Dominican Republic. According to CountryAAH, the total population in Dominican Republic is 10,847,921 people in 2020. The 50-year-old lawyer Leonel Fernández, who was president of the Dominican Republic from 1996 to 2000, won the first round of the presidential election on May 16 for a coalition of several small parties by just over 57%, against 33% for the incumbent President Hipólito Mejía (Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, PRD). The turnout was unusually high, almost 73%.
Power outages and gasoline shortages continued throughout the year. A two-day strike in January in protest of the government’s handling of the energy issue became violent, resulting in nine dead, dozens injured and 500 arrested for riots.
By the end of May, both the Dominican Republic and neighboring Haiti were hit by a major tropical storm that killed up to 500 people and left thousands of families homeless in the Dominican Republic. Especially the area around the town of Jimaní in the south was affected by floods and landslides.
After a popular uprising, the first free elections in the country’s history were held in 1963. They were won by author Juan Bosch, who was inaugurated as president. But already seven months he was overthrown by a military coup, carried out by the same military people who had been behind the Trujillo dictatorship. In April 1965, there was a constitutional revolt led by Colonel Francisco Caamaño Deñó. The United States claimed to have “Castro-Communist” sympathies, invading in May with 35,000 Marines. They shattered the popular uprising in blood and before leaving the country made their way to the presidential post of one of Trujillo’s close associates, Joaquín Balaguer, who thanked them for opening the country’s doors to the multinational North American companies – especially Gulf and Western. This company got full control of the sugar industry, got interests in banks,
The nationalist opposition tried to build up resistance in various ways, and in 1973 Francisco Caamaño was killed as leader of a guerrilla group. Juan Bosch’s party, Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) was split, and its right wing led by Antonio Guzmán removed most reform-oriented proposals from the program. In this way, it became “acceptable” in the eyes of the North American foreign ministry, and when the party won the election in 1978, the United States, citing its human rights policy, put pressure on the military to make it respect the will of the people.
The PRD’s program emphasized the reintroduction of democratic freedoms and the initiation of an economic policy aimed at redistributing income for the benefit of the majority of the people. In fact, democracy increased, and the popular organizations took advantage of this opportunity to rebuild their organizations, marked by decades of repression.
On May 16, 1982, new presidential elections were held, and PRD candidate, Salvador Jorge Blanco, was elected new president. At the same time, José Francisco Peña Gómez was elected mayor of Santo Domingo. He was one of the Latin American leaders of the Socialist International. On July 4, outgoing President Antonio Guzmán committed suicide. It created a tense political situation that was resolved only when the military declared it would respect the election result.
President Blanco inherited a trade deficit of $ 562 million in 1982. This was mainly due to falling sugar prices and rising oil prices. Foreign debt reached $ 2 billion and unemployment affected 25% of the economically active population.
Blanco initiated a crisis program drawn up on IMF guidelines, but in 1983 the price of sugar fell further – to half that of the previous year. The sugar represented 44% of the country’s export revenue. In 1984, the government removed subsidies for a number of industries, raising prices for a range of basic commodities and medicines by 200%. This triggered a massive wave of protest, which was stimulated by several opposition forces and the trade union movement. The union offices were occupied by the military and the severe repression left 100 dead, 400 wounded and over 5,000 arrested.