Dominican Revolt (1965)

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Dominican Revolt (1965)

Dominican Revolt (1965), the civil conflict spurred by the military's overthrow of Juan Bosch and the installation of a repressive puppet regime. The September 1963 coup that removed the democratically elected Bosch after a mere seven months in office brought to power a military-backed civilian triumvirate, headed by businessman Donald Reid Cabral, that embarked on a course of corruption and repression that reminded Dominicans of the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. On 24 April 1965, members of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), some Christian Socialists, disgruntled professionals, and dissident elements of the armed forces led by Colonel Francisco Caamaño Deñó, seized the government and arrested Reid Cabral. The Constitutionalists' appeal for the restoration of democracy and the return of the constitutionally elected President Juan Bosch from exile was met with enthusiasm from the Dominican populace but with consternation on the part of pro-Cabral elements among the armed forces and the U.S. embassy, represented by William Tupley Bennett.

The organizer of the coup against Bosch, General Elías Wessín y Wessín, ordered the bombing of Santo Domingo by his air force, which was followed by an attempted thrust into the old part of the capital. Not only were the Constitutionalists able to repulse Wessín's attack, but within a few days they were on the verge of victory. At this point U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered a massive armed intervention, ostensibly to rescue North American citizens and prevent a supposed Communist takeover, a "second Cuba," but in reality to obviate the return of Juan Bosch. There followed a bitter civil war between the Constitutionalists and Loyalists (loyal to Reid Cabral), with the supposedly neutral U.S. Marines and airborne units clearly siding with the forces of Wessín y Wessín. Contrary to Johnson's expectation of a brief skirmish, the conflict lasted the entire summer and resulted in thousands of Dominican casualties.

Johnson's intervention was criticized by Latin America's democracies (Mexico and Chile), which viewed his action as the end of Roosevelt's Good Neighbor Policy. The hemisphere's dictatorships, however, approved of the intervention and dispatched 500 Brazilian, Nicaraguan, Honduran, and Paraguayan soldiers to Santo Domingo to serve in an Inter-American Peace Force under U.S. General Bruce Palmer. A compromise settlement worked out by U.S. special envoy Ellsworth Bunker finally led to an end of the revolution and civil war on 31 August 1965. The Act of Dominican Reconciliation called for the creation of a provisional government, the reintegration of the country's armed forces, and the holding of national elections in June 1966.

See alsoBosch Gaviño, Juan; Caamaño Deñó, Francisco.


Dan Kurzman, Santo Domingo: The Revolt of the Damned (1965).

Tad Szulc, Dominican Diary (1965).

José Antonio Moreno, Barrios in Arms (1970).

Abraham F. Lowenthal, The Dominican Intervention (1972).

Piero Gleijeses, The Dominican Crisis (1978).

Hamlet Hermann, Francis Caamaño (1983).

Additional Bibliography

Bosch, Brian J. Balaguer and the Dominican Military: Presidential Control of the Factional Officer Corps in the 1960s and 1970s. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2007.

Chester, Eric Thomas. Red Tags, Scum, Riff-Raff, and Commies: the U.S. Intervention in the Dominican Repbulic, 1965–1966. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2001.

Diedrich, Bernard. Trujillo: Death of a Dictator. Princeton: Markus Wiener, 2000.

Franco, Franklin J. República Dominicana: Clases, crisis y comandos. Santo Domingo: Ediciones Libería Trinitaria, 2000.

Peña Gómez, José Francisco. Hitos de la revolución. Santo Domingo: Editora el Nuevo Diario, 2005.

                                            Kai P. Schoenhals

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Dominican Revolt (1965)

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