The Lingering Crisis is a series of short articles, most of them about the presidential election of 1966 in the Dominican Republic. Before the election, many liberals in the United States had become concerned at reports that violence and fraud might deprive ex-President Juan Bosch of the victory which they assumed he should win, and a combination of church, labor, liberal, and peace groups organized a “Committee on Free Elections” under the chairmanship of Norman Thomas to exert an influence for fair play. The committee sent some 70 persons to watch the elections. Another smaller team of observers was sent by the Organization of American States. Most of the contributors to the book were members of one or the other of these teams. Eugenio Chang-Rodríguez, who edited the book, contributes a chapter of conclusions, too long to summarize here, which are generally pessimistic and critical of United States policy.
All of the authors report that the election was conspicuously free and fair. Their testimony is the more convincing because they were disappointed and shocked at the victory of Joaquín Balaguer, a conservative who had at one time served as president under the Trujillo regime. Some of them found it hard to believe that the voting was as free as it seemed, and suggest that sinister influences, e.g., pressure from the United States’ government, may have been at work. They repudiate, with some heat, the idea that the outcome tended to vindicate the policy of the United States in the intervention. Their own accounts, however, make it pretty clear that the voters chose Balaguer because they preferred him.
Miss Frances Grant, who has had a long career as a defender of liberal causes in Latin America, explains why. Bosch’s first administration was a failure and his refusal to go out in the country to campaign in 1966 cast doubts on his personal courage. Mr. Seldon Rodman seems to agree, but thinks that Bosch’s fatal mistake may have been his last-minute radio message urging his followers to go to the polls armed with rocks and clubs. After what they had been through the Dominicans wanted stability, not a revival of civil strife.
Dr. Moreno’s book, Barrios in Arms, is a study of the revolution of 1965 by a sociologist who lived and worked in Santo Domingo City during the conflict. In helping to organize a medical clinic and to distribute food in the rebel zone, the author had an unusual opportunity to study the revolutionists’ organization and attitudes. He tells us more about the insurgents than any other author whose book I have seen. He thinks that the role of the communists and the Castroites in the revolutionary movement has been overemphasized. Both of the two numerically weak communist parties were apparently taken by surprise when the revolt started, though they immediately joined it. The pro-Castro 14th of July movement, which likewise joined the revolution after it started, perhaps contributed more than the communists did. Aside from the portion of the regular army which was involved, the rebel forces consisted of “comandos” led by civilians, most of whom represented one or the other of the ideological groups. The majority, presumably, were members of Bosch’s Dominican revolutionary party. How far the more radical groups were participating in or taking over the leadership of the revolution is not clear.