ACTIVITIES OF THE COMMISSION
In accordance with the decisions taken by the Commission at its
Eleventh and Twelfth Sessions, in order to maintain representation in
the Dominican Republic at all times until the government elected in the
balloting of June 1, 1966, took office, some members went to that
During this period the following members served as
representatives of the Commission: Professor Manuel Bianchi (Chairman),
Mrs. Angela Acuña de Chacón, Profesor Carlos A. Dunshee de Abranches,
Dr. Daniel Hugo Martins, and Dr. Durward V. Sandifer.
Upon the conclusion of their respective missions, each of these
representatives presented a confidential report containing an account of
the activities performed and the observations and recommendations he
In the performance of its work the Commission interviewed the
authorities of the Provisional Government, members of the Ad Hoc
Committee of the Organization of American States, religious, civil,
military, and judicial authorities, workers’ and civic groups,
diplomats, and private citizens, political leaders, and candidates for
public office in the elections of June 1, 1966, and all persons who
asked to be heard, especially during the visits to the interior of the
country, where it gave ample opportunity to all the people to appear
before the Commission to express their points of view or their
complaints on alleged violations of human rights.
On several occasions the Commission visited the Provisional
President of the Republic, Dr. García Godoy, who at al times gave it
full cooperation. A few days before assuming the presidency, Dr. García
Godoy visited the offices of the Commission and expressed his agreement
with the work being done to assure that human rights would be respected.
As a result of the discussions the Commission held with members
of the judiciary, it was observed that certain difficulties existed for
the performance of judicial functions, among which the principal ones
were the following:
lack of guaranties for the judges of the first instance, who could be
dismissed or transferred for political reasons;
to comply with judicial decisions, on the part of some authorities,
especially de armed forces;
to use the recourse of habeas corpus, even though it was set forth in
detail in Law 5353 of October 22, 1914, because it was believed that the
coercing authorities would not comply with the provisions ordering its
impossibility of making a complete judicial investigation of the
offenses committed by military personnel, because of the obstacles
created in these cases by the armed forces.
With the installation of the Provisional Government and the
freeing of political prisoners throughout the country, the program of
visits to the penal institutions of the country was considerably
reduced. Nevertheless, in cases in which denunciations referred to
serious acts, the Commission visited prisons and other places of
detention for the purpose of verifying the facts denounced.
Complying with instructions from the Provisional Government, the
Attorney General of the Republic appointed a representative to assist
and accompany the Commission on its visits to the interior of the
country. Mr. Bienvenido Figueredo, appointed for this duty, facilitated
the interviews held by the representatives of the Commission in various
We present below an account of the most important visits:
On November 12, 1965, the Commission visited La Victoria national
penitentiary because of denunciations received regarding the arbitrary
detention of 506 farmers. The chief of the prison, Mr. Abraham Perdomo,
explained that it was a question of a brief detention, and that they had
been freed. Information was also requested on the status of certain
minors imprisoned in cells intended for adults, and the Commission was
permitted to talk with those minors. The Commission ascertained that
these minors were being held under deplorable conditions and that the
conditions of the prison in general were very bad, with a lack of
medical care and medicine.
This place of detention was visited on December 29, 1965, and no
political prisoners were found there. A second visit attempted by the
Commission on February 20, 1966, was prevented by the tension existing
in the city, where the full Municipal Council denounced to the Committee
the state of terror prevailing, blaming Police Captain José Paulino
Coma and a Lieutenant Solano therefor.
Pedro de Macorís
On January 5, 1966, the Commission visited the prison of this
city, and found no political prisoners there. On this visit, the
Commission was attended by the provincial Governor, Professor Juan
Daniel Ortiz Acevedo, Colonel Jesús Ruiz Mello, and Captains Lozada and
On March 2, 1966, the Commission visited the prison of this
place, and did not find any political prisoners therein.
On the same day, the Commission paid a visit to the prison of
Barahona, where it heard denials that the citizens Luis Tomás Aquino
and Félix Bidó were imprisoned there, as had been alleged. The
Commission was attended by Colonel José Manuel Martínez Polanco,
Commandant of the local military post. The Commission ascertained that
there was some contradiction between the information provided by the
prison authorities and the record of entry and departure of prisoners,
which showed the entry of four students sent there on orders of the Air
Force, but showed no record of their departure. The Commission was
informed that a Sergeant nicknamed “Candado” persecuted and
mistreated citizens whom he did not like.
de los Caballeros
On March 1, 1966, in this
city, the Committee found that no political prisoners were being held
and that the most complete order reigned. The Committee was attended by
the Chief of Police, Mr. Ney Tejada Alvarez.
Francisco de Macorís
Also on March 1, 1966, the
Commission visited the Chief of Police of this locality who refused to
provide any information to the Commission, when it presented certain
denunciations of abuses and arbitrary imprisonment. The Commission found
a tense atmosphere in the town, and it was informed that the military
person most active in persecuting and threatening citizens who took part
in politics was Captain Sánchez Imbert.
The Commission visited the prison of this city on February 25,
1966, and was attended by Captain John Rib Santamaría and Lieutenant
Colonel José Félix Hermida González, who reported that there were no
political prisoners there. The Committee observed that a climate of
peace prevailed and that activities were developing normally in the
On the same day, the Commission visited this island, where it was
received by Commander Sitio Muñoz Acevedo. From the interviews held
with the few inhabitants of the place it was learned that there were no
political prisoners there.
On March 9, 1966, the Commission visited the prison of Neiba and
presented to Army Captain Manuel Perelló Soto a list of persons
supposedly imprisoned there. Captain Perelló refused to cooperate with
the Commission, maintaining that he did not know the names presented to
him. The Chairman of the Commission, in the presence of the
representative of the Attorney General of the Republic, Mr. Bienvenido
Figueredo, mentioned specific cases of abuses committed, asking the
aforementioned officer for some information thereon, without result.
Numerous residents of the place informed the Commission that Captain
Perelló was the author of the abuses and persecutions denounced.
On a second visit, the same day, to the Neiba Military
Headquarters, the Commission learned that Captain Perelló had been
replaced in his post by Captain Pedro Rivera, because of the
denunciations amassed against the former.
In this city the Commission also visited the judge and the
prosecutor of the district, who showed the visitors the list of trials
held in the last few months, the names of those prosecuted, and the
procedures followed in each case. It was reported to the Commission that
the climate had improved as soon as Captain Perelló had been notified
that he was to be replaced as Commandant of the place.
On March 11, 1966, the Commission visited the city and prison of
Samaná, and was received by Captain Victor Leonardo and Lieutenant
Rafael Cervantes. The Commission found 18 common prisoners and no
political prisoners. Order and normality were observed everywhere, which
situation was corroborated by the testimony of numerous residents.
On this visit the Chairman of the Commission was accompanied by
the Attorney General of the Republic, Dr. Gómez Ceara, his wife, and
the assistant to the Attorney General, Mr. Figueredo.
On this visit the Commission also visited the office of the
Government Prosecutor of the province, interviewed representatives of
the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, the Partido Revolucionario
Cristiano, and other political groups, all of whom agreed that favorable
conditions prevailed for the electoral campaign; and paid a visit to the
Governor of the province, Mr. Pedro David Rey.
On December 29, 1965, the Commission visited the city of San
Cristóbal and went through various places with the Governor of the
province. It noted that tranquility and order prevailed and that the
Provincial Electoral Board was functioning without interruption with a
view to the elections scheduled for June 1, 1966.
Juan de la Maguana, Azua, and Bani
On March 7, 1966, the
Commission visited these towns and observed that normality and peace
prevailed everywhere. It was informed that the armed forces were
guaranteeing the conduct of the political campaign.
The Commission paid a visit to this city on April 11, 1966.
Complete normality was observed everywhere, and it was ascertained that
there were no political prisoners in the headquarters of the Army or of
the Police. The Commission was attended by Captain Vitelio Céspedes and
by First Lieutenant Pedro Gómez Ríos, as well as by the Governor of
the province, Mr. Andrés Rodríguez Martínez. Various local political
leaders were visited, and they all said that there was respect for human
In accordance with the provisions of Article 36 of the
Regulations, the Commission transmitted to the Provisional Government
the denunciations and claims made known to it, requesting of the
competent authorities information leading to the clarification of the
acts denounced, as well as application of measures designed to restore
the rights allegedly violated.
Despite the fact that with the inauguration of the Provisional
Government the volume of denunciations and claims appreciably declined
during the first three months of the period covered by this report, some
acts of terrorism, violent deaths, arbitrary arrests, and looting or
destruction of property were recorded.
In the face of this situation, the Commission transmitted the
following note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Provisional
Santo Domingo, D.R.
November 5, 1965
Commission on Human Rights has the pleasure to address you in order to
make the following known to you:
The Commission has received communications in which denunciations
are made of arrests of persons by elements belonging to the Centro de
Enseñanza de las Fuerzas Armadas (Armed Forces Teaching Center, CEFA)
and the National Police, without orders from competent authorities in
any of the cases cited.
It has also been denounced that various persons have disappeared
since their arrest and that others have been killed under suspicious
conditions; and persons who it is presumed belong to the Armed Forces
have been accused of responsibility for these deaths.
Claims have also been presented regarding attacks on property of
the claimants, which were carried out, usually, during the night, by
bands armed with machine guns and grenades or by military personnel or
persons under the command of uniformed individuals.
If these serious reports were true, it would mean that Articles
15, 16, 20, 21, and 22 of the Institutional Act of the Republic were
being violated; these articles correspond to Articles I and XXV of the
American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, which establish,
respectively, the right to life, liberty, and personal security, and the
right to protection from arbitrary arrest.
The Commission believes it is its duty to remind the Provisional
Government of the Republic, through you, of the provisions of Article 13
of the aforementioned Institutional Act, the first paragraph of which
reads as follows:
Provisional Government hereby pledges to respect and enforce respect for
the human rights and public liberties set forth in the American
Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man of the Organization of
American States and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the
The Commission requests the Provisional Government of the
Republic to adopt, as soon as possible, all the measures it considers
opportune to guarantee to the citizens the effective exercise of the
rights established in Part Two of the said Institutional Act, and to
proceed to order the competent authorities to carry out the
investigations necessary to fix the corresponding penal
We hope that the Provisional Government will be so kind as to
send us the information obtained in order that we may make it known to
Accept, Sir, the renewed assurances of our highest consideration.
Mrs. Angela Acuña de Chacón
Representative of the
on Human Rights
For the Executive Secretary
Dr. Alvaro Gómez
murder of police
During the months of December 1965 and January 1966 various
disorders and cases of street agitation took place that to a certain
extent increased the violations of human rights. Moreover, the events at
the Hotel Matum, near Santiago de los Caballeros, where some Dominican
military personnel lost their lives, created a climate of tension that
had unfavorable repercussions on the observance of those rights.
On February 9, the students of the capital held a demonstration
in front of the National Palace. During the morning of that day, the
Commission was informed that the students had been machine-gunned by the
police, with several of them being killed and several wounded. Later the
Commission received various denunciations from relatives of students who
had been victims of the firing.
Despite the fact that these denunciations were processed rapidly,
the Commission did not hear that any investigation of responsibilities
was made in this case.
The violence employed against the students resulted in a series
of acts of reprisal that caused the death of various police officers,
one of whom was burned by the mob in Padre Billini Street in front of
the Liceo Salomé Ureña.
The Commission recorded its repudiation of such acts and
requested the Dominican authorities and people to give the cooperation
essential for achieving due respect for the rights of the individual.
Despite the good disposition of the Provisional Government to
enforce respect for human rights, there were certain factors that
prevented it from investigating the denunciations that the Commission
transmitted to it. Among these factors the principal ones were the
a. The resistance of some
military authorities and difficulties of a political nature; and
b. The lack of specialized
personnel and of the technical and scientific means for effectively
conducting the investigations of the cases denounced.
With the appointment of a new Chief of National Police, on
February 10, 1966, respect for authority was considerably restored and
attacks and other acts of violence ceased to a striking degree.
The Commission received requests, both from individuals and from
authorities of the Provisional Government or members of the Ad Hoc
Committee, that it grant asylum to people being persecuted or pursued
for political reasons.
Despite the fact that the Commission, in each case in which it
was asked for asylum, made it clear that it had neither the power nor
the means to grant it, in exceptional circumstances and for humanitarian
reasons it made arrangements to provide temporary lodging to persons
who, on the eve of leaving Dominican territory and with all their
documents in order, were the object of serious threats against their
The Commission continued to receive denunciations and claims
regarding damage to property as a result of the events that occurred in
the country since the beginning of the revolutionary movement in April
1965. On January 12, 1966, it delivered these to the official designated
by the General Secretariat of the Organization to deal with these
On January 10, 1966, the Provisional Government invited the
Chairman of the Commission, together with the members of the Ad Hoc
Committee, the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps accredited in Santo Domingo,
and the Representative of the United Nations, to use their good offices
to guarantee the prompt departure from the country of the
Constitutionalist military personnel appointed to diplomatic posts and
the integration into the regular armed forces, without difficulties, of
the principal group of the General Gregorio Luperón Mixed Brigade,
lodged at the “27 de febrero” camp.
The Chairman of the Commission participated in various meetings
with the other representatives mentioned above, to contribute to the
achievement of the objectives proposed.
Later, the Ad Hoc Committee, in the exercise of its powers,
adopted a series of measures to guarantee the lives of the military
personnel stationed at the aforementioned camp, entrusting the
Inter-American Peace Force with protecting the physical integrity of
On January 24, 1966, the Representative of the Ad Hoc Committee,
Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker, communicated to the Commission the text of
the measures adopted to achieve the effective observance of the right to
life, with respect to the said Dominican military personnel.