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State

Capital

Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo

Quisqueya

Currency unit

Peso

Connections

Haiti

Caribbean

Spanish Empire

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

History

The eastern, Spanish-speaking, part of the island of Hispaniola. (The other part is Haiti.)

The Dominican Republic is only a little less chaotic and unfortunate in its history than its neighbor Haiti. The island of Hispaniola was disputed by Spain and France. It became the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo from which some of the northern part of South America was administered.

Hispaniola was visited by Columbus in 1492 on his first voyage and again on his second. He believed there was gold but very little was found. The city of Santo Domingo was founded in 1496. The native peoples were exterminated or died from bad treatment. To replace them Africans were brought as slaves to work on sugar plantations and in the mines.

From 1795 it belonged to France as a result of the Napoleonic occupation of Spain. The revolutionary state of Haiti ruled it from 1804 -1844 after conquest by Toussaint l'Ouverture in 1801. The French reconquered the eastern part from the Haitians in 1802 but were driven out in 1809. Spanish rule resumed until 1821. But Haiti invaded again in 1822.

Independence dates from 1844. Since then the republic has been weak and effectively protected from Haiti by European and American powers. In 1861 Spain was asked to resume control but left again in 1865. The US tried to annex the republic in 1869 but the local government which had "requested" it fell. There was a long military dictatorship from 1882 until 1899 under Ulises Heureux. On his death US influence increased when a US controller of Customs was appointed in order to prevent the chronic financial instability caused by governments borrowing money and then wasting the proceeds (customs money was the only effective revenue from which the creditors could get back their money).

In 1916 US Marines took control in face of civil war. This became a US military government which lasted until 1924. A military dictatorship under Rafael Trujillo lasted from 1939 until his assassination in 1961. This seems to have produced some progress and the US control of the customs ended in 1940. However the government had a policy similar to contemporary dictatorships of the same kind in Paraguay, Nicaragua and Cuba. Trujillo was followed by periods of constitutional rule and military dictatorship. In 1963 a mildly liberal government under Juan Bosch was elected. Another US intervention occurred in 1965 allegedly because of fears of Communist influence in a rebel movement which threatened to take power. This occupation was covered by a resolution of the OAS and was in name a joint OAS peace force including Brazil, Nicaragua, Honduras, Paraguay - all US-supported military dictatorships, and police from Costa Rica, the only democracy. The "peacekeeping" force left in 1966 when a right wing president was elected. The country continues to hover on the brink of potential instability and poverty. However, peaceful transitions of power through apparently democratic elections have occurred. Perhaps the country has evolved to a settled political condition, though evidence suggests that the government has much in common with those of Central America in its military phase.

Languages

Spanish

French Patois

 History

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

Politics

The Octogenarian President Joaquin Balaguer was apparently reelected in the May 1994 elections, but they are widely believed to have been dishonest - his official majority was only 22,000 votes. He is generally considered to be of the extreme right, shown by his removal of shanties on the construction of the 1992 Columbus monument (spending he preferred to education and other public services). He is probably the veil for a military influenced regime. Riots are reported by August 1994 and he may yet be induced to resign before he dies.

New elections were held in 1996. The ultimate winner, Leonel Fernandez, was elected with the support of the now late Mr Balaguer.

How far will the government be influenced by the needs of the poor majority instead of the very rich minority?

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

Economics

Very poor. Sugar is the main export. There is some tourism, hampered by a reputation for poor hygiene and health facilities.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

Green/Ecology

Not quite as bad as Haiti.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

Human Rights

Few rights for the poor majority.

Climate effects

The island, together with Haiti, could be the site of important OTEC installations to generate carbon-free electricity and mitigate hurricanes.

Last revised 25/03/08


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