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Word Count: 357
The seat of the original capital of the Spanish New World the Dominican Republic claims a host of American firsts The first permanent European settlement the first university the first church and the first cathedral the first mass the first royal court etc The importance of Santo Domingo declined however as the bulk of the colonization and exploration shifted to the mainland The French established the colony of Haiti in the western part of the island and the slaves there revolted and gained freedom in 1804 In 1822 the Haitians gained control over the entire island for 22 years until 1844 when the Dominican Republic became freed of the Haitian Domination reverting to the status of a colony of Spain in 1861 In 1863 the process toward restoration bore fruit and full independence was recoveredThe Americans occupied the Dominican Republic for 8 years beginning in 1916 to ensure the payment of debts to American and European banks In 1930 the dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo gained power which he held inflexibly until his assassination in 1961The years immediately following Trujillos death were turbulent Juan Bosch was elected president in 1962 but was felled by a military coup A series of short-lived provisional governments ensued until civil war broke out In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson sent the Marines to stop the fighting and avoid another Cuba Elections were held in 1966 and Joaqun Balaguer who had held numerous posts in the Trujillo era was elected president He was re-elected in 1970 and 1974 In 1978 Antonio Guzmn of the PRD opposition party defeated him and power was begrudgingly handed over In 1982 Salvador Jorge Blanco also of the PRD was elected Joaqun Balaguer was re-elected for a fourth term in 1986 defeating the PRD candidate by the barest of margins In the 1990 elections Balaguer again triumphed this time over his old rival Juan Bosch both candidates being in their 80s In the most recent elections in
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