Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, Volume XII, American Republics

Released by the Office of the Historian
Docs 300-326


The Dominican Republic

300. Telegram From the Consulate General in the Dominican Republic to the Department of State/1/

Ciudad Trujillo, January 4, 1961, 1:20 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 739.00/1-461. Confidential; Priority.

818. Not since last August has Dominican Republic been such beehive of reports and rumors. Subjects deal with precarious GODR finances, action against Venezuela, action by government against GODR including invasion, commercial and POL developments between GODR and Soviet bloc, proposed action against US and its citizens, dissident plots for overthrow Trujillo, and GODR plots to annihilate dissidents. Yesterday Consulate officer was asked by underground contact to furnish him with four hand grenades to be passed on through several intermediaries to ultimate destination for use against Generalissimo this weekend. He was of course informed we were not in that business. This request renewed however my fervent hopes that no hotheads will assassinate Trujillo--or at least not before US takes widely publicized action which will convince even most doubtful dissidents USG is in sympathy with termination Trujillo dictatorship and eventual establishment representative government. Principal point for Department be aware of this connection is assassination plotters are increasingly active and period of relative quiescence is over for time being at least. No organized uprising in sight but ambush of Trujillo considerably more likely than month ago.


301. Telegram From the Consulate General in the Dominican Republic to the Department of State/1/

Ciudad Trujillo, February 4, 1961, noon.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.39/2-461. Confidential.

923. Rumors circulating Trujillo plans expropriate American properties and terminate US consular relations if Dominican Republic deprived of Cuban windfall sugar. Rumors likewise circulating these reports inspired by GODR for purpose preventing adverse US Congressional action on Dominican Republic.

Consulate believes GODR may take retaliatory action if Dominican Republic deprived share Cuban windfall. While it would not appear be in Trujillo's long range interest further cut ties with US neither has his progressive alienations of US over past two years been wise if considered from view his own interest. His problems are of own making and if it were not for his unrelenting military and financial efforts replace representative Latin American governments with dictatorship and his exacerbation Caribbean tensions by persistent violation generally accepted human rights his regime could today be enjoying degree prosperity and tranquillity enjoyed by few Latin American countries. USG should therefore be prepared for Trujillo follow course leading to destruction his own regime--namely further separation from US and other OAS members and suicidal sponsorship Communist-type propaganda and commercial contacts with Communist countries.

Consulate reiterates its previous judgment that position of US security and business interests in Dominican Republic will continue deteriorate with every additional day Trujillo remains in office. He is increasingly reorienting political and commercial policies along line which run counter US objectives. Most important be cognizant fallacy of Trujillo sponsored argument that US driving GODR to its present course. Nothing further from truth. Trujillo himself is unconscionable violator OAS non-interventionist and human rights principles and his objective is be allowed continue these violations without interference from US or OAS. If OAS interferes he threatens associate self with its enemies and this is blackmail from any angle which cannot be tolerated if OAS to be political force in hemisphere.


302. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Kennedy/1/

Washington, February 15, 1961.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Dominican Republic, General, January-June 1961. Top Secret.

The Dominican Republic

You have inquired regarding the assertion that the elimination of the Dominican Republic's windfall sugar quota will lead to the downfall of Trujillo and his replacement by a Communist-oriented regime./2/

/2/National Security Action Memorandum 17, approved February 13, directed Secretary of State Rusk to prepare a memorandum setting forth the status of U.S. relations with the Dominican Republic and to analyze the effect of a possible elimination of the Dominican Republic's sugar quota on the stability of the Trujillo regime. (Department of State, NSAM Files: Lot 72 D 316)

Economic Aspects

It is true that the Dominican Government is faced with serious economic difficulties. Foreign exchange reserves are kept secret by the Dominican Government but they are believed to be low. Similarly, the current budgetary position is secret but we assume that by reductions which have been made in the public works program and other civilian costs and by the increased taxes which have been placed on imports and exports and budget will be nearly in balance. The level of business activity is low, credit is scarce, unemployment high and the cost of living has risen.

The principal causes of Trujillo's economic difficulties are not to be found in our U.S. sugar policy but rather in his excessive military and propaganda expenditures coupled with unwise fiscal, financial and investment policies and his systematic milking of the Dominican economy for his own personal gain. While increasing U.S. purchases of sugar six-fold (the estimated windfall quota for the Dominican Republic between April 1 and December 31, 1961 is about 466,000 tons which at the U.S. price would bring a premium of approximately $22.6 million over the price which could be obtained on the world market) would doubtless help the Dominican economy, it is not proposed to eliminate his historic share of the U.S. market (the Dominican basic quota for the April 1-December 31, 1961 period is approximately 83,000 tons which represents a premium of approximately $4 million over what could be obtained on the world market).

Since Trujillo owns directly or indirectly about 60 percent of the sugar-producing properties in the Dominican Republic, a large part of the windfall accrues not to the Dominican economy but to Trujillo personally. Furthermore, with a personal fortune estimated to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 million, a substantial part of which consists of liquid holdings abroad, Trujillo has the personal resources, if he wishes to use them, to provide substantial amounts of capital to the Dominican economy.

Political Aspects

In spite of economic difficulties there is no solid evidence that Trujillo's fall is imminent. Trujillo rules by force and will presumably remain in power as long as the armed forces continue to support him. While there is evidence of dissatisfaction on the part of a few officers there is as yet no cogent evidence of large-scale defection within the officer corps.

The underground opposition to Trujillo composed of business, student and professional people is believed to by predominantly anti-Communist. They have substantially increased in numbers in recent years but have been unable to move effectively against Trujillo. In addition to opposition groups in the Dominican Republic, there are numerous exile groups located principally in Venezuela, Cuba, United States and Puerto Rico. In some cases these groups have been infiltrated by pro-Castro or pro-Communist elements.

In the event the Trujillo regime should fall the degree of danger of a communist takeover would, according to our intelligence, depend on whether the domestic or the exile groups succeeded in gaining dominance. The danger would be less if the domestic opposition gained power, and it would be increased substantially if infiltrated exile groups should emerge as the next government.

Finally, account must be taken of the adverse effect on our position of leadership in the hemisphere if we support tyranny in the Dominican Republic. Our ability to marshal Latin American support against the Castro dictatorship would be impaired; Venezuela has made it clear that action against Trujillo is a condition precedent to Venezuelan support of collective action against Castro.

Comments have also been requested concerning the progress which has been made in assuring an orderly takeover by anti-Communist elements should Trujillo fall.

Our representatives in the Dominican Republic have, at considerable risk to those involved, established contacts with numerous leaders in the underground opposition. These leaders look to the United States for assistance. They believe in a free enterprise economic system, plan the nationalization of public utilities with compensation to the owners, intend to institute a land reform program based on agricultural cooperatives and the nationalization of idle agricultural land, and intend to confiscate all of Trujillo's properties. They have agreed on a president to lead them, propose to prevent the re-entry of Communist and subversive agents and to hold elections within a two-year period during which they plan to carry out their program. No financial assistance has been given these underground leaders [2-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]./3/

/3/The January 12 decision to authorize such deliveries is described in the Interim Report of the Select Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, United States Senate, "Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders," November 20, 1975, pp. 196-197.

These leaders are believed to have considerable support within the country and while they plan immediately to seize control of the government if Trujillo falls, their ability to carry out their plans obviously depends to a large degree on the attitude of the Dominican armed forces. They believe they have important support in the officer corps.

With respect to Dominican exile groups, [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] has established useful working relationships and attempted to distinguish between democratic and undemocratic elements. Conversations with them continue. These exile groups have received limited financial assistance and propaganda assistance in the form of certain radio broadcasts.

Should the underground leaders with whom we are in contact fail to obtain the support of the Dominican armed forces and should they call on the United States for assistance, a question arises as to whether the United States would be prepared to intervene militarily either unilaterally or collectively with other American States. This question needs study and a review of the entire plan is desirable. It is recommended that Mr. Berle's Task Force be assigned this task./4/

/4/A footnote in Rusk's handwriting reads: "This has been done." No record of the Task Force's deliberation on this matter was found.

There is enclosed a memorandum containing additional background information./5/

/5/Not found.

Dean Rusk

303. Telegram From the Consulate General in the Dominican Republic to the Department of State/1/

Ciudad Trujillo, February 24, 1961, 9:56 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 739.00/2-2461. Confidential; Priority.

994. Businessmen and administrators who have been collaborators in Trujillo regime were asked in last few days by chosen representatives of dissidents what Trujillo's reaction would be if convinced Kennedy administration would definitely not follow conciliatory policy toward his regime. They replied Trujillo would in their opinion do practically nothing against USG or Americans because he fully realizes he still has basic sugar quota and US market for other important exports to safeguard. These collaborators believe Trujillo will attempt smooth things over with USG once convinced his blustering tactics no avail. He may criticize but will soft pedal. In discussion on Cuban windfall sugar Ramfis reported have said recently "what is all the excitement about? Loss of the windfall is not so important. It was something we never had before". Further reasoning behind observations of collaborators is Trujillo has failed in strenuous and costly efforts change US policy toward him, break solidarity OAS, and exchange missions with additional countries western Europe, UAS and iron curtain nations. He now knows he has no place to turn and in play to salvage his power and preserve his wealth will play down attacks on US and turn conciliatory. (Noteworthy he has not yet attacked Kennedy administration on its position re purchases Dominican sugar though Rusk letter to Rayburn was publicized February 21.)/2/

/2/In a February 17 letter to Speaker of the House of Representatives Sam Rayburn, Secretary Rusk asked that Congress consider amending the U.S. Sugar Act to empower the President to deny the Trujillo government any of the sugar quota previously allotted to Cuba.

Responsible dissident businessmen who are in contact with mentioned collaborators are developing consensus foregoing may be accurate prognostication.

Close adviser of Trujillo recently remarked to friend of former in veiled way Trujillo more preoccupied by another development than over sugar problem. Best informed dissidents are guessing this greater problem connected with reported disloyalties at home (Consulate telegrams 987 and 991)/3/ and fear of activities anti-Trujillo Dominican exiles abroad. Dissidents reason if anything worries Trujillo more than his sugar sales this concern probably results from knowledge of some physical threat to his regime.

/3/Dated February 23 and February 24. (Department of State, Central Files, 739.00/2-2361 and 739.00/2-2461, respectively)

Comment: Source of foregoing is of utmost reliability and group for whom he speaks is comprised of pro-US moderate dissidents. If views expressed are correct, my interpretation is Trujillo tried by sound and fury (threats expel all Americans, terminate Consular relations, tie up with iron curtain, etc.) prevent USG from taking steps adverse his interests. He may now realize his strategy has failed and may try save his regime by only course left--namely convince US and OAS to tolerate him. I have been interested in several comments by contacts during past week that Ramfis is one who is restraining Generalissimo from taking drastic action against Americans. Last night [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] who I consider be practically agent of Trujillo and son (though perhaps less so than formerly) told me Ramfis is one who could give further good advice and US should talk with him. These developments may [sic] than Trujillo family hopes save skins by persuading US businessmen and USG that reconciliation can be worked out through Ramfis. My advice is Ramfis is most unstable, ruthless, US-hating, untrustworthy and cynical occupant of whole Trujillo nest and we should avoid him like bubonic plague. This opinion borne out by such important source as President Balaguer who remarked to high ranking friend of mine who made some complimentary remarks about Ramfis "Ramfis is the worst of the lot" (this information given me in utmost confidence).

I wish emphasize Trujillo is short-term proposition in Dominican Republic, that future US interests here lie in building goodwill among moderate elements of dissidents, and that if USG gives slightest indication of softening toward Trujillo US security and business interests in Dominican Republic will suffer consequences for years to come. In own interest I believe US should do all possible within non-interventionist commitments to hasten turnover of GODR to elements which will respect guiding principles of OAS.


304. Airgram From the Consulate General in the Dominican Republic to the Department of State/1/

Ciudad Trujillo, March 22, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 739.00/3-2261. Secret; Limit Distribution.

G-105. This Airgram is on the subjects of "What is the Trujillo Opposition?" and of "The nature of the U.S. Choice in the Dominican Republic today". It does not contain details since they have already been supplied to the extent that they are available in the Consulate's previous reporting.

The Trujillo opposition.

There is no well organized unitary opposition to Trujillo. On the other hand, on the basis of the judgment of our best sources 80 to 90 per cent of literate Dominicans are anti-Trujillo and would like to have a representative form of government oriented toward the west, one which would not intervene in the affairs of its neighbors and which would respect basic human rights. The strongest unifying force of the anti-Trujillo Dominicans is their hatred of the dictator.

While most anti-Trujillo Dominicans are not even considering any action against the Generalissimo owing to a combination of the Generalissimo's highly organized repressive machinery, their long experience of domination through fear, their lack of capability, their lack of courage and their generally recognized docile nature, there are small nuclei of Dominicans who are planning to overthrow him. Their very lack of a large well defined opposition is a defensive condition, since in the past whenever a conspiratorial group became large or well defined, it was caught and ruthlessly suppressed. It was usually exposed by torture and rendered ineffective by assassination of the most courageous elements. These circumstances have led the nuclei of which I speak to view liquidation as the only way to accomplish their ends. Political assassination is ugly and repulsive, but everything must be judged in its own context. The United States used the atom bomb on Hiroshima and that was ugly and repulsive--unless one stops to consider that it was used to save thousands of lives in the long run. One cannot regard those Dominicans who favor the assassination of Trujillo as morally bankrupt, criminals, etc. Some of them are in fact, and this is a sobering thought, the people with whom we ourselves would be identified if we had the misfortune to be Dominicans. The nuclei who are friendly to the U.S. have spurts of courage, they are pro-U.S., they subscribe to the principles of the OAS, and they are the hope of the D.R.

There are probably other nuclei against Trujillo than those of which we are informed.

The Consulate believes the communists have been working here at least since August through the Generalissimo and Radio Caribe in pursuit of the ends of Moscow. The Consulate cannot prove it. Like so many dictators, Trujillo does not see the danger to his own way of life in playing with these elements. He thinks he is using them, but in reality is being used. It is quite possible at this stage he no longer cares as long as they are anti-U.S. and anti-Catholic Church. Whatever communist led nuclei there may be, the Consulate does not believe they are in a position to take over the country. The campesino has not yet been politically awakened. He will be the pawn of whatever element takes over. The people with education, control over economic life, control of the professions (doctors, lawyers, engineers) are mostly in our camp. The military is a question mark despite all our efforts to discern its innermost thoughts. The Consulate suspects we cannot discern their thoughts because they do not have any beyond staying out of trouble and living as well as possible. We are informed some of the military would follow quickly if an anti-Trujillo outbreak began, but we cannot prove this with firsthand testimony. It is probably true, if it becomes evident that a revolution has a chance. The military are used to following a leader and the Consulate believes they will continue to do this. The big question is, "What leader?" If the Jefe disappeared they might go with Balaguer; more likely they would set up a junta but someone would emerge as leader, probably eventually a civilian. It seems reasonable to suspect that under the conditions which prevail here the people with brains and influence would come out on top. Those friendly to us have a near monopoly on those commodities. This is not to say they will do everything our way. There are lots of changes to be made here and there will be no singlemindedness on how to make them. As must be expected, trial and error will be a principal method of progress and not even the U.S. can know all the answers of what is good for the D.R. in its own peculiar circumstances. Patience and understanding will be highly important.

The nature of our choice.

The Consulate doubts there will be chaos after the fall of Trujillo, but this depends somewhat on what one means by chaos. There will probably be some bloodshed and there will be many difficulties of adjustment, both economic and political. How much of this there will be will depend in large part on the Dominicans, but also partly on the U.S. and the OAS. The OAS must be prepared to give help promptly if requested and the U.S. must be prepared immediately to be the agent of the OAS.

Ever since August 1960 Trujillo has, wittingly or not, been softening up the D.R. for leftist extremists. Consulate reporting has pointed this out clearly and repeatedly and it was in large part the basis for our argument for effective sanctions against Trujillo's exports last August. Our theme has been that the longer Trujillo continues to dominate the D.R. the more susceptible the country is becoming to leftist extremists, and that, therefore, Trujillo's overthrow in the near future would be in the interest of the U.S. The situation is not as favorable to us as it was last August because of the softening up that has gone on in the meantime. It is, however, more favorable to us than last December, and I believe if Trujillo should be overthrown today we would come out of the situation better than we ever will again. This is because since early January our stock with the dissidents is high. If we were free to choose our alternative, our choice would not be simple. As often occurs in international relations, it would be a choice between two difficult alternatives. If the U.S. should decide that Trujillo is bad but that it should, for the sake of momentary expediency, work with him in a keep-your-distance sort of way, the prestige and influence of the U.S. in the Dominican Republic would disappear with Trujillo, and he cannot last much longer in any event. If, on the other hand, the U.S. is known to be using its influence toward the establishment of a representative government in the Dominican Republic which subscribes to the principles of the OAS, it has a good chance of maintaining a position of influence in the government that succeeds the Generalissimo. Let no one, however, think that the transition from a thirty-one year old dictatorship is going to be accomplished with anything approximating the orderliness of a mere administrative shift in personnel and the type of policy deliberations one would find at a meeting of the National Security Council.


305. Telegram From the Department of State to the Consulate General in the Dominican Republic/1/

Washington, April 28, 1961, 9:05 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 739.00/4-2961. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Devine, cleared by Coerr, ARA/CMA, ARA/RPA, ARA/WST, ARA/EST, S/S, L, L/ARA, CIA, DOD/ISA, and CINCLANT, and approved by the Secretary. Repeated to CINCLANT.

683. If confronted with sudden political instability or violent overthrow of Trujillo regime, ranking US representative in Dominican Republic should until receipt of further instructions be guided by following principles:

(1) US cannot afford and will not permit external imposition on Dominican Republic of pro-Communist or pro-Castro regime as successor to present GODR;

(2) US strongly hopes any succeeding government will be broadly acceptable to people of Dominican Republic, will be oriented toward US, and will promptly commit self to establishment democracy and firm scheduling of free elections.

(3) US influence in Dom Rep should be exercised toward achievement above objectives.

(4) At time of replacement of present GODR or significant change in present control you should on any appropriate occasion convey clear impression that US recognition and/or assistance to Dominican Republic would necessarily be influenced and determined by degree government's disassociation from unacceptable personnel, policies and practices of Trujillo regime and by clarity its dedication to principles listed item 2 above.

(5) As opportunity presents self under circumstances outlined above you should encourage formulation realistic coalition civilian and military elements capable holding power as provisional government friendly toward and disposed work with US.

(6) Should a provisional government which in your judgment satisfies foregoing criteria request US armed assistance in face of real or anticipated threat from abroad, you should submit such request together with your recommendation soonest, suggest it may wish request assistance other democratic governments such as Venezuela and Colombia and inform OAS.

(7) Please keep Department currently informed.


306. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Kennedy/1/

Washington, May 2, 1961.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Dominican Republic, Murphy Trip, May-July 1961. Secret.

Here is a report from Bob Murphy about his visit to Trujillo with Igor Cassini./2/

/2/In April President Kennedy sent veteran U.S. diplomat Robert D. Murphy to the Dominican Republic to discuss with Trujillo the political situation there. Murphy was accompanied by Hearst newspaper reporter Igor Cassini, an acquaintance of the Kennedy family who had ties to Trujillo and acted as an unregistered agent for him in the United States.

Murphy's conclusion is that our hostility to the Dominican Republic is unwise; he thinks we should "walk back the cat and initiate a policy of guidance." He thinks that the groups at Ciudad Trujillo are willing and eager "to be taken by the hand and to institute democratic reforms."

I know nothing of the Dominican Republic except by hearsay, but I think there can be little doubt that the whole concept of the Alliance for Progress would be gravely shadowed in the eyes of Latin Americans if we were to move to anything like a policy of "friendly guidance" toward Trujillo.

At the risk of misunderstanding, I think I ought to add that if the public were to know that Igor Cassini is providing public relations help to Trujillo, your own personal position as a liberal leader might be compromised. I cannot help thinking that your own position should be fully disengaged from any venture of this sort.

McG. B.


April 16, 1961.

Accompanied by Igor Cassini, I had private and informal talks at the Palacio Nacionale, Ciudad Trujillo, April 15 and 16, 1961, with Dr. Joaquin Balaguer, President of the Dominican Republic, Foreign Minister Porfirio Herrera Baez, Personal Assistant to President Balaguer, Otto Vega, and Generalissimo Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina. Protocol was carefully observed at both meetings to mark the status of the Generalissimo as a private citizen; we were first received for a few minutes by the President and the Foreign Minister for perfunctory conversation. Then we were joined by the Generalissimo who acted as Dominican spokesman.

It developed from the conversations that conditions on the Island are stable and calm; that there is no suffering or actual inconvenience resulting from the OAS embargo. The effect of it is disturbing in the psychological and political sense and of course it is deeply resented.

My approach was that of asking questions in order to explore the situation, seeking a solution, with emphasis on the traditional friendship between our two countries. I suggested that while it is perhaps true that the vast majority of North Americans are uninformed about and little interested in the affairs of the Dominican Republic, a minority are highly critical of the "Trujillo dictatorship". They, I suggested, were better judges than I of sentiment in Latin America.

During the course of the conversations there were frank references to the 6th OAS meeting at San Jose; to the feud between Betancourt and Trujillo;/3/ to the necessity of free elections in the Dominican Republic with some form of OAS supervision; to the question of the Dominican future should the Generalissimo disappear from the scene, for example, as a result of illness or accident; and to the urgent need for better communication between the D.R. and other American Republics, including the U.S. as well as the U.N. I referred to a certain preoccupation in Washington and elsewhere of stories regarding alleged tortures, brutalities and suppression by the regime. I stressed the hostility in certain quarters and among sectors of the press against what they believed to be a cruel dictatorship which did not disdain corrupt methods in its dealings. I referred also to the concern that the D.R. not become another Cuba as a result of a vacuum created by the eventual disappearance of Trujillo, and the possible entrance of elements antagonistic to the U.S.

/3/Reference is to the Sixth Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of American States in San Jose in August 1960. The Ministers approved economic sanctions against the Trujillo government, which had supported an assassination attempt against Venezuelan President Romulo Betancourt in June.

I found an alertness regarding all these problems. The following emerged from our talks:

The Generalissimo not only does not intend to leave the D.R. as Batista left Cuba but he and his associates see no reason to do so. He is certainly no Batista. Trujillo in his seventieth year seems in excellent health and spirits. He manifests what appears to be genuine confidence in the stability of the position. He pointed to the fact that the Republic's constitution requires Presidential elections in May, 1961. He and his associates said that it would be most difficult to amend the constitution to require earlier elections. However, Trujillo declared that he is prepared to accept OAS observers and the full publicity. He seemed persuaded that the situation required freer contact with the press. Mr. Cassini provided a helpful and convincing account of President Kennedy's handling of this important problem, especially the feature of open conferences, and the acceptance of the fact that there would be inevitably critical and even hostile elements attending. The Dominicans seemed to agree that there was wisdom in meeting these openly in the hope that as they feel their case is sound, sympathetic support would be forthcoming from many sectors of the press who are not prejudiced a priori.

The Generalissimo expressed vigorous confidence in the stability of the Dominican situation, believing that the population stands whole-heartedly behind the present program and approved what has been achieved in the past to improve the living conditions of the mass and to provide better opportunities for the average man. He stated his belief that if he should disappear, constitutional processes are adequate to maintain the position. He emphasized that he has no plans to perpetuate a Trujillo dynasty, confirming what his son had recently said on the subject.

According to the Generalissimo he intends to stand on the side of the U.S. regardless of the present difficulties.

Trujillo authorized Mr. Cassini to work out a plan of improved communications including the selection of a professional public relations expert from the U.S. to work in the D.R. for a better public image of the D.R. abroad. An attack would be made on baseless and distorted stories regarding the regime and the light of day thrown on the allegations frequently of obscure origin concerning brutalities and suppression. The intention would be to open the D.R. to a truly free press recognizing that a controlled press is a liability.

The Foreign Minister read to us a draft of an informal and personal letter he planned to send to Secretary Rusk and fifteen other L.A. Foreign Secretaries. In essence it was an historical account of the D.R.'s foreign policy and an expression of regret over the OAS resolution and attitude. He asked for my reaction. I replied that my personal reaction was unfavorable because if I were an addressee of such a letter I would not know what to do with it. I might interpret it wrongly as an expression of anxiety whereas I had gained the impression that they did not so intend it. They all agreed that it would be more effective to institute a series of informal representations by qualified persons in the various capitals. They said they would be grateful if I would discuss it at a convenient moment with Secretary Rusk.


It might be useful to compare American policy vis-a-vis other countries in different areas--countries which are similar in size and presenting various interpretations of democratic government. Three analogies occur to me: Tunisia, Guinea and the Republic of the Congo (French).

In the case of the Dominican Republic, the U.S. has broken diplomatic relations for hemispheric reasons no doubt which are arguable, but certainly having some relationship to the Betancourt-Trujillo feud, and specifically for the consideration of the pallid OAS resolution at San Jose on Cuba. Yet there is no question that the D.R. has provided consistent support of U.S. policies especially in the field of E-W relations, than any of the three countries mentioned. Also as distinguished from the D.R., the U.S. has extended substantial material aid to the other countries mentioned.

The U.S. maintains friendly diplomatic relations with the "democracies" of Bourguiba, of Sekou Toure, and of Abbe Youlou. Tunisia has approximately the same size population and is if anything poorer than the D.R. Surely no one would suggest that when it comes to strong arm methods, Bourguiba would yield any ground to Trujillo. Sekou Toure's approach to democracy is of course several degrees less liberal than either Bourguiba or Trujillo. Sekou Toure of course has to deal with a more primitive population whose ideas of democracy are hazier than Tunisian or Dominican, and whose economy is also more primitive.

The case of Abbe Youlou at Brazzaville is that of a classic approach of a tribal leader coming to power by the massacre of opposing tribal leaders. He is now in apparently absolute control as a result of brutal methods for which there is a tradition in the area. By no stretch of the imagination is Brazzaville the capital of a democracy in our sense of the word, and yet quite properly we maintain diplomatic relations with that country, as we do with Guinea and Tunisia. Yet we have broken with the D.R. which is close to our shores and very close to Cuba. I am frankly puzzled as to the wisdom of our position. Should we not walk back the cat and initiate a policy of guidance. The moment would seem ripe for it. The present situation does not seem to call for harshness and public condemnation but rather a process of friendly leadership. It seems to me that the group at Ciudad Trujillo are eager and willing to be taken by the hand and to institute democratic reforms.

307. Memorandum From the Cuban Task Force of the National Security Council to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)/1/

Washington, May 15, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, NSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Top Secret. Drafted by Hoover (S/O), cleared by Acting Secretary Bowles, Acting Assistant Secretary Coerr, Consul General Dearborn, Berle, S/O, IO, L, CIA, DOD/ISA, and DOD/J-t. According to a covering memorandum from Battle to Richard Goodwin, May 15, the report had been requested of the Cuban Task Force at the 483d Meeting of the NSC, May 6. Another covering memorandum from Theodore C. Achilles, State Department Operations Center Director, to the Secretary, dated May 26, stated it had been shown to the President who approved it on May 24 "in the absence of NSC consideration in view of the reported imminence of an attempt to assassinate Trujillo."

The Current Situation in and Contingency Plans for the Dominican Republic

The Trujillo regime in the Dominican Republic is in the most serious trouble of its 30-year history. It has been condemned and isolated by the action of the 6th Meeting of Foreign Ministers at San Jose in August 1960. The economic position of the country has weakened seriously. Opposition to the regime is expanding and becoming more determined, and recent reports indicate Trujillo's removal may be imminent.

The paramount interest of the U.S. is to prevent Castro-Communist or other unfriendly elements from taking control and to insure that Trujillo is succeeded by a friendly, democratic government. These objectives can best be achieved by cooperation with and encouragement of those elements in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere who share them and oppose Trujillo.

Opposition to Trujillo is divided into two main groupings: (a) the exile movements centered in the U.S., Venezuela and Cuba, and (b) the internal dissident movements. The facts that the various exile groups have little unity or cohesion, to some extent have been infiltrated by Communists and Castroites, and are generally not acceptable to the Dominican people make them a poor risk for the U.S. to support.

During the past year a moderate group of internal dissidents who appear to meet U.S. requirements has been identified and encouraged in its efforts by the U.S.

While it is highly desirable in the present Dominican situation for the U.S. to be identified with and to support democratic elements seeking to overthrow Trujillo, we necessarily run some risks in doing so. If Trujillo is overthrown with U.S. support, we may well be criticized by world opinion for subverting an existing government, albeit a highly unpopular one. A miscalculation of the capabilities of the moderate group could mean that U.S. support for an unsuccessful attempt against the Trujillo regime would be exposed, and following on the recent Cuban experience U.S. prestige would plummet. If we were to misread the intentions of the moderates or they were deliberately concealed from us, we might find ourselves in the position of having created a Dominican Castro. An additional factor for consideration in deciding the amount and timing of further U.S. support to the moderate anti-Trujillo group is the possibility that our support may prompt this group to take action before it or we are ready.

There is attached a paper dealing with various contingencies that may arise in the near future in the Dominican Republic and setting out various recommendations for the President's approval.

In this connection it may be mentioned that Castro-Communist control of the Dominican Republic would almost certainly lead to a similar takeover in Haiti.



I. Trujillo Removed and Succeeded by Friendly Internal Elements.

Recent reports indicate that the internal Dominican dissidents are becoming increasingly determined to oust Trujillo by any means, and their plans in this regard are well advanced. This group is believed to have support among the various sectors of the population and their leadership includes members of the Dominican military, although the degree of support they can command in the armed forces is uncertain.

Once Trujillo is overthrown this moderate group plans to establish a provisional junta and to begin to create a democratic government and society in the Dominican Republic. It appears to have the best chance of establishing a stable government oriented toward the US. No other group which combines an effective organization with an acceptable political philosophy has been identified. The pro-Trujillo elements do not hold any promise of being able to establish a post-Trujillo government which would be acceptable to the US. Over the past year our Consulate at Ciudad Trujillo has been in touch with the leaders of the moderate group and encouraged them to look toward the US both as a model and for support in their efforts. If it is successful in ousting Trujillo, it will merit prompt United States recognition and support.

In addition to recognition and moral support, a provisional government format by this moderate group will probably urgently need outside military force to assist it in maintaining internal order and resisting internal and external attempts at subversion. Subversive initiative could be expected to come from Cuba and/or from the Dominican exile groups. Approved plans for the employment of US military forces in the Dominican Republic have been prepared and are sufficiently flexible to permit various degrees of force to be applied under Presidential authority. An amphibious force, with Marines embarked, normally operates in the Caribbean area and other forces in the continental US are available on relatively short notice if required. From the point of view of US posture in Latin America and the world, military intervention in the Dominican Republic should to the extent possible be taken through the OAS or at the request of a provisional government in conjunction with selected Latin American countries rather than by the US alone. In any event, the OAS should be notified of the action taken.


1. That the US Consul General at Ciudad Trujillo when so author-ized inform the moderate group of pro-US dissidents that if they succeed at their own initiative and on their own responsibility in forming an acceptable provisional government they can be assured that any reasonable requests for assistance from the US will be promptly and favorably answered.

2. That in the event Trujillo is overthrown and an acceptable provisional government is established:

a) The US swiftly recognize such a government.

b) Upon receipt of a request from this government for military assistance against a real or anticipated external threat, we dispatch such aid, up to and including the landing of US forces, recognizing at the same time that a concomitant objective will be the stabilization of an internal situation acceptable to the US.

c) The US encourage the provisional government also to request the assistance or the presence of other friendly democratic nations, such as Venezuela and Colombia, with notification to the Organization of American States of the action taken and a request that the measures adopted at the Sixth Meeting of Foreign Ministers be discontinued. (For this purpose OAS observers might be invited into the Dominican Republic.)

d) The US take steps to screen the departure from the continental US and Puerto Rico of all Dominican exiles attempting to return to the Dominican Republic for as long a period as may be desirable and feasible, and request the Venezuelan Government to take similar action.

3. That the US send immediately to Caracas a special emissary to:

a) Obtain from President Betancourt a commitment to immediately earmark specific forces which would be prepared to act jointly with US forces and to commit such forces to joint operations in the event actions envisaged in this paper are ordered.

b) Request President Betancourt to approach President Lleras of Colombia with a view toward a similar commitment for participation of Colombian forces.

c) Explore with President Betancourt, and ask him to discuss with President Lleras, the possibility of a prompt, affirmative response to an appeal from an acceptable provisional government, which might include a joint declaration by the three heads of state disclaiming political or territorial ambitions in the Dominican Republic and expressing readiness to lend moral and material support for the specific purpose of assuring to the Dominican people opportunity to carry through necessary reforms and establish democratic institutions and practices free from the threat of externally supported invasion or subversion.

This emissary should speak only with President Betancourt and emphasize secrecy, urge the same treatment by Lleras, and make clear that the US is only planning against a possible contingency.

II. Trujillo Removed and Unfriendly Elements Take Over.

It is possible that the plans of the moderate group of dissidents may be frustrated. Unfriendly elements, either Trujillo supporters or possibly Castro-Communists, may remove Trujillo themselves and seize power. Or, once Trujillo had been removed by the moderates, these unfriendly elements might grab control in the resulting confusion. In any of these situations the group supported by the U.S. may be unable to establish themselves. It is also possible that the removal of Trujillo would result in a total breakdown of the power structure, leaving the country in a chaotic state of anarchy with no group or individual able to stabilize the situation.


1) That the US Consul General when so authorized discuss with leaders of the acceptable dissident group the advisability of having in his possession a pre-signed request for US, Venezuelan and OAS help in the event of a quiet takeover by unfriendly elements or of a situation in which friendly leaders would be unable to expose or establish themselves. If they agree, such pre-signed request should be obtained.

2) The US Consul General should have stand-by instructions to urge the moderate pro-US group to declare themselves to be the provisional government and to request help from the US and the OAS.

3) Upon notification by the US Consul General that Trujillo has been removed from power, or that his removal seems reasonably certain the appropriate US military forces be immediately positioned to be able to reach Dominican territory with a minimum of delay.

4) Upon receipt of a request for military assistance from an acceptable group which has declared itself and taken any reasonable or plausible steps to constitute itself a provisional government, or upon notification by the US Consul General that he has received such a request, US forces should move into the Dominican Republic immediately.

III. Trujillo Remains in Power.

Despite the difficulties he faces Trujillo may manage to maintain himself in power for an indefinite period. During this time it would be in the interests of the US to continue to give encouragement to the internal dissidents in order to buttress their position in the anti-Trujillo movement and hold their loyalty.

Our attitude toward Trujillo is a continuing foreign policy test before Latin American and world opinion of US support for democracy and social reform. In view of the criticism that has been leveled at the US in the past for its alleged support of Trujillo, it is imperative that the US public posture be unequivocally in favor of the return of the Dominican Republic to the inter-American community under a government committed to democratic principles. It is important, therefore, that the US avoid any action that would imply support or toleration for Trujillo and that we continue to express publicly our distaste for the oppressive undemocratic nature and policies of his regime.


1. The Voice of America, and all other media, should carry more information highlighting the anti-US, pro-Communist, anti-OAS, anti-Catholic Church line of the Trujillo press, and editorial comment condemning Trujillo's constant violations of human rights and his interventions in the affairs of other nations.

2. High ranking US public officials should make appropriate and timely statements critical of the excesses and undemocratic practices of the Trujillo regime.

3. The US should present to the appropriate committees of the OAS information reflecting Trujillo's violations of OAS principles.

4. The US should expose through public media attempts which Trujillo is now preparing to hoodwink the American community into believing that he is preparing to hold free elections.

5. In pursuing actions along the above lines, the US should maintain flexibility of application in terms of current developments.

308. Editorial Note

At approximately 10 p.m. on May 30, 1961, three cars stopped the limousine of Generalissimo Trujillo about 9 kilometers outside Ciudad Trujillo on the highway to San Cristobal. Eight assailants from the cars fired 70 rounds of machine gun ammunition into Trujillo, killing him and putting an end to his more than 30 years of rule in the Dominican Republic. (Joint WEEKA No. 23 from Ciudad Trujillo, June 6; Department of State, Central Files, 739.00(W)/6-661)

309. Telegram From the Department of State to the Consulate General in the Dominican Republic/1/

Washington, June 1, 1961, 11:54 a.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 739.00/6-161. Secret; Niact. Drafted by Coerr; approved by Rusk; and cleared by Bowles, Goodwin, ARA/CMA, L/ARA, S/S, and S/O. Repeated to Port-au-Prince, Bogota, Caracas, POLAD CINCARIB, and Paris (where the Secretary was accompanying President Kennedy on a State visit).

760. Trujillo's death leaves Joaquin Balaguer in key position as continuing President and head of recognized Dominican State. Anti-US elements such as Abbes-Ramfis clique will probably attempt subject him their exclusive influence. US interests would best be served should he accept support from and represent pro-US dissidents and acceptable military elements. Following paragraph based on absence thus far any realistic prospect that pro-US dissidents can make successful effort take over Government and our understanding that in past they have indicated their possible readiness work with Balaguer in such contingency.

Request your opinion as to advisability and feasibility your obtaining (personal and non-recorded) interview with Balaguer alone in which you would (1) emphasize deep significance his actions at this crucial point in Dominican history may have for Dominican Republic and its relations with Inter-American System; (2) discuss substance above paragraph and attempt ascertain his intended political course; (3) inform him US attitude toward GODR and willingness consider reestablishment diplomatic relations, and any possibility US assistance would depend heavily on degree to which GODR rejects dictatorial regimes and practices whether of Trujillo or Castro origin and degree to which GODR demonstrates determination move toward re-vitalization democratic principles and friendship for Free World; (4) tell him we are confident that Dominican leadership, including leaders of armed forces, would wish prevent domination of Dominican Government by Communists or Castroites or other elements basically hostile to the Inter-American System and that moderate coalition headed by Balaguer might open way to brighter future for Dominican Republic without serious civil strife; (5) assure him USG would consider promptly and favorably written request by GODR to assist, in case of need, in air and sea within limits of GODR jurisdiction to seek out and repel any Castro-Communist attack from abroad. Tell him US forces positioned for such assistance; (6) discuss with Balaguer, if he appears react favorably to above points, possible consideration ways and means arrange good-will visit US naval force which might provide influence in favor of stability.

Info posts submit comments, if any.


310. Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Bowles)/1/

Washington, June 3, 1961.

/1/Source: Yale University Library, Bowles Papers, Box 392, Folder 154. Personal. The editors have not been able to account for certain chronological discrepancies in this memorandum.


In mid-May we had our first indications that a group in the Dominican Republic might be plotting against the life of Generalissimo Trujillo. Dissident groups communicated with American officials in the Dominican Republic to inform them that the assassination was imminent and that they would like help, in the shape of arms, recognition, and general support.

Dick Goodwin, who had spent considerable time studying the problems involving the Dominican Republic was in favor of both granting arms and guaranteeing support. However, I and others in the Department of State took a strong position that we had no real knowledge of who the dissidents were, their views, or depth of influence. Nor was it proper for the United States to be involved in an assassination, directly, indirectly, or in any other way.

The first plans for a contingency paper were developed during the week of May 24th./2/ When I left for Connecticut (my first trip outside the District of Columbia since February), this paper had not taken shape. However, I was sufficiently concerned about developments not only in the Dominican Republic but also in Haiti to ask Alexis Johnson before I left the office to move into both situations and to recommend a constructive plan for whatever may occur.

/2/Apparent reference to Document 307, which was approved May 24.

Shortly after I took office I asked Tom Mann to send an economic mission to Haiti to find out what we could do to help relieve the massive malnutrition which existed there. Although I followed this up on two or three occasions, the pressures on Mann, myself, and others were so great that there was no follow through on this effort.

Early Wednesday morning I received a telephone call from the Secretary before I left for New York for a luncheon with Anna Rosenberg and Bill Benton. The Secretary told me he thought it was essential that I come back immediately for reasons which would become evident when I arrived. I managed to get the 10:26 plane out of Bridgeport, and Sam Lewis and Joe Scott/3/ met me at the airport with the news that Trujillo had been assassinated the night before.

/3/Reference is to Samuel W. Lewis and Joseph W. Scott, Special Assistants to the Under Secretary of State.

They had with them the contingency paper which had been prepared over the week end. The immediate impression I had was that it was a dangerously inadequate document, which broadly interpreted, could throw us into a war in the most casual fashion.

For instance, one of the provisions was the statement that if we receive [sic] from a dissident element in the Dominican Republic to intervene, and if the Consul General should concur in this request, we would immediately send in American forces to take over the island without regard for the Organization of American States, treaties, or common sense.

After arriving back in Washington, I went into the Secretary's office and called these sections of the contingency paper to his attention. I am not clear whether or not he had previously gone over it with any great care, but it is my impression he had not, since he agreed immediately with my own concern.

It was completely clear following this conversation that he agreed that this contingency paper would have to be interpreted with the greatest care.

The Secretary had intended to leave that day (May 31) to join the President in the conference with DeGaulle./4/ However, he waited over until the following day, leaving at noon. In the meantime, the situation remained calm.

/4/Secretary Rusk accompanied President Kennedy to Paris May 31-June 3.

On Thursday afternoon about 2:30 Dick Goodwin called to say he thought we should have a high level meeting to discuss "what we should do about the Dominican Republic." I told him I would discuss this with some of our people working on the problem and get in touch with him.

Alexis Johnson, Ted Achilles, and Wyn Coerr all agreed that no meeting was called for, and I asked Wyn Coerr to call Goodwin to tell him. About an hour later Bob McNamara called to suggest a similar meeting in my office at 6:45. It was obvious he had been called by Dick Goodwin.

In the meantime the Vice President wanted to report to me on his trip to Southeast Asia. He arrived about 5:45 and our talk lasted for forty-five minutes. I told him about the meeting and asked him if he would like to attend. The Vice President, Bob Kennedy, Secretary McNamara, Dick Goodwin, General Lemnitzer, Wyn Coerr, and Ted Achilles were here. Bob McNamara and Lemnitzer stated that under the terms of the contingency paper, they were required to be prepared to move into the island on short order if required to do so, and this, in their opinion, called for substantially more troops that we had in the area. After some discussion we considered two more aircraft carriers, some destroyers, and 12,000 marines should be moved into a position some one hundred miles off the Dominican Republic shore.

I underscored that this troop movement should be accomplished with the minimum of publicity, the minimum of maneuvers, that the fleet be spread out over a wide area so that it would not appear to be in formation.

Lemnitzer estimated that this force would be in position by Sunday. After some discussion, I further agreed that we would authorize the destroyers and other vessels within sixty miles of the coast, still well out of sight of land.

The tone of the meeting was deeply disturbing. Bob Kennedy was clearly looking for an excuse to move in on the island. At one point he suggested, apparently seriously, that we might have to blow up the Consulate to provide the rationale.

His general approach, vigorously supported by Dick Goodwin, was that this was a bad government, that there was a strong chance that it might team up with Castro, and that it should be destroyed--with an excuse if possible, without one if necessary.

Rather to my surprise, Bob McNamara seemed to support this view. I took the opposite view that our whole world position was based on treaty rights, that it would be a catastrophic mistake to take them lightly, and that in acting in a reckless manner in the Dominican Republic, we would only be compounding the mistake of Cuba, and that while I thought it was necessary to take all possible measures for the protection of American lives, we should not move beyond that point.

There was then further discussion about the need to stimulate movement among some of the dissident movements which might as a dissident government and propose American assistance so that we would have this kind of excuse in case we wished to move [sic].

I said I thought this was a mistake since a request of this kind, stimulated by us, would almost make us react favorably, if we were to provide a reasonable measure of good faith.

After some argument, this was put aside.

The entire spirit of this meeting was profoundly distressing and worrisome, and I left at 8:00 p.m. with a feeling that this spirit which I had seen demonstrated on this occasion and others at the White House by those so close to the President constitutes a further danger of half-cocked action by people with almost no foreign policy experience, who are interested in action for action's sake, and the devil take the highmost.

The next morning I learned that in spite of the clear decision against having the dissident group request our assistance Dick Goodwin following the meeting sent a cable to CIA people in the Dominican Republic without checking with State or CIA; indeed, with the protest of the Department of State./5/ The cable directed the CIA people in the Dominican Republic to get this request at any cost. When Allen Dulles found this out the next morning, he withdrew the order. We later discovered it had already been carried out.

/5/Not further identified.

When the meeting broke up, it was suggested that another meeting be held at 9:00 the next morning. I asked that it be postponed until 11:00, in order to give me an opportunity to consult with people here in the Department and Dean Rusk in Paris.

Immediately following the staff meeting, I called in George McGhee, Ed Murrow, and George Ball, and told them the full story. They were startled and shocked as I was, and I was gratified to find them in full agreement on the position I had taken. Indeed, they were even more outspoken in outlining the disastrous consequences of this kind of action.

I also talked with Dean Rusk on the telephone, told him the general developments, and outlined the position I had taken, and as I expected, I found him in close agreement.

At the meeting at 11:00,/6/ Bob Kennedy was again present together with Arthur Schlesinger, Dick Goodwin, Allen Dulles, Alexis Johnson, Bob McNamara, Walt Rostow, Wyn Coerr, Ed Murrow, George McGhee, George Ball, Colonel King, Lyndon Johnson, General Wheeler. I later discovered that Adlai Stevenson was in the building and sent to call for his attendance.

/6/No record of this meeting was found.

Bob Kennedy was in an even more aggressive, dogmatic, and vicious mood than the previous meeting. He turned directly to me and said, "What do you propose to do on the situation in the Dominican Republic?" I answered that I thought we had taken the necessary military precautions, and the next order of business was to find out what was going on.

Cablegrams that morning from Dearborn expressed some of the horror stories of assassination and retaliation which were reported going on behind the scenes at the Dominican capital./7/ I pointed out that while these stories were probably correct and everyone knew the vicious character of the young Trujillo who would take over the government, there was still a great deal which needed to be taken in.

/7/Telegram 1917, from Santo Domingo, June 1. (Department of State, Central Files, 739.00/6-161)

For instance, there was no evidence whatsoever that any American had been harmed or threatened, or any evidence of aggressive acts against Haiti or any other country.

Bob Kennedy's response was vicious, unpleasant, and dogmatic. Dick Goodwin supported his position, although in somewhat more polite language. To my surprise, they were joined by Arthur Schlesinger, who was almost as outspoken as Bob Kennedy and Dick Goodwin, although in more pleasant terms.

Bob McNamara went along with their general view that our problem was not to prepare against an overt act by the Dominican Republic but rather to find an excuse for going into the country and upsetting it.

Walt Rostow spoke only once or twice and I did not get any clear impression of where he stood. I then called on McGhee, Ball, and Murrow to express their views, and each of them did in the most vigorous and outspoken manner.

Ed Murrow said that the effect of any such act would be entirely catastrophic on world attitudes to the United States. McGhee gave a stiff statement on the importance of treaty rights, and George Ball said he could not believe people talking in these terms were really serious.

This strong counterattack, plus the fact that I had asked George McGhee to talk privately with Lyndon Johnson before the meeting resulted in Johnson taking a much more moderate view.

At that point Adlai Stevenson came in, listened a while to the somewhat subdued proposals of Kennedy, Goodwin, and Schlesinger, and expressed his own amazement that these proposals were being seriously talked about.

During the course of the meeting, Dean Rusk called me back and I brought him up to date and he seemed in general agreement, although, as usual, he did not say very much.

After a good deal of discussion I again stated that I was against our stimulating any appeal by a dissident group for support, which we were not prepared fully to give, and this was generally accepted, although with considerable snarling from the White House contingent.

At that point Wyn Coerr came up with a very imaginative suggestion which grew out of a statement which Bill Fulbright made to me before, i.e. to send in an OAS fact-finding team. A basis of action was developed out of the San Jose conference in September, 1960 which called for a fact finding group to visit the Dominican Republic if there was any basis for relaxing the sanctions which were imposed.

Although the situation did not seem to justify the relaxation of sanctions, it seemed the only way we could get an OAS team on the island. Steps were also taken to intensify the effort to find out what the full facts were, to exchange views with the British, Canadians, and others with ties in the Dominican Republic.

Since this was Friday and just before a summer weekend and with the likelihood that many members of Congress would be out of town, I decided to go to Capitol Hill to describe events as we knew them in the Dominican Republic and describe the action we had taken.

This meeting was held at 5:00 with Mike Mansfield, Hubert Humphrey, Bill Fulbright, Everett Dirkson, and other Congressional leaders. They all emphasized the need for working with OAS.

Late in the evening on Friday, strongly prodded from Dick Goodwin, Alexis Johnson, who I had set up to keep on top of the whole problem, called a meeting to determine if any further action was necessary. Although in my opinion this was a serious mistake, I believe Alexis was justified because of the pressure which the White House people brought on him. Although I did not attend the meeting, I telephoned two or three times during the evening to keep in touch.

The only new development was an appeal from General Estrella in response to our prodding (unauthorized), asking for American troops to assist the opposition troops but with no indication whatsoever of any strength or substance.

Early Saturday morning I had a telephone call from Ellis Briggs, who was assigned to go to Latin America with Adlai Stevenson, saying that Stevenson/8/ was so alarmed about the meeting on Friday that he was about to call off the trip on the impression that we were about to go to war. I reassured Briggs that this was not the case and told him Adlai should go along with his plans.

/8/Reference is to Stevenson's trip to Latin America June 4-22; see Document 14.

At 10:00 Alexis Johnson told me Dick Goodwin was holding a background press conference on the viciousness of the regime. This, of course, would have eliminated the possibility of the OAS team going into the Dominican Republic to find out what the conditions are. It was too late to call off the backgrounder, but with a good deal of telephoning back and forth, I was able to modify the tone and to avoid any statements that the Dominican Republic might have considered provocative.

311. Telegram From the Department of State to Secretary of State Rusk, at Paris/1/

Washington, June 5, 1961, 6:29 a.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 739.00/6-561. Secret; Niact. Drafted by Stone, cleared by Braddock, and approved by Achilles. Also sent to Caracas, Bogota, CINC-LANT, CINCARIB, and the Commander of the Second Fleet for POLAD.

Tosec 39. Dearborn summoned by Balaguer noon June 4. ForMin Herrera Baez and Luis Mercado (Consul General in NY) present.

Balaguer denied existence violence and reign of terror in Dominican Republic. Action being taken only against those directly involved in assassination. Said Ramfis appointment made to unify armed forces and he had promised to support government, particularly in international matters.

Balaguer emphasized he was eminently anti-Communist and would fully support western democracies. Said GODR would respect all treaties and agreements. Firm intention to prepare for democratic elections May 1962 in which all groups guaranteed freedom.

Dearborn thanked President and lauded objectives but observed adverse impression abroad caused by brutal SIM methods and belief people punished for guilt by association. Number Americans concerned about their safety. Balaguer replied Americans need have no concern if not directly implicated in assassination.

At that time ForMin left and Dearborn told President he would have do something drastic convince world GODR would not tolerate police state methods. Suggested he get rid of Abbes and Espaillat. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] In reply further question Balaguer said he aimed create situation where those who opposed Trujillo could speak out freely within six months.

Dearborn assured Balaguer USG would consider promptly and favorably written request assist militarily seek out and repel Castro or Commie attack. Balaguer interjected question "attack from abroad"? Dearborn took this as veiled invitation for support against internal attacks and replied US prepared help militarily any time at his request if sectors Dominican military attempted to prevent progress toward democracy. Balaguer replied should assume Ramfis promise sincere until proved otherwise. Appeared grateful Dearborn statement.

Balaguer in reply question on relations with Bishops said he had offered resign rather than expel them as requested by armed forces.

[1 paragraph (2 lines of source text) not declassified]


312. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Goodwin) to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)/1/

Washington, June 8, 1961.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Meetings and Memoranda Series, Meetings with the President. Secret.

June 7 meeting at the White House Mansion

Present at the meeting were: The President, Secretary Rusk, Secretary McNamara, Vice President Johnson, Attorney General Kennedy, Allen Dulles, General Lemnitzer, Admiral Burke, Alexis Johnson, Wyn Coerr, Henry Dearborn, Arthur Schlesinger, and Richard Goodwin.

1. Dominican Republic.

Alexis Johnson gave a brief review of the current Dominican situation. He pointed out that the OAS inspection team had gone with the mandate to inspect and come back with a recommendation whether current sanctions against the Dominican Republic should be lifted, retained or strengthened./2/ He told of Dearborn's conversation with Balaguer (fully reported in cables). He pointed out that Bill Pawley had talked with Trujillo's daughter prior to her departure for the Dominican Republic and she had since communicated that Ramfis, et al., wanted to move toward a more moderate form of government.

/2/Ambassador Gerald Drew, Inspector General of the State Department, represented the United States on the OAS inspection team that toured the Dominican Republic June 7-14.

Dean Rusk added that Porfirio Rubirosa had talked to Murphy and told him that Ramfis desired to stay on a little while and help move the country toward Democratic government; that he then intended to leave the country, having no great desire to live in the Dominican Republic. Ramfis is also reported to have suggested his willingness to grant an amnesty to current political prisoners.

Dearborn, reinforced by a few others, said that these promises, e.g., free elections, amnesties, even the firing of Abbes, were the same moves that Trujillo had always made without any intended impact on the structure of his regime.

The President asked what our immediate goals in the Dominican Republic were.

Alexis Johnson replied that we would like an immediate move toward dissolution of the secret police--the principal instrument of coercion.

In response to another Presidential question Dearborn indicated that he felt it would be possible to have a Democratic regime in the Dominican Republic without a communist takeover--that pro-Democratic, pro-United States forces were present and could run a government. He told of Radio Caribe--run by Ramfis, Abbes et al.--which has taken a strong anti-United States and a moderate pro-Soviet line over the past several months. This instrument had been one of the most dangerous in promoting a pro-communist viewpoint on the island.

Bob Kennedy expressed the view that we should give the current regime a chance to do what they promised to do; that it was worth our while to wait out the situation.

It was pointed out that anything we did should be in concert with Venezuela, that we would do ourselves great harm if we appeared to be making a deal with Ramfis without consultation and concurrence by our Caribbean Allies, and perhaps by the OAS itself.

The President said that we wanted a Democratic regime in the Dominican Republic; failing that we would prefer a friendly dictatorship, and the last thing we wanted was a Castro type regime.

Dearborn said that our goal over six months should be a situation in which Democratic pro-United States forces were not afraid to organize a party, speak in public places, etc.

Decisions: It was decided (a) that all our contacts would be informal ones through Murphy and Alexis Johnson should remain in contact with Murphy; (b) that we would have no contacts through Pawley--that if he carried out his plans to go to the Dominican Republic we would be glad to hear his reports but he was in no way to involve State, CIA, the White House, etc., i.e. not to indicate that we approved what he said or authorized his visit. Secretary Rusk was detailed to communicate this to Pawley; (c) our military forces would remain in their current state of readiness for a few days at least--no decision was made as to when they should lift the current alert status; (d) we would re-examine the situation in a week or two and see where we are.

313. Memorandum of Conversation/1/

Washington, July 10, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 739.00/7-1061. Confidential. Drafted by Woodward. No mention of this meeting was made in the President's Appointment Book.

President John F. Kennedy
Mr. Robert F. Woodward

President Kennedy said that he would like to have Mr. Hill/2/ come up from Ciudad Trujillo so that the President can have a thorough conversation with him and become well acquainted with him. The President is particularly interested in having Mr. Hill's personal appraisal of the kind of people who are in the various opposition groups.

/2/John Calvin Hill replaced Dearborn as U.S. Consul General in Ciudad Trujillo.

The President said that any day would be all right with him and that arrangements can be made for the specific appointment through Mr. O'Donnell, the appointments secretary, but it was clear that the President would like to see Mr. Hill at the end of this week or the beginning of next. Naturally, it would be risky for Mr. Hill to count on seeing the President either on Saturday or Sunday.

President Kennedy said that he would like to have a personal conversation with the officer that we are trying to find who could establish a close liaison with student groups; I had explained to the President that we were endeavoring to find an officer who had highly proved his ability in this respect. The President would also like to see the officer that I told him we were trying to find with similar qualifications for establishing relationships with labor groups.

President Kennedy said that he thought we should be in a position to suggest to President Balaguer a specific program of action for bringing about the democratization of the country. What the President has specifically in mind is the possibility that it would be useful for the Dominican Government to take steps to call a constitutional convention if an examination of the constitution indicates that its present form does not allow for the conduct of political campaigns by political parties. He mentioned the possibility that the country might, for example, need a new constitution, and he suggested that we find out what the Pakistani Government is doing in its efforts to work out its transition from a military government to a more democratic form of government. He mentioned that the Legal Adviser should be able to give some legal advice along this line. He said "He's from Harvard and a smart guy."

[Here follows discussion of preparations for the Punta del Este Meeting of the IA-ECOSOC.]

314. Memorandum From President Kennedy to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Woodward)/1/

Washington, July 10, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/7-1161. No classification marking. A covering memorandum from Goodwin to Woodward, July 11, reads: "The President dictated this before his meeting with you. I thought it might be useful as a reminder of your conversation."

Do we have any evidence of Communist activity or Castro activities in the Dominican Republic today? Have they infiltrated the "popular Dominican movement"? Which refugees have come back and what are their political history? I want to make sure that our people there are the best people we can get, that their judgment is good and that they are not emotionally committed to one group or another and not carrying out a crusade for anything but the United States. Would you check and give me your assurances that those are the kind of people we have because a great deal will depend on their judgment. We don't want to have another Cuba to come out of the Dominican Republic.

Previous to your return I stated that our objective was (1) have a democracy (2) to continue the present situation. I also said that if we could not have a democracy with some hope of survival I would rather continue the present situation than to have a Castro dictatorship. That is our policy and we want to make sure that in attempting to secure democracy we don't end up with a Castro-Communist island.

We should indicate that we are opposed to permitting refugees to come back from Cuba or any Communist-controlled country. I note this is what Balaguer said, but we should indicate our approval. I want to watch this situation carefully and get a copy of all important reports coming in.

315. Paper Prepared in the Department of State/1/

Washington, July 17, 1961.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Dominican Republic, July-August 1961. Secret.



To prevent Castro/Communism from developing or taking control of the Dominican Republic and to promote the establishment there of a friendly government as democratic as possible.


1. After the assassination of Generalissimo Trujillo, his son Ramfis moved swiftly and effectively to establish control over the armed forces and to pledge his backing of President Balaguer in the latter's program for gradual reform and liberalization of the Trujillo system. Law and order have been maintained in the country. Ramfis' control of the military has thus far gone unchallenged, although it cannot be taken for granted that this will be the case over a protracted period. Likewise Ramfis has emerged as the dominant figure over the Trujillo family and over the Trujillo economic interests which encompass an estimated two-thirds of the nation's productive economic activity.

2. President Balaguer, within the scope allowed him by Trujillo and the military, has undertaken a series of reforms, the principal of which are:

(a) The secret police SIM has been renamed and drawn into the background. Tortures have apparently stopped. The notorious Abbes, who directed SIM activities, has been sent abroad but little progress has yet been made in purging subordinate secret police personnel.

(b) Legitimate political activities, including opposition activities, have been guaranteed. Public meetings have been held, a few self-proclaimed anti-Castro exile leaders have returned, and a Constitutional opposition is forming.

(c) The President, and presumably Ramfis, are aware of the Castro danger. An anti-Communist law has been sent to the Congress, the entry of exiles from Cuba and other Communist countries barred, and steps initiated to disband the Castro-line party which was set up by the late Generalissimo. The Government has announced a pro-Western policy and anti-American material has virtually vanished from press and radio.

(d) A new Cabinet, better than the old, has been appointed.

(e) Measures have been taken to liberalize the economy. Businessmen have been taken into economic policy-making positions. Export controls, administered through Trujillo-controlled monopolies, have been relaxed and some of the monopolies broken up. Some prices, particularly of consumer items used by the lower classes, have been lowered by decree. The Trujillo family has given away, as a token, its holdings in two enterprises.

3. These reforms have not yet affected the core of the Trujillo family's power. Ramfis is still in control of the armed forces and the family remains in a dominant economic position. The Government Party, Partido Dominicano, supports the Trujillos and their circle rather than Balaguer: it operates a large portion of the government's social welfare program and its membership includes virtually every adult Dominican, since government jobs and services could only be obtained by exhibition of a party card.

4. Opposition to the Trujillos--which is extensive in the upper and middle classes--remains deeply skeptical that human rights can be assured and fair elections held as long as the family retains this core of military, economic and political power. For the moment, however, they have decided to try to oust the Trujillo family by political means in an orderly manner, and anticipate the support of the United States in this enterprise. Most, but not all, middle and upper class opposition elements are aware that revolutionary and subversive activity at this time could bring disorder and other openings for a Castroist take-over. However, to the extent that efforts to effect a withdrawal of the Trujillos before the May 1962 elections by political means fails to achieve results, the temptation to resume revolutionary and subversive activities will grow.

5. There is emerging a weak, poorly organized, somewhat divided, but widespread movement in opposition to either the restoration of a full-fledged Trujillo dictatorship or a Castro-Communist take-over. The spectrum of this movement includes:

(a) President Balaguer and the more moderate elements he has brought into the government. The President and these elements, however, do not yet have the full confidence of the opposition.

(b) The Union Civica Nacional (UCN), an opposition political movement (not party) whose formation was made public on July 16. Comprised initially of several hundred of the outstanding Dominican business and professional leaders, it has pledged itself to peaceful action and taken an anti-Communist position. However, hidden within it, are apparently elements who were the intellectual authors of the Trujillo assassination, and its present determination not to participate in the elections and resume revolutionary activities unless the Trujillos are out should not be taken lightly.

(c) The "14 of June" Movement, a younger somewhat more radical group composed of persons who participated in or morally supported an abortive plot in 1959/60 to overthrow Trujillo. Although it has agreed with the UCN (some members belong to both organizations) not to make common cause with the Castro-lining MPD, it appears somewhat more fuzzy on the Castro danger.

(d) The Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), which is being established in the Dominican Republic by three returned exile leaders. Its public position is one of peaceful rather than revolutionary action and it has taken an open stand against Communism and Castroism and in favor of change on the pattern advocated by Betancourt and Figueres. As the first new opposition party to come into the open, it has created a good deal of excitement in the Dominican Republic but does not as yet have strong or organized support. Its leader, Juan Bosch, who remains outside the Dominican Republic is a close friend of Betancourt and Figueres who support him. (However, an FBI report has cited him as a Communist and the Department is urgently attempting to secure an evaluation from the intelligence community to clarify this point.)

The above, broadly speaking, comprise the middle-of-the-road, pro-American political forces in the Dominican Republic. The twenty-odd Dominican movements still abroad have little following and many of them are infiltrated by pro-Communist and pro-Castro elements.

6. Within the Dominican Republic, pro-Castro sentiment is centered in the Movimiento Popular Dominicano (MPD). Until recently the MPD had no real significance or organization; it was established by Trujillo when he was piqued by the OAS sanctions against him and sought to prove to Dominican and world opinion that opposition to him was Communist. Although its leadership was authentically Castroist imported from Cuba, its membership was heavily infiltrated by secret police agents and the secret police earlier this year suppressed it altogether for some months. However, the Castro-line MPD leaders were quick to use the liberties granted by Balaguer to agitate and to incite to mob action with considerable success. The President has indicated his intention to shut the MPD down but this has not yet been done.

7. The situation in the Dominican Republic is, then, precarious. From the U.S. point of view, it would be desirable to strengthen President Balaguer and moderates within the government and to encourage and support an anti-Castro, middle-of-the-road opposition. These elements are weak and untested. They are faced by unreconstructed Trujillista elements (probably not including Ramfis himself) who want to continue the Trujillo era with as few changes as possible. However, since Ramfis himself is not even attempting to play his father's role and since opposition to the Trujillos is widespread, it is doubtful that an attempt to maintain the status quo could long be successful and the chances are high that if the Trujillos try to hang on, a revolutionary movement will develop. On the other hand, pro-Castro elements are ready to move into the vacuum created by any abrupt relinquishment of power by the Trujillos and will do so unless non-Communist civilian and military elements are prepared to step in.


1. The basic political problem facing the U.S. is how to encourage and foster a stable government, resistant to Castroism, constructed from Balaguer's moderate wing of the existing government, the middle-of-the-road opposition elements and the armed forces. An effort to prolong the control of unreconstructed Trujillista elements beyond an adequate transition period would be to invite revolution and disorder at a time when there is no one to exercise the controlling role formerly played by the Generalissimo. To act precipitately to remove the Trujillos before firm foundations are established for a more representative government would be to invite a collapse of authority if not civil war. On the other hand, U.S. identification with the Balaguer Government while the Trujillos retain essential control could have the disadvantages of (a) giving other countries the impression that we are condoning dictatorships which they consider too slow, (b) reassuring the Balaguer Government so it might move more slowly, and (c) leading the embryonic middle of the road oppositionists to believe that the U.S. has accepted continued Trujillo dominance and thus encouraging the more active among the opposition to turn to revolution and assassination.

2. Thus the immediate problems in the Dominican Republic are:

(a) How to encourage the Balaguer Government, with Ramfis' support, to make further modifications without excessively identifying the U.S. with it.

(b) How to increase the strength and cohesiveness of the middle-of-the-road elements and to prevent the opposition moving towards Castroism and

(c) Whether arrangements can be made for the orderly step-by-step withdrawal of the Trujillos at a stage not so early as to create a collapse and not so late that the opposition--in despair--turns to revolutionary activities.

3. On the economic front, discontent is likely to rise in the next few months and find political expression, since it is improbable that the current depression will not end until confidence is restored and the economic system is made more rational.

4. A problem also arises in the OAS, where 14 votes are required to restore diplomatic relations with the Dominican Republic and lift other sanctions. It is unlikely that such action will be forthcoming soon. The OAS Subcommittee that visited the Dominican Republic to determine whether the government there still constitutes a "threat to the peace and security of the Hemisphere" returned to Washington and has now issued a report/2/ which notes certain constructive moves but concludes that it is too early to determine the extent of change and that observation by the OAS should continue. While the presence of the Subcommittee might inspire somewhat more rapid evolution toward democracy, the Subcommittee would be confronted with the serious problem of either awaiting some significant new development, which might require a long stay, or returning and issuing another inconclusive report which could be harmful to the Balaguer Government. Therefore, if OAS technical advisors are requested, and an OAS "presence" can thus be assured, it would be wisest to await a significant new development that might warrant a more favorable conclusion by the Subcommittee before encouraging its return to the Dominican Republic.

/2/OAS doc. OEA/Ser.G./CE/RC.VI-10.

5. A problem also arises in determining how far the U.S. is willing to intervene to prevent a Castro take-over. President Balaguer has been assured of U.S. military action if there should be a Castro invasion from abroad. But the precarious situation contains potentialities of a take-over from within; for example, through the assassination or sudden flight of Ramfis coupled with a breakdown of law and order. Should such a situation arise, our representatives will have to know immediately how far the U.S. would be willing to commit itself to Balaguer and other anti-Castro elements and what the U.S. position with respect to the Trujillos would be in such an event.

Actions Already Taken:

1. We have assigned as Consul General a very experienced officer who did superb work in Guatemala during the fall of Arbenz and who has been Latin American Bureau liaison with CIA for several years during which time he worked on the Dominican problem.

2. Measures to prevent a Castroist take-over:

(a) We have assured President Balaguer privately that we would upon request give prompt military support within Dominican jurisdiction if there should be a Castroist invasion from abroad.

(b) We mobilized a considerable military force immediately after the assassination of the Generalissimo and still retain forces nearby.

(c) We have firmly encouraged President Balaguer to adopt an anti-Communist law, to ban the entry of exiles from Cuba and Communist countries, and encouraged his proposal to shut down the MPD.

(d) We have consistently advised opposition elements against Castroism and encourage them to take anti-Communist positions.

3. Measures to reform and humanize the Trujillo system.

(a) We have assured Balaguer privately and publicly that his reforms have our support.

(b) We have specifically urged him to clean up the security police, to make electoral reforms, and to allow legitimate, non-Communist opposition groups to operate openly and within the Constitution.

(c) We have urged Balaguer and the Partido Dominicano's new leader to stress the future and gradually reduce the divisive emphasis on the late Generalissimo.

(d) We were instrumental in persuading the OAS to send a Subcommittee to the Dominican Republic and in keeping a corps of U.S. newsmen there to exercise a moderating influence immediately following the assassination.

(e) We have encouraged Balaguer to ask for OAS technical advisors for the elections.

4. Measures to bring forth an anti-Castro political force.

(a) We took a key role in encouraging the business and professional leaders to establish the UCN.

(b) We urged the Betancourt-oriented PRD to take a moderate position and to come forth openly with their anti-Castro and anti-Communist position.

(c) We have urged all non-Communist opposition groups to work in harmony, to avoid efforts of the Castroists to form a "united front" opposition, and to give President Balaguer's reforms a chance however much they distrust them.

Proposed Future Actions:

1. To continue to press on all of the above points wherever progress lags and whenever we think action is likely to be productive.

2. To continue to encourage the sending of an OAS technical advisory group to assist the government in preparing for elections. Action by the OAS special committee should await significant new developments before again sending the present or "new subcommittee to the Dominican Republic even though the Dominican Government has sent the Subcommittee an invitation to return. In these and other ways, continue to give emphasis to the OAS role in the Dominican Republic.

3. To give encouragement and assistance to acceptable opposition movements on the condition that they make every effort to act in concert with other acceptable groups.

4. To exert special efforts by discreet means to become acquainted with and influence student and labor groups. The visa officer in our Consulate in Ciudad Trujillo has special aptitude for relations with students and we are assigning him to this work, sending in another visa officer. We are seeking an outstanding labor officer.

5. To identify lines of authority and influence in the Armed Forces in order to be able to understand and influence individual leaders, and to gain intelligence on the intentions of individuals and factions within the military.

6. To explore the possibilities of inducing Ramfis and the Trujillo family to effect a step-by-step, orderly transfer of their control of military and economic power at a stage not so early as to run a high risk of collapse and not so late as to encourage the opposition to abandon Constitutional activities in favor of renewed subversive and revolutionary actions.

7. To refine contingency planning in order to be prepared to act promptly and appropriately in any sudden adverse change in the situation.

8. To develop contingency plans to take promptly effective economic and political action to stabilize and strengthen an anti-Castro Government when and if the Trujillos withdraw.

9. We have examined the political experience of some countries, who are in a transitional stage following dictatorships, but have not found any aspects of their experience which would be applicable to the Dominican situation. We will continue this examination.

316. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Kennedy/1/

Washington, July 19, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.39/7-1961. Secret. Drafted by Vallon. A marginal notation indicates that Goodwin approved the telegram's content and that it was sent on July 21 as telegram 94. (Ibid., 611.39/7-2161)

Dominican Republic

There is enclosed for your review and approval a suggested telegram confirming the oral instructions which you gave on July 18/2/ to John Hill, our Consul in the Dominican Republic.

/2/Consul General Hill met with President Kennedy on July 18 from 6 to 6:30 p.m. according to the President's Appointment Book. (Kennedy Library) Also in attendance were Assistant Secretary of State Woodward, Deputy Assistant Secretary Arturo Morales-Carrion, Robert Murphy, Richard Goodwin, and Edward Jamison. No record of the meeting was kept. Hill conveyed the President's message to Balaguer in a meeting on July 23. (Telegram 159 from Ciudad Trujillo, July 22; Department of State, Central Files, 611.39/7-2261)

Dean Rusk/3/

/3/Printed from a copy that indicates Rusk signed the original.



For Hill

Confirming President's oral instructions to you July 18, you should convey following President Balaguer upon your return:

During consultation Washington, you were asked to meeting with President attended by Assistant Secretary Woodward, Robert Murphy and others having interest in or responsibility for relations with DR.

President expressed himself as encouraged by measures President Balaguer had taken towards establishment representative democracy DR and orderly exercise political rights by all non-Communist elements. He asked you convey this President Balaguer.

President also directed Department issue appropriate statement reflecting USG encouragement at steps thus far taken in hopes this would be useful President Balaguer (FYI. This to be used on confirmation statement issued. End FYI.)

President thought it of utmost importance transition towards exercise democratic rights continue and orderly democratic life be established for all who willing act within responsibilities Constitutional democracy.

President questioned you closely about progress anti-Communist law in Dominican Congress, measures taken exclude return Communism and Castroist exiles, and other actions taken prevent infiltration and agitation by Communist/Castroist elements. He noted with particular satisfaction President Balaguer's stated determination prevent pro-Communist and pro-Castro activities, pointing out danger DR, US and Hemisphere if Castroists should establish themselves in DR.

President emphasized that development of solidly based representative democracy provides only alternative to either repression, which would eventually bring on revolt, or uncontrollable disorder and violence which would open way for exploitation by Castro/Communist elements. President wished President Balaguer well in this enterprise and is personally following situation closely.

FYI. You are also reminded that the President instructed you to inform democratic opposition of substance your conversation with President Balaguer explaining this move intended further to encourage President Balaguer on road to representative democracy and increase guarantees for democratic political groups. End FYI.

317. Special National Intelligence Estimate/1/

SNIE 86.2-61

Washington, July 25, 1961.

/1/Source: Central Intelligence Agency Files, Job 79-R01012A, ODDI Registry. Secret.


The Problem

To examine the political situation in the Dominican Republic and to estimate the prospects for an orderly transition to a more representative political system.

The Estimate

1. The heirs of Trujillo are seeking to regain international acceptance by relaxing the late dictator's stringent political controls and permitting the development of democratic political activity. With the return of several opposition leaders from exile--with government guarantees for their safety--opposition forces within the country have surfaced and begun to crystallize. The violence incited by pro-Castro elements in early July has demonstrated that the liberalization of political controls involves some risk for the security of the regime.

2. The real power in the Dominican Republic is still held by the Trujillo family through Ramfis' control of the armed forces and the police. The family also continues to dominate the economic life of the country. Ramfis is resolved to preserve what he can of his family's economic interests, but has apparently concluded that some political relaxation is necessary for this purpose. Contrary to expectations, he has permitted the titular president, Balaguer, to encourage the open development of political opposition groups. He has also permitted Balaguer to institute important reforms in the economic field, including the dissolution of the Trujillo family monopoly in coffee and cocoa exports and a reduction in utility rates and the prices of certain foodstuffs. Balaguer has also appointed a reputable cabinet, indicated his willingness to consider the return of the OAS investigating subcommittee, and declared that he was prepared to have OAS representatives observe the national elections scheduled for May 1962. Both men probably estimate that the well-established machinery of the government-controlled Partido Dominicano will suffice to sweep the election, even if OAS observers are in attendance. Publicly organized opposition so far consists of four groups: the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), the Dominican Popular Movement (MPD), the National Civic Union (UCN), and the 14th of June Movement.

3. The PRD is a long-established organization of Dominican exiles led by Juan Bosch,/2/ with branches in New York, San Juan, and Caracas. Its leaders have associations with ex-President Figueres of Costa Rica and President Betancourt of Venezuela. At recent rallies the party has demonstrated some drawing power among city workers, other elements of the lower class, and poorer segments of the middle class. However, the majority of the middle class, which suffered most under the tyranny, is critical of PRD leaders as men who have remained out of the country for decades and escaped hardship and abuse. Many in the middle class do not trust the PRD, some believing that it has sold out to the Balaguer government and others suspecting it of extreme leftist or Communist tendencies. At the same time PRD leaders are being denounced by the Cuban radio as agents of the US.

/2/Juan Bosch was at one time a member of the Caribbean Legion, a motley assortment of professional revolutionaries and idealists devoted to the overthrow of dictatorship. He is presently in San Jose, Costa Rica, although he makes his headquarters in Caracas. The principal PRD leaders now in the Dominican Republic are Angel Miolan and Ramon Castillo. The latter and another PRD leader, Nicolas Silfa, are naturalized US citizens. [Footnote in the source text.]

4. The MPD was originally organized in Cuba by Maximo Lopez Molina, a pro-Communist Dominican exile. At the time of the San Jose Conference, in 1960, Trujillo permitted Lopez to return to the Dominican Republic and establish the MPD there. He probably did this in order to demonstrate both tolerance of political opposition and a Castroist threat. Within a short time the party was suppressed, but it has recently been reactivated. It is aggressive and Castro/Communist in character, though probably still small in size. Following the early July disturbances the government threatened to suppress the MPD and took occasion to have the legislature enact an anti-Communist law.

5. The upper and middle classes were the principal victims of the Trujillo dictatorship and have a corresponding interest in the establishment of civil liberties and representative government. Until recently, however, opposition elements from these classes have remained underground because of the brutal repression which members of their group suffered at the hands of the late dictator. With the continuation in power of the Trujillos, and lacking US or OAS guarantees of their safety, they hesitated to surface until the return of the PRD leaders and the activities of the MPD showed that some political agitation could be conducted openly and convinced them that, if they did not move, political leadership would pass to extremists by default. They have established the UCN, an organization composed largely of respectable business and professional men headed by long-time Trujillo oppositionist Viriato Fiallo. They still defensively deny that the UCN is a political party, but nevertheless it does provide a rallying point for moderate elements antipathetic to the Trujillo regime, on the one hand, and to the leftist PRD and pro-Communist MPD on the other. We believe that the UCN is predominantly pro-US, despite a public statement opposing foreign, particularly US, intervention. This statement was probably designed for internal political effect.

6. There is also the 14th of June Movement,/3/ originally a clandestine middle class organization composed largely of younger persons. It was smashed by the late dictator in early 1960, but the remnants have recently emerged as an open political movement and have attracted support from the burgeoning student movement. The membership is divided between those who would go along with pro-Castro activists and those who favor moderation. In these circumstances some of the adherents of the 14th of June Movement may eventually merge with other opposition groups.

/3/The movement draws its name from the date in 1959 on which a Castro-supported invasion group made an abortive attempt to initiate revolution against Generalissimo Trujillo. However, a member of the movement has said that its name is intended to exploit the event, not to emulate Castro's 26th of July Movement. [Footnote in the source text.]

7. In the political vacuum created by the 30-year dictatorship, the PRD, MPD, UCN, and the 14th of June Movement are competing for leadership of the dissatisfied elements of the population. None of them has been in the open long enough to have developed an extensive political organization for electoral purposes. An evident danger is that, unless the anti-Communist opposition bestirs itself, the more aggressive MPD may capture the leadership of popular dissidence.

8. So far, political ferment is confined largely to the capital city and the larger towns. The mass of the peasants remains unaffected; the government-controlled Dominican Party is still the only political organization in effective contact with them.

9. The rapid development of open political opposition, and the potential for violence demonstrated on 7 July, put in question the feasibility of President Balaguer's apparent plan to conduct a controlled transition to a more representative political system. The opposition parties almost certainly realize that, even with the degree of political freedom now permitted, they have little or no chance of prevailing in an election to be held only nine months from now. To gain more time for organization and campaigning, they are likely to demand postponement of the election, and might refuse to participate if it is held on schedule. Moreover, instead of relying upon the election as the means of replacing the present regime, each opposition group is probably seeking to subvert a sufficient segment of the armed forces to be able to seize power by a coup. To this end, the more moderate oppositionists would urge that the elimination of the Trujillos was necessary in order to establish a stable democratic political system and to head off the Castro/Communist threat represented by the MPD.

10. The more moderate opposition groups are not likely to seek to incite popular violence against the regime, for fear that this would work to the immediate advantage of the MPD and would provoke the eventual suppression of all political activity. In the tense circumstances, however, spontaneous disorder is a constant possibility.

11. The mechanism of the police state remains intact and, if put to use, is probably still capable of suppressing all opposition. To do this, however, would destroy the impression which both Balaguer and Ramfis have been at pains to create, of an evolution toward a more democratic system. We therefore believe that while Ramfis will act forcefully to prevent or suppress violence and disorder, he will be disinclined to suppress moderate political opposition.

12. As the political situation develops, much will depend on reactions within the Trujillo family and within the armed forces. Some members of the family are determined to defend their property and position and would resist any further political or economic concessions on the part of Ramfis which they thought would seriously jeopardize their interests. In such circumstances, they could probably count on the support of elements in the armed forces, particularly among senior officers, who see peril for themselves in any change in the political system. On the other hand, there are some junior officers who desire reform, or who are interested in the promotions which they could expect from an overturn of the system, and might therefore be open to subversion by one or another of the opposition groups. Thus Ramfis could lose control of the situation through a move from within the Trujillo family to displace him and restore the status quo ante, or through a move from within the armed forces, in conspiracy with one of the political opposition groups, to expel all the Trujillos. In either case, Balaguer's attempt at a political finesse would have failed and a sanguinary struggle for power among many diverse elements would probably ensue.

13. In view of the flexibility and skill which Balaguer and Ramfis Trujillo have shown, the power at their disposal, and the rudimentary character of the political opposition, we believe it likely that the present Dominican Government will be able to retain control of the situation, at least until the May 1962 election. However, on the separate issue of an orderly transition to a more representative political system, we believe that there is no more than an even chance of a moderate program being carried out in view of the possibilities of a return to more forceful repression as opposition activity increases or of a power struggle among present leaders. In any case the scale and nature of US support is likely to have an important effect upon the success of the Balaguer program.

318. Telegram From the Department of State to the Consulate General in the Dominican Republic/1/

Washington, August 3, 1961, 12:18 a.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 739.00/8-161. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Coerr, cleared by Vallon and S/S, and approved by Woodward. At 6:15 p.m., the President met with Woodward, Goodwin, Coerr, and Robert T. Morrison of the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research according to the President's Appointment Book. (Kennedy Library) The meeting ended at approximately 8 p.m. No record of the meeting has been found

137. Congentel 213./2/ Following courses of action decided upon at meeting called by President at White House today to discuss Dominican problem:

/2/Not printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 739.00/8-161)

(1) You should continue to urge that Communists and pro-Castro elements be deported.

(2) Department will explore technical and political problems involved in partial lifting of OAS economic sanctions other than those affecting sugar and arms.

(3) Department will (a) explore whether Dominican people suffering any food shortage, (b) what private agencies available for distributing food in Dominican Republic, (c) feasibility and desirability undertaking PL-480 food distribution program through private agencies.

(4) Department will study desirability consult Venezuelan Government regarding desirability above lines of action as acceptable firm evidence U.S. support for Balaguer and U.S. concern for Dominican people.


319. Draft Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Kennedy/1/

Washington, August 24, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 739.00/8-2461. Secret. Drafted by Coerr and Crimmins. Marginal notations indicate that this document was to be revised; however no later version was found.

In preparation for your meeting on August 25/2/ on the Dominican Republic, I enclose a memorandum assessing our problem there and recommending courses of action. These courses are designed to strengthen President Balaguer in his program of democratization, induce the moderate opposition, Ramfis Trujillo and the military establishment, to support Balaguer's program and avoid violence, and assist in resolving the question of the departure of the Trujillo family and the disposition of their properties, particularly their large sugar holdings. I also enclose a memorandum summarizing action already taken or under way toward these objectives./3/

/2/The meeting, in fact, took place August 28; see Document 320.

/3/Not found.

Dean Rusk



I. Problem

To take action which will relieve the present tension in the Dominican Republic and will at the same time promote the basic United States objectives of (a) preventing Castro-Communism from developing or taking control, and (b) establishing a friendly and stable government as democratic as possible.

II. Discussion

Tension in the Dominican Republic is increasing. Elements of the military fear for their future and are reacting with violence to political activities, some of them provocative, by the newly emerging political opposition. Some of the military elements have also threatened to "turn to the left" and are reportedly favoring Castro-Communists. Ramfis appears to be weakening in his initial declared intention to control the armed forces and give Balaguer effective support. Military elements may overthrow Balaguer at any time.

If the Trujillo and military elements achieve or continue seriously to threaten a coup, the currently non-Communist opposition can be expected to reject moderate leaders and tactics, undertake widespread strikes and covert revolutionary activities, and seek alliance with Castro-Communists. They may also gain support from some of the military.

Should such a coup occur, the new regime could probably impose temporary order but would almost certainly lead to an explosion that would give the Castro-Communists ideal conditions for gaining strength and assuming power. Such a regime also could expect intense Venezuelan hostility and OAS disapproval and would be most difficult for the United States to support.

To reduce this threat, we must seek means of easing the transition for the military and other Trujillo-associated elements from the Trujillo system to a freer society. These means must be compatible, however, with our support of the Balaguer program and the moderate opposition, which represents our best hope for reaching our objectives.

These means must take into account the economic power of the Trujillos, which is a critical aspect of the problem. For example, under existing United States legislation, the Trujillos would stand to gain $28 million from the sale to the United States of their sugar under a windfall quota, which would automatically be assigned to the Dominican Republic upon resumption of diplomatic relations.

III. Recommended Courses of Action

A. Immediate

We should:

1. Publicly and privately make clear that we support President Balaguer and his program of democratization, and where possible identify our programs as expressions of that support and of our interest in the Dominican people.

2. Inform Ramfis Trujillo at the earliest opportunity that we (a) would view with serious concern the overthrow of Balaguer by force or intimidation; (b) urge that security and military forces seek common cause with the moderate opposition and avoid abuses against it; and (c) recommend that the military and security forces recognize that they would be certain victims of a Castro-Communist take-over and that they avoid supporting Castro-Communist elements.

3. Take steps toward establishing a small United States military mission at field-grade level, commencing with the assignment of military liaison officers to the Consulate.

4. Inform the moderate opposition that we (a) consider it a key factor in the future of the Dominican Republic; (b) urge it to pursue its objectives peacefully and seek a constructive relationship with the military; and (c) urge it to exclude rigorously and oppose Castro-Communists.

5. Informally assist the Balaguer Government in contracting for, or through the OAS, a police mission to improve the attitudes and methods (especially in intelligence techniques and crowd control) of the security forces.

6. Once President Balaguer has made a request, urge and assist voluntary relief agencies to make the necessary survey leading to a PL 480 food distribution program for needy Dominicans.

7. Move in the OAS to remove sanctions on petroleum, trucks, and spare parts.

8. In order to induce the Trujillos to relinquish power and, in some cases, leave the country in a constructive manner, with their self-respect and some small part of their holdings within the Dominican Republic, obtain their consent in principle to the establishment of a foundation which would take over the bulk of their holdings (including all sugar properties) within the Dominican Republic and administer them for the benefit of the Dominican people. Once consent is obtained, have a qualified U.S. lawyer and an economist work out the details.

9. Persuade Balaguer to agree to a statement, and Ramfis to support it, (a) expressing the intention to continue the democratization program; (b) offering the moderate opposition representation in the government; (c) eliminating the PD assessment on salaries; and (d) announcing the Trujillos' agreement to a foundation.

10. Seek Venezuelan support for or acquiescence in our plans, emphasizing the divestment of the Trujillos of their properties.

B. Subsequent

Following on the above actions, we should:

11. Move for the return of the OAS Sub-Committee to receive the declaration outlined in paragraph 9.

12. Move in the COAS for the rescission of Resolution 1 of the VI MFM, i.e., for the restoration of diplomatic relations.

320. Editorial Note

According to his Appointment Book, President Kennedy met on August 28, 1961, from 5 to 6:15 p.m. with Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Woodward, Deputy Assistant Secretary Coerr, Office of Caribbean and Mexican Affairs officers Edwin Vallon, John Crimmins, and Charles Torrey, Director of the Office of Inter-American Regional Political Affairs Edward Jamison, Ambassador Robert Murphy, Barnes [text not declassified] of the CIA, and Presidential Special Assistants Stephen Smith, Goodwin, and Schlesinger about the Dominican situation. (Kennedy Library) No memorandum of the conversation was found.

A State Department memorandum of a conversation among Under Secretary Ball, Woodward, Crimmins, and Jamison, dated August 29, details actions to be taken as a result of the meeting. (Department of State, Central Files, 739.00/8-2961)

U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States DeLesseps Morrison was to condemn the repressive incidents that had marred the Balaguer government's democratization program. Consul General Hill would make clear U.S. support for this program and inform Ramfis Trujillo that the United States would view with serious concern an overthrow of the Balaguer government. Additionally, a field-level U.S. military mission was to be established in the Dominican Republic, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Morales-Carrion was to be dispatched with Ambassador Murphy "to explain our plans and gain consent to them from the various elements."

321. Memorandum From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hilsman) to Acting Secretary of State Bowles/1/

Washington, September 20, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 739.00/9-2261. Confidential. A covering memorandum indicates that this paper was sent to Bundy on September 22.

Assessment of Dominican Situation

Let me call your attention to T-588 of September 17 (received yesterday),/2/ from Ciudad Trujillo, a marked copy of which is attached. I feel that the analysis contained in this three-part message, especially regarding the effects of continued US support for the present Dominican government, confirms a viewpoint which INR has held since the Trujillo assassination but which has not, until now, received widespread appreciation.

/2/Not printed. (Ibid., 739.00/9-1761)

Paragraphs 4-10 of the subject telegram are especially pertinent. In essence, the Consul General emphasizes that the present Dominican government is transitory, that the demand for the Trujillos to leave "has become an obsession," and that longer term US interests dictate that a friendly, anti-Castro, anti-Communist government succeed the present one. The attainment of the latter objective hinges upon the state of US relations with the opposition which are deteriorating because of the latter's belief that the US is, in effect, supporting the present government. With growing dissatisfaction in the Dominican Republic over OAS and US policy, Castro-minded influence in the opposition is increasing.

Our analysts in INR strongly agree with this analysis. We believe that the US, by unintentionally identifying itself with an unpopular cause through its "transition" policy, is seriously jeopardizing its long-term interests in the Dominican Republic. A continuation of present trends will increase the likelihood that a successor to the Balaguer government will be Castroist. Parenthetically it should be noted that the Consul General's estimate that Balaguer and Ramfis cannot control the situation for more than a few months, a judgment in which we concur, modifies the Intelligence Community's estimate contained in the final paragraph of SNIE 86.2-61, "The Dominican Situation," July 25, 1961./3/

/3/"We believe it likely that the present Dominican Government will be able to retain control of the situation, at least until the May 1962 elections." [Footnote in the source text. SNIE 86.2-61 is Document 317.]

In view of the above-described situation, it seems somewhat surprising to us that the Consul General continues to endorse, albeit hesitantly, even the partial lifting of OAS sanctions. Given the heated political climate of the Dominican Republic, the removal of OAS sanctions would surely be widely interpreted, both in the Dominican Republic and in Latin America generally, as further, conclusive evidence that the United States is committed to an indefinite continuation of the present regime.

322. Memorandum of Conversation/1/

New York, October 3, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 739.00/10-361. Secret. Drafted by Hill and Ball.

Dr. Joaquin Balaguer, President of the Dominican Republic
The Honorable George Ball, Under Secretary of State
The Honorable George McGhee, Counselor of the Department of State
Mr. John Calvin Hill, Jr., Consul General, Ciudad Trujillo

Program for the Dominican Republic

President Balaguer came alone, at the request of the United States, to Ambassador Stevenson's suite in the Waldorf Astoria for an informal and confidential conversation which lasted from 9 p.m. until about 11 p.m. No notes were taken during the meeting in order to preserve the atmosphere of confidence.

Mr. Ball opened the conversation by telling the President that we welcomed the opportunity to discuss the Dominican situation with him informally and frankly as the United States was, within a few days, going to take further specific decisions with regard to its Dominican policy. He stated that the objective of the United States was the reincorporation of the Dominican Republic in the inter-American system.

He noted that President Balaguer had taken certain preliminary measures toward creating the conditions which would make reintegration possible. While recognizing that the problem was not simple and that President Balaguer was faced with formidable difficulties he felt it necessary to say frankly that so far the rate of progress had seemed to the United States Government to be disappointingly slow.

After the United States Government had fully developed its policy within the next few days it would be able to make clear with precision the nature of the steps which it regarded as an indispensable prelude to the lifting of sanctions. Certain of these steps would have to be taken by President Balaguer as the head of the Dominican state. Other steps would have to be taken by General Ramfis Trujillo as head of the Trujillo family. When the United States position was fully defined the precise nature of the required steps would be made known both to President Balaguer and General Trujillo.

Meanwhile he could say in general that the United States regarded the following as among the pre-conditions to the lifting of sanctions:

(1) The deconcentration of the political and economic power of the Trujillo family, including the early departure of General Arismendi and Generalissimo Hector Trujillo, and

(2) Appropriate arrangements for the disposition of the Trujillo properties.

(3) Cessation of repressive measures by the repressive groups and progress towards observance of human rights.

(4) Arrangements with the moderate opposition, such as a coalition government, and

(5) Effective action against repressive and Communist elements which sought to undermine the democratic system.

President Balaguer replied to these points as follows:

(1) Trujillo family.

He agreed with the United States position on the Trujillo family. It was essential that Arismendi go as he was the most reactionary of them and [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. Hector had withdrawn from politics but as long as he remained in the country he would be a natural focus for reactionary elements in both the civilian and military sectors. Balaguer noted, however, that the United States position, which asked only for the key members of the Trujillo family to leave the country, was different from that of the opposition which demanded that the whole family go.

He thought that it was essential for Ramfis to stay for the time being to assure the unity and support of the armed forces which was necessary for the stability of the nation and the government. He described Ramfis as desiring to retire and go abroad as soon as the situation permitted. He said that there was no problem about arranging for him to leave when the time came.

Later in the conversation, Mr. Ball raised the question as to what would happen if Ramfis were to leave the country now. Would General Sanchez then be able to control the Armed Forces and would he be likely to undertake repressive action against the opposition?

The President replied that, if Ramfis should leave the Dominican Republic at the present time, he did not believe that General Sanchez could maintain his position with the Armed Forces. Sanchez, the present Air Force Chief of Staff, was, he said, only 32 years old. [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] If Ramfis were to leave now, the Armed Forces would be likely to break up into warring groups as various officers made their bids for power. Anarchy would result.

The President suggested that, when the time came for Ramfis to leave, [4 lines of source text not declassified].

(2) Trujillo properties.

The President indicated that while the book value of the sugar enterprises was $170,000,000--$140 million for the Rio Haina complex and $30 million for the northern mills--this was exaggerated. Under present conditions a more realistic price would be $80 million. They were subject to debts owed the Dominican Government aggregating $48 million.

As a result Balaguer stated that, if the properties were sold, the Dominican people would benefit by the repayment of these debts. Ramfis proposed, he said, to dispose of the properties in the following way:

(a) He proposed to sell the northern properties, on which the Government-owned Banco Agricola held a note, for $30 million to Dominican businessmen--[2 lines of source text not declassified]. The sale price would be $30 million. The purchasers, however, would not put up any money on their own. They would borrow $30 million from the Banco Agricola and repay the indebtedness owed by the northern properties to the Banco Agricola. The transaction would thus be a "wash sale".

(b) He proposed to sell Rio Haina to foreign investors for $50 million. He hinted that the purchaser would be George Pappas. Of this $50 million, $18 million would be applied to repay a note owed by Rio Haina to the Banco Central.

President Balaguer emphasized the fact that if these transactions were completed the Dominican Government would thus receive $48 million through the repayment of the notes owed by Trujillo on the sugar properties. This money could be used for badly needed public works such as the CIBAO irrigation project.

Mr. McGhee pointed out that if the transactions were undertaken as described by President Balaguer the net benefit to the Dominican Government would be only $18 million, since the $30 million repaid to the Banco Agricola would be offset by a new loan by the Banco Agricola to [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] who were not putting in any equity capital. The President replied that these were "fictitious" paper transactions. Mr. McGhee asked if it might not create a more favorable impression on the opposition if the northern properties were taken over by the Banco Agricola directly. He pointed out that under the proposed arrangements [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] would in effect acquire the properties without putting up any money of their own. The President agreed that this was the case and that it might be better to have the transaction handled in the manner suggested by Mr. McGhee.

Mr. Ball pressed the President as to whether he thought Ramfis Trujillo would be willing to contribute a substantial portion of his net receipts from the proposed transaction ($32 million) to a foundation. The President replied that if the properties were sold he thought that the General might be willing to give a portion of the proceeds to a foundation, mentioning the Instituto de Auxilios y Viviendas.

In the discussion of these financial matter problems the President seemed [2 lines of source text not declassified].

The President stated that, in his view, it was more important, as part of the conditions, to concentrate on assuring that the greater portion of the current income of the properties be made available for the Dominican Government and people than to concentrate on titles which could be left in suspense. He agreed that the Trujillo family was "on its way out" and that, when it lost its position in the country, the state would almost certainly move to take over the properties.

(3) Measures by repressive groups.

The President said that repressive measures would in large part automatically cease with the departure of Arismendi--which he reiterated was urgent--since he was responsible for most of them. He also stated that a program was being undertaken to purge the armed forces of undesirable elements.

(4) Coalition Government.

The President expressed the view that, while the PRD and 14 of June were flexible, the UCN was inflexible and radical in its demands. The President was entirely willing to have them come in to the government; some concessions could be made; and the climate would be better when Arismendi and Hector had departed. He acknowledged that the UCN was opposed to Ramfis' remaining, but this was a necessity that they would accommodate to because it was a reality that he was needed in the armed forces.

Mr. Ball stated that in his opinion conditions would not be propitious for elections in May 1962 and that the elections should be postponed. The President replied that there would be no problem about postponing the May 1962 elections if there was a coalition government. The members of the government could then agree on when they should be held.

At this point, the President entered a strong plea for gradual but progressive action by the United States with respect to lifting the sanctions, starting with lifting the January sanctions (on petroleum, petroleum products, trucks and spare parts) and going on to full lifting the sanctions as progress was made. He argued that inaction at this time had the effect of making the opposition more intransigent and the military more alarmed and he did not know what could happen.

(5) Subversive elements.

The President pointed out that the FNR had already been deported and it was planned to take similar action with others, including (the MPD's) Lopez Molina.

Mr. Ball raised the subject of the OAS Human Rights Committee, suggesting that the Dominican Republic should issue an invitation for it to the Dominican Republic. Mr. Hill explained that it was possible to issue such an invitation under the Statute and highly desirable to do so promptly as the Committee itself was considering Cuba and the Dominican Republic and that the expected refusal of Cuba to cooperate would contrast to the favor of the Dominican Republic. The President demurred, saying that the Dominican Republic had already taken action to put itself on the same footing as the other American Republics, that no other country had invited the Committee, and that the matter would have to be studied closely on his return to Ciudad Trujillo to see if it would be possible to extend an invitation without giving the Committee a power of "vigilance" intruding on the country's sovereignty.

Mr. Ball alluded to the President's possible acceptance of the candidacy of the Partido Dominicano, pointing out that it would be difficult to reach an understanding with the opposition if he were a candidate. The President said that he had been under great pressure to accept the nomination because the party needed a candidate but that September 24 Convention had been postponed indefinitely. He said it could be made a condition that he not accept, since he personally hoped to retire to private life at the end of his term in August 1962. However, if no progress is made (towards the lifting of sanctions) a new and dangerous situation would arise and he would have to judge what was best for the nation in that circumstance.

Asked by Mr. Ball if he had any questions of his own to raise, the President asked for a personal estimate on when it might be possible to lift these sanctions. Mr. Ball replied that, primarily, it depended on progress in fulfilling the conditions which would be spelled out in greater detail in the next few days and replied he could not be more precise at this time. He said a high official, authorized to be a spokesman for the United States Government, would meet with the President and with General Trujillo shortly.

Prior to the meeting, when Mr. Hill picked President Balaguer up at his hotel to escort him to the Waldorf, Sr. Luis Mercado was in the President's suite talking long distance with Ramfis. He told Ramfis that we were leaving for the meeting and he would call him back after it was over.

In the car going to the meeting, the President expressed distress that sanctions could not be lifted for two or three months, according to the plan. On the return trip, he reiterated that it was more important to assure that the income from the Trujillo properties go to the State than to concentrate on the titles and indicated Ramfis was waiting to see some evidence that the United States was going ahead before taking action on Lopez Molina.

323. Memorandum From the President's Special Assistant (Goodwin) to President Kennedy/1/

Washington, October 3, 1961.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Dominican Republic, Murphy Trip, August 1961-May 1963.

John Martin's return from the Dominican Republic,/2/ and his excellent reportage, clarifies considerably the situation in that country and confirms the suspicions of those of us who have believed that our previous view was unreal. Based on Martin's trip, the other information which has come to our attention, and our previous knowledge of the people involved, I would summarize the situation thusly:

/2/John Bartlow Martin, a free-lance writer with previous experience in the Dominican Republic, had written speeches for Kennedy during the 1960 election campaign. As a result of the August 28 White House meeting (see Document 320), President Kennedy sent Martin to the Dominican Republic on a fact-finding mission. Martin arrived in Ciudad Trujillo on September 10 and spent 3 weeks examining the political situation throughout the country. His 110-page report, October 3, was read in its entirety by the President. It recommended the United States send a high-level envoy to the Dominican Republic to negotiate an end to Trujillo family economic power in the country, help establish a broad-based provisional government until free OAS-sponsored elections could be held, convince the Trujillos to leave the country peacefully, and arrange for a gradual repeal of OAS sanctions against the island. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Dominican Republic, Murphy Trip) Kennedy met with Martin at the White House on October 5 to discuss these findings. No formal record of the conversation exists. Director of the State Department Policy Planning Staff McGhee was dispatched immediately to Ciudad Trujillo in accord with the recommendations of the report. (John Bartlow Martin, Overtaken by Events, 1966, pp. 64-83, and Schlesinger, A Thousand Days, p. 770)

The opposition is well-meaning but as yet has not displayed any capacity for effective government. No political figure, around which activity could be centered, has emerged from the opposition ranks. There is general reliance on the United States to solve all problems. This is all very understandable in light of 30 years of harsh and brutal repression; but nevertheless it is an inescapable fact in the formulation of our policy. I believe that in time figures will emerge and competence will develop. But it hasn't happened yet.

As for the regime there is also an inescapable fact. The power to control the country resides in the hands of the military and especially the Air Force. The Air Force is modern and well-equipped and in the hands of General Sanchez, a Trujillista, a supporter of Ramfis and a brutal, right-wing figure. He is interested only in power. To a lesser extent the same sort of figures are in effective control of the Army. The Navy is not important. Ramfis Trujillo has no intention of giving up effective power. Talk along these lines is probably nothing but an effort to string us along; and if he did he would probably be replaced by Sanchez who has no intention of letting the UCN or any other opposition group run the country. Unless we are prepared to use military force--and we are not--then we cannot escape the fact that the Trujillo-Sanchez group has the guns and is prepared to use them to stay in power. Therefore I believe--sad as it makes me to say this--that any solution which involves an actual relinquishment of authority by Trujillo is not practical or possible or even desirable at this time. (Sanchez would be no improvement.)

Nevertheless we have considerable bargaining power since recognition, relinquishment of sanctions, trade with U.S., etc. are essential to the success of the government. We can, in my estimation, use this bargaining power much more effectively if we use it with a realization of the realities of the situation.

1. The primary and overriding objective of the U.S. in the Dominican Republic is the prevention of the establishment of a pro-Communist or neutralist state. We can see two primary dangers to this objective:

A. Overt U.S. support for Trujillo will dishearten the opposition, causing it to re-group around a radical-left, anti-U.S. resistance resulting in an eventual Castro-type revolution.

B. The regime itself, under Ramfis, moves in a leftward direction. Here the danger is not so much Communism as Nasserism or Titoism. There is a very real danger here. Nasser is Ramfis' hero; and in the pre-assassination days he was noted for his anti-Americanism and leftward leanings. It is an over-simplification to attribute this all to pique at being thrown out of school here--and it is a dangerous assumption to assume that all has changed now that he is in power and needs us for a while.

There is no pleasant answer to this problem. But I believe we should do the following: Accept the fact of Ramfis remaining in power and bargain to create an acceptable democratic facade which will win the confidence--if reluctant confidence of the opposition--and create the conditions under which future democratic government may be possible. We should negotiate with Ramfis under the shadow of the U.S. Fleet. He does not realize just how non-interventionist we have become and the more doubt he has about our willingness to send in the Marines the easier it will be to bargain.

The actual negotiation should take the following lines:

1. A property settlement--most of the Trujillo property going into a public foundation with a good, healthy, liquid share for Ramfis. This is the most complex to work out but probably the easiest to achieve basic agreement on.

2. A political settlement--This would involve the departure of the uncles (Arismendi and Hector) which would please Ramfis; disbanding Arismendi's private army; the formation of a coalition government under Balaguer; the end to other private armies and to the secret police; guarantees of basic civil liberties; an end to the terror generally; a postponement of the elections (no one can be ready for anything but a farcical election in May), etc. These steps will do much to satisfy the opposition and create a healthy climate for the growth of effective political groups for the future. At the same time it is important to note that this leaves Ramfis in control of the armed forces and the real power in the country.

3. When these things are announced and done--not before--we will lift sanction, resume diplomatic relations, etc.

4. We will send a series of missions to the Dominican Republic--economic development, agriculture, organization of public administration, even a constitutional government mission--to help re-establish a viable society. The presence of these missions and their work is the surest short-term guarantee of some sort of stability.

5. When these negotiations move ahead, Arturo Morales Carrion should be sent to talk to the opposition; tell them what a great job we are doing for them, and persuade them to accept the results of this negotiation. I think this can be done.

6. It should be left reasonably clear in Ramfis' mind that if he begins to move to the left or towards neutralism we would find a pretext for coming in with the Fleet.

7. This leaves the question of who should negotiate. George Ball has suggested George McGhee. I share Arthur Schlesinger's thought that Ellsworth Bunker would be best for this kind of mission. John Martin should be used as Bunker's staff assistant on this mission.

Richard N. Goodwin/3/

/3/Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.

324. Airgram From the Department of State to the Consulate General in Ciudad Trujillo/1/


Washington, October 13, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 739.00/10-1361. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Hill, Martin, Crimmins; cleared by Coerr, Martin, Hill, McGhee, ARA/RPA, ARA/REA, S/S; and approved by Ball.

Following are instructions for McGhee's oral use in discussions with President Balaguer and General Trujillo/2/ and for Hill's guidance in follow-up.

/2/Accounts of McGhee's meetings with Balaguer and Ramfis Trujillo are ibid., 739.00/10-261 through 739.00/11-1661.

1. Political and economic matters (other than property) should be negotiated with Balaguer, but they should be given Ramfis as part plan and commitment to support them should be obtained from him. Actual negotiations with Ramfis should be limited to questions concerning Trujillo family, property, armed forces and internal security.

2. As introduction to specific program described para 4, you should outline basic considerations governing US policy toward present Dominican situation as follows. These essentially same points contained in talking paper for New York meeting with Balaguer. You may draw on them in discussions as you see fit.

(a) US objective with respect Dominican Republic is its early reincorporation in inter-American system with a democratic government and free from any threat Castro-communism. US regards this as essential to security and peace in Caribbean during period increased world tension.

(b) US has noted efforts made last four months by Balaguer, with support Ramfis, to initiate program to effect difficult transition to democracy but progress in some respects has been distressingly slow. US has also noted measures to realign foreign policy of GODR in manner friendly to the other American republics, including US; to cooperate with OAS Special Committee, to align DR with Free World against world communism; and to cooperate with US and US officials.

(c) US seeks no economic, commercial or political advantage and looks to Dominican people to settle own internal affairs, but US is prepared assist in any way helpful successful completion democratization program.

(d) US would like a situation to develop which would make it possible for sanctions to be lifted and diplomatic relations restored by end 1961. However, in view hemisphere and US opinion, as well as internal situation in DR, US cannot support these steps until and unless there is visible progress on following critical points:

(1) Deconcentration of political, economic, and military power Trujillo family, including especially early departure Arismendi and Hector Trujillo, removal other members of family from positions of government, and departure further members family.

(2) Arrangements for benefit Dominican people, through foundations or other instrumentality not controlled by Trujillos, which would end domination Dominican economy by Trujillo family and would assure that Trujillo family did not profit from resumption relations and lifting sanctions. You should point out US Dept. Agriculture apportions sugar quota for first quarter 1962 by end first week December.

(3) Cessation extra-legal repressive measures and further visible progress towards observance human rights.

(4) Arrangement of modus vivendi, preferably through genuine coalition with moderate non-Communist opposition. This, in our view, will require President Balaguer stand above party politics and not be candidate.

(5) Effective action by GODR to prevent political activity by any totalitarian elements including Communist, pro-Communist, or pro-Castro. This especially involves carrying out President's July 8 statement to Hill that leaders MPD would be deported.

3. You may recall to Ramfis discussions which Hill has had with him in recent weeks on plan intended to meet requirements of situation as USG views it. You should refer specifically to Hill's conversations with him of September 10 and 11 (which were based on Deptels 284 and 306)/3/ and tell him your purpose is to carry forward these conversations by further defining plan, which, you may emphasize, has been approved at highest level USG. (To Balaguer you may cite Hill's conversation with him Sept. 9.) You should state USG believes it urgent there be dramatic further public evidence of progress in implementation plan outlined by Hill and will probably find it necessary issue statement clarifying basic considerations governing United States policy. Statement will probably be made not later than October 25 in order prepare ground for announcing US position on steps it may support on basis OAS Sub-committee report expected late October. Since statement must touch on key question US attitude on progress made toward breaking up concentration political, economic, and military power characteristic of previous regime, it is to interest all concerned that visible progress be made along these lines and other aspects of plan in next two weeks. You should tell Ramfis and Balaguer that Hill will be pursuing matter with them after your departure.

/3/Neither printed. (Department of State, Central Files, 739.00/9-161 and 739.00/9-661)

[Here follow a detailed description of proposals to be made to the Balaguer government and the timetable for their implementation.]

325. Telegram From the Consulate General in the Dominican Republic to the Department of State/1/

Ciudad Trujillo, November 16, 1961, 11 a.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 739.00/11-1661. Secret; Niact; Operational Immediate.

950. Return of Trujillo brothers, Generals Hector and Arismendi, on 15 November has precipitated behind-the-scenes national crisis. American ConGen has stated flatly that Hector and Arismendi must leave today or US will be confronted with decision to withdraw support in OAS for partial lifting sanctions. General Ramfis Trujillo, head of Dominican armed forces, submitted offer of resignation to President Balaguer yesterday and has withdrawn to Bocachica villa. President Balaguer has stated he himself will resign if brothers do not leave. Resignation or withdrawals of Ramfis and Balaguer will leave country without actual or titular head. In this event, power struggle likely between older officers headed by Hector and Arismendi and younger officers headed by Sanchez and Leonestevez.

In view of above, ConGen requests estimate of forces available and reaction times to execute phase one, two, and four of OPN 05-61./2/

/2/Not further identified.

This does not constitute expectation activation these phases at this time. This information needed for contingency planning here.


326. Telegram From the Consulate General in the Domincan Republic to the Department of State/1/

Ciudad Trujillo, November 17, 1961, 10 a.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 739.00/11-1761. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution.

964. Presented plan (Deptel 601)/2/ to President Balaguer at his residence at 7:15 a.m. this morning. He thoroughly agreed with concept and every point as only way out and undertook do his best to convince Trujillos to comply.

/2/Not printed. (Ibid., 739.00/11-1661)

He had strong doubts, however, that Hector and Arismendi would leave. He had tried all day yesterday persuade Trujillo family this only thing to do, but they just as determined to remain as Ramfis is determined to leave. They were reconciled that sanctions would remain in force and that DR would not receive additional sugar quota but thought they could maintain friendly regime in power.

President said Ramfis ostensibly trying assist him persuade uncles to go [10 lines of source text not declassified].

President urged maximum US pressure be brought on Hector and Arismendi to leave, including imposition additional sanctions and threat to use armed force, if his efforts today did not succeed. I authorized him say US Government's firm position and demand was that they leave according to plan I presented; that sanctions would not be lifted if they here and that, at best, normal sugar quota would probably be smaller; that we doubted any government could survive these conditions; that in case of threat of Fidelismo or situation such as breakdown or disorders leading to same, US would act preserve its essential interests. I offered to tell anyone, including uncles, directly of our position if it would help. President thanked me, urged that permanence of uncles' departure not be stressed to them, as this only made them more determined to stay, but leave open possibility their eventual return. I replied evident that after transitional period, whether they could return depends on government here, and they should be told best way assure any future was to cooperate now by leaving.

In light foregoing, stressed military leaders should be acceptable but I did not mention names specific officers who might be suitable chiefs services and/or council so as not imperil them. Am reserving this aspect for time, if ever, that there is clear agreement on plan.

Discussed with President possibility his resigning or threatening resign as additional pressure on uncles if current efforts fail, making clear, however, that as matters now stood, we strongly wished him to stay. His mind now inclining in direction staying in office, letting Ramfis leave, and then bringing maximum pressure on uncles. Said he would have think through consequences any action he took.

Believe our course during day should be arm me with additional specific pressures which can bring to bear to re-enforce President. Can I say we will propose additional sanctions and, if so, specifically in what categories? Have we any influence which would curtail Dominican sugar sales to Europe and world market and/or future reduce Dominican income from US market? Can I threaten use every means our disposal expose to Dominican Armed Forces and people that they would be sacrificing selves and honor for Trujillo family interests and would have support hemisphere if they rid themselves of Trujillos? Can US military show of force be prepared for use if we judge would be useful? Believe we should act as quickly and decisively for inherent danger in situation is that installation of regime under influence Hector will drive opposition into radical and uncontrollable channels which can only favor development of Castro-like movement sooner rather than later.

FYI: Reason Rodriguez Echavarria placed ahead Rodriguez Mendez and Montas ahead Hermida in our 955/3/ is that all indications are first named have enough toughness to maintain discipline and latter considered possibly too easygoing. End FYI.

/3/Dated November 16. (Ibid.)


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