Harvest of Empire- Dominican Republic

Harvest of Empire- Dominican Republic
  • Timeline
    • “Between 1961 and 1986 more than 400,000 people legally immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic, and another 44,000 moved to Puerto Rico, while thousands more entered both places illegally. More than 300,000 Dominicans lived in New York City by 1990, and the total was expected to reach 700,000 early in the millennium, making Dominican migration one of the largest to this country of the past forty years”; pg 117
    • July 4th 1992 marked the first Dominican riot in the US. Dominicans rioted when a white police officer fatally shot a Dominican drug dealer
  • Trujillo
    • Modern existence began on May 30, 1961 when El Jefe, General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, was assassinated by fellow officers after 31 years of absolute poweràKennedy and the CIA ousted Trujillo even though previous US governments supported Trujillo
    • Having connections with Trujillo’s officials brought on privileges; in the Dominican Republic everything was accomplished via personal ties
    • Acquiring a passport was nearly impossible without getting the dictator’s approval
  • Post-Trujillo
    • For the next 30 years, Dominican political life was dominated by the same personalities and unresolved conflicts of the April 1965 revolution where Bosch’s followers were tortured for more than a decade. More than 3,000 were killed between 1966 and 1974.
    • During the 4 years after Trujillo’s death, Dominicans had their first democratic presidential election in which Juan Bosch won. Juan was pro-land reform and wanted to maintain the communist movement, which angered both the sugar growers and US government. Within seven months after his inauguration he was overthrown and forced into exile in Puerto Rico, where he still remained popular
    • April 1965 marked the start of the uprising that sought to restore the country’s first democratically elected president, Juan Bosch. President Lyndon Johnson dispatched 26,000 troops to invade the DR, in hopes of avoiding a Castro-style evolution from the Dominicans
  • Caamaño
    • Caamaño was the son of an infamous Trujillo-era general
      • Those who supported Bosch called themselves “Constitutionalists”; their opponents were “Loyalists”
  • Corruption
    • Telephones were tapped, hotel rooms were wired with microphones, mail was opened, cables scrutinized; pg 120; “the dictator’s secret informers seeped throughout the land, no man could know whether his neighbor, or his lifelong friends, or even his brother or son or wife, might inform against him…everyone feared. No one trusted anyone”
    • The second night of the revolt was marked by military planes dropping bombs on the downtown area
    • The third morning, the air force conducted all-out attacks on the Duarte Bridge, which resulted in more than 50 deaths and many more were wounded. The constitutionalists still held the critical gateway to the city after the victory at the bridge. This resulted in rebel support plummeting, and government soldiers deserted their posts and surrendering
    • On April 28, President Johnson sent marines because US officials leaked exaggerated claims to the press that Communists were in control of the rebellion and American lives were in danger
      • Right wing violence against Bosch supporters even though US and international observers were supervising
  • Dominican migration to the US
    • To diffuse the crisis, the US helped bring Dominicans to the US
    • Dominicans went largely unnoticed at first; they were seen as “blacks who happened to speak Spanish”; 117
    • Newspapers began recording accounts of Dominicans involved in violent crime/drug trafficking which angered the whites who ended up blaming Dominican immigrants for the city’s decline
    • By 1990s, Dominicans were the second largest Hispanic group in the northeast
    • The newspapers didn’t explain why so many Dominicans came to the US, they didn’t explore the immigrants’ success in commerce or public university system
  • Distinct Diaspora
    • Dominicans were not classified as refugees (Cubans fled Castro at the same time), therefore Dominicans didn’t receive federal assistance upon arrival (Cubans did)
    • Dominican immigrants were better educated, more urbanized, and more politically active than average Mexican or Puerto Rican migrants
      • 41% of Dominican immigrants had completed 10 years of school or greater, more than twice the average of city dwellers in the Dominican Republic (125), more politically aware
    • Dominican pioneers were dominated by the search for work and survival because acceptance of charity is frowned upon
    • During the 1980s Dominican immigration was more economic than political
    • Adept in business enterprise: bodegas, supermarkets, and consumer goods stores in NYC, just like the Cubans in Miami
    • A lot of the tension between Dominicans and Puerto Ricans stemmed from the fact that many Dominicans were illegally immigrating to Puerto Rico. Many Dominicans used Puerto Rico as a segue to the US because there are no customs or immigration checkpoints from PR to the US, some Dominicans chose to stay in PR because of the weather.
      • Puerto Ricans in the mainland complained that Dominicans were taking their jobs and caused crime rates to increase. They would then call their PR relatives in the states and complain to them, the Puerto Ricans in the US started to view the Dominicans in the US the same way
    • Dominicans in the United States also took over Puerto Rican dominated areas such bodegas, taxicabs, and music. Some Puerto Ricans even blame Dominicans for the 1980s influx of cocaine and crack trade
    • Very similar conflicts developed within Latino Community as did between the early Latinos and white Americans
    • Now, there is extreme poverty, electrical blackouts, polluted water, roads are full of potholes, and unemployment is through the roof. Poverty drives young Dominicans to the US; Dominican standard of living shot down in the 1980s and 1990s; over 60% of population earned poverty wages. One such example, Dominican doctors were getting paid more as a dishwasher in the US than performing surgery in the DR
    • Roles differ: in the US, the oldest child works hard to become a prominent member in society, as a doctor, lawyer, wall street, etc. in the DR, the oldest works hardest to bring the family out of poverty, to bring them to the United States
  • Professional Athletics
    • The first organizations the immigrants formed were social clubs and sports associations to keep sense of community
    • Dominicans also take a lot of pride in their professional athletics, especially baseball
      • Many of the professional baseball players are from San Pedro de Macoris, the same place where giant sugarcane plantations once dominated the landscape and US marines hunted down guerrillas
  • Notable Dominicans
    • Oscar de la Renta (designer), Michael Camilo (jazz pianist), Julisa Alvarez and Junot Diaz (novelists)


  • “Stories of a Dominican Immigrant”
  • 0:50-2:00
  • 3:08-4:25
  • 5:35- 7:30
  • 8:45-end
    • “Black and Latino”: start at 10 seconds to 8:08
    • The rest of the video talks about how the media uses lighter skinned Latinos as the typical Latina and the darker Latinos as African American
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