Traditionally the forgotten sector of Dominican
peasants were largely illiterate, unorganized, and
inarticulate. Although numerically the largest group in
society, politically they were the weakest.
By the late 1980s, however, vast changes had begun to
even in the Dominican countryside. For example, in 1960
country was 70 percent rural and 30 percent urban, but as
approached those percentages had been reversed. In the
intervening decades, millions of peasants had left the
of the countryside behind for the somewhat more promising
the cities; many others had emigrated, mainly to Puerto
the United States.
In addition, mobilization and organization had begun in
countryside. The requirement that voters be literate had
struck down in 1962. Peasants voted regularly and in high
numbers, usually splitting their votes between liberal and
conservative candidates. Beginning in the early 1960s,
Corps volunteers, political party officials, community
organizers, students, missionaries, and government
been fanning out into the countryside organizing the
soliciting their votes, and generally mobilizing them.
communications--radio, even television--also reached the
countryside, and, along with numerous farm-to-market
had helped ease the isolation of rural life.
Numerous peasant cooperatives and associations had also
sprung up. Like the unions and the student groups, most of
were associated with the main political parties: Bosch's
PRD, and the Social Christian Reformist Party, (Partido
Reformista Social Cristiano--PRSC; also referred to as the
Christian Democrats). Balaguer also attracted widespread
among the peasants because they associated his rule with
stability, and prosperity. In highly paternalistic
with great publicity, Balaguer also made a point of
land titles to peasants for lands formerly belonging to
Despite the upswing in their political activities,
peasants were still not effectively organized, and they
managed to influence national policy making.
Data as of December 1989