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Dominican Republic



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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

Timeline Tags: US-Dominican Republic (1959-2005)

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, US-Dominican Republic (1959-2005)

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

Timeline Tags: US-Dominican Republic (1959-2005)

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

Timeline Tags: US-Dominican Republic (1959-2005)

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

Timeline Tags: US-Dominican Republic (1959-2005)

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

Timeline Tags: US-Dominican Republic (1959-2005)

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

Timeline Tags: US-Dominican Republic (1959-2005)

The United States Government funds and trains a 600-member paramilitary army of anti-Aristide Haitians in the Dominican Republic with the authorization of the country’s president, Hipolito Mejia. The funds—totaling $1.2 milllion—are directed through the International Republican Institute (IRI) on the pretext of encouraging democracy in Haiti. In order to evade attention, the paramilitary soldiers appear at their training sessions dressed in the uniforms of the Dominican Republic national police. The training—provided by some 200 members of the US Special Forces—takes place in the Dominican villages of Neiba, San Cristobal, San Isidro, Hatillo, Haina, and others. Most of the training takes place on property owned by the Dominican Republic Government. Technical training, conducted once a month, takes place in a Santo Domingo hotel through the IRI. Among the Hatians that take part in the program are known human rights violators including Guy Philippe and Louis-Jodel Chamblain. [Newsday, 3/16/2004; Xinhua News Agency (Beijing), 3/29/2004; Radio Mundo, 4/2/2004; Democracy Now!, 4/7/2004]

Entity Tags: Louis-Jodel Chamblain, Guy Philippe, International Republican Institute

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, US-Haiti (1804-2005)

A group of at least 20 paramilitary soldiers—trained and funded by the US (see (2001-2004)) —cross into Haiti from the neighboring Dominican Republic and attack a hydroelectric power plant on Haiti’s central plateau. Shortly after the attack, Dominican authorities, at the behest of the Haitian government, arrest five men, including Guy Philippe, in connection with the paramilitary operation. But they are quickly released by the Dominicans who say there is no evidence of their involvement in the attack. Philippe is interviewed by the Associated Press afterwards and asked what he is doing in the Dominican. Philippe, who mentions to the reporter that he would support a coup against Aristide, refuses to “say how he makes a living or what he does to spend his time in the Dominican Republic.” Less than one year later, Philippe will participate in the overthrow of the Aristide government. [Black Commentator, 5/15/2003] On the same day the five men are detained, Haitian authorities raid the Port-au-Prince residence of mayoral candidate Judith Roy of the Democratic Convergence opposition. The Haitians claim to find “assault weapons, ammunitions, and plans to attack the National Palace and Aristide’s suburban residence.” The Haitian government contends that Roy is close to Philippe. [Black Commentator, 5/15/2003]

Entity Tags: Judith Roy, Democratic Convergence, Guy Philippe

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup

Dominican police arrest five Haitians, including Arcelin Paul, the official Democratic Convergence representative in the Dominican Republic, who they believe are plotting the overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s government. Also at this time, there is a US build-up along the Dominican border, where “900 US soldiers patrol jointly with the Dominican army, whom they have armed with 20,000 M16s.” Ben Dupuy, general secretary of the left-wing party PPN, tells the left-wing Haiti Progres, “There is no doubt these guys are true terrorists working with the CIA under Dominican protection.” Documentary filmmaker Kevin Pina, who has been covering Haiti for over a decade, calls this the “US funding of the Haitian ‘Contras.’” A September 2003 article in the magazine, Dollars and Sense, will comment: “Whatever we call them, there is an organized and well-funded armed group with ties to the Convergence, based in the Dominican Republic, which aims to overthrow the Aristide government. The Bush administration’s support for the Convergence and its refusal to denounce this violence, as well as the US military presence along the border, through which the ‘Manman’ army easily travels, clearly implicates the United States in this aim.” [Dollars and Sense, 9/7/2003]

Entity Tags: Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Arcelin Paul, Democratic Convergence, Ben Dupuy

Timeline Tags: Haiti Coup, US-Haiti (1804-2005)

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