On April 28, 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson sent 42,000 Marines to the Dominican Republic, beginning a fourteen-month occupation of the country that would culminate in the installation of Joaquín Balaguer in 1966. Balaguer was not just the hand-picked successor of the Americans but was also the right-hand man of former dictator of 30 years, Rafael Trujillo. Keep in mind, that Trujillo also came to power as the result of the prior, 1916 American invasion of the Dominican Republic. Balaguer’s reign would last another 30 years.
Writing in Jacobin, Rory Fanning puts it this way: “Upon taking power, Balaguer began funneling nearly all of Dominican Republic’s minerals and sugar into the warehouses of US businesses. His three-decade rule was marked by corruption and fraud. Wages plummeted, unions were dismantled, inflation soared, and unemployment hovered around 30 percent.” Balaguer’s mis-rule also led to the migration of Dominicans en masse to the United States.
The “reason” given for the massive operation dubbed “Operation Powerpack” was to “protect American lives,” but the real reason was to protect American power and profit. After 30 years of an all-encompassing dictatorship and personality cult that only ended when Trujillo was assassinated in 1961, Dominicans elected Juan Bosch in 1963. Bosch was a progressive reformer who sought to use the country’s resources for the benefit of the Dominican people. America and the Dominican military and elite were having none of that. Juan Bosch would last only 7 months in office before he was deposed by a military coup that was backed by the United States.
A popular rebellion ensued that had the potential to restore Bosch to office and remove those in power from their perch. But it was not to be. On this day, April 28, in 1965, America invaded Dominican Republic again and would go on to ultimately crush the revolution. What the Dominican Republic is today, nearly 60 years later, is a direct result of that ignoble invasion that would once again put American power and profit over the people of the Dominican Republic. The Struggle continues…