224. Telegram From the Embassy in the Dominican Republic to the Department of State1

2614. Sub: PRD Presidential Candidate Discusses Military.

1. MAAG officer was paid a visit by PRD Presidential candidate Antonio Guzman, May 11. Formal visit was arranged by officer’s neighbor who is friend of Guzman’s. PRD Presidential hopeful used opportunity to inform US military of his plans for Dominican armed forces should he win May 16 elections.

2. Guzman expressed deep concern over corruption in Dominican military under current administration. He said he wanted a military which adhered to professionalism and refrained from politics and excessive money-making. To deal with problem he said he planned to gradually remove several leading general officers should he be elected, specifically politically powerful Chief of National Police MGen. Neit Nivar Seijas. PRD leader also expressed his friendship toward the US, lauded President Carter and his human rights policy and assured MAAG officer that despite the widely heard view that the PRD is left-leaning, he is not a Communist sympathizer.

3. Curious circumstance of Guzman taking time out of busy schedule in final busy days of hard-fought campaign reflects degree of preoccupation in PRD leadership over difficulties they may encounter in dealing with present Dominican military leadership. Most of these officers learned their trade under the late dictator Rafael Trujillo and for the last twelve years have known nothing but absolute loyalty to President Joaquin Balaguer. Example of this was public statement May 13 by Navy Chief of Staff Vice-Admiral Francisco Javier Rivera Caminero who, while assuring he would respect results of upcoming election, took opportunity to declare himself “a Balaguerista from the top of my head to the tip of my toes.” He said Balaguer would win the May 16 election.

4. EmbOffs have often heard PRD leaders express interest that US military establishment understand that their party is not hostile to US and use its influence to mollify the Dominican military should it come to power. (This reflects an unrealistic, though commonly held view here of degree of MAAG influence over Dominican armed forces, as well as opinion that somehow US military can act independently.)

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5. Comment: Whatever Guzman’s intentions, he has touched on a very sensitive subject. In his own public statements, he has emphasized that he would respect the current structure of the armed forces. However, he is saying in private that he would remove some key officers. It is precisely this attitude which makes the DR military hierarchy so fearful of the PRD’s achieving power. Should the PRD win the election, any precipitate moves vis-a-vis the military are likely to set off a strong reaction.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780205–1236. Secret.