Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies

"Yankee, Go Home ... and Take Me with You!" Imperialism and International Migration in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 1961-1966 (1)

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies

"Yankee, Go Home ... and Take Me with You!" Imperialism and International Migration in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 1961-1966 (1)

Article excerpt

Abstract. This article re-examines the relationship between United States imperialism in Santo Domingo and the advent of mass Dominican migration to the United States in the early 1960s. There was no coherent imperial plan to displace Dominicans from their homeland. The United States relied on a combination of brutal domination and negotiated consent in its attempts to control politics in Santo Domingo. Knowingly or not, Dominicans capitalized on Washington's desire to present the US as a friend of the Dominican people to wedge their way from the periphery to the centre of the imperial system. However, the rise of migration did not signal the beginning of a new, more egalitarian alternative to imperialism in hemispheric relations. More research is needed about the new system of international inequality that emerged as Dominican migrants moved back and forth between a perpetually reeling Dominican economy and the bleak urban spaces of the United States.

Resume. Cet article reexamine la relation entre l'imperialisme americain a Santo Domingo et l'avenement de la migration massive dominicaine vers les Etats-Unis au debut des annees soixante. Alors, il n'y avait pas de plan imperial cherchant a deplacer les Dominicains de leur pays. Pour le controle politique de Santo Domingo, les Etats-Unis s'appuyaient sur une combinaison de domination brutale et de consensus negocie. Explicitement ou non, les Dominicains ont su capitaliser sur le desir de Washington de se presenter comme l'ami du peuple dominicain, afin de se frayer un chemin de la peripherie au centre du systeme imperial. Cependant, la croissante migration n'a pas represente le debut d'une nouvelle alternative, plus egalitaire, a l'imperialisme dans les relations hemispheriques. Davantage de recherche est necessaire sur le nouveau systeme international d'inegalite qui emerge avec les perpetuels deplacements de migrants dominicains entre la chancelante economie dominicaine et les espaces ternes des centres urbains americains.

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In 1968 an anthropologist studying rural to urban migration in the Dominican Republic found, to her surprise, that reaching Santo Domingo was not the ultimate goal of the campesinos she interviewed. As she expected, the rural population was mobilizing in response to shifting economic conditions and rumours of distant urban comforts. And the largest number of those who left their villages did end up in the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo. But peasants' notion of progress, she found, was shaped around the eventual prospect of reaching New York (Gonzalez 1970).

That Dominicans might imagine a world in which movement from rural backwardness to urban modernity had its logical conclusion in the United States is, in retrospect, no surprise. From the middle of the nineteenth century, relations between the United States and the Dominican Republic were both intimate and brutally lopsided. Representatives of the United States government sought to purchase a portion of the Dominican Republic shortly after it achieved independence from Haiti, and later President Ulysses S. Grant nearly succeeded in a project to annex the entire country. In the 1890s a group of Wall Street chiselers, with connections in Washington, purchased the Dominican national debt. In collaboration with Dominican dictator Ulises Hereaux, they drove the country into bankruptcy. In the wake of that disaster, the United States government, declaring itself the arbiter of civilized economic behaviour in the hemisphere, took control of the Dominican customs house. In 1916, the United States military occupied and ruled the country by force for eight years, then supplied a 30-year dictatorship with legitimacy and aid, then invaded and occupied a second time in 1965. United States movies, music, and consumer products also leaked into the small national market. Representatives of the United States occasionally made earnest, if self-serving, attempts to alleviate poverty, build a modern state, and establish a democratic polity in the Dominican Republic. …

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