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The President Ramón Cáceres role

The Dominican Republic has had eight democratically elected presidents in the last 90 years, including the current president Danilo Medina. Five of them have led the country for 78 years. Four others have assumed power just for short periods, such as José Rafael Molina Ureña, who was president for 30 hours in 1965, or Vice President Jacobo Majluta, who governed for 43 days, after the Antonio Guzmán’s suicide. So, there hasn’t been enough alternation in power due to the prolonged periods some presidents had, such as the 30 years of the dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo and the 22 years of Joaquín Balaguer.

But there have been unusual situations; for example, the President Carlos Morales Languasco' abandonment of the government on December 24, 1905, on Christmas Eve, forced by his vice president, Ramón Cáceres, and the congressmen. He ran away to the Azua woods, from where he later marched back to the capital to take back his lost privileges.

Ramón Cáceres remained president, but then he won the Presidency of the Republic elections in 1905. During his term, the Modus Vivendi of 1905 and the 1907 Dominican American Convention were signed. Nevertheless, many sectors didn’t support his government, and a few plots were planned against him, until a group led by Luis Tejera intercepted his car on November 19, 1911. President Cáceres was killed by several shots during the attack. Then, General Luis Tejera was shot in the Ozama Fortress.

The Ramón Cáceres government was known for continuing the economic policy initiated by the dictator Ulises Heureaux. He took care of the roads and railroad extensions building, but he also formed a military army to persecute his opponents.

Cáceres created laws and decrees that benefited the sugar companies, which exempted that sector from all taxes for both manufacturing and exporting. It helped US companies to reside in high-quality agricultural land. Local businesses were affected because their activities did were taxed.

The Dominican-American Convention was created on May 3, 1907. It was a treaty that helped the country to settle the external and internal debt (for more than 40 million dollars) and to overcome the tremendous economic crisis experienced at the beginning of Ramón Cáceres government, due to the negligence of the government of former President Ulises Heureaux (Lilis).

Another Cáceres decision was the Vice presidency elimination, an increase of the term to six years, an army reorganization, a change in the Constitution, and a concession of a higher power to the Executive rather than the Legislative.

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TEXT: Elena Crespo; IMAGES: Archivos