gavifio, a scholar and poet, who had organized the opposition Do-
minican Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Domini-
cano-PRD) in exile, and Viriato Fiallo of the National Civic Union
(Uni6n Civica Nacional-UCN). In the balloting of December 20,
1962, the conservative image of the UCN and its association with
the country's economic elite benefited Bosch, whose support came
mainly from the urban lower class. Bosch won the election with
64 percent of the vote; the PRD also captured two-thirds majori-
ties in both houses of the legislature.
The Bosch administration was very much an oddity in Domini-
can history up to that point: a freely elected, liberal, democratic
government that expressed concern for the welfare of all Domini-
cans, particularly those of modest circumstances, those whose voices
had never really been heard before in the National Palace. The
1963 constitution separated church and state, guaranteed civil and
individual rights, and endorsed civilian control of the military.
These and other changes, such as land reform, struck conserva-
tive landholders and military officers as radical and threatening,
particularly when juxtaposed against three decades of somnolent
authoritarianism under Trujillo. The hierarchy of the Roman
Catholic Church also resented the secular nature of the new con-
stitution, in particular its provision for legalized divorce. The hi-
erarchy, along with the military leadership and the economic elite,
also feared communist influence in the republic, and they warned
of the potential for "another Cuba." The result of this concern
and opposition was a military coup on September 25, 1963.

Civil War and United States Intervention, 1965
The coup effectively negated the 1962 elections by installing a
civilian junta; known as the Triumvirate, dominated by the UCN.
The initial head of the Triumvirate, Emilio de los Santos, resigned
on December 23 and was replaced by Donald Reid Cabral. The
Triumvirate never succeeded in establishing its authority over com-
peting conservative factions both inside and outside the military;

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

it also never convinced the majority of the population of its legitima-
cy. The widespread dissatisfaction with Reid and his government,
coupled with lingering loyalties to Bosch, produced a revolution
in April 1965.
The vanguard of the 1965 revolution, the perredeistas (members
of the PRD) and other supporters of Bosch, called themselves Con-
stitutionalists (a reference to their support for the 1963 constitu-
tion). The movement counted some junior military officers among
its ranks. A combination of reformist military and aroused civilian
combatants took to the streets on April 24, seized the National
Palace, and installed Rafael Molina Urefia as provisional presi-
dent. The revolution took on the dimensions of a civil war when
conservative military forces, led by army general Elfas Wessin y
Wessin, struck back against the Constitutionalists on April 25.
These conservative forces called themselves Loyalists. Despite tank
assaults and bombing runs by Loyalist forces, however, the Con-
stitutionalists held their positions in the capital; they appeared poised
to branch out and to secure control of the entire country.
On April 28, the United States intervened in the civil war. Presi-
dent Lyndon B. Johnson ordered in forces that eventually totaled
20,000, to secure Santo Domingo and to restore order. Johnson
had acted in the stated belief that the Constitutionalists were domi-
nated by communists and that they therefore could not be allowed
to come to power. The intervention was subsequently granted some
measure of hemispheric approval by the creation of an OAS-
sponsored peace force, which supplemented the United States mili-
tary presence in the republic. An initial interim government was
headed by Trujillo. assassin Imbert; Hictor Garcia Godoy assumed
a provisional presidency on September 3, 1965. Violent skirmish-
es between Loyalists and Constitutionalists went on sporadically
as, once again, elections were organized.
Joaquin Balaguer, 1966-78
A fractious campaign ensued between the country's two lead-
ing political figures: Bosch and Balaguer. Bosch's appeal was tem-
pered by fear; many Dominicans felt that his reelection would
rekindle the violence of April 1965. This trepidation aided Balaguer,
who also appealed to conservative voting sectors such as peasants,
women (considered to be more religious than men), and business-
people. Balaguer thus won handily, garnering 57 percent of the
vote in balloting held July 1, 1966. His Reformist Party (Partido
Reformista-PR) also captured majorities in the Congress.
Balaguer went on to serve as president for twelve years. A rela-
tive nonentity under Trujillo, he demonstrated, once in power, the

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

astuteness with which he had studied the techniques of the late dic-
tator. Even though as a conservative he theoretically was more se-
cure against military machinations, he actively sought to head off
opposition from the armed forces by rewarding officers loyal to him,
purging those he suspected, and rotating everyone's assignments
on a regular and frequent basis. He curtailed nonmilitary opposi-
tion through selective (compared to the Trujillo years) repression
by the National Police. His reelection in 1970 and in 1974 was ac-
complished largely through intimidation. The PRD, the only via-
ble, broad-based opposition party, boycotted both elections to
safeguard the well-being of those who would have been their can-
The Dominican economy expanded at a record rate under Bala-
guer. Favorable international prices for sugar provided the basis
for this so-called Dominican miracle. Foreign investment, foreign
borrowing, foreign aid, the growth of tourism, and extensive pub-
lic works programs also contributed to high levels of growth. By
the late 1970s, however, the expansion had slowed considerably
as sugar prices dipped and oil prices rose. Rising inflation and un-
employment diminished support for the government, particularly
among the middle class.
The PRD, feeling the mood of the population and sensing sup-
port from the administration of United States president Jimmy
Carter, nominated Silvestre Antonio Guzmin Fernandez to op-
pose Balaguer in the elections of May 16, 1978. A relatively heavy
70 percent turnout seemed to favor the PRD; early returns con-
firmed this as Guzmin built a sizable lead. Early in the morning
of May 17, however, military units occupied the Central Electoral
Board and impounded the ballots. Clearly, Balaguer was attempt-
ing to nullify the balloting or to falsify the results in his favor. Only
forceful remonstrances by the Carter administration, backed up
by a naval deployment, moved Balaguer to allow the resumption
of the vote count. Two weeks later, Guzmin's victory was officially

Antonio GuzmAn, 1978-82
Guzmin's assumption of office on August 16, 1978, presented
many political challenges to both him and the republic. Mindful
of the fate ofJuan Bosch sixteen years before, Guzmin determined
to move slowly in the area of social and economic reforms and to
deal as directly as possible with the threat of political pressure
from the armed forces. He attacked the latter problem first with
a program of military depoliticization that included the removal
or the reassignment of general officers of questionable loyalty or

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

professionalism, the promotion of younger and more apolitical
officers than those who had held sway under Balaguer, and the
institution of a formal training course for officers and enlisted per-
sonnel that stressed the nonpolitical role of the armed forces in a
democratic society. This campaign was largely successful, and it
constituted the major legacy left by Guzmin to his successor, Sal-
vador Jorge Blanco.
Politically, GuzmAn was restrained to some extent by the un-
usual outcome of the 1978 elections. Although the Central Elec-
toral Board acknowledged the PRD's victories in the races for the
presidency and the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of Con-
gress), it managed through some creative counting-apparently
taking the number of ballots not used in some provinces and divid-
ing them among the top two vote-getters-to give Balaguer's PR
a sixteen-to-eleven majority in the Senate. This essentially grant-
ed the PR a legislative veto over any initiatives Guzmin might wish
to launch, and it also became a factor in the president's cautious
approach to reform.
Some observers felt that Guzmin's economic and social
background-he was a wealthy cattle rancher from the Santiago
area-influenced his economic policies as well. Despite his nation-
alization of public transportation and an increase in the minimum
wage, more reform-minded politicians, even within his own party,
criticized the president for his inadequate response to continued
economic decline. Jorge was one of Guzmin's leading critics in
this area; ironically, he too, would be confronted with the stark
realities of the economy and the lack of acceptable options availa-
ble to the president after his own election in 1982 (see Political De-
velopments since 1978, ch. 4). Faced with the continually rising
oil prices and declining sugar prices, Guzmin opted for politically
unpopular austerity policies, including a steep increase in the re-
tail price of gasoline. Compounding the general woes of a slowed
economy was the extensive damage wreaked on the country by Hur-
ricane David in August 1979.
In retrospect, the Guzm6n administration represented a bridge
between lingering post-Trujillo authoritarianism and a more liberal,
democratic style of politics and government. Guzmin's profession-
alization of the military was a significant contribution to this process.
Although the Dominican economic situation plagued him, Guz-
man handled matters with sufficient competence to allow for the
election of Jorge on the PRD ticket on May 16, 1982. (Guzmin
had pledged not to seek reelection.)Jorge's leading opponents had
been PR candidate Balaguer and Bosch, who had split from the
PRD and had formed his own party, the Dominican Liberation

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

Party (Partido de la Liberaci6n Dominicana-PLD). For reasons
never fully explained, Guzmin committed suicide in July 1982;
he was said to have been depressed by allegations of corruption
and nepotism in his administration. His vice president, Jacobo Maj-
luta Azar, served out the remainder of the term. Guzmin's sui-
cide prevented what would have been a historic event-the peaceful
transfer of power from one freely and fairly elected president to
another. Jorge's administration also fell victim to corruption and
the effects of economic austerity. With the election and peaceful
return to power of Balaguer in 1986, a tradition of fair electoral
competition appeared to be developing; democracy seemed to be
taking root in the Dominican Republic (see Political Developments
since 1978, ch. 4).

Works in English dealing with the Dominican Republic have
been produced by political scientists more often than by histori-
ans. Consequently, the student of the country's history is limited
to works such as Selden Rodman's Quisqueya: A History of the Domini-
can Republic, which provides good background, but little detail; Ray-
ford Logan's short volume, titled Haiti and the Dominican Republic;
or Sumner Welles's voluminous, but dated, Naboth's Vineyard. A
sense of the republic's history can also be culled from a number
of volumes oriented toward politics or foreign relations. Among
these, Howard Wiarda's The Dominican Republic: Nation in Transi-
tion provides a good general introduction to the country. The Domini-
can Republic: A Caribbean Crucible and The Politics of External Influence
in the Dominican Republic, by Howard Wiarda and Michael Kryza-
nek, chart the republic's further political and economic progress.
BruceJ. Calder's The Impact of Intervention is an excellent study of
the United States occupation and its effects. Trujillo: The Life and
Times of a Caribbean Dictator, by Robert D. Crassweller, provides
a vivid portrait of the dominant figure in the nation's twentieth-
century history. A broader perspective can be obtained from G.
Pope Atkins and Larman C. Wilson's The United States and the Trujillo
Regime. The Dominican Republic: Politics and Development in an Unsover-
eign State, by Jan Knippers Black, deals effectively with the 1978
transition to democracy and subsequent developments. (For fur-
ther information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Chapter 2. Dominican Republic:
The Society and Its Environment

F.- ^^- __ ~_- ^ _^ --- -_^


S'T"^^ ^^"?^'^?'*'- !'>,-'>\

A bohfo, or rural hut

country's Spanish-Caribbean heritage. It manifested significant di-
visions along the lines of race and class. A small fraction of the
populace controlled great wealth, while the vast majority struggled
to get by. The middle stratum worked both to maintain and to ex-
tend its political and economic gains. Generally speaking, Domini-
can society offered relatively few avenues of advancement; most
of those available allowed families of middling means to enhance
or to consolidate their standing.
The majority of the population was mulatto, the offspring of Afri-
cans and Europeans. The indigenous Amerindian population had
been virtually eliminated within half a century of initial contact.
Immigrants-European, Middle Eastern, Asian, and Caribbean-
arrived with each cycle of economic growth. In general, skin color
followed the social hierarchy: lighter skin was associated with higher
social and economic status. European immigrants and their off-
spring found more ready acceptance at the upper reaches of socie-
ty than did darker-skinned Dominicans.
The decades following the end of the regime of Rafael Le6nidas
Trujillo Molina (1930-61) were a time of extensive changes as large-
scale rural-urban and international migration blurred the gulf be-
tween city and countryside. Traditional attitudes persisted: peasants
continued to regard urban dwellers with suspicion, and people in
cities continued to think of rural Dominicans as unsophisticated and
naive. Nonetheless, most families included several members who
had migrated to the republic's larger cities or to the United States.
Migration served to relieve some of the pressures of population
growth. Moreover, cash remittances from abroad permitted fami-
lies of moderate means to acquire assets and to maintain a stan-
dard of living far beyond what they might otherwise have enjoyed.
The alternatives available to poorer Dominicans were far more
limited. Emigration required assets beyond the reach of most. Many
rural dwellers migrated instead to one of the republic's cities. The
financial resources and training of these newcomers, however, were
far inferior to those among typical families of moderate means. For
the vast majority of the republic's population, the twin constraints
of limited land and limited employment opportunities defined the
daily struggle for existence.
In the midst of far-reaching changes, the republic continued to
be a profoundly family-oriented society. Dominicans of every social

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

stratum relied on family and kin for social identity and for inter-
personal relationships of trust and confidence, particularly in the
processes of migration and urbanization.
The Dominican Republic is located on the island of Hispaniola
(La Isla Espaiiola), which it shares with Haiti to the west. The
388-kilometer border between the two was established in a series
of treaties, the most recent of which was the 1936 Protocol of Re-
vision of the Frontier Treaty (Tratado Fronterizo) of 1929. The
country is shaped in the form of an irregular triangle. The short
side of the triangle is 388 kilometers long, while the two long sides
form 1,575 kilometers of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean, the
Caribbean Sea, and the Mona Passage. The total area of the country
is approximately 48,442 square kilometers. Although it boasts the
highest elevations in the Antilles, it also has a saltwater lake below
sea level (see fig. 2).
Natural Regions
The mountains and valleys of the Dominican Republic divide
the country into the northern, the central, and the southwestern
regions. The northern region, bordering the Atlantic Ocean, con-
sists of the Atlantic coastal plain, the Cordillera Septentrional (or
Northern Mountain Range), the Valle del Cibao (Cibao Valley),
and the Samana Peninsula. The Atlantic coastal plain is a narrow
strip that extends from the northwestern coast at Monte Cristi to
Nagua, northwest of the Samana Peninsula. The Cordillera Sep-
tentrional is south of, and runs parallel to, the coastal plain. Its
highest peaks rise to an elevation of over 1,000 meters. The Valle
del Cibao lies south of the Cordillera Septentrional. It extends 240
kilometers from the northwest coast to the Bahia de Samani in the
east and ranges in width from 15 to 45 kilometers. To the west
of the ridge lies the Valle de Santiago and to the east is the Valle
de la Vega Real. The Samani Peninsula is an eastward extension
of the northern region, separated from the Cordillera Septentri-
onal by an area of swampy lowlands. The peninsula is mountainous;
its highest elevations reach 600 meters.
The central region is dominated by the Cordillera Central (Cen-
tral Range); it runs eastward from the Haitian border and turns
southward at the Valle de Constanza to end in the Caribbean Sea.
This southward branch is known as the Sierra de Ocoa. The Cor-
dillera Central is 2,000 meters high near the Haitian border and
reaches a height of 3,087 meters at Pico Duarte, the highest point
in the country. An eastern branch of the Cordillera Central extends

Dominican Republic: The Society and Its Environment

through the Sierra de Yamasi to the Cordillera Oriental (Eastern
Range). The main peaks of these two mountain groups are not
higher than 880 meters. The Cordillera Oriental is also known as
the Sierra de Seibo.
Another significant feature of the central region is the Caribbe-
an coastal plain, which lies south of the foothills of the Sierra de
Yamasi and the Cordillera Oriental. It extends 240 kilometers from
the mouth of the Ocoa River to the extreme eastern end of the is-
land. The Caribbean coastal plain is 10 to 40 kilometers wide and
consists of a series of limestone terraces that gradually rise to a height
of 100 to 120 meters at the northern edge of the coastal plains at
the foothills of the Cordillera Oriental. Finally, the central region
includes the Valle de San Juan in the western part of the country;
the valley extends 100 kilometers from the Haitian border to the
Bahia de Ocoa.
The southwestern region lies south of the Valle de San Juan.
It encompasses the Sierra de Neiba, which extends 100 kilometers
from the Haitian border to the Yaque del Sur River. The main
peaks are roughly 2,000 meters high, while other peaks range from
1,000 to 1,500 meters. On the eastern side of the Yaque del Sur
lies the Sierra de Martin Garcia, which extends twenty-five kilo-
meters from the river to the Llanura de Azua (Plain of Azua).
The Hoya de Enriquillo, a structural basin that lies south of the
Sierra de Neiba, is also within the southwestern region. The basin
extends ninety-five kilometers from the Haitian border to the Ba-
hia de Neiba and twenty kilometers from the Sierra de Neiba to
the Sierra de Baoruco. The Sierra de Baoruco extends seventy
kilometers from the Haitian border to the Caribbean Sea. Its three
major peaks surpass 2,000 meters in height. The Procurrente de
Barahona (Cape of Barahona) extends southward from the Sierra
de Baoruco and consists of a series of terraces.

The Dominican Republic has seven major drainage basins. Five
of these rise in the Cordillera Central and a sixth, in the Sierra
de Yamasa. The seventh drainage system flows into the Lago En-
riquillo (Lake Enriquillo) from the Sierra de Neiba to the north
and from the Sierra de Baoruco to the south. In general, other rivers
are either short or intermittent.
The Yaque del Norte is the most significant river in the coun-
try. Some 296 kilometers long, with a basin area of 7,044 square
kilometers, it rises near Pico Duarte at an altitude of 2,580 meters
in the Cordillera Central. It empties into the Bahia de Monte Cristi
on the northwest coast, where it forms a delta. The Yaque del Sur

Figure 2. Dominican Republic: Topography and Drainage

Dominican Republic: The Society and Its Environment

is the most important river on the southern coast. It rises at an
altitude of 2,707 meters in the southern slopes of the Cordillera
Central. Its upper course through the mountains constitutes 75 per-
cent of its total length of some 183 kilometers. The basin area is
4,972 square kilometers. The river forms a delta near its mouth
in the Bahia de Neiba.
The Lago Enriquillo lies in the western part of the Hoya de En-
riquillo. Its drainage basin includes ten minor river systems and
covers an area of more than 3,000 square kilometers. The north-
ern rivers of the system rise in the Sierra de Neiba and are peren-
nial, while the southern rivers rise in the Sierra de Baoruco and
are intermittent, flowing only after heavy rainfall. The Lago En-
riquillo itself covers some 265 square kilometers. Its water level
varies because of the high evaporation rate, yet on the average it
is forty meters below sea level. The water in the lake is saline.
The Dominican Republic has primarily a tropical climate, with
more diurnal and local variations in temperature than seasonal ones,
and with seasonal variability in the abundance of rainfall. The aver-
age annual temperature is 250C, ranging from 18C at an altitude
of over 1,200 meters to 280C at an altitude of 10 meters. Highs
of 400C are common in protected valleys, as are lows of zero in
mountainous areas. In general, August is the hottest month, and
January and February are the coolest ones.
Seasons, however, vary more as a function of rainfall than of
temperature. Along the northern coast, the rainy season lasts from
November through January. In the rest of the country, it runs from
May through November; May is the wettest month. The dry sea-
son lasts from November through April; March is the driest month.
The average annual rainfall for the country as a whole is 1,500
millimeters. This varies, however, from region to region, and ranges
from 350 millimeters in the Valle de Neiba to 2,740 millimeters
in the Cordillera Oriental. In general, the western part of the coun-
try, including the interior valleys, receives the least rain.
Tropical cyclones-such as tropical depressions, tropical storms,
and hurricanes-occur on the average of once every two years in
the Dominican Republic. Over 65 percent of the storms strike the
southern part of the country, especially along the Hoya de Enri-
quillo. The season for cyclones lasts from the beginning of June
to the end of November; some cyclones occur in May and Decem-
ber, but most take place in September and October. Hurricanes
usually occur from August through October. They may produce

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

75 and over
70-74 c m
50-54 I
45-49I NH D
40-44 1 Mm-

600 400 200 0 200 400 600

Source: Based on information from Dominican Republic, Oficina Nacional de Estadistica,
La Republica Dominicana en Cifras, 1987, 14, Santo Domingo, 1987, 49, 51.

Figure 3. Dominican Republic: Estimated Population Distribution by Age
and Sex, 1990

winds greater than 200 kilometers per hour and rainfall greater
than 500 millimeters in a twenty-four-hour period.

Size and Growth
It has been estimated that the country's total population in
mid-1990 will total slightly more than 7 million (see fig. 3). Growth
had been high since official census taking began in 1920. The rate
peaked during the 1950s at 3.6 percent per year. During the 1960s
and the 1970s, the population grew at 2.9 percent annually; by
the mid-1980s, the rate was thought to be roughly 2.5 percent.
The total fertility rate, although still relatively high, declined sub-
stantially in the 1970s. Official estimates indicated that half of all
married women used contraceptives. Both the Dominican Repub-
lic's continued high population growth rates and field studies be-
lied this figure, however.
The government began supporting family planning in 1967, but
clinics were concentrated in the cities and larger towns. Both the
Secretariat of State for Public Health and Social Welfare (Secretaria

Dominican Republic: The Society and Its Environment

de Estado de Salud Piblica y Asistencia Social-SESPAS) and the
National Population and Family Council (Consejo Nacional de Pob-
laci6n y Familia-CNPF) offered family planning services. By the
1980s, both organizations were trying to make their programs more
responsive to the needs of rural families.
Birth control encountered strong resistance from both sexes, es-
pecially in the countryside and the smaller cities. Although wom-
en did use a variety of substances believed to be contraceptives or
abortifacients, there was considerable misinformation about family
planning. Many men believed birth control threatened their mas-
culinity; some women refused to use contraception because some
methods produced nausea and other side effects. International
migrants were more aware of the available options, and some wom-
en migrants did use modern contraceptives.
The traditional (non-administrative) subregions of the country
included Valdesia and Yuma in the southeast, Enriquillo and Del
Valle in the southwest, and the Central Cibao, the Eastern Cibao,
and the Western Cibao in the north. The subregion of densest set-
tlement was Valdesia on the southern coast, which contained the
nation's capital and more than 40 percent of the population. Rough-
ly one-third of all Dominicans lived in the National District. The
other major area of settlement was the Central Cibao, which ac-
counted for more than 20 percent of total population (see table 2,
Appendix A).
Administrations had attempted to control both population growth
and its distribution since the 1950s. The Trujillo regime fostered
agricultural colonies scattered throughout the countryside and
strung along the western frontier with Haiti. Some were coupled
with irrigation projects.
Beginning in the late 1970s, the government also set up indus-
trial free zones around the country. Although the desire to increase
employment was the government's primary motivation, the estab-
lishment of free zones had as a secondary goal the dispersal of in-
dustrialization, and thus migration, away from Santo Domingo
(see Manufacturing, ch. 3). Intercensal growth rates on the sub-
regional and the provincial levels reflected these trends. Puerto Plata
grew at more than twice the rate of the nation as a whole in the
1970s. The southeast, especially the National District, expanded
much faster than most of the country, as did La Romana.

The Dominican Republic was a country of migrants in the late
1980s; according to the 1981 census, nearly one-quarter of the popu-
lation was living in a province other than that in which they had

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

been born. Surveys in the mid-1970s found that nearly two-thirds
of city dwellers and half of those in the countryside had migrated
at least once. Rural areas in general, especially in the Central Ci-
bao, have experienced significant levels ofout-migration. The move-
ment of peasants and the landless into the republic's growing cities
accounted for the lion's share of migration. Indeed, Dominicans
had even coined a new word, campuno, to describe the rural-urban
campesino migrant. The principal destinations for migrants were
the National District followed by the provinces of La Romana, In-
dependencia, and San Pedro de Macoris (see fig. 1). In the Na-
tional District, 46 percent of the inhabitants were migrants. The
industrial free zones were the other major destinations for migrants
in the 1970s.
Women predominated in both rural-urban and urban-rural
migration. Men, however, were more likely than women to move
from city to city or from one rural area to another. In general,
migrants earned more than non-migrants, and they suffered lower
rates of unemployment, although underemployment was pervasive.
Urban-rural migrants had the highest incomes. This category,
however, consisted of a select group of educated and skilled work-
ers, mostly government officials, teachers, and the like, who moved
from cities to assume specific jobs in rural areas. They received
higher wages as a recompense for the lack of urban amenities in
Migrants spoke of the migration chain (cadena) that tied them
to other migrants and to their home communities. Kin served as
the links in the chain. They cared for family, lands, and business-
es left behind, or, if they had migrated earlier, assisted the new
arrivals with employment and housing. The actual degree of sup-
port families could, or were willing to, give a migrant varied widely.
The process of rural-urban migration typically involved a series
of steps. The migrant gradually abandoned agriculture and sought
more non-agricultural sources of income. Migrants rarely arrived
in the largest, fastest growing cities "green" from the countryside.
They acquired training and experience in intermediate-sized cities
and in temporary nonfarm jobs en route.
International migration played a significant role in the livelihood
of many Dominicans. Anywhere from 8 to 15 percent of the total
population resided abroad. Estimates of those living and working
in the United States in the mid-1980s ranged from 300,000 to as
high as 800,000. Roughly 200,000 more were in San Juan, Puer-
to Rico, many of them presumably waiting to get into the United
States. Most migrants went to New York; but by the mid-1980s,
their destinations also included other cities of the eastern seaboard.

Dominican Republic: The Society and Its Environment

A sizable minority (about one-third) emigrated because they were
unemployed, but most did so to attain higher income, to continue
their educations, or to join other family members. In the early
1980s, most emigrants were relatively better educated and more
skilled than the Dominican populace as a whole. Most came from
cities, but the middling to large farms of the overpopulated Cibao
also sent large numbers. Working in the United States has become
almost an expected part of the lives of Dominicans from families
of moderate means.
Cash remittances from Dominicans living abroad have become
an integral part of the national economy. Migrants' remittances
constituted a significant percentage of the country's foreign ex-
change earnings (see Balance of Payments, ch. 3). Remittances were
used to finance businesses, to purchase land, and to bolster the fam-
ily's standard of living. Most migrants saw sending money as an
obligation. Although some refused to provide assistance, they came
under severe criticism from both fellow migrants and those who
remained behind. The extent to which a migrant's earnings were
committed to family and kin was sometimes striking. Anthropolo-
gist Patricia Pessar has described a Dominican man in New York
who earned less than US$500 per month. He sent US$150 of this
to his wife and children and another US$100 to his parents and
unmarried siblings.
Money from abroad had a multiplier effect; it spawned a veritable
construction boom in migrants' hometowns and neighborhoods in
the mid-1970s. Migrants also contributed significant sums for the
church back home. Many parish priests made annual fund-raising
trips to New York to seek donations for local parish needs.
The impact of out-migration was widely felt; in one Cibao vil-
lage, for example, 85 percent of the households had at least one
member living in New York in the mid-1970s. Where migration
was common, it altered a community's age pyramid: eighteen to
forty-five-year olds (especially males) were essentially missing.
Emigration also eliminated many of the natural choices for leader-
ship roles in the home community.
For most of its history, the Dominican Republic was overwhelm-
ingly rural; in 1920 over 80 percent of its populace lived in the
countryside, and by 1950 more than 75 percent still did. Substan-
tial urban expansion began in the 1950s, and it gained tremen-
dous momentum in the 1960s and the 1970s. Urban growth rates
far outdistanced those of the country as a whole. The urban popu-
lation expanded at 6.1 percent annually during the 1950s, 5.7

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

percent annually during the 1960s-70s, and 4.7 percent annually
through the mid-1980s.
In the early decades of the twentieth century, the country was
not only largely rural, but the urban scene itself was dominated
by smaller cities and provincial capitals. In 1920 nearly 80 per-
cent of all city dwellers lived in cities with fewer than 20,000 in-
habitants. Santo Domingo, with barely more than 30,000 residents,
accounted-for only 20 percent of those in cities. By contrast, in
1981 Santo Domingo alone accounted for nearly half of all city
dwellers; it had more than double the total population of all cities
of more than 20,000 inhabitants. Cities with fewer than 20,000
inhabitants-nearly 80 percent of the urban population in 1920-
constituted less than 20 percent by 1981.
Santo Domingo approximately doubled its population every de-
cade between 1920. and 1970. Its massive physical expansion,
however, dated from the 1950s. The growth in industry and urban
construction, coupled with Trujillo's expropriations of rural land,
fueled rural-urban migration and the city's growth. The repub-
lic's second and third largest cities, Santiago de los Caballeros (San-
tiago) and La Romana, also experienced significant expansion in
the 1960s and the 1970s. Santiago, the center of traditional Hispanic
culture, drew migrants from the heavily populated Cibao. La
Romana, in the southeast, grew as a center of employment in the
sugar industry as well as a center of tourism and the site of the
country's first industrial free zone (see Manufacturing, ch. 3).
Population growth and rural-urban migration strained cities' ca-
pacity to provide housing and amenities. Nevertheless, in 1981 near-
ly 80 percent of city dwellings had access to potable water; 90 percent
had some type of sewage disposal; and roughly 90 percent had elec-
tricity. The proportion of homes with piped, or easy access to, pota-
ble water, however, actually declined by nearly ten percentage
points in the 1970s. By the mid-1980s, there was an estimated hous-
ing deficit of some 400,000 units. The need was greatest in the Na-
tional District. Squatter settlements grew in response to the scarcity
of low-cost urban housing. In Santo Domingo these settlements
were concentrated along the Ozama River and on the city's periph-
Public housing initiatives dated from the late 1950s, when Trujillo
built some housing for government employees of moderate means.
Through the mid-1980s, a number of different government agen-
cies played a role. The Technical Secretariat of the Presidency
(Secretarfa Tecnica de la Presidencia) designed a variety of projects
in Santo Domingo. The Aid and Housing Institute and the
National Housing Institute bore primary responsibility for the

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View of Altos de Chavdn, near La Romana
Courtesy Mark Salyers

financing and the construction of housing. In general, public efforts
had been hampered by extreme decentralization in planning, cou-
pled with equally extreme concentration in decision making. The
primary beneficiaries of public projects were usually from lower
income groups, although they were not the poorest urban dwellers.
Projects targeted those making at least the minimum wage, i.e.,
the lower middle sector or the more stable segments of the work-
ing class.

Racial and Ethnic Groups
Ethnic Heritage
The island's indigenous inhabitants were the Taino Indians
(Arawaks) and a small settlement of Caribs around the Bahia de
Samani. These Indians, estimated to number perhaps 1 million
at the time of their initial contact with Europeans, had died off
by the 1550s. The importation of African slaves began in 1503.
By the nineteenth century, the population was roughly 150,000:
40,000 of Spanish descent, an equal number of black slaves, and
the remainder of freed blacks or mulattoes. In the mid-1980s, ap-
proximately 16 percent of the population was considered white and
11 percent black; the remainder were mulattoes.
Contemporary Dominican society and culture are overwhelm-
ingly Spanish in origin. Taino influence is limited to cultigens
and to a few vocabulary words, such as huracdn (hurricane) and
hamaca (hammock). African influence has been largely ignored,
although certain religious brotherhoods with significant black
membership incorporated some Afro-American elements. Observers
also have noted the presence of African influence in popular dance
and music.

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

There was a preference in Dominican society for light skin and
"white" racial features. Blackness in itself, however, did not restrict
a person to a lower status position. Upward mobility was possible
for the dark-skinned person who managed to acquire education or
wealth. Social characteristics, focusing on family background, edu-
cation, and economic standing, were in fact more prominent means
of identifying and classifying individuals. Darker-skinned persons
were concentrated in the east and the south. The population of the
Cibao, especially in the countryside, consisted mainly of whites or
Dominicans traditionally preferred to think of themselves as
descendants of the island's Indians and the Spanish, ignoring their
African heritage. Thus, phenotypical African characteristics were
disparaged. Emigrants to the United States brought a new level
of racial consciousness to the republic, however, when they re-
turned. Those who came back during the 1960s and the 1970s had
experienced both racial prejudice and the black pride movement
in North America. Returning migrants brought back Afro hair-
styles and a variety of other Afro-North Americanisms.
Modern Immigration
Although almost all migrants were assimilated into Dominican
society (often with surprising speed and thoroughness), immigra-
tion had a pervasive influence on the ethnic and the racial configu-
rations of the country. Within a generation or two, most immigrants
were considered Dominican even though the family might well con-
tinue to maintain contact with relatives in the country of origin.
Both the elite and the middle segments of society recruited new
members with each economic expansion. The main impetus to
immigration was the rise of sugar production in the late nineteenth
and the early twentieth centuries. Nonetheless, some groups had
earlier antecedents, while others arrived as late as the 1970s.
Nineteenth-century immigrants came from a number of places.
Roughly 5,000 to 10,000 North American freedmen, principally
Methodists, came in response to an offer of free land made during
the period of Haitian domination (1822-44). Most, however, were
city dwellers, and they quickly returned to the United States. A
few small settlements remained around Santiago, Puerto Plata, and
Samani. They eventually were assimilated, although in the late
1980s English was still widely used in the region of Samani.
Sephardic Jews arrived from Curagao in the late eighteenth cen-
tury and, in greater numbers, following independence from Haiti
in 1844. They were assimilated rapidly; both their economic as-
sets and their white ancestry made them desirable additions from

Dominican Republic: The Society and Its Environment

the point of view of the Dominican criollos. Canary Islanders arrived
during the late colonial period as well, in response to the improved
economic conditions of the 1880s. Spaniards settled during the peri-
od of renewed Spanish occupation (1861-65); many Spanish soldiers
stayed after the War of Restoration (see Annexation by Spain,
1861-65, ch. 1). Germans established themselves-principally in
Puerto Plata-primarily in the tobacco trade.
The expansion of the sugar industry in the late nineteenth cen-
tury drew migrants from every social stratum. Cubans and Puer-
to Ricans, who began arriving in the 1870s, aided in the evolution
of the sugar industry as well as in the country's intellectual develop-
ment. In addition, significant numbers of laborers came from the
British, the Dutch, and the Danish islands of the Caribbean. They
also worked in railroad construction and on the docks. Initial reac-
tion to their presence was negative, but their educational back-
ground (which was superior to that of most of the rural populace),
their ability to speak English (which gave them an advantage in
dealing with North American plantation owners), and their indus-
triousness eventually won them a measure of acceptance. They
founded Protestant churches, Masonic lodges, mutual aid socie-
ties, and a variety of other cultural organizations. Their descen-
dants enjoyed a considerable measure of upward mobility through
education and religion. They were well represented in the techni-
cal trades (especially those associated with the sugar industry) and
on professional baseball teams.
Arabs-Lebanese and lesser numbers of Palestinians and Syrians-
first arrived in the late nineteenth century, and they prospered.
Their assimilation was slower, however, and many still maintained
contacts with relatives in the Middle East. Italians, as well as a
few South American immigrants, also arrived during this period and
were assimilated rapidly. A few Chinese came from other Carib-
bean islands and established a reputation for diligence and indus-
triousness. More followed with the United States occupation of the
island (1916-24). They began as cooks and domestic servants; a
number of their descendants were restaurateurs and hotel owners.
The most recent trickle of immigrants entered the country from
the 1930s to the 1980s. Many founded agricultural colonies that
suffered a high rate of attrition. Among the groups were German
Jews (1930s), Japanese (after World War II), and Hungarians and
Spaniards (both in the 1950s). More Chinese came from Taiwan
and Hong Kong in the 1970s; by the 1980s, they were the second
fastest growing immigrant group (Haitians being the first). Many
had sufficient capital to set up manufacturing firms in the coun-
try's industrial free zones.

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

Modem Haitian migration to the Dominican Republic dates from
the late nineteenth century, when increasing North American capital
boosted sugar production. Dominicans have never welcomed these
immigrants. Their presence resulted from economic necessity borne
of the reluctance of Dominicans to perform the menial task of cane
cutting. The 1920 census listed slightly under 28,000 Haitian na-
tionals in the Dominican Republic. Successive governments at-
tempted to control the numbers of Haitians entering the country;
the border was periodically closed in the 1910s and the 1920s. By
1935, however, the number had increased to more than 50,000.
Trujillo ordered a general roundup of Haitians along the border
in 1937, during which an estimated 20,000 Haitians were killed
(see The Era of Trujillo, ch. 1).
Since the 1950s, a series of bilateral agreements has regulated
legal Haitian immigration. In the late 1970s and the early 1980s,
the government contracted for 10,000 to 20,000 temporary Haitian
workers annually for the sugarcane harvest. Observers believed that
an equal number of Haitians entered illegally. The 1960 census
enumerated slightly under 30,000 Haitians. By 1980 estimates sug-
gested the total number of Haitians residing permanently or semi-
permanently was on the order of 200,000, of whom 70,000 were
During the 1970s and the early 1980s, some Haitians rose into
higher positions in sugar production and in other areas of the econ-
omy. They continued to account for the vast majority of cane cut-
ters, but roughly half of all labor recruiters and field inspectors also
were Haitians. In addition, Haitians worked harvesting coffee, rice,
and cocoa and in construction in Santo Domingo. By 1980 nearly
30 percent of the paid laborers in the coffee harvest were Haitian;
in the border region, the proportion rose to 80 percent. A reasonably
skilled coffee picker could nearly double the earnings of the aver-
age cane cutter. Overall, however, Haitians' earnings still lagged;
their wages averaged less than 60 percent of those of Dominicans.

Urban Society
The Elite
The last 200 years transformed the composition and the config-
uration of the country's elite. Nonetheless, at the end of the 1980s,
the Dominican Republic continued to be a country where a rela-
tively small number of families controlled great wealth, while the

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Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

majority of the population lived in poverty. The middle stratum
struggled (at its lower end) to maintain economic standing and to
expand its political participation and (at its upper reaches) to gain
greater social acceptance and economic prosperity. Hispanic-
Mediterranean ideals about the proper mode of life and livelihood
continued to be significant. The primary social division was be-
tween two polar groups: the elite (la gente buena or la gente culta) and
the masses.
The first half of the nineteenth century saw the elimination of
many of the noteworthy families of the colonial era. During the
period of Haitian domination, many prominent landowners liqui-
dated their holdings and left. The War of Restoration against Spain
permitted some social and economic upward mobility to members
of the lower classes who had enjoyed military success. An increase
in sugarcane production brought immigrants of European extrac-
tion, who were assimilated rapidly. Poorer elite families saw a chance
to improve their financial status through marriage to recently ar-
rived and financially successful immigrants. Even more well-to-do
families recognized the advantages of wedding their lineage and lands
to the monied merchant-immigrant clans. Although the Chinese
were generally excluded from this process, and the Arabs encountered
resistance, virtually everyone else found ready acceptance.
This pattern has repeated itself over the years. Each political or
economic wave has brought new families into the elite as it im-
perilled the economic standing of others. By the end of the 1980s,
this privileged segment of society was hardly monolithic. The in-
terests of the older elite families, whose wealth was based mostly
on land (and whose prosperity diminished during the Trujillo years),
did not always match those of families who had amassed their for-
tunes under Trujillo, or the interests of those whose money came
from the expansion in industry during the 1960s and the 1970s.
The 1965 civil war further polarized and fragmented many seg-
ments of the middle and the upper classes (see Civil War and United
States Intervention, 1965, ch. 1).
Although rural elite families were relatively monolithic, in San-
to Domingo and Santiago there was a further distinction between
families of the first and the second ranks (la gente de primera and
la gente de segunda). Those of the first rank could claim to be a part
of the 100 families referred to locally as the tutumpote (totem pole-
implying family-worship and excessive concern with ancestry).
Those of the second rank had less illustrious antecedents; they
included the descendants of successful immigrants and the nou-
veaux riches who had managed to intermarry with more established

Dominican Republic: The Society and Its Environment

Family loyalties were paramount, and the family represented the
primary source of social identity. Elite families relied on an exten-
sive network of kin to maintain their assets. In difficult times, the
family offered a haven; as the situation improved, it provided the
vehicle whereby one secured political position and economic as-
sets. Siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, and in-laws comprised the
pool from which one selected trusted business partners and loyal
political allies. This process of networking pervaded every level of
society. The elite, however, profited to a much greater degree from
kinship-based networking than did members of the lower classes.
The number of potential kin grew as an individual's net worth
increased. The successful were obliged, as a matter of course, to
bestow favors on a widely extended group of kin and confreres.
Individual success in the political arena brought with it a host of
hangers-on whose fortunes rose and fell with those of their patron.
The well-to-do tried to limit the demands of less illustrious kin and
to secure alliances with families of equal or greater status. These
ties permitted the extended family to diversify its social and eco-
nomic capital.

The Middle Sector
The middle sector in the late 1980s represented roughly 30 to
35 percent of the population, concentrated in the ranks of salaried
professionals in government and the private sector. Members of
this group had virtually no independent sources of wealth, and so
they were responsive to changes in the buying power of wages and
to contractions in employment that accompanied economic cycles.
The middle level followed the racial stratification of the society as
a whole: generally lighter-skinned as one proceeded up the social
scale. As a group, the middle sector differed in lifestyle, in marital
stability, and in occupations from the poor urban masses. Those
belonging to this sector firmly adhered to the Hispanic ideals of
leisure and lifestyle espoused by the elite, and they considered them-
selves, at least in spirit, a part of la gente buena. As with the elite,
economic expansion, based on the growth of sugar production in
the late nineteenth century, broadened the middle reaches of the
social ladder as well. Those of this new middle segment, however,
were limited in their upward mobility by dark skin and/or limited
finances. They were a diverse group, including small shopown-
ers, teachers, clerical employees, and professionals. They lacked
a class identity based on any sense of common social or econom-
ic interests; moreover, any sense of mutual interest was under-
mined by the pervasiveness of the patron-client system. Individuals

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

improved their status by linking up with a more privileged protec-
tor, not by joint political action for a shared goal.
The life strategy of middle-class families was similar to that of
the elite. Their goals were to diversify their economic assets and
to extend their network of political and social influence. As with
the elite, the middle-level family solidified its position through
patronage. An influential family could offer jobs to loyal followers
and supporters. People expected that those with power would use
it for their own ends and for the advancement of their own and
their family's interests. Ties to government were particularly im-
portant because the government was the source of many coveted
jobs (see Public Administration, ch. 4).

The Urban Poor
The limited availability of adequately paid and steady employ-
ment defined life for most urban Dominicans. Unemployment in
the 1980s ranged between 20 and 25 percent of the economically
active population. In addition, another 25 percent of the work force
was considered underemployed. In Santo Domingo and Santia-
go, the two largest cities, roughly 48 percent of the self-employed,
more than half of those paid piece rates, and 85 percent of tem-
porary workers were underemployed. A late 1970s survey of five
working-class neighborhoods in Santo Domingo found that 60 per-
cent of household heads had no regular employment (see Labor,
ch. 3). Under such conditions, those workers having regular em-
ployment constituted a relatively privileged segment of the urban
Rural-urban migration made the situation of the urban poor even
more desperate; however, the chances of earning a living were
slightly better in cities than in rural areas, although the advantages
of an urban job had to be weighed against the higher cost of food-
stuffs. Landless, or nearly landless, agricultural laborers might find
it difficult to work even a garden plot, but the rural family could
generally get by on its own food production. For the urban poor,
however, the struggle to eat was relentless.
Under conditions of chronically high unemployment, workers
enjoyed little power or leverage. Protective labor laws were typi-
cally limited in their coverage to workers in private companies with
more than ten employees. Organized labor made significant gains
in the early 1960s, but by the late 1980s only a scant 12 to 15 per-
cent of the labor force was unionized (see Labor, ch. 3). The legal
code prohibited nearly half of all workers (public employees and
utility workers) from strikes and job actions (see Interest Groups,
ch. 4).

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mid-1970s were headed by women. Even in families with a male
breadwinner, a woman was frequently the more consistent income
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earner among poorer city dwellers. Women's economic activities
were diverse-if poorly remunerated. They took in washing and
ironing, and they did domestic work. The more prosperous sewed.
Some bought cheap or used items and raffled them off. A few who
could muster the necessary capital ran stalls selling groceries,
cigarettes, and candy, but their trade was minimal. In smaller
towns, women also performed a variety of agricultural processing

tasks: grinding coffee, husking garlic, winnowing beans, and wash-
ing pig intestines.
Like more well-to-do city families, the poor tried, wherever pos-

sible, to maintain ties with their king the countryside. Aid and
assistance flowed both ways. Farmers with relatives in the city stayed
with them on trips to town and repaid this hospitality with food-

stuffs from their fields. New rural-urban migrants were assisted
by kin who had already made the transition. The poor were han-
dicapped in these exchanges because they typically had fewer
couldkin in a position to he necessary capital ran stalls selling groceries,onetheless, the obligation to help was
cigardeeply felt. Women who migrated to cities returned to their smaller
towns, women also performed a variety of agricultural processing
tasks: grinding coffee, husking garlic, winnowing beans, and wash-
ing pig intestines.
Like more well-to-do city families, the poor tried, wherever pos-
sible, to maintain ties with their kin in the countryside. Aid and
assistance flowed both ways. Farmers with relatives in the city stayed
with them on trips to town and repaid this hospitality with food-
stuffs from their fields. New rural-urban migrants were assisted
by kin who had already made the transition. The poor were han-
dicapped in these exchanges because they typically had fewer
kin in a position to help. Nonetheless, the obligation to help was
deeply felt. Women who migrated to cities returned to their families

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

in the countryside as economic conditions and family needs dic-
The small urban neighborhood functioned as the center of so-
cial life. Most sharing, mutual aid, and cooperative activity took
place within the confines of a narrow circle of neighbors and kin.
Most Dominicans shared a general belief that neighbors should as-
sist each other in times of need.

Rural Society
Most small rural neighborhoods and villages were settled original-
ly by one or two families. Extensive ties of kinship, intermarriage,
and compadrazgo (coparenthood) developed among the descendants
of the original settlers (see Family and Kin, this ch.). Most vil-
lagers married their near neighbors. First cousins frequently mar-
ried, despite the formal legal prohibitions against this practice. The
social life of the countryside likewise focused on near neighbors,
who were frequently direct blood relations. The bonds of trust and
cooperation among these relatives formed at an early age. Chil-
dren wandered among the households of extended kin at will.
Peasants distrusted those from beyond their own neighborhoods,
and they were therefore leery of economic relations with outsiders.
The development of community-wide activities and organizations
was handicapped by this widespread distrust. People commonly
assumed deceit in others, in the absence of strong, incontroverti-
ble proof to the contrary.
Until the latter twentieth century, most joint activities were kin-
based: a few related extended families joined together for whatever
needed attention. The junta was the traditional cooperative work
group. Friends, neighbors, and relatives gathered at a farmer's
house for a day's work. There was no strict accounting of days given
and received. As wage labor became more common, the junta gave
way to smaller cooperative work groups, or it fell into disuse entirely.
In small towns, social life focused on the central park, or the
plaza; in rural neighborhoods most social interaction among non-
kin took place in the stores, the bars, and the pool rooms where
men gathered to gossip. Six-day workweeks left little time for recre-
ation or socializing. Many farm families came to town on Sun-
days to shop and to attend Mass. The women and children generally
returned home earlier than the men to prepare Sunday dinner; the
men stayed to visit, or to enjoy an afternoon cockfight or an im-
portant baseball or volleyball game.
Landholding in the late 1980s was both concentrated among large
holders and fragmented at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale.

Dominican Republic: The Society and Its Environment

All but the largest producers faced some constraints in terms of
land and money. Indeed, a national survey conducted in 1985 found
extensive rural poverty. More than 40 percent of the households
surveyed owned no land; another 25 percent had less than half a
hectare. Roughly 70 percent of all families relied on wage labor.
Land reform legislation had had little overall impact on land-
holding both because the reforms contained few provisions for land
redistribution and because they were poorly enforced. Redistribu-
tion began in the 1960s with land accumulated by Trujillo and ac-
quired by the state after his death. By the early 1980s, irrigated
rice farms, which had been left intact and had been farmed collec-
tively, were slated for division into small, privately owned plots.
All told, by 1980 the Dominican Agrarian Institute (Instituto Agrario
Dominicano-IAD) had distributed state land to approximately
67,000 families-less than 15 percent of the rural population.
Population growth over the past century had virtually eliminat-
ed the land reserves. Parents usually gave children plots of land
as they reached maturity, so that they could marry and begin their
own families. Over the generations, the process had led to extreme
land fragmentation. Contemporary practices adapted to these con-
straints. Educating children, setting them up in business, or
bankrolling their emigration limited the number of heirs compet-
ing for the family holdings and assured that the next generation
would be able to maintain its standard of living. One or two sib-
lings (usually the oldest and the youngest) remained with the par-
ents and inherited the farm. In other cases, siblings and their spouses
stayed on the parental lands; each couple farmed its own plot of
land, but they pooled their labor for many agricultural and domestic
Migration served as a safety valve (see Migration, this ch.).
Migrants' remittances represented an essential component in many
household budgets. These timely infusions of cash permitted
medium-sized landholders to meet expenses during the months be-
fore harvest; they also allowed families to purchase more land. In
communities with a history of fifteen to twenty years of high levels
of emigration, such emigration had an inflationary impact on the
local land market. For those relying on wage labor to earn a liv-
ing, the impact was more ambiguous. In some communities, the
increase in migration meant more casual work was available as more
family members migrated. In other instances, migrants' families
switched to livestock raising to limit labor requirements, or they
hired an overseer to handle the agricultural work. Both these prac-
tices limited the overall demand for casual labor.

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

The vast majority (84 percent) of farm women contributed to
the family's earnings. Women devised means of earning income
that meshed with their domestic tasks: they cultivated garden plots,
raised small livestock, and/or helped to tend the family's fields.
In addition, many rural women worked at diverse cottage indus-
tries and vending. They sold everything from lottery tickets to home-
made sweets.
In the mid-1980s, approximately 20 percent of rural households
were headed by women. The lack of services in rural areas in
creased women's working days with physically demanding and time-
consuming domestic tasks. Single women were further handicapped
by the traditional exclusion of women from mechanized or skilled
agricultural work. Women worked during the labor-intensive phases
of harvesting and processed crops like cotton, coffee, tobacco, and
tomatoes. They usually earned piece rates rather than daily wages,
and their earnings lagged behind those of male agricultural laborers.

Sugar Plantations
Most sugar mills and cane fields were concentrated in the
southeast coastal plains. Three large groups owned 75 percent
of the land: the State Sugar Council (Consejo Estatal del Azicar-
CEA), Casa Vicini (a family operation), and Central Romana (for-
merly owned by Gulf and Western Corporation). The government
created CEA in 1966, largely from lands and facilities formerly
held by the Trujillo family.
In the mid-1980s, there were roughly 4,500 colonos (sugar plant-
ers) who owned some 62,500 hectares. These small to middle-
sized landholders were independent growers who sold their harvested
cane to the sugar mills. Although the level of prosperity of the colo-
nos varied significantly, some were prosperous enough to hire laborers
to cut their cane and to buy cane from smaller producers. Their
actual number fluctuated widely in response to the market for cane.
There were only 3,200 in 1970; this number had more than dou-
bled by 1980, but it had then declined by mid-decade.
Some colonos were descendants of former small mill owners driven
out of business during the expansion of sugar production in the
late nineteenth to the early twentieth century. The parents, or
grandparents, of others were either subsistence farmers, who had
switched to cane cultivation in response to rising demand for sugar,
or successful field workers. Like virtually all Dominican farmers,
colonos faced land fragmentation that increased geometrically with
each generation.
Sugar mills continued to be a major source of work for rural
Dominicans, although direct employment peaked at a high of

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Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

roughly 100,000 workers in the early 1970s. By the mid-1980s, the
mills employed approximately 65,000 workers. The sugar indus-
try generated considerable indirect employment as well; some ob-
servers estimated that as much as 30 percent of the population was
directly or indirectly affected by sugar production (see Crops, ch. 3).
The 40,000 to 50,000 cane cutters constituted the bulk of the work
force. Most were immigrant Haitians or their descendants (see Hai-
tians, this ch.). In the sugar industry's highly stratified work force,
there were clear divisions among cane cutters, more skilled work-
ers (largely Dominicans), clerical staff, and managers. Workers'
settlements (bateyes) dotted the mill and the surrounding fields; they
usually included stores, schools, and a number of other facilities.

Mixed Farming
Landholding was less"concentrated in the north and the west;
mixed crop and livestock raising dominated agricultural produc-
tion. Much production was geared to subsistence, but growers also
produced a number of cash crops such as cocoa, tobacco, coffee,
and vegetables. The twin constraints of land and money affected
the various strata of rural society differently, depending on the pre-
cise configuration of resources a family could command, but hard-
ship was widespread.
Those without land were the most hard pressed. Agricultural
laborers rarely enjoyed opportunities for permanent employment.
Most worked only sporadically throughout the year. During peri-
ods of high demand for labor, contractors formed semipermanent
work groups that contracted their services out to farmers. As in
much of social life, the individual stood a better chance if he could
couch his request for work in terms of a personal link of kinship
with the prospective employer.
Families that depended on wage labor had very limited resources
at their disposal. Their diet lacked greens and protein; eggs and
meat were luxury items. Such fare as boiled plantains, noodles,
and broth often substituted for the staple beans and rice. Keeping
children in school was difficult because their labor was needed to
supplement the family's earnings.
Those with very little land (less than one hectare) also faced very
severe constraints. Although members of this group had enough
land to meet some of their families' subsistence needs and even
sold crops occasionally, they also needed to resort to wage labor
to make ends meet. Like wage laborers, smallholders had trouble
leaving children in school. The children's prospects were extremely
limited, moreover, because their parents could neither give them

Dominican Republic: The Society and Its Environment

land nor educate them. The daily need for food also limited farm-
ers' ability to work their own land. Those who were both land-
poor and cash-poor faced a dilemma: they could not work their
lands effectively because to do so meant foregoing wage labor needed
to feed their families. A variety of sharecropping arrangements sup-
plemented wage labor for those smallholders able to muster some
cash or credit. These were of little use to the landless; only those
who had land or money to finance a crop entered into these schemes.
Smallholders and the landless lived enmeshed in a web of depen-
dent relationships: they depended on their neighbors and kin for
help and assistance, on store owners for credit, and on larger land-
holders for employment.
Families with middle-sized holdings (from one to three hectares)
faced slightly different problems. They often had enough land and
financial resources to meet most of their families' food needs and
to earn cash from the sale of crops or livestock. They did not usually
need to work for hire, and sometimes they could hire laborers them-
selves. They usually ate better than smallholders, and their chil-
dren stayed in school longer. However, although middle holders
earned more, they also had greater needs for cash during the year,
particularly if they hired laborers before harvest.
Even relatively large holders faced seasonal shortages of cash.
Their production costs-especially for hired labor-were typical-
ly higher. Their standard of living was notably higher than that
of people with less land. They generally ate better and could af-
ford meat or fish more frequently. Although their holdings sup-
ported their generation adequately, subdivision among the family's
offspring would typically leave no heir with more than a hectare
or two. Faced with this prospect, these farmers often encouraged
their children to pursue nonagricultural careers and helped sup-
port them financially during their student years.
Almost all farmers depended to varying degrees on credit from
local storekeepers. The landless and the land-poor needed credit
simply to feed their families. Middling landholders used it to tide
them over the lean months before harvest. Prevailing interest rates
varied considerably, but the poorest farmers-those who could not
offer a harvest as collateral and who usually needed short-term
credit-generally paid the highest rates.
Farmers often depended on storekeepers to market their crops
because they were usually unable to accumulate sufficient produce
to make direct marketing a viable option. Most farmers commit-
ted their crops to their merchant-creditor long before harvest. Store
owners could not legally require that someone who owed them
money sell his or her crops to them. Nonetheless, for the farm

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

family, the possibility of being denied necessary credit at a time
of future need acted as a powerful incentive. The cycle of debt,
repayment, and renewed debt was constant for most.
Traditionally, the local storekeeper aided farmers in ways be-
yond the extension of credit. He often established a paternalistic
relationship with his customers; farmers consulted him on matters
ranging from land purchases to conflicts with neighbors. Such
patronage carried a hefty price tag, however; farmers found it
difficult to haggle about terms with a storekeeper who was also a
friend or a relative. Studies of coffee growers in the mid-1970s found
that the cost of credit could easily take one-third to one-half of a
middling landholder's profits.
Cooperatives sometimes offered an alternative. The most suc-
cessful drew their membership from groups of kin and neighbors
already linked by ties of trust. Cooperatives provided a solution
for farmers vexed by the problem of cash shortfalls. Consumer and
savings and loan cooperatives thus expanded the options for some
rural families. Cooperatives have not ameliorated appreciably the
plight of the poorest rural dwellers, however. Cooperative loans
were predicated on a family's ability to pay, which effectively ex-
cluded the landless and the land-poor.
Family and Kin
The family-was the fundamental social unit. It provided a bul-
wark in the midst of political upheavals and economic reversals.
People emphasized the trust, the assistance, and the solidarity that
kin owed to one another. Family loyalty was an ingrained and un-
questioned virtue; from early childhood, individuals learned that
relatives were to be trusted and relied on, while those outside the
family were, implicitly at least, suspect. In all areas of life and at
every level of society, a person looked to family and kin for both
social identity and succor.
Formal organizations succeeded best where they were able to
mesh with pre-existing ties of kinship. Indeed, until the 1960s and
the 1970s, most community activities were kin-based: a few relat-
ed extended families joined together for joint endeavors. In the
countryside, the core of extensively related families remained pivo-
tal, despite large-scale migration and urbanization. If anything, the
ties among kin extended more widely in contemporary society be-
cause modern transportation and communications allowed families
to maintain ties over long distances and during lengthy absences.
In general, the extent to which families interacted, and the
people with whom they interacted, depended on their degree of
prosperity. Families with relatively equal resources shared and

cooperated. Where there was marked disparity in families' wealth,

V i'"

he prer oes .On te oe hd, g ty ws hd in hh es-

e o h fiis wid t h tir i diae rlai

and to give favors to those who could reciprocate.
Rural family
Courtesy Inter-American Development Bank

cooperated. Where there was marked disparity in families' wealth,
the more prosperous branches tried to limit the demands made by
the poorer ones. On the one hand, generosity was held in high es-
teem, and failure to care for kin in need was disparaged; but on
the other hand, families wished to help their immediate relatives
and to give favors to those who could reciprocate.
A needy relative might receive the loan of a piece of land, some
wage labor, or occasional gifts of food. Another type of assistance
was a form of adoption, by which poorer families gave a child to
more affluent relatives to raise. The adopting family was expected
to care for the child and to see that he or she received a proper
upbringing. The children were frequently little better than unpaid
domestic help. Implicit in the arrangement was the understand-
ing that the child's biological family, too, would receive assistance
from the adopting family.
Kinship served as a metaphor for relations of trust in general.
Where a kin tie was lacking, or where individuals wished to rein-
force one, a relationship of compadrazgo would often be established.
Those so linked are compadres (co-parents or godparents). In com-
mon with much of Latin America, strong emotional bonds linked
compadres. Compadres used the formal used instead of td in address-
ing one another, even if they were kinsmen. Sexual relations between

I..,'L ~-



Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

compadres were regarded as incestuous. Compadres were commonly
chosen at baptism and marriage, but the relationship extended to
the two sets of parents. The tie between the two sets of parents
was expected to be strong and enduring. Any breach of trust merited
the strongest community censure.
There were three accepted forms of marriage: civil, religious,
and free unions. Both serial monogamy and polygamous unions
were socially accepted. Annulment was difficult to obtain through
the Roman Catholic Church; this fact, in addition to the expense
involved, made couples reluctant to undertake a religious marriage.
Civil marriage was relatively common. Divorce in this case was
relatively easy and uncomplicated. Marriage forms also reflected
the individual's life cycle. Most opted for free unions when they
were younger, then settled into more formal marriages as they grew
older and enjoyed more economic security. Class also played a role:
religious marriage was favored by middle-class and upper-class
groups, and it thus indicated higher socioeconomic status. The ideal
marriage involved a formal engagement and a religious wedding
followed by an elaborate fiesta.
No shame accrued to the man who fathered many children and
maintained several women as concubines. Public disapproval fol-
lowed only if the man failed to assume the role of "head of the
family" and to support his children. When a free union dissolved,
a woman typically received only the house she and her mate in-
habited. The children received support only if they had been le-
gally recognized by their father.
Families were usually more stable in the countryside. Since the
partners were usually residing in the midst of their kin, a man could
not desert his wife without disrupting his work relationship with
her family. A woman enjoyed greater leverage when she could rely
on her family to assist if a union failed or when she owned her own
land and thus had a measure of financial independence.
In keeping with the doctrine of machismo, males usually played
a dominant role within the family, and they received the defer-
ence due to the head of the household. There was wide variation
in practice, however. Where a man was absent, had limited eco-
nomic assets, or was simply unassertive, a woman would assume
the role of head of the family.
Sex role differentiation began early: boys were allowed to run
about unclothed, while girls were much more carefully groomed
and dressed. Bands of boys played unwatched; girls were careful-
ly chaperoned. Girls were expected to be quiet and helpful; boys
enjoyed much greater freedom, and they were given considerable
latitude in their behavior. Boys and men were expected to have

Dominican Republic: The Society and Its Environment

premarital and extramarital sexual adventures. Men expected,
however, that their brides would be virgins. Parents went to con-
siderable lengths to shelter their daughters in order to protect their
chances of making a favorable marriage.
Parent-child relationships were markedly different depending on
the sex of the parent. Mothers openly displayed affection for their
children; the mother-child tie was virtually inviolate. Informal polls
of money changers in the 1970s indicated that remittances sent from
the United States for Mother's Day exceeded even those sent at
Christmas. Father-child relationships covered a broader spectrum.
Ideally, the father was an authority figure to be obeyed and respect-
ed; however, fathers were typically more removed from daily family
affairs than mothers.

More than 90 percent of Dominicans were professed Roman
Catholics. In the late 1980s, the church organization included 1
archdiocese, 8 dioceses, and 250 parishes. There were over 500
clergy, more than 70 percent of whom belonged to religious ord-
ers. This number yielded a ratio of nominal Roman Catholics to
priests of more than 10,000 to 1. Among Latin American coun-
tries only Cuba, Honduras, and El Salvador had higher ratios in
the late 1980s.
Roman Catholicism is the official religion of the Dominican
Republic, established by a Concordat with the Vatican. For most
of the populace, however, religious practice was limited and for-
malistic. Few actually attended Mass regularly. Popular religious
practices were frequently far removed from Roman Catholic or-
thodoxy. What little religious instruction most Dominicans tradi-
tionally received came in the form of rote memorization of the
catechism. Many people felt that they could best approach God
through intermediaries-the clergy, the saints, witches (brujos), and
curers (curanderos). The saints played an important role in popular
devotion. Curanderos consulted the saints to ascertain which herbs,
roots, and various home cures to employ. Brujos also cured by driv-
ing out possessive spirits that sometimes seized an individual.
Many Dominicans viewed the Roman Catholic clergy with am-
bivalence. People respected the advice of their local priest, or their
bishop, with regard to religious matters; however, they often re-
jected the advice of clergy on other matters on the assumption that
priests had little understanding of secular affairs. Activist priests
committed to social reform were not always well-received because
their direct involvement with parishioners ran counter to the tradi-
tional reserve usually displayed by the Roman Catholic clergy.