39. Telephone Conversation Between Director of Central Intelligence Raborn and President Johnson1
President: Whatʼs the news this morning?
Raborn: Well, the news is about the same as it was last night. We have about 500 Marines ashore. The rebels have heavy weapons and are holed up and barricading themselves in the center of the city. And the police force are relatively ineffective against these people because they canʼt deal with these heavier weapons. They found a tank which was promptly knocked out by a bazooka. There was no report of any contact or any fighting by our Marines. Thatʼs in Santo Domingo.
[Omitted here is a situation report on Vietnam.]
President: Back to the DR thing. Do we have any evaluation of the relative strengths of what really happened yesterday that turned this around?
Raborn: Yes, we do. We have identified 8 hard-core, Castro-trained guerrillas that are—they came in, they pushed aside the Bosch people and took command of the forces. The Bosch people well, they might be slightly pink, but were not the kind of terrorists that the Castroites were. Now they took over the situation rapidly. They raided the police station, took their arms, took their uniforms, and are sort of in command of the city in spots. The regular army, their tank units and so forth just sat on their bitty box over there and havenʼt done a darned thing about moving in. I think heʼs afraid of the gasoline bombs and the bazookas in the hands of the rebels. The army officers are holed up inside the city in one or two places and seem to have lost their nerve against the hard-core and hard-nosed guerrillas. I think they lined up a bunch of people and shot them and this sort of terrorized the other folks. In my opinion this is a real struggle mounted by Mr. Castro.
President: What do you think we ought to do about it?
Raborn: I think itʼs clear we have got to take more positive action to clean these people out. Otherwise itʼs liable to drag on and on, and eventually these other folks, Castro types, will get the top hand and then weʼll have a mess on our hands. Then we will restore order and turn things back over to the Junta. We had a member of the junta who begged US to do this.[Page 90]
President: That will put US in pretty much trouble internationally with all the international organizations, OAS and United Nations, wonʼt it?
Raborn: It could sir, and I notice the OAS is meeting this morning.2 But there is no question in my mind that this is the start of Castroʼs expansion.
President: How many Castro terrorists are there?
Raborn: Well, we have positively identified 8 of them. And I sent a list over to the White House about 6 oʼclock. It should be in the situation room—who they are, what they are doing and what their training has been.3
President: What has been our problem with intelligence down there? Have we known this thing was in this shape?
Raborn: From my review of the material I think we have been pretty much on top of this. Forces are being pre-positioned and all that and ready to move in was part of the deal. I think there are some deficiencies in our ability to get a regular broadcast-sized radio aboard ship. We probably should have some aboard ship so we can reassure the population and all that sort of thing. The local radio station went off the air and the only thing they heard was from Puerto Rico. It looks to me like we ought to equip ourselves with regular household radio transmitters so the house radio could broadcast information directly to the people if we so wished.
[Omitted here is the remainder of the conversation with Raborn confirming that walkie-talkies had been distributed the day before.]
- Source: Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of telephone conversation between President Johnson and Admiral William Raborn, Tape F65.11, Side B, PNO 1. No classification marking. This transcript was prepared in the Office of the Historian specifically for this volume. President Johnson placed the call to Raborn; he and Raborn talked approximately 7 minutes.↩
- At a special session of the Council of the OAS convened at 10:30 a.m. to discuss the Dominican Republic crisis Ambassador Bunker explained that the landing of U.S. Marines was to protect U.S. citizens and to secure their evacuation. Ambassadors from Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, and Costa Rica expressed distress at the turn of events in the Dominican Republic and indicated their concern over U.S. unilateral action. The Council requested the convocation of a meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the OAS for May 1 and called on the Apostolic Nuncio, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Santo Domingo, Monsignor Emmanuel Clarizio to help arrange a cease-fire.↩
- A list of the eight alleged “Cuban-trained Dominican extremists” was presented in a Central Intelligence Agency memorandum, OCI No. 1208/65, April 29. The memorandum states: “While there is no evidence that the Castro regime is directly involved in the current insurrection, it is nevertheless clear that Cuban-trained Dominican extremists are taking part. It can be demonstrated that at least 45 extremists had returned to the Dominican Republic since last October after receiving training in Cuba and/or elsewhere in the Communist bloc. All or most of these people can be presumed to be active in the current fighting which has a number of aspects reminiscent of Castroʼs revolutionary tactics.” (Johnson Library, NSC Histories, Dominican Crisis 1965, Chron 4/24–9/21, Background Documents)↩