152. Memorandum Prepared for the 303 Committee1


  • Presidential Election in the Dominican Republic

1. Summary

On several occasions between May and July 1965 higher authority informed [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] that the presidential election in the Dominican Republic simply must be won by the candidate favored by the U.S. Government [2 lines of source text not declassified]. Subsequently, the question of covert election support has been under continuing discussion [1 line of source text not declassified] to ascertain which candidate the U.S. Government wanted supported and [1 line of source text not declassified]. As of this writing, policy guidance is not yet available on whether or not there should be an election operation nor in whose favor such an operation should be conducted.

This memorandum solicits 303 Committee action to determine, first, the identity of the candidate favored by the U.S. Government and second, whether a covert operation should be undertaken on his behalf. Since barely five months remain before the election which is set for 1 June 1966 and since any covert operation would require considerable lead time, a 303 Committee decision is needed [4½ lines of source text not declassified].

2. Problem

To determine whether the U.S. Government should engage in a covert operation designed to support the presidential candidate most likely to be able to establish and maintain a stable government in the Dominican Republic which is friendly to the U.S. and which is capable of carrying out essential domestic reforms.

3. Factors Bearing on the Problem


Origin of the Requirement

On several occasions between May and mid-July 1965 higher authority unequivocally told senior representatives [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] that the Dominican presidential election must be won by the candidate favored by the U.S. Government [2 lines of source text not declassified].

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[1 paragraph (11 lines of source text) not declassified]

Since barely five months remain before the elections, which are scheduled for 1 June 1966, and since any covert operation would require considerable lead time, it is important that a decision be reached now. [6 lines of source text not declassified]


Political Background

The issues which divided the Dominican Republic at the outset of the rebellion have not been resolved, but the Provisional Government of Hector Garcia Godoy has made some progress in its task of reconciliation. It has reopened the divided city of Santo Domingo, eliminated the rebel zone, and established machinery for the peaceful reintegration of the rebel military and for the collection of arms. On 1 December the Provisional Government announced Law No. 69, which sets 1 June 1966 as the date for general elections for president, vice-president, both houses of congress, mayors and members of city councils, and establishes a central electoral board with appropriate dependencies to direct the electoral process. The Provisional Government has also asked the OAS to appoint a commission to supervise the elections and this commission has now been formed. It now appears probable that the Provisional Government will complete its nine-month term and that elections will be held on schedule. Pre-election activities are already under way, although formal political campaigning cannot legally begin prior to 1 March.

Although the holding of peaceful elections is of great importance to the United States as well as the Dominican Republic, real security can come only from fundamental changes in the Dominican society and economy. In looking forward it is clear that two ingredients are essential: stability, to heal the scars of a violent and lingering revolution; and reform, to correct social inequities and rigidities and to develop national resources.

In November a nation-wide survey of Dominican public opinion was conducted2 [2 lines of source text not declassified] indicated that 64% of all Dominicans believe that the arrival of American troops helped rather than hurt them, and also provided an assessment of the relative popularity of political parties and potential presidential candidates. The poll shows that only two political parties have sufficient popular support to compete for the presidency: the Partido Reformista (PR), headed by Joaquin Balaguer, which was preferred by 42% of the population, and the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), headed by Juan Bosch, which was selected as “best party” by 28% of the people. The ratings of the two leading individual candidates showed Balaguer [Page 361] preferred by 51% of the country and Bosch by 22%. (A similar poll taken in February 1965 showed Balaguer preferred by 42% and Bosch by 25%.)


Presidential Candidates

Bosch remains silent on whether he will be a candidate. He fears assassination, and prefers to remain under the protection of his armed bodyguards rather than to tour the countryside. Bosch also believes that the Dominican military would try to prevent him from taking office if he were elected. He must therefore make up his mind whether to run himself, to select another candidate to carry the party banner, or to order the PRD to boycott the elections. Since an electoral boycott would be unpopular and could weaken the PRD considerably, and since no PRD leader loyal to Bosch has emerged who appears capable of rallying the party behind him, internal party pressures may force Bosch to campaign. If he does, he will be a formidable candidate, whose charisma and forensic ability may enable him to regain much of the popularity he lost when he failed to return to lead the rebellion launched in his name.

An assessment of Balaguerʼs character, motivation, past performance and campaign platform indicates that he is, by local standards, a good executive and administrator, politically astute, in favor of democratic processes, opposed to violence, and moderate in his comments on and attitudes toward the U.S. His recent speeches, including the 28 November address which launched the PRʼs first major political rally in Santiago de los Caballeros, have stressed the need to extinguish the fires of hatred lit by the revolution so that the country can embark on much needed social reforms. The PRʼs campaign slogan and party motto is “Neither injustices nor privileges.” Although Balaguerʼs campaign stresses the responsibility of government to fight unemployment, hunger and other social ills, he is believed to feel that any lasting social reforms must be based on renewed popular respect for civil authority and that his first and most difficult task, if elected, will be to restore law and order.

4. Coordination

On 29 December [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] submitted a formal memorandum to the Department of State requesting policy guidance on the problem stated in para 2 above3 and asking that this matter be discussed during the regular weekly CIA/State meeting on 30 December. On 30 December Department representatives advised CIA that they had not yet reached a decision but that they were prepared to consider a 303 Committee paper and to take the matter under immediate advisement.4

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5. Recommendation

It is requested that:

the 303 Committee identify the presidential candidate favored by the U.S. Government;
a decision be taken as to whether a covert election operation is necessary and thus should be undertaken on this candidateʼs behalf.

[1 paragraph (3½ lines of source text) not declassified]

  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, 303 Committee Records, Dominican Republic, 1966. Secret; Eyes Only. Sent to Helms under cover of a January 4, 1966, memorandum on the “Presidential Elections in the Dominican Republic” from Broe.
  2. See Document 146.
  3. Not found; but see Document 150.
  4. No other record of this meeting has been found.