Monday, April 24, 2006


Remembering the 1965 Revolution in the D.R.

Today marks the 41st anniversary of the popular insurrection to restore renown author and head (at that time) of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), Juan Bosch, to the Presidency of the Dominican Republic. President Bosch was overthrown in September 25 1963 after being rightfully elected to lead the country nine months earlier in the first free elections held following the demise of the infamous dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo (an ally of the United States). A group of military personnel led by Colonel Elias Wessin y Wessin spearheaded the coup with the tacit acquiescence of Washington, abolishing the constitution in the process.

The popular insurrection that aimed to restore President Bosch to power came to be known as the Revolution of 1965, and was led by Colonel Francisco Alberto Caamaño Deño. Four days after the initial uprising, the United States intervened and occupied the country militarily (tens of thousands of troops were stationed on the island for the duration of the occupation which lasted about a year and a half – during this period, thousands of Dominicans reportedly died fighting for constitutionalism).

Howard Wiarda, in his book The Dominican Republic: Nation in Transition, notes that restoration of the revolutionary Constitutiton of 1963, as drafted by Bosch's PRD, rapidly became the focus of the Revolution: “Later, it became clear, ...that the issue of 'constitutionalism' and the principles for which this term served as a symbol were among the most important of the revolution – perhaps even more important than any of the personalities or groups involved in the conflict.” He added further on that “The revolutionary Constitutiton of 1963... did not differ substantially from the previous constitution insofar as the mechanics of government were concerned – the powers of the executive, legislature and judiciary were virtually unchanged. Where it did differ radically from all previous constitutions in Dominican history was in its emphasis on the state as a positive force in promoting social justice. In keeping with the Bosch administration's orientation, the 1963 Constitution committed the government to far-reaching social reforms ... .”

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