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


  • 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 [Page 630] 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 [Page 631] 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.


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.
That in the event Trujillo is overthrown and an acceptable provisional government is established:
The US swiftly recognize such a government.
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.
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.)
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.
That the US send immediately to Caracas a special emissary to:
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.
Request President Betancourt to approach President Lleras of Colombia with a view toward a similar commitment for participation of Colombian forces.
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.


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.
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.
Upon notification by the US Consul General that Trujillo has been removed from power, or that his removal seems reasonably certain the [Page 633] appropriate US military forces be immediately positioned to be able to reach Dominican territory with a minimum of delay.
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.


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.
High ranking US public officials should make appropriate and timely statements critical of the excesses and undemocratic practices of the Trujillo regime.
The US should present to the appropriate committees of the OAS information reflecting Trujillo’s violations of OAS principles.
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.
In pursuing actions along the above lines, the US should maintain flexibility of application in terms of current developments.

  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.”