Dominican Republic and Haiti


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Dominican Republic and Haiti country studies
Series Title:
DA pam ;
Physical Description:
xxvii, 586 p. : ill., maps ; 24 cm.
Metz, Helen Chapin, 1928-
Library of Congress -- Federal Research Division
Federal Research Division, Library of Congress :
For sale by the Supt. of Docs. U.S. G.P.O.
Place of Publication:
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Publication Date:
3rd ed., 1st printing, 2001.


Subjects / Keywords:
HAITI   ( unbist )
COUNTRY STUDIES   ( unbist )
Dominican Republic   ( lcsh )
Haiti   ( lcsh )
République dominicaine   ( rvm )
Haïti   ( rvm )
federal government publication   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (p. 517-555) and index.
Statement of Responsibility:
Federal Research Division, Library of Congress ; edited by Helen Chapin Metz.
General Note:
"Research completed December 1999."
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isbn - 0844410446 (alk. paper)
issn - 1057-5294
lcc - F1934 .D64 2001
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Dominican Republic

and Haiti

country studies

.AN 9 2004

Federal Research Division
Library of Congress
Edited by
Helen Chapin Metz
Research Completed
December 1999

Northi Atlantic Ocean

Cari6bean Sea

Dominican Republic

and Haiti

country studies

Federal Research Division
Library of Congress
Edited by
Helen Chapin Metz
Research Completed
December 1999

North Atlantic Ocean

Caribbean Sea

On the cover: Hispaniola (La Isla Espafiola)
-1L Fico'

Third Edition, First Printing, 2001.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Dominican Republic and Haiti : country studies / Federal Research
Division, Library of Congress ; edited by Helen Chapin Metz.
p. cm. (Area handbook series, ISSN 1057-5294) (DA pam;
"Research completed December 1999."
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-8444-1044-6 (alk. paper)
1. Dominican Republic. 2. Haiti. I. Metz, Helen Chapin, 1928- .
II. Library of Congress. Federal Research Division. III. Series. IV.
Series: DA pam ; 550-36

F1934.D64 2001

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 spon-
sored by the Department of the Army. The last two pages of this
book list the other published studies.
Most books in the series deal with a particular foreign coun-
try, describing and analyzing its political, economic, social, and
national security systems and institutions, and examining the
interrelationships of those systems and the ways they are
shaped by historical and 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 common inter-
ests 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
government position, policy, or decision. The authors have
sought to adhere to accepted standards of scholarly objectivity.
Corrections, additions, and suggestions for changes from read-
ers will be welcomed for use in future editions.

Robert L. Worden
Federal Research Division
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20540-4840


The authors wish to acknowledge the work of FrederickJ.
Conway, Melinda Wheeler Cooke, Georges A. Fauriol, Richard
A. Haggerty, Patricia Kluck, DanielJ. Seyler, Glenn R. Smucker,
and HowardJ. Wiarda, who contributed to the 1991 edition of
Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies. Their work served
as a framework for various chapters of the present volume. The
authors also are grateful to individuals in various agencies of
the United States government and international and private
institutions who gave their time, research materials, and special
knowledge to provide information and perspective.
The authors also wish to thank those who contributed
directly to the preparation of the manuscript. These include
Sandra W. Meditz, who reviewed all drafts and served as liaison
with the sponsoring agency and printer; Marilyn Majeska, who
edited all chapters and managed production of the manu-
script; andJanie L. Gilchrist, who did the word processing and
prepared the camera-ready copy.
Maryland Mapping and Graphics provided invaluable graph-
ics support, including the preparation of maps, charts, photo-
graphs, and cover and chapter illustrations. Kimberly A. Lord
prepared the illustrations for the title pages of the chapters on
Haiti. Various individuals, libraries, and public agencies, espe-
cially the Inter-American Development Bank, provided photo-
Finally, the authors would like to thank Tim Merrill, who
checked the rendering of foreign names and terms.


Foreword........................................ iii

Acknowledgments ..................... .......... .

Preface ................... ... .. ... .......... xvii

Introduction.............. .... ................ xix

Dominican Republic: Country Profile................ 1

Table A. Dominican Republic: Chronology of
Im portant Events ............................. 9

Chapter 1. Dominican Republic: Historical Setting.... 11
Jonathan Hartlyn
THE FIRST COLONY .................................... 14
AND POLITICAL INSTABILITY....................... 23
The Infant Republic, 1844-61 .................... 23
Annexation by Spain, 1861-65 .................... 27
The Contest for Power, 1865-82 ................... 28
Ulises Heureaux, 1882-99 ........................ 30
Growing Financial Dependence and Political
In stability ..................................... 33
TO THE EMERGENCE OF TRUJILLO (1930)........... 38
THE TRUJILLO ERA, 1930-61 .......................... 39
AUTHORITARIAN BALAGUER, 1966-78 ................. 45
A NEW BEGINNING? ............... ............... 51

Chapter 2. Dominican Republic: The Society
and Its Environment............... ............. 55

Lamar C. Wilson and Patricia Kluck
GEOGRAPHY ........................................ 58
Natural Regions ................................ 58
Drainage............................ ........... 60
Climate ........................... ............. 60
POPULATION ........................................ 61
Size and Growth .............. ... ........... 61
Population Distribution .......................... 63
Migration ...................................... 64
Urbanization.................................. 68
RACIAL AND ETHNIC GROUPS......................... 70
Ethnic Heritage ................... .............. 70
Modern Immigration ............................ 72
Haitians ............. ........................... 74
URBAN SOCIETY .................................... 76
The Elite..................................... 76
The Middle Sector .............................. 78
The Urban Poor ................................. 79
RURAL SOCIETY .................................... 81
Family and Social Relationships ................... 81
Land and Poverty .............................. 82
Sugar Plantations .............................. 85
Mixed Farming ................................ 86
FAMILYAND KIN ..................................... 90
RELIGION .............. ....... ...... ......... ....... 92
CULTURE ............................................ 94
Literature ..................................... 94
Historical Monuments and Architecture ........... 96
Popular Culture: Dance, Music, and Baseball....... 96
EDUCATION......................................... 97
Primary and Secondary........................... 97
U university ................................... 99
HEALTH AND SOCIAL SECURITY...................... 101
H ealth....................... ............... 101
Social Security................................. 105

Chapter 3. Dominican Republic: The Economy....... 109
Boulos A. Malik
ADEVELOPING ECONOMY........................... 112
ECONOMIC POLICIES............................... 116
Fiscal Policy...................... ............. 118

Government Role ................ ............ 120
Privatization ............................ ...... 121
LABOR .............................................122
AGRICULTURE ....................................... 126
Land Policies ................... ................. 128
Land Use ................................... 130
Cash Crops .................................. 131
Livestock ................ ...... ............. 137
Forestry and Fishing.............................. 138
INDUSTRY ............... ......................... 139
Manufacturing................................. 139
Mining........................... ............141
Construction .................................. 143
Energy ........................ ............. 145
SERVICES .......................................... 146
Transportation .................................146
Communications ..............................148
Tourism...................................... 149
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS ..................... 151
Foreign Trade and Balance of Payments ........... 151
Foreign Assistance .............................. 154
OUTLOOK ................. ........................ 155

Chapter 4. Dominican Republic: Government and
Politics .............. .........................159
Jonathan Hartlyn
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT ........................... 168
The Evolution of Constitutional Doctrine .......... 170
The Executive ................................... 173
The Legislature ................................ 176
The Judiciary ..................... .............. 179
Public Administration .......................... 181
Local Government .............................. 184
Electoral System ................................. 187
POLITICAL PARTIES ..................... ........... 189
Economic Elites................................. 195
M iddle Class ............................ ........ 196
Trade Unions and Popular Organizations .......... 197

M ass M edia .................... ........ .... 199
Roman Catholic Church .................. ..... 199
Armed Forces ................. ............ 200
FOREIGN RELATIONS.............................. 204

Chapter 5. Dominican Republic: National Security .. 209
Jean Tartter
FORCES ........................... ............ 213
M ISSIONS ......................................... 222
AND EQUIPMENT ................................. 224
Army ........................ ......... ..... .. 225
Navy.................... ....................... 229
Air Force ...................................... 231
Manpower ..................................... 232
Defense Spending ............................. 233
Ranks, Uniforms, and Insignia ................... 234
National Police ................................ 239
CriminalJustice System ......................... 241
Respect for Human Rights...................... 244
Penal System .................. ............... 246
Narcotics Trafficking............................ 247

Haiti: Country Profile .................. ........... 251

Table B. Haiti: Chronology of Important Events ..... 259

Chapter 6. Haiti: Historical Setting .................. 261
Anne Greene
1492-1697 ......................................... 263
1697-1803 ........................................ 266
FIGHT FOR INDEPENDENCE, 1791-1803 ............... 268
EARLYYEARS OF INDEPENDENCE, 1804-43 ............ 272
Partition of Haiti, 1811-20. ...................... 273
Jean-Pierre Boyer Reunites Haiti, 1820-43 ........ 275
INCREASING INSTABILITY, 1843-1915 ................. 276

OCCUPATION TO DUVALIER, 1934-57 ............... 284
FRANCOIS DUVALIER, 1957-71 ......................... 286
JEAN-CLAUDE DUVALIER, 1971-86 ..................... 290
POST-DUVALIER ERA, 1986-90.........................294
TEMBER 30, 1991 ................................. 300
TEMBER 30, 1991-OCTOBER 1994.................... 303
DEMOCRACY RESTORED, 1994-96 ..................... 307

Chapter 7. Haiti: The Society and Its Environment.... 311
Glenn R. Smucker
GEOGRAPHY ............. .... .. ........ ............ 314
NATURAL RESOURCES ............................... 317
Land Use and Water ........................... 317
Forestry and Fuelwood ........................ 319
Mining ................... ........ ........... 320
Coastal and Marine Resource ..................... 321
Biodiversity ..................... ...... ......... 322
Environmental Crisis ........................... 323
POPULATION .................. .... ................ 325
Demographic Profile ............. .............. 325
M igration ................... .. ................ 326
SOCIAL STRUCTURE ................................. 328
The Upper Class ................ ............... 330
The M iddle Class ................................ 331
Peasants..................................... 332
Urban Lower Class ............... .............. 335
GENDER ROLES AND MARRIAGE ....................... 336
THE LANGUAGE QUESTION ............. .......... 339
French and Creole .............. ...... ...... .. 339
Changes in Language Use ...................... 341
Creole, Literacy, and Education ................... 342
RELIGIOUS LIFE................. .... ............. ... 344
Voodoo ...................................... 344
Roman Catholicism .............................. 346
Protestantism .............. ..................... 348
EDU CATION ........................... ............. 349
Primary Schools................ ............... 352
Secondary Schools ............................. 353

Higher Education .............................. 354
HEALTH ........................................... 355
Fertility and Family Planning .................... 355
Nutrition and Disease ........................... 356
Health Services ................................ 358
W welfare ........................... ........... 359

Chapter 8. Haiti: The Economy ..................... 363
Boulos A. Malik
STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT .......................... 365
ECONOMIC POLICIES ............................... 370
Structural Policy .............................. 371
Fiscal Policy ................................... 374
Finance........................................ 377
Balance of Payments ............................ 379
External Debt .................. ................ 380
Foreign Aid ...................... ............. 382
LABOR ............................................ 384
AGRICULTURE ..................................... 387
Land Tenure ................................... 389
Cash Crops .................. ... .............. 391
Food Crops .................................... 394
Forestry ....................................... 395
Livestock and Fishing ........................... 395
INDUSTRY ......................................... 396
Manufacturing ................................. 396
Assembly Sector ................................ 398
Construction ................... ................ 399
Mining .......................... ............ 399
Energy.......................... ............. 400
Transportation and Communications.............. 401
Tourism ..................................... 406
OUTLOOK................... ....................... 406

Chapter 9. Haiti: Government and Politics........... 411
Robert E. Maguire
SEPTEMBER 1994-DECEMBER 1999 ................. 415
Restoration of Constitutional Government,
September 1994-September 1995 ............. 415

Presidential Transition, October 1995-
March 1997 ................................ 418
Balance of Power and Political Gridlock,
April 1997-January 1999 ....................... 420
Unbalanced Power: January-December 1999 ....... 423
Toward Municipal, Parliamentary, and
Presidential Elections ............... ......... 425
CONSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK....................... 427
GOVERNMENTAL SYSTEM ........................... 429
Governmental Institutions ........................ 430
Functions of Government..................... .. 432
Urban Dominance, Rural Exclusion:
Confronting Entrenched Patterns............... 434
POLITICAL DYNAMfCS................................. 436
Political Players and Patterns of Participation ....... 437
Maintenance and Transfer of Power ............... 438
The Presidency and Political Culture............... 439
Perceptions of Democracy ........................ 440
The Mass Media and the Spread of Information .... 441
INTEREST GROUPS ................................... 443
Political Parties ................................. 443
Duvalierists and Makout......................... 446
The Elite ....................................... 447
Civil Society ................................... 448
FOREIGN RELATIONS ................................ 449
Relations with the United States .................. 450
Relations with the Dominican Republic ........... 452
Relations with Other Countries.................... 453

Chapter 10. Haiti: National Security .................. 457
Jean Tartter
THE MILITARY IN HAITIAN HISTORY................... 462
The Duvalier Era, 1957-86 ....................... 463
The Post-Duvalier Period ......................... 465
Disintegration and Demobilization of the
Haitian Army, 1993-95.......................... 468
PRE-1995 ARMED FORCES ......................... 469
Military Spending and Foreign Assistance .......... 471
Role of the Army in Law Enforcement Prior
to 1995 ................................... 472

SECURITY CONCERNS .............. .......... 473
INTERNAL SECURITY SINCE 1994 ..................... 477
N national Police ................................. 477
Recruitment, Training, and Equipment........... 480
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ....................... 483
JUSTICE SYSTEM ..................................... 486
Prison System ................... ............. 488
Narcotics Trafficking........................... 489

Appendix. Tables ................... ..... ........ 493

Bibliography ........... ........ .... ............. 517

Glossary ................. ............ ............ 557

Index .............. ............. .............. 563

Contributors ................... ..................... 583

List of Figures

1 Dominican Republic and Haiti: Topography and
Drainage ..................................... xviii
2 Dominican Republic: Administrative
Divisions, 1999 ................................. 8
3 Dominican Republic: Population Distribution
by Age and Sex, 1993 Census ..................... 62
4 Dominican Republic: Transportation System, 1999.... 150
5 Dominican Republic: Structure of the
Government, 1999 ............................ 174
6 Dominican Republic: Organization of the Armed
Forces, 1999 ...................... ........... 227
7 Dominican Republic: Military Bases and
Headquarters, 1999 ............................. 230
8 Dominican Republic: Officer Ranks and
Insignia, 1999....................... .......... 236
9 Dominican Republic: Enlisted Ranks and
Insignia, 1999 ................................ 237
10 Dominican Republic: Organization of Internal
Security Agencies, 1999 .......................... 242
11 Haiti: Administrative Divisions, 1999 ................. 258
12 Haiti: Population Distribution by Age and
Sex, 1995................ ................... 324

13 Haiti: Transportation System, 1999 ................... 402
14 Organization of the Haitian National Police, 1999 ..... 478


Like its predecessors, these studies represent an attempt to
treat in a compact and objective manner the dominant con-
temporary social, political, economic, and military aspects of
the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Sources of information
included scholarly books, journals, and monographs; official
reports of governments and international organizations;
numerous periodicals; the authors' previous research and
observations; and interviews with individuals 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 reading
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 metric system; a conversion table is provided to assist
readers unfamiliar with metric measurements (see table 1,
Appendix). A glossary is also included.
Although there are numerous variations, Spanish surnames
generally consist of two parts: the patrilineal name followed by
the matrilineal one. In the instance of Joaquin 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 men-
tion, 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
Pedagogique National-IPN), which has been the standard in
Haiti since 1978.
The body of the text reflects information available as of
December 1999. Certain other portions of the text, however,
have been updated: the Introduction discusses significant
events that have occurred since the completion of research, the
Country Profiles and the tables include updated information
as available, and the Bibliography lists recently published
sources thought to be particularly helpful to the reader.



Figure 1. Dominican Republic and Haiti: Topography and Drainage


THE HISTORIES OF THE TWO countries on the island of
Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, have been
inextricably intertwined. However, despite their similarities in
some areas, they have important differences. The whole island,
the first Spanish settlement in the New World and named
Santo Domingo by Christopher Columbus in 1492, experi-
enced decimation of its indigenous Indian, primarily Taino,
population as a result of the Indians' treatment by colonial set-
tlers. African slaves were brought to both sides of the island as
early as the first part of the sixteenth century to supply the
needed labor force for sugar plantations. Spain ruled the
entire island until 1697, when, under the Treaty of Ryswick, it
ceded the western third of the island, which then became
known as Saint-Domingue, to France.
During the eighteenth century, important demographic dif-
ferences emerged. The population of Santo Domingo grew
rapidly as trade reforms occurred, and by 1790 the country had
some 100,000 people, roughly equal numbers of whites, free
coloreds, and slaves. In contrast, Saint-Domingue, the most
prosperous agricultural colony in the Western Hemisphere,
had some 30,000 whites, 27,000 freedmen, and 400,000 black
slaves. Differences in the economies of the two countries
affected the makeup of the population. Santo Domingo
engaged primarily in subsistence agriculture, requiring fewer
slaves, and Spanish legislation enabled slaves to buy their free-
dom for relatively small sums. The result was a more egalitarian
society than that of Saint-Domingue, which featured a more
racially stratified population.
The resultant race-based tensions in Saint-Domingue, com-
bined with the influences of the French Revolution, led to a
struggle for independence from France that started in August
1791. The rebellion began as a slave uprising against whites
and developed into the Haitian Revolution, headed by such fig-
ures as Toussaint Louverture. The uprising ultimately culmi-
nated in Haiti's proclamation of independence in 1804.
Meanwhile, Spain, which had suffered setbacks on the Euro-
pean continent and was unable to maintain its hold on Santo
Domingo, turned the area over to France in a peace treaty in
1795. Toussaint entered Santo Domingo in January 1801 and

abolished slavery; later, however, the French reinstituted sla-
very in the area under their control in the east. The return of
Spanish landowners to Santo Domingo in the early 1800s and
the blockade by the British of the port of Santo Domingo led to
the final departure of the French in 1809 and the return of
Spanish rule. This rule was short-lived, however, because Jean-
Pierre Boyer, as president of now independent Haiti, invaded
Santo Domingo in 1822, and Haiti occupied the country for
twenty-two years.
Subsequent Dominican leaders have revived memories of
Haiti's harsh treatment of the inhabitants during its occupation
of Santo Domingo, fueling Dominican dislike of Haitians.
Moreover, during the occupation, Haitians, who associated the
Roman Catholic Church with their colonial oppressors, confis-
cated Dominican Roman Catholic churches and property and
severed the church's connection to the Vatican. Such historical
experience caused Dominicans to see themselves as culturally
and religiously different from Haitians and promoted a desire
for independence. Building on this sentiment, Juan Pablo
Duarte founded in 1838 a secret movement whose motto was
"God, Country, and Liberty," defining Dominican nationality in
religious and Hispanic terms. The overthrow of Boyer in the
Haitian Revolution of 1843 further helped activate the Domini-
can struggle for independence, which occurred in February
Independence, however, did not bring either the Dominican
Republic or Haiti a democratic central government organiza-
tion but rather the rule of a series of strong men, or caudillos.
Independence was also accompanied by political instability and
interspersed with interference and sometimes occupation by
one or another of the major powers, including the United
States. In addition to taking charge of the finances of both
countries on different occasions to ensure that the United
States sphere of influence was not invaded by European powers
seeking to recover debts that had not been paid, the United
States occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934 and the Dominican
Republic from 1916 to 1924. Although strongman rule was
accompanied frequently by liberal-sounding constitutions
(since 1844 the Dominican Republic has had thirty-two consti-
tutions, while Haiti has had twenty-four constitutions since
1804), such documents were ignored when it was convenient to
do so, altered unilaterally, or negated by sham plebiscites.
Major instances of such strongman regimes were those of

Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic from 1930 to 1961,
and Francois Duvalier, followed by his son Jean-Claude Duva-
lier, in Haiti from 1957 to 1986.
Accompanying these political developments was the grind-
ing poverty of the vast majority of the population in both coun-
tries, apart from a small wealthy landowning class. Although
the Dominican Republic has succeeded in improving its lot,
Haiti today is considered by the World Bank (see Glossary) to
be the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, and exten-
sive malnutrition continues to be a serious concern. Moreover,
a 1998 study done under the auspices of the United Nations
Population Fund concluded that at an average of 4.8 births per
woman, Haiti had the highest birthrate in the Western Hemi-
sphere, double that of Latin America as a whole. Haiti's infant
mortality rate of seventy per 1,000 is twice as high as that of the
Dominican Republic, and Haiti's gross domestic product
(GDP-see Glossary), variously given as between $200 and
$400 per person, is less than one-fourth that of the Dominican
Haiti's high birth rate has put enormous pressure on the
land, given the country's small amount of arable land in rela-
tion to the size of the population. National data gathered in
1995 revealed that 48 percent of the total land area in Haiti was
being cultivated, although only 28 percent of the country's
land is suitable for farming. The situation has resulted in seri-
ous soil erosion, loss of forest cover, and meager incomes for
rural dwellers, who are estimated to represent some 59 percent
of the population. Agriculture produces only about 25 percent
of gross national product (GNP-see Glossary), yet agricultural
work engages about two-thirds of the national labor force.
Haiti's economy has suffered not only from inefficiency and
corruption but also from the three-year United Nations (UN)
embargo placed on the country following the ouster of the
democratically elected government ofJean-Bertrand Aristide
(1991-94). To obtain needed funds from the United States and
the International Monetary Fund (IMF-see Glossary), Haiti
promised in 1994 to make such reforms as privatization and
reductions in the size of its civil service. In practice, however,
the Haitian administration found it politically unwise to main-
tain these commitments. Nevertheless, Haiti continues to
receive international aid, including World Bank funding for
two projects seeking to assist the poorest elements of the popu-
lation-an Employment Generation Project and a Basic Infra-

structure Project designed to improve social services. In
addition, the United States Agency for International Develop-
ment spent more than US$300 million in Haiti over the period
from 1994 to 1999, vaccinating people, providing food for
school children, improving hillside agriculture to increase
farmer income, grafting fruit trees, and repairing roads. In
general, however, since the restoration of democratically
elected government in 1994, Haiti has experienced political
instability and as a consequence, difficulty in attracting foreign
investment or tourists.
Progress in the Dominican Republic's economic sphere,
albeit more positive than Haiti's, has been uneven. Such sectors
as the free-trade zones in which assembly plants are located
and tourism are doing relatively well. Growth in tourism has
been significant and steady, featuring an increase of 10 percent
in 1999 over 1998 and an announcement by the Secretariat of
State for Tourism that the number of tourists for the first three
months of 2000 represented a 25 percent gain over 1999.
Despite this progress, according to the Third National Survey
of Household Expenditures and Incomes announced in
November 1999, some 21 percent of the Dominican popula-
tion is estimated to live in extreme poverty, including 33 per-
cent of citizens in rural areas. Most residents of such areas lack
access to potable water and some 25 percent lack electricity.
Furthermore, a significant part of the population is affected by
deficiencies in health care, housing, sanitation, and education.
General dissatisfaction over lack of water supply, power out-
ages, insufficient housing construction, and failure to repair
roads led to strikes and popular demonstrations in 1999 and
early 2000. The aftermath of Hurricane Georges that hit in
September 1998 has aggravated the situation. Recovery is as yet
incomplete despite international assistance, including the
deployment of 3,000 United States Army personnel in 1999 to
participate in Operation Caribbean Castle to rebuild destroyed
bridges and rural schools.
The economy of the Dominican Republic is strongly affected
by the legacy of the country's troubled relationship with Haiti
and its people. On the one hand, Haitian workers are needed
for Dominican coffee and sugar harvests and for unskilled con-
struction work. On the other hand, the Dominican govern-
ment institutes regular deportations of Haitians and Dominico-
Haitians born in the Dominican Republic. At present, some
2,000 to 3,000 Haitians are deported monthly. In late 1999,

30,000 Haitians were reportedly deported, causing problems
for the subsequent coffee harvest, which usually employs some
35,000 Haitian coffeepickers.
Recognizing that Haiti not only constitutes a significant
source of the Dominican unskilled work force but also repre-
sents a market for Dominican goods, some Dominican leaders
have begun to urge that the Dominican Republic join other
countries in providing aid to Haiti. In an address to a graduat-
ing class of Dominican diplomats in 1999, President Leonel
Fernandez Reyna stated that the international community
needed to promote Haiti's social and economic development.
Earlier, in August 1999, the Dominican deputy minister of state
for foreign affairs predicted that Haitians would continue their
illegal migration to the Dominican Republic until political sta-
bility, economic progress, and a more equitable distribution of
wealth were achieved in Haiti. However, in January 2000 the
Dominican secretary of state for labor announced that no new
work permits would be given to Haitians to enter the Domini-
can Republic to cut sugarcane. Instead, he advised Dominican
employers to improve working conditions in the cane fields in
order either to induce Haitians already in the Dominican
Republic-500,000 Haitians are reportedly in the Dominican
Republic-to work there or to attract indigenous Dominican
workers. That a sizeable pool of potential Haitian workers
exists in the Dominican Republic is suggested by the fact that
in late 1999, the Haitian embassy in Santo Domingo issued
44,000 birth certificates to Haitians living in the Dominican
Republic. Although the possession of a birth certificate does
not give a Haitian legal status in the Dominican Republic, it
enables the person to acquire a Haitian passport, which is a
prerequisite for obtaining temporary work. Concern over the
living conditions of Haitian workers in the Dominican Repub-
lic caused a number of Dominicans in the spring of 2000 to
organize a peace march through Haiti to promote better con-
ditions for such workers.
Drug trafficking continues to plague both the Dominican
Republic and Haiti. Concern over increased smuggling of
cocaine and heroin from Colombia through the Dominican
Republic and Haiti, to the greater New York area via Puerto
Rico and South Florida for East Coast distribution, has resulted
in a series of efforts to disrupt the traffic. One is a coordinated
plan by the United States and the Dominican Republic to
deploy soldiers in cities and military outposts along the 223-


mile Dominican-Haitian border. The new Dominican inter-
agency border patrol unit, which was formed in January 2000,
will also act against illegal Haitian immigration and shipments
of contraband weapons. In December 1999, the Dominican
and Haitian police agreed to cooperate to fight drug traffick-
ing, car theft, money laundering, and illegal immigration along
their common border. To these ends, the Dominican Republic
is setting up computerized police posts along the frontier. The
chief of the United States Coast Guard visited the Dominican
Republic in late March 2000 to coordinate implementation of
the anti-drug efforts with the Dominican navy and the Secretar-
iat of State for the Armed Forces. To date the various efforts
are reportedly proving ineffective against corruption and the
increased assault by traffickers on the vulnerable borders and
institutions of Hispaniola. With regard to immigration control,
in March 1999, the Dominican president and the governor of
Puerto Rico met to strengthen measures against illegal Domin-
ican immigration to Puerto Rico and thence to the United
States mainland (Dominicans are the largest immigrant group
in New York City).
Political instability and corruption have plagued both Haiti
and the Dominican Republic. The problem has been particu-
larly severe in Haiti since the end of the Duvalier regime. Fol-
lowing Jean-Claude Duvalier's ouster in 1986, a group of
generals, for years Duvalier loyalists, played a major role in the
interim government. During elections in November 1987,
Duvalierist supporters killed numerous Haitians waiting to
vote, causing all the candidates to condemn the interim gov-
ernment. Several fraudulent elections or seizures of power by
military figures followed, prior to the election of a Roman
Catholic priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in December 1990.
Identified with the poor, Aristide represented a threat to the
country's establishment and was overthrown by a military coup
after being in office less than a year. Following a United
Nations-sanctioned, multilateral military intervention, Aristide
was restored to office in October 1994. When Aristide's term
expired in 1996, he was succeeded by Rene Preval. A bitter
power struggle between Pr6val and the parliament, however,
paralyzed Haiti's government and resulted in total governmen-
tal gridlock in 1997 and 1998. In consequence, Haiti again
began to experience popular unrest, opposition-incited inci-
dents, and a stagnating economy. In December 1998, Pr&val's
candidate for prime minister, Jacques Edouard Alexis, was con-

firmed by a sharply divided legislature. In January 1999, Preval
dissolved parliament because the electoral terms for most offi-
cials had expired, appointed municipal officials as "interim
executive agents" of the Ministry of Interior, and began to rule
by decree until elections could be held.
Complexities involved in setting up national elections
resulted in three postponements from the original November
1998 election date. To facilitate elections, the United States
provided $3.5 million in aid for voter registration and allocated
an additional $10-15 million toward the estimated election
cost of $18.5 million. Haiti contributed a further $9 million.
Haiti's sporadic violence, including shootings and other
political disturbances-and the resulting danger to United
States personnel-led Marine General Charles E. Wilhelm of
the United States Southern Command, in February 1999
closed-door testimony before a subcommittee of the House of
Representatives Appropriations Committee, to advocate the
withdrawal from Haiti of remaining United States troops.
These 500 military personnel, remnants of the 20,000-strong
force that went to Haiti during the international intervention
of September 1994, had assisted Haiti by providing medical
care to the populace, constructing schools, repairing wells, and
training police. The last United States forces permanently sta-
tioned in Haiti left in February 2000, but periodic training vis-
its of United States military personnel, including the use of
armed forces reservists, continue.
A UN mission continues training the Haitian police force.
Haitian faith in the rule of law has been severely tested, how-
ever, because of police abuses that are exacerbated by a dys-
functional judiciary. Violence can reach alarming levels in
Haiti, as it did in the period preceding the May 2000 elections.
Human rights activists have pressured former president Aris-
tide to use his stature to denounce the use of violence. To date,
Aristide has been unwilling to follow such a course, preferring
to take steps behind the scenes as opposed to making public
In May 2000, Haiti held elections for 7,500 posts, including
the entire Chamber of Deputies and two-thirds of the Senate as
well as numerous municipal offices. Twenty-nine thousand can-
didates from a wide spectrum of political parties and organiza-
tions participated. Several hundred international observers
joined a well organized national network of several thousand
domestic observers. Voter turnout was at least 60 percent of the


4 million persons eligible. Despite delays, loud complaints
from among the losing parties, some incidents, and various
apparent irregularities in voting, the elections held on May 21
were termed "credible" by international and domestic observ-
ers and by the Organization of American States (OAS) Election
Observation Mission.
Although the Lavalas Family, the party of Aristide, appar-
ently gained a substantial election victory at the ballot box, the
OAS subsequently discovered a serious error in the method of
determining the winners of Senate races as announced by the
Provisional Electoral Council. The OAS asked the Council to
recalculate the percentage of votes won by all candidates, an
action that could force several declared Senate winners to take
part in runoff voting. The runoff election was rescheduled for
July 9. The Council, with strong support from the presidential
palace, refused to accept the OAS recommendations, however,
creating an emerging international confrontation. This con-
flict is only the latest chapter in Haiti's troubled quest for post-
dictatorial democracy.
Conditions are somewhat better in the Dominican Republic,
although there, too, political instability has existed. Leonel
Fernandez won the 1996 runoff elections, but he has been
unsuccessful in implementing many of his programs because of
his party's small representation in Congress. In the 1998 elec-
tions, following the death ofJos6 Pefia G6mez, his opposition
party, the Democratic Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucio-
nario Dominicano-PRD), made sweeping gains. As a result,
Congress in 1998 passed a new law abolishing the security of
tenure of judges that Fernandez had achieved and making
judges subject to reappointment every four years. A poll taken
in April 2000 showed that no candidate for the May 2000 presi-
dential elections had the just over 50 percent needed for elec-
tion (Fernindez was ineligible to run again). As it developed,
with 99 percent of the ballots counted, the Electoral Council
announced the evening of May 17 that the opposition PRD
candidate, Hipolito Mejia, had received 49.87 percent of the
vote. His nearest opponent, Danilo Medina of the governing
Dominican Liberation Party, had 24.94 percent of the vote, and
seven-time former president Joaquin Balaguer had 24.6 per-
cent. At a press conference on May 18, Medina stated that a
June 30 runoff election would cost too much in time, money,
and tension and that a continued campaign would hurt the
economy. Therefore he "acknowledged the victory of the

PRD," laying the groundwork for Mejia's inauguration on
August 16.
The latest round of Hispaniola's elections indicates that
while each side of the island has moved away markedly from
the strong-man role of the past, the transition to the peaceful,
transparent, and capable democratic governance required for
much-needed sustained social and economic development will
continue to be fraught with problems.

June 30, 2000 Helen Chapin Metz


Dominican Republic: Counry 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 October; 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 has been declining; was 1.6
percent in mid-1990s. Total population estimated at just over 8
million in 1997.
Language: Spanish.
Ethnic Groups: Approximately 75 percent of mid-1990s popu-
lation mulatto, a legacy of black slavery during colonial period.
Approximately 10 percent white; 15 percent black.
Education and Literacy: An estimated 82 percent of population
literate in 1997. Education system includes six years of
compulsory primary education, an additional six years of
secondary education, and higher education at one of more
than twenty-seven postsecondary institutions. Major university
and sole public institution is Autonomous University of Santo
Domingo (Universidad Aut6noma de Santo Domingo-
UASD), with four regional centers in 1990s.
Health: State-funded health programs reach 80 percent of
population in theory (but 40 percent in reality). Facilities
concentrated in Santo Domingo and Santiago de los
Caballeros (Santiago); service in rural areas suffers
accordingly. Main causes of death: pulmonary, circulatory, and
cardiovascular diseases. Average life expectancy seventy years
for 1990-95 period.
Religion: More than 80 percent Roman Catholic. Protestant
groups also active; evangelicals have been most successful in

attracting converts.


Gross Domestic Product (GDP): About US$5.8 billion in 1996,
or approximately US$716 per capital.
Agriculture: Declining in significance since 1960s when
agriculture employed almost 60 percent of workforce,
accounted for 25 percent of GDP, and generated 80 to 90
percent of total exports. By 1992 sector's share of exports had
dropped to 43 percent and it employed 28 percent of labor
force. By end 1995, agriculture's share of GDP at 12.7 percent
and it employed 12.9 percent of workforce. Importance of
sugar, traditionally major crop, has declined steadily; other
significant crops: coffee, cocoa, and tobacco. Implementation
of Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) (see Glossary) provided
reduced tariff access to United States market for such items as
ornamental plants, winter vegetables, spices, nuts, citrus, and
tropical fruits.
Industry: Domestic manufacturing and assembly operations in
free zones accounted for 18.3 percent of GDP in 1998.
Domestic manufacturing, including consumer goods, food,
and cigar production, grew by 10.1 percent in first half 1998.
Growth resulted partly from dramatic increase in United States
demand for cigars, for which Dominican Republic is leading
supplier. Industrial free zones numbered thirty-three by 1995
and employed some 165,000 workers in 469 companies;
number of employees increased to 182,000 in 1997, but
number of firms operating in free zones dropped to 434. Free-
zone exports generated needed foreign exchange: US$2
billion in 1996 and US$3.8 billion in 1997-almost 75 percent
of total Dominican export earnings.
Services: Tourism leading service industry; generated more
than US$1.55 billion in foreign exchange in 1995 and US$2.1
billion in 1997. Sector employed 44,000 hotel workers directly
and additional 110,000 indirectly. Number of tourists almost
tripled in ten years, from 278,000 in 1975 to 792,000 in 1985,
surpassed 1 million in 1987, and jumped to 1,766,800 in 1994
to 1,930,000 in 1996 to 2,211,000 in 1997. In 1997 country
became second largest earner of tourism dollars in Caribbean,
after Mexico.
Currency: Issued by Central Bank of the Dominican Republic

since 1948, Dominican Republic peso (RD$) was officially
maintained on par with US$ until 1985, when it was floated
(and devalued) against the dollar until it stabilized at US$1 =
RD$6.35 in 1989. After experiments with multiple exchange
rates, all rates were unified in 1997 on free-market basis and at
initial rate of US$1 = RD$14. After Hurricane Georges, official
rate dropped to US$1 = RD$15.46. Commercial rate was US$1
= RD$16.25 in January 2000.
Imports: Total imports in 1998: US$3,403.1 million. Deep
plunge in oil prices reduced Dominican fuel bill by about 20
percent to US$336 million in first half 1998, but total value of
imports increased by 15 percent over 1997 as aftermath of
Hurricane Georges, which left 300 people dead and hundreds
of thousands homeless. Government officials estimated surge
in imports related to reconstruction effort at US$700 million
through 1999.
Exports: Total exports in 1998: US$2,457.6 million. Sharp de-
cline in world commodity prices caused by 1997 Asian currency
crisis created negative impact on trade deficit. Exports of
nickel, major Dominican earner of foreign exchange, suffered
27 percent price drop and fell 38.4 percent in 1998. Coffee
exports adversely affected by 10 percent decline in inter-
national prices. Export of sugar and sugar products in 1998
decreased 29.6 percent, mainly as result of 24 percent cut in
Dominican international sugar quota.
Balance of Payments: Trade deficits continued into 1990s,
hitting record US$1.639 billion in 1993, 1.4 percent increase
over 1992, and exceeding US$1.5 billion in 1994. Deficits
registered continued deterioration: from US$832 million in
first half 1997 to US$945 million in first half 1998.
Fiscal Year: Calendar year.
Fiscal Policy: President Leonel Fernandez Reyna's campaign
against tax evasion (upon taking office in 1996) proved
successful: budgetary income in 1997 was 31 percent higher
than in 1996. Reforms in late 1990s included strengthening
Central Bank's autonomy and tightening credit and wage
systems. Inflation plunged from 80 percent in 1990 to 9
percent in 1995. External public debt as share of GDP more
than halved (to 33 percent) in same period. Unemployment
rate declined from about 20 percent in 1991-93 to about 16
percent in 1995.

Transportation and Communications

Roads: Most roadways of 17,200-kilometer network narrow and
flood easily. Worsening conditions prompted World Bank (see
Glossary) and Inter-American Development Bank to finance
better maintenance systems. Major road construction program
initiated in late 1990s to develop intercity routes and urban
projects in Santo Domingo.
Railroads: 1,600-kilometer railroad system, one of longest in
Caribbean, most of which owned by state sugar enterprise.
Several private rail companies also serve sugar industry.
Ports: Of fourteen ports, only five are major. Largest, Santo
Domingo, handles 80 percent of imports; has cruiseliner berth
enlarged in 1997. Other major ports include Haina, Boca
Chica, and San Pedro de Macoris on south coast, and Puerta
Plata on north coast.
Airports: Five international airports: Santo Domingo, Puerta
Plata, Punta Cana, La Romana, and Barahona. Sixth airport
under construction at Samand in late 1990s. Puerto Plata and
Punta Cana main airports for charter flights; Las Americas near
Santo Domingo for scheduled flights. American Airlines
dominant carrier, with routes to many United States cities,
chiefly Miami and New York.
Telecommunications: Industry fastest growing element of
economy, doubling share of GDP to 4.6 percent since
government opened sector to competition in 1990. In first half
1998, grew by 20.8 percent. Telephone system includes direct
domestic and international dialing, toll-free access to United
States through 800 numbers, high-speed data transmission
capabilities, fiber-optic cables, and digital switching.

Government and Politics

Government: Republic with elected representative
governmental system. Executive is dominant branch.
Presidents serve four-year terms and, following a 1994
constitutional reform, cannot be reelected immediately.
Legislature, known formally as Congress of the Republic,
consists 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. Following a 1994

constitutional reform, Supreme Court judges are chosen by a
Council of the Magistrature, with membership from all three
branches of government; other judges are chosen by the
Supreme Court. Provincial (state) governors appointed by
president; municipalities (counties) governed by elected
mayors and municipal councils.
Politics: Following independence from Haiti in 1844, country
characterized by instability for almost a century. Dictator Rafael
Le6nidas Trujillo Molina took power in 1930 and ruled in
repressive authoritarian fashion until his assassination in 1961.
Brief civil war in 1965 between liberal Constitutionalists-
supporters of 1963 constitution promulgated during short-
lived presidency of Juan Bosch Gavifio-and conservative
Loyalist military factions. Subsequent elections brought
Trujillo proteg& Joaquin Balaguer Ricardo to presidency, an
office he held for twelve years. Balaguer's attempt to nullify
1978 elections thwarted by pressure from Washington, allowing
Silvestre Antonio Guzman Fernandez of social democratic
Dominican Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario
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 ofJorge Blanco government contributed to
Balaguer's election for a fourth term beginning in 1986.
Balaguer retained power through increasingly conflictual and
questioned elections in 1990 and 1994; he agreed to shorten
his term in 1994 to two years and accept constitutional reforms
including no immediate reelection. Leonel Fernandez Reyna
of the Party of Dominican Liberation (Partido de la Liberaci6n
Dominicana-PLD) won 1996 presidential elections.
International Relations: Diplomatic activities concentrated on
Caribbean, Latin America, United States, and Western Europe.
Relations with neighboring Haiti traditionally strained as a
result of historical conflicts, cultural divergences, and most
recently, increased migration into the Dominican Republic
from Haiti. Most important international relationship with
United States, on which Dominican Republic has political,
economic, and strategic dependence.
International Agreements and Memberships: 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, International Monetary Fund (see Glossary), Inter-
American Development Bank, and other multilateral financial
institutions. Also member of World Trade Organization,
African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of Nations, and other
regional trade groupings.

National Security

Armed Forces: Dominican armed forces consist of army, navy,
and air force. Total personnel in 1999 reported to be 24,300.
Organization: President is constitutional commander in chief.
Chain of command extends downward to secretary of state for
the armed forces, then to deputy secretaries of state for
individual branches of service, each of which administered
through a chief of staff and a general staff. Chiefs of staff
exercise operational control except in emergencies. Country
divided into three defense zones: Southern Defense Zone,
Western Defense Zone, and Northern Defense Zone.
Equipment: Army equipment includes twenty-four French and
United States light tanks, armored vehicles, half-tracks, and
towed howitzers, largely outmoded and poorly maintained.
Dominican navy in 1999 consisted primarily of twelve armed
patrol vessels, mostly United States-made craft of World War II
vintage. Dominican air force organized into three flying
squadrons: one of Cessna A-37B Dragonfly jets, one of C-47
transports, and one of helicopters.
Police: Internal security responsibility shared by armed forces
and National Police. Total police manpower in 1998 about
15,000. Commanded by director general subordinate to
secretary of state for interior and police. National Department
of Investigations, a domestic intelligence unit, and National
Drug Control Directorate are independent bodies reporting
directly to president.

North/ Atlantic Ocean

70 International
S- Provincial boundary
National capital
*t Provincial capital

Boundary representation
not necessarily authoritative

Dominican Republic: Administrative Divisions

La Altagracia (11) Maria Trinidad Saman! (8)
Azua (20) Sanchez (7) San Crist6bal (23)
Baoruco (27) Monsehor Nouel (22) Sanchez Ramirez (16)
Barahona (29) Monte Cristi (1) San Juan (19)
Dajabdn (12) Monte Plata (17) San Pedro de
Duarte (6) National District (24) Macoris (25)
Elias Piia (18) Pedernales (30) Santiago (14)
Espaillat (4) Peravia (21) Santiago Rodriguez (1.
Hato Mayor (9) Puerto Plata (3) El Seibo (10)
Independencia (28) La Romana (26) Valverde (2)

Salcedo (5)

La Vega (15)

Figure 2. Dominican Republic: Administrative Divisions, 1999


Table A. Dominican Republic: Chronology of Important Events

Period Description

1492 Columbus lands at present-day Ml6e Saint-Nicolas, Haiti; establishes
first permanent Spanish New World settlement at site of Santo Dom-
1492-1697 Spain colonizes Hispaniola.
1503 Nicolas de Ovando named governor and supreme justice; institutes
encomienda system. Importation of African slaves begins.
1586 Sir Francis Drake captures city of Santo Domingo, collects ransom
for returning it to Spain.
1697 Spain, under Treaty of Ryswick, cedes western third of Hispaniola
(Saint-Domingue-modern Haiti) to France.
1801 Toussaint Louverture invades Santo Domingo, abolishes slavery.
1802 France occupies the Spanish-speaking colony, reinstituting slavery in
that part of the island.
1809 Spanish rule is restored.
1818-43 Under presidency ofJean-Pierre Boyer, Haiti invades and occupies
Santo Domingo; abolishes slavery.
1821 Spanish lieutenant governorJos6 Nfiiez de Caceres declares col-
ony's independence as Spanish Haiti.
1838 Juan Pablo Duarte creates secret independence movement, La Trini-
1844 February 27 La Trinitaria members and others rebel; Santo Domingo gains inde-
July 12 Pedro Santana's forces take Santo Domingo and proclaim Santana
1849 Buenaventura BAez Mendez becomes president; Santana expels him
in 1853. (Baez resumes presidency 1865-66, 1868-74, 1878-79).
1861 March 18 Santana announces annexation of Dominican Republic by Spain.
1865 March 3 Queen of Spain approves repeal of Santo Domingo annexation.
1882-99 Ulises Heureaux rules as president/dictator.
1905 General Customs Receivership established; United States adminis-
ters Dominican finances.
1916-24 United States marines occupy Dominican Republic
1930-61 Rafael Le6nidas Trujillo Molina, head of National Guard, becomes
president/dictator; rules directly or indirectly until assassinated.
1937 Dominican military massacre some 15,000-20,000 Haitians near
Dominican-Haitian border.
1942 Dominican women given suffrage.
1965 April 28 United States intervenes, fearing a potential communist takeover
because Dominican troops are unable to control a civil war.
1966-78 Joaquin Balaguer Ricardo becomes president in 1966, and United
States troops leave.
1978-82 Antonio Guzman Fernandez becomes president; creates a more
democratic regime.
1982-86 SalvadorJorge Blanco elected president.
1986-96 Balaguer returns to presidency.
1996 In free elections, Leonel Fernandez Reyna is elected in second

Table A. (Cont.) Dominican Republic: Chronology of Important Events

Period Description

1997 Newly created Council of the Magistrature appoints a distinguished
new Supreme Court.
1998 May Fair congressional and municipal elections held one week after
death of noted politician Jose Francisco Pefia G6mez.

Chapter 1. Dominican Republic:
Historical Setting

Tomb of the three fathers of the Dominican Republic in Santo Domingo

IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, the past has weighed
heavily on current political practices. The country's historical
evolution, for example, has proved particularly inimical to
democratic development, deviating significantly from patterns
viewed as optimum for the development of democracy. Politi-
cal scientist Robert Dahl has argued that sequences in which
successful experiences with limited liberalization are followed
by gradually greater inclusiveness appear to favor democracy.
The analyst Eric Nordlinger has asserted that the pattern most
promising for the development of democracy is one in which
national identity emerges first, then legitimate and authorita-
tive state structures are institutionalized, and ultimately mass
parties and a mass electorate emerge with the extension of citi-
zenship rights to non-elite elements.
The pattern followed by the Dominican Republic was very
different. The country's colonial period was marked by the dec-
imation of the indigenous population, and then by poverty and
warfare. National integration was truncated, first by a Haitian
invasion and then by the attempts of some Dominican elites to
trade nascent Dominican sovereignty for security by having for-
eign powers annex the country, while enriching themselves in
the process. State building also suffered under the dual impact
of international vulnerability and unstable, neopatrimonial,
authoritarian politics. Both integration and state building were
also impaired by bitter regional struggles based on different
economic interests and desires for power that accentuated the
politics of the country. In this context, the failure of early
efforts to extend liberal guarantees and citizenship rights to
vast sectors of the population served to reinforce past patterns
of behavior. Nonetheless, reform efforts continually
Indeed, a Dominican state arguably did not emerge until the
late nineteenth century or even the era of Rafael Le6nidas
Trujillo Molina (1930-61). Trujillo's emergence, in turn, was
unquestionably facilitated by changes wrought by the eight-
year United States occupation of the Dominican Republic at
the beginning of the twentieth century. Trujillo's pattern of
rule could not have been more hostile to democratic gover-
nance. His centralization of power, monopolization of the
economy, destruction or co-optation of enemies, and astonish-

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

ing constitutional hypocrisy were, however, combined with the
forging of national integration, the establishment of state insti-
tutions, and the beginnings of industrialization, although in a
distorted manner.
Thus, the country essentially had no history of democratic
rule prior to 1961, despite the presence of a liberal constitu-
tional tradition. In the context of contradictory and extensive
United States actions both to foster democracy and to block
perceived communist threats, efforts toward democratic transi-
tion following the death of Trujillo ultimately failed. The short-
lived democratic regime of Juan Bosch Gaviiio (1962) was fol-
lowed by unstable governments and ultimately by United States
intervention in 1965 out of fear of a "second Cuba." A key fig-
ure from the Trujillo era, Joaquin Balaguer Ricardo, was to
govern the country for twenty-two of the next thirty years, from
1966 to 1978 and again from 1986 to 1996. His rule combined
political stagnation with dramatic socioeconomic transforma-
tion. The 1978 democratic transition following Balaguer's
authoritarian twelve-year period in office ended in return to
the pre-democratic status quo. Although Balaguer was ushered
back into office through democratic elections in 1986, his
increasingly authoritarian rule finally ended when he stepped
down from the presidency in 1996.
The Dominican Republic is entering the new millennium
bolstered by potential changes in political leadership, signifi-
cant evolution in the country's social structure, and an interna-
tional environment more favorable to political democracy.
However, the country also faces formidable challenges in terms
of continued political fragmentation, difficult economic adjust-
ments, and corruption and criminal violence associated in part
with drug trafficking.

The First Colony

The island of Hispaniola (La Isla Espafiola) was the first New
World colony settled by Spain. Christopher Columbus first
sighted the island in 1492 toward the end of his first voyage to
"the Indies." Columbus and his crew found the island inhab-
ited by a large population of friendly Taino (Arawak) Indians,
who made the explorers welcome. The land was fertile, but of
greater importance to the Spaniards was the discovery that
gold could be obtained either by barter with the natives or by
extraction from alluvial deposits on the island.

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

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 lifeblood of the nascent mercantilist system-and a
population of tractable natives who could be used as laborers
combined to attract Spanish newcomers interested in acquir-
ing wealth quickly during the early years. Their relations with
the Taino Indians, whom they ruthlessly maltreated, deterio-
rated 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, 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
In 1503 the Spanish crown instituted the encomienda system.
Under this system, all land became in theory the property of
the crown, and the Indians were considered tenants on royal
land. The crown's right to service from the tenants could be
transferred in trust to individual Spanish settlers (encomenderos)
by formal grant and the regular payment of tribute. The
encomenderos were entitled to certain days of labor from the
Indians, and they assumed the responsibility of providing for
the physical well-being of the Indians and for their instruction
in Christianity. Although an encomienda theoretically did not
involve ownership of land, in practice it did-ownership was
just gained through other means.
The privations that the Indians suffered demonstrated the
unrealistic nature of the encomienda system, which the Spanish
authorities never effectively enforced. The Indian population
died off rapidly from exhaustion, starvation, disease, and other
causes. When the Spanish landed, they forced an estimated
400,000 Tainos (out of a total Taino population of some 1 mil-
lion) to work for them; by 1508 the Tainos numbered only
around 60,000. By 1535 only a few dozen were still alive. The
need for a new labor force to meet the growing demands of
sugarcane cultivation in the 1520s prompted an increase in the
importation of African slaves, which had begun in 1503. By

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

1546 the colony had some 12,000 slaves and a white population
of under 5,000.
The granting of land without any obligation to central
authorities, as was done under the repartimiento system, led to a
rapid decentralization of power. Power was also diffused
because of the tendency of the capital city, Santo Domingo
(which also served as the seat of government for the entire
Spanish Indies), to orient itself toward continental America,
which provided gold for the crown, and toward Spain, which
provided administrators, supplies, and immigrants to the colo-
nies. With little contact existing between the capital and the
hinterland, local government was doomed to be ineffective,
and for practical purposes the countryside fell under the sway
of the large local landowners.
As early as the 1490s, the landowners among the Spanish col-
onists successfully conspired against Columbus. His successor,
Francisco de Bobadilla, was appointed chief justice and royal
commissioner by the Spanish crown in 1499. Bobadilla sent
Columbus back to Spain in irons; Queen Isabella soon ordered
him released. Bobadilla, who had proved an inept administra-
tor, was replaced in 1503 by the more efficient Nicolds de
Ovando, who assumed the titles of governor and supreme jus-
tice. Because of his success in initiating reforms desired by the
crown-the encomienda system among them-Ovando received
the title of Founder of Spain's Empire in the Indies.
In 1509 Columbus's son, Diego, was appointed governor of
the colony of Santo Domingo. Diego's ambition aroused the
suspicions of the crown, which in 1511 established the audien-
cia, a new political institution intended to check the power of
the governor. The first audiencia was simply a tribunal com-
posed of three judges whose jurisdiction extended over all the
West Indies. The tribunal's influence grew, and in 1524 it was
designated the Royal Audiencia of Santo Domingo (Audiencia
Real de Santo Domingo), with jurisdiction in the Caribbean,
the Atlantic coast of Central America and Mexico, and the
northern coast of South America. As a court representing the
crown, the audiencia was given expanded powers that encom-
passed administrative, legislative, and consultative functions;
the number of judges increased correspondingly. In criminal
cases, the audiencia's decisions were final, but important civil
suits could be appealed to the Royal and Supreme Council of
the Indies (Real y Supremo Consejo de Indias) in Spain.

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

The Council of the Indies, created by Charles V in 1524, was
the Spanish crown's main agency for directing colonial affairs.
During most of its existence, the council exercised almost abso-
lute power in making laws, administering justice, controlling
finance and trade, supervising the church, and directing
The arm of the Council of the Indies that dealt with all mat-
ters concerned with commerce between Spain and the colonies
in the Americas was the House of Trade (Casa de Contra-
taci6n), organized in 1503. Control of commerce in general,
and of tax collection in particular, was facilitated by the desig-
nation of monopoly seaports on either side of the Atlantic
Ocean. 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
organization developed for Santo Domingo and later estab-
lished throughout Spanish America reflected a union of
church and state closer than that which actually prevailed in
Spain itself. The Royal Patronage of the Indies (Real Patronato
de Indias, or, as it was called later, the Patronato Real) served as
the organizational agent of this affiliation of the church and
the Spanish crown.
Santo Domingo's importance to Spain declined in the first
part of the sixteenth century as the gold mines became
exhausted and the local Indian population was decimated.
With the conquest of Mexico by Hernan Cortes in 1521 and
the discovery there, and later in Peru, of great wealth in gold
and silver, large numbers of colonists left for Mexico and Peru,
and new immigrants from Spain also largely bypassed Santo
The stagnation that prevailed in Santo Domingo for the next
250 years was interrupted on several occasions by armed
engagements, as the French and British attempted to weaken
Spain's economic and political dominance in the New World.
In 1586 the British 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 a British
fleet commanded by Sir William Penn to take Santo Domingo.
After meeting heavy resistance, the British sailed farther west
and tookJamaica instead.

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

The withdrawal of the colonial government from the north-
ern coastal region opened the way for French buccaneers, who
had a base on Tortuga Island (Ile de la Tortue), off the north-
west coast of present-day Haiti, to settle on Hispaniola in the
mid-seventeenth century. The creation of the French West
India Company in 1664 signaled France's intention to colonize
western Hispaniola. Intermittent warfare went on between
French and Spanish settlers over the next three decades; Spain,
however, was hard-pressed by warfare in Europe and could not
maintain a garrison in Santo Domingo sufficient to protect 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-modern Haiti) was not established at the time of
cession and remained in question until 1929.
During the first years of the eighteenth century, landowners
in the Spanish colony did little with their huge holdings, and
the sugar plantations along the southern coast were aban-
doned 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 eco-
nomic 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. By the middle of the
century, both immigration and the importation of slaves had
In 1765 the Caribbean islands received authorization for
almost unlimited trade with Spanish ports; permission for the
Spanish colonies in America to trade among themselves fol-
lowed in 1774. Soon duties on many commodities were greatly
reduced or 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 100,000 in 1790, with
roughly equal numbers of whites, free coloreds, and slaves. The
size and composition of Santo Domingo's population con-
trasted sharply, however, with that of the neighboring and far
more prosperous French colony of Saint-Domingue, where

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

some 30,000 whites and 27,000 freedmen extracted labor from
some 400,000 black slaves.

The Struggle for Formal Sovereignty

The nineteenth-century struggle for independence of what
was to become the Dominican Republic was an incredibly diffi-
cult process, conditioned by the evolution of its neighbor.
Although they shared the island of Hispaniola, the colonies of
Saint-Domingue and Santo Domingo followed disparate paths,
primarily as a result of economic factors. Saint-Domingue was
the most productive agricultural colony in the Western Hemi-
sphere, and its output contributed heavily to the economy of
France (see French Colony of Saint-Domingue, 1697-1803,
ch.6.) Prosperous French plantation owners imported great
numbers of slaves from Africa and drove this captive work force
ruthlessly. By contrast, Santo Domingo was a small, unimpor-
tant, and largely ignored colony with little impact on the econ-
omy of Spain.
Although by the end of the eighteenth century economic
conditions were improving somewhat, landowners in Santo
Domingo did not enjoy the same level of wealth attained by
their French counterparts in Saint-Domingue. The absence of
market-driven pressure to increase production enabled the
domestic labor force to meet the needs of subsistence agricul-
ture and to export at low levels. Thus, 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 fact contributed to the
higher proportion of freedmen in the Spanish colony than in
Haiti; by the turn of the century, freedmen actually constituted
the majority of the population. Again, in contrast to conditions
in the French colony, this population profile contributed to a
somewhat more egalitarian society, plagued much less by racial
With a revolution against the monarchy well underway in
France, the inevitable explosion took place in Saint-Domingue
in August 1791 (see Fight for Independence, 1791-1803, 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

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

field with forces led by the former slave Francois Dominique
Toussaint Louverture. By mid-1795, Spain had signed a peace
treaty with France in which it surrendered the eastern part of
the island; the terms of the treaty reflected Spain's setbacks in
Europe and its relative decline as a world power. In recognition
of his leadership against the Spanish (under whose banner he
had begun his military career), British, and rebellious royalists
and mulattoes, Toussaint was named governor general of Saint-
Domingue by the French Republic in 1796. After losing more
than 25,000 troops, Britain withdrew from the island in April
1798. Toussaint marched into Santo Domingo in January 1801;
one of his first measures was to abolish slavery.
France occupied the devastated Spanish-speaking colony in
February 1802. The Spanish and Dominican elites on the Span-
ish part of the island allied themselves with the French, who
reinstituted slavery in that part of the island. However, the
expeditionary force dispatched by Napoleon Bonaparte was
defeated by the forces of the former French slaves, led by Tou-
ssaint -and later by Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Yellow fever,
malaria, and war led to the loss of 52,000 French soldiers.
Upon defeating the French, Dessalines and his followers estab-
lished the independent Republic of Haiti in January 1804 (see
Fight for Independence, 1791-1803, ch.6). A small French
presence, however, remained in the former Spanish colony, in
spite of Haitian pressures.
By 1808 a number of emigr6 Spanish landowners had
returned to Santo Domingo. These royalists had no intention
of living under French rule, however, and sought foreign aid
and assistance to restore Spanish sovereignty. Help came from
the Haitians, who provided arms, and the British, who occu-
pied Samand and blockaded the port of Santo Domingo in
1809. 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 econ-
omy deteriorated severely. Some Dominicans began to wonder
if their interests would not best be served by the sort of inde-
pendence movement that was sweeping the South American
colonies. In keeping with this sentiment, Spanish lieutenant
governorJose Nifiez de Caceres announced the colony's inde-
pendence as the state of Spanish Haiti on November 30, 1821.
Caceres requested admission to the Republic of Gran Colom-

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

bia (consisting of what later became Colombia, Ecuador, Vene-
zuela, and Panama), recently proclaimed established by Sim6n
Bolivar and his followers. While the request was in transit, how-
ever, the president of Haiti, Jean-Pierre Boyer, decided to
invade Santo Domingo and to reunite the island under the
Haitian flag.
The twenty-two-year Haitian occupation that followed
(1822-44) is recalled by Dominicans as a period of brutal mili-
tary rule, although the reality is more complex. Haiti's policies
toward Santo Domingo were induced in part by international
financial pressures because Haiti had promised in an 1825
treaty to indemnify former French settlers in return for French
recognition of Haitian independence. Ultimately, it was a
period of economic decline and of growing resentment of
Haiti among Dominicans. The main activity was subsistence
agriculture, and exports consisted of small amounts of tobacco,
cattle hides, caoba wood (Dominican mahogany), molasses,
and rum; the population, in turn, had declined precipitously
by 1909 to some 75,000 people. 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 yeo-
manry; however, the Dominicans proved no more willing to
adhere to its provisions than were the Haitians (see Early Years
of Independence, 1804-43, ch. 6). Increasing numbers of
Dominican landowners chose to flee the island rather than live
under Haitian rule; in many cases, Haitian administrators
encouraged such emigration.
Dominicans also resented the fact that 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.
Racial animosities also affected attitudes on both sides; black
Haitian troops reacted with resentment toward lighter-skinned
Dominicans, while Dominicans came to associate the Haitians'
dark skin with the oppression and abuses of occupation. Fur-
thermore, 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 remaining clergy to the Vatican. The occupation
reinforced Dominicans' perception of themselves as different
from Haitians with regard to culture, religion, race, and daily

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

Scattered unrest and isolated confrontations between Hai-
tians and Dominicans soon began; by 1838 significant orga-
nized movements against Haitian domination formed. The
most important was led by Juan Pablo Duarte of a prominent
Santo Domingo family who returned from seven years of study
in Europe to find his father's business had been ruined under
Haitian occupation. Unlike many of the country's subsequent
caudillo rulers, Duarte was an idealist, an ascetic, and a genu-
ine nationalist. Although he played no significant part in its
rule, he is considered the father of his country. He certainly
provided the inspiration and impetus for achieving indepen-
dence from Haiti.
In July 1838, Duarte led the effort to create a secret move-
ment, dubbed La Trinitaria (The Trinity). Its original nine
members had organized themselves into cells of three; the cells
went on to recruit as separate organizations, maintaining strict
secrecy. At the same time, the name clearly evoked the Holy
Trinity. Its motto was "Dios, Patria, y Libertad" (God, Country,
and Liberty), and the movement's flag and shield had a cross
and an open Bible-all of which became national symbols.
Dominican nationality became defined in religious and His-
panic terms, which permitted contrast to Haiti. As the coun-
try's principal enemy was the anti-Catholic and non-Spanish-
speaking Haiti, and perhaps because the Catholic Church was
very weak in the country, Dominican liberals were largely pro-
church, in contrast to their counterparts in the rest of Central
and South America.
The catalyst that helped set off the Dominican struggle for
independence was the overthrow of Boyer in the Haitian Revo-
lution of 1843. Initially good relations between liberal Haitians
and liberal Dominicans in Dominican territory, however, soon
grew tense. General Charles Riviere-H6rard successfully
cracked down on the Trinitarios, forcing Duarte to flee in
August 1843. However, Francisco del Rosario Sanchez, Duarte's
brother Vicente, and Ram6n Mella helped to reestablish the
Trinitaria movement. They planned an independence effort
built around arms that a returning Duarte was to bring in late
December; however, Duarte failed in his efforts to gain the nec-
essary weapons and was forced to postpone his return home
because of a serious illness. Concurrently, other conspiracies
flourished, particularly one seeking to gain the support of
France. When Duarte had not returned by February 1844, the
rebels agreed to launch their uprising without him.

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

On February 27, 1844-thereafter celebrated as Dominican
Independence Day-the rebels seized the Ozama fortress in
the capital. The Haitian garrison, taken by surprise and appar-
ently betrayed by at least one of its sentries, retired in disarray.
Within two days, all Haitian officials had departed Santo Do-
mingo. Mella headed the provisional governing junta of the
new Dominican Republic. Duarte returned to his country on
March 14, and on the following day entered the capital amidst
great adulation and celebration. However, the optimism gener-
ated by revolutionary triumph would eventually give way to the
more prosaic realities of the struggle for power.

Ambivalent Sovereignty, Caudillo Rule, and Political

The decades following independence from Haiti were
marked by complex interactions among Dominican governing
groups, opposition movements, Haitian authorities, and repre-
sentatives of France, Britain, Spain, and the United States.
Duarte and the liberal merchants who had led the initial inde-
pendence effort were soon swept out of office and into exile,
and the independent tobacco growers and merchants of the
northern Cibao valley, who tended to favor national indepen-
dence, were unable to consolidate control of the center. Gov-
ernment revolved largely around a small number of caudillo
strongmen, particularly Pedro Santana Familias and Buenaven-
tura Baez Mendez (allies who became rivals), and their
intrigues involving foreign powers in defense against Haiti and
for personal gain. All these factors meant that neither a coher-
ent central state nor a strong sense of nationhood could
develop during this period.

The Infant Republic, 1844-61

Santana's power base lay in the military forces mustered to
defend the infant republic against Haitian retaliation. Duarte,
briefly a member of the governing junta, for a time com-
manded an armed force as well. However, the governing junta
trusted the military judgment of Santana over that of Duarte,
and he was replaced with General Jos6 Maria Imbert. Duarte
assumed the post of governor of the Cibao, the northern farm-
ing region administered from the city of Santiago de los Caba-
lleros, commonly known as Santiago. In July 1844, Mella and a
throng of other Duarte supporters in Santiago urged him to

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

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 proclaimed Santana
ruler of the Dominican Republic. Mella, who attempted to
mediate a compromise government including both Duarte and
Santana, found himself imprisoned by the new dictator. Duarte
and Sanchez followed Mella into prison and subsequently into
The country's first constitution in 1844 was a remarkably lib-
eral document. It was influenced directly by the Haitian consti-
tution of 1843 and indirectly by the United States constitution
of 1789, by the liberal 1812 Cadiz constitution of Spain, and by
the French constitutions of 1799 and 1804. Because of this
inspiration, it called for presidentialism, a separation of pow-
ers, and extensive "checks and balances." However, Santana
proceeded to emasculate the document by demanding the
inclusion of Article 210, which granted him extraordinary pow-
ers "during the current war" against Haiti.
Santana's dictatorial powers continued throughout his first
term (1844-48), even though the Haitian forces had been
repelled by December 1845. He consolidated his power by exe-
cuting anti-Santana conspirators, by rewarding his close associ-
ates with lucrative positions in government, 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
Santana responded to a general discontent prompted
mainly by the deteriorating currency and economy by resign-
ing the presidency in February 1848 and retiring to his finca
(ranch) in El Seibo. He was replaced in August 1848 by minis-
ter of war ManuelJimenez, whose tenure ended in May 1849.
The violent sequence of events that culminated in Jimenez's
departure began with a new invasion from Haiti, this time led
by self-styled emperor Faustin Soulouque (see Increasing Insta-
bility, 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

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

his advantage againstJim6nez, taking control of Santo Dom-
ingo and the government on May 30, 1849.
Although Santana once again held the reins of power, he
declined to formalize the situation by running for office.
Instead, he renounced the temporary mandate granted him by
the Congress 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 Santana controlled the army. This refusal
cleared the way for Baez, president of the Congress, 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 per-
sonal preference) and the United States, although still unwill-
ing to annex the entire country, expressed interest in acquiring
the bay and peninsula of Samand as a naval or commercial
port. Consequently, in order to preserve its lucrative trade with
the island nation and to deny a strategic asset to its rivals, Brit-
ain became more actively involved in Dominican affairs. In
1850 the British signed a commercial and maritime treaty with
the Dominicans. The following year, Britain mediated a peace
treaty between the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Baez's first term established the personal rivalry with San-
tana that dominated Dominican politics until the latter's death
in 1864. President Baez purged Santana's followers (santanis-
tas) from the government and installed his own followers (bae-
cistas) in their place, pardoned a number of Santana's political
opponents, reorganized the military in an effort to dilute San-
tana'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, denounc-
ing him for ties to the Haitians and as a threat to the nation's
security. Exercising his authority under Article 210 of the con-
stitution, Santana expelled the former president from the
Dominican Republic.
Although he enjoyed considerable popularity, Santana con-
fronted several crises during his second term. In February
1854, a constituent assembly promulgated a new, even more

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

liberal constitution than that of 1844, which also eliminated
the dictatorial powers granted by Article 210. However, it was
almost immediately modified to place all control over the
armed forces directly in the hands of the president. With his
control over the army restored, Santana readily forced the
adoption by the Congress of a much more authoritarian consti-
tutional text later that year.
On the international front, renewed annexation talks
between the Dominican and United States governments
aroused the concern of Haitian emperor Soulouque. Motivated
at least in part by a desire to prevent the acquisition of any por-
tion of Hispaniola by the slaveholding United States, Soulou-
que launched a new invasion in November 1855. However,
Dominican forces decisively 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 United States governments signed a com-
mercial treaty that provided for the lease of a small tract in
Samand for use as a coaling station. Although Santana delayed
implementation of the lease, its negotiation provided his oppo-
nents-including baecistas and the government of Spain-the
opportunity to decry Yankee imperialism and demand the
president's ouster. Pressure 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 Mota.
Regla Mota's rule lasted almost five months. An empty trea-
sury 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 Biez's favor. Not a forgiving
man by nature, Baez lost little time in denouncing ex-president
Santana and expelling him from the country. Once again, BAez
purged santanistas 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 Baez's first term, the
government flooded the country with what rapidly became all
but worthless paper money. Farmers in the Cibao, who
objected strongly to the purchase of their crops with this deval-
ued currency, rose against BAez in what came to be known as

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

the Revolution of 1857. Their standard-bearer, not surprisingly,
was Santana.
Pardoned by a provisional government established at Santi-
ago, Santana returned in August 1857 to join the revolution.
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 to Curacao with all the government funds he could
carry. Santana proceeded to betray the aspirations of some of
his liberal revolutionary 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 general climate of despair set the stage
for the success of Santana's renewed efforts to obtain a protec-
tor for his country.

Annexation by Spain, 1861-65

On March 18, 1861, Santana announced the annexation of
the Dominican Republic by Spain. A number of conditions had
combined 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 expansion. And in the Dominican Republic,
both the ruler and a portion of the ruled were sufficiently con-
cerned about the possibility of a renewed attack from Haiti or
domestic economic collapse to find the prospect of annexation
Support for annexation did not run as deep as Santana had
represented to the Spanish, however. The first rebellion against
Spanish rule broke out in May 1861, but was quashed in short
order. A better organized revolt, under the leadership of bae-
cista General Francisco del Rosario Sanchez, sprang up only a
month later. Santana, now bearing the title of captain general
of the Province of Santo Domingo, was forced to take to the
field against his own countrymen as the representative of a for-
eign power. The wily Santana lured Sanchez into an ambush,
where he was captured and executed. Despite this service, San-
tana found his personal power and his ability to dole out
patronage to his followers greatly restricted under Spanish

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

rule. As a result, he resigned the captaincy general in January
Resentment and rebellion continued, fed by racial tension,
excessive taxation, the failure to stabilize the currency, the
uncompensated requisition of supplies by the Spanish army,
heavy-handed reform of local religious customs by an inflexible
Spanish archbishop, and the restriction of trade to the benefit
of the Spanish metropolis. The Spaniards quelled more upris-
ings in 1863, but guerrilla actions continued. In response to
the continuing unrest, a state of siege was declared in February
Rebellious Dominicans set up a provisional government in
Santiago, headed by GeneralJos6 Antonio Salcedo, on Septem-
ber 14, 1863. Their proclamation of an Act of Independence
launched what is known as the War of Restoration. For their
part, the Spanish once again turned to Santana, who received
command of a force made up largely of mercenaries. However,
by this time, his popularity had all but disappeared. Indeed, the
provisional government had denounced Santana and con-
demned him to death for his actions against his countrymen.
On June 14, 1864, a broken and despondent Santana saved the
rebels the trouble of carrying out their sentence by dying (or,
unproven speculation asserts, by committing suicide).
Meanwhile, the guerrilla war against the Spanish continued.
The rebels further formalized their provisional rule by replac-
ing Salcedo (who had advocated the return of Bdez to rule a
restored republic), and then holding a national convention on
February 27, 1865, which enacted a new constitution and
elected Pedro Antonio Pimentel Chamorro president.
Several circumstances began to favor a Spanish withdrawal.
One was the conclusion of the Civil War in the United States,
which promised new efforts by Washington to enforce the
Monroe Doctrine. Another was that the Spanish military
forces, unable to contain the spread of the insurrection, were
losing even greater numbers of troops to disease. The O'Don-
nell 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
Do-mingo, and by July all Spanish soldiers had left the island.

The Contest for Power, 1865-82

The Spanish left both economic devastation and political
chaos in their wake. In the period from 1865 to 1879, there

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

were twenty-one different governments and at least fifty mili-
tary uprisings. A power struggle began between the conserva-
tive, cacique-dominated south and the more liberal Cibao,
where the prevalence of medium-sized landholdings contrib-
uted to a more egalitarian social structure. The two camps
eventually coalesced under the banners of separate political
parties. The cibaenos adhered to the National Liberal Party
(Partido Nacional Liberal), which became known as the Blue
Party (Partido Azul). The southerners rallied to Baez and the
Red Party (Partido Rojo).
The conservative Reds effectively employed their numerical
superiority in the capital to force the restoration of Baez, who
returned triumphantly from exile and assumed the presidency
on December 8, 1865. However, he was unable to assert the
kind of dictatorial control over the whole nation that he and
Santana had once alternately enjoyed because power had been
diffused, particularly between the opposing poles of the Cibao
and the south.
After a successful uprising that forced Biez to flee the coun-
try in May 1866, a triumvirate of cibaeno military leaders, the
most prominent of whom was Gregorio Luper6n, assumed pro-
visional power. General Jose Maria Cabral Luna, who had
served briefly as president in 1865, was reelected to the 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 pecu-
lation and efforts to sell or lease portions of the country to for-
eign interests. These included an intermittent campaign to
have the entire country annexed by the United States, which
President Ulysses S. Grant also strongly supported. However,
the United States Senate rejected the 1869 treaty calling for
annexation, giving President Grant his first major legislative
defeat. Grant continued efforts to annex Dominican territory
until 1873. Baez, in turn, was again overthrown by rebellious
Blues in January 1874.
After a period of infighting among the Blues, backing from
Luper6n helped Ulises Francisco Espaillat Quifiones win elec-
tion as president on March 24, 1876. Espaillat, a political and
economic liberal and the first individual who was not a general
to reach the presidency, apparently intended to broaden per-
sonal 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 east forced Espaillat to resign on

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

December 20, 1876. Ever the opportunist, Baez returned once
more to power. The most effective opposition to his rule came
from guerrilla forces led by a politically active priest, Fernando
Arturo de Meriflo. In February 1878, the unpopular Baez
departed 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 create a nation where violence prevailed in
the quest for power, where economic growth and financial sta-
bility fell victim to the seemingly endless political contest, and
where foreign interests still perceived parts of the national ter-
ritory as available to the highest bidder. This divisive, chaotic
situation invited the emergence of an able military leader and
a shrewd, despotic political leader who would dominate the
country over a seventeen-year period.

Ulises Heureaux, Growing Financial Dependence,
and Continued Instability

Ulises Heureaux, 1882-99
Ulises Heureaux, Luper6n's lieutenant, stood out among his
fellow Dominicans both physically and temperamentally. The
illegitimate son of a Haitian father and a mother originally
from St. Thomas, he, like Luper6n, was one of the few black
contenders for power. As events would demonstrate, he also
possessed a singular 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
Heureaux'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 presi-
dency from June to September 1878; Luper6n, who governed
from Puerto Plata as provisional president from October 1879
to August 1880; and Meriflo, who assumed office in September
1880 after apparently fraudulent general elections. Heureaux
served as minister of interior under Meriflo; his behind-the-
scenes influence on the rest of the cabinet apparently
exceeded that of the president. Although Merifno briefly sus-
pended constitutional procedures in response to unrest
fomented by some remaining baecistas, he abided by the two-
year term established under Luper6n and turned the reins of
government over to Heureaux on September 1, 1882.
Heureaux's first term as president was not particularly note-
worthy. The administrations of Luper6n and Meriflo had

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

achieved some financial stability for the country; political con-
ditions had settled down to the point where Heureaux needed
to suppress only one major uprising during his two-year tenure.
By 1884, however, no single successor enjoyed widespread sup-
port among the various caciques who constituted the republic's
ruling group. Luper6n, still the leader of the ruling Blue Party,
supported General Segundo Imbert for the post, while Heu-
reaux 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 conspire with ex-president Cesareo Guillermo
Bastardo (February 27-December 6, 1879) against Luper6n's
leadership of the Blues. These rumors precipitated a govern-
mental crisis that resulted in Billini's resignation on May 16,
1885. Vice President Alejandro Woss y Gil succeeded Billini.
Heureaux assumed a more prominent role under the new gov-
ernment. A number of his adherents were included in the cabi-
net, and the general himself assumed command of the national
army in order to stem a rebellion led by Guillermo. The latter's
death removed another potential rival for power and further
endeared Heureaux to Luper6n, a longtime enemy of Guill-
Luper6n accordingly supported Heureaux in the 1886 presi-
dential elections. Opposed by Casimiro de Moya, Heureaux
relied on his considerable popularity and his demonstrated
skill at electoral manipulation to carry the balloting. The bla-
tancy of the fraud in some areas, particularly the capital,
inspired Moya's followers to launch an armed rebellion. Heu-
reaux again benefited from Luper6n's support in this struggle,
which delayed his inauguration by four months but 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
dictatorship. Constitutional amendments requested by the
president and effected by the Congress extended the presiden-
tial term from two to four years and eliminated direct elections

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

in favor of the formerly employed electoral college system. To
expand his informal power base, Heureaux (who became pop-
ularly known as General Lilis, thanks to a common mispronun-
ciation of his first name) incorporated both Reds and Blues
into his government. The president also established an exten-
sive network of secret police and informants in order to avert
incipient rebellions. The press, previously unhampered, came
under new restrictions.
In the face of impending dictatorship, concerned Domini-
can 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 incarcerating considerable num-
bers of them. Recognizing the impossibility of a free election
under such circumstances, Luper6n withdrew his candidacy,
declined the entreaties of those of his followers who urged
armed rebellion, and fled into exile in Puerto Rico.
Although plots, intrigue, and abortive insurrections contin-
ued under his rule, Heureaux faced no serious challenges until
his assassination in 1899. He continued to govern in mock-con-
stitutional fashion, achieving reelections through institutional-
ized fraud, even as repression worsened. Like Santana and
Baez before him, Heureaux sought the protection of a foreign
power, principally the United States. Although annexation was
no longer an option, the dictator offered to lease the Samana
Peninsula to the United States. The arrangement was never
consummated, however, because of opposition from the liberal
wing of the Blue Party and a number of concerned European
powers. In spite of protests from Germany, Britain, and France,
in 1891 Washington and Santo Domingo concluded a reciproc-
ity 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.
Under Heureaux, the Dominican government considerably
expanded its external debt, even as there was considerable
blurring between his private holdings and the state's financial
affairs. Some improvements in infrastructure resulted, such as
the completion of the first railroads. Initial attempts at profes-
sionalizing the army and bureaucratizing the state were made,
and educational reforms were introduced. As a result of favor-
able state policies, modern sugar estates began to replace cat-

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

tie-ranching estates, even as exports of coffee and cocoa
expanded. Yet, onerous terms on the major external loan, cor-
ruption and mismanagement, and a decline in world sugar
markets, all exacerbated both domestic budget deficits and
external balance of payments shortfalls.
Despite the dictator's comprehensive efforts to repress oppo-
sition-his network of spies and agents extended even to for-
eign countries-opposition eventually emerged centered in
the Cibao region, which had suffered under Heureaux's poli-
cies favoring sugar interests in Santo Domingo and San Pedro
de Macoris. An opposition group calling itself the Young Revo-
lutionary Junta (Junta Revolucionaria de J6venes) was estab-
lished in Puerto Rico by Horacio Vasquez Lajara, a young
adherent of Luper6n. Other prominent members of the group
included Federico Velasquez and Ram6n Caceres Vasquez. The
three returned to their plantations in the Cibao and began to
lay the groundwork for a coordinated rebellion against the
widely detested Heureaux. The impetuous Caceres, however,
shot and fatally wounded the dictator when he passed through
the town of Moca on July 26, 1899. Caceres escaped unharmed.

Growing Financial Dependence and Political Instability

Heureaux left two major legacies: debt and political instabil-
ity. It was these legacies that finally helped usher in the United
States military occupation of 1916. In the six years after Heu-
reaux's assassination in 1899, the country experienced four
revolts and five presidents. National politics came to revolve
primarily around the conflict between the followers of Juan
Isidro Jimenes Pereyra, called jimenistas, and the followers of
Horacio Visquez Lahara, called horacistas; both men and both
groups had been involved in plots against Heureaux.
After a brief period of armed conflict, Visquez headed a
provisional government established in September 1899. Elec-
tions broughtJimenes to the presidency on November 15. The
Jimenes administration faced a fiscal crisis when European
creditors 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 Jimenes
government pledged 40 percent of its customs revenue to
repay its foreign debt, it provoked the ire of the San Domingo
Improvement Company. A United States-based firm, the
Improvement Company, had lent large sums to the Heureaux
regime. As a result, it not only received a considerable percent-

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

age of customs revenue, but also had been granted the right to
administer Dominican customs in order to ensure regular
repayment. Stung by the Jimenes government's resumption of
control over its customs receipts, the directors of the Improve-
ment Company protested to the United States Department of
State. The review of the case prompted a renewed interest in
Washington in Dominican affairs.
Cibao nationalists suspected the president of bargaining
away Dominican sovereignty in return for financial settlements.
Government forces led by Vasquez put down some early upris-
ings. Eventually, however, personal competition between
Jimenes and Vasquez brought them into conflict. Vdsquez's
forces proclaimed a revolution on April 26, 1902; with no real
base of support, Jimenes fled his office and his country a few
days later. However, conflicts among the followers of VWsquez
and opposition to his government from local caciques grew
into general unrest that culminated in the seizure of power by
ex-president Alejandro Woss y Gil in April 1903.
Dominican politics had once again polarized into two largely
nonideological groups. Where once the Blues and Reds had
contended for power, now two other personalist factions, the
jimenistas (supporters ofJimenes) and the horacistas (support-
ers of Vasquez and Ciceres), vied for control. Woss y Gil, a
jimenista, made the mistake of seeking supporters among the
horacista camp and was overthrown by jimenista General Carlos
Felipe Morales Languasco in December 1903. Rather than
restore the country's leadership to Jimenes, however, Morales
set up a provisional government and announced his own candi-
dacy for the presidency-with Ciceres 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. Yet,
conflict within the Morales administration between supporters
of the president and those of the vice president eventually led
to the ouster of Morales, and Caceres assumed the presidency
on December 29, 1905.
As a backdrop to the continuing political turmoil in the
Dominican Republic, United States influence increased consid-
erably during the first few years of the twentieth century. Pres-
sures by European creditors on the Dominican Republic and
the Anglo-German blockade of Venezuela in 1902-03 led to
President Theodore Roosevelt's "corollary" to the Monroe Doc-
trine, which declared that the United States would assume the

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

police powers necessary in the region to ensure that creditors
would be adequately repaid. United States military forces had
intervened several times between 1900 and 1903, primarily to
prevent the employment of warships by European govern-
ments seeking immediate repayment of debt. InJune 1904, the
Roosevelt administration negotiated an agreement whereby
the Dominican government bought out the holdings of the San
Domingo Improvement Company. Then, following an interme-
diate agreement, the Morales government ultimately signed a
financial accord with the United States in February 1905.
Under this accord, the United States government assumed
responsibility for all Dominican debt as well as for the collec-
tion of customs duties and the allocation of those revenues to
the Dominican government and to the repayment of its domes-
tic and foreign debt. Although parts of this agreement were
rejected by the United States Senate, it formed the basis for the
establishment in April 1905 of the General Customs Receiver-
ship, the office through which the United States government
administered the finances of the Dominican Republic.

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

The Ciceres government became the financial beneficiary
of this arrangement. Freed from the burden of dealing with
creditors, Caceres attempted to reform the political system.
Constitutional reforms placed local ayuntamientos (town coun-
cils) under the power of the central government, extended the
presidential term to six years, and eliminated the office of vice
president. Caceres also nationalized public utilities and estab-
lished a bureau of public works to administer them. The cur-
tailment of local authority particularly irked those caciques
who had preferred to rule through compliant ayuntamientos.
The continued financial sovereignty of the "Yankees" also out-
weighed the economic benefits of the receivership in the
minds of many Dominican nationalists. Intrigues fomented in
exile by Morales, Jimenes, and others beset Caceres, who was
assassinated on November 19, 1911.
The assassination of Ciceres led to another period of politi-
cal turmoil and economic disorganization that was to culmi-
nate in the republic's occupation by the United States. The
fiscal stability that had resulted from the 1905 receivership
eroded under Caceres's successor, Eladio Victoria y Victoria,
with most of the increased outlays going to support military
campaigns against rebellious partisans, mainly in the Cibao.
The continued violence and instability prompted the adminis-
tration of President William H. Taft to dispatch a commission
to Santo Domingo on September 24, 1912, to mediate between
the warring factions. The presence of a 750-member force of
United States Marines 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 assumed office as provisional presi-
dent on November 30.
Nouel proved unequal to the burden of national leadership.
Unable to mediate successfully between the ambitions of rival
horacistas and jimenistas, he resigned on March 31, 1913. His
successor,Jos6 Bordas Valdes, was equally unable to restrain the
renewed outbreak of hostilities. Once again, Washington took
a direct hand and mediated a resolution. The rebellious horacis-
tas 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 presi-
dential balloting. The process, however, was flagrantly manipu-
lated and resulted in Bordas's reelection on June 15, 1914.

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

Bordas reached out to the jimenistas, naming one of their lead-
ers, Desiderio Arias, as government delegate to the Cibao.
However, horacistas soon revolted, declaring a new provisional
government under Vasquez. Subsequent mediation by the
United States government led to municipal and congressional
elections in December 1913. However, these elections were bla-
tantly manipulated by Bordas, leading to renewed tensions with
not only horacistas but also jimenistas.
The United States government, this time under President
Woodrow Wilson, again intervened. The "Wilson Plan"-deliv-
ered as an ultimatum-essentially stated: elect a president or
the United States will impose one. Bordas resigned, and the
Dominicans accordingly selected Ram6n Baez Machado (the
son of Buenaventura Baez) as provisional president on August
27, 1914, to oversee elections. Comparatively fair presidential
elections held on October 25 returnedJimenes to the presi-
However, a combination of continued internecine political
infighting and United States pressure made Jimenes's position
untenable soon after his inauguration on December 6, 1914.
The United States government wished him to regularize the
appointment of a United States comptroller, who was oversee-
ing the country's public expenditures, and to create a new
national guard, which would be under the control of the
United States military, thus eliminating the existing army con-
trolled by Arias. At the same time, Jimenes found himself with
less and less political support, as he confronted opposition first
from horacistas and then from his own secretary of war, Deside-
rio Arias. Arias spearheaded an effort to haveJimenes removed
by impeachment so that he could assume the presidency.
Although the United States ambassador offered military sup-
port to his government, Jimenes opted to step down on May 7,
1916. At this point, the United States decided to take more
direct action. United States forces had already occupied Haiti
(see United States Involvement in Haiti, 1915-34, ch. 6), and
this time Arias retreated from Santo Domingo on May 13,
under threat of naval bombardment; 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.
The country occupied by the United States Marines was one
marked not only by weak sovereignty, but also by unstable polit-
ical rule, fragmented and fearful economic elites, a weak

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

church, and the absence of a central state and of a national mil-
itary institution independent of individual leaders or loyalties.

From the United States Occupation (1916-24) to the
Emergence of Trujillo (1930)

The United States occupation of the Dominican Republic
was to be a critical turning point in Dominican history,
although not for the reasons intended by the occupying forces.
Led by military governor Rear Admiral Harry S. Knapp, pro-
grams were enacted in education, health, sanitation, agricul-
ture, and communications; highways were built; and other
public works were created. In addition, other programs crucial
to strengthening state structures and a market economy were
implemented, including both a census and a cadastral survey.
The latter allowed land titles to be regularized and United
States sugar companies to expand their holdings dramatically,
even as infrastructure to facilitate exports was developed. The
most significant measure was the establishment of a new
Dominican constabulary force.
Most Dominicans, however, greatly resented the loss of their
sovereignty to foreigners, few of whom spoke Spanish or dis-
played 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
known as gavilleros in that area. Although the guerrillas enjoyed
considerable support among the population and benefited
from a superior knowledge of the terrain, they eventually
yielded to the occupying forces' superior power.
After World War I, however, public opinion in the United
States began to run against the occupation, and in June 1921
United States representatives presented a withdrawal proposal,
known as the Harding Plan. The plan called for Dominican rat-
ification of all acts of the military government, approval of a
US$2.5-million loan for public works and other expenses, the
acceptance of United States officers for the constabulary-now
known as the National Guard (Guardia Nacional)-and the
holding of elections under United States supervision. Popular
reaction to the plan was overwhelmingly negative. Moderate
Dominican leaders, however, used the plan as the basis for fur-
ther negotiations that resulted in an agreement allowing for
the selection of a provisional president to rule until elections

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

could be organized. Under the supervision of High Commis-
sioner Sumner Welles,Juan Bautista Vicini Burgos assumed the
provisional presidency on October 21, 1922. In the presidential
election of March 15, 1924, Horacio VAsquez handily defeated
Francisco J. Peynado; shortly after his inauguration in July, all
United States marines withdrew.
The aging Vasquez governed ineffectively and corruptly, dra-
matically expanding public employment and extending his
term in office by two years. As doubts emerged about the fair-
ness of the 1930 elections, an uprising against the president led
to the naming of Rafael Estrella Urefia as provisional president
pending the elections. Rafael Le6nidas Trujillo Molina, the
head of the country's newly established military force, had
played a critical, secretive role in ensuring the success of the
rebellion against Visquez. Trujillo soon emerged as the only
presidential candidate in the elections, winning with 99 per-
cent of the vote.
Trujillo was able to gain power and quickly consolidate a
much more solid grip on power than previous Dominican rul-
ers because of domestic and international factors. He now led a
far more powerful national military institution than had previ-
ously existed while traditional powerholders remained weak
and the population was largely disarmed. Moreover, he bene-
fited from the improved transportation and communication
infrastructure built during the occupation. In addition, in the
1920s, the United States moved toward a policy of noninterven-
tion, a policy facilitated by the absence of any perceived threat
to continued United States influence in the area from an out-
side power.

The Trujillo Era, 1930-61

Rafael Trujillo was born in 1891 and raised in San Crist6bal,
a small town near the capital, in a family of modest means of
mixed Spanish, Creole, and Haitian background. In less than
ten years, from 1919 to 1928, he emerged from being an
obscure minor officer in a newly formed constabulary force to
become head of the country's army. Over the period of his rule
from 1930 to 1961, he formally held the presidency from 1930
to 1938 and from 1942 to 1952; however, he always retained
direct control over the military, allowing pliant individuals such
as his brother Hector to serve as president. His thirst for power
was combined with megalomania (for example, Santo Do-
mingo was renamed Ciudad Trujillo and Pico Duarte, the high-

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

est mountain in the Antilles, became Pico Trujillo) and a drive
to accumulate massive wealth.
Trujillo's regime quickly moved beyond the traditional
Dominican caudillo regimes of the nineteenth century. By the
end of his second term, it was evident that his regime's totalitar-
ian features went beyond those of Heureaux, its historical pre-
decessor. Occasionally partial liberalizations occurred in
response to international pressures. Such liberal episodes were
particularly evident in late 1937 and early 1938, following the
outcry that came after the October 1937 massacre of some
5,000 to 12,000 Haitians along the Dominican-Haitian border,
and in the immediate post-World War II era. But Trujillo's
accumulation of wealth and power would continue, reaching a
peak in 1955. The regime's deterioration began shortly thereaf-
ter, accelerating in 1958.
Central to Trujillo's domination of the country was control
over an expanding armed forces and police, which were his
personal instrument rather than a national institution; the
armed forces and the police grew from around 2,200 in 1932 to
9,100 in 1948 to 18,000 in 1958. In the mid-1950s, Trujillo
transferred the best troops and weapons to a military service
known as Dominican Military Aviation, controlled by his son
Yet, Trujillo's regime was not based purely on repression,
although over time it increasingly became so. Ideologically,
Trujillo portrayed himself with some success as a forger of the
Dominican nation, builder of the state, and defender of its eco-
nomic interests. His was the first prolonged period in the coun-
try's history when the country was not directly attacked or
occupied by Spain, the United States, or Haiti. Trujillo built
upon the country's antipathy to Haiti to help articulate a
nationalist ideology appealing to traditional Hispanic and
Roman Catholic values, aided by intellectuals such asJoaquin
Balaguer Ricardo. In the 1930s, especially, he also articulated a
vision of discipline, work, peace, order, and progress. As these
values became embodied in a number of large-scale public
works and construction projects, and particularly as the econ-
omy began moving out of the Great Depression of the late
1930s, Trujillo almost certainly gained respect among some ele-
ments of the population. In some cases, he also gained support
because he presented himself in a messianic form. By the
1950s, and particularly after signing a concordat with the Vati-
can in 1954, Trujillo often attacked "international commu-

Rafael Le6nidas Trujillo Molina
Courtesy Library of Congress

nism" as a threat to the country's traditional values that he
claimed he was seeking to uphold.
Trujillo also waved the ideological banner of economic
nationalism, although it sometimes cloaked his own personal
accumulation of wealth. Trujillo ended United States adminis-
tration of Dominican customs (in 1941), retired the Domini-
can debt (in 1947), and introduced a national currency to
replace the dollar (also in 1947), even as he amassed a sizeable
personal fortune.
Economically, Trujillo eventually became the single domi-
nant force in the country by combining abuse of state power,
threats, and co-optation. Trujillo's initial schemes to enrich
himself revolved around the creation of state or commercial
monopolies. He then gradually moved into industry, forcing
owners to allow him to buy up shares, while also enjoying
healthy commissions on all public works contracts. After World
War II, Trujillo expanded into industrial production. His most
massive investments were made in sugar, which was largely for-
eign-owned. The planning and implementation of Trujillo's
sugar operations, however, were so poor that had it not been
for the numerous state subsidies they received, they would have
lost money.

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

Although some of the country's economic elite maintained a
degree of individual autonomy, no possibility existed for inde-
pendent organization. Trujillo enjoyed humiliating those who
previously had enjoyed both social prestige and economic
wealth; they intensely disliked him but were forced to conform.
Only in Trujillo's last two years did any concerted opposition
emerge from within the economic elite. Indeed, Trujillo's eco-
nomic holdings at the time of his death were staggering.
Almost 80 percent of the country's industrial production was
controlled by him; and nearly 60 percent of the country's labor
force depended directly or indirectly on him, 45 percent
employed in his firms and another 15 percent working for the
state. The only organization that retained any degree of auton-
omy was the Roman Catholic Church; until the very end of his
rule, it remained abjectly loyal to him.
Politically, Trujillo combined guile, cynicism, ruthlessness,
and co-optation. He cynically deployed constitutional norms
and legal requirements, which ostensibly were followed faith-
fully, and totally dominated a single-party apparatus. In addi-
tion, Trujillo engaged in byzantine manipulation of
individuals, who were shifted around public offices in a discon-
certing fashion as personal rivalries were promoted and tested.
At its apogee, the Dominican Party (Partido Dominicano) had
branches throughout the country, helping to keep Trujillo
apprised of local realities, needs, and potential threats to his
rule. The party's charitable activities, homages to Trujillo, and
campaign efforts were financed largely by a percentage taken
from the salaries of public employees. Trujillo made voting
mandatory (not voting could be risky), and in 1942 he
expanded the suffrage to women.
International factors were also important in helping Trujillo
sustain his grip on power. Trujillo employed public relations
firms and assiduously cultivated his military contacts and indi-
vidual politicians in the United States to enhance his reputa-
tion and sustain United States support. He went to elaborate
lengths to demonstrate domestically that he retained support
from the United States. In some periods, United States diplo-
mats expressed their frustration at being manipulated by
Trujillo even as United States military personnel openly
praised his rule. At the same time, his complex web of conspir-
acy, intrigue, and violence extended beyond Dominican bor-
ders; he provided support for various regional dictators and
plotted against perceived foreign enemies, such as R6mulo Bet-

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

ancourt of Venezuela, who, in turn, provided support for exile
groups plotting against Trujillo.
By the late 1950s, Trujillo faced multiple challenges, even as
the country's economy was suffering and his own mental acuity
was declining. Domestic opposition, agitation by exiles, and
international pressures began to reinforce each other. A failed
invasion attempt in June 1959 from Cuba helped spawn a
major underground movement, itself brutally crushed in Janu-
ary 1960. As a gesture of liberalization, in August 1960 Trujillo
removed his brother from the presidency, replacing him with
then vice presidentJoaquin Balaguer,
However, domestic opposition continued to grow, the
Roman Catholic Church began to distance itself from the
regime, and with concerns mounting about the Cuban Revolu-
tion, the United States distanced itself as well. A summary of
United States policy intentions during this period is provided
in President John F. Kennedy's often-cited dictum that in
descending order of preferences the United States would pre-
fer a democratic regime, continuation of a Trujillo regime, or a
Castro regime, and that the United States should aim for the
first, but not renounce the second until it was sure the third
could be avoided. Covert and overt pressure, including cutting
off the United States sugar quota and Organization of Ameri-
can States (OAS-see Glossary) sanctions, were applied to the
Trujillo regime. Finally, conspirators, who for the most part
had largely been supporters of the regime in the past, success-
fully assassinated Trujillo on May 30, 1961. Following Trujillo's
death, attention immediately focused on what kind of regime
would replace him. It took additional threats of United States
military intervention to force Trujillo's relatives from the island
in November 1961 in order to allow opposition elements to

Democratic Struggles and Failures

As were the years following the assassination of Heureaux
decades earlier, the immediate post-Trujillo period was a con-
vulsive one for the country. The preexisting political institu-
tions and practices from the Trujillo regime were clearly
inimical to a successful democratic transition. Yet, a clear break
with the Trujillos was achieved. In January 1962, Joaquin Bal-
aguer, who as vice president had taken over upon Trujillo's
death, was forced into exile by opposition elements. A provi-
sional government was formed to prepare for democratic elec-

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

tions. The upper-class opposition to Trujillo was organized in
the National Civic Union (Uni6n Civica Nacional-UCN). The
UCN dominated the provisional government a.nd expected its
candidate, Viriato Fiallo, to win the elections. To the UCN's
surprise, it was defeated by Juan Bosch Gaviiio, one of the
founders of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (Partido Revo-
lucionario Dominicano-PRD) in exile in the late 1930s, and
the UCN soon disappeared. The PRD was successfully con-
verted into a mass party with both urban and rural appeal:
Bosch campaigned as the candidate of the poor and promised
to implement a variety of socioeconomic and political reforms.
The Bosch administration represented a freely elected, lib-
eral, democratic government concerned for the welfare of all
Dominicans. The 1963 constitution separated church and
state, guaranteed civil and individual rights, and endorsed civil-
ian control of the military. These and other changes, such as
land reform, struck conservative landholders and military
officers as radical and threatening. The hierarchy of the
Roman Catholic Church also resented the secular nature of the
new constitution, in particular its provision for legalized
divorce. The hierarchy, 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."
As a result, the conservative socioeconomic forces coalesced
with political, military, and church figures to overthrow Presi-
dent Bosch on September 25, 1963, only seven months after he
assumed office; United States support for his government had
also weakened. The institutional changes that Bosch, his new
constitution, and his proposed reforms represented, in a situa-
tion in which his party possessed an absolute majority, were
perceived as too threatening; however, middle-sector and pop-
ular-sector groups remained relatively weak and unorganized.
If Bosch's regime was overthrown in 1963 ostensibly because of
its alleged communist nature, weak radical leftist elements
were in fact strengthened by the coup, and the country experi-
enced further polarization over the next several years.
Following the coup, a civilian junta known as the Triumvi-
rate, dominated by the UCN and headed by Emilio de los San-
tos, was formed. However, Santos resigned on December 23
and was replaced by Donald Reid Cabral, who increasingly
became the dominant figure. His regime lacked legitimacy or
strong support, however, and on April 25, 1965, a civil-military
conspiracy sought to return Bosch to power. The Dominican

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

government's action provoked a series of events leading to the
"constitutionalist" uprising in support of Bosch. Three days
later, on April 28, the United States intervened because the
"loyalist" Dominican military troops led by General Elias
Wessin y Wessin were unable to control the growing civil-mili-
tary rebellion, often referred to as a civil war. The intervention
was the result of an exaggerated fear on the part of the United
States regarding a potential "second Cuba." Its unilateral
nature was subsequently modified by the creation of an OAS-
sponsored peace force, which supplemented the United States
military presence in the republic.
Ultimately, negotiations during 1965-66 arranged a peaceful
surrender of the constitutionalist forces, which were sur-
rounded by foreign troops in downtown Santo Domingo. The
negotiations also prevented a new outbreak of hostilities and
provided for elections, which were overseen by a provisional
government led by Hector Garcia Godoy. However, many
Dominicans viewed these elections, which permitted the
United States to extricate its troops from the country, as
tainted. Bosch and Balaguer (who had returned from exile in
June 1965) were the two main candidates. Bosch felt betrayed
by the United States, which had blocked his possible return to
power and turned on his military supporters, and he ran a lack-
luster campaign. Balaguer, at the head of his own conservative
Reformist Party (Partido Reformista-PR), campaigned skill-
fully and energetically, promising peace and stability. Balaguer
was clearly the candidate favored by most conservative business
interests and by the officer corps that retained control of the
armed forces; most Dominicans also were convinced he was the
candidate strongly favored by the United States. Although the
civil war had been confined to urban areas, it left some 3,000
dead and the country polarized. Thus, for many Dominicans,
Balaguer's administration lacked legitimacy.

Authoritarian Balaguer, 1966-78

In his authoritarian and patrimonial style, predilection for
grandiose public construction projects, and emphasis on the
country's Hispanic essence, Balaguer resembled Trujillo. How-
ever, Balaguer's treatment of economic, military, and political
power differed from that of the strongman under whom he
had served, in part because of changes in Dominican society
and international circumstances.

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

The Balaguer period from 1966 to 1978 was one of high eco-
nomic growth; the country averaged a 7.6 percent increase in
real GDP over the period. Growth was based on increased
export earnings, import-substitution in consumer goods pro-
moted by generous tax incentives, and public investment
projects. It was facilitated by the United States sugar quota and
generous economic assistance, particularly in the early Bal-
aguer years. Balaguer ruled in a patrimonial fashion, ensuring
that he was the central axis around which all other major polit-
ical and economic forces revolved. At the same time, he eventu-
ally undermined his position by promoting the development of
business groups separate from, even if dependent upon, the
state. Such an approach sharply contrasted with the approach
taken in the Trujillo period. However, organized labor
remained extremely weak as a result of repression, co-optation,
and very restrictive labor legislation.
Relations between business and Balaguer were complicated
by the growing incursions of the armed forces into business
and into politics. Balaguer had a commanding presence within
the military as a result of his ties to the Trujillo period, his anti-
communism, his statesmanlike caudillo figure, and his accep-
tance of military repression as well as large-scale corruption.
However, he clearly was not the military figure Trujillo had
been. He sought to manage the military by playing off the
ambitions of the leading generals and shifting their assigned
posts. Yet, he occasionally confronted serious challenges, such
as a coup effort by Elias Wessin y Wessin in 1971, which he suc-
cessfully dismantled. The two leaders were later to reconcile
The initial Balaguer years were a period of relative polariza-
tion that saw government repression and sporadic terrorist
activities by opposition groups. In a six-year period after the
1965 occupation, some 2,000 additional Dominicans were
killed. Following his electoral victory in 1966, Balaguer ran
again and won in elections in 1970 and 1974. However, in these
elections, the military placed strong pressure on opposition
candidates, most of whom ultimately withdrew prior to election
day. Balaguer also practiced a policy of co-optation, bringing
opposition figures into government. The extent and the sever-
ity of repression, particularly after 1976, were considerably less
than in the Trujillo years.
By the 1978 elections, Balaguer's drive for power, reelection-
ist aspirations, and policy decisions had alienated a number of

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

his former supporters. His popularity was also affected by wors-
ening economic conditions. An economic downturn finally
affected the country around 1976, when the sugar boom that
had offset oil price increases faded. In addition, the country's
substantial growth, industrialization, and urbanization had
expanded middle-sector and professional groups, which were
disgruntled by Balaguer's method of rule and apparent dis-
crimination against newer and regional groups. The PRD, feel-
ing the mood of the population and sensing support from the
administration of United States president Jimmy Carter, nomi-
nated a moderate, Silvestre Antonio GuzmAn Fernandez, as its
candidate to oppose Balaguer in the 1978 elections.
For these elections, the PRD also projected a more moderate
image and strengthened its international contacts, particularly
with the United States government and the Socialist Interna-
tional. The PRD's ability to project itself as a less threatening
alternative to Balaguer in 1978 was facilitated by the decision of
Bosch in 1973 to abandon his party and establish another,
more radical and cadre-oriented party, the Party of Dominican
Liberation (Partido de la Liberaci6n Dominicana-PLD).
Bosch's exit followed upon his disillusionment with liberal
democracy following the 1965 United States intervention. In
the 1980s, however, he was to lead his party back into the elec-
toral arena.
Electoral victory did not come easily for the PRD. As it
became evident early in the morning after election day that the
party was winning by a wide margin, a military contingent
stopped the vote count. In the end, the effort to thwart the
elections was dismantled because of firm opposition by the
Carter administration, other Latin American and European
governments, and domestic groups. Yet, in the tense period
between the election and the inauguration, congressional elec-
toral results were "adjusted" to provide the exiting Balaguer
with a guarantee that he would not be prosecuted. Principally
this adjustment involved giving Balaguer's party, the PR, a
majority in the Senate, which appointed judges, and thus was
key to the successful prosecution of corruption charges.

The PRD in Power and Balaguer, Again

Unlike Balaguer, the leaders of the Dominican Revolution-
ary Party (PRD) promoted a democratic agenda. During the
electoral campaign of 1978, the PRD conveyed the image of
being the party of change (el partido del cambio); the party

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

pledged to improve the living standards of the less privileged,
to include those who felt politically underrepresented, and to
modernize state institutions and the rule of law. As a result, the
PRD's rise to power generated expectations among the Domin-
ican people for socioeconomic and political reforms that were
largely not achieved.
One threat to democracy that began to recede in 1978 was
that of military incursion into politics, given that President
Guzman dismissed many of the key generals associated with
repression. The armed forces have remained under civilian
control. However, this-control resulted primarily from the per-
sonal relations top military officers had with the president and
the divided political loyalties within the officer corps. Even
when Balaguer returned to power in 1986, however, the mili-
tary did not regain the level of importance and influence it had
had during his first twelve years in office.
The Guzmin administration (1978-82) was viewed as transi-
tional because it faced a Senate controlled by Balaguer's party
and growing intraparty rivalry in the PRD, which was led by Sal-
vador Jorge Blanco. Yet, the PRD was able to unify around
Jorge Blanco's presidential candidacy (Guzman had pledged
not to seek reelection) and defeat Balaguer and Bosch in the
May 1982 elections. Tragically, Guzman committed suicide in
July 1982, apparently because of depression, isolation, and con-
cerns that Jorge Blanco might pursue corruption charges
against family members; vice presidentJacobo Majluta Azar
completed GuzmAn's term until the turnover of power in
Initial hopes that theJorge Blanco administration (1982-86)
would be a less personalist, more institutional, reformist presi-
dency were not realized. A major problem was the economic
crisis that not only limited the resources the government had
available and demanded inordinate attention, but also forced
the government to institute unpopular policies, sometimes by
executive decree. Problems had begun under Guzman: prices
sharply increased following the second Organization of the
Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil shock, interest
rates skyrocketed, and exports declined. In addition, sugar
prices fell in 1977-79, rebounded in 1980, and then fell sharply
again even as the United States sugar quota was being reduced
and as prices of other Dominican exports also declined.
Significant steps toward economic stabilization were taken
under the Jorge Blanco administration, although not without

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

difficulty. In April 1984, the government imposed price
increases on fuel, food, and other items as part of a package of
measures negotiated with the International Monetary Fund
(IMF-see Glossary) to renew international credit flows. Pro-
tests against these measures escalated into full-scale riots that
were tragically mismanaged by the armed forces, leading to
scores of deaths and the suspension of the measures. In the
face of growing international constraints, the administration
successfully complied with an IMF stand-by program over 1985
and 1986. However, the economic measures induced a sharp
recession in the country. Another problem was executive-con-
gressional deadlock, now driven by intraparty factionalism. The
PRD was increasingly divided between followers of Salvador
Jorge Blanco andJos6 Francisco Pefia G6mez on the one hand,
and Jacobo Majluta Azar, on the other. Other difficulties
resulted from the reassertion of patronage and executive lar-
The situation in the country was perhaps responsible for the
outcome of the May 1986 elections: Balaguer emerged victori-
ous with a slim plurality, defeating Majluta of the PRD and
Bosch of the PLD; Bosch had nevertheless received 18 percent
of the vote, double the percentage from four years earlier. Bal-
aguer had merged his party with several smaller Christian Dem-
ocratic parties to form the Reformist Social Christian Party
(Partido Reformista Social Cristiano-PRSC). However, the
promise of a more coherent ideological base for his party was
never realized.
Balaguer began his 1986 term by denouncing the mistakes
and irregularities carried out by his predecessors. His denunci-
ation led ultimately to the arrest of former presidentJorge
Blanco on corruption charges. The administration did nothing
to remove the factors that fostered corruption, however, seem-
ingly satisfied with discrediting the PRD and particularly Jorge
Balaguer also sought to revive the economy quickly, princi-
pally by carrying out a number of large-scale public investment
projects. He pursued a policy of vigorous monetary expansion,
fueling inflationary pressures and eventually forcing the gov-
ernment to move toward a system of exchange controls. Infla-
tion, which had been brought down to around 10 percent in
1986, steadily climbed through Balaguer's first term. Balaguer
also faced increasing social unrest in the late 1980s. Numerous
strikes, such as a one-day national strike in July 1987, another

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

in March 1988, and another in June 1989, took place between
1987-89; in 1990 Balaguer faced two general strikes in the sum-
mer and two others in the fall. Through a patchwork quilt of
policies, the administration was able to limp through the May
1990 elections without a formal stabilization plan.
In spite of the country's problems, Balaguer achieved a nar-
row plurality victory in 1990. In elections marred by irregulari-
ties and charges of fraud, the eighty-three-year-old incumbent
edged out his eighty-year-old opponent, Bosch, by a mere
24,470 votes. Pefia G6mez, the PRD candidate, emerged as a
surprisingly strong third candidate. By 1990 the PRD was irrep-
arably split along lines that had formed during the bitter strug-
gle for the 1986 presidential nomination. Pefia G6mez had
stepped aside forJacobo Majluta in 1986 but had vowed not to
do so again. The failure of numerous efforts since 1986 to set-
tle internal disputes, as well as extensive legal and political
wrangling, eventually left Pefia G6mez in control of the PRD
apparatus. Majluta ran at the head of a new party and came in a
distant fourth.
Once Balaguer was reelected, he focused on resolving grow-
ing tensions between his government and business and the
international financial community. In August 1990, Balaguer
commenced a dialogue with business leaders and signed a Soli-
darity Pact. In this pact, Balaguer agreed to curtail (but not
abandon) his state-led developmentalism in favor of more aus-
terity and market liberalization. He reduced public spending,
renegotiated foreign debt, and liberalized the exchange rate,
but he did not privatize state enterprises. An agreement with
the IMF was reached in 1991, and ultimately what had been his-
torically high rates of inflation in the country (59 percent in
1990 and 54 percent in 1991) receded. Levels of social protest
also decreased, as the country looked toward the 1994 elec-
In the 1994 campaign, the main election contenders were
Balaguer of the PRSC and Pefia G6mez of the PRD, with Bosch
of the PLD running a distant third. In spite of suspicion and
controversies, hopes ran high that with international help to
the Electoral Board, a consensus document signed by the lead-
ing parties in place, and international monitoring, the 1994
elections would be fair, ending a long sequence of disputed
elections in the Dominican Republic. Much to the surprise of
many Dominicans and international observers, irregularities in
voter registry lists were detected early on election day, which

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

prevented large numbers of individuals from voting. In what
turned out to be extremely close elections, the disenfranchised
appeared disproportionately to be PRD voters, a situation that
potentially affected the outcome. The prolonged post-election
crisis resulted from the apparent fraud in the 1994 elections.
Balaguer had ostensibly defeated Pefia G6mez by an even nar-
rower margin than that over Bosch in the 1990 elections. This
situation caused strong reactions by numerous groups inside
and outside the country: the United States government, the
OAS, international observer missions, business groups, some
elements of the Roman Catholic Church, and the PRD, among
others. The severe criticism led to the signing of an agreement,
known as the Pact for Democracy, reached among the three
major parties on August 10, 1994. The agreement reduced Bal-
aguer's presidential term to two years, after which new presi-
dential elections would be held. The agreement also called for
the appointment of a new Electoral Board as well as numerous
constitutional reforms. The reforms included banning consec-
utive presidential reelection, separating presidential and con-
gressional-municipal elections by two years, holding a run-off
election if no presidential candidate won a majority of the
votes, reforming the judicial system, and allowing dual citizen-

A New Beginning?

The 1994 agreement and constitutional reforms, reinforced
by increased vigilance by elements of Dominican civil society
and by international actors, led to successful, free elections in
1996. None of the three main contenders in 1996 received the
absolute majority necessary to win in the first round. Pefia
G6mez of the PRD reached the highest percentage with 45.9
percent, followed by Leonel Fernandez of the PLD with 38.9
percent (Bosch had finally stepped down as party leader
because of age and health), andJacinto Peynado of the PRSC
with 15 percent. Balaguer, who had not endorsed his party's
first-round candidate, in the second round joined with the
PRSC to officially endorse the candidacy of Leonel Fernandez
of the PLD in a "Patriotic Pact." The pact's spokesmen, who
called for the preservation of national sovereignty and Domini-
canness, were, in effect, articulating racial and anti-Haitian
themes in their campaign against Pefia G6mez, who was of Hai-
tian ancestry. Aided by the PRSC endorsement, Leonel Fernin-
dez Reyna was able to defeat Pefia G6mez in the second round.

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

Fernandez's arrival to the presidency illustrated many of the
dramatic changes that had taken place in the country. At the
time of the death of Trujillo in 1961, the Dominican Republic
was a predominantly rural country with a population isolated
from international contact and an economy largely dependent
on the export of sugar and other agricultural crops. By 1996
the country was mostly urban, and its economy and culture
were far more linked to the outside world. Sugar was fading in
importance; the country's major sources of foreign exchange
were now tourism, exports from free trade zones, and remit-
tances from overseas migrants. Indeed, the new president had
spent part of his youth as a migrant in New York, where as
many as one in fourteen Dominicans currently live; he could
converse comfortably in English or Spanish about the implica-
tions of economic globalization, the threat of drug trafficking
routes through the island republic, or the records of the doz-
ens of Dominican baseball players in the major leagues of the
United States.
The 1996 elections were the first in the country since 1962
when neither Balaguer nor Bosch was a candidate. Political
change was evident, as were elements of continuity and con-
flict. Fernandez obtained the presidency, but the new electoral
calendar established by the 1994 reform meant that congres-
sional elections would now be held at the midpoint of the pres-
idential term. Indeed, his party had a very small representation
in Congress because of its poor performance in the 1994 elec-
tions. Soon after Fernindez's electoral victory, Balaguer's PRSC
negotiated a pact with the PRD to obtain leadership positions
in Congress. Without congressional support, however, as of
mid-1998 the Fernindez administration was stymied in its
efforts to pass legislation.
Midway through his presidential term in office, Fernandez
had been governing in a more democratic fashion than Bal-
aguer. As of mid-1998, the Fernindez administration had had
two major political successes. One was the appointment in
August 1997 of a new Supreme Court-widely viewed as com-
prising many distinguished jurists-in a much more open pro-
cess through a Council of the Magistrature established by the
constitutional reform of 1994. The other was the holding of
fair congressional and municipal elections on May 16, 1998. At
the same time, the death of Pefia G6mez, one of the country's
political leaders, on May 10, 1998, was an indicator of the tran-
sition in Dominican politics at the close of the twentieth cen-

Dominican Republic: Historical Setting

tury. Because of Pefia G6mez's death one week before the
elections, the PRD won by an even wider margin than polls had
suggested, gaining 80 percent of Senate seats, 56 percent of
seats in the Chamber of Deputies, and 83 percent of mayoral
races. Although Fernfndez's own PLD improved its congres-
sional representation compared to 1994, it was not nearly to
the level expected by the party; the PRSC also did very poorly.
Thus, the Dominican Republic is entering the new century
seeking to strengthen still fragile democratic institutions, build-
ing on the successful democratic transition represented by the
1996 elections. The country is also having to learn how to man-
age the bitter interparty wrangling reflected in tense executive-
congressional relations while also managing leadership
changes in the major parties and confronting continuing seri-
ous socioeconomic challenges.


An excellent one-volume historical overview in English is
Frank Moya Pons's The Dominican Republic: A National History.
Also useful are the chapters by Frank Moya Pons and H. Hoe-
tink found in The Cambridge History of Latin America (in volumes
2, 5, and 7, including their bibliographical essays). On the
nineteenth century, see also H. Hoetink, The Dominican People
1859-1900: Notes for a Historical Sociology; Sumner Welles,
Naboth's Vineyard: The Dominican Republic, 1844-1924; and Eme-
lio Betances, State and Society in the Dominican Republic. BruceJ.
Calder's The Impact of Intervention is an excellent study of the
United States occupation and its effects. On Trujillo, Robert
Crassweller's Trujillo: The Life and Times of a Caribbean Dictator is
highly recommended. Howard Wiarda has written extensively
on the Dominican Republic; his most detailed work is a three-
volume study, Dictatorship, Development and Disintegration: Politics
and Social Changes in the Dominican Republic. Rosario Espinal has
published many valuable articles, including "An Interpretation
of the Democratic Transition in the Dominican Republic."
Recent analyses of Dominican politics include those by Jan
Knippers Black, The Dominican Republic, James Ferguson, The
Dominican Republic: Beyond the Lighthouse; and Jonathan Hartlyn,
The Struggle for Democratic Politics in the Dominican Republic. (For
further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Chapter 2. Dominican Republic:

The Society and Its Environment

z .--- ----- -nrr~-
~---- --
`-,EY i: L;

A bohio, or rural hut

DOMINICAN SOCIETY OF THE late 1990s reflects the coun-
try's Spanish-African-Caribbean heritage. It manifests signifi-
cant divisions along the lines of race and class. A small fraction
of the populace controls great wealth, while the vast majority
struggles to get by. The small emerging middle class works both
to maintain and to extend its political and economic gains.
Generally speaking, Dominican society offers relatively few ave-
nues of advancement; most of those available allow families of
modest means only to enhance slightly or consolidate their
The majority of the population is mulatto, the offspring of
Africans and Europeans. The indigenous Amerindian popula-
tion had been virtually eliminated within half a century of ini-
tial contact. Immigrants-European, Middle Eastern, Asian,
and Caribbean-arrived with each cycle of economic growth.
In general, skin color determines placement in the social hier-
archy: lighter skin is associated with higher social and eco-
nomic status. European immigrants and their offspring find
more ready acceptance at the upper reaches of society than do
darker-skinned Dominicans.
The decades following the end of the regime of Rafael
Le6nidas Trujillo Molina (1930-61) have been a time of exten-
sive changes as large-scale rural-urban and international migra-
tion have blurred the gulf between city and countryside.
Traditional attitudes persist: peasants continue to regard urban
dwellers with suspicion, and people in cities continue to think
of rural Dominicans as unsophisticated and naive. Nonethe-
less, most families include several members who have migrated
to the republic's larger cities or to the United States. Migration
serves to relieve some of the pressures of population growth.
Moreover, cash remittances from abroad permit families of
moderate means to acquire assets and maintain a standard of
living far beyond what they might otherwise enjoy.
The alternatives available to poorer Dominicans are far
more limited. Legal emigration requires assets beyond the
reach of most, although some risk the water passage to Puerto
Rico. Many rural dwellers migrate instead to one of the repub-
lic's cities. These newcomers, however, enjoy financial
resources and training far inferior to those prevailing among
families of moderate means. For the vast majority of the repub-

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

lic's population, the twin constraints of limited land and lim-
ited employment opportunities define the daily struggle for
In the midst of far-reaching changes, the republic continues
to be a profoundly family oriented society. Dominicans of every
social stratum rely on family, kin, and neighbors for social iden-
tity and interpersonal relations of trust and confidence, partic-
ularly in the processes of migration and urbanization. At the
same time, these processes often cause the family to disinte-


The Dominican Republic is located on the island of Hispani-
ola (La Isla Espafiola), 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 Proto-
col of Revision of the Frontier Treaty (Tratado Fronterizo) of
1929. The country is shaped in the form of an irregular trian-
gle. 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, Caribbean Sea, and Mona Passage. The total
area of the country is 48,442 square kilometers. Although the
Dominican Republic boasts the highest elevations in the Antil-
les, it also has a saltwater lake below sea level (see fig. 1).

Natural Regions
The mountains and valleys of the Dominican Republic
divide the country into three regions: the northern region,
central region, and southwestern region. The northern region
borders the Atlantic Ocean and consists of the Atlantic coastal
plain, Cordillera Septentrional (Northern Range), Valle del
Cibao (Cibao Valley), and Samand Peninsula. The Atlantic
coastal plain is a narrow strip that extends from the northwest-
ern coast at Monte Cristi to Nagua, north of the Samand Penin-
sula. The Cordillera Septentrional is south of and runs parallel
to the coastal plain. Its highest peaks rise to an elevation of
more than 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 Samand (Samand Bay) in the
east and ranges in width from fifteen to forty-five kilometers.
To the west of the ridge lies the Valle de Santiago, and to the
east is the Valle de la Vega Real. The Samand Peninsula is an

Dominican Republic: The Society and Its Environment

eastward extension of the northern region, separated from the
Cordillera Septentrional by an area of swampy lowlands. The
peninsula is mountainous, with its highest elevations reaching
600 meters.
The central region is dominated by the Cordillera Central
(Central Range); it runs eastward from the Haitian border and
turns southward at the Valle de Constanza to end in the Carib-
bean Sea. This southward branch is known as the Sierra de
Ocoa. The Cordillera Central is 2,000 meters high near the
Haitian border and reaches an elevation of 3,087 meters at
Pico Duarte, the highest point in the country. An eastern
branch of the Cordillera Central extends 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 also is known as the Sierra de
Another significant feature of the central region is the Carib-
bean coastal plain, which lies south of the foothills of the Sierra
de Yamasi and the Cordillera Oriental. It extends 240 kilome-
ters from the mouth of the Ocoa River to the extreme eastern
end of the island. The Caribbean coastal plain is ten to forty
kilometers wide and consists of a series of limestone terraces
that gradually rise to an elevation of 100 to 120 meters at the
northern edge of the coastal plains at the foothills of the Cor-
dillera 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 Bahia de
The southwestern region lies south of the Valle de San Juan.
It encompasses the Sierra de Neiba, which extends 100 kilome-
ters 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 kilometers 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 bor-
der to the Bahia 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

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

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 Yamasi. The seventh drainage system flows into the
Lago Enriquillo (Lake Enriquillo) from the Sierra de Neiba to
the north and 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 and with a basin area of 7,044
square kilometers, it rises near Pico Duarte at an elevation of
2,580 meters in the Cordillera Central. It empties into Bahia de
Monte Cristi on the northwest coast where it forms a delta. The
Yaque del Sur is the most important river on the southern
coast. It rises to an elevation of 2,707 meters in the southern
slopes of the Cordillera Central. Its upper course through the
mountains comprises 75 percent 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, the largest lake in the Antilles, lies in
the western part of the Hoya de Enriquillo. Its drainage basin
includes ten minor river systems and covers an area of more
than 3,000 square kilometers. The northern rivers of the sys-
tem are perennial and rise in the Sierra de Neiba, while the
southern rivers rise in the Sierra de Baoruco and are intermit-
tent, flowing only after heavy rainfall. The Lago Enriquillo
itself varies from 200 to 265 square kilometers. Its water level
oscillates because of the high evaporation rate, yet on the aver-
age it is forty meters below sea level. The water in the lake is

The Dominican Republic has primarily a tropical climate,
with more diurnal and local than seasonal variations in temper-
ature, and with seasonal variability in the abundance of rainfall.
The average annual temperature is 25"C, ranging from 18"C at
an elevation of more than 1,200 meters to 28C at an elevation
of ten meters. Highs of 40"C are common in protected valleys,
as are lows of O'C in mountainous areas. In general, August is
the hottest month and January and February, the coldest.

Dominican Republic: The Society and Its Environment

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, with May being the wettest
month. The dry season lasts from November through April,
with March being the driest month. The average annual rain-
fall for the country as a whole is 150 centimeters. Rainfall var-
ies, however, from region to region, from thirty-five
centimeters in the Valle de Neiba to 274 centimeters 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 once every two
years in the Dominican Republic. More than 65 percent of the
storms strike the southern part of the country, especially along
the Hoya de Enriquillo. The season for cyclones lasts from the
beginning of June to the end of November; some cyclones
occur in May and December, but most occur in September and
October. Hurricanes usually occur from August through Octo-
ber. They may produce winds greater than 200 kilometers per
hour and rainfall greater than fifty centimeters in a twenty-four-
hour period.


Size and Growth
The country's total population in 1993, according to the
census of that year, totaled slightly more than 7 million; its pop-
ulation for 1997 has been estimated to be slightly above 8 mil-
lion. Growth has been high since official census-taking began
in 1920. The average growth rate peaked during the 1950s at
3.6 percent per year. Since then the rate has been declining:
during the 1960s, the population grew at 2.9 percent annually;
during the 1970s, at 2.3 percent; during the 1980s, at 2.0 per-
cent; and during the 1990s, at 1.6 percent (see fig. 3).
The total fertility rate, although still relatively high, declined
substantially in the 1970s and then slowly in the 1980s and early
1990s: from 3.7 children per woman of child-bearing age in
1985 to 3.2 in 1990, 2.8 in 1992, and 2.7 in 1995. Official esti-
mates indicate that half of all married women use contracep-
tives-the rate was reportedly 58 percent in 1984 in
comparison to 32 percent in 1975. However, the Dominican
Republic's existing population growth rate and field studies

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

500 400 300 200 100 0 100 200 300 400 500

Source: Based on information from Dominican Republic, Oficina Nacional de
Estadistica, La Republica Dominicana en Cifras, 1997, Santo Domingo, 1998,

Figure 3. Dominican Republic: Population Distribution by Age and
Sex, 1993 Census

seem to belie this figure. A scholarly study in the 1990s indi-
cates, for example, that whereas the use of contraceptive pills
ranged from 5 to 9 percent for the 1975 to 1986 period, perma-
nent sterilization has become the most popular birth control
method among Dominican women. Their recourse to it rose
from 8 to 33 percent during the above period.
Despite the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church, the
government began supporting family planning in 1967 with
financing from the United States Agency for International
Development. The family planning program expanded rapidly,
from eight clinics concentrated in the cities and larger towns to
more than 500 clinics-some in small towns and rural areas-
by the late 1980s. Both the Secretariat of State for Public
Health and Social Welfare (Secretaria de Estado de Salud
PGblica y Asistencia Social-SESPAS) and the National Council
on Population and Family (Consejo Nacional de Poblaci6n y

75 and over





-i/- /-//
I I-
//// ---///

Dominican Republic: The Society and Its Environment

Familia-Conapofa) offer family planning services. By the
1980s, both organizations were trying to make their programs
more responsive to the needs of rural families. In the 1980s,
the groups focused on population reduction along with mater-
nal and child health. The focus shifted in the 1990s to achiev-
ing a balance among population level, economic development,
and progress toward social well-being.
Birth control encounters strong resistance from both sexes,
especially in the countryside and the smaller cities. Although
women use a variety of substances believed to be contraceptives
or abortifacients, there is considerable misinformation about
family planning. Many men believe birth control threatens
their masculinity; some women think various contraceptive
methods cause sickness. Dominican migrants who travel
abroad are more aware of the available options, and some
women migrants use modern contraceptives.

Population Distribution

With regard to demographic distribution, the traditional
(nonadministrative) subregions of the country include Valde-
sia and Yuma in the southeast, Enriquillo and Del Valle in the
southwest, and the Central, Eastern, and Western Cibao in the
north. The subregion of densest settlement is Valdesia on the
southern coast, which contains the nation's capital and, accord-
ing to the 1993 census, 41 percent of the population. Roughly
one-third (30 percent in 1993) of all Dominicans live in the
National District, the area surrounding the national capital of
Santo Domingo. The other major area of settlement is the Cen-
tral Cibao, which accounted for 23 percent of total population
in 1993 (see table 2, Appendix).
Administrations have attempted to control population
growth and distribution since the 1950s. The Trujillo regime
fostered agricultural colonies scattered throughout the coun-
tryside and strung along the western frontier with Haiti. Some
were coupled with irrigation projects. In the late 1970s, some
new joint projects with Haiti were approved by President Silves-
tre Antonio Guzmin FernAndez (1978-82).
Beginning in the late 1970s, the government also set up
industrial free zones around the country. Although the desire
to increase employment was the government's primary motiva-
tion, the establishment of free zones also had as a secondary
goal the dispersal of industrialization, and thus migration, away
from Santo Domingo (see Manufacturing, ch. 3). Intercensal

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

growth rates on the subregional and provincial levels reflect
these trends. Puerto Plata grew at more than twice the rate of
the nation as a whole in the 1970s. This trend continued in the
1980s and early 1990s as a result of the rapidly developing and
expanding tourist industry along the north coast. The south-
east, especially the National District, has expanded much faster
than most of the country, as has La Romana, both largely on
account of the increased number of industrial free zones.


The Dominican Republic is a country of migrants. 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.
According to the 1981 census, nearly one-quarter of the popu-
lation was living in a province other than that in which they
were born. A decade later, according to the 1993 census, the
figure had increased to one-third of the population. Rural
areas in general, especially in the Central Cibao, have experi-
enced significant levels of out-migration. The movement of
peasants and the landless into the republic's growing cities has
accounted for the lion's share of migration, however. Indeed,
Dominicans have even coined a word, campuno, to describe the
rural-urban campesino migrant. In the 1970s, the industrial
free zones, particularly in La Romana and San Pedro de
Macoris, attracted many migrants in search of employment.
According to the 1981 census, the principal destinations for
migrants were the National District followed by the provinces
of La Romana, Independencia, and San Pedro de Macoris (see
fig. 2). In the National District, 46 percent of the inhabitants
were migrants. The main destination for migrants in the 1980s,
according to the 1993 Dominican census, continued to be the
National District but was followed this time by the provinces of
Valverde and San Crist6bal and then La Romana and San
Pedro de Macoris. This census indicated the increasing urban-
ization of the country as well as the apparent continuing mag-
net effect of the industrial zones, which in 1997 numbered
thirty-five and employed 182,000 Dominicans.
In the 1990s, women predominated in both rural-urban and
urban-rural migration (55 to 60 percent of the workers in the
industrial free zones were women, representing what two
Dominican analysts call the "feminization" of labor, especially
in Santo Domingo). Men, however, are more likely than
women to move from city to city or from one rural area to

Dominican Republic: The Society and Its Environment

another. According to the 1993 census, in rural areas men out-
number women until the twenty to twenty-four-year age-group,
when women become more numerous; in the forty-five to fifty-
year age-group, men once again become and remain in the
majority. The figures reflect the fact that men in the twenty-five
to forty-four-year age-group leave for the cities or for the
United States. Many return two decades later. On the other
hand, in the urban areas from their teens on women outnum-
ber men.
In general, migrants earn more than non-migrants and suf-
fer lower rates of unemployment, although underemployment
is pervasive. Urban-rural migrants have the highest incomes.
This category, however, consists of a select group of educated
and skilled workers, mostly government officials, teachers, and
the like moving from a city to assume specific jobs in rural
areas. They receive higher wages as a recompense for the lack
of urban amenities in villages.
Migrants speak of the migration chain (cadena) tying them
to other migrants and their home communities. Kin serve as
the links in the chain. They care for family, lands, and busi-
nesses left behind, or, if they have migrated earlier, assist the
new arrivals with employment and housing. The actual degree
of support families can or are willing to give a migrant varies
widely, however.
The process of rural-urban migration typically involves a
series of steps. The migrant gradually abandons agriculture
and seeks more nonagricultural sources of income. Migrants
rarely arrive in the largest, fastest-growing cities "green" from
the countryside. They acquire training and experience in inter-
mediate-sized cities and temporary nonfarm jobs en route.
International migration plays a significant role in the liveli-
hood of many Dominicans. Anywhere from 10 to 12 percent of
the total population are residing abroad. Estimates of those liv-
ing and working in the United States in the 1990s range from
300,000 to as high as 800,000. Roughly 200,000 more are esti-
mated to be in San Juan, Puerto Rico, many of them presum-
ably waiting to get to the United States mainland. One
Dominican official reported the estimated number in the late
1990s to be 700,000, which includes 75,000 illegals. In the mid-
1980s, the United States admitted from 23,000 to 26,000
Dominicans annually; by 1990 the number had increased to
42,195 and by 1993 to almost 46,000. (The United States cen-
sus of 1990 reported that there were 511,297 Dominicans living

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

as permanent residents. After the Dominican constitution was
amended in 1994 to allow dual citizenship, there was a Domini-
can rush to naturalize.) Most emigrants go to New York City
(68 percent in 1990); starting in the mid-1980s their destina-
tions also included other cities of the eastern seaboard-Bos-
ton, Providence, and Hartford-and in the South, Miami.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, many professionals emigrated
because of the lack of professional opportunities, thus consti-
tuting a brain drain, one that affected some key professions.
Later, the majority of those emigrating were unemployed,
unskilled, and women. A sizable minority (about one-third),
however, emigrated not only for economic reasons but to con-
tinue their education, especially graduate and professional, or
to join other family members. Many planned to save their
money and return home to start a small business. In the 1980s
and 1990s, the emigrants' educational and skill levels have
been changing. Whereas the majority are still unskilled, an
increasing minority includes emigrants who are relatively more
educated and skilled than the Dominican populace as a whole.
Most come from cities, but the mid- to large-sized farms of the
overpopulated Cibao also send large numbers. Working in the
United States has become almost an expected part of the lives
of Dominicans from families of moderate means.
This practice linking the two countries has resulted in the
development of what some scholars call the "dual societies"-
Dominican and United States-and the "dual identity" of
Dominicans. Their moving back and forth, working and saving
in the United States, being influenced by United States values,
produces a north-south transnationalism. Because so many
Dominicans live and work in New York City, a special word-
"Domyork"-was created at home to describe those returning
to visit, open a business, or retire.
Cash remittances from Dominicans living abroad have
become an integral part of the national economy. Emigrants'
remittances constitute a significant percentage of the country's
foreign exchange earnings. Remittances are used to finance
businesses, purchase land, and bolster a family's standard of liv-
ing. Most emigrants see sending money as an obligation.
Although some refuse to provide assistance, they come under
severe criticism from both fellow emigrants and those who
remain behind. The extent to which an emigrant's earnings are
committed to family and kin is sometimes striking. Anthropolo-
gist Patricia Pessar has described a Dominican man in New

View of the Duarte Highway north of Santo Domingo
Courtesy Inter-American Development Bank

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 par-
ents and unmarried siblings. In 1990 remittances accounted
for 40 percent of Dominican family income, and 88 percent of
these remittances came from New York state.
Money from abroad has had a multiplier effect; it has
spawned a veritable construction boom in emigrants' home-
towns and neighborhoods beginning in the mid-1970s and con-
tinuing since that time. Some of the returning "Domvorks" who
survived and profited from drug trafficking have brought
about a major change in traditional Dominican society with
their Hollywood homes, expensive cars, noisy bars, and discos.
San Francisco de Macoris is the main city that has been so
transformed. The increasing emigrant investments in housing
and in tourism also have challenged the traditional elite's
monopoly control. Additionally, emigrants contribute signifi-
cant sums to the church back home. Many parish priests make
annual fund-raising trips to New York to seek donations for
local parish needs.
The impact of emigration is widely felt, which is illustrated
by the experience of two Dominican villages, two decades
apart, whose emigrants went to New York City and Boston. In

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

the earlier case, in one Cibao village 85 percent of the house-
holds had at least one member living in New York in the mid-
1970s. In the later case, a village in the southern province of
Peravia, more than 65 percent of the 445 households had rela-
tives in the Boston metropolitan area in the mid-1990s. Where
emigration is common, it alters a community's age pyramid:
eighteen to forty-five-year-olds (especially males) are essentially
missing. Emigration also eliminates many of the natural
choices for leadership roles in the home community. Addition-
ally, anthropologistPessar noted in a recent study the negative
impact of departures upon rural society. Emigration, for exam-
ple, has led to a shift from share-cropping to cattle grazing,
resulting in the fragmentation of the rural economy. Although
those left behind often feel isolated from their neighbors and
are adrift, especially those who have left farming for cattle graz-
ing, there is a constant exchange of news and information, and
the maintenance of social contact between the remaining vil-
lagers and their emigrant relatives. The latter's remittances
economically sustain or improve the welfare of the former.


For most of its history, the Dominican Republic was over-
whelmingly rural; in 1920 more than 80 percent of its populace
lived in the countryside, and by 1950 more than 75 percent still
did. Substantial urban expansion began in the 1950s and
gained tremendous momentum in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
Urban growth rates far outdistanced those of the country as a
whole. The urban population expanded at 6.1 percent annu-
ally during the 1950s, 5.7 percent during the 1960s to 1970s,
4.7 percent through the 1980s, and 3.3 percent from 1990 to
1995 (rural population has decreased 0.3 percent since 1990).
In the early decades of the twentieth century, the country
was not only largely rural, but the urban scene itself was domi-
nated by smaller cities and provincial capitals. In 1920 nearly
80 percent of all city dwellers lived in cities with fewer than
20,000 inhabitants. Santo Domingo, with barely more than
30,000 residents, accounted for only 20 percent of those in cit-
ies. 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 per-
cent by 1981. According to the 1993 census, the Dominican

Dominican Republic: The Society and Its Environment

Republic was 56 percent urban, and Santo Domingo had 40
percent of the urban population. The United Nations Demo-
graphic Yearbook, 1996 estimated the country to be almost 62
percent urban in 1995.
Santo Domingo approximately doubled its population every
decade between 1920 and 1970. Its massive physical expansion,
however, dates 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.
In 1993 the city had slightly more than 2 million inhabitants.
The republic's second and third largest cities, Santiago de los
Caballeros and La Romana, also experienced significant
expansion in the 1960s and 1970s. Santiago, the center of tradi-
tional Hispanic culture, drew migrants from the heavily popu-
lated Cibao. La Romana, in the southeast, grew as a center of
employment in the sugar industry as well as a tourism center; it
was also the site of the country's first industrial free zone (see
Manufacturing, ch. 3). The two cities continued to grow
throughout the 1980s and early 1990s while the sugar industry
declined-replaced by expanding industrial free zones and
tourism in La Romana. In 1993 the population of Santiago de
los Caballeros stood at 488,291 and that of La Romana at
Population growth and rural-urban migration have strained
cities' capacity to provide housing and amenities. Nevertheless,
in 1981 nearly 80 percent of city dwellings had access to pota-
ble water; 90 percent had limited sewage disposal; and roughly
90 percent had electricity. These percentages subsequently
declined because the provision of such services did not keep
up with the general increase in population as well as with the
continued rural-urban migration. For example, a Pan Ameri-
can Health Organization (PAHO) report estimated that in
1993 the potable water supply reached 65 percent of the popu-
lation: 80 percent were in urban areas and 46 percent were in
rural areas (only 25 percent of rural communities had drinking
water services). Sewage disposal services covered only 16 per-
cent of the entire population, and 28 percent of the urban pop-
ulation had apartment or house connections. (According to
the 1993 Dominican census, 214,354 of the country's 1,629,616
dwellings lacked sanitary services.) Finally, the PAHO report
indicated that 81 percent of the dwellings had electricity.
By the mid-1980s, there was an estimated housing deficit of
some 400,000 units; by 1990 estimates, 600,000 dwellings were

Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies

uninhabitable, 800,000 needed repairs, and only 500,000 were
considered adequate. The need is greatest in the National Dis-
trict. Squatter settlements have grown in response to the scar-
city of low-cost urban housing. In Santo Domingo these
settlements are concentrated along the Ozama River and on
the city's periphery. WhenJoaquin Balaguer Ricardo returned
to the presidency in 1986, 3,000 squatters were forced from the
construction site of the lighthouse along the Ozama River.
They were moved to the side of the construction site where a
slum area developed. A high wall was built to keep the area
from being seen.
Public housing initiatives date from the late 1950s, when
Trujillo built some housing for government employees of mod-
erate means. Through the 1980s, a number of different govern-
mental agencies played a role. Often motivated to create jobs
during economic crises, the Technical Secretariat of the Presi-
dency has designed a variety of projects in Santo Domingo. The
Aid and Housing Institute and the National Housing Institute
bear primary responsibility for the financing and construction
of housing. In general, public efforts have been hampered by
extreme decentralization in planning coupled with equally
extreme concentration in decision-making. The primary bene-
ficiaries of public projects are usually lower-income groups,
although not the poorest urban dwellers. Projects have tar-
geted those making at least the minimum wage, namely 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 mainly the Taino
Indians, an Arawak-speaking group, and a small settlement of
Carib Indians around the Bahia de Samana. These Indians,
estimated to number perhaps 1 million at the time of their ini-
tial contact with Europeans, for the most part had been killed
or died by the 1550s as a result of harsh Spanish treatment. The
Tainos were especially ill-treated.
The importation of African slaves began in 1503. By the
nineteenth century, the population was roughly 150,000:
40,000 were of Spanish descent, 40,000 were black slaves, and
the remainder were either freed blacks or mulattoes. In the
mid-1990s, approximately 10 percent of the population was

Dominican Republic: The Society and Its Environment

considered white and 15 percent black; the remainder were
mulattoes-75 percent (the percentages are often debated).
Since then the percentage of whites has been slowly decreasing
and that of mulattoes increasing; the black percentage has
remained about the same, with Haitian immigration being a
factor. The figures about the ethnic ratio and its changing com-
position are a sensitive Dominican issue because many elite
and upper-class whites are anti-African (blacks and mulattoes)
and seek to claim a higher, constant "white" figure. Many
mulattoes, however, claim a larger percentage for themselves at
the same time that many others have difficulty acknowledging
their African roots.
Contemporary Dominican society and culture are primarily
Spanish in origin. At the same time, much of popular culture
reflects many African influences. Taino influence is limited to
cultigens, such as maize or corn, and a few vocabulary words,
such as huracdn (hurricane) and hamaca (hammock). The Afri-
can influence in society was officially suppressed and ignored
by the Trujillo regime (1930-61) and then by Balaguer until
the 1980s. However, certain religious brotherhoods with signifi-
cant black membership have incorporated some Afro-Ameri-
can elements. Observers also have noted the presence of
African influence in popular dance and music (see Culture,
this ch.).
There has long been a preference in Dominican society for
light skin, straight hair, and "white" racial features. Blackness in
itself, however, does not necessarily restrict a person to a lower
status position. Upward mobility is possible for the dark-
skinned person who manages to acquire education or wealth.
During the era of Trujillo, joining the military became a major
means of upward mobility, especially for dark and light-skinned
Dominicans-the white elite would not permit its sons to join).
Social characteristics focusing on family background, educa-
tion, and economic standing are, in fact, more prominent
means of identifying and classifying individuals. Darker-
skinned persons are concentrated in the east, the south, and
the far west near the Haitian border. The population of-the
Cibao, especially in the countryside, consists mainly of whites
or mulattoes.
Dominicans traditionally prefer to think of themselves as
descendants of the island's Indians and the Spanish, ignoring
their African heritage. Thus, phenotypical African characteris-
tics, such as dark skin pigmentation, are disparaged. Trujillo, a