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This article looks at the development of the sugar industry and the traditional export sectors of Dominican agriculture in relationship to state formation. It seeks to show that early on it their development the pioneers of the sugar industry helped lay the basis for the emergence of a local bourgeoisie and that the traditional export sectors failed to raise above small-scale production and its consequences. The integration of the Dominican economy into the international capitalist system inhibited the development of these two sectors in Dominican society, a pattern that was reflected in the formation of a weak state.

In examining the formation of the state, this investigation establishes a distinction between political regime and the state. Following Fernando Henrique Cardoso, political regime is defined as the "formal rules that link the main political institutions (legislature to the executive, executive to the judiciary, and party system to them all), as well as the issue of the political nature of the ties between citizens and rulers." In highly abstract terms, the "notion of state refers to the basic alliance, the basic 'pact of domination,' and the orms which guarantee their dominance over the subordinate strata." In the words of Oscar Oszlak, "the state is a social relationship, a political medium through which a system of social domination is articulated." Thus, this study focuses on the relationship between class and state, that is, how class forces shaped themselves in relation to the early development of the capitalist state, and not on the political regime.


Presented at the 13th Annual Conference of the Middle Atlantic Council of Latin American Studies, University of Maryland, April 1992.

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Credit goes to MACLAS Latin American Essays, Volume VI, the original source of publication.