Juan Bosch

views updated May 21 2018

Juan Bosch

Juan Bosch (born 1909) was a Dominican writer and political leader. As president of his country, he introduced wide-ranging social reforms.

Juan Bosch was born on June 30, 1909, in La Vega, the son of immigrants. He received his education there and soon afterward joined the opposition to the tyrannical regime of General Rafael Trujillo, who had come to power in 1930.

In 1935 Bosch went into exile and became a leading figure among the younger expatriates. In 1939 he was one of the founders of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), or Dominican Revolutionary Party. The PRD became the most influential of the exile groups opposed to the Trujillo regime. In Cuba between 1944 and 1952 Bosch held various posts in its democratic leftist Autentico government.

Bosch was also gaining a considerable reputation as an important literary figure, specializing in short stories and also writing frequent sociological and political studies on his native country. After the overthrow of the Autenticos by General Fulgencio Batista in 1952, Bosch went to Costa Rica and in 1958 moved to Venezuela.

With the assassination of Trujillo in 1961, Bosch returned home. Soon after, he began to give weekly television appearances. His ability to explain difficult issues in simple terms soon won him a wide audience throughout the republic. The same qualities also catapulted him into national leadership and helped to bring wide popularity to his party.

Popularity Led to Presidency

Bosch emerged as one of the two major candidates in the first post-Trujillo election at the end of 1962, becoming president in February 1963. During his seven months in office Bosch sought to set a model for democratic government. He encouraged wide organization of the labor and peasant movements, sponsored passage of an agrarian reform law, and financed an extensive program for training local leaders of cooperatives, unions, and municipalities. The Bosch government also maintained the fullest civil liberties.

Reforms Led to His Overthrow

Dominican military leaders, unaccustomed to the "turbulence" of a democratic regime, overthrew Bosch in September 1963. He went into exile in Puerto Rico. When a revolt broke out in Santo Domingo in April 1965, seeking to restore Bosch to power, he gave it his blessing but made no serious attempt to return home. The uprising was frustrated by United States armed intervention, and a provisional government was established under Hector Garcia Godoy, a former member of Bosch's cabinet. In new elections a year later, Bosch was decisively defeated by the former president, Joaquin Balaguer.

Shortly after Balaguer was inaugurated, Bosch went into voluntary exile in Spain. There he grew increasingly pessimistic about the possibility for political democracy to thrive in his homeland. In 1968 he formally proclaimed his support for a "popular dictatorship." He returned home in 1970, and in 1973 founded the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD). Bosch ran for president in 1994. Although he lost, the party gained political power and has become a major force in Dominican elections.

Further Reading

Gutierrez, Carlos Maria. The Dominican Republic: Rebellion and Repression (1972);

Pons, Frank M. The Dominican Republic: A National History (1994). □