Trading Democracy for Security? The Effects of the International Drug War on the Quality of Democracy in the Dominican Republic, 1996 -2008 Dissertation

thesis or dissertation chair

fiu authors

  • Blumenfeld, Leah H.


  • The purpose of the research is to study the relationship between international drug interdiction policies and domestic politics in fragile democracies, and to demonstrate how international drug control policies and the use of force fit the rhetoric of war, are legitimized by the principles of a just war, but may also cause collateral damage and negative unintended consequences. The method used is a case study of the Dominican Republic. The research has found that international drug control regimes, primarily led by the U.S. and narrowly focused on interdiction, have influenced an increasingly militarized approach to domestic law enforcement in the Dominican Republic. The collateral damage caused by militarized enforcement comes in the form of negative perceptions of citizen security, loss of respect for the rule of law and due process, and low levels of civil society development. The drug war has exposed the need for significant reform of the institutions charged with carrying out enforcement, the police force and the judicial system in particular. The dissertation concludes that the extent of drug trafficking in the Dominican Republic is beyond the scope of domestic reform efforts alone, but that the programs implemented do show some potential for future success. The dissertation also concludes that the framework of warfare is not the most appropriate for the international problems of drug traffic and abuse. A broader, multipronged approach should be considered by world policy makers in order to address all conditions that allow drugs to flourish without infringing upon democratic and civil rights in the process.

publication date

  • March 23, 2010


  • Dominican Republic
  • Drug War
  • Just War
  • Police Reform

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)