[Documents menu] Documents menu
Date: Tue, 23 Apr 1996 05:47:27 -0500
From: "L-Soft list server at MIZZOU1 (1.8b)"
Subject: File: "DATABASE OUTPUT"

--> Database ACTIV-L, 6941 hits.

> print 06889
>>> Item number 6889, dated 96/04/22 20:02:14 -- ALL
Date: Mon, 22 Apr 1996 20:02:14 CDT
Reply-To: NY Transfer News Collective <nyt@blythe.org>
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: NY Transfer News Collective <nyt@blythe.org>
Subject: Dominican Republic: Special from GreenLeft Weekly

History in a mural

By Stephen Marks
22 April 1996

The mural along the back wall of the national office of the Dominican Communist Party is painted by prominent artist Silvano Lora. It depicts the people's history of the Dominican Republic.

It starts with a portrait of the former dictator, Rafael Trujillo. Dressed in his Napoleonic uniform and chest full of medals, Trujillo is flanked by the weapons of death and terror which maintained him in power for 32 years and made him one of the 10 richest men in the world.

Trujillo extracted much of this wealth from the sugar industry. The mural depicts the slave-like working conditions which the mainly Haitian, or Haitian-descended, sugar workers suffered and the pogroms which Trujillo periodically launched against them. Breaking chains symbolically link the exploitation of the sugar workers to the rest of the country's workers and farmers.

Defiance is symbolised by the founding of the Communist Party in 1944 and the images of martyrs of the anti-Trujillo underground. Three butterflies represent the three Mirabal sisters, who died at the hands of Trujillo's death squads. The mural then depicts the dictator's assassination in 1961 and the 1962 elections, which were won by a moderate reformer, Juan Bosch.

Bosch's reforms prompted a military takeover in 1963 which in turn led to a civil war. The depiction of the democratic resistance is dominated by the portrait of Colonel Francisco Caama$o, the head of the riot squad in the capital, Santo Domingo. Caama$o was won to the democratic side and, instead of shooting the people, distributed weapons to them.

The popular uprising of April 1965 captured Santo Domingo, but bayonets, instead of the symbols of victory, are painted on the wall. Two days after a provisional government was formed, 23,000 United States marines started to invade.

Trujillo's former aide, Joaqu!n Balaguer, was installed as president, and the old system of institutional violence, corruption and electoral fraud was re-established. Democrats and Communists continued to resist. In the subsequent repression, the left lost many activists and prominent leaders.

Caama$o was killed in 1972, soon after returning from Cuba with a guerilla column. Amaury Germ n (who led the revolutionary forces during the civil war at the age of 16) also lost his life, as did Roberto Duverg and Maximilliano Gomez. Despite these losses, the left survived, and the mural concludes with a symbolic representation of workers, farmers, the middle classes and women united against neo-Trujilloism.

Our host explained the mural as we stepped around party activists putting the finishing touches to the giant banners which were to adorn the venue of the unity conference. The banners celebrated the revolutionaries who inspire Dominican socialists: the Mirabal sisters; Manolo Tav rez, guerilla fighter of the Revolutionary and People's Liberation Force (FRLP), killed in 1963; the early Communist Orlando Mart!nez; Duverg , a founder of the July 21 Revolutionary Force; Germ n, a leader of the January 12 Liberation Movement; the peasant leaders, Mauricio and Mam Tingo, who were assassinated while defending land occupations; and of course Che, Marx and Lenin.

Six-month airmail subscriptions (22 issues) to Green Left Weekly are available for A$80 (North America) and A$90 (South America, Europe & Africa) from PO Box 394, Broadway NSW 2007, Australia http://www.peg.apc.org/~greenleft/ e-mail: greenleft@peg.apc.org

[World History Archives]    [Gateway to World History]    [Images from World History]    [Hartford Web Publishing]