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Discuss the impact of the u.s. occupation and the immediate conditions of the dominican republic's political and economic condit

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17 May The Impact of the U. S. Occupation on the Immediate Political and Economic Conditions of the Dominican Republic The 20th history of the Dominican Republic was heavily influenced by the nation’s interaction with the USA, which left a significant imprint upon the development of the nation. In particular, the period of the U. S. intervention and occupation (1916-1924) merits special attention. This essay will constitute an attempt to critically analyze the developments of this historical period, with a particular emphasis on immediate consequences of the U. S. occupation. The path to U. S. occupation of the Dominican Republic was paved in the period of 1899-1911, when the Dominican state became heavily indebted to foreign creditors and was engulfed in political turmoil, with different cliques of military commanders vying for political power (Sagas and Inoa 117). Carlos Felipe Morales, the President of the Dominican Republic in 1903 to 1905, agreed to the surrender of customs revenues from several Dominican ports in exchange for the settlement of the Dominican debt to the U. S.-owned Improvement Company, which became known as the Laudo Arbitral (Pons 288). After the overthrow of Morales in 1905, his successor, Ramon Caceres (1905-1911), tried to settle the continuing debt problems of the Dominican Republic by formalizing the Laudo Arbitral in the form of Dominican-American Convention of 1907, which provided for the effective control of American financial agents over internal finances of the country (Sagas and Inoa 120). After the assassination of Caceres on 19 November 1911, the period of intense political turmoil ensued. The United States finally intervened in December 1915, demanding that the Dominican government approve the appointment of U. S. comptroller for the nation’s public finances, dissolve the Republican Guard and replace it with the U. S.-controlled armed and police force (Pons 316). The refusal of the Dominican government led to the direct intervention of the USA, with the U. S. Marines occupying the Dominican Republic in May 1916. After brief interlude, when the U. S. politicians tried to find suitable collaborators among the Dominican civil elite, on 29 November 1916, the official military occupation of the Dominican Republic by the U. S. forces was announced (Sagas and Inoa 131). The new military administration of the Dominican Republic basically proceeded to remake the Dominican economy and society along the lines that were most beneficial to the interests of the USA. The public works program, which was initially envisaged by Caceres government, aimed at improving the basic infrastructure (Pons 322). In early 1917 the program of bridge, road and railroad construction and repair was announced, and in January 1918 the military government initiated the construction of the national road network that was to run from Santo Domingo through Cibao to Monte Cristi (Betances 83). The construction of these new roads was viewed as a political means of providing better access to the U. S. troops to the interior of Isle of Hispaniola; however, this project became a basis for infrastructure projects of the 1930s and, indirectly, for the next generation infrastructure modernization. Still more significant was the complete reorganization of the Dominican military and police, which was officially aimed at creation of apolitical and professional armed force (Sagas and Inoa 133), but actually led to the institutionalization of pro-American military elite. The contempt the majority of Dominicans felt for occupation and U. S. military regime discouraged the qualified recruits from entering the newly created Constabulary, which was to replace the Dominican army and Republican Guard, with the result that the members of the new force were mainly recruited from the lowest, marginalized strata of the Dominican society. Rafael L. Trujillo, who enlisted in the Constabulary in December 1918, would prove to be the quintessential representative of these new Dominican military elite, with the legacy of law-breaking and a meager educational background (Sagas and Inoa 134). Later these former Constabulary soldiers would constitute a basis of Trujillo regime. In 1922 U. S. Brigadier General Harry Lee undertook the training and reorganization of the Dominican officer corps of the newly renamed Dominican National Police. By 1924, the former Dominican Constabulary became a formidable force, as the ownership of firearms by civilians was prohibited, while improvements in infrastructure allowed the armed force to deploy its troops across the nation with ease (Betances 84). The creation of Constabulary, which coincided with the destruction of traditional power networks of local caudillos, allowed for the centralization of the Dominican state. In the economic sphere, the policies of the U. S. military administration were aimed at undermining export sectors, such as coffee and foodstuffs, in favor of monoculture sugar economy and U. S.-connected import merchants, as the tariff of 1920 demonstrated (Pons 324). The new tariff put 245 U. S. articles on the duty-free list (Pons 324), including agricultural and machine equipment, which greatly facilitated the development of sugar industry, while hurting any prospects of import-substitution industrialization. Import duties on such products as meat, cacao and coffee, were greatly reduced. This led to the collapse of local food cultivation, as traditional foodstuffs became increasingly replaced by foreign products. In total, after the withdrawal of the U. S. forces in 1924, with all major acts of the military administration having been legitimized by the incoming conservative Dominican government, the Dominican Republic was transformed from a relatively decentralized, fractious country, with the dominance of subsistence agriculture and local military elites, into a relatively industrialized nation, which became increasingly dependent on the world market and provided easy access to the U. S. goods, having lost its economic autonomy. The strengthening of centralized armed force gave the potential claimants of the title of the new caudillo an instrument which was much more reliable than previous factional militias, and prepared the grounds for installation of strong military dictatorship in the 1930s. Works Cited Betances, Emelio. State and Society in the Dominican Republic. Ed. Hobart A. Spalding. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995. Print. Pons, Frank Moya. The Dominican Republic: A National History. New York: Marcus Wiener, 1998. Print. Sagas, Ernesto and Inoa, Orlando. The Dominican People: A Documentary History. Princeton, NJ: Marcus Wiener, 2003. Print.

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