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Power Structure and Patronage in a Community of the Dominican Republic Author(s): Malcolm T.

Walker Source: Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, Vol. 12, No. 4 (Oct., 1970), pp. 485-504 Published by: Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Miami Stable URL: . Accessed: 23/05/2011 17:24
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Department of Anthropology Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Illinois


n this paper it is intendedto presentthe "politicalethnography" of in Villalta,1a community the DominicanRepublic,fromthe period beforethe rise of Trujillountil May 1968, whenmunicipal elections were held throughout country.The principalconcernis to show how the the powerstructure systemof patronage and which developedin Villalta duringthe Trujilloyears has respondedto the political fortunesof the countrysincethe deathof Trujillo. Muchof the discussionwill deal with a smallgroupof men who are the principaldispensersof politicalpatronageand who, over the years, haverepresented community the outside.At lowerlevels,thosewho the to acquiesceto the judgmentof these men frequentlydo so in accordance with patron-client ties.2 Because of both political and economic change withinand outsidethe community,the basis on which this acquiescence

* The research upon which this article is based was funded by the Institute of Latin American Studies, Columbia University, the Research Institute for the Study of Man, New York, and the Institute of Latin American Studies in Education, Teachers' College, Columbia University. Field work was carried out in the Dominican Republic between June 1967 and August 1968. 1 Paul Friedrich, "The Legitimacy of a Cacique," in Marc J. Swartz, ed., Local-Level Politics (Chicago: Aldine PublishingCompany, 1968), p. 243. 2 George M. Foster, "The Dyadic Contract in Tzintzuntzan,II: Patron-Client Relationships,"American Anthropologist 65 (1963): 1281. Foster distinguishestwo basic types of dyadic contract, namely, "colleague" contracts, which serve to tie persons of approximatelyequal socioeconomic status, and "patron-client" contracts, which are formed between persons of differing status who exchange different kinds of goods and services.




has rested, has undergone changeand the position of the power-holders moretenuous. has been ren-dered THE COMMUNITY ITSSETTING AND

Villalta is part of the Central Cordillera,the Physiographically, mountain describedas the backboneof the country.The rangefrequently pueblo,with a populationof some 5,000, is locatedat the westernend of an extremelylarge and rich valley that is wateredby a complexsystem of irrigation canals. The municipiopopulationis approximately 31,000, and outside the Villalta Valley the greaternumberslive in pueblecitos (townships) and dispersedhomesteadsin other large valleys that are conmected roads to the pueblo. These valleys are partiallyirrigated by and,like the VillaltaValley,producea varietyof freshvegetablecropsfor the Santo Domingomarket.The remainder in small scatteredvaley live some accessibleonly by muleand horseback, a few famiand settlements, lies who are relativenewcomersto the municipality more or less in live completeisolation.In these, the dry-farming areas,the valleys and lomas (hillsides) are mainlyutilizedfor maize and beans that are mostly sold to largerstoresin the pueblecitos in thepueblo. or Outsidethe Villalta Valley, localities definablein terms of kinship are readily identifiable.Here, individualslive within the nexus of the "personal kindred," a locality groupingmade up of family and friends 3 andreinforced ties of ritualkinship.Familyrelationships generally by are strongin theseareasandkinshipobligations keenlyfelt, although the are in irrigated valleysfamilieswith greaterresourcestend to structure effective kin ties in such a way as to exclude those who are likely to become an economicburden.It rarelyhappens,however,that help is refuseda poor relativeas thiswouldearnthe contemptof one'skindred. In agricultural activities,there is a good deal of cooperationand
mutual help, the most institutionalized form of which is the junta system-

looselyorganized mutualhelp groupswhicharerecruited an individual by from amonghis personalkindred.In times past the juntagroupswere of great economic importanceand this is still the case in the dry-farming regions.In the irrigatedvalleys,the groupshave considerably weakened in recent years and even in the dry-farming regionsit appearsthat the loosely organizedgroupsof the past are givingway to smallergroupsof two to five men who cooperateclosely together.People explain that the
3 Norman E. Whitten, Jr., Class, Kinship, and Power in an Ecuadorian Town (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1965), p. 140.



juntasystem is not as strongas in earlieryears because wages are now expectedand in any case, there is "less cooperation." more likely exA planationfor the declineof the systemis that there are now many more withoutland or with insufficient land and thus partly dependentupon wagelabor. the Notwithstanding inequalitiesof income which are particularly apparent amongfamiliesin the irrigated valleys,amongall those who live outsidethe VillaltaValley one is morestruckby the degreeof cooperation andharmony thatprevailsthanby whatevidencethereis for concealment of resourcesand the withholding help. Moreover,amongthe campeof sinos, the termmost commonlyused of those who live outsidethe main valley, thereare strongfeelingsof commonality, sentiments whichare ocin casionallyexpressed suchtermsas "Wecampesinos," also revealed and in an ambivalence towardsthose of the pueblo who, it is believed, seek to exploit them. In these areas there is also a clear recognitionof local leadership. Leadershipin any locality is exercisedby men who are the heads of large families, own more land than others, or who own fairly large storesin the pueblecitos.Some of these men have long held positionsas alcaldes-the mayorsof municipalsectionsand the local representatives of law andorder.Alcaldesare appointedby the ayuntamiento (municipal council) in the puebloand amongcampesinosthe post carriesgreatprestige. In the pueblo,men who are recognizedas leadersin theirareaspublicly aretreated withsomerespectalthough a ratherpatronizing in manner. Privately,however, the more sophisticatedof the pueblo folk are conof temptuous the campesinos. They considerthemto be ignorantand find theirwaysold-fashioned ratherquaint. and In the dry-farming areasand in the irrigated valleys it is customary to form compadrazgo(godparent) ties with local men of influence,and this places the individualin a better position to extractfavors whether they be in the form of creditin the store, or the occasionalday of paid work,or the loan of some item of equipment. Influential campesinosalso frequently as intermediaries behalfof their clientsin dealingswith act on the police and the courtand othergovernment functionaries locatedwithin the pueblo. To formritualkin ties withthesemenearnsone no disrespect and,in fact, the formingof suchties may be encouraged those who are sought by out. On the otherhand, to bypass deliberately establishedsystem of the relationships any area of the campo and seek to form ties with men in of influencein the pueblo earns one contempt.Such a person is said to be a sinvergiienza (withoutshame). Yet this does not inhibitmanyfrom



to attempting form such contracts.All villalteros,in fact, standready to exploit any personalcontactthat may be to theirmaterialadvantageand this has probablyalwaysbeen the case. It appears,however,that whereas until recent years the economic securityof most viflalterosoutside the mainvalleyrestedin the personalkindred,for a growingnumberthis is no longerthe case. Expanding populationandthe everincreasing fragmentation of parcelas through inheritance have forcedmanyto leave theirareas andmove to the puebloor othercentersin searchof work.Others,whose householdsare too largeto be supported the incomethat comes from by the sale of crops must supplementtheir income with earningsas farm laborerson neighboring parcelasor in the VillaltaValley whereemploymentopportunities greater. are In short,for manythereis an increasing needto seek contactsbeyond the personalkindredand local men of influenceand, as this tendencyincreases,it is likely to lead to the furtherretrenching effectivekin ties of to excludeotherthan those with whomreciprocity economically is mutually advantageous thusengender and suspicionand distrust betweenfamilies. These tendenciesare clearly exemplifiedin the interpersonal and inter-familial relationships presentlyfinds in the Villalta Valley and one in the pueblo. Of the 14,000 tareas 4 thatareunderirrigation the VillaltaValley, in morethanhalf are in the handsof colonists.The averagecolony holding is twenty-six tareasbut parcelasrangefromfive to 100 tareas.The colony land is administered a local colonies officewhich is responsibleto the by Agrarian Institute the capital. in The original colonists were Spaniards,Japanese, and Hungarians who were broughtto the valley by Trujillobetween 1955 and 1957 and settledin three"colonies" werebuiltin the valley.The colonistswere that providedwith land which Trujilloconfiscatedfrom Dominicanowners. Two years after they arrived,all the Hungarians were deported;of the eightyforeignfamiliesthatstillremain,all but fivehave acceptedcompensation as liquidationof their rightsto parcelasto which they previously heldtitle. From the time of their arrival,most of the foreignershave tended to remainaloof fromthe Dominicans.Therehas been little intermarriage and, with only one or two exceptions,the foreigners have the ultimateintention of returningto their home countries.Most of the present-day colonists are Dominicanswho came from widely differentparts of the

Six Dominican tareas equal one U.S. acre.



municipality,although the foreignersstill illegally rent a number of parcelasof colony land and as rentersor privateownerscontrolsome of the bestirrigated landin the valley. The colony housingsituationin the valley has resultedin unrelated familieslivingside by side and, as in the puebloitself, wheremany of the are inhabitants relativenewcomersto the community; locality groupings definable termsof kinshipare lacking.Juntagroupsdo not exist among in thosewho workthe colonyland and thereis little cooperationamongany of the agriculturalists who grow their crops within the irrigatedarea. Rather, there are constantdisputesover water rights, and partnerships whichare often formedbetweenpairs of small growerscommonlybreak down amidstchargesthat one was dishonestor did not do his share.The growersin the irrigatedareassay of themselvesthat they "lackcooperation," and it is very evident that this is true. However, the absence of cooperationin agriculturecannot be attributedto the lack of family solidarity alonebut is partlyexplainedby the natureof vegetablefarming in thevalley. The labor requirements vegetablefarmingare intense at some of timesandslightat othersand, as in the case in the irrigated valleys,many small growers(whetherthey be colonists,rentersor owners) must supplementtheirincomeby workingas hiredlaboron the parcelasof others. the Surrounding colonylandarea numberof largeparcelas whichat times requirethe laborof considerable numbers. is not at all uncommon a It for
grower one day to require the services of eighty or more laborers and the

next day have work for only a few men or none at all. As well, living in the puebloandin the coloniesarelargenumbers landlesswho musteke of out a precarious existenceas day laborerson valley parcelas.At certain times of the year, competitionfor work is intenseand there is much unemployment. The presenceof so many who rely upon day labor and the need of the smallgrowersto supplement theirincomeswith cash earnings has renderedmutualhelp groupsimpracticable. Further,the intermittent demandsfor a largernumberof laborersand the fact that few growers employpermanent laborworksagainstpatronship agriculture. in Traditional patron-client areto be observedon a few of the large ties parcelasowned by villalteros.Sr. Baiez,for example,who has eight permanentworkersliving in quarterson his property,explainedthat he is like a fatherto his peones. He gives them medicineand other help and feeds themin his own kitchen.Therehe sits downwith them and explains things and "tells them what to think about everything." Another agriculturalist, Sr. Antonio Torres, has fewer permanent workers but, at times,



from one of the colonies. In disemploysup to eighty,largelyrecruiting withme, some of the peonesfromthe colony were cussingtheiremployer loud in theirpraises.He is a good man,verysimpatico(sympathetic)who gives them food and medicinewhen they need it and who also explains thingsto themandspeakson theirbehalfto others. For the most part, however,employer-employee relationson valley parcelasshow few signs of paternalism. particular No attemptis made to recruitlaborfrom any one locality and a growerwho needs workerswill
generally tell one or two men and leave it to them to find others or, if large

numbersare needed, an advertisement may be read over the radio and work will then be given to those who appear first. The foreigners,for their part, deliberatelydiscouragepatronship.They often decline to be padrinoto the childrenof theiremployeesandhave no relationwiththeir
workers other than that of temporary employer. In the valley and in the pueblo interfamily and interpersonal relations are largely characterized by distrust and bitterness. In the absence of locally based personal kindreds on whom to depend in times of need, individuals with few resources constantly seek to relate to those who may

be in a positionto renderhelp and,wherepossible,attempt formpatronto client ties with personsof a highersocioeconomicstatus.Friendshipsor "colleague"ties 6 formed between individualswho are of a like socioeconomicstatusalso tend to take on an "instrumental" quality6 and frequentlydisruptin quarrels. Kinshipties, where they exist, are exploitedto materialends, but those whose help is soughtfrequentlyrefuseto recognizerelationship to poorerkinsmenor, if theygive help theygive it grudgingly, with the recipient madeto feel his dependent status.All the olderfamiliesin the pueblo have extensivekinship ties with other villalterosthroughoutthe municipio, but those who have achieved wealth and influence have necessarily had to sever relationships with those of the kindred who would otherwise be an economic burden and to consolidate their relationships within a more restricted group of kinsmen and friends where obligations for support will be mutually advantageous. This group may be considered a "stem
5 G. M. Foster, "The Dyadic Contract."
6 Wolf's discussion on "instrumental" friendship (as opposed to what he calls "expressive"or "emotional" friendship where actors are not motivated primarily by material gain) well appliesto the situation in Villalta. Such friendshipsmay begin with "generalizedreciprocity,"but in the course of time, favors commonly swing out of balance at which point the relationship may either break down or become converted to patron-clientties. Eric R. Wolf, "Kinship,Friendship,and Patron-Client Relations in Complex Societies," in Michael Banton, ed., The Social Anthropology of Complex Societies (London: Tavistock Publications Ltd., 1966), pp. 1-22.



kindred": . . a corporately ". functioning, self-perpetuating united kindred, by socioeconomicinterestsand obligations[which]comes into being in 7 the processof socioeconomic mobility." It is the calculatedapproachto friendshipand the frequentrefusal to recognizekinshipobligationsthat largelyexplainsthe brittlenessand distrustthat is characteristic interfamilial of and interpersonal relations in the valley andpueblo.However,it appearsthat the qualityof relationshipswas not alwaysto be characterized this way andthe presentsituain tion is to be attributed certainpolitical and economic developments to whichoccurred both on the nationalandlocal levels.These developments aredescribed the sectionthatfollows. in

Before the Rise of Trujillo

It appearsthat the main valley began to attracta numberof permanentsettlersin the latterhalf of the last century.As far as can be asall certained, thesesettlerswereextremely poor and, in most cases, illiterate. They came from a variety of centers and for the most part were to strangers one another whenthey arrived. Mostlytheywerecoupleswho came, or in some cases, brothers.Familygroupswere unusual.As some settledin the valleyandmade a home,they werejoinedby othermembers of the familyandthis was the patterncontinueduntilrecentyears.Today there are fourteenlargefamiliesin the valley and all of these trace their to beginnings settlerswho arrivedin these earlyyears.All have intermarriedandall havekinsfolkin otherpartsof the municipio. As the valleyfilled,settlement overflowed the surrounding into territoriesandindividual familieslaid claimto largeareasof land. The valleys havingpermanent waterwere firstto be claimedand the lomas was then used for grazingcattle and goats. As populationcontinuedto grow, the lomas was increasingly utilized for dry-cultivation and cattle and goats were relegatedto more marginalareas.Today, all land of any worthhas beenclaimedandthereis an acutelandshortage.
7 Norman E. Whitten Jr., Class, Kinship and Power, p. 139. See also, Norman E. Whitten Jr. "Strategiesof Adaptive Mobility in the Colombian-EcuadorianLittoral," American Anthropologist 71 (1969): 228-242. Whitten describes a socioeconomic mobility sequence for the lower-class people of the Colombian and Ecuadorian coastal lowlands that also largely applies to Villalta. Through the adoption of social strategies which in part involve the calculated restructuring of kin and ritual kin ties, individuals and a segment of the personal kindred move from the status of peasantry,to lower-class proletariat, to local entrepreneurialmiddle class, at which level the stem kindred functions as a corporateunit.



In the VillaltaValley the bulk of the land fell into the hands of the few foundingfamilieswho by no meanscouldbe considered gentry.It apin pears,in fact,thatthe situation the valleyin earlieryearswas essentially similarto that in the dry-farming areas today. Leadershipwas exercised by the heads of those foundingfamilieswho were in a position to lend These men were parcelasto othersand offeroccasionalpaid employment. ties soughtout as patronsandtheyreadilyformedcompadrazgo with their clients, but as in the dry-farming regions today, there was nothing in theirmannerof livingto set themapartfromtheirfellows.In earlieryears, olderresidents in recall,therewas no divisiveness the community, because, as one informant it, "Wewere all the same."In a description the put of valleyin 1906, it is statedthat "Villaltais a pueblo of workers,"and the populationis characterized being "extremely as homely and rural."8 In 1907 Villaltawas designated municipio,but of the government a officials who were then establishedin the pueblo only two were outsiders-the
taxation official and the police chief. By all accounts there was a great

deal of sharingand cooperationin all parts of the municipalityduring these times and all lived at about the same level. This situationwas not to endure.
Despite its growing population, economically the community tended

to stagnate.Farmingpracticeswere primitiveand withoutroad links, access to outsidemarketswas difficult,and growerswere forcedto concentrate on nonperishable items that could be carriedout by animals.The principal economicdevelopment not occuruntilafterthe middle1940s did whenroadswereconstructed openedthe areato greaterexploitation, that a timberindustrywas established,and, after 1956, the foreigncolonists
began to arrive. These developments occurred during the so-called "Era of

Trujillo"and in large measure,the progressachievedduringthese years was due to the personalinterestthe Generalisimo took in Villalta'sdevelopment. The Trujillo years also marked the time when the social structure of the present day took form.

The "Eraof Trujillo"

Trujillo first visited Villalta in 1937 and apparently was much im-

pressedby the potentialof the area. Soon afterward, commissionwas a establishedfor the developmentof the region. Duringthe 1940s, roads wereconstructed linkingVillaltawithsurrounding centersandin turnwith the capital.Villalta's isolationbecamea thingof the past. Therehas alwaysbeen a certainamountof lumbering the areabut in
8 Enrique Deschamps, La Reptiblica Dominicana, directorio y guia general (Barcelona, Calle Universidad 7: Vda. de J. Cunill, 1907), p. 313.



not until 1947, whenthe firstmillswithpoweredcircularsaws madetheir did of appearance, the devastation the forestsbeginandtimberassumereal in economicimportance the community. 1967 therewereeighteenlumBy the ber mills in operationthroughout municipality, employingsome 436 permanentworkersand perhapsthree times that numberof temporary workers. Most of the mill ownersand managersand many of the permanent workerscame from outsidethe communitybut temporary workerswere villalterosand in manycases campesinoswho sold or desertedtheir parcelas to seek morehighlypaid workin the mills.In 1967 all lumbering activitiesin therepublicwerecloseddownon government ordersto preserve whatwas left of the forests,thus abruptlyterminating important one area of traditionalpatronage.In Villalta, most of the timber workershave laborers.A numberof been forced to seek employmentas agricultural the formermill ownersand managersstill remainin the pueblo and, althoughthey are no longerpatronsas before,theirprestigeis still considerable. In 1955 workwas begunon the irrigation canal systemin the valley and that year the first of the foreignimmigrants arrived.Within a short time after the arrivalof the colonists, farmingpracticesin the Villalta underValley andalso in the othervalleyswherecropscouldbe irrigated, went drasticchange.The land was used intensivelyto grow a varietyof fresh vegetable crops for the Santo Domingo market, and the use of fertilizersand insecticidesbecame acceptedpractice.Employmentpractices also underwentdrasticchange. The junta groupsbroke down and growers, particularlythe foreigners,began to deal impersonallywith labor. The timberindustryand the intensityof vegetablefarmingas well as road and canal construction the quantityof buildingwork in the and pueblo duringthese years created heavy demandsfor labor which attractedlargenumbers newcomers the municipio. 1935 the municiof to In pal population 5,910, in 1950 it hadgrownto 14,737, andin 1960 was was 20,929 of whichnearly3,000 lived in the pueblo.In 1966 the population was 31,177 with approximately 5,000 living in the pueblo. A numberof the newcomers movedto distantpartsof the lomas in searchof land but otherssettled on the outskirtsof the pueblo and in the colonies, which, by 1960, were no longer associatedwith parcelasof colony land. Today mostof thosewho live in the coloniesarelandless. To keeppace withVillalta'sgrowingprosperity increasing and population there was a proliferationof governmentoffices and activities of variouskinds. Today there are officesrangingfrom InternalRevenue to



Birds and Fisheriesas well as a hospital,irrigationworks, and an agriculturalresearchstation.As well, stationedwithin the pueblo, there are with 165 soldiers,althoughthis last twentypolice and a militarygarrison figureis uncertain. Soldiersand police and the heads of most governmentoffices are outsiders,althoughduringthe period of field work, those in charge of seven officeswere either villalterosor men who had marriedinto local 143 full-time families.Today the various offices employ approximately employeesand at times some of the officesemploynumbersof temporary workersas well. Shortlybefore the municipalelections,for instance,the aunineteentemporary workersandthe irrigation ayuntamiento employed thorityhad eighty-seven employedon canal work in the valley. At about the same time, Public Workshad a large numberof men repairingthe mainroadleadingto Villalta. Most of those who came to Villalta duringthe Trujilloyears were desperatelypoor and had no family connectionswith other villalteros. However,many otherswho moved into the pueblo after the late 1940s were villalteroswho were either displacedfrom the land, or else were attractedto the pueblo by greater employmentpossibilitiesor by the diversionsof town life. A few of these people have prosperedas small storekeepers, artisans,or truckdriversand the like, but the greaternumbers of them rely upon employmentas agricultural laborers.It is these individuals theirfamilieswho make up the groupingvillalterosrefer and to as los pobres(the poor) of thepueblo. Today the lot of los pobresis hardlya happy one. For much of the yearagricultural workis desperately shortand theymustcompetefor employment.To secureany otherkind of work they must also competebut here the competitionis for friendsand in no way is based on merit. A numberfindpermanent employment the largerparcelasor as laborers on on vegetabletrucks.Othersare employedon canal or road construction. However, to secure such employment,one must be a relative or close friendof the employeror knowsomeonewho can speakto otherson one's behalf. the Throughout 1950s, when population pressure was less and work were greaterbecause of the quantityof road, canal, and opportunities buildingconstruction, plightof los pobreswas less severe.Also from the timeto timeTrujillo provided variousbenefits the poor. for On a numberof the Generalisimo's visitsbanknotesweredistributed to the crowd,andon otheroccasionsTrujillo ordereddistributions warm of clothing, blankets,and food to poor families. In 1951 a social service schemewas begunthatwas to providedailyhelp to 300 poor families(the



schemelasted only a shorttime) and that year Trujilloorderedthe constructionof a numberof homes in the puebloto house poor families.In 1961 a hospitalwas builtthat was to providefree medicinesand care for the sick. Whilerelativelyfew actuallysharedin these benefits,the poor remember themvividlyand speakof Trujillo's generosityand his concern for the poor. Today it is a commonbelief amongthese people and particularlyamongthe campesinosthat Trujillo'sgood intentionswere constantlybeing frustrated corruptofficialsin the pueblo who channeled by into theirown pocketswhatwas intendedfor them.As to Trujillo's tyranny, mostvillalteros theyhadlittleto fearso long as theyhad "respect." say In view of the fierce competitionfor patrons among los pobres of today,it is not surprising they are the most insecureof all groupsin that the pueblo.They show greatambivalence towardsthose above them with whomthey seek to form multiplecontactsand also towardsone another. Friendshipsare constantlybreakingdown and it is only betweenneighbors, in fact, that one finds close bonds developing.As yet, feelings of class solidarityhave not emergedamonglos pobres, and familylife also shows greatinstability."Serialpolygyny"9 is the norm,the male moving fromone womanto anotherthroughout life and as often as not, never his achievingthe status of padre de familia (father or head of the house), whichonlyaccruesto the individual who residespermanently the home, in is acknowledged its head, and takesresponsibility the welfareof its as for members. During the Trujilloyears a small group of economic and political power-holders began to dominatethe public affairs of the community. Thesemenwerethe headsof government offices,professional men, owners of larger stores and businesses,and lumber-millowners and managers. Withthe exceptionof the comandante chief of police who were also and included within this grouping,most of these men were (and still are) consideredwealthy-today they are sometimesreferredto as los ricosand "respectable," which is to say that they are legallymarriedand, publicly at least, lead moraland respectable lives. To use Wolf'sphrase,they are "4nation-oriented" in that they follow ways that are differentfrom 10 theircommunity-oriented fellows,andthey seek to validatetheirstatusby conspicuousdisplayin the form of fine houses and automobiles,and by sendingtheir childrento the Roman Catholiccolegio ratherthan to the public schools which are consideredextremelypoor. Today it is largely
9 Morris Freilich, "Serial Polygyny, Negro Peasants, and Model Analyses," American Anthropologist63 (1961): 961. 10 Eric R. Wolf, "Aspectsof Group Relations in a Complex Society: Mexico," American Anthropologist58 (1956): 1065.



as these samemen, the trujillistas they are sometimescalled,who continue to controlcommunity affairs. Some of the trujillistas were outsiderswhose stay in the community was only temporary. Othersweremen who had arrivedin the community duringthe 1940s and 1950s and marriedinto Villaltafamilies.In a few of cases, they weredescendants the foundingfamilieswho had long lived in the pueblo,where,in the processof achievingsocioeconomic mobility, they had largely disassociatedthemselves from poor kinsmen in the campo and pueblo and had adopteda life style befittingtheir improved status.At all events,all these men relatedstronglyto Trujillo.At various times they held positions as regidores (council members) and were as well membersof the directiveof Trujillo'sDominicanparty. In Villalta they were the principal dispensers partypatronage becauseof their of and economic position most of them were also able to play the traditional role of patron.Individuals desiringemployment,or variousother favors, or merelyprotectionfromthe arbitrary of power,soughttheirfrienduse ship, and influentialcampesinos,who frequentlyformed ties of ritual kinshipwith these men, looked to them for politicaldirection.The trufor jilhistas, their part, sought to protecttheir own positionsby publicly their demonstrating loyaltyto Trujilloandtheirapproval his regime. of The trujillistas achievedtheirinfluence becausetheyhad some access to Trujillo'spower;the more directthis access, the greatertheir prestige and influencein the community,and the bettersituatedthey were to exploit others. At times, however, the exploitersthemselveswere struck down. MartinEspaillat,for example,a descendant one of the founding of families,won the friendship Trujillowhen, duringone of the generalisiof mo's early visits to Villalta, he offeredhim the use of a particularly fine horse.Throughthe patronageof Trujillo,Martinbecamesindicoin Villalta and proceededruthlesslyto exploit the position to favor his own friendsandrelatives.He also managedto accumulate considerable wealth. Later, Martin was suddenlyremoved from office and temporarilyimprisoned.Trujillofound out, it is said, that he was takingtoo big a share of the profitsof a Trujillo-owned lumbermill. Another case concerned two brothers who arrivedin the community the late 1940s and opened in a lumbermill. The brothershad a vague familyconnectionwith Trujillo andusedthisto terrifycampesinos sellingvaluabletimberland.When into Trujillolearnedof this, the brotherswere imprisonedand their land and businessconfiscated. Othersenjoyedthe continuingpatronageof Trujillo,but it appears that the dictator'spower could never absolutelybe relied upon. Favor could alwaysbe withdrawnand villalterosof influencethereforesought



of to protectthemselvesas best they could by publicdeclarations loyalty and in variousways by demonstrating their approvalof Trujilloand his regime.Overthe years,Trujillo mademanyvisitsto Villaltaand a number of these were the occasionsfor massivepoliticalralliesin the park when leadingcitizensdeliveredeulogiesin praiseof the dictatorand expressed for appreciation all that he had done for the community. 1954 leading In fromR.D. $100 to $3000 to constructa citizenscontributed sumsranging huge illuminated monument Trujillowhichwas erectedat the entrance to to the pueblo. Also, after the middle 1940s, there was a successionof associationsof various kinds formed in the pueblo which appearedto springup in responseto pressureexertedfrom outside." These associationswerealwaysdominated the trujillistas, whilefew organizations and by ever actuallyaccomplished anything, they did permitthese men to present a frontof cooperativeness demonstrate concernfor community and a progress. Today,no less thanin earlieryears, associations short-livedand are to appear servethis samefunction. to According some villalteros, "Eraof Trujillo" also the time the was when familiesceased to be cooperativeand when interfamilyand interpersonalrelationships came to be marredby distrustand suspicion. The extent to whichTrujillowas responsiblefor the brittlenessand suspicionthattodayis characteristic interpersonal of relationships among pueblo dwellersand betweenpueblo dwellersand campesinoscan probably never be known. But, grantedthat relationshipswere not always of this kind, it is not unlikelythat the brittlenessand suspicionbecame apparentat the point in time when there developeda clear dichotomy betweentownsmenand campesinos,when therewere no longersufficient resourcesin the form of land or businessopportunities all, and when for economicpowerbecameconcentrated the handsof a few. It is possible in that these developmentswould have occurredeven in the absence of a Trujillo. The Trujilloperiod,then, was not only the time when the principal economicdevelopmenttook place but also the time when political and economicpowerbecameconcentrated the handsof a few individuals in in the pueblo who consistentlyrepresentedthe communityto the outside. Over the years, the position of these men became entrenched.With the assassination Trujillotheir preeminentposition was seriouslyunderof
11 Such associations included a park beautification association, a progress association, agriculturalassociations, associations concerned with adult education, and a businessmen'sclub. There was also the Club Trujillo-a social club made up of leading citizens, mainly concerned with organizing public functions on those occasions when Trujillo or other importantvisitors arrivedin the community.



mined, and the equilibrium that the social system had previously displayed

was drastically disturbed. From the Death of Trujillountil the MunicipalElections of May 1968 deathon the night of 30 May 1961 did not reach News of Trujillo's
Villalta until the afternoon of the next day. Initially, the news was not

believedbut when the dictator'sdeath was known to be certain, scores of menfromthe puebloand campoflocled to the Dominicanpartybuilding where they gave their names as volunteersfor service against the theirleader. forcesthathad overthrown Villaltawent into mourning nine dayslatertherewas a requiem and mass which nearly all attended.On that day men wore black armbands and duringthe servicemanymen and womenwept openly.After the service, people moved to the monumentwhich they heaped with flowers andthenlistenedto eulogiesdelivered leadingcitizens.Manywept and by withgrief.Saidone man,"Trujillo our somewomenbecamehysterical was fatherand alwayswill be," and another,"Do not weep, for Trujillohas not died;he will alwayslive in the heartsof Dominicans." Even those who are now most vocal in their oppositionto Trujilloand his regimeadmit, with some embarrassment, they, too, attendedthe mass and placed that in flowerson the monument woreblack armbands and everywhere public. It was, by all accounts,a time of greatuncertainty and fear and no one knewwhatmighttranspire. Not until seven monthsafterthe assassination any real disorder did in of becomeapparent Villalta,andthis coincidedwiththe breakdown law and orderin the capital.Even so, the disorderwas comparatively mild. One morning,towards the end of November 1961, a crowd of young men fromthe pueblobeganto gatherin the streetsin the area aroundthe Dominicanparty building.The crowd took up the chant "libertad" and manythenforcedtheirway into the desertedbuildingwherethey smashed the windowsand doors and did a good deal of damageto the interiorof the building.Whilethey were at work, otherslooted the typewriters and Still chanting"libertad," the eithersmashedor stole the office furniture. crowd then made its way to the entranceof the pueblo and, with little off difficulty, toppledthe massiveTrujillomonument its standandcrashed it onto the street.This mob, it is said, was led by some of the 14 of June men who were supposedlyCommunist, othersdeny this and say the but violencewas not organizedand therewere no clearlyidentifiable leaders. and militarytook no action against the offendersyet The police the disorderwent little furtherand things were quiet a few days later.




Therecontinuedto be, however,a good deal of economicdistressanduncertaintyuntilearly1962 whenthe Councilof Stateassumed powerin the capital and the market situationthen returnedto normal. During this period, agriculturalists been unable to sell their crops and many of had themlost theirharvests. On 20 December 1962 Juan Bosch of the PartidoRevolucionario Dominicano(PRD) was electedpresidentby an overwhelming majority. In the municipioof Villalta,Bosch gained 5,053 votes out of 6,342, approximately79.8 percent.In Villalta, the Union Civica, which was the principal opposition groupto the PRD, was the partyof the trujillistas, but it waspoorlyorganized apparently and madelittle seriousattemptto enlist voters.Shortly beforethe election,when it suddenlybecameapparent that Bosch was likely to win the presidency,it seems that most of the leading in trujillistas Villalta withdrewcompletelyfrom political activity. They werefearfulfor theirfuture,and at least two of them secretlycontributed moneyto the PRD. MartinEspaillatandtwo or threeotherswho had reason to fear the wrathof some of theirfellow citizenshad quit Villalta at the firstsignsof disorder. The PRD in Constanzawas formedby politicalorganizers who appearedfrom outside the community,and with the exceptionof one wellknownfamily,whichownedlumbermills in one section of the municipio wherethey had much influence,the villalteroswho became active politically for the PRD and those who were elected to office as sindico and regidores were,for the mostpart,pueblodwellerswho hadhad no political experienceand who enjoyedlittle respectin the community.Today most villalterosexpress their contemptfor these men and say they were opportunistswho deceived the people with wild promisesmerely to gain power and place theirfriendsand relativesin well paid positions.Bosch, in fact, is anathema most villalterosand particularly the campesinos to to because of the many promisesthat were made but not fulfilled.Campesinossay theywerepromised land,bootsfor theirfeet, andthreehot meals a day, but none of these things came to pass. There is no evidence that Bosch himselfmade such firmpromisesbut it is likely that some of his supporters The fact thattherewereno politicalarrestsin Villaltadurdid. ing the Bosch periodis of little concernto most villalteros,who consider anyonewho lays himselfopen to politicalarrestto be foolish. On 25 September1963 Bosch was overthrown and the violent upheaval that later followed in the capital eventuallyled to the American intervention.In Villalta, in the elections of June 1966, the Reformista partyof Dr. JoaquinBalaguerpolled 7,642 votes out of a total of 8,709



for the municipio,whilethe PRD gainedonly 1,004. These figuresrepresent 87.7 percent of the votes for Balaguerand only 11.5 percent for Bosch. The trujillistas this occasionlauncheda vigorouscampaign,but on for the mostpartthiswasconductedfrombehindthe scenesand the actual was carriedout by individualswho had not been work of campaigning closely associatedwith Trujillohimself.The sindicocandidateof the reformistas was a youngman of some eloquencewho was believedto have been an enemyof Trujillo,and to have been a sympathizer, not a memif berof the 14 of JuneMovement. In the campo, campesinoswere readilypersuadedby their leaders that Bosch had deceived everyone,that he was a Communistand therefore anti-Christ,and in any case would not win the elections. As one campesinoinformantput it, "I do not know if Bosch was a Communist or not, but if he was clever enoughto deceive them in the pueblo, how much more could he deceive us campesinos."One campesino leader who describedhimselfas a "strongtrujillista," how he went among told the campesinosin his area before the elections and asked, "Whereare yourbootsnow?Whereareyourthreehot meals?Whereare all the things that dog Bosch promisedyou?"He urgedthem to vote for Balaguerbecause he was a good Catholic,an enemy of the Communistsand, as he had workedcloselywithTrujillo,he was thereforea strongman as well as a friendof the campesinos. the in Withthe electionof Balaguer, trujillistas Villaltawere restored to powerand whatlittle strength PRD then enjoyedhas been eroded, the to a greatextent,by the arbitrary arrestscarriedout fromtime to time by the militaryand police. Leadingcitizens have an easy relationship with the policeand arenot subjectto the pettyannoyances othersmustenthat dure.It is also apparent the law worksin theirfavor.The military,on that the otherhand, muchmore so than the police, representan ever-present threatand an authorityover which people feel they have no controlbut are unwiseto ignore.Particularly the bars militaryofficersare greeted in with an elaboratecourtesythatvergeson fawning,and they respondwith muchbackslapping jokingbehavior and that is patronizing the extreme. in The military,with some notableexceptions,are fearedby all sections of the community, althoughgreatlyrespectedby the campesinos. The exceptions are membersof a wealthyland-owning of Lebanesedescent, family the Arafats,who have close ties of ritualkinshipwith important military figuresoutsidethe community. These ties place themin a specialrelationshipwiththe localmilitary. The military,in particular, take it upon themselves be the guardto



ians of politicalopinionandany outbreak violenceor threatof violence of in the capital is a signal for a numberof local arrests.Generally,these arrests madeby the military are alone,but at timesthepolicealso takepart. Ontwo occasionsduring1967, whentherewasminorriotingin the capital, and againin February1968, whentherewas a greatdeal of troubleat the AutonomousUniversityof SantoDomingo,police and militarypatrolled the pueblo in force and severalarrestswere made on the streetsand in people's houses. It is the PRD people who are arrested,or anyone else who is considered leftist,andtheseperiodicarrests a havebeencontinuing ever since the outbreaksof violence some months after Trujillo'sdeath, except during the presidencyof Juan Bosch. Some of the leading reformistasclaim to deplorethese arrestsand point out that the numbers arrestedeach time are fewer, which is true. But the fact is that most of those who wereproneto arresthave managedto removethemselvesfrom this categoryeitherby declaringfor Balagueror by makingit very clear that they are no longerPRD supporters have completelywithdrawn and fromallpoliticalactivities. Some say rathercontemptuously the few PRD men who are still of considered activethat they, too, wouldgladlybecomereformistas were it not that they would be subjectedto ridicule.Whetherthis is true or not, it doesillustrate attitude the majority politics.Politicalconvictions the of to areof littleimportance one simplyalliesoneselfwiththosein power.It and should be added that this is not the attitudeof everyone,but certainly of the vast majority.Particularly political matters,villalterosbelieve in thatone mustlook out for oneself. TheMunicipal Electionsof May 1968 WellbeforeMay 1968, whenmunicipal electionswereheld throughout the country,it was apparentin Villalta that the PRD would provide little oppositionto the government party.At a publicmeetingof all PRD supporters that was called by organizers who came from the provincial capital,only twenty-eight and personsappeared few werewillingto pledge to workfor a PRD victoryin the comingelections.Understandably support enough,most of the PRD people in Villaltawere afraid.When,in April, a decisionwas madeby the PRD officialsin the capitalto withdraw from the campaign,the Villaltaorganization faded away,havingaccomplished nothing. Towardthe end of 1967 groups sprangup in many parts of the countryin supportof GeneralWessin y Wessin. These groups were to work for the election of Wessin sympathizers the municipalelections in and then organizesupportto elect Wessinas president the 1970 presiin



dential elections. This new party-the Partido QuisqueyaDominicana in (PQD)-did not materialize Villaltauntilearlyin 1968, onlyto disband afterward almostimmediately when,followinga privatemeetingof Wessin it supporters, becameevidentthat therewas insufficient supportto guarwentto the polls, anteean electionvictory.In May 1968, whenvillalteros candidates rendering they had only a choiceof votingfor the reformista or their votes invalid.In these elections, 7,160 voted for these candidates, andtherewerealso seveninvalidvotes. Withno apparentopposition,there seemedto be no necessityat all for the reformistas conductan electioncampaign the normalsense. in to That they saw fit to do so, however,and that the Reformistachiefs of the pueblocarriedthe campaignto the campowas indicativeof the need they feltto counteract damagethathadbeendoneby the briefappearance the of thePQD, andthe needto reviveenthusiasm theReformista for partywhich hadclearlywanedsince 1966. In the electioncampaignin whichBosch had been so decisivelydefeated, Sr. Molina, the young man whom the trujillistas had selected as sindico,had madeall sortsof promisesto obtainvotes for the reformistas. Campesinoshad been promisedroads and bridgesin their localities and therehad also beenpromisesof land. Puebloresidentswere led to believe that variouspublicworkswould be commencedthat would provide employmentand permanent government employees,like officeworkersand teachers,had expectedsubstantial salaryincreasesto follow the austerity of Bosch'sadministration. Very few of these thingshappenedand, in fact, conditionshad become worse. The timber industryhad been closed down causing much distressand government employeescomplained that they actuallyearned less than before. There had been much talk of land reform and some actionin certainpartsof the country,but no new parcelashad been made in available the Villaltamunicipio. Moreover,a government on clearban inglandon whichnew timberhad begunto growhad madeit virtually impossibleto squaton unclaimed land. Perhapsof greatersignificancewas the feeling of uncertaintyand frustration sharedby a numberof the wealthiermen of the pueblo and someof the campesino leaderswholookedbackto the daysof Trujillo with nostalgia.Thesemen are fearfulof the future.They say thatthe president is weak andis permitting Communists gainpositionsof influencein the to government in the growingrestlessnessin the pueblo and in the deand mandsfor land, they see Communist influenceat work. They complain, moreover,of the present government's inefficiencyand corruptionand believe that under a militaristicregime there would be more work for



everyone,more money for themselves,and that theirpositionswould be of thoroughlyassured.They pine for a restoration the old kind of order. Those who emergedas the spokesmen this sentiment for werethe Arafats. Fortunatelyfor the peace of the community,the PQD decided to disbandandnot contestthe elections,thusaverting crisisthatwouldhave a split the communityinto two camps. Rafael Arafat, the guiding spirit behindthe Wessinmovementin Villalta, was placed on the Reformista electionplank as a regidor,and a sindicocandidatewho was acceptable to most villalteros foundin Rau6l was in Espaillat,a well-offbusinessman the pueblo and a memberof one of Villalta'soldest families.Raul1 the is nephewof MartinEspaillat,the sindicowho had fallen out with Trujillo andhadhimselfservedas sindicoduringthe Trujilloyears.He was therefore countedamongthe trujillistas and acceptableto the Wessinpeople, and becausehe enjoys a reputationfor fairnessand moderation, was he more acceptableto the PRD supporters than othersof the old guard. CONCLUSION Politicsin Villaltahas alwaysbeen the concernof a small group of men who traditionally have stood between the communityand the outside. In Bailey'sterms,these men form an "elite"council-a composite bodywithinterests separate fromthe public.'2 that it In Trujillo's therewas but a singleultimatesourceof power,and day it appears whatever that rivalries discords and mayhaveexistedamongthe elite, they werenot broughtinto the open. The intereststhey had in common alwaysprompted themto finda consensusand presenta frontof unanimity.Since the deathof Trujillotwo significant changeshave occurred on the national scene that are clearly reflectedon the local level: the emergenceof oppositionparties and the relative independenceof the militaryfromcivil control.In short,the sourcesof poweremanating from outsidethe community have becomemorediverseandless certainand, as a consequence, positionof the elite in Villaltahas been rendered the more tenuous.Consensus becomeincreasingly has difficult achieve. to Villaltahas alwayssoughtto appeasethe outside, and it was to be expected that with the election of Bosch in 1962 the trujillistaswould show some ambivalence.Only two men of any importanceactuallydeclaredfor Bosch,but it was rumored some otherssecretlygave money that to the PRD organizers Villalta.Publicly,however,therewas no open in
12 F. G. Bailey, "Decisions by Consensus in Councils and Committees With Special Reference to Village and Local Government in India," in M. Banton, ed., Political Systems and the Distribution of Power (London: Tavistock Publications, 1965),pp. 1-20.



split amongthe trujillistas and, despitewhateveroverturessome of them may havemadeto the PRD as individuals, they wereconsideredto be opOn posed to Boschandknownto havewelcomedhis overthrow. the other of hand,the appearance the Wessingroupin Villaltain 1968 was of great for becauseit represented significance thepoliticalfutureof the community of the trujillistas. a split in the ranks The Arafatsfailed in their bid for power,but the restoredpeace is an uneasyone and the politicaland economic unrestwhich largely accountedfor the supportthe Arafats generatedremains. The importanceof the powerholdershas rested in the fact that, the through contactstheyhave outsidethe community, they are ableto distributea greatdeal of party-directed patronage locally;but equallyimportant has been theirposition as patrons.As store ownersor as employers they have been in a positionto offercreditor employment large numto bers, and consequentlyvillalterosseek to form relationshipsof dependence with these men in orderto extractfavors. Today,however,the demands for land and employmenthave placed an impossible strain on kind and that which is partypatronageresourcesof both a traditional directed.With ever-increasing populationpressure,these problemsare likelyto becomeworse. Villalteroshavelong been conditioned followingthe directionsof to those who holdpower.Throughout Trujilloyears,they attended the rallies and voted as directedby theirleadersin the campo and pueblo, and this is still a patternthatis largelyfollowedtoday.But, just as thosewho direct affairshave at best been subjectedto only intermittent pressurefrom the outside,traditionally havenot hadto be responsive the demandsof they to those who vote. Therehas alwaysbeen the expectation thatpowerwill be used arbitrarily once in power,individuals havebeen freeto do much and, as they pleasedas long as the wrathof those in power outsidethe communitywas not incurred. of Withthe emergence oppositionparties,this patternappearsto be changing,and the politicalchiefshave been confronted with the necessity of actively campaigning hold allegiance. Inevitably,it seems, those to electedto publicoffice (and those who engineertheirelection) will have to becomemoreresponsiveto the demandsof voters.The vigorouscamin paignconductedby the reformistas the recentmunicipioelectionsand frommakingrashpromiseswouldseem the cautionexercisedin refraining to indicatethat this realizationhas alreadybeen broughthome to these men. In short,if rivalpoliticalpartiessurvivein the DominicanRepublic, like politicsin communities Villaltais likely to becomeless the province of the few andmorethe concernof the many.