ACTIVITIES IN THE TERRITORY OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
1. With authorities from the Constitutional Government
On Thursday, June 3, the Chairman of the Commission, the Executive Secretary, and a staff member of the Secretariat of the Commission went to the Copello Building in the Dominican capital and spoke with Colonel Francisco Caamaño, President of the Constitutional Government. Colonel Caamaño, accompanied by Dr. Héctor Aristy, Minister of the Presidency, Dr. Jottín Cury, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and other authorities of that government, received the Commission.
The Chairman of the Commission referred to the mission he proposed to carry out, and pointed out that he hoped to have full cooperation from the authorities of the Constitutional Government.
Colonel Caamaño expressed his gratification at the presence of the Commission and offered to provide it with all the facilities needed to carry out its mission. He stated that the Commission would be entirely free to visit the Ciudad Nueva and to enter the jails or places of detention in that city, and that it could talk freely to all persons who were detained therein. Dr. Curry turned over to the Chairman of the Commission a document containing a list of the violations of human rights committed by authorities of the so-called Government of National Reconstruction.
At a later date, the Commission held another interview with Colonel Caamaño and other members of his government, as well as with the mayor of Ciudad Nueva, Sr. Víctor Peguero, and with the military chiefs in charge of prisons.
2. With authorities from the Government of National Reconstruction
On the same day, June 3, the Commission held an interview with the President of National Reconstruction, General Antonio Imbert Barreras, who was accompanied by Dr. Horacio Vicioso Soto, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and other members of his Cabinet.
The Chairman of the Commission referred to the work his agency planned to undertake in the Dominican Republic to ensure respect for human rights, and to his end he requested the cooperation of the Government of National Reconstruction.
General Imbert expressed his gratification by the presence of the Commission once again in the Dominican Republic, and referred to the work performed by this agency in the country since 1961. He offered to provide all the facilities needed for the fulfillment of its mission and pointed out that the Commission was completely free to travel throughout the country, to visit prisons and other places of detention, to talk to authorities, individuals or political prisoners under his jurisdiction, without any kind of restriction.
On subsequent dates, the Commission held further interviews with General Imbert, to discuss new matters related to its tasks, as well as with Foreign Minister Vicioso, the Attorney General of the Republic, and other authorities of that government.
3. With the Secretary General of the Organization of American States
On June 2, upon his arrival in the Dominican capital, the Chairman of the Commission, first of all, held an interview with the Secretary General of the OAS, Dr. José A. Mora. Professor Manuel Bianchi expressed to the Secretary General the gratification of the Commission with the request that that body be present in the Dominican Republic for the purpose of attending to the numerous cases involving violations of human rights.
The Secretary General of the Organization, after referring to the work done by the Commission in the Dominican Republic since 1961, advised the Chairman of the Commission of various denunciations that had been received regarding serious and repeated violations of human rights, which had convinced him, of the essential and urgent need for the presence of the Commission in Santo Domingo.
On subsequent dates, the Chairman of the Commission, as well as its representatives, held interviews with the Secretary General of the OAS, to acquaint him with the measures undertaken by the Commission and to give him information turned over to the Commission on problems within the jurisdiction of the General Secretariat.
4. With the Ad Hoc Committee of the Tenth Meeting of Consultation
The Chairman of the Commission and the other members that represented this body in the Dominican Republic held various interviews with Ambassadors Ellsworth Bunker, Clairmont Dueñas, and Ilmar Penna Marinho, members of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Tenth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, to discuss the cases that raised problems or made requests on matters within the jurisdiction of the aforementioned Committee.
On the other hand, the Ad Hoc Committee turned over various denunciations and documents related to violations of human rights, requesting that these be handled by the Commission.
5. With the Chief of the Inter-American Peace Force
The Chairman of the Commission visited the Commander in Chief of the Inter-American Peace Force, General Hugo Panasco Alvim, at his headquarters in Santo Domingo, on June 13, 1965, for the purpose of acquainting him with the work this body was doing in Dominican territory, and of requesting the cooperation of the Inter-American Peace Force for the better fulfillment of its task.
General Panasco Alvim was keenly interested in the work of the Commission, and offered it his entire cooperation.
Later on the Commission’s Representative, Dr. Carlos Alberto Dunshee de Abranches, interviewed the aforementioned General and again referred to the desirability of obtaining his full cooperation in order to accomplish most fully the aims of the Commission.
6. With the Papal Nuncio
The Chairman of the Commission, on various occasions, held interviews with the Papal Nuncio in Santo Domingo, Monsignor Emmanuel Clarizio, and requested his cooperation in the work of this body. The prelate showed a decided interest in the work of the Commission, and offered to put at its disposal all of the information he had assembled in the field of human rights.
The Papal Nuncio cooperated closely with the Commission in the solution of various problems related to the freedom and security of Dominican citizens.
7. Relations with the Representative of the United Nations
On several occasions, the Commission received visits from Dr. José A. Mayobre, representative of the United Nations Secretary General, and from General Indar Jit Rykttie, military adviser of the world organization.
On June 2, 1965, General Rykttie visited the Chairman of the Commission to inform him, in the absence of the United Nations representative, Dr. Mayobre, that the United Nations would be quite willing for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to be the sole organization in charge of matter concerning respect for human rights in the Dominican Republic. To this end, he stated that the representation of the United Nations General Secretariat in the Dominican Republic would put at the disposal of the Commission all of the denunciations that it had received regarding violations of human rights. This statement of the United Nations Military Adviser was confirmed on various occasions by the Secretary General’s representative, Dr. Mayobre, who several times also requested the Commission to act in clearing up certain denunciations.
In accordance with this commitment, representatives of the United Nations transferred to the Commission, on June 3, 1965, the denunciations and complaints regarding violations of human rights that they had received, as well as other background material related to the situation regarding those rights. For its part, the Inter-American Commission gave permission to representatives of the world organization, in specific cases, to accompany it on its trips to the interior of the country, as well as in the examination of denounced acts, as for instance the case of Hacienda Haras, and the visits to Isla Beata and to the naval base of Las Calderas.
B. Denunciations, communications, complaints, and requests presented
to the Commission
After its arrival in the Dominican Republic, the Commission received a large number of denunciations, some written and some oral, of acts in violation of the most elementary rights of the individual, as stated in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. Those denunciations were forthcoming from both governments established in the Dominican territory, as well as from private parties, workers’ unions, professional societies, and civil servants whose rights had been violated.
The number of denunciations corresponding to concrete cases of persons imprisoned for political reasons had exceeded 1,500 when the Provisional President, Dr. Héctor García Godoy, took office.
The number of communications addressed to the Commission to explain serious questions, such as the disappearance and execution of persons, beatings, and tortures, had been more than 200 by the same date.
The Commission recorded more than 100 cases of damaging, destruction, and plundering of properties.
Moreover, an equal number of communications of a general character were recorded, which included requests for safe conducts, consular visas, and special permits to leave or enter Dominican territory.
In all cases, the Commission proceeded to consider the denunciations and to process them in accordance with its powers, taking into consideration the special circumstances prevailing in the country which affected the full exercise of power by a lawful regime.
The Commission was aware, from the start that the denunciations referred mainly to the right to life, the right to liberty and personal security, the right of protection from arbitrary arrest, and the right to inviolability of the home. Hence the Commission centered its efforts on the protection of those rights, especially the right to life, liberty, and personal security. In this respect, the Commission undertook measures to prevent the execution of persons arrested or imprisoned, and to locate missing persons. In all cases involving the possibility of execution by shooting, the Commission got immediately in touch with the authorities of one or the other government.
The Commission addressed regularly to both Governments lists of missing persons, or of those who had been arrested but whose whereabouts were unknown. It was verified, in this connection, that in some places of detention no lists could be found of the persons detained or freed, a fact that prevented or rendered difficult the search for persons allegedly missing.
The Commission received some denunciations of executions by shooting, or of such imminent happenings, that proved to be false. This was the case with the denunciation received on June 12, 1965, in which the Commission was informed that General Pedro Santiago Rodríguez Echevarría and four officers, who were imprisoned at San Isidro Base, were in imminent danger of being executed, or had already been so treated.
In this case, the Commission visited the San Isidro jail the same day, and was able to verify the inaccuracy of the denunciation, inasmuch as it was able to interview the five officers concerned.
The same thing happened in the case of the denunciation addressed to the Commission on June 28, 1965, in which it was stated that 16 conscripts of the National Police had been executed in the Ozama Fortress on June 19, and that their bodies had been burned.
From the investigation made by the representative of the Commission, Professor Abranches, assisted by staff members of the Secretariat, it was proved that the alleged executions had not taken place.
As of the beginning of August 1965, the Commission had the following available data:
Persons missing 124
Persons buried in the Obrero Cemetery
Persons buried in the Los Minas Cemetery
A majority of the claims and complaints received referred to violations of the right to liberty and personal security. The Commission was asked to obtain the freedom of persons imprisoned for political reasons, but against whom no concrete charges had been brought. The Commission’s intervention was also requested to prevent the execution of prisoners during their transfer from one prison to another, as well as to better their treatment, to obtain permission for them to receive visits from their relatives, or to change cells for reasons of health.
The Commission’s work, as regards denunciations of violations of the right to liberty and personal security, consisted in communicating to the authorities of both governments the pertinent parts of the denunciations it received, and obtaining from those authorities explanations on the questions raised therein, while a representative of the Commission, assisted by staff members of the Secretariat, was visiting the prison in question to verify the alleged acts. The Commission made repeated visits to the following prisons: La Victoria National Penitentiary, National Police Palace, San Isidro Air Base, Armed Forces Training Center at San Isidro, Transportation Building, Ozama Fortress, Salomé Ureña School, Palace of Justice, all situated in the Capital or in its suburbs.
The most important prisons, which were under the control of the Government of National Reconstruction, were La Victoria National Penitentiary, located a few kilometers from the Capital, and the National Police Palace, in Santo Domingo proper, as well as jails located at certain military bases, such as that of San Isidro and the so-called Transportation Building, where the arrested persons were taken before being transferred to a permanent prison.
In the interior of the country all prisons were under the authority of the Government of National Reconstruction.
In the zone under the jurisdiction of the jurisdiction of the Constitutionalist Government there were fewer prisons and a much smaller number of prisoners, due to the fact that the territory was very small. The main prison was the Ozama Fortress, the only one that had actual cells. Other prisons were improvised in the Salomé Ureña School and in the Palace of Justice, or of the Courts.
The Commission took cognizance of the alleged existence of prison and concentration camps in various places in the zones of one or other government, but this could not be verified.
The existence of a political prison at the military base of Sans Souci, located in one of the banks of the Ozama River, and near its mouth, was made known to the Commission. According to the information given to the Commission by the United States authorities in charge of this base, there was only one place of detention where persons were shut up for purposes of investigation.
Only in a few instances was the Commission prevented from entering the prisons. One was on June 24, 1965, when the representative of the Commission was prevented from entering the San Isidro Base to visit certain army officers imprisoned therein. The other was on June 26, when the representative of the Commission was prevented from visiting political prisoners who were in San Francisco de Macorís as a result of the insurrection that had broken out in that city the day before.
Because of this, the representative of the Commission, Dr. Abranches, addressed a note of protest to the Government of National Reconstruction on June 26, 1965.1
On July 3, 1965, the Chairman of the Commission was prevented from carrying out his functions in the same city of San Francisco de Macorís, when the military chief of that city avoided the interview requested by Professor Bianchi, who was accompanied by Dr. Sandifer, a member of the Commission, and a staff member of the Secretariat.
On the same date, the Chairman of the Commission addressed the Government of National Reconstruction to explain the situation and express his protest.2
In both cases the Government of National Reconstruction gave explanations of the reasons that led the authorities to prevent the visit. The said government reiterated its intention of permitting the visits without restrictions, provided, however, that the corresponding authorities were previously notified.
The Commission gave special attention to the case of minors imprisoned both in the Capital and in the interior of the country. Among the measures undertaken by this body, it is worth quoting from the communication addressed to the Government of National Reconstruction by Mrs. Angela Acuña de Chacón, the text of which portion is as follows:
… The Commission, moreover, wishes to ask the Members of the Board of Investigation and Review that they especially consider the cases involving imprisonment of minors, and that they take into consideration the fact that, in accordance with modern penal law doctrines and general legal principles commonly accepted by civilized nations, a minor cannot be held as much responsible as one who has attained majority. It would be well for the Board of Investigation and Review, as regards minors, to consider the matter of the minority of the offender as an extenuating circumstance, and in the case of conviction of a minor, it would be well for the Board to order his commitment to a correctional establishment for minors.3
Designation of a Liaison Officer
In consequence of these and other difficulties, and at the suggestion of the Commission, the Government of National Reconstruction designated the lawyer-Colonel, Dr. Rafael Emilio Saldaña, a member of the National Army, as liaison officer between the Armed Forces of that government and the Commission. The appointment of Colonel Saldaña allowed this inter-American body to accelerate the measures, procedures, and requests for information with the authorities of that government, and facilitated the communication between the two parties especially in urgent cases where the life of a prisoner or arrested person was involved.
Action with the Attorney General of the Republic
Many activities were conducted by the Commission before the Attorney General of the Republic involving the right to liberty and personal security, especially in cases of the transfer of non-military political prisoners, the system of visits, and aspects of applicable criminal or procedural legislation.
Number of political prisoners
While no precise figures could be obtained for the number of political prisoners in Dominican prisons from the beginning of the crisis until the installation of the Provisional Government, the Commission estimates that they numbered more than 4,000 at the beginning of June, a number that was gradually reduced as the work of the Commission progressed.
At the beginning of August 1965, the approximate number of political prisoners in the country’s main prisons was the following:
Government of National Reconstruction
La Victoria Penitentiary:
National Police: 50
San Isidro: 80
Included in the last item are the following prisons: San Francisco de Macorís, San Cristóbal, Azua, Santiago Rodríguez, Baní, Las Calderas, Bonao, Dajabón, El Ceibo, Mao Fortress, Sabana Grande de Boyá Fortress, La Romana Police, Puerto Plata, Samaná, Salcedo, and Beata Island.
Work of the Investigating and Review Board of the Government of National Reconstruction
On May 27, 1965, the Investigating and Review Board appointed by the Government of National Reconstruction began its work of finding out about the reasons underlying the imprisonment of numerous persons as a result of the events that took place in the Dominican Republic on April 24, 1965. The authorities of that government put at the disposition of the Commission the lists of persons who were being released by order of the Board. The first of those lists is dated May 27, 1965, and the others consecutively up to July 15, 1965.
On the later date, the activity of the Investigating and Review Board was paralyzed.
Following certain steps by the Commission, and with the cooperation of Colonel Saldaña, the Board was again established on July 27, 1965, and was composed of Colonel Rafael Oswaldo Leger Báez, of the National Army; Lieutenant Colonel Rolando Hache Rodríguez, of the Air Force; Lieutenant Colonel Eurípides de León Calcaño, of the National Police; Lieutenant Commander Oscar E. Miguel Jacobo, of the Navy, and Major José A. Rodríguez Alba, of the Armed Forces Training Center.
In accordance with the instructions given the Investigating and Review Board by the Secretary of State for the Armed Forces, Commodore Rivera Caminero, it “should meet every day … in La Victoria National Penitentiary” and “order the release of those persons against whom there is no charge”.
On July 28, the Investigating and Review Board resumed its activities, setting free 15 to 30 persons per day, and in some cases as many as 40.
In accordance with the official criterion, the procedure of the Board was not precisely of a legal nature, but rather of a summary character in order to accelerate the release of persons against whom no substantial charges were made. Those who were not released were given a regular trial, civilians been turned over to civil courts, and military personnel to military courts.
According to the information given to the Commission by the authorities of La Victoria Penitentiary, 2,189 political prisoners had been released as of August 14, as a result of the work of the Board.
According to the aforementioned authorities, prisoners had the right to legal counsel if this was desired.
The Investigating and Review Board closed its work on August 31, 1965, and sent a report to the Secretary of State for the Armed Forces in which it stated that 2,481 persons “involved in the events of April 24 and subsequent days of this year, against whom evidence was found to be turned over to the regular courts” had been released, “but upon instructions from the Higher Authorities and through the magnanimity of the Board were released”.
Action of the Commission on behalf of the remaining political prisoners
On August 27, 1965, the representative of the Commission, Dr. Abranches, had appealed to the Presidents of the two contending governments for the release of all remaining political prisoners.
On August 31, President Caamaño notified the Commission that on that day, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, all of the military prisoners in his area would be delivered to that body, and invited the Commission to receive the said prisoners. In accordance with this statement, there were turned over to the representative of the inter-American body 108 members of the National Police in the patio of Ozama Fortress, including 16 officers and 92 enlisted men. All of them were clean, and well dressed, and no vestiges of physical injuries could be found on their bodies. The transfer of the released men was made in a bus of the Inter-American Peace Force, the representative of the Commission having signed a receipt for the prisoners. One of the prisoners decided to remain in the Constitutionalist zone.
On September 1, following negotiations of the Commission with Commander Rivera Caminero and General Herman Despradel, Chiefs of the Armed Forces and of the National Police, respectively, of the Government of National Reconstruction, a promise was obtained to release the imprisoned officers the following day and the enlisted men later. This commitment was carried out at 3 p.m. on September 2, in La Victoria Penitentiary, with respect to officers, and the ten were turned over to the representative of the Commission, Dr. Abranches.
On the morning of September 3, there were turned over to the Commission 51 ordinary soldiers from the National Army, and 4 marines, frogmen, the pertinent document of receipt being signed in La Victoria Penitentiary itself.
The Commission took cognizance that on the same day, September 2, 18 marines imprisoned in Beata Island, who had been visited in August by the Commission, were released.
C. Visits to towns and localities in the interior:
San Francisco de Macorís
The Commission made several visits to this town, one of the most important in the interior of the country, for the purpose of examining the situation regarding human rights and of verifying by all possible means the denunciations presented of acts committed there in violation of human rights.
The first visit took place on June 5. A tour of the town was made, and complaints from the public were received in the central park. Some citizens told the Commission that they were mistreated and persecuted by the police and army, that their home had been searched, and that they themselves had been arrested several times without just cause. The Commission was told that some prisoners were released upon its arrival, only to be arrested again as soon as it departed.
On this occasion, the Commission visited the Military Fortress, interviewing several political prisoners there. The Commission was accompanied by the Civil Governor of the province, who helped it in its mission. At this prison first-hand information on conditions in the cells and problems of the prisoners was obtained.
The second visit took place on June 26, following denunciations received after the outbreak of an armed attack in that town. That event resulted in several deaths and injuries, as well as the arrest of a large number of persons. The authorities in charge of the Military Fortress this time did not give their permission to the Commission to visit the cells or to interview prisoners. The representative of the Commission, Dr. Abranches, limited himself to going about the town and verifying, at the door of the local cemetery, the existence of several bodies, which were allegedly victims of the armed attack. Professor Abranches protested to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the Government of National Reconstruction, to which reference is made in another part of this report, for having prevented him from visiting the prisoners in the Military Fortress and in the Police barracks of that town.
On June 28 the Commission returned to San Francisco de Macorís, and this time it was permitted to visit both places of imprisonment. The representative of the Commission was informed that the prisoners had been transferred to the Capital, and only one prisoner remained who was under investigation.
During this visit the Commission interviewed several relatives of political prisoners and of persons arrested in connection with the armed assault of June 25. Further complaints were received of acts allegedly violating human rights.
On July 3 the Commission went again to the City of San Francisco de Macorís but the Chairman of the Commission was not able to interview the Military Chief of the place, in spite of the steps carried on by the Civil Governor of the province, Mr. Alfredo Ouais. The military authorities alleged that they could not receive the representative of the Commission unless he presented a written authorization, signed by the Chief of the Armed Forces of the Government of National Reconstruction.
The Chairman of the Commission, as stated elsewhere in this report, protested to the Government of National Reconstruction over this incident.
On July 22 another visit was paid to the city. During this visit it was possible to visit the cells of the Military Fortress and interview its chiefs, who reported that there were no political prisoners there. The Commission received several citizens who orally presented some complaints and claims.
San Pedro de Macorís
This city was visited by the Commission on July 2, at the request of the Government of National Reconstruction, which declared to it that the police station of Ramón Santana, a place under the jurisdiction of San Pedro de Macorís, had been attacked.
The Commission, after visiting the said police station and taking note of the circumstances denounced, on the spot, went to San Pedro de Macorís, where it was able to see the wounded policemen and the people arrested on account of afore mentioned events. The wounded persons were at the Carl Theodore George Hospital and the bodies of the two policemen killed during the attack had been transferred to the Capital.
The Commission also interviewed Messrs. Israel Caminero, Miguel Angel Pichardo, and Antonio Beato, and Dr. Munir Kury, who had all been arrested in connection with the events of Ramón Santana.
On July 6, the Commission returned to San Pedro de Macorís to learn the condition of the wounded persons and to verify on the spot the denunciations that had been made of violations of human rights as a result of the events of July 2. The Commission was received by Colonel Gilberto Fernández Medina and was informed that Messrs. Israel Caminero, Miguel Angel Pichardo, and Antonio Beato, and Dr. Munir Kury had been transferred to the prison of the National Police in the Dominican capital.
On August 1, 1965, a third visit was made, to learn the situation of the political prisoners held there about whom relatives had stated to the Commission that they were going to be transferred to the La Victoria penitentiary and requested the good offices of the Commission so that these prisoners might remain in San Pedro de Macorís. On this occasion the Commission again visited the four prisoners previously interviewed, who had been taken to San Pedro de Macorís.
The Commission went on June 5, to the city of La Vega, where complaints and claims were received regarding acts allegedly violating human rights. It visited the municipal prison, where it was informed that there were 133 political prisoners. The Chairman of the Commission and the Secretariat personnel who accompanied him were able to speak freely with the prisoners there. The complaints stated by the prisoners were noted and their requests were forwarded to the authorities.
The Commission was attended by the Governor of the Province, Mr. Ibo Riba, the Governor of La Vega, Mr. Rafael Díaz, and Liutenant Colonel Santiago Rojo Molina, Military Chief of the place.
The Commission visited the city of Barahona on June 10. It was received by the local military and police authorities, who took the Chairman and the Secretariat personnel accompanying him on a tour of the municipal prison, where several political prisoners were interviewed. Some of them complained to the Commission about being accused of being communists, without specific charges having been presented that justified their imprisonment. The authorities informed the Commission that the judicial proceeding against those prisoners would begin on June 14.
During this visit the Commission received testimony from two Haitian students, who stated how some of their companions had been murdered in Ciudad Nueva, Santo Domingo, when they refused to join the command headed by the Haitian leader Jean Baptiste, on May 6 and 7, 1965. The authorities in Barahona told the Commission that on the day of its visit there were 64 political prisoners there.
On July 19 the Commission went again to the city of Barahona. The municipal prison was examined but no political prisoners were found there. The authorities reported that all of them had been transferred to the Center of Studies of the Armed Forces at San Isidro.
On this occasion the Commission requested information about the arrest of the Spanish citizen Horacio Pérez González, and Major Marmolejos stated that that person had been transferred to San Isidro.
The municipal prison of Baní, located in the Army Headquarters, was visited by the Commission on August 18, and 8 political prisoners were found there, many of whom had been imprisoned originally in the Palace of the Police, later in La Victoria, and afterward transferred to Baní.
These prisoners stated to the representative of the Commission their fear of being classified as prisoners held for common crimes, which would prevent the examination of their cases by the Board of Investigation and Review.
The Commission examined the cells and found them in a very poor condition, except for the one reserved for the political prisoners.
The Commission was attended by Lieutenant Vitelio Céspedes Zayas, who provided all necessary facilities to the Commission. This officer explained to the Commission that the political prisoners had been transferred to this prison at the request of their relatives.
On August 6 the Commission paid a visit to Isla Beata to learn about the situation of the political prisoners who where held there. A representative of the United Nations and foreign newspapermen were allowed by the Commission to accompany it. On this island, where a naval station is located that was under the command of Lieutenant Sebastián Escarramán Vázquez, 18 political prisoners were found, who were in a satisfactory state of health. Many of them alleged that they had been held in solitary confinement in the Palace of the Police in the capital.
The Commission verified that communication between the prisoners and their relatives was difficult and recommended to the competent authorities that they find a solution to that problem.
Santiago de los Caballeros
This city was visited by the Commission on June 14. The Chairman and the Secretariat staff visited the local prison and interviewed a number of political prisoners, many of whom had been held for several weeks without any charge.
The Commission went through some streets of the city and spoke with several citizens and local leaders. The authorities, who offered the Commission every facility for the performance of its mission, informed it that, in connection with the event of June 14, 32 persons had been arrested, but that they would be released in the next 48 hours. All told, there were 164 political prisoners.
On the same day, June 14, the Commission visited the city of Puerto Plata and made a tour of the local prison, where 4 political prisoners were found. The Commission had complete liberty to carry out its mission.
On July 8 the Commission visited the city of San Cristobal, where it was attended by Mr. José María Peña Cabral, aide to the Civil Governor. At the prison the Commission was received by the Major Martínez Puello and by the Mayor Mr. Elías Hasbún, and also Liutenant Carlos Vinicio Félix, Military chief of the place. The Commission was informed by the military authorities that on this date there were 183 prisoners held for common crimes and 11 for political offenses.
The Commission verified the list of political prisoners from its files and conversed freely with each of them. They stated to the Commission that they were being well treated but their imprisonment was not justified.
Haina Naval Base
The Commission visited this base on June 12, 1965, and interviewed 12 officers of the Dominican Navy being held prisoner in the hold of a ship of the B-A type, anchored at this naval base.
The prisoners told the Chairman of the Commission, Dr. Bianchi, that they had not been questioned since the date of their arrest, about one and half months previously. They added that their salaries were being withheld and that the place where they were being held was completely inadequate for a prison.
The naval authorities of Haina facilitated the interview but later the Commission learned that the officers who had authorized the interview had been subjected to disciplinary punishment.
Las Calderas Naval Base
The Commission visited this base on August 18, 1965, and found 32 political prisoners, all of them belonging to the Navy. The Commission also observed that their state of health was good, the food was good, and all the places intended for prisoners were clean.
Captain Rivera, the commandant, attended the Commission and showed all the buildings of the base. The prisoners were interviewed by the Commission and all of them said that they were in good health and had contact with their relatives.
On July 3, the Commission visited the city of Azua for the purpose of finding out the possible whereabouts of Mr. Arsenio Ortíz Ferrand, whose mother had denounced his disappearance to the Commission.
At the Military Fortress of Azua, the Commission was attended by Lieutenant Félix Abreu, in the absence of Captain César Augusto Díaz Tavares.
Later the Commission interviewed Captain Díaz Tavares, who gave it additional information. He also informed the Commission that all the prisoners captured during the first days of the revolution had been transferred to the capital, and that during these days no record of the political prisoners had been kept, and so there was no evidence to verify the imprisonment of Mr. Ortíz Ferrand.
In the course of this visit the Commission was accompanied by Mr. Ortíz Ferrand’s mother and by his wife, Mrs. Dulce María Campos de Ortíz.
On June 23, 1965, in the morning, the Commission was informed that on the previous day three persons had been executed in Monte Plata: the Canadian priest James Arthur McKinnon, of the Scarborough Order, and two policemen.
On the same day, in the afternoon, the Commission visited the afore mentioned place in order to learn the facts and to observe the situation regarding human rights in that place. The representative of the Commission talked with the authorities of Monte Plata, who informed him that an investigation had been started to clarify what had happened. The representative of the Commission was also able to converse with the Papal Nuncio and other persons, who provided some data about the homicides that had taken place.
The physicians Bianites Espinosa Acosta and Jorge Hasbún Roedán examined the cadaver of the priest McKinnon at the request of the Commission. Afterward they delivered to this agency the legal-medical certificate corresponding to that examination.
The Commission also received additional information about the afore mentioned events from Rafael Quezada and Víctor Alejandro Navarro, who said they were brothers-in-law of one of the policemen whose bodies were found near the cadaver of the priest McKinnon.
The Commission, in addition to asking the authorities to take adequate measures in order to clarify the facts of this bloodshed, urged them to observe human rights, especially the right of life.
1 Communication Nº 155, in the files of the Commission.
2 Communication Nº 221, in the files of the Commission.
3 Memorandum Nº 424, in the files of the Commission.