Dominican Republic History

Dominican Republic History

Middle ages

Around 700 AD Aruak tribes from Venezuela migrated via the Lesser Antilles to what is now the Dominican Republic. They were the culmination of cultural development before the appearance of European seafarers. In 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived on the mountainous island and called it La Española, Hispaniola in Latin. In 1496 he returned on his second trip to the West Indies with Spanish settlers and founded what was later to become Santo Domingo, which quickly became the center for the administration of the new Spanish properties. The enslavement of the Aruak Indians and introduced epidemics decimated the indigenous population, and the colonialists introduced black African slaves as workers for the sugar cane plantations.

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Early modern period and 19th century

In the mid-17th century, so-called Buccaneers, French privateers, gradually conquered the western part of the Hispaniola island. In the peace of Rijswijk in 1697, Spain had to cede this part of the island to France. Because of its sugar cane, cocoa, coffee and tobacco plantations, the colony continued to be a lucrative source of income for the colonial masters. According to AbbreviationFinder, Almost a hundred years later, in 1795, Spain had to hand over the western part of the island to France in the peace of Basel.

However, a few years earlier, blacks and mulattoes had started in the western part of the island and later also in the eastern part of the island as a reason to rebel against the large white landowners. Under the black former slave Toussaint Louverture, the insurgents succeeded in uniting the two parts of the island at the end of the 18th century and defending them against attacking Napoleonic troops in the early 19th century. In 1804, Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared Hispaniola as “Haiti” for independence and rose himself to be emperor. However, he was murdered two years later; The Spanish-born residents of the eastern part, with British help, succeeded in founding a mulatto republic, which was again subordinate to the Spanish crown.

But this phase was short. In 1821 the Dominican population rose against Spain, Haiti then occupied the western part and briefly united the island again. They were expelled in 1844. The independent “Dominican Republic” was proclaimed and came under Spanish rule again for twenty years. Another uprising leads to final independence in 1865.

The 20th century

After the US Senate rejected the application for the Republic to join the United States in 1870, bloody clashes began for decades, which were only brought to an end by military intervention by the United States in the early 20th century. In 1905 the United States took over customs sovereignty, in 1907 financial sovereignty, and in 1916 they paid off and occupied the accumulated debts of the impoverished country. The occupation ended in 1924 and the Dominican Republic adopted a liberal constitution, which ended with a coup by the army commander in chief, RL Trujillo y Molina. Until 1962, he exploited the country together with his family. It was only a year after his murder that his sons agreed to renewed liberalization and free elections, which the left-wing exile politician Juan Bosch won with a two-thirds majority.

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In 1966, the moderately conservative politician J. Balaguer took over as the newly elected president. Unintentionally supported by the boycott of the parliamentary and presidential elections by the strongest opposition party, the Partido Revolucionario Dominicana (PRD) of the former President Bosch, Balaguer also won the 1970 and 1974 elections. His style of government was authoritarian without tackling any necessary social and political reforms. In 1978 he lost and the newly elected Social Democratic President AS Guzm¨¢n Fern¨¢ndez came to power. But he also failed to push through major social and economic changes. Fern¨¢ndez committed suicide in 1992 and was succeeded by Jorge Blanco as a PRD candidate. In 1986 Balaguer came to power again and headed the country until 1996 as president. In June he was replaced by Leonel Fern¨¢ndez Reyna from the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD). Already in the early 1990s, the domestic political situation in the country was again characterized by riots and unrest. Nevertheless, the number of holidaymakers increased steadily during this period and became the most important source of foreign exchange alongside the export of food.

Parliamentary elections were held in 1998 and the PRD won the majority of votes in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, while the incumbent president’s party went into opposition. In 2000, the entrepreneur Hip¨®lito Mej¨ªa was elected head of state by the PRD. He was replaced by Leonel Fern¨¢ndez Reyna four years later due to the current banking and economic crisis. Thanks to its consolidation policy in cooperation with the IMF, the latter was able to overcome the crisis and was confirmed in office in 2008. The PLD has continued to represent the government with President Danilo Medina S¨¢nchez since August 2012.

Dominican Republic President