Dominican Republic Recent History

Hector B. Trujillo resigned on 3 August in favor of Vice President Joaquin Balaguer. On May 30, 1961, the generalissimo Rafael Leonida Trujillo Molina was assassinated by a group of former officers.

Balaguer, already a follower of the previous dictators, wanting to captivate the sympathies of the opposition, immediately authorized the constitution of other political parties; controlled the assets of the Trujillo family; he sent the two brothers of the generalissimo into exile and then, fearing that they, with the help of officers loyal to them, could return to their homeland and organize a coup d’état, personally assumed command of the armed forces.

Then Balaguer obtained from the National Assembly the establishment of a Council of State, chaired by him, as a provisional government until the subsequent elections of 1963. According to Abbreviationfinder, violent popular demonstrations against him forced General Rodriguez Echevarria to dissolve this Council of 16 January 1962 State and to designate a civic-military junta.

Immediately new demonstrations prompted the intervention of the OAS which dissolved the junta, restored the Council of State, entrusting it however to Rafael Bonelly, highly esteemed by the people and also by all members of the OAS; he immediately called the elections for December.

These awarded the victory to the Democrat J. Bosch, who had fought his bitter opponent Trujillo in exile for over 40 years. He took office in February 1963 amidst the enthusiasm of the crowd and the acclaim of all American nations.

The necessary reforms to heal the catastrophic situation left by the dictatorship immediately began but he had to fight against the distrust of the military commanded by Colonel E. Wessin y Wessin and the police led by General A. Imbert Carreras. And after eight months of government he was forced to leave, in September 1963, by a military coup.

Bosch was first arrested and then exiled, his imprisoned supporters, Congress dissolved. The government was entrusted to a triumvirate of civilians who soon gave way to D. Reid Cabral, who remained in power for 16 long unfortunate months. On April 24, 1965 the people rose up and Cabral had to flee. The SU, fearing a movement on the model of the Castroist, to quell the rebellion, intervened in great force provoking criticism from all over the world.

Dominican Republic Recent History

The leader of the revolt, Colonel F. Caamano Deno, was bitterly opposed by Wessin; a civil war ensued which was tamed after several months following intervention by the OAS, the UN and the papal nuncio.

A provisional government was created headed by H. Garcia Godoy who, with great skill, knew how to tame the adversaries responsible for everything: Caamano was sent to London in January 1966 with the position of military attaché and the Minister of the Armed Forces F. Rivera Caminero was sent to Washington on the same charge.

June 1st1966 the elections were won by J.Balaguer. He immediately began his reform work with agriculture and industrialization, however imposing austerity measures. US troops returned to their homeland, while J. Bosch returned from his exile but did not present himself as a candidate in the subsequent elections which were held in 1970 and which saw Balaguer reelected, not without strong opposition, who brought the guerrilla war back to the country. The students started their demonstrations causing the closure of the University of Santo Domingo. At the head of the rebels Caamano reappeared, but shortly afterwards he fell into a clash with government forces.

On May 16, 1974 the elections were again favorable to Balaguer as the opposition candidate, A.Guzman Fernandez had retired.

Under Balaguer, the country’s economy flourished again, carried out above all by the international increase in the price of sugar, which was the most exported product, by the ever-growing entry of foreign capital and by the development of tourism. Despite this, there was always a substantial difference between the classes that created many imbalances and moreover the military were often the arbiters of politics.

The main force of the opposition was the Social Democratic Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), while Balaguer’s party was the Social Christian Reformist Party (PRSC). And for the first time the PRD won the elections, those of May 1978, leading A. Guzman Fernandez to the presidency.

He immediately took care to downsize the power of the armed forces in relation to the power of government and in the meantime the international oil recession of 1979/80 had made big steps back to the economic situation of the country.

However, the PRD also won the elections of May 1982 and the newly elected president SJBlanco had the large parliamentary majority. A month before these elections Guzman Fernandez, accused of corruption, had committed suicide.

Austerity measures were launched and strong price increases were imposed on basic necessities, which caused strikes and demonstrations in April 1984 with several victims.

Then, due to episodes of corruption in the Blanco administration and continuing divisions within the PRD, the 1986 elections brought Balaguer to the government for the fifth time.

In January 1987 Blanco was tried and in November 1988 he was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
Meanwhile, the diminished import of sugar into the USA had aggravated the country’s already disastrous economic situation, so Balaguer had to continue the austerity policy triggered by Blanco; he tried, however, to increase public works and the influx of foreign capital, especially the United States, with investments in the textile and tourism sectors. Popular protests did not subside and several trade unionists were arrested.

The elections of May 1990 saw the contest between two people over 80: Bosch and Balaguer. The latter won who continued to pursue the austerity policy and the repression of opponents.

Despite the austerity regime in force in 1991, inflation increased without the economic situation benefiting it. This led to the defeat of the Christian Social Reformist Party, of which Balaguer was the leader, at the May 1994 legislative elections.

Instead, due to some irregularities found, the now eighty-seven year old Balaguer, secured the presidential elections held almost simultaneously with the legislative ones. And all at the expense of JF Pena Gomez, candidate of the Dominican Revolutionary Party. But this forced victory brought Balaguer lively opposition from his Catholic Church as well as from many other American countries. Therefore he agreed to take office for less than the regular time and in fact new elections took place between May and June 1996.

Neither Balaguer nor Bosch, his historical rival, participated in these; and then L. Fernandez, of the Dominican Liberation Party, was able to run and won at the expense of Pena Gomez. He, in August 1996, formed an executive also supported by the Balaguer party. This executive arrived until the subsequent elections of May 1998 won, however, by the Dominican Revolutionary Party. A peculiarity had accompanied these elections which, for the first time, had not been simultaneous with the presidential elections. And it was the abstention of 52% of those entitled.

In foreign policy, in 1997, there were repeated conflicts with Haiti especially after the expulsion from the country of thousands of illegal Haitian immigrants.

In September of that same year the Dominican Republic signed the so-called “Managua declaration”, with which it accepted the formation of political institutions common to all the signatory countries, which were: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, l ‘Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.