chapter
The Dominican Republic
Pages 5

AD 650: The island which came to be known as Hispaniola (or Quisqueya, the Amerindian name), and which was later divided into the Dominican Republic and Haiti, was inhabited by the Taino. 1492: The Italian navigator in the service of the Spanish Crown, Cristoforo Colombo (Christopher Columbus), landed on the island and named it Hispaniola (‘Little Spain’). Columbus founded a small settlement, Navidad, on Hispaniola. 1493: The first permanent European settlement, named Isabella, was founded on the island. 1496: The Spanish established the city of Santo Domingo. 1520s: The Spanish imported African slaves to replace the Amerindian labourers that had disappeared as a result of exploitation and illness. 1697: The western part of the island was ceded to France as Saint-Domingue (present day Haiti) by the Treaty of Ryswick. The remaining section, controlled by the Spanish, was called Santo Domingo. 1795: France gained nominal control of the whole island through the Treaty of Basle. 1808: The eastern side of Hispaniola was returned to Spanish rule. 1821: The Spanish administration became increasingly tyrannical, resulting in an uprising by the island’s inhabitants, who proclaimed their independence. 1822: The President of Haiti, Jean-Pierre Boyer annexed Santo Domingo, and abolished slavery. 27 February 1844: Haitian rule was overthrown by a resistance group, La Trinitaria, under the leadership of Juan Pablo Duarte, and Santo Domingo declared its independence, forming the Dominican Republic. 1861: Owing to the threat of invasion by Haiti, President Pedro San tana requested the reestablishment of Spanish dominion. 1863-64: The Spanish Government withdrew its forces, following a popular revolt and intervention by the USA. February 1865: Independence was regained following a ‘War of Restoration’. 1882-99: The country came under the rule of Ulises Heureaux. 1905: The Republic’s inability to pay its foreign creditors led to the establishment, by the USA, of a 50-year customs receivership. 29 November 1916-29 March 1924: The Dominican Republic was occupied by US military forces. 16 August 1930: The commander of the Dominican Army, Gen. Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina, seized power in a military coup d’état, overthrowing the elected President, Horacio Vásquez. 1937: Trujillo ordered the massacre of thousands of Haitian immigrants working on the

19 March 1950: An investigative committee appointed by the Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) found that Cuba and Guatemala had backed a ‘Caribbean Legion’, that aimed to invade the country and overthrow Trujillo. The OAS also censured the Dominican Republic for aiding Haitian exiles planning to overthrow the Haitian Government. 16 May 1950: Gen. Héctor Trujillo was re-elected to the presidency unopposed. 3 August 1960: President Trujillo resigned on grounds of ill-health and was replaced by his Vice-President, Dr Joaquín Balaguer Ricardo. Gen. Rafael Trujillo remained the absolute leader of the country. Following his appointment, Balaguer proposed that all political detainees and political exiles be granted a general amnesty. 20 August 1960: A meeting of OAS Foreign Ministers concluded that the Dominican Republic had supported a plot to assassinate the Venezuelan President. Almost every American nation subsequently severed diplomatic relations with the Dominican Republic. 30 May 1961: Gen. Rafael Trujillo was assassinated. 2 June 1961: Maj.-Gen. Rafael Trujillo, Jr, the eldest son of Gen. Rafael Trujillo, was appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thereby effectively taking control of the country. Balaguer remained as President. 23 October 1961: Following several days of severe rioting, Balaguer announced that Gen. Héctor Trujillo and Gen. José Trujillo, Gen. Rafal Trujillo’s brothers, were to go into voluntary exile. 18 November 1961: In response to the decision by Héctor and José Trujillo to return from Bermuda to the Dominican Republic the USA warned that it would intervene to prevent any member of the Trujillo family from re-establishing control over the country. 19 November 1961: Maj.-Gen. Rafael Trujillo, Jr, resigned his position and announced that he was to leave the country. His two uncles and 29 other family members also went into exile in the USA. 27 November 1961: Opposition members demanded Balaguer’s resignation and his replacement by a Council of State. However, Balaguer refused to stand down, leading to a general strike. 17 December 1961: Balaguer formed a Council of State, presided over by himself; the Council was to have full executive and legislative powers, and replaced the dissolved National Assembly. 4 January 1962: The OAS voted to lift economic and political sanctions on the Dominican Republic. Most member states subsequently restored diplomatic relations. 16 January 1962: A military coup d’état, led by Gen. Rodriguez Etchevarria, failed to overthrow the Council of State. Two days later Balaguer resigned as President and was replaced by Dr Rafael F.Bonnelly, one of the leaders of the National Civic Union. The Council of State was replaced by the Provisional Government. 20 December 1962: The leader of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), Juan Bosch Gaviño, was elected President at the country’s first democratic elections for 38 years. The PRD also won majorities in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. 25 September 1963: The Government was deposed by a military coup d’état, led by Col

25-26 April 1965: The civilian junta was overthrown by military officers loyal to former President Bosch, led by Col Francisco Caamaño. A civil war broke out between proBosch supporters and military units led by Wessin y Wessin. However, US troops were subsequently sent to the Dominican Republic and the violence was suppressed. 4 May 1965: Caamaño was sworn in as constitutional President. 8 May 1965: Caamaño’s opponents established a three-man junta, the Government of National Reconstruction, under the leadership of Gen. Antonio Imbert. 24 May 1965: US troops came under OAS control and an OAS peace-keeping force was despatched to the Dominican Republic. 31 August 1965: The four-month civil war ended following the signature by the two sides of the Act of Dominican Reconciliation, which included a general amnesty for all those involved. 3 September 1965: The former Foreign Minister, Dr Héctor García-Godoy, was sworn in as President of the Provisional Government, under the terms of the Act of Dominican Reconciliation. 1 July 1966: Balaguer, the candidate for the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC), was successful at presidential elections and was sworn in as President. The PRSC also secured a majority of seats in both houses of the new National Congress. 16 May 1970: Balaguer was re-elected as President. The PRD did not contest the elections, in protest at Balaguer’s decision to seek a further term in office. 5 February 1973: A state of emergency was declared when a guerrilla force, led by Caamaño, landed in the Dominican Republic. It was defeated by the armed forces and Caamaño was killed in the fighting. The Government accused Bosch of planning the invasion, but he denied the charges and went into hiding. 16 May 1974: Balaguer was elected to his third consecutive term as President. The opposition did not contest the elections following a dispute over voting arrangements. 21 August 1974: The Senate approved a proposal whereby presidents were to be prevented from serving more than two consecutive terms in office. 8 June 1975: A group of Dominican exiles invaded the country with the aim of overthrowing Balaguer. The invasion was defeated and the group’s leaders, Carlos Peña Jaquez and Claudio Caamaño (the nephew of Col Caamaño) subsequently received long prison sentences. 16 May 1978: The PRD candidate, Silvestre Antonio Guzmán Fernández, defeated former Presidents Balaguer and Bosch at presidential elections. 8 September 1978: Guzmán introduced an amnesty for political prisoners and exiles. The President also forced a large number of senior police and army officers to resign as part of his plan to depoliticize the security forces. 16 May 1982: The PRD candidate, Dr Salvador Jorge Blanco, defeated former Presidents Balaguer and Bosch at presidential elections. 3 July 1982: Guzmán committed suicide and was replaced as President on an interim basis by the then Vice President Jacobo Majluta, until Blanco took office as President, in August.