Modern History of the Dominican Republic

In the modern history of the Dominican Republic, during 1916 the American government decided to invade the country to prevent any future problems with European countries. They managed to disarm the civilians and dissolve the old army. Later they proceeded to create a new government that had to follow the orders of the American military officers. They trained a new Dominican army to keep the order in the country. This new order was to benefit the interests of the American government in the country. As the new army was established a high military officer used his position to obtain weapons and prepared to take over the country. This man was Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. As soon as United States left the country in 1924; the first democratic elections took place and Horacio Vázquez became the president of the Dominican Republic.

Trujillo’s dictatorship and its role in the modern history of Dominican Republic

In 1930 Trujillo took over the government using his military position and became one of the most renowned dictators in history. Trujillo used his power to dominate and destroy any opposition.

He was so egotistic that he even changed the name of the capital from Santo Domingo to “Ciudad Trujillo”. Initially he was very supportive of the United States and even helped American business to invest in the country. Sadly for him his greed grew too much to the point he not only took over the industries of the Dominicans but also over all American businesses in the country. This started to upset the United States government until in 1961 he was assassinated.

In 1962 Juan Bosch won the democratic elections but as soon as the year 1963 he was overthrown by a faction of old Trujillo followers and went to exile. They had the full support of the United States which believed Bosch was a communist.

The influence of Balaguer in the modern history of the Dominican Republic

At the year 1966 Joan Balaguer a former ally of Trujillo won the election with the help of the United States. He ruled for 12 years in a row by winning the elections in 1970 and 1974. In both elections people from the opposition decided not to nominate any candidate as the result was going to be manipulated by the government. 

In 1978 a new president was elected by the people. He was Dr Antonio Guzman from the Dominican Revolutionary Party or “Partido Revolucionario Dominicano”. Balaguer was not very happy with the result of the election and tried to manipulate the results once more to his benefit. Fortunately with the aid of international pressure he was obligated to stand down. There was a tragic turn of events in the modern history of the Dominican Republic as Antonio Guzman committed suicide before finishing his term as president. It was speculated that his relatives were involved in government corruption. Salvador Jorge Blanco also from the Dominican Revolutionary Party was the substitute for Guzman and he also won the election of 1982.  

During that time the Dominican Republic was affected by Hurricane David in August 31, 1979. Most of the crops were destroyed by the floods produced by this natural disaster and the infrastructure suffered severe damage from one of the most powerful hurricanes in the modern history of the Dominican Republic. 

In 1986 Balaguer won the election once more. The main reason for this was the conviction of Salvador Jorge Blanco under corruption charges. The people noticed that the (PRD) was not going to be the solution to their problems as they continued to steal government funds. Balaguer was victorious again in the election of 1990 mainly because his opposition was completely disorganized. In the following years his government received a lot of pressure from many international organisms to improve the working conditions of the Haitian workers. These workers basically lived like slaves with a very low salary and without being able to leave the area where they worked. Eventually they succumbed to the international pressure and returned the Haitians to their country.

The end of Balaguer’s presidency in the modern history of the Dominican Republic

In the following election of 1994 Balaguer emerged victorious once more by defeating Francisco Peña Gomez of the Dominican Revolutionary Party. This time there were several international observers that found the election to be fraudulent. Because of that Balaguer was forced to reduce his term for only 2 years and to not run again for reelection. In 1996 special elections were celebrated. Francisco Peña Gomez was looking solid as the main presidential candidate however Balaguer wasn't ready to allow Gomez to claim victory.

The rise of Leonel Fernandez and the Dominican Liberation Party in the modern history of the Dominican Republic

He created an alliance with Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Liberation Party to make sure Gomez couldn’t be the winner. As Balaguer gave Leonel Fernandez his full support the majority of the people sided with Leonel making him the new president of the Dominican Republic. Some time before the elections of 1998 Francisco Peña Gomez died of cancer leaving a void in the Dominican Revolutionary Party.

In the elections of 2000 Leonel Fernandez and the Dominican Liberation Party lost the confidence of the people and were defeated by Hipolito Mejias of the Dominican Revolutionary Party. Sadly for the Dominicans; the presidency of Hipolito Mejias was very far from perfect as he and his party was in control of most of the government branches which resulted in one of the highest levels of corruption in the modern history of the Dominican Republic. The economical problems during these times were so bad that one of the main banks of the country (Baninter) went bankrupt for the first time. Another problem the country faced was the reduced value of their currency against the US Dollar.

In the year of 2004 Mejias tried again for the presidency of the country however the people were already tired of the continuous corruption of his government and for the third time in the modern history of the Dominican Republic they voted for Leonel Fernandez with the hope that eventually he could manage to fix the country's economical mess. In the years that followed; higher taxes and a lot of money spent on projects that haven't been finished was the norm. In 2008 Leonel Fernandez won the election again. That time he promised to improve the educational system and to attend the needs of the less fortunate people. In 2012 Danilo Medina became the president of the Dominican Republic.

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