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Juan Bosch

writer; President of the Dominican Republic, 1963

Juan Bosch

Juan Emilio Bosch Gaviño was born in La Vega, Dominican Republic, on June 30, 1909. Largely self-educated, he first gained recognition as a writer with the publication of Camino Real (1933), Indios (1935), and La Mañosa (1936).

An ardent opponent of General Rafael Trujillo, Bosch was forced into exile in 1937. In 1939, while living in Cuba, he helped found the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), which became the most influential of the exile groups opposed to the Trujillo regime. Between 1944 and 1952, he held various posts in the Cuban government In 1958, he was forced to flee Cuba when General Fulgencio Batista ordered his arrest and extradition, and subsequently lived in Costa Rica and Venezuela. During this time he also gained a considerable reputation as an important literary figure, specializing in short stories and also writing frequent sociological and political studies on his native country.

Allowed to return to the Dominican Republic following the June 1961 assassination of General Trujillo, Bosch beame the PRD's candidate for the presidency. During the campaign he promised a program of economic diversification and a division of Trujillo's lands, promises that earned him much support from the peasantry. He also appealed to the middle class and to intellectuals and, on December 20, 1962, he was elected President with 628,495 of the more than 1,000,000 votes cast; the PRD won 22 of the 27 Senate seats and 48 of the 74 House seats. He was inaugurated on February 27, 1963.

Once in office, Bosch's liberal constitution (promulgated on April 29, 1963) and promise of land reform quickly earned the hatred of the four of the most powerful groups in the country: landowners, who were frightened by his prohibition against plantation-type farms; the Roman Catholic Church, which disliked the secular nature of the constitution; industrialists, who thought the constitution was too worker-oriented; and the military, which saw its powers curtailed. He was also criticized by the United States, which believed he was creating a communist state. Although even his critics agreed that Bosch's government was honest, they considered it inept and incapable of undertaking real reform. His administration was also seriously hampered by a major dispue with Haiti that began on April 26 with Haitian troops entering the Dominican embassy in Port-au-Prince and arresting 22 political refugees.

On September 25, 1963, Bosch was deposed in a bloodless military coup and charged with corruption and promoting communism. He was released on September 28, and was granted asylum in Puerto Rico by Governor Luis Muñoz Marin on October 1.

After the coup against him, Bosch sacrificed some popular support by remaining in Puerto Rico, while a militant faction of the PRD fought to restore him as President. Allowed to return to the Dominican Republic in September 1965, Bosch agreed to take part in the 1966 elections. Fearful for his safety, however, he put little real effort into his campaign and lost decisively to Joaquin Balaguer. Both he and his party boycotted the 1970 elections, but by 1973 the PRD was ready to rejoin the political process. By then, however, the PRD had become faction-ridden, so Bosch formed the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD). In subsequent presidential elections, Bosch repeatedly lost but claimed vote fraud. He last ran for president in 1994, finishing third.

Juan Bosch died in Santo Domingo on November 1, 2001.


Encyclopædia Britannica
The Guardian

See Also

Rafael Trujillo
Fulgencio Batista
Costa Rica
Puerto Rico

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The Robinson Library >> Dominican Republic

This page was last updated on 09/25/2018.