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Statement by the President Upon Ordering Troops Into the Dominican Republic.

April 28, 1965

I HAVE just concluded a meeting with the leaders of the Congress. I reported to them on the serious situation in the Dominican Republic. I reported the decisions that this Government considers necessary in this situation in order to protect American lives.

The members of the leadership expressed their support of these decisions. The United States Government has been informed by military authorities in the Dominican Republic that American lives are in danger. These authorities are no longer able to guarantee their safety and they have reported that the assistance of military personnel is now needed for that purpose.

I have ordered the Secretary of Defense to put the necessary American troops ashore in order to give protection to hundreds of Americans who are still in the Dominican Republic and to escort them safely back to this country. This same assistance will be available to the nationals of other countries, some of whom have already asked for our help.

Pursuant to my instructions 400 Marines have already landed. General Wheeler, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has just reported to me that there have been no incidents.

We have appealed repeatedly in recent days for a cease-fire between the contending forces of the Dominican Republic in the interests of all Dominicans and foreigners alike.

I repeat this urgent appeal again tonight. The Council of the OAS has been advised of the situation by the Dominican Ambassador and the Council will be kept fully informed.

Note: The President read the statement on a television broadcast transmitted at 8:40 p.m. from the Theater at the White House.

The following information concerning the situation in the Dominican Republic during the period April 24-28 was furnished by the White House:

"On April 24, 1965, dissident civilian and military elements, among them the followers of ex-President Juan Bosch's Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), rebelled against the 'Triumvirate' government headed by Donald Reid Cabral. They succeeded in taking over some key installations in the city of Santo Domingo, including radio broadcasting facilities over which they urged the populace to join the revolt, and began to distribute indiscriminately to civilians large quantities of arms taken from captured government arsenals. When the regular Armed Forces failed to come to the support of President Reid, he was forced to step down on April 25 after the rebels had seized the National Palace.

"During the afternoon of April 25, officers of the regular and insurrectionary forces, and leaders of the PRD and other elements met to discuss the formation of a provisional government. The representatives of the regular Armed Forces favored the establishment of a military junta and the holding of early elections. The insurrectionary leaders wanted the formation of an interim government under PRD leader Jose Rafael Molina Urena, pending the expected early return and reinstatement of former President Bosch who had been ousted from office in September 1963.

"The regular military forces, strongly opposed to Bosch's return, demanded the immediate designation of a military junta to prepare for national elections in September 1965. They accompanied their demand with an ultimatum that the regular forces would attack unless their terms were met. The rebel forces disregarded the ultimatum, and hostilities began late on the afternoon of April 25.

"During April 25--28, the tempo of the fighting increased. Efforts by the American Embassy, the Papal Nuncio, and others to arrange an effective cease-fire failed. Violence and lawlessness in Santo Domingo steadily mounted to the point where civil authority disappeared. The lives of U.S. citizens and other foreign nationals were seriously threatened. Under these conditions, the American Embassy began the evacuation of American citizens on April 27.

"The following day, in the face of a further deterioration of the situation, notification by Dominican military authorities that they could no longer guarantee the safety of Americans, and the growing danger of interference with the evacuation effort, Ambassador Bennett, supported by the country team, recommended the immediate landing of U.S. Marines. Pursuant to orders from the President, the Marines began landing at approximately 7 p.m., Washington time."

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Ordering Troops Into the Dominican Republic. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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