Dominican Republic in the 1980's

Dominican Republic in the 1980’s

North America

At the 1981 census the Dominican Republic counted 5,647,977 residents, Which rose to 6,858,000, according to an estimate, in 1988; the current density, therefore, would be 141 residents / km 2. The increase between 1970 (the year of the previous census) and 1981 was 1,636,388 units, with an annual average of about 3.7%; in the first half of the 1980s the increase continued at a slower but still very high rate (around 3%). In particular, the urban population is growing, which in 1986 had reached 53% of the total. In the capital, the residents almost doubled between 1970 and 1981, reaching the figure of 1,313,177 in the city and exceeding 2 million in the entire agglomeration, which now actually extends to the administrative unit of Santo Domingo (the District national). The population of the other large city, Santiago de los Caballeros (316,041 residents In 1981), has also almost doubled.

The effect of the growth of the cities is also noticeable in the decrease in the number of employees in agriculture, passing, in the intercensual interval, from over 60% of the active population to less than 40%. Nevertheless, agriculture continues to be the main activity and sugar cane is still the main crop (8 million q of sugar in 1988); the production of bananas (4 million q) and rice (4.6 million q) is increasing, while that of coffee, cocoa, fruit (citrus, cashew, mango, avocado) and cover. The increase in the zootechnical patrimony, especially the pig one, has been discreet, for which the Dominican Republic is now the first country in the Caribbean area. Mineral resources, albeit modest (bauxite mining is decreasing), however, they contribute not insignificantly to exports. Up to now, no significant new developments have occurred in the industrial sector, although a development policy has been initiated, especially evident in the significant increase in electricity production (5296 million kWh in 1987). The number of tourists has strongly increased (753,000 in 1985), for which the DR is now one of the first states of the Antilles, even if far from the exceptional levels reached by some small islands such as the Bahamas and the American Virgins. The accelerated demographic increase has a negative impact on the trade balance, always passive due to the growth of imports, and on the gross national product per capita (only $ 680 in 1988), which has decreased further in recent years.

History. – The seventies recorded a rather sustained growth of the Dominican economy driven by the increase in the international price of sugar (the main export product) and by the inflow of foreign capital, attracted by the very favorable conditions offered by President J. Balaguer. Massive investments in the agro-industrial, mining and tourism sectors were made by US firms, and the traditional dependence of Dominican foreign trade on the United States was further accentuated. Meanwhile, the country’s profound economic and social imbalances persisted, while, despite the relative stability of the government headed by Balaguer, the military continued to exert considerable influence on the political system.

The elections of May 1978 saw, for the first time since 1966, the participation of the main opposition force, the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), of social democratic tendency, whose victory over Balaguer’s party (the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano, PRSC), after some threats of a coup d’état, which also returned following pressure from Washington, led in August to the presidency of the Republic A. Guzmán Fernández. The new president initiated a moderately reformist policy, trying above all to consolidate the government’s control over the armed forces and neutralize the coup sectors, while the shock oil production of 1979-80 and the subsequent international recession caused a marked worsening of the economic situation. The elections of May 1982 registered a new victory for the PRD, which strengthened its parliamentary majority and whose candidate, SJ Blanco, became president of the Republic in August; a month earlier Guzmán Fernández had committed suicide following allegations of corruption brought against some of his family members.

According to loverists, the new government attempted to cope with the country’s financial difficulties (heavy trade liabilities due to the fall in the price of sugar and other Dominican exports, growth in foreign debt), by launching austerity measures that exacerbated internal tensions. Violent clashes with over fifty deaths and thousands of arrests occurred in April 1984, following the explosion of the popular protest against the strong increases in the prices of basic necessities, and in the following years the persistence of the crisis and restrictive policies (also required by foreign creditors) continued to provoke strikes and demonstrations, with serious accidents and numerous victims. The incidents of corruption in the Blanco administration and the growing divisions in the

A notable growth was recorded by the Dominican Partido de la Liberación (PLD, founded in 1973 by former president J. Bosch), of socialist inspiration, which became the third political force in the country, but the weakening of the PRD allowed Balaguer to return for the fifth time to the presidency of the Republic, despite the PRSC obtained the majority of seats only in the Senate; in January 1987 J. Blanco was indicted for corruption and in November 1988 sentenced in the first instance to twenty years of imprisonment. The sharp decline in sugar exports to the United States since 1985 accentuated the country’s difficulties – which, with unemployment close to 30% of the workforce and underemployment of a similar magnitude, per capita between 1980 and 1990).

Balaguer tried to limit the impact of this policy by promoting a growth in public works and encouraging the inflow of capital from abroad (US investments in the textile and tourism sectors); however, social tension remained very high and the repression of repeated protests continued to cause numerous victims and arrests among trade unionists and members of grassroots popular organizations (united since 1988 in a national coordination). The presidential elections of May 1990 were characterized by the clash between the two old rivals, now more than eighty, Bosch and Balaguer. After a narrow victory.

Dominican Republic in the 1980's