The four major political organizations in the Dominican Republic are the Partido Reformista (pr), the us financed and directed organization which backed Balaguer; Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (prd), the liberal opposition directed by Bosch; Partido Revolucionario Social Cristiano (prsc), the somewhat more reformist, Christian Democrat group; and the national-popular June 14th movement.

The Partido Reformista is not so much a party as an organization mounted by us policy makers and whose leadership personnel was largely recruited from the former Trujillo machine; Balaguer himself once being the hand picked ‘President’ of the Great Benefactor in his last years. The ‘activists’ were largely recruited from lumpen elements, the older unemployed or semi-employed ‘service’ sectors who saw a chance to earn fast money and possible employment opportunities. The rural clergy, mostly Cuban exiles and exports from Franco Spain, and the military provided informal ‘electoral organizations’ along with the us directed ‘Community Development’ organizations.footnote16 The social forces of this organization were clearly the ruling class—us and national. The party had one aim: to legitimate their de facto return to power via us bayonets through ‘free elections’. The ‘Balaguer mass’ never was, nor is today, represented in a party either formally or informally. The Partido Reformista was a one-shot deal, constructed for a single purpose and has never developed either a structure, programme or political purpose. The only contact today between the ‘activists’ and the Partido Reformista is the line of job-hunters in front of the ‘party’ office. In light of this lack of firm political organization it is understandable why the police, army and restrictive legislation are playing such a decisive role. The other side of the coin is Balaguer’s attempts to demobilize and atomize the politicized urban populace (ban on public meetings—Tregua Politica) through restrictions on the parties and a prohibition of strikes and union activity (wage freeze). In addition, of course, these policies directly benefit the social classes which direct Balaguer’s policies, strengthening their control and increasing their economic benefits. Together with this policy Balaguer has utilized the plums of patronage to ‘co-opt’ elements from the rightwing of the prd—two entering the Cabinet.footnote17 Thus there is a combined use of repression and co-option to destroy political opposition.footnote18

The Partido Revolucionario Dominicano is a personalistic party, almost totally dominated by Juan Bosch and primarily geared to electoral activity. Though its leaders are mainly middle-class professionals, they are generally oriented by ‘modern neo-capitalist’ ideas.footnote19 The electoral base of the prd is largely composed of the urban poor, the industrial workers, public employees, professional groups, shopkeepers, small and a few larger manufacturers. It lacks a clear ideology, being vaguely for a welfare state, mildly anti-imperialist but with strong links with the strongly pro-imperialist Figueres, Munoz Marin, Leoni groups in Latin America (the self-styled ‘democratic left’ —neither democratic nor left). The more conservative Party leadership’s political position usually predominates in periods of parliamentary activity. And the result is that the class conflicts in society re-emerge in the conflicts between the militant prd masses and the Party. In 1963 after Bosch was elected, the sugar workers demanded that he live up to his election pledges and deal with their economic needs. Bosch refused even to negotiate until the workers threatened to close down sugar production. Likewise, one factor why the rural peasantry did not run the risk of voting for Bosch was that he never made any gesture to relieve their rural misery as he had promised to do in 1962–63. The Bosch Congressmen are continuing this pattern. Deputy Ambriorex Diaz (prd-Santiago) recently introduced an amendment to a proposed rural minimum wage law of DR 2 pesos a day giving Balaguer power to lower the minimum wage below 2 pesos in areas where owners couldn’t afford to pay it because of low productive land.footnote20 The prd leadership defended the profit interests of the small and medium businessmen against the hungry rural workers.

The result is that as Bosch’s personal prestige has declined because of his own and the prd’s debility during the coup of 1963 (he refused to prepare or lead the populace against it), the insurrection of 1965 (he asked State Department permission to lead the April revolution while us marines were landing) and the election of June 1966 (refusal to leave his house to campaign), the Party leadership clearly defines itself as a bourgois collaborationist opposition: its popular base is disoriented or tends to pass on to other more active political forces.footnote21 The nonexistence of prd student support, the sharp decline in its trade union support are indicative of the growing disillusion of the more politicized Dominican popular forces with the prd; these factors may herald a greater exodus.

The Partido Revolucionario Social Cristiano is a party overwhelmingly made up of middle class professionals, public employees, small business- men and students with little penetration in the working class. Its programme does not appear too much different from that of other Christian Democratic parties. However, because of the us invasion there is an anti-imperialist consciousness all too rare among practising Christian Democrats in the rest of Latin America.

Much more dynamic and with a wider influence among the populace is the Confederacion Autonoma de Sindicatos Cristianos (casc), the Christian Democratic-led trade union movement. The casc, probably the largest and most influential confederation at the moment, has grown considerably both in members and militancy because of its active participation in the armed resistance against the us marines.footnote22 casc leaders like Henry Molina and Francisco Santos played important roles in directing the revolutionary commandos. Though the casc is an ideologically oriented union and is in working relations with the prsc there is a definite ‘syndicalist’ tendency in their orientation to the working class: in practical terms unionism is conceived as the major vehicle for mobilizing and defending working-class interests. They are both militant and ‘reformist’—militant in confrontations on economic struggles and less clearly defined on the large political issues—except on the question of the us presence. The revolution and the invasion caused the older conservative Catholics both in the prsc and casc to leave,footnote23 with the result that those who remained and the new members recruited during the struggle have strengthened the ‘militant’ wing especially in the casc.

The combativity of the workers who form the cadres of the casc is tempered by their strong commitment to Catholicism, and through this channel comes the major anti-communist influence. The single most important factor preventing these workers from turning their antiimperialism and class consciousness into a revolutionary socialist commitment is their ideological links with the Catholic hierarchy and doctrine. While liberal Catholic spokesmen encourage trade union activity and organization, the overwhelming stress is on working with Western progressive liberalism, militant anti-communism and avoidance of popular mobilizations for social revolution.footnote24 The necessities of the armed struggle appear to have had the effect of overcoming some of these factors, but the more conservative influences may emerge again in the coming period.