Bosch Gaviño, Juan (1909–2001)

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Bosch Gaviño, Juan (1909–2001)

Juan Bosch Gaviño (b. 30 June 1909; d. 1 November 2001), Dominican novelist, sociologist, historian, politician, and president of the Dominican Republic (1963). Bosch, a native of La Vega, published his first collection of short stories, Camino Real, in 1933. One year later, Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina arrested Bosch for conspiracy against his regime. Released in 1935, Bosch became literary editor of the Dominican Republic's most prestigious newspaper, Listín Diario. In 1936 he published one of his most popular novels, La Mañosa. Unable to live under the Trujillo dictatorship, he fled his country in 1938. During the next twenty-three years of exile, Bosch resided in Cuba, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Chile, and Venezuela. He was one of the organizers of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), which was founded in 1939 at Havana. Later, he served as secretary to Cuban President Carlos Prío Socarrás (1948–1952) and helped to organize the abortive attempt to overthrow Trujillo, known as Cayo Confite.

After Trujillo's assassination in 1961, Bosch returned to his native land in order to organize the PRD on Dominican soil. In December 1962, he won the first presidential elections held in the Dominican Republic since 1930. Inaugurated in February 1963, he was deposed after only seven months by a military coup backed by elements of the military (under General Elías Wessín y Wessín), the landowning and business elites, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, and the military attachés of the United States. Bosch was once again forced into exile, from which he did not return until 1966.

The regime installed by the military coup in September 1963 proved to be most unpopular and was removed by a revolution that occurred on 24 April 1965. The chief aim of the revolutionaries, who called themselves Constitutionalists, was to return Bosch to the presidency of the nation. In order to prevent this possibility, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson dispatched U.S. Marines to Santo Domingo on 28 April. Some historians have claimed that Bosch was a coward for not returning to his country to lead the Constitutionalists in their battle against the Loyalists of Wessín y Wessín and the interventionist forces of the United States. Bosch has responded to this criticism by stating that agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation surrounded his residence in Puerto Rico in order to prevent his return to Santo Domingo.

Both Bosch and his rival, Joaquín Balaguer, returned from exile for the presidential elections of 1966, in which they were the candidates for the Dominican Revolutionary Party, and the Reformist Party, respectively. Balaguer possessed decisive advantages during the electoral campaign and won the election. In 1973 Bosch broke with the Dominican Revolutionary Party, which he had helped to found, and formed his own political movement, the Party of Dominican Liberation (PLD). When the PLD ran for the first time in 1978, it obtained only an insignificant number of votes, but by the elections of 1982, it was represented in the Dominican Congress by six deputies. In 1986 the PLD obtained 18.3 percent of the vote as well as sixteen deputies and two senators in the Congress. With the disintegration of the Dominican Revolutionary Party into various factions, the PLD emerged as the main challenger of Balaguer's Reformist Party.

During the presidential elections of 1990, Bosch and Balaguer faced each other once again, the latter winning by a narrow margin. Bosch accused his opponent of electoral fraud and threatened to take the dispute to the streets, a move from which he was dissuaded by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who mediated between the octogenarian rivals. In 1994 he ran again and again lost. He died on November 1, 2001, in Santo Domingo. Although deeply involved in Dominican politics for over five decades, Bosch will probably be remembered more for his literary achievements than for his accomplishments in the political realm.

See alsoDominican Republic .


Bosch's writings include Cuentos escritos en el exilio (1962), The Unfinished Experiment (1966), Composición social dominicana (1970), El oro y la paz (1976), and 33 artículos de temas políticos (1988). See also John Bartlow Martin, Overtaken by Events: The Dominican Crisis from the Fall of Trujillo to the Civil War (1966); and Comité Pro Homenaje A Juan Bosch, Juan Bosch: Un hombre de siempre (1989).

Additional Bibliography

García Cuevas, Eugenio de J. Juan Bosch: Novela, historia, y sociedad. San Juan, PR: Isla Negra, 1995.

González, Raymundo. Política, identidad y pensamiento social en la República Dominicana, siglos XIX y XX. Madrid: Doce Calles, 1999.

San Miguel, Pedro Luis. The Imagined Island: History, Identity, & Utopia in Hispaniola. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005.

                          Kai P. Schoenhals

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Bosch Gaviño, Juan (1909–2001)

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