Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic with its bulletscarred buildings, run-down commercial area and its daylight streets full of unemployed men and broken-down wooden houses, appears like a Southern negro shanty town superimposed on Harlem. The difference is in the slogans on the walls ‘FUERA GENOCIDAS’. ‘FUERA AGRESORES YANQUIS.’ The houses destroyed by us mortars still lie in ruins; most restaurant windows are still boarded up—much of the destruction was wrought by the battle of June 15th–16th (1965) when us artillery and mobile units including mounted machine guns tried to carry out the us generals’ boast that the Revolutionaries’ sector could be taken in two hours. After three nights and two days of fighting the us marines had advanced only two blocks. . . But the ravages are still present, many Dominican freedom fighters are not.footnote1
Today trade union leaders do not venture out without carrying a pistol as protection against likely attacks, while the Balaguer Government is trying to pass restrictive legislation to disarm the populace totally. Today anyone who was a constitutional militant is hiding the fact; it is something worse than suspect, it is grounds for murder. After 8 p.m. the streets are empty—the ‘peace and tranquillity’ is based on fear of continued terror by political gangsters who now have been revived and strengthened. Before dawn hundreds of unemployed line up outside the headquarters of the Partido Reforma (Balaguer’s organization) waiting for jobs. Likewise around government offices: long lines for non-existent jobs. Typical of the style of the new government is the Red Cross which has its posters plastered on ail the buildings boasting of its service to ‘all the community.’ During the Revolution when this author with a committee of doctors called the Red Cross trying to send urgently needed plasma to the constitutionalists, they replied that they had to consult the State Department—and then naturally refused to transmit the plasma to that side of the ‘community’.
A us businessman told me that I should come here and get rich, especially now, with all the new ‘projects’ getting under way and with no taxes and cheap labour ($1 to $2 a day)—‘In the next five years this is the best country in Latin America to make a fortune.’
The present policy of the Balaguer Government gives every indication of being a businessman’s dream. Ley de Austeridad proposes to lower salaries of public employees, freeze the wages of the working class and prohibit strikes for at least one year. There are naturally no limits on profits, and prices of staple foods continue to soar: regular rice 14 cents a pound, native beans 16 cents.footnote2 Ley de Tregua Politica proposes to restrict party activities by not allowing public meetings, confining them to party locals (only in the three months preceding the next election can the parties go out in the street). Marches,footnote3 assembly, public demonstrations in general would be prohibited. This would further atomize and demoralize the populace, cripple the parties of the opposition and allow the Balaguer-controlled Congress to pass whatever other anti-popular legislation without any opposition—hence the term by which Balaguer’s government is frequently referred, the ‘legal dictatorship.’ On August 20th Balaguer signed a law that dissolved the state-owned Dominican Sugar Corporation (cad) and made the continuance of state ownership conditional on profitability. Under this law in five years the enterprises could be turned over to private hands. The Balaguer appointee on the new Consejo Estatal del Agucar, Gartan Boucher was a top executive of the us owned South Puerto Rico Sugar Company (El Romano).footnote4 Balaguer has confirmed all the Trujillista military officers, who the us has rearmed and reconditioned, in their positions. The February 27th Campamento, the constitutionalist garrison, is being totally dismantled, the officers are being relegated to study abroad or are being discharged and intimidated. All efforts have been directed toward purging any possible dissident political force and to create a military completely loyal to the us and the Pro Balaguer forces.footnote5 In line with government policy a considerable number of militant workers have been discharged by private and state enterprises: 695 workers from Consuelo negor central, 2,000 workers
Political arrest and selective terrorism of constitutional leaders practised under the Provisional Government of Garcia Godoy continues unabated. A few days before my arrival August Remon Emilio Mejia Pichirilo as constitutionalist Comandante and Juan Bisono Mera, an ex constitutionalist official in Villa Bisono, were shot down by the rightwing terrorists or police (or both). Balaguer’s ‘investigations,’ like those of Garcia Godoy, never discovered the murderers.footnote6
The restoration of the old order was the primary strategy of the us invasion. The policies of Balaguer and the military, including the political gangsterism, are the fruits of the us intervention. The policestate legislation, the anti-working class measures and the totalitarian agencies and methods now in force are approved and to a large degree drawn up by us advisers who are to be found in the office of every major ministry on the policy-making level, from Financial and Commercial to Military affairs.
A discussion of politics in the Dominican Republic today both in terms of a consideration of the political effects of the us intervention and the nature of the present political struggle requires prior consideration of three related phases in recent Dominican political history: (1) The revolution of April 1965 (2) the us military intervention and its aftermath (3) the complex and continuing process of restoration of the old ruling classes in a permanently explosive socio-political milieu. Each one of these phases contributed to the formation of the political forces which confront each other today. At the same time new alignments and divisions springing from the cumulative results of previous action coalesce both within the popular political organizations and in the us-directed groups. Distinct tendencies are beginning to crystallize, while others are beginning to lose their strength. Basic to an understanding both of the emergence of new political forces and decline of old groups is the question of us domination, especially the military occupation. Related to this is the powerful anti-imperialist sentiment that has spread to broad layers of the popular ciasses, in particular among the urban poor. These two opposite but intimately related facts have become basic ingredients defining the nature and type of political activity of the key political forces. It is clear that us marines scored a military victory; but the State Department recognized that the presence and visible direct control by us officials would result in permanent civil war, given the fact that the majority of the populace was and is against the us military presence. The political formulas (‘Provisional