Dominican Republic HISTORY

Dominican Republic in the Early 2000’s

Middle America

State of insular Central America, it occupies less than two thirds of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antilles group. At the 2002 census the population was 8,562,541 residents. The demographic dynamics remains characterized by a high annual increase, which, although progressively decreasing, it is maintained in the period 2000-2005 equal to ‘ 1.5 %. Also it continued the intense urbanization process started in the last decades of the 20th century., and the urban population exceeded in 2003 the 72 % of the total. The most important city in the country and by far the main production center is the capital, Santo Domingo, with 1,817,754 residents in 2002 (2,731,294 residents in the urban agglomeration, 3,000,000 according to a 2005 estimate). There are over 800,000 Haitian refugees who have entered illegally in the country.

According to insidewatch, the economy was traditionally based on poorly processed agricultural products, such as sugar cane (not refined locally), raw tobacco, coffee and cocoa. However, in the eighties and nineties, these products destined for export suffered the negative effects of the fall in prices on international markets and consequently the incomes of farmers and agricultural laborers had a marked decrease. To solve the problem of unemployment and underemployment, the government tried to promote other productive sectors (industry and international tourism) and in most cities about fifty free zones were created with a production mainly focused on clothing, footwear and manufacturing. of cigars, and installed assembly and assembly systems, whose products are mainly intended for the US market. As far as tourism is concerned, in the space of a few years the DR, thanks to the creation of four airports and other receptive infrastructures, has become the second destination in the Caribbean after Puerto Rico; as a tourist function, many coastal areas have developed and equipped, both on the Atlantic and Caribbean sides. During the 1990s, the country experienced growth exceeding the 5 % per annum, but starting from the early years of the 21st century. the situation has evolved in a negative direction and the Royal Decree has entered a serious financial crisis: in May 2003 the second private bank in the country went bankrupt, with a deficit of 2.2 billion dollars (equal to 70 % of the state budget and 11 % of GDP), a huge figure for such a small country. The national currency has lost 50 % of its value, inflation has risen to 27 % and massive capital flight has occurred. In 2003, for the first time in 12 years, growth was negative (- 1.3%), even if the good results of tourism and manufacturing industry as well as the export of ferronickel, the main resource of the subsoil, have saved the country from complete disaster. However, the worsening of living conditions had a heavy impact on large sections of the population and, in addition to the occurrence of numerous episodes of social disorder, requests for emigration to the consulates have multiplied and there have been many attempts to reach Puerto Rico clandestinely.


In the last decades of the 20th century. corruption, inflation and inequality dominated the economic and political life of the country where the level of social conflict was always high (demonstrations, strikes, protests). At the same time, the country saw the end of the political hegemony of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC), conservative formation of the elderly leader J. Balaguer, and the victory in the legislative elections of May 1998 of the Dominican Social Democratic Partido Revolucionario (PRD). Two years later, in the presidential elections of May 2000, H. Mejía, candidate of the PRD, obtained the 49.8% of the votes, touching the absolute majority required. The withdrawal of the other two candidates, including Balaguer himself, made the second round superfluous. The four-year mandate of Mejía, which according to what was announced by the president himself was supposed to ferry the republic out of the economic crisis and reform political mores, disappointed the country’s expectations: unemployment and inflation grew and the president himself became involved in episodes of corruption and clientelism which saw, among others, its security officer. A new sensational scandal, the colossal bank fraud carried out by Banco Intercontinental, SA (Baninter), in May 2003, exposed the government to increasingly intense attacks by the opposition and highlighted the state of crisis in the country which was shaken in January 2004 by a general strike accompanied by serious unrest (nine dead and dozens injured). In the following months the political battle in preparation for the presidential elections of May 2004 was reignited: Mejía, opposed by his own party and by foreign investors, decided to run for a second term but was defeated by L. Fernández Reyna, already elected president in 1996, candidate of the Dominican Partido de la Liberación (PLD), which won the victory with 57 % of the votes.

Dominican Republic HISTORY