State and Society in the Dominican Republic

State and Society in the Dominican Republic

State and Society in the Dominican Republic

State and Society in the Dominican Republic

Excerpt

Since the 1980s Latin America and the Caribbean have been undergoing a process of democratization. The military regimes installed during the 1960s and 1970s, having failed to fulfill their promises of economic and social prosperity, have been replaced by civilian ones. The models of development that the military employed excluded the vast majority of the population from political participation. It remains to be seen whether the newly elected civilian regimes will alter this situation. The extent to which democratization can be expected depends on the general patterns of state formation in the region.

Studies of these patterns are scarce, and most of them have focused on economic structures and general political development. This investigation complements earlier studies by focusing on the internal political process in the Dominican Republic in relation to constant foreign intervention. The Dominican Republic mirrors the larger reality of Latin America and the Caribbean in the sense that most of these nations at some point in their histories have had weak social and economic elites and a history of dictatorship. The rise of Rafael L. Trujillo in 1930 resembles that of Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua in 1933. Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic were both fragmented societies; in both cases U.S. Marines intervened to set up national guards that eventually served as stepping stones for the dictators' assumption of national military and political control. Similarly, Haiti, Cuba, and Panama experienced repeated U.S. intrusions when their weak and fragmented societies were in crisis. Systematic study of the development of the state can therefore be useful in examining state formation and the structural obstacles confronted by the democratization process in general. If this study achieves its objective of explaining the tendencies of Dominican social and political development, it should contribute to an understanding of the complex issues of democracy and political instability in Latin America.

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