The siblings of Hispaniola: political union and separation of Haiti and Santo Domingo, 1822-1844
De Pena, Gustavo Antonio
In 1822 Haiti annexed the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo through effective rhetorical persuasion. The petition of Dominican municipalities for Haitian tutelage in the early 1820s and Spain’s refusal to object to the Haitian presence on the Spanish side, confirms that Port-Au-Prince’s twenty-two year administration over Santo Domingo was not an outright occupation. Haiti and the municipalities developed a profitable economic partnership. The city of Santo Domingo chose to exclude itself from the relationship and thereby became a political outcast on the island. President Jean Pierre Boyer’s administration from 1818 to 1843 succeeded in engendering a local peasantry, abolishing slavery, and producing significant economic growth in the Cibao. But he was deposed for failing to eradicate state-sponsored racial discrimination and for implementing unpopular and ineffective economic policy. The subsequent union between the two communities failed in 1844 not because of linguistic and cultural differences but rather due to the eastern side’s increasing political and economic marginalization and the increased racial tensions destabilizing the western side. Although most Dominicans at the time agreed that separation from Haiti should be realized in 1844, they disagreed on whether to assemble a sovereign republic or reinstitute a protectorate over Santo Domingo. Considering that the ruling party there favored a French protectorate, the Dominican Republic was born in 1844 because no world power would agree to protect it. At its core, Dominican nationalism was handicapped because the ruling class was not invested in its preservation.