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The United States Invasion of the Dominican Republic, 1961–1966

Piero Gleijeses

in Latin American Studies

ISBN: 9780199766581
Published online October 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0071
The United States Invasion of the Dominican Republic, 1961–1966

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On 24 April 1965, young military officers rose in revolt in the Dominican Republic. Four days later US troops invaded the country. It was the first US military intervention in Latin America in more than three decades. These dramatic events brought to center stage a small, backward Caribbean republic where until 1916 civil war and dictatorship had been the rule, democracy and honest government the fleeting exception. Then the United States invaded, and the eight-year US occupation paved the way for the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, which stretched from 1930 until his assassination in May 1961. The country emerged from the trauma of Trujillo at a time when the United States was haunted by the fear of a second Cuba. In December 1962 the Dominican Republic held its first free elections in almost four decades. The victor, Juan Bosch, established a government characterized by administrative probity, political freedom, and the promise of social reform, but the Kennedy administration decided that he was soft on Communism. Bosch was overthrown in September 1963, and the de facto government that replaced him indulged in an orgy of corruption. As long as it ruled, there would be no social reforms and no free elections. When young officers rebelled on 24 April 1965 and announced that they would return Bosch to the presidency, the population responded with relief and enthusiasm. Urged on by Washington, “loyalist” generals attacked the capital, the stronghold of the revolt, only to be defeated by thousands of armed civilians and hundreds of rebel soldiers. On 28 April the US embassy warned, correctly, that it was a matter of days before the rebels took control of the entire country. It also alleged that Communists had gained control of the revolt. President Lyndon B. Johnson sent in the troops. A four-month stalemate ensued in the glare of the international press, with the rebels holding out in downtown Santo Domingo while the United States and the Dominican government it had created controlled the rest of the country. Finally in September 1965 a provisional government was established. Elections followed in June 1966. Observers and scholars at the time and later have disagreed as to whether the provisional government was a fair compromise brokered by Washington’s patient diplomacy or a diktat forced by Washington on the besieged rebels, and as to whether the June 1966 elections were free. The documents declassified by the US government since the 1980s show clearly that it was a diktat and that the elections were not truly free.

Article.  9555 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies ; History of the Americas

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