The Dominican Republic is a relatively small and weak country, heavily dependent on the outside world economically and strategically, and located in the center of one of the world's most important areas of East-West and North-South conflict--the volatile Caribbean. For these reasons, various outside actors have long exercised a significant degree of influence in the island nation's internal politics.
In the early nineteenth century, the principal outside actors were Spain, France, and Britain; toward the end of the century, Germany and the United States had also become involved in Dominican affairs. Because the Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, and because Haiti represented a constant threat to the Dominican Republic, both before and after the Haitian occupation of 1822-44, Haiti also exerted significant influence.
A variety of transnational actors have played a significant role in Dominican politics. Transnational actors had no single national identity; they transcended national boundaries, but had local influence nonetheless. They included multinational corporations, the Socialist International (the international grouping of social democratic parties highly involved in Dominican affairs during the 1970s and the 1980s), the Vatican, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Christian Democratic International, among others.
Many of these agencies, or the embassies of such countries as the United States or Haiti, played a role not only in Dominican international affairs, but in the country's internal affairs as well. Some of them tried to influence national politics; they maintained programs (scholarships, travel awards, etc.) to attract and to influence young people, labor leaders, and government officials. In many ways, they functioned almost like domestic interest groups. In a small, weak, and dependent country like the Dominican Republic, the influence of outside actors was often considerable.
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