Cloaking the U.S. Invasion of the Dominican Republic with Legitimacy


In my spare time, I like to skim U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian site and you should too. Our leaders have always been very open about their intentions. There’s not need for conspiracy theories when there’s a written record for all to read.

I do find it very strange that the U.S. has such a vast and public archive of records which detail the thinking at the highest levels of government, yet most of the population is completely unaware of this. It’s yet more proof that the propaganda system in the U.S. is very effective and the envy of the world.

Here’s an interesting memo:


On April 30, 1965, from 8:30 to 10:45 a.m., a meeting on the Dominican Republic took place in the White House Cabinet Room. Until 9:40 a.m., when President Johnson entered the meeting, Rusk, McNamara, Raborn, General Wheeler, Bromley Smith, Bundy, Valenti, Moyers, Ball, Martin, Dick Goodwin, Mann, and Vance discussed the April 29 OAS meeting (see footnote 2, Document 45); U.S. efforts to send an OAS contingent to the Dominican Republic; and the possibility of sending Martin to the Dominican Republic. Valenti’s handwritten notes of the remainder of the meeting follow:

“Martin: Has doubts about the Communists in charge—CIA has no doubts. Rebels are not all of the same stripe. With [American] troops in the country it is difficult to talk with the rebels.

“LBJ: I am not willing to let this island go to Castro. OAS is a phantom—they are taking a siesta while this is on fire. How can we send troops 10,000 miles away and let Castro take over right under our nose. Letʼs just analyze—we have resisted Communists all over the world: Vietnam, Lebanon, and Greece. What are we doing under our doorstep. We know the rebel leaders are Communist, and we are sitting here waiting on OAS. We know Castro will hate us. We got rid of the dictator and we will now get a real dictator.

“Rusk: We can move through the OAS and achieve what you want. Martin can communicate on two levels 1) with rebels, and 2) with groups who can oppose rebels.

“LBJ: (to McNamara) Why donʼt you first find out what we need to take that island. Rusk, why donʼt you determine what it takes to make this take on the right color.

“Bundy: We have no international cover. We have no real legitimacy.

“McNamara: Danger of rebel troops and uprising in the countryside.

“Ball: Danger of junta renouncing US because they sense anti-Communist sentiment.

“McNamara: One to two divisions can clean up the island. We can have one division in 30 hours.

“Bundy: We ought to wait a day. By that time we can have some legitimate cover.

“LBJ: 2 dangers: 1) wind up with [illegible] support with Castro government, 2) or Castro-dominated in a short time. We have done little in the past several days.

“Bundy: We have done a great deal. We are talking about a division going in and we couldnʼt do that several days ago.

“LBJ: I think enough leaders are there to make it Castro. Not all Cubans were Communist. I am ashamed of the little we have done.

“Ball: But we have done considerable; we have put men ashore without real angry response.

“LBJ: I want McNamara to get ready so that Castro cannot take over.

“McNamara: Before we move, open press corps—show evidence of Castro takeover—evidence irrefutable. Until we act, Castro will be in command of the island—China Reds. Call on Latin American countries to join US in support to crush Communist threat. Call on Dominican Republic citizens to organize their own government. Must have some government to get behind. Asked US to come in to save their island from communism.

“LBJ: I want US to feverishly try to cloak this with legitimacy. We cannot stand with our hand in our pocket and let Castro win. Military get ducks in a row. Diplomats see if we can do anything to get observers in here or troops from other Latin American countries. We are willing to do whatever is necessary to put the pistols down. We will have one of 3 dictators: 1) U.S., 2) Moderate dictator, 3) Castro dictator.

Pause here for moment. Notice how Johnson acknowledges that Dominicans will have to live with 1 of either 3 dictators, one of which may be a U.S. backed dictator. Things that make you go hmmm…

“Bundy: Here are some thoughts that may or may not be helpful to you. One thing is clear: a Castro victory in the D.R. would [be] the worst domestic political disaster we could possibly suffer. But in order to quash Castro in D.R. we need above all else to get hemispheric public opinion on our side. We can do it this way: Before we move call an open press conference. 1. Show indisputable evidence that Castro-Communists are in control in the D.R. (CIA ought to prepare full dossiers) Vital that this [be] proven without a doubt. If can be linked to Chinese reds all the better. 2. Call on D.R. citizens to rise up (if at all possible, a group of responsible D.R. Citizens should cry out for US to save them from Castro). 3. Call on Latin-American countries to join with us—(if we can announce 2–3 or 4 countries who are with US all the better). 4. Give the choice: stand by [and] do nothing, let Castro take over or with the OAS and local entreaties move in to quell the Castro people and save this island from black darkness. We must lay the public opinion base—a clear choice: freedom versus Castro; citizens cry out for help versus Castro reds.”

Thanks for reading,


Handwritten notes by Jack Valenti, Special Assistant to the President, from White House Cabinet Room Meeting, April 30, 1965.

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