Excerpt from a Speech by Juan Bosch
(given on December 10, 1962) Bosch (1909-2001, color photo) served
briefly as president of the Dominican Republic from Feb-Sept 1963.
Here he expresses his opposition to the dictator Rafael Trujillo (black
and white photo), who had run the Domincan Republic from 1930 until
his assassination in 1961. Notice the political context that he uses
to explain Trujillo's rule.
[Trujillo had been assassinated in May 1961. Bosch served as president from 1963 until the oligarchy of the Dominican Republic convinced the US to intervene and overthrow him in 1965. He was one of many progressive leaders who fell to US interventionism or to military dictatorship during the 1960s.]
Our actions against Trujillo are clear: we never hurled an insult against the tyrant. Our democratic work took us to direct the Institute of Political Education of San José de Costa Rica, which is a political university, the only one in the Americas, devoted to scientific teaching what democracy is and how it should be. Our democratic struggle has made us friends, and not lightly but true friends, of men like Romulo Betancourt [Peru] and Jose Figueres [Costa Rica], Victor Raul Haya de la Torre [Peru], and Luis Muñoz Marín [governor of Puerto Rico], and all those men were accused everyday of being communists by Trujillo. "Tell me with whom you walk and I will tell you who you are." If we are communists, so too are Betancourt, Figueres, Haya de la Torre, and Muñoz Marín.
It happens in all parts of the world, whoever fights for the unfortunate, the needy, is accused of being a communist. This is a dangerous game since it amounts to propaganda for communism when, in an indirect manner, everything that upholds justice and redemption to exploiters is branded as communism and everyone who preaches justice and redemption is branded a communist. Communism and democracy are two forces engaged in a struggle. Whoever propagates democracy is preventing the country from ever falling into communist hands;
and whoever portrays the democrats as communist agents is serving communism since he is obstructing the establishment of democracy.
Wherever there is democracy, there cannot be communism. There will never be communism in Sweden, in Switzerland, in England, in Canada, in the United States, in New Zealand. A communist government has never developed in a democracy. Communism has only triumphed in countries where tyrannies existed, as in Russia, in China, in Yugoslavia, in Cuba; and it can emerge in countries where there is plenty of misery and social justice is not reached by democratic methods.
In Cuba, tyranny and corruption, scrupulous politicians and journalists and radio as well as television commentators, the destruction of all the country's values, which were discredited on a daily basis by the parties and by a portion of the press and the radio and the television, produced the crisis from which Fidel Castro emerged as master of that country and transformed him into the absolute owner of Cuban consciousness. The entire Cuban people, without exception, have kneeled down at Fidel Castro's feet, adoring him as if he were a god. Fidel Castro was a product of the lack of faith of Cubans, because Cubans had lost their faith in everything, and a people cannot live without faith. If we destroy the faith in democracy here, we will suffer the same fate as the Cubans. If we import Cubans to do in the Dominican Republic what they previously did in Cuba, we will wake up one day with a Fidel Castro on top of a hill.
Dominicans cannot even imagine what a democracy is; they do not realize, they cannot realize it, that in a democracy everyone is respected; that no one is forced or can be forced to do what one does not want to do or think in ways one does not want to; that real democracy is the only political system which truly guarantees the freedom of man: freedom to live without miseries, freedom to educate oneself, freedom to think how ever suits one best, freedom to practice the religion that one likes. A functioning democracy has never been seen here, and there are people who are so afraid of democracy that they want to kill it before it is born, as it is being done by the ones who are killing it by cheapening the current political struggle until they have placed it, as it is today, in a quagmire of insults, infamies, and lies.
And why do they want to kill democracy before it is born? Because they already know, they know it well, they are certain about it, that the democracy that will be born, on December 20 in the Dominican Republic will be a real democracy, a democracy that will not tolerate privileges, abuses, exploitation; and there are people who cannot live if their privileges, the right to abuse and the custom of exploiting the people are taken away.
[Printed in El Caribe, December 11, 1962]