Watch: U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1965 Speech Shows One-Sided Perception of American Intervention in DR
On May 2, 1965, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson addressed the American nation on the situation in the Dominican Republic. Just one week prior to this speech, the so-called “Revolución de Abril” erupted, on April 24. The revolt sought to reinstate leftists leader Juan Bosch, the first democratically elected President since the assassination of dictator Rafael L. Trujillo, after a coup d’é·tat led Bosch to flee the country just seven months after sitting in office in 1963. The leaders behind this fight were called “Constitucionalistas,” as their purpose was to defend the progressive constitution put in place by the brief Bosch administration.
When the revolution began, the United States quickly took action and dispatched more than 22,000 troops to the Dominican Republic. In the below speech, President Johnson states the reasoning behind it.
During most of the speech, he claims that the main reason was protecting locals, and others residing in the Dominican Republic, and seeking to restore calm. He stated “We believe that change comes and we are glad it does, and it should come through peaceful process.” Yet that the U.S. hoped to become a threat for the sovereignty of the locals was also clear when he followed that with, “But revolution in any country is a matter for that country to deal with. It becomes a matter calling for hemispheric action only—repeat—only when the object is the establishment of a communistic dictatorship.”
The speech where Johnson touts how the troops were aiding the locals stands in stark contrast with images that continue to be shared on social media today, where signs reading “Fuera Yankee” and the people’s direct opposition of U.S. intervention was made very clear.
— Archivos RD (@ArchivosRD) September 13, 2017
— Eduardo Jorge Prats (@EdJorgePrats) April 28, 2017
Watch the video from the University of Virgina’s Miller Center below, or here:
The May 2, 1965 speech arguably bears resemblance to the fearmongering happening today, where U.S. leaders speak on issues in other countries, while ignoring the U.S.’role in destabilizing the country in the first place. The 1963 coup waged by General Ellias Wessin y Wessin against Bosch was actually backed by the CIA, also showing the selective information being given to the public.
Less than a week after this speech, on May 7, 1965, General Ellias Wessin y Wessin appeared on the cover of Time magazine, with the headline “Trying to Prevent Another Cuba”. See that cover image here.