Pierre Schorri writes: In two articles in nlr (numbers 40–41, 1967), James Petras analysed the situation in the Dominican Republic. His analysis is not only out-dated but, worse, very partial in favour of the small Trotskyite June 14th Movement and, consequently, highly critical of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, the party which played the dominant role during the 1965 revolution, and which was up till October last year led by Juan Bosch. Petras’s accusations against the prd are inaccurate and misleading.
The prd is ‘a personalistic party, almost totally dominated by Juan Bosch and primarily geared to electoral acitivity’. Petras insinuates a conflict between the ‘conservative party leadership’ and ‘the militant prd masses’, and that the prd parliamentary group is continuing the Party’s position of defending ‘the profit interests of the small and medium businessman against the hungry rural workers’. He sums up: ‘the Party leadership clearly defines itself a bourgeois collaborationist opposition, its popular base is disoriented or tends to pass on to other more active political forces’. Petras’s worst accusation, however, is that ‘during the insurrection of 1965 he (Juan Bosch) asked the State Department permission to lead the April revolution while US marines were landing’.
He recognizes, however, in the first article, that the revolution of April was an authentic popular uprising against military corruption and dictatorship, and that ‘the top leadership was primarily professionals from the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano’; ‘the command units were made up and led by Catholic trade unionists (casc) and June 14th militants in addition to prd militants’.
Next, Petras has chosen to try to discredit the party as collaborationist with the reactionary Balaguer regime. For instance: ‘The two prd leaders who are collaborating with Balaguer are Minister of Finance, A. Martinez Francisco, and Minister of Industry and Commerce, J. A. Brea Pena. Both were, and some will say are, on Bosch’s national
Press reviews from the congress were all positive in the radical press including the Communist—see, e.g. the Mexican Communist magazine Politica, nr 158, November 15th, 1966. In the Congress of the prd Youth (jrd), which preceded the Party Congress, a document was passed, the gist of which was later approved by the Party. This ‘bourgeois and mildly anti-imperialist’ party stated among other things: ‘Our party is a united front of exploited classes, arising out of the national situation as an instrument of the anti-imperialist and anti-feudalist revolution. Its ideas are derived from the materialistic study of the society and of the history.’ The declaration goes on to advocate Democratic Socialism as the ‘anti-feudalist and anti-imperialist’ means for the national revolution. ‘It believes in a democratic system of government, but realizes that the fight for democracy cannot be carried out by democratic means. The democratic means can only be applied where democracy has been established. Obviously true democracy has never existed in our country, except for the attempt made by the constitutional government of Prof. Juan Bosch.’
The document makes clear that the jrd is not a hysterically antiCommunist organisation. ‘The movement was not created to be used as an instrument for anti-Communist action. The jrd was created to fight against imperialism, feudalism and oligarchy. . . . We have to consider communism as a competitive force and through Democratic Socialism we must offer to the Dominican people a clear and optimistic alternative.’ In the prd Congress two weeks later Juan Bosch himself decided to hand over the leadership of the party to the young guard within the party. The new party executive, including the leader of the left wing of the party, the 29-year-old general secretary Peña Gómez and the jrd leader Rafael Alburquerque, now has a majority of people under 30. At the same time the two prd members in the Balaguer government were expelled from the party.
The new National Executive published a statement on February 26th strongly criticizing the Balaguer régime for moving toward a new dictatorship. Quoting a number of terroristic measures and political murders waged again the prd and its members they declare that during the election campaign 400 prd members were murdered. Since Balaguer took office in July last year over 50 prd members have been killed, several hundred imprisoned.