Dominican Republic 1975

Orlando Martínez Gunned Down In Santo Domingo
'Covert Activity’ of Balaguer Regime?

Published: April 7, 1975;
Source: Intercontinental Press, Vol. 13, No.13 p.465;
Transcribed: by Amaury Rodriguez, 2016.

Transcriber’s note: This article appeared in Intercontinental Press (IP), a weekly magazine published in New York on behalf on the Fourth International from 1963 to 1986. I thank Pathfinder Press for granting me permission to post this article.

More than 200 persons, the overwhelming majority Dominicans, picketed the Dominican consulate in New York March 26. The demonstrators, shouting, “Stop government complicity with right-wing terror” and “Stop repression in the Dominican Republic,” were protesting the murder of Dominican journalist Orlando Martínez. [1] The demonstration was called by the U.S. Committee for Justice to Latin American Political Prisoners and Derechos Humanos, a New York based Dominican defense committee. It was supported by a wide range of political and civil-liberties groups, mainly from New York’s Latin American community.

Martínez, a widely read columnist of the Dominican daily El Nacional de ¡Ahora! and managing editor of the weekly magazine ¡Ahora!, was gunned down March 17 while driving his car. He had been threatened several times by right-wing terrorist groups recently and had unsuccessfully sought police protection. In recent columns Martínez had called for thoroughgoing land reform, criticized efforts to apply a guerrilla strategy to the Dominican Republic, and argued against depending on bourgeois demagogues to lead movements for social change. He was well known for his consistent defense of Latin American political prisoners. El Nacional de ¡Ahora! reported that thousands attended Martínez ‘s funeral March 18, including top government functionaries. On the same day and the follow three cities protesting the assassination were broken up by police, who used tear gas and fired shots into the air. More than seventy students and teachers were reported injured, and about forty persons were arrested.

Public statements demanding the apprehension of the killers were made by a number of Dominican political groups, and by several trade unions, professional associations, student governments, and civic organizations.

In the United States, Socialist Workers Party presidential candidate Peter Camejo [2] issued a statement of protest March 26. “I join with all those who are demanding that President Balaguer immediately apprehend the real murderers of Orlando Martínez and prosecute them to the full extent of the law,” Camejo said.

Instead of searching for Martinez’s murderers, the Balaguer regime has responded by arresting several journalists who reported the killing and five leaders of the PLD (Partido de la Liberacion Dominicana – Dominican Liberation party). The PLD is led by Juan Bosch, the former president of the island who was overthrown in a 1963 military coup. Bosch reported that the PLD members were being held even though the police knew they had nothing to do with the crime. He pointed out that none of the arrested PLD members had even been questioned by the police. Bosch said that the arrests of his supporters were part of a “plan to create a climate of public opinion that would culminate” in his arrest.

Bosch himself was asked to come to police headquarters March 25 in conjunction with the Martínez slaying. So was José Francisco Peña Gómez, the general secretary of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (Dominican Revolutionary party). The PLD and the PRD are the two most influential political forces to the left of the Balaguer regime. [3]

More than 100 persons have been killed in the past year by right-wing gangs in the Dominican Republic but not a single arrest has been made. Balaguer’s method of “investigating” the murder of Martínez tends to lend credence to the widely held belief that his regime was directly involved in the assassination.


1. Orlando Martínez Howley was an independent journalist and a member of the Dominican Communist Party (PCD, for its English initials). His murder sparked a local and international outcry that paved the way for the end of the Balaguer regime in 1978.

2. Peter Miguel Camejo Guanche (1939-2008) was an American socialist of Venezuelan descent.

3. Founded by Juan Bosch in 1973, the PLD gravitated toward left wing reformism. For more on José Francisco Peña Gómez and the PRD, see Dominican PRD Switches its Line World Outlook, Vol. 5, No. 32, p. 811.