Republica Dominicana







Republica Dominicana

Our family moved to Ciudad Trujillo in January of 1960.  We settled in an apartment on Avenida Moises Garcia.  This later played a big part in our Dominican Adventures.  I attended school at the Colegio Carol Morgan, an American school.  My dad worked for ALCOA aluminum at their minesite in Cabo Rojo.  We alternated weekend visits to the mines or him to the city.   There is nothing like flying in an old DC-3 across a Caribbean Island mountain chain, with the word Delta barely visible under the local airline name.  

On the night of 31 May, 1961, the dictator, Generalissimo Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina was assassinated on the coastal highway to Can Cristobal.  His body was brought to the home of General Juan Tomas Diaz, across the street from our apartment.  The secret police finally found his body in the early hours of the morning and imprisoned every one in the house.  Only two people there survived, Mrs, Diaz and a gardener.  Among those tortured and murdered were the 22 year old son, Tomacito and his two half brother, ages 12 and 13.  General Diaz and the other assassins had left before the police raid.  He and two others were gunned down in front of a hardware store near Independence Park. All of the conspirators except two, Antonio Imbert and Amiami Tio were eventually killed. Several Americans who were involved were able to leave the country.  The CIA was involved in the assassination.  See the Church Committee Report on Assasinations.

The years following resulted in the election and overthrow of Juan Bosch, a socialist author who had been exiled by the Trujillo regime.  After he was overthrown the country was led by Donald Reid Cabral and the Triumvirate.  Donald's brother supposedly committed suicide after being "forced" to hide some of the assassins.  Dr. Reid was my sister's pediatrician and to this day most people believe he was murdered by the Trujillistas.  In 1965 a revolt led predominately by the socialistic Partido Revolucionario Dominicano and the other socialist and communist parties under Col. Caamano Dena began.  The US intervened and forced a settlement which led to free elections.  The winner of this election was Dr. Joaquin Balaguer, the last puppet president of Trujillo.  Despite that role, Dr. Balaguer was respected for having increased education of the Dominican people and for some of the stands he took during the aftermath of the death of the dictator.  Since these elections there have been many more.  Most resulted in election of Balaguer although there were a couple of elections he lost.  He is now about 96 and blind, but is once again running for the office.

There are many advantages to watching history being made.  I have a love of freedom and of our democracy that is founded in the knowledge of what it is like to live in a dictatorship and the chaos of a new republic.  I would not have missed it but would not want someone else to go through it.  It leaves scars that sometime never heal.

There are many good times remembered also.  My friends, Scotty Luther, Matthew Ortwein, Fabio Ramirez, Jose Lovaton, Yvonne Gautier, Jocelyn Caminero, Josephina Daniro, Babette Casse, Leo Leon and others.  The fun times spear fishing with Romeo, Chong, Oscar and Moquete and my lifetime friend, Charlie Wrobbel.  The fresh plaintain and potato chips made daily by the staff house bartender Marquito Brea.  Building a fort on the grounds of the American Embassy with Danny and Fred  Martin, sons of Ambassador John Barlow Martin.  Later used as sniper cover by the Marine guards during the revolution.  My command performance, dancing rock and roll with Vera Jean Hughson for Dr. Rafael Bonnelly, a short term president prior to the election of Balaguer.  He is one of my heroes, an honest non-political man who wanted only to serve his people.  He lived in an average sized house with few guards.  I would walk by in the afternoons on the way home from school and he would be out on the porch and invite us kids to join him for a soda or iced tea.  He was a genuinely good man.

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