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History of the Dominican Republic

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The Dominican Republic is a country with a century-old and very interesting history. A nation with a culture, tradition, and customs that date back several centuries in time. Both its beautiful landscapes, wonderful climate, its gastronomy, and friendly people, leave everyone who visits it in love. A territory that has undergone various periods and historical stages over the years that deserve to be known.

Origin of the Dominican Republic:

To know the history and origin of the Dominican Republic you must first know what its geographical location is. Located in the Antilles, it occupies the eastern five-eighths of the island, which it shares with the Republic of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of only two Caribbean islands, along with Saint Martin, that are shared by two sovereign states.

The Dominican Republic is the second-largest nation in the Antilles by area (after Cuba) at 48,671 square kilometers (18,792 sq mi), and third by population with approximately 10.5 million people (2020 est.), of whom approximately 3.3 million live in the metropolitan area of Santo Domingo, the capital city.

The official language of the country is Spanish.

The native Taíno people had inhabited Hispaniola before the arrival of the Europeans, dividing it into five chiefdoms. The Taíno people had eventually moved north over many years, and lived around the Caribbean island. The Taíno natives had done quite well for themselves and were on their way to being an organized civilization.  Christopher Columbus explored and claimed the island, landing here on his first voyage in 1492.

From 1509 the island was ruled by Diego Colón, who established in Santo Domingo the first New World Hearing (1511). At the beginning of the 16th century, sugarcane was introduced, for whose cultivation the trafficking of black labor began. A great number of indigenous people died due to the hard work they were subjected to.

Santo Domingo was attacked by Drake in 1586, and from the early 17th century it became a preferred target of French buccaneers and filibusters. By the Ryswick Treaty (1697) Spain ceded to France the western third of the island, which was renamed the Saint-Dominque colony.

The treaty of Aranjuez (1777) defined a border that was the cause of continuous conflicts. Beginning in 1795, various alternatives were produced in the dominance of the island between France, Spain, and Haitian blacks. After the defeat of the French in Palo Hincado against the Dominican creoles (November 1808), the eastern part of the island was left in the hands of Spain.

La Trinitaria: God, Country, and Liberty

The movement that brought about national independence in the Dominican Republic began with a secret society called La Trinitaria. This initiative was created by Juan Pablo Duarte, together with a group of young Dominicans with the intention of establishing the Dominican Republic as an independent free nation and ending the Haitian occupation.

La Trinitaria was created on July 16, 1838 and its name emerged in honor of the Holy Trinity. This date was strategically chosen because it celebrates the day of the Virgen del Carmen, which led many people to visit the church of the same name in the Colonial Zone, which is right in front of the home of Juan Isidro Pérez where the Trinitarians first met.

In addition to Juan Isidro Pérez, the first Trinitarians also included Pedro Alejandro Pina, Jacinto de la Concha, Félix María Ruiz, José María Serra, Benito González, Felipe Alfau and Juan Nepomuceno Ravelo.

Duarte together with his eight friends started the path that would lead them to the declaration of independence years later. There they said for the first time the Trinitarian Oath, confirmed the goal that united them, and developed the design of the flag of the Dominican Republic.

Duarte and his followers also founded the La Filantrópica and La Dramática societies, which spread their separatist ideas by organizing theatrical events. Unfortunately, these activities resulted in Juan Pablo Duarte’s exile to Venezuela in August 1843.

The other members of the Trinitaria continued in Duarte’s absence, and with the efforts of Francisco del Rosario Sánchez and Matías Ramón Mella, the fight for independence began to gain strength throughout the region.

The Emancipatory process:

Although with some delay, the independence fever reached the eastern part of Hispaniola. Taking advantage of the liberal pronouncement of Irrigation in Spain, elements of the Creole middle classes of Santo Domingo, led by José Núñez de Cáceres, revolted against Spanish domination and proclaimed the independence of the Dominican Republic, with the purpose of integrating it into the Republic of Colombia (November 30, 1821).

However, the project could not crystallize due to the invasion and occupation of the country by Haitian troops (1822). Although Haiti tried to consolidate its annexation with measures such as the abolition of slavery, it found firm opposition in the Creole elite, organized in secret societies with liberal tendencies, such as La Trinitaria.

A patriotic revolt gave way to the second proclamation of independence (February 27, 1844). A US-inspired Constitution was approved (see United States history) and General Santana was elected President.

In March 1861, under constant Haitian pressure, the annexation of the Republic to Spain was proclaimed. The short subsequent period of reincorporation to the old metropolis was characterized by the disinterest of the Spanish Government for the recovered colony, and by the reinforcement of the dictatorial powers of Santana, appointed captain general by Spain, which caused a liberal and ‘nationalist’ uprising (1863) that, after two years of struggle, won the proclamation of independence for the third time (July 11, 1865).

Elected President Báez, he requested annexation to the US, which was not accepted, and to improve the financial situation he leased the Samaná Bay to the Americans. Lack of popular control and ambiguous constitutional institutions frequently led to dictatorial governments, overthrown by uprisings and coups.

The loans, especially made by United States entities, facilitated the economic penetration of the United States, which exercised more and more absolute control over the country. To guarantee the recovery of the loans, President Carlos F. Morales proposed to the US assume the protectorate and control of the final income,

Beginning in 1905, Americans appropriated customs rents. In 1916, under the pretext of supporting President-elect Juan Isidro Jiménez, the US “marines” invaded the island, removed the government, and established a military government.

In 1924 the Americans evacuated the country and Horacio Vázquez was elected, who was forced to resign in 1930. After a period of brief interim Rafael Leónidas Trujillo was elected.

The Trujillo dictatorship:

From 1930 to 1961, the nation’s political and economic life was entirely dominated by the Trujillo family. in front of which was General Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. Relying on the army, the Catholic Church and four different secret police services and enjoying the protection of the United States, which had great sugar interests in the country, imposed one of the strongest tyrannies in Latin America remembered.

From 1930 to 1938 and from 1942 to 1952, Trujillo governed personally, and from 1938 to 1942 and from 1952 to 1961, through trusted men named presidents. An economic policy at the service of the enrichment of the Trujillo family brought the popular masses to a level of extreme poverty.

More than 50% of the state budget was used to support the army and the police forces. On May 30, 1961, Generalissimo Trujillo was assassinated by a group of military and civilians led by General Juan Tomás Díaz.

Today’s Government:

Nowadays the Dominican Republic is a representative democracy whose powers are divided into three:

The President appoints the Cabinet, executes the laws coming from the Legislative Power and is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. The President and Vice President run under the same candidacy and are elected by direct vote every four years.

The Legislative Branch is made up of the National Congress of the Dominican Republic in two chambers:


The president and vice president are elected for a term of 4 years. Congressional and municipal elections are every four years using the second round, mediating two years between the presidential elections and the congressional and municipal elections.

Elections are held on the third Sunday of May of every four years, and are held by people over 18 years of age with the national identity document, or identity and electoral card.

The Current Governing party is Partido de la Liberacion Dominicana (PLD – Purple color), which has been at power for 20 Years. But there has been a lot of political movement this year (2020) which will very probably lead to the winning of a President from a different party, finalizing the 20 years of Power of the PLD.

The elections are coming up soon, so we will see what happens, hopefully the new government will start working on improving the governmental situation of the Dominican Republic.

I hope you enjoyed this blog about the history of the Dominican Republic, hopefully you learned a lot. If you have any questions that aren’t covered in this blog just let me know in a comment at the end of this blog. Have a great one, thanks for reading.

Zona Colonial

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