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US-Dominican Republic (1959-2005)

Project: History of US Interventions
Open-Content project managed by Derek, mtuck

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For three decades, the US Marine-trained Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina rules the Dominican Republic as a brutal dictator. His regime, backed by the US during most of its reign, is responsible for many atrocities, including the assassinations and kidnappings of political adversaries. In 1937, inspired by the racist philosophies of his era, Trujillo sends troops to the Haitian border where they massacre 19,000-20,000 Haitian squatters who he believes represent a threat to the Dominican race because of their slightly darker skin. He is assassinated in 1961. [Blum, 1995; BBC, 12/9/2005; Encyclopedia Britannica, 1/2/2006]

Entity Tags: Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina

US Consul Henry Dearborn, the senior American diplomat to the Dominican Republic, says about that nation’s brutal dictator Generalissimo Rafael Trujillo shortly after his assassination (see February 1930-May 30, 1961): “He had his torture chambers, he had his political assassinations. But he kept law and order, cleaned the place up, made it sanitary, built public works, and he didn’t bother the United States. So that didn’t bother us.” [Hunt, 9/1/2009, pp. 6]

Entity Tags: Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina, Henry Dearborn

Timeline Tags: US International Relations

Juan Bosch, a leftist reformer, is elected president in the Dominican Republic’s first democratic elections in nearly four decades defeating the heir of former President Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina, Joaquin Balaguer. [Columbia Encyclopedia. Sixth edition, 2005; BBC, 12/9/2005]

Entity Tags: Juan Emilio Bosch Gaviño

Juan Bosch takes office in the Dominican Republic. A liberal anti-communist, he attempts to implement significant economic and social reforms including land reform, nationalization of some businesses and physical infrastructure development. Though opposed to communism, he respects the right of communists to speak and assemble freely. Conservative voices in the US are not satisfied with Bosch, alleging that he is allowing “communists” to “infiltrate” into the country. One reporter for the Miami News claims “Communist penetration of the Dominican Republic is progressing with incredible speed and efficiency.” [Blum, 1995]

Entity Tags: Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina

In the Dominican Republic, the government of Juan Bosch is overthrown by an archconservative faction of the military led Colonel Elias Wessin y Wessin and replaced with a civilian triumvirate. The new leaders quickly abolish the constitution, declaring it “nonexistent.” The coup reportedly happens with a “wink from the US Pentagon.” [Yates, 1988; Blum, 1995]

Entity Tags: Elias Wessin y Wessin, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina

Five-hundred US troops invade the Dominican Republic to crush a popular revolt aimed at returning John Bosch to power. The US presence in the Dominican quickly grows, with an additional 4,000 troops arriving a few days later. Eventually, a force of 23,000 will occupy the country (see April 24, 1965-September 1966). [Blum, 1995; BBC, 12/9/2005]

Entity Tags: Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina

US troops in the Dominican Republic (see April 24, 1965), as well as forces from Honduras, Brazil and Costa Rica, remain in that country for about one year. During that time, about 2000 Dominicans are killed—as the New York Times notes at the time—“fighting and dying for social justice and constitutionalism.” The US forces leave in September 1966 after supervising elections in which they ensure Joaquin Balaguer, a friend of the notorious Trujillo family, wins. The US will be content with Balaguer. Describing the time period under his leadership, William Blum will later write: “Joachim Balaguer [ruled]… his people in the grand Latin American style: The rich became richer and the poor had babies, hungry babies; democracy remained an alien concept; the police and military regularly kidnapped, tortured and murdered opponents of the government and terrorized union organizers. But the man was not, personally, the monster that Trujillo was. There was relative calm and peace. No ‘communist threat’ hovered over the land. The pot was sweetened for foreign investors, and American corporations moved in with big bucks. There was stability and order. And the men who ran the United States looked and were satisfied.” [Blum, 1995]

Entity Tags: Joaquin Balaguer

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