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Dominican Republic Table of Contents

Dominican Republic


Government: Republic with elected representative governmental system. Executive was dominant branch. Presidents served four-year terms and could be reelected. Legislature, known formally as Congress of the Republic, consisted of Senate and Chamber of Deputies. Judicial power exercised by Supreme Court of Justice and by other courts created by 1966 Constitution and by law. All judges chosen by Senate, not by president. Provincial (state) governors appointed by president; municipalities (counties) governed by elected mayors and municipal councils.

Politics: Following independence from Haiti in 1844, country characterized by political instability for almost a century. Dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina took power in 1930 and ruled in repressive authoritarian fashion until his assassination in 1961. Brief civil war broke out in 1965 between liberal Constitutionalists--supporters of 1963 constitution promulgated during short-lived presidency of Juan Bosch Gaviño-- and conservative Loyalist military factions. Conflict aborted by direct military intervention by United States. Subsequent elections brought Trujillo protégé Balaguer to presidency, an office he held for twelve years. Balaguer's attempt to nullify 1978 elections thwarted by pressure from Washington, allowing Silvestre Antonio Guzmán Fernandez of social democratic Dominican Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Dominicano--PRD) to assume nation's leadership. PRD also won 1982 elections with lawyer Salvador Jorge Blanco as its standard bearer. Both PRD governments plagued by economic difficulties that forced them to institute austerity measures instead of social reforms they initially advocated. Declining popularity of Jorge government contributed to Balaguer's election for a fourth term beginning in 1986.

International Relations: Diplomatic activities concentrated on Caribbean, Latin America, United States, and Western Europe. Relations with neighboring Haiti traditionally strained, owing to numerous cultural divergences and long history of Dominicans' and Haitians' meddling in each other's affairs. Most important international relationship with United States, on which Dominican Republic has political, economic, and strategic dependence.

International Agreements and Membership: Signatory of Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty) and all major inter-American conventions. Member of United Nations and its specialized agencies, Organization of American States, International Monetary Fund (see Glossary), Inter-American Development Bank, and other multilateral financial institutions. Also adhered to General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Data as of December 1989