American and European Presence and Outcome of Investment in the Dominican Republic in the 19th and 20th Century

American and European Presence and Outcome of Investment in the Dominican Republic in the 19th and 20th Century

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The United States’ presence in the Caribbean was very palpable in the late 19th century, and after a quick victory during the Spanish-American War over the Spaniards, the United States was the sole hegemon within the New World. After ousting the Spanish from the region, the complete annexation of the Caribbean was completed in less than a decade. This included Puerto Rico, Cuba and in 1905 the Dominican Republic (all Spanish territories at one point). In January of 1905 American’s were notified that U.S. diplomats would be taking over Dominican “custom houses”. These “custom houses” generated nearly all of the revenue that the small republic could conjure up. The officials left the Dominican’s to allocate a measly 45% of their total revenue for domestic projects and expenditures. The other 55% would be expropriated to pay the country’s creditors. This consisted of European and American investors who had a vested interest in doing as they pleased with Dominican finances. The utter takeover of the country’s fiscal prospects was extolled as “one of the momentous steps in the history of American international relations” (pg. 2).
The SDIC (or San Domingo Improvement Company, a New York based firm) had taken over the foreign Debt of the Dominican Republic in 1893. Smith Weed, the president of the firm, maintained friendships with people at the highest levels government, which included but was not limited to Grover Cleveland. The firm felt the insatiable desire to wrest control of Dominican Finances from the Europeans. Between 1893 through 1899 the firm had a virtual monopoly over said finances and this acquisition of power and capital...

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...n an imperial project that at one point involved the alliance of private and public interests, and when there was a deviation in interest, one party acted accordingly. This typifies the majority of the policies enacted (as mentioned above) all throughout the twentieth century. What came about after our marine occupation from 1916-1924 was the rise of Rafael Trujillo, enabling a brutal despot to rule for over thirty years. “Only at the end of the twentieth century, after the receiverships, occupations, and dictatorships were over, did Dominicans themselves begin to make progress” (pg. 161). This self-determination was what was needed to begin with in order for the island to preserve itself and that idea was continually transgressed. This is indicative of how nefarious and totalitarian “liberal internationalism” can be as an international mode of governance.

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