La Guerra de abril and the U.S Military Intervention of 1965


The Dominican Civil War or Guerra de abril took place between April 24, 1965, and September 3, 1965, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The purpose of the war was to restore the democratically elected president, Juan Bosch, whose presidency was terminated by U.S. backed military coup on September 25, 1963. A triumvirate was established shortly after, but dissidence and the desire for democracy produced a series of social upheavals that ultimately gained the support of the liberal faction of the military that favored a return to the constitution and the elected president, Juan Bosch. A group of military constitutionalists and Dominican Revolutionary Party (DRP) supporters then seized the Radio Santo Domingo building, issuing calls of sedition, at the same time constitutionalist officers distributed weapons and molotov cocktails to their civilian comrades. The transmissions prompted the garrison of the February 27 camp and a unit of the Dominican Navy’s frogmen to defect. Large numbers of police officers abandoned their positions and changed into civilian clothing.On April 25th, following day, President Reid appointed general Wessin y Wessin as the new chief of staff, Wessin rallied the government troops, branding them Loyalists and announcing his plans of suppressing the rebellion.


On April 29, President Lyndon Johnson, authorized the transformation of U.S. citizen evacuation operations into a large-scale military intervention through Operation Power Pack, aiming to prevent the development of what he saw as a second Cuban Revolution. It was the first U.S. military intervention in Latin America in more than 30 years.At 2:16 AM on April 30, 1965, the 3rd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division landed at the San Isidro Air Base, beginning the American military intervention in the conflict. During the next couple of hours, two brigade combat teams and heavy equipment were also dispatched. At sunrise the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment moved up the San Isidro highway, securing a position east of the Duarte bridge. The 1st Battalion 505th Infantry Regiment remained at the airbase and sent out patrols to the perimeter. A force of 1,700 Marines of the 6th Marine Expeditionary Unit occupied an area containing a number of foreign embassies; the locale was proclaimed an International Security Zone by the Organization of American States (OAS). On 5 May, the OAS Peace Committee arrived in Santo Domingo, a second definite ceasefire agreement was then signed ending the main phase of the civil war. Under the Act of Santo Domingo, OAS was tasked with overseeing the implementation of the peace deal as well as distributing food and medication through the capital. The treaties failed to fully prevent violations such as small scale firefights and sniper fire. A day later, OAS members established the Inter-American Peace Force (IAPF) with the goal of serving as a peacekeeping formation in the Dominican Republic. IAPF consisted of 1,748 Brazilian, Paraguayan, Nicaraguan, Costa Rican, Salvadoran and Honduran troops; it was headed by Brazilian general Hugo Panasco Alvim, with U.S. Army General Bruce Palmer serving as his deputy commander.Perhaps because of the overwhelming support the Guerra de Abril sustained among the peasantry and the left-wing intellectuals alike, it is one of the most studied Twentieth Centuries events in Dominican history. In 2015, a transnational commemoration of the War was organized by the Dominican state leading to photographic exhibits, publications, public events and the recognition of multiple actors in a public ceremony held at the palace. Aside from a hand full of women, Yolanda Guzman, Piky Lora and Teresa Espaillant, all photographs, books, and public consecrations of the heroes of the 1965 war were men. Yet oral narratives, collective memory as well as preliminary research conducted by Margarita Cordero, demonstrate that the 1965 war would have not been possible had it not been for the women who risked their lives transporting weapons, serving as messengers, tricking the Marines or combating in battle. Despite their contribution, the majority of women of La Guerra de Abril have been relegated to obscurity by a male-dominated archive.

Date: April, 1965