How LBJ sabotaged the Dominican Republic

By Val Reynoso

After watching one of Lyndon Johnson’s speeches, I was reminded of how US politicians will use their platforms for lip service and euphemisms for imperialism in defense of the status quo which majority of citizens have accepted as the truth.

Johnson spoke about the Hart-Celler Immigration Act of 1965, which essentially liberalized immigration regulations, made family reunification easier to accomplish for immigrants, and resulted in a rapid increase of immigration especially for people from Latin America. Despite his passing of the Immigration Act, Johnson, like every other president before him, upholds capitalism, imperialism and white supremacy.

For instance, the Dominican Republic has experienced some of the worst of US interventions in all of Latin America. The First US intervention of the DR was from 1916 until 1924 because the US wanted to secure economic interests in the region and the US Navy was essentially in control of the government. The Dominican National Guard was founded by the US Navy who also trained Rafael Trujillo, one of the most brutal fascist dictators in Dominican history and in Latin America and is responsible for at least 60,000 deaths of civilians, ethnic cleansing of Haitians, tortures of activists who resisted against him, etc.

The DR had its first free elections in nearly four decades in December 1962 and Juan Bosch was elected as president. Juan Bosch was a writer, intellectual, and leftist sympathizer of the Cuban revolution of 1959 and the ideology of Fidel Castro. Bosch’s politics did not sit well with the Kennedy administration of the US at the time.

On April 28,1965—under Johnson—the US invaded the DR again, Bosch was removed from power and over 3,000 people were killed, and the US installed right-winged fascist dictator Joaquin Balaguer, who succeeded the Trujillo dictatorship for 28 years. As Fidel Castro said in 1963, “Professor Juan Bosch was overthrown because he refused to be an instrument for imperialism. The US was behind the deposing of Bosch.”

In Johnson’s speech, he also spoke in defense of Cuban exiles who fled Castro. These exiles, who are usually called gusanos by leftists, are a right-wing, wealthy extremist minority who are typically white Cubans who fled Castro for Little Havana, Miami, Florida, love capitalism and felt oppressed because they had their wealth and plantations expropriated by the socialist government to be redistributed to the masses.

Many of these gusanos were also trained by the CIA who initiated the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1963 in an attempt to overthrow Castro and reinstall another fascist like US-backed Batista, who governed Cuba before the rise of Castro. Johnson sounded like he felt sympathy for the gusanos, as if they were marginalized people rather than the oppressors.

The irony in Johnson’s new immigration act is that a big part of the reason why there was an influx in Latin American migrants to the US is because of US interventions and installations of right-winged dictators and paramilitaries throughout Latin America, such as Balaguer in the DR and Pinochet in Chile in 1973.

Val Reynoso is a Politics and Human Rights undergrad, journalist and Marxist-Leninist activist.

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