VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS
As was indicated in the preceding chapter, the Committee found, from the outset, that the denunciations, communications, and complaints received referred, generally speaking, to violations of the right to life, of the right to liberty and personal security, of the right of protection from arbitrary arrest, and of the right to inviolability of the home. As a result of this situation, the Commission’s activities were directed mainly toward ensuring respect for those rights, toward seeing that humane treatment was given to all political prisoners, toward bringing an end to the tortures and cruel punishments to which some of them were being subjected, and toward the release of those persons against whom no specific charges had been placed.
An account is given below of the most flagrant violations of human rights committed in the zones of the so-called Constitutional Government and Government of National Reconstruction:
A. THE RIGHT TO LIFE
Provision of the American Declaration
The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man establishes the following:
Article I. Every human being has the right to life…
Violations of the right to life
From the denunciations presented before the Commission, both in writing and orally, from the testimony of many persons, from the evidence offered, and from the verifications made by the Commission on the spot, the following facts have been learned:
a. That in various parts of the city of Santo Domingo, in its outlying zones, and in other parts of the country cadavers have been found that, by the signs they showed, appeared to have been of persons who had suffered violent death. In some cases the marks of blows, wounds, and dismemberment indicated acts of torture or physical torment;
b. That many persons were taken by force to certain places in the outskirts of the Dominican capital to be executed late at night by agents of the armed forces;
c. That these executions were carried out rapidly, without being subjected to any regular procedure;
d. That many arrested persons mysteriously disappeared upon being transferred, by agents of the armed forces, from other parts of the country to the capital, or from the detention point called “Transportation” to other places of imprisonment;
An account is given below of some of the cases of violations of the right to life, as they were made known to the Commission:
1. Executions by shooting denounced by the Constitutionalist
In his note dated June 3, 1965, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Constitutionalist Government denounced the fact that “in the northern section of the city of Santo Domingo, under the control of the enemies of democracy, mass executions by shooting have been performed in the cemetery on Avenida Máximo Gómez and other public places which constitute unusual barbarity.”4
2. Executions by shooting denounced by the Government of
In a note dated July 21, 1965, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the Government of National Reconstruction denounced to the Commission the fact that: “For your information and the pertinent purposes, I am sending you an enclosure that gives the names of persons, most of them military personnel, who were shot to death by rebels in the northern part of the city, and whose cadavers are buried in the cemetery of the ‘Barrio Obrero.’”5
3. The case of the pilots Sánchez Pérez, Peguero Pabio, and
On June 10, 1965, a denunciation was presented to the Commission in which it was indicated that “on May 2 of this year, while First Lieutenants Pilots Carlos Sánchez Pérez and Cosme Antonio Peguero Pabio, of the transport group of the Dominican Air Force, and Mr. César Green Acosta, a civilian pilot working for the Secretariat of State for Agriculture, were getting ready to travel to the city of Santo Domingo for the purpose of taking food to their relatives, they were attacked by a group of rebels and savagely assassinated, to the extreme that some of the extremities and genital parts of the pilots in question were cut off.”6
4. The case of the Hacienda Haras
In a denunciation presented to the Commission on June 8, 1965, it was reported that several executions had taken place at the estate known as Hacienda Haras, near Villa Mella, a few miles from the capital. The report added that several cadavers of persons executed had been buried under a bridge located there. The Commission went to the place of the events denounced on that same day, June 8, and on the following day the Chairman of the Commission personally asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the Government of National Reconstruction for the pertinent information, since that place was located within the area under the authority of that government.
In a note dated June 10, addressed to the Government of National Reconstruction, the Chairman of the Commission again urged the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to send him “as soon as possible the information that may be obtained on the matter, and especially as to whether it has been possible to determine the persons who are guilty of the violations of human rights that have been denounced.”
On the same day of June 10, the Government of National Reconstruction addressed the following communication to the Commission:
Santo Domingo, R.D.
June 10, 1965
I have the honor to refer to your note of this date relative to acts that are supposed to have occurred in recent weeks in the vicinity of the “Las Haras” ranch, on the occasion of sending you herewith documentation from the Secretariat of State for the Armed Forces and the National Police, from which it is clear, as a result of the preliminary investigations carried out, that the acts denounced were possibly committed by a small group of armed civilians. These, under the protective cover of darkness and beyond the pale of the law, continue beating defenseless citizens who live in the zones bordering the capital city where they took refuge after escaping the police action carried out by the Armed Forces in order to bring normal conditions to the northern sector of Santo Domingo.
In the interest of clearing up these acts exhaustively, the Government of National Reconstruction has ordered an additional investigation by the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic, the results of which I shall be glad to report to you, since the Government intends to avoid a repetition of acts similar to those denounced, as is clear from the instructions issued by the Secretariat of State for the Armed Forces to its military dependencies to intensify vigilance in the northern zone of the city, where the acts denounced have supposedly taken place.
Accept, Sir, the renewed assurance of my highest consideration.
HORACIO VICIOSO SOTO
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
This case was investigated by the OAC Technical Assistance Committee of Criminologists, who removed four cadavers from that place, made a study of them, and reached conclusions that are to be found in the report they presented to the Secretary General of the OAS.7
The Technical Assistance Committee, in addition, made investigations concerning a cadaver found alongside a road within the Hacienda Haras at a place called “Mal Nombre,” four cadavers that were floating in the Yuca River, and five cadavers discovered on the hacienda “Las Estrellas” at the place called “Mata Redonda.”
Likewise the Technical Assistance Committee made a study of the cadavers of the Canadian priest James Arthur McKinnon and of the policemen who were killed along with that priest in the place called Monte Plata.
From the examination made it was found, except in the case of one cadaver whose advanced state of putrefaction did not permit the making of a post-mortem diagnosis, that the cause of death could be attributed to wounds produced by short and long firearms.
The report of the Technical Assistance Committee gives approximate dates of death at which times the places in question were under the control of the Government of National Reconstruction.
That report, which includes an appendix stating the results of each of the autopsies performed on the cadavers, and which made it possible to identify six of the victims, contains considerations on the manner in which the events presumably occurred and on possible persons responsible.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights made available to the Technical Assistance Committee the data on missing persons available to it, which contributed to the identification of certain cadavers examined by the criminologists.8
5. The Case of Dr. Sóstenes Peña Jáquez, Rodrigo Lozada, Carlos
José Gómez, and Edmundo Díaz Moreno
On July 17, 1965, the Commission received a communication stating that, on the preceding 26th of June, 4 persons had been killed in San Francisco de Macorís namely: Dr. Sóstenes Peña Jáquez, Rodrigo Lozada, Carlos José Gómez, and Edmundo Díaz Moreno. The place where the act denounced occurred is about one kilometer from San Francisco de Macorís by the road to Nagua, on the farm belonging to Pedro González.9
In accordance with the denunciation presented to the Commission, those 4 persons “arrived at the said farm on Friday June 25 at 10 p.m. to go into hiding,” since they had gone to San Francisco de Macorís “on Friday morning to participate in the action that was going to be undertaken. A neighbor went to the town and informed against the four young men. The guard went with the same informer and assassinated the four persons.”
On July 22 an official of the Commission met with the widows of two of the murdered persons, and they verified the place of the graves.
On July 23 the Ad Hoc Committee of the OAS asked the Government of National Reconstruction to take the pertinent measures to proceed to identify the said cadavers.
On July 29 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights brought the pertinent parts of the denunciation to the attention of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of the Government of National Reconstruction.
On August 9 the Government of National Reconstruction, by means of a communication addressed to the Commission, authorized the exhumation of the four cadavers, on condition that it be done in the presence of the Government Attorney and the Medical Director of the Hospital and Health Center of that locality.
6. The case of the 14 police officers executed
On June 29, the Commission received a denunciation, signed by an eyewitness of the events, in which it was stated that “in Calle Josefa Brea, at the corner of Barney Morgan, 16 police officers were in hiding, when they were attacked by the Constitutionalists and 14 of them shot to death. They were killed as they walked out with their hands up and unarmed. This happened about April 28, 1965.”
The same document stated: “During the periods of truce, burnings and burials were observed in the patio of the Moscoso Puello Hospital, on Calle Josefa Brea. Some relatives of the victims have been removing the corpses to bury them in the cemetery. There was a grave with 15 people buried in it.”10
7. The case of the labor leader Benito de la Cruz Santana
The Commission received a communication dated May 8, in which it was denounced, by the National Confederation of Free Workers, with headquarters at Avenida Mella 40-42, in the Dominican capital, that “Benito de la Cruz Santana, a labor union leader, and others, were opposed to the destruction of the Farmacia Abelardo. For this reason, Benito and his companions were arrested and taken in an automobile belonging to the patrols to a rebel garrison located in the lower part of the city. Benito managed to escape, but three days later he was taken prisoner again in the upper part of the Capital and once more carried off to the rebel camp, where he died along with various persons who were accused of being enemies of the revolution.”11
8. The case of Ramón de la Cruz
On July 13, the Commission received a denunciation that read in part as follows: “Ramón de la Cruz was arrested by Air Force guards at his house at Marcos Ruíz Nº 12, with the allegation that Captain José Isidro Martínez, of the Air Force, had sent them to bring him in. Upon inquiry, the guard who took him prisoner stated that they had taken him to ‘Transportation’ which is incorrect for Cruz has a brother-in-law working at ‘Transportation’ who says that he never arrived there. His wife Bartolina Ramírez informs the Commission that on May 23, searching desperately for her husband, she visited the Moscoso Puello Hospital to find out whether he was there as wounded. She found a man who was digging a pit in the patio of the hospital to bury some dead people. This gentleman gave a rough description of her husband, showing her some clothes and stating that he was wearing yellow rubber slippers. She says that the clothes were his. She found the lining of her husband’s hat in Calle Pedro Olivio Cedeño at the diagonal corner, in the patio of a house there. The body had been dead 4 days and was in a state of decomposition. They say that he was already dead when they took him to the hospital.”12
9. The case of Hipólito García Marante
On July 8 the Commission received a denunciation that ran partly as follows: “According to information given them, Hipólito García Marante is buried in the cemetery of Arroyo Salado (Arroyo Hondo). García Marante was taken to the transformers in the cemetery, and they took him out of there to carry him to where he is buried. He was taken by a group of soldiers, and Sergeant Mateo, of Transportation, accompanied him.”
On Monday, July 12, the Commission visited the place called Arroyo Salado and near the locality known as Balneario del Río Salado, about 500 meters from the stream, beneath a palm tree and an avocado tree, a grave was to be seen, with the ashes of burnt objects spread around it. A rib that appeared to be human was pulled out of the grave. The grave itself was not opened.13
10. The case of Nelson Augusto Duarte Tavarez
On June 15 the Commission received a denunciation that read in part as follows: “My son, Nelson Augusto Duarte Tavarez, a second year secondary school student, having Constitutionalist sympathies, was taken prisoner by the Police of Pimentel on Sunday, June 27, 1965, at about forty minutes past one in the early morning (1:40 a.m.) and taken to San Francisco de Macorís; he was executed the same day in clear and repugnant violation of the principles rights, and laws in force.”
“At two o’clock in the afternoon of the fateful day June 27, 1965, I heard that they had ‘dragged’ the corpse of my son Nelson to the gates of the cemetery of San Francisco de Macorís. It is worth pointing out that no competent authority appeared at the cemetery to certify the cause of my son’s death and the circumstances surrounding it. After verifying that the corpse was indeed Nelson’s body and showed signs of physical violence in the head and various body wounds, his father and I and other relatives decided to bury him…”14
11. Case of the Haitian students
In the course of a visit made by the Commission to the city of Barahona on June 10, 1965, a group of Haitian students coming from Ciudad Nueva gave the Commission the following information: “That on May 6 and 7, the Haitian students Rolando Lafraiche, André Foukha, Christin Bovoir, Anaul Sevion, and one surnamed Bilbuen, were executed by forces of the command made up of Haitians and led by Mr. Frede Baptiste. That said students had been unwilling to join the said command, because they considered themselves foreign students holding fellowships from the Dominican Government and for that reason resisted the urging of Mr. Baptiste to form part of that armed force.”15
12. Case of the attack on the Ramón Santana headquarters
At the request of the Government of National Reconstruction, the Commission paid a visit, on July 2, 1965, to the locality of Ramón Santana, where the police headquarters had been attacked in the early hours of that day, causing the death of Corporal Juan Fernández Mora and Private Juan José de León Nova, and seriously wounding Privates Luis Reyes, Baptiste Alcántara, Rómulo Confesor Castillo Ramírez, and Domingo Antonio Rodríguez Hernández.
The Commission was informed that the attack had taken place between 12:15 and 12:30 a.m. on July 2 and was carried out by some 20 to 25 individuals who, besides attacking the police station, shouted to the population urging them to revolt.
The dead and wounded were taken to San Pedro de Macorís, where they were seen by the Commission. This agency also interviewed Messrs. Israel Antonio Caminero and Miguel Angel Pichardo and Dr. Munir Kury, who had been arrested on suspicion, and also the eyewitnesses Messrs. Enrique Gerónimo, Faustino Bienvenido González Santana, and Oscar Daniel Pavón Gardi, and the police officer Juan Casimiro Varas Núñez, who fled from the premises when the attack took place.
The Commission, taking into account the character of armed action that was to be ascribed to the happenings at Ramón Santana, took the necessary steps to have individual rights respected and correspondingly humane treatment given to the men under arrest. Both local and national authorities accorded the Commission every facility for carrying out the mission properly.
Subsequently the Commission was able to visit the prisoners in the National Police prison in the Dominican capital, whence they were transferred to San Pedro de Macorís for trial.
13. The case of Angel Arturo Manzueta Pujols
On August 27, 1965, the Commission was informed that citizen Angel Arturo Manzueta Pujols, who had been Inspector of the Presidency in the Government of Professor Juan Bosch, and was a Commander in the Constitutional Zone, had been executed in the Parque Independencia of the said zone of the capital.
The Commission was also informed that on August 24 Mr. Manzueta Pujols had been instructed to bring order to a place in the Constitutionalist sector where three people, including a tank driver, had been seen in disorderly conduct in a state of drunkenness. It was further reported that Mr. Manzueta Pujols took those three persons to his command, where the tank driver was killed by a third person. The next day Mr. Manzueta Pujols was arrested, and his relatives were no longer allowed to see him.
It was also reported to the Commission that on August 25 at night a group of people went to the Copello Building, headquarters of the Constitutionalist Government, shouting “death” to Manzueta Pujols and urging that he be shot. The report added that on the same night he was shot to death with two more people in the Parque Independencia.
The Commission has officially requested pertinent information from the authorities of the Constitutionalist Government, but no satisfactory answer to clarify the facts was received.
Cases of missing persons
The number of missing persons whose cases have been denounced before the Commission amounted to 124.
Some cases denounced before the Commission are listed below:
1. The case of Horacio Pérez González
The Commission was informed on June 25, 1965, that Mr. Horacio Pérez González had been arrested at Barahona late in April on the order of Major Marmolejos, then Chief of the Military Force of that city. The Commission went to Barahona to obtain information on this case, and it was informed that Mr. Pérez González had been transferred to the San Isidro Air Base. From the inquiries made at the said San Isidro Base, the Commission was informed, on July 29, 1965, that the aforementioned prisoner had been released on May 5, 1965, according to an official letter shown to the representatives of the Commission by General Juan de los Santos Céspedes, in the presence of Mr. Pérez González’ wife.
Mr. Pérez González, a Spanish citizen, worked in an irrigation project in the Barahona area, and he had established his domicile there. His wife told the Commission she had doubts about her husband’s release on the aforementioned date, inasmuch as she had heard nothing of her husband since the day of the arrest.16
2. The case of the young man Héctor Requena Pérez
On June 14, 1965, it was denounced before the Commission that Héctor Requena Pérez, 20 years of age, living at Nicolás de Ovando Nº 293, Santo Domingo, was missing. His father, Mr. Pedro Fernández Pérez, claimed that his son had been arrested on May 29 by Major Lluberes.
The Chairman of the Commission, along with Mr. Pedro Fernández Pérez, father of the young man who was missing, visited the premises of the Normal School on Calle 20, in order to obtain from Major Lluberes an accurate account of what had happened to the young man in question. Major Lluberes stated to Professor Bianchi that he had sent Héctor Requena Pérez under arrest to the “Transportation” building on May 29, based on the charge that he had been at Kilometer 6-1/2 of the Cibao Highway, together with other people, trying to disarm some soldiers. Major Lluberes insisted repeatedly that this had been his only action in the matter.
On June 16, the Chairman of the Commission went to the “Transportation” building. He was informed that the young man Héctor Requena Pérez had passed through that place of detention but that from there, all prisoners were sent to La Victoria Penitentiary. He was further informed that late in May, when the events that led to the arrest of Requena Pérez took place, no record of the arrival or departure of prisoners was kept because there were so many of them.
On July 7, 1965, the father of the missing youth stated that Transportation’s Officers Committee, which met on orders from General Martín Arana, had reached the conclusion that when the young man was taken from prison under the authority of Major Lluberes to be transferred to Transportation, he escaped from three-man military guard before reaching Transportation. He pointed out that this as not in agreement with what Major Lluberes himself stated to the Chairman of the Commission and that the said Officers Committee had refused to give him copies of the findings when he went to its office to ask for them on July 5, 1965.17
3. The case of Mr. Arsenio Ortiz Ferrand
The Commission received a denunciation in which it is stated that Mr. Arsenio Ortiz Ferrand had returned from abroad in April 1965 and that he had been arrested on June 1 in the locality of Las Yayas, Municipality of Azua, along with other persons, his present whereabouts being unknown.18
After making several attempts to locate him, the Commission visited the city of Azua where it was informed by Lieutenant Félix Abreu, in charge of the Military Fort there, that on June 1 several persons had been arrested in Las Yayas and that no record of their names had been kept, but that he did not remember the name of Arsenio Ortíz as one of the prisoners. He added that all the prisoners had been transferred to the Capital.
Later, Captain César Augusto Díaz Tavarez, commander of the Military Fort, informed the Commission that one of the prisoners said that his name was Fernández Rivas or Rivas Fernández,* but he was not quite sure of this.
In La Victoria Penitentiary, the Commission questioned various persons who had been arrested in Azua on June 1. One of them said he had seen Ortíz Ferrand in the Azua jail on that date.
On July 7 a relative of Arsenio Ortíz Ferrand reported to the Commission that he had received word that Arsenio Ortíz was in San Juan de la Maguana. On August 17 the same relative informed the Commission that Arsenio Ortíz was dead and that his remains had been buried in a place known as Agua de Vichy, where he had been removed after his execution early in the morning of May 5.
The Government of National Reconstruction, in reply to a request from the Commission, provided the following information on July 14: “In reply to your note dated June 15, I am pleased to inform you that, according to information supplied by the military authorities of the city of Azua, through the Secretariat of State for the Armed Forces and the National Police, the person named Arsenio Ortíz Ferrand has never been arrested nor is he wanted by the authorities for any reason.”
4. The Case of Teófilo Ortiz (a) Pata Blanca
The Commission received a number of denunciations concerning the union leader Teófilo Ortiz, known as “Pata Blanca,” who was allegedly arrested by armed agents of the Government of National Reconstruction on May 12, 1965.
After a number of unsuccessful attempts to learn the whereabouts of Mr. Ortiz, the Commission was informed by the Government of National Reconstruction on August 23, 1965, that “there is no information in any office of the Armed Forces regarding the alleged arrest of Mr. Teófilo Ortiz.”19
B. RIGHT TO LIBERTY AND PERSONAL SECURITY
Provision of the American Declaration
The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man contains the following provision:
Article I: Every human being has the right… to liberty and the security of his person.
From the denunciations and testimony presented to the Commission, from personal statements made to it, and from the direct evidence obtained in jails and detention centers, the following facts have been learned:
a. That thousands of persons were imprisoned in the Dominican Republic due to the events of April 24, 1965, without any specific charges against them;
b. That in many cases the persons imprisoned were not questioned for periods of up to three months, nor were they informed of the reason for their imprisonment;
c. That in some jails prisoners were kept in inhuman conditions of overcrowding, were physically mistreated, and were held incommunicado;
d. That the relatives of prisoners were often prevented from visiting them, or were told that they were not imprisoned at all;
e. That the material conditions of many jails were deplorable, and lacked the most elementary facilities required by a human being.
An account is given below, by way of example, of some cases from among the thousands that were denounced to the Commission as violations of the right to liberty and personal security:
1. The Case of Julio César Aguiar
Imprisoned at the Police Palace and transferred to La Victoria. He has been imprisoned for 25 days. Zoila Mota de Aguilar, his mother, says that she was unable to see him, although she takes food to him because the authorities informed her that he is in the abovementioned prison. They allege that he engaged in revolutionary acts.”20
2. The Case of Eddy Ramón Concepción Batista
“Imprisoned 30 days ago. They arrested him while he was going in the car of one of his friends to give some sewing to his mother, who is a dressmaker. He is in cell 9 at La Victoria. They bring him food but he is not allowed to be seen. His health is poor. He was charged with being in a car carrying a poster that read ‘people’ and was distributing pamphlets.”21
3. The Case of José Arismendi Marmolejos
“Imprisoned at San Francisco de Macorís 32 days ago. He was beaten on the same day of his arrest, which occurred at night.”22
4. The Case of Ramón Lorenzo
“His mother denounces that he was arrested 15 days ago at the front of his house. He had a wound on his head, and a soldier said to him: ‘Look, you are one of those tank operators;’ and they proceeded to beat him. He is imprisoned at La Victoria. They fear something will happen to him.”23
5. The Case of Carlos Rodríguez Fernández (engineer)
“He was detained for 3 months without justified cause. From the Police Palace he was taken to La Victoria without being questioned. He is charged with having passed a few days in Czechoslovakia, where he went to visit the steel plants just as he also traveled to 15 other European countries after completing his studies in France.”24
6. The Case of Héctor Ramón Beltré Núñez
On August 19 the representative of the Commission held an interview with Mr. Héctor Ramón Beltré Núñez at the Sans Souci Base, where he was hospitalized after escaping from a prison in the zone of the Constitutional Government. Mr. Beltré Núñez showed marks of blows and physical torture on several parts of his body, which he had suffered in a room of the so-called Argentine Republic School, located in Ciudad Nueva. He explained to the Commission that he had been kidnapped in a taxi that he had taken in good faith, whose driver took him to the aforementioned school. Here he was interrogated and charged with the death of somebody that had occurred some years before. He said he was not guilty of this death.
Mr. Beltré Núñez added that after having been shut in a room with doors and windows closed, without receiving food or water, after three days he was able to have some food thanks to the courtesy of one of the prison guards. Later on he was beaten again, along with three other prisoners, who apparently were executed a few minutes after having been left unconscious. Beltré said that he made use of the moment when his prison companions were being taken away to escape and run to the zone under control of the inter-American troops, who rescued him.25
7. The Case of Rafael Ruíz
He was detained in Santiago de los Caballeros, a this home, located at Miguel Custodio Abreu Nº 17, and was taken to Aviación. There he was slapped in the face and imprisoned for 3 days without food, beginning on May 8. He was transferred to the barracks, where he was beaten on the back and head. After being released he was seized again on May 20 in the San Luis Fortress.26
8. The Case of twelve Naval Officers arrested on board a warship
On June 12 the Commission made a visit to a warship anchored at the Haina Base, in order to have an interview with twelve officers who were imprisoned on board that ship. The military prisoners were headed by Captain Librado Andújar Matos, who spent 45 days as a prisoner without being questioned, as did the other officers. The cell was uncomfortable and dark, and they were held incommunicado until being allowed to go on deck a few days during the week in order to receive their families. They told the Commission that they had presented themselves to the command at the beginning of the events of April 24, and were then arrested without any explanation or process, many of them not being paid their salaries since April or May.27
9. The Case of Three Frog-Men
On August 20 the Government of National Reconstruction denounced to the Commission the following account:
At the Argentine Republic School where a command of the Dominican Popular Movement (DPM) is located, three frog-men of the Navy were killed some days ago, one of them being named Mendoza; every day many outrages take place in this command on the part of the leaders, who are called Chiquitín and Diquen.28
10. The Case of Lorenzo de la Cruz, alias El Pinto
On June 15, 1965, Mr. Lorenzo de la Cruz, on Tunti Cáceres 195, Santo Domingo, presented himself at the Commission office and stated that the following, while showing visible marks on his body.
Armed agents of Caamaño hit me with rubber clubs at a headquarters on Calle Salcedo near Bautista Vicini, at 4 p.m. on June 13. I was a petty officer in the Navy and Colonel Caamaño, Colonel Monte Arache, and Captain Tolentino can testify as to my conduct.
I have a loose tooth as a result of the blows I received. I never belonged to the repressive corps.29
11. The Case of the Thirteen Prisoners from San Francisco de Macorís
The young men Antonio de los Santos, José Rafael Pérez Mota, Gilberto Minaya Domínguez, Raymundo Antonio Fernández, Abel González, José Julián Zayas Grullón, Marcelo de la Cruz Ramírez, Rafael Portorreal Hernández, Pianelo Guzmán González, Luis Martínez Veras, Juan Pablo Tavares, José Nery Durán and Roberto Núñez Díaz were jailed in the Palace of the Police in connection with the events at San Francisco de Macorís on June 25, 1965. All of them showed marks of blows and injuries in various parts of the body, as was verified by the Commission during its visit to that headquarters on June 29.
The Government of National Reconstruction was informed about this case on June 30, 1965. On July 15, 1965, that Government informed the Commission as follows:
The physical lesions verified by the Commission on the persons classified as political prisoners proceeding from the city of San Francisco de Macorís, in the list sent to this chancellery, were not caused in the prisons of that city, after their arrest, but in the fight sustained with the military forces in charge of the maintenance of public order.30
12. The Case of Armando Cruz Reyes
Mr. Cruz Reyes was taken from his cell in the Palace of the National Police and presented before the Commission during the visit that the representative of this agency paid to that center on July 9, 1965. His declaration to the Commission read in one part:
I am not a frogman and I do not know why I am being held incommunicado with six frogmen. I surrendered at the Police Station on April 26 and until now I have not been questioned. My family is not allowed to see me and I have asthma, so the coldness of the cell is harmful to me.31
C. RIGHT OF PROTECTION FROM ARBITRARY ARREST
Provision of the American Declaration
The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man states the following:
Article XXV. No person may be deprived of his liberty except in the cases and according to the procedures established by pre-existing law… Every individual who has been deprived of his liberty has the right to have the legality of his detention ascertained without delay by a court, and the right to be tried without undue delay or, otherwise, to be released. He also has the right to humane treatment during the time he is in custody.
From the denunciations and declarations presented in writing or orally the Commission has learned the following facts:
a. That many persons had been arbitrarily arrested both in the zone under the authority of the Constitutionalist Government and in the zone under the authority of the Government of National Reconstruction.
b. That many arrests were made without any reason other than a mere denunciation or suspicion and employing unnecessary force and violence.
c. That in numerous cases the arrests had been made late at night, and for this purpose the doors of the houses had been forcibly opened, shots had been fired, and possessions and properties of the arrested person had been destroyed.
An account of some specific cases denounced before the Commission, as violations of the right of protection from arbitrary arrest, is presented below.32
1. The Case of Mr. Plinio Félix
A denunciation before the Commission reads as follows:
That Mr. Plinio Félix, 67 years of age, living at Calle Alejandro Fleming, corner Calle 39, was arrested by troops of the CEFA on May 21, who appeared in the house of that person and destroyed part of his furniture. It is presumed that Mr. Félix is being held incommunicado in the La Victoria prison. His relatives fear for his life because he has a cardiac lesion.
2. The Case of Gustavo Emilio Gonell
Mr. Gustavo Emilio Gonell was arrested and imprisoned in the San Luis Fortress, in Santiago, where he was beaten because he had received the members of the UN party that visited that city and informed them on the arbitrary acts committed by Imbert’s forces.
3. The Case of Dr. Amado Bolívar Vargas Candelario
According to a denunciation presented to the Commission:
Dr. Amado Bolívar Vargas Candelario, a physician on the staff of the Salvador B. Gautier Hospital, was taken prisoner in his own house, accused of being a communist because he had signed the communiqué of the Dominican Medical Association giving its support to the Constitutional Government. Dr. Vargas Candelario is being held prisoner in La Victoria.
4. The Case of the minor Felipe de Jesús
A denunciation presented to the Commission stated that:
The minor Felipe de Jesús, 14 years of age, living at La Guardia 93, was arrested in his residence on Calle 17 by the terrible and famous Balá and troops of the CEFA, on May 20, and despite the numerous efforts that were made it has not been possible to obtain any news of him.
5. The Case of the young man Julio Cabral
The Commission received the following denunciation:
The young man Julio Cabral was arrested in the afternoon when he was in his house on Calle Los Manguitos in the district of Las Sulzas. His arrest was made by agents of the Police who savagely beat him, accusing him of rendering services in a command. His mother does not know his whereabouts.
6. The Case of Corporal Ramón Pérez Matos
The Government of National Reconstruction sent to the Commission the following denunciation, dated July 27:
Corporal Ramón Pérez Matos, of the company of riflemen of the Armed Forces Training Center, was captured by a group of rebels on Avenida Duarte and taken as a prisoner to the Ozama Fortress, where he is apparently being subjected to inhumane treatment.
7. The Case of Mrs. Virginia de Dalmau
The authorities of the Government of National Reconstruction brought the following denunciation to the attention of the Commission:
Mrs. Virginia de Dalmau was arrested and molested by the rebels, who slanderously accused her of having made statements against the rebel faction. Mrs. Dalmau was taken in custody to the Office of Security, and from there to the Copello Building, after having been made to walk down the main street of the city. While there, she was kept without rest, being harassed with accusations and questions, and when finally released she was already in a state of nervous exhaustion.
In her denunciation, Mrs. Dalmau states:
I understand that various human rights were violated, to my detriment, when I was taken, under arrest, through the streets of Santo Domingo, escorted by two militia men, without any legal formalities being fulfilled, and solely to answer certain entirely false imputations made by the same person who had arbitrarily arrested me.
D. RIGHT TO PROPERTY
Provision of the American Declaration:
The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man makes the following provision:
Article XXIII. Every person has a right to own such private property as meets the essential needs of decent living and helps to maintain the dignity of the individual and of the home.
Denunciations received by the Commission referred to two types of violations, those covering personal property and those that involved problems of limitations in the use or enjoyment of real property.
In the first group, two types of denunciations should be distinguished. First, those referring to seizure of goods by troops. A delegation of the Santo Domingo Chamber of Commerce presented a denunciation against the Constitutionalist authorities, alleging that troops of that faction were entering their places of business and withdrawing goods, merely giving the proprietor a simple receipt.
Secondly, it is worthwhile to include here the case of denunciations referring to damage caused to personal property by acts of war.
Denunciations of violations related to real property were restricted to calling attention to the limitations on the right of enjoyment thereof or damages thereto, which almost always resulted from acts of war.
A typical case in this connection was the denunciation presented by various families whose properties were occupied by Brazilian troops of the Inter-American Peace Force, and who would not vacate the premises, on the ground that they constituted strategic points for them.
The role played by the Commission in this respect was limited naturally to advising those affected as to what action they should bring before the appropriate authorities.
On various occasions, denunciations were made of common crimes (pillaging, theft, etc.) committed by persons against private property which facts were brought by the Commission to the attention of the competent authorities, urging them to take measures that would lead to preventing such illicit acts from taking place.
E. RIGHTS OF ASSEMBLY AND TO FREEDOM OF OPINION, EXPRESSION, AND DISSEMINATION
Provisions of the American Declaration
The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man makes the following provisions:
Article XXI. Every person has the right to assemble peaceably with others in a formal public meeting or an informal gathering, in connection with matters of common interest of any nature.
Article IV. Every person has the right to freedom of investigation, of opinion, and of the expression and dissemination of ideas, by any medium whatsoever.
Denunciations were received from people in the towns of La Vega, Barahona, San Francisco de Macorís, and Santiago de los Caballeros, that public officials would not allow public meetings to take place, thereby hindering the freedom of expression and assembly.
Newspapers and broadcasting stations in the areas controlled by the factions in conflict confined themselves to defending the cause of the leaders in their particular areas, and the public demonstrations they organized and authorized were always in support of the authorities of the place where the demonstrations were held.
Although unable to clear up this situation, the Commission interceded with the authorities to obtain the release of some imprisoned journalists, as, for example, in the case of Mrs. Cristine Gheury, an announcer for a radio station controlled by the Constitutionalist Government, who had been arrested by authorities of the Government of National Reconstruction and imprisoned in the La Victoria Penitentiary.
F. RIGHT TO RESIDENCE AND MOVEMENT
Provision of the American Declaration
The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man contains the following provision:
Article VIII. Every person has the right to fix his residence within the territory of the state of which he is a national, to move about freely within such territory, and not to leave it except by his own will.
Also as a result of the revolution and because of the fact that there are two governments in the republic, the territories of which are separated by the zone occupied by the Inter-American Peace Force, repeated violations of these rights have taken place, especially of the second right included in this category.
The Commission received denunciations from both governments, accusing each other of violating the right of movement.
The Constitutionalist Government accused authorities of the Government of National Reconstruction of having arrested hundreds of citizens traveling through the republic and imposing restrictions on entrance into and departure from the country, while the Constitutionalist Government in turn restricted, on various occasions, the possibility of entering or departing from the zone it controlled.33
Denunciations were also received against the Inter-American Peace Force, to the effect that movements in the so-called “supply corridor” controlled by the said Force were being restricted and forbidden.
Other denunciations referred to threats made by military authorities in the interior of the country to compel some citizens to abandon their cities. The Commission was informed of cases in which certain persons of good social standing had to go in hiding without being able to visit their homes, because they were under threat of arrest or expulsion by the local authorities.
In connection with these charges, the Commission conducted the pertinent negotiations with officials of the Government of National Reconstruction, which had jurisdiction over the cities of the interior of the country and the Punta Caucedo Airport.
In some very pressing cases, the Chairman of the Commission discussed the problem directly with General Antonio Imbert, and adequate solutions were often found for the problems brought up.
G. RIGHT TO THE INVIOLABILITY OF THE HOME
Provision of the American Declaration
The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man makes the following provision:
Article IX. Every person has the right to the inviolability of his home.
A considerable number of denunciations presented to the Commission related to violations of this right.
Most of such violations resulted from military actions, although specific denunciations were also made of police procedures in which violations of the homes of some citizens, without warrants of any kind, took place, and arrests were made.
Some of these last-mentioned denunciations involved occurrences that took place in the Safety Zone controlled by the Inter-American Peace Force and with reference to violations imputable to soldiers of that Force or police officers subject to the authorities of the Government of National Reconstruction.
Denunciations of violations of homes imputable to constitutionalist forces were also received, especially in the first days of the armed struggle.
Many denunciations were addressed to the Commission regarding unlawful entry of homes and places of business, sometimes by agents of the Constitutionalist Government and other times by agents of the Government of National Reconstruction. In both cases, the denunciations referred to searches made without legal authorization, destruction of furnishings, occupation of houses or rooms therein, destruction and pillage of shops, in both zones.
The Commission took into consideration the special circumstances arising from the Dominican civil strife, which explained in a large measure the acts of violation, search, and theft of properties. However, every specific violation was the object of a representation before the competent authorities of the respective governments.
Whenever denunciations referred to damage caused by members of the Inter-American Peace Force, the Commission turned over those denunciations to the Commander of that force. Several denunciations related to the occupation of uninhabited houses by soldiers of the aforementioned Force, with damages caused to same and to their furnishings. The Commission visited two areas of the Dominican capital where some houses had been occupied by the aforementioned forces, verifying in some of them material damage and breakage. The owners of these houses alleged that those damages did not correspond to the needs of a military nature that could have in part justified the occupation, since they consisted of breakage and destruction of items such as bureaus, wearing apparel, domestic utensils, etc., and in some instances, the theft of such items.
As regards the occupation of places of business, the Commission also received many denunciations of alleged plundering and confiscation of such establishments, especially in the Constitutionalist area, where most of them were located.
4 Document 58 in the files of the Commission.
5 Document 60 in the files of the Commission.
6 Document 24 in the files of the Commission.
7 Document 231 of the Tenth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, dated July 11, 1965.
8 The cases of Arsenio Martínez Perdomo and Mrs. Yolanda de Guzmán, a widow, in the files of the Commission.
9 Memorandum Nº 433 in the files of the Commission.
10 Document 10 in the files of the Commission.
11 Document 4 in the files of the Commission.
12 Document 43 in the files of the Commission
13 Document 40 in the files of the Commission.
14 Document 924 in the files of the Commission.
15 Document 26 in the files of the Commission.
16 Document 18 in the files of the Commission.
17 Document 20 in the files of the Commission.
18 Document 29 in the files of the Commission.
* Another name by which Arsenio Ortíz was also known.
19 Case of Teófilo Ortiz, in the files of the Commission.
20 Case of political prisoners, in the files of the Commission.
21-24 Cases of political prisoners, in the files of the Commission.
25 Document 182 in the files of the Commission.
26 Cases of Political Prisoners in the files of the Commission.
27 Document 27 in the files of the Commission.
28 Document 76 in the files of the Commission.
29 Document 24 in the files of the Commission.
30 Note 189 in the files of the Commission.
31 Cases of political prisoners in the files of the Commission.
32 The following cases are described in the record “Arbitrary Arrests” in the files of the Commission.
33 Document 58 in the files of the Commission.