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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Culture

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HISTORY

It is believed that the first inhabitants of the island Hispaniola were the Taino Indians with an estimated population of 300,000 or more in 1492, they have no known written language and were not aggressive people, they spent their time farming, hunting, fishing and entertained themselves by singing, dancing and simply sleeping. The Taino Indians named the island Quisqueya, which is still used by the Dominican people today.

December 5th 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered the island of Hispaniola for Spain, with an area of 29,457 square miles (76,294 sq. km), to later be occupied by two different nations the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The western one-third of the island belonging to Haiti consist of approximately 10,641 square miles (27,700 sq. km), and is very mountainous, while the eastern two-thirds of the island belonging to the Dominican Republic consist of approximately 18,816 square miles (48,734 sq. km), a north to south boundary with Haiti being 195 miles (315 km) long and a distances east to west of 235 miles (380 km) at its widest point, the Dominican Republic also includes several offshore islands.

When Christopher Columbus arrived the Tainos Indians received him and the Spanish settlers with open-arms and showed no hostility, until being abused and enslaved by the Spaniards who used them as their slaves to mine gold and perform hard labor of which the Tainos Indians were not accustom. They tried to resist the Spaniards but their resistance would not last long as they did not have comparable weapons to match the Spaniards and were very quickly killed, within 100 or less years their population was totally annihilated.

In 1697 the island of Hispaniola was divided in two under the Treaty of Ryswick which was signed by France and Spain. This treaty was ratified by the Treaty of Aranjuez on June 3, 1777, and the Treaty of Basila on July 22, 1795, leaving the western one-third of the island (Haiti) under French rule and the eastern two-thirds of the island (Dominican Republic) under Spanish rule.

On January 1, 1804, the French citizens, which occupied the western one-third of the island, became an independent nation creating the Republic of Haiti. Then 18 years later in 1822 Haiti took control of the entire island of Hispaniola for approximately 22 years.

In 1844 the Spanish people who lived in the eastern two-thirds of the island rebelled against the Haitians and proclaimed their independence, calling the new nation the Dominican Republic.

The declaration of independence for the Dominican Republic was written by Juan Pablo Duarte, Francisco del Rosario Sanchez and Ramon Matias Mella on February 27, 1844.

The first president of the Dominican Republic was Pedro Santana who served for three terms, 1844 till 1861, (17 years). For a brief period from 1861 to 1863, the country was annexed by the Spanish government with former President Pedro Santana leading the country under Spanish rule, but a popular revolt developed between 1863 and 1864, with military and United States intervention, a second Independence was regained in February 1865, in the War of Restoration.

Then on September 1, 1882, General Ulises Heureaux, Took control of the country as a dictator, and maintained control with violence and corruption. His mishandling of the government brought economic crises to the country along with currency devaluation. General Ulises Heureaux, was assassinated by Ramon Caceres Vasquez on July 26, 1899.

In 1905 the United States established partial control of the Dominican economy to protect American and European creditors. In 1916 with increasing debts and internal disorders the United States Marines began occupation of the Dominican Republic until 1924 when the occupation ended. At this time the Dominican Republic had an army fully established with the commander, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina, whom only a short time before had been a telegraph clerk in the army, became President in 1930 thus establishing a dictatorship, which history recorded as the longest and most ruthless times in the Dominican. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina shared power with his appointed lieutenants, Hector Trujillo (brother), from 1947 thru 1960 and then Dr. Joaquin Balaguer, from 1960 till 1962.

Trujillo regime brought economic stability to the country but did not allow its people any political freedom, he also changed the name of the capital city from Santo Domingo to Trujilo City. Then on May 30, 1961, leaders of the military assassinated Trujillo in Trujilo City, with President Dr. Joaquin Balaguer assuming control of the armed forces. To demonstrate support of President Balaguer, the United States President John F. Kennedy positioned U.S. warships and planes off the coast of the Dominican Republic.

January 1962, Rafael Bonnelly, was designated president of the Dominican Republic to serve until elections could be held.

December 1962, the first free election in nearly 40 years was held with Juan Bosch Gavilo, being elected president and inaugurated on February 27, 1963. Then on September 25, 1963, Juan Bosch Gavilo, was removed from power by a military coup led by Colonel Elias Wessin. The leaders of the country then appointed a three-man civilian junta, which the United States refused to recognize until the new regime promised to hold new elections by 1965.

April 24, 1965 a group within the army rebelled against the government with the purpose of restoring Juan Bosch Gavilo to president, causing Santo Domingo to become a battleground of civil war. On April 28, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson, of the United States, sent the U.S. Marines into Santo Domingo to stop the fighting and protect U.S. interest.

May 1965, a cease-fire was established. In June 1965, the United States marines were withdrawn, but more than 12,500 other U.S. troops remained. in August 1965, a provisional government was established with Hector Garcia-Godoy , the former foreign minister under Juan Bosch Gavilo appointed president.

New elections were held in June 1966,with Dr. Joaquin Balaguer, being elected president. Under his administration, stability and order was restored to the country. He was re-elected again 1970-1974 and 1974-1978.

In the elections of May 1978, Silvestre Antonio Guzman, was elected president, his inauguration was August 16, 1978, this was the first peaceful transfer of power from one elected president to another. In his fourth year of office 1978 , Antonio Guzman died, an apparent suicide. Jacobo Majluta the vice president became president for 40 days.

May 16, 1982, Salvador Jorge Blanco, was elected president (1982-1986). During Salvador Jorge Blanco, administration he implemented extreme economic policies (austerity) and recovery programs, in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), trying to restore the economy of the country. In doing this it caused widespread public uncertainty with his policies and in 1984, it lead to several days of rioting with more than 50 people being killed.

May 16 1986, Dr. Joaquin Balaguer was re-elected for his fourth term 1986-1990 , then again in 1990-1994,1994-1996. In the 1994, Balaguer election caused widespread accusations of voter fraud, and brought about a constitutional amendment limiting his term in office to only two-years.

May 16, 1996, Leonel Fernandez Reyna, was elected president (1996-2000), with the support of Dr. Joaquin Balaguer, at the age of 90, partially deaf and completely blind, demonstrating his strong political powers even to today.

In the election year 2000, Dr. Joaquin Balaguer, again ran for president at the age of 94, Upon his defeat he has retired to his home in Santo Domingo, were he is still very active in helping with political decisions. May 16, 2000, Hipólito Mejía, was elected president (2000-2004).

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