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where Trujillistas had been massing troops. Over the next two days, Ramfis returned to
the pleasure temples of Europe while other prominent Trujillistas left for the good life in
Florida.12



178
However, when Balaguer proved to be a major obstacle to beginning the process
of democratization and indicated that he did not regard his regime as temporary, the
United States added its own special pressure to that of Balaguer's domestic opposition to
force him to resign after only two months in office. Washington then turned around and
issued another stern warning to General Rodriguez, threatened Dominican leaders with
a large loss of aid if they supported a coup, and mounted another naval show-of-force to
help other military officers block the general's attempt to seize power.1-1
While a seven-man "Council of State" then administered the affairs of
government, the US continued to treat the Dominican Republic as its private experiment
in the prevention of communism. The American Ambassador, John Bartlow Martin,
pressed the Council to curb left-wing activity. By his own admission, Martin urged the
use of "methods once used by the police in Chicago": harassment of suspects by
repeated arrests, midnight raids on their homes, beatings, etc.14
When street disturbances erupted, US Attorney General Robert Kennedy
arranged for riot-control equipment to be sent to Santo Domingo (the original name of
the capital, now restored). The equipment came complete with two Spanish-speaking
Los Angeles detectives to impart to their Dominican counterparts the fine art of quelling
such uprisings that they had acquired in the Mexican barrios of east Los Angeles. In a
few weeks. Ambassador Martin could report that the Council had "rewon the streets,
thanks almost entirely to those two detectives".15
This riot-control unit remained as a permanent part of the Santo Domingo police
force. Known as the Cascos Blancos (white helmets), they came to be much hated by
the populace. Shortly afterwards, the US military undertook a long-range program to
transform the country's armed forces into what was hoped would be an efficient anti-
guerrilla organization, though guerrillas were as rare on the Caribbean island as
members of the Trujillo family.16
Finally, in December 1962, elections were held, under terms dictated in large
part by Ambassador Martin to the two major candidates. His purpose was to introduce
into the Dominican Republic some of the features that Americans regard as necessary to
a viable and democratic electoral system, but Martin's fiat was inescapably a highly
condescending intrusion into the affairs of a supposedly sovereign nation. His
instructions extended down to the level of what the loser should say in his concession
speech.
Further, under an "Emergency Law", the United States and the Council arranged
for the deportation of some 125 Trujillistas and "Castro communists" to the United
States, from where they were not allowed to leave until after the election in order "to
help maintain stability so elections could be held".17
The winner, and first more-or-less-democratically elected president of the
Dominican Republic since 1924, was Juan Bosch, a writer who had spent many years in
exile while Trujillo reigned. Here at last was Kennedy's liberal anti-communist, non-
military and legally elected by a comfortable majority as well. Bosch's government was
to be the long-sought-after "showcase of democracy" that would put the lie to Fidel
Castro. He was given the grand treatment in Washington shortly before he took office in
February 1963.
Bosch was true to his beliefs. He called for land reform, including transferring
some private land to the public sector as required; low-rent housing; modest
nationalization of business; an ambitious project of public works, serving mass needs
more than vested interests; a reduction in the import of luxury items; at the same time,
he favored incentives to private enterprise and was open to foreign investment provided
it was not excessively exploitative of the country”all in all, standard elements in the


179
program of any liberal Third World leader serious about social change. He was likewise
serious about the thing called civil liberties; Communists, or those labeled as such, or
anyone else, were not to be persecuted unless they actually violated the law.
A number of American officials and congressmen expressed their discomfort
with Bosch's plans, as well as his stance of independence from the United States. Land
reform and nationalization are always touchy issues in Washington, the stuff that
"creeping socialism" is made of. In several quarters of the US press Bosch was red-
baited and compared with Castro, and the Dominican Republic with Cuba. (Castro, for
his part, branded Bosch a "Yankee puppet".) Some of the press criticism was clearly
orchestrated, in the manner of many CIA campaigns.18
In both the United States and the Dominican Republic, the accusations most
frequently cast at Bosch were the ones typically used against Latin American leaders
who do not vigorously suppress the left (cf. Arbenz and Goulart): Bosch was allowing
"communists" to "infiltrate" into the country and into the government, and he was not
countering "communist subversion", the latter referring to no more than instances of
people standing up for their long-denied rights. Wrote a reporter for the Miami News:
"Communist penetration of the Dominican Republic is progressing with incredible
speed and efficiency." He did not, however, name a single communist in the Bosch
government. As it happens, the reporter, Hal Hendrix, was a valuable press asset and a
"secret operative" of the CIA in the 1960s.19 The CIA made a further contribution to the
anti-Bosch atmosphere. Ambassador Martin has reported that the Agency "gave rumors
[about communists in the Dominican Republic] a credibility far higher than 1 would
have ... In reporting a Castro/Communist plot, however wildly implausible, it is
obviously safer to evaluate it as 'could be true' than as nonsense."20

John F. Kennedy also soured on Bosch, particularly for his refusal to crack down
on radicals. Said the president to Ambassador Martin one day:

I'm wondering if the day might not come when he'd [Bosch] like to get rid of some
of the left. Tell him we respect his judgment, we're all for him, but the time may
come when he'll want to deport 30 or 50 people, when it'd be better to deport them
than to let them go. I suppose he'd have to catch them in something.21

When the United States failed to commit any new economic assistance to the
Dominican Republic and generally gave the indication that Juan Bosch was a doomed
venture, right-wing Dominican military officers could only be encouraged in their
craving to be rid of the president and his policies. Sam Halper, former Caribbean Bureau
Chief of Time magazine, later reported that the military coup ousting Bosch went into
action "as soon as they got a wink from the U.S. Pentagon".22
In July, a group of officers formally presented Bosch with a statement of
principie-cum-ultimatum: Their loyalty to his regime was conditioned upon his adoption
of a policy of rigorous and -communism. Bosch reacted by going on television and
delivering a lecture about the apolitical role required of the military in a democratic
society, surely an occult subject to these products of 31 years of Trujilloism.
The beleaguered president could see that a premature demise lay ahead for his
government. His speech on television had sounded very much like a farewell. The
failure of Washington to intervene on his behalf could only enlarge the writing on the
wall. Indeed, Bosch and some of his aides strongly suspected that the US military and
the CIA were already conspiring with the Dominican officers. Several American
military officers had disregarded diplomatic niceties by expressing their reservations
about Bosch's politics loud enough to reach his ears.23


180
A week before the inevitable coup, the CIA/AIFLD-created union federation in
the Dominican Republic, CONATRAL, which had been set up to counter and erode
Bosch's support in the labor movement, placed an ad in a leading newspaper urging the
people to put their faith in the army to defend them against communism.24
The end came in September, a scant seven months after Bosch had taken office.
He had not had the time to accomplish much that was worthwhile in this hopelessly
corrupt society before the military boots marched, as they have always marched in Latin
America.
The United States, which can discourage a military coup in Latin America with a
frown, did nothing to stand in the way of the Dominican officers. There would be no
display of American military might this time”although Bosch asked for it”"unless a
Communist takeover were threatened," said the State Department.25
"Democracy," said Newsweek magazine, "was being saved from Communism by
getting rid of democracy."26
There were the customary expressions of regret in Washington about the death
of democracy, and there was the de rigueur withholding of recognition of the new
regime. But two months later, when opposition to the yet-again repressive dictatorship
began to manifest itself noticeably, the junta yelled "communist" and was quickly
embraced by the United States with recognition and the other perquisites which attach
to being a member in good standing of the "Free World".27

Nineteen months later, a revolution broke out in the Dominican Republic which
promised to put the exiled Bosch back in power at the hands of a military-civilian force
that would be loyal to his program. But for the fifth time in the century, the American
Marines landed and put an abrupt end to such hopes.
In the early morning of Saturday, 24 April 1965, a group of young army officers
of middle rank, acting in concert with civilian Bosch partisans, declared themselves in
revolt against the government. The "constitutionalists", as they called themselves, were
soon joined by other officers and their units. Spurred by ecstatic radio proclamations,
thousands of Dominicans poured into the streets shouting "Viva Bosch" and grabbed up
the arms handed out by the rebel military forces.
The television station was taken over and for two days a "potpourri of
politicians, soldiers, women, children, adventurers, hoodlums and anyone who wished
to, shouted against the status quo."28
The participants in the uprising were a mixed bag, not all of them sympathetic to
Bosch or to social reform; some were on the right, with their own varied motivations.
But the impetus deafly lay with the constitutionalists, and the uprising was thus viewed
with alarm by the rest of the military and the US Embassy as a movement to restore
Bosch to power with all that that implied.
Philip Geyelin of the Wall Street Journal (and formerly with the CIA), who had
access to the official embassy cables and the key actors in the drama, has written:

What the record reveals, in fact, is that from the very outset of the upheaval, there
was, a concerted U.S. Government effort, if not actually a formal decision, to
checkmate the rebel movement by whatever means and at whatever cost.
By Sunday, April 25 ... the Santo Domingo embassy had clearly cast its lot with the
"loyalist" military cabal and against the rebellion's original aim: the return of Juan
Bosch ... Restoration of the Bosch regime would be "against U.S. interests", the
embassy counseled. Blocking Bosch could mean further bloodshed, the embassy
conceded. Nonetheless, Washington was advised, the embassy military attaches
had given "loyalist" leaders a go-ahead to do "everything possible" to prevent what
was described as the danger of a "Communist take-over".29



181
The attaches as well as the US Consul made emergency visits to several still-
uncommitted Dominican military commanders to persuade them, apparently with
notable success, to support the government.30
A bloody civil war had broken out in the streets of Santo Domingo. During the
first few days, the momentum of battle swung to one side, then the other. By the night
of 28 April, however, the military and police inside Santo Domingo had collapsed, and
the constitutionalists were preparing to attack the military's last bastion, San Isidro, their
main base about 10 miles away.31
"The Generals at San Isidro were dejected, several were weeping, and one was
hysterically urging 'retreat'," read the cable sent by the American ambassador, W.
Tapley Bennett, to Washington in the early evening of the 28th. (Bennett, as we shall
see, was given to hyperbole of the worst sort, but the Dominican military certainly were
isolated and demoralized.) Bennett added, whether in the same cable or another one is
not clear, that if US troops did not immediately land, American lives would he lost and
"Castro-type elements" would be victorious.32
Within hours, the first 500 US Marines were brought in by helicopter from ships
stationed a few miles off the coast. Two days later, American forces ashore numbered
over 4,000. At the peak, some 23,000 troops. Marine and Army, were to take up
positions in the beleaguered country, with thousands more standing by on a 35-ship task
force offshore.
The American action was in clear violation of several international agreements,
including the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS) which prohibited
intervention "directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external
affairs of any other state".
During the entire course of the US military occupation, American
pronouncements would have had the world believe that its forces were in the
Dominican. Republic in a "neutral" capacity: to protect the lives of Americans and other
foreigners, establish a ceasefire, ensure free elections, etc. As we have seen, however,
the United States had committed itself to one side from the start of hostilities. This
continued to he the case. The morning after the landing of the first Marines,
Ambassador Bennett was instructed by the State Department that US military officers
should be used "to help San Isidro develop operational plans take the rebel stronghold
downtown".33
Within a few days, American troops were deployed in an armed corridor through
the cen-ter of Santo Domingo so as to divide the constitutionalists' zone and cut off their
main body from access to the rest of the country, bottling them up in a small downtown
area with their backs to the sea. Other American forces were stationed throughout the
countryside. The rebel offensive against San Isidro had been prevented. It was the end
of their revolution.
The American forces came to the aid of the Dominican military in a number of
ways, supplying them with equipment, food and even their salaries, but it was the direct
military involvement that was most telling. On one striking occasion, the sea of
American troops parted to allow the Dominican military to pass through and brutally
attack and mop up the northern section of the rebel zone while the main rebel force in
the south remained helplessly blocked behind the American line. This "smashing
victory," the New York Times reported, was "visibly aided by United States troops".
Other American journalists also reported that US troops took part in the fighting,
although Washington officials angrily denied it.34




182
The rebels were reduced to little more than sniping attacks on American
soldiers, for which they paid a heavy price. US forces blasted apart a building in
downtown Santo Domingo from which sniper fire was coming; advancing into a
constitutionalist zone, again after sniper fire, they killed some 67 rebels and bystanders;
American paratroops were seen firing at rebels who were retreating, and the
constitutionalists' Minister of justice and Police was "reported to have been killed by
United States machine-gun fire as he attempted to capture the empty Presidential Palace
in midtown with a squad of his troops."35
When the Johnson administration was not denying such actions outright, it was
claiming that they were either contrary to orders, "individual indiscretions", or "isolated
incidents".
A covert team of Green Berets arrived at one point to help ensure the safety of
American civilians. But when they discovered that some of the Americans were
assisting rebel forces, "their main objective shifted from protecting their fellow
countrymen to spying on them"36
The Green Berets also found the time to lay the groundwork for the
assassination of one of the leading constitutionalist leaders, Col. Francisco Caama±o.
The plot was canceled at the last moment due to the excessive risk involved.37
Another group of American visitors was that of some leaders of the National
Student Association, ostensibly come to the Dominican Republic to talk with their
counterparts about educational matters, but actually there at the behest of the CIA to
gather information on local students. This was still two years before the expose of the
long-lasting relationship between the CIA and the prominent student organization.38
Throughout this period, the communication guns of the US government were
aimed at the people of the United States, the Dominican Republic and the world to
convince them that "communists" were a dominant element amongst the
constitutionalists, that they represented a threat to take over the movement, or that they
had already taken it over, with frightening consequences for all concerned.
At various times the Johnson administration released lists of "communists and
Castroites" in the ranks of the rebels. These lists totaled 53 or 58 or 77 names and
became a cause c©lebre as well as an object of media ridicule. Besides the laughably
small numbers involved (in a rebellion of tens of thousands with numerous leaders),
several of those on the lists, it turned out, were in prison while others were out of the
country.
The American Embassy in Santo Domingo assured reporters that if they went to
rebel headquarters, they would see the named communists in the flesh. The newspeople
went and looked but could find no identifiable communists (however one identifies a
communist). Subsequently, administration officials explained that the reason that
newspeople had seen such little evidence of communist activity was that the American
landings had scared the Reds into hiding.
Eventually, American officials admitted their doubt that they could prove that
communists had gained control of the constitutionalists, although President Johnson had
pressed the CIA and FBI into an intensive search for evidence. (A CIA cable to
Washington on 25 April reported that the Communist Party [Partido Socialista
Dominicano] had been "unaware of the coup attempt".)39
Former CIA officer Philip Agee, stationed in Uruguay at the time, wrote later
that the new password at his station became "Fifty-eight trained communists". The

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