Sugar and Power in the Dominican Republic: Eisenhower, Kennedy, and the Trujillos

Sugar and Power in the Dominican Republic: Eisenhower, Kennedy, and the Trujillos

Sugar and Power in the Dominican Republic: Eisenhower, Kennedy, and the Trujillos

Sugar and Power in the Dominican Republic: Eisenhower, Kennedy, and the Trujillos

Synopsis

A study of the powerful impact that sugar had on U.S.-Dominican relations as the primary vehicle of reciprocal manipulation from 1958 to 1962, Sugar and Power examines the development of the sugar industry in the Dominican Republic. Hall uncovers new evidence that supports the belief that U.S.-Latin American relations during this period were frequently a two-way street, with the United States reacting to Latin American initiatives just as frequently as Latin Americans responded to American initiatives. Both Eisenhower and Kennedy used sugar quota legislation as a foreign policy tool. At the same time, the Trujillo regime played upon Washington's fear of communism in response to the Cuban revolution to obtain an expanded sugar quota.

Excerpt

This book is an examination of the powerful impact that sugar had on US- Dominican relations between 1958 and 1962. It seeks to understand why Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy used sugar quota legislation to maintain US hegemony in the Dominican Republic and push Rafael Leonidis Trujillo Molina and his successors along the path toward democracy, and how the Dominican government used the communist threat to US hegemony in the Western Hemisphere to justify its desire for an increased share of the preferential US sugar market.

The first three chapters provide the background necessary to put the 1958-1962 period into historical perspective. Emphasis is placed on the role of sugar in the Dominican political economy since the colonization of Hispaniola and the political and economic aspects of US-Dominican relations from 1900 to 1957.

Drawing heavily upon US and Dominican government documents, the final chapters of this study argue that the Eisenhower administration initiated economic sanctions against Trujillo's authoritarian regime in an effort to gain hemispheric support against Fidel Castro's regime in Cuba. Kennedy expanded those economic sanctions, especially as they pertained to Dominican participation in the preferential US sugar market, in an attempt to liberalize the Dominican political system and stave off the possibility of a Castro-like communist takeover of the Dominican Republic. After Trujillo's assassination on 30 May 1961, the Kennedy administration used threats and promises revolving around the sugar quota to push the dictator's successors along a path toward democracy. Juan Bosch's election on 20 December 1962 and the subsequent allotment of a generous sugar quota indicated the apparent (albeit temporary) success of US policy toward the Dominican Republic.

My interest in US-Dominican relations sprouted in early 1984 when I joined the US Peace Corps and was sent to the Dominican Republic. Since that time, an untold number of people have provided invaluable intellectual guidance and moral . . .

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