Francisco Caamaño

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Francisco Caamaño
Member of Revolutionary Committee of April 1965 in the Dominican Republic
In office
May 4, 1965 – August 30, 1965
Preceded by Triumvirate
Succeeded by Joaquín Balaguer
Personal details
Born June 11, 1932
Santo Domingo
Died February 16, 1973 (aged 40)
San Jose de Ocoa
Nationality Dominican
Occupation Soldier, politician

Col. Francisco Alberto Caamaño Deñó (June 11, 1932 - February 16, 1973) was a Dominican soldier and politician who took the constitutional presidency of the Dominican Republic during the Civil War of 1965. He was the son of General Fausto Caamaño Medina.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Francisco Caamaño was born on June 11, 1932 in Santo Domingo. His father was a prominent military figure during the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, and came to receive the highest decorations of the regime, and became the Secretary of State for the Armed Forces (Defense Minister) from 1952 to 1955. His father's family is originally from San Juan de la Maguana, with a family lineage which includes other military personalities like Plutarco Medina (1889-1983), and Jorge Casimiro Medina Fernandez, who was a leading lieutenant colonel of the Army. Thanks to the influence of his marked military kindred, Francisco Alberto stood out in an efficient and careful vocation of service to the military institutions of his country, entering very young to the Dominican Navy, where he graduated as a second lieutenant and advanced rapidly in the military ranks. During the last years of the Era of Trujillo, Caamaño commanded the White Helmets Corps of the National Police.

War of 1965[edit]

During the Dominican Republic Civil War that began on April 24, 1965 he was one of the leaders in the movement to restore the democratically elected President Dr. Juan Bosch, who had been overthrown in a military coup d'état in September, 1963. This faction of loyalists came to be known as the Constitucionalistas, for their desire to return to a rightful and constitutional form of government, as opposed to the military junta that was in place.

As the Constitucionalistas successfully seized and held Santo Domingo over the initial days of the uprising, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson ordered an invasion by the U.S. military, dubbed as Operation Power Pack, with the pretext that the lives of American citizens there needed to be protected. A factor that was arguably more involved in the decision was the fear that the Constitucionalistas would bring about a communist regime in the country, and this risk of "another Cuba" was something that would not be allowed.


During this period, Caamaño was de facto and, arguably, de jure, President of the Dominican Republic. After a few months of fighting by the Constitucionalistas, who were outnumbered and outgunned by the foreign forces, Caamaño and his men consented to a reconciliation agreement and thus ended the Constitucionalista government.

Facing ongoing threats and attacks during the following months, including a particularly violent attack at the Hotel Matum in Santiago de los Caballeros, Camaaño accepted an agreement imposed by the USA government. The Dominican Provisional President, Héctor García-Godoy, sent Colonel Caamaño as the Military Attache to the Dominican Embassy to the UK. While there, he was contacted by Cuban officials and he fled to Cuba to start a guerrilla group. He had a support group led by Amaury German Aristy that was expected to create the conditions for a victorious landing of Caamaño's commands in the Dominican Republic. This group was ambushed by the Dominican Army and killed during a fierce fight that included heavy artillery and even airplanes.


During the Winter of 1973, after several years staying low-profile, Caamaño led the landing of a small group of rebels at Playa Caracoles, near Azua and then into the mountains of the Cordillera Central, with the purpose of starting a peasant revolution to overthrow Dominican President Joaquín Balaguer. Balaguer's government was repressive and highly centralized during this period, reminding many of the Rafael Trujillo regime in which Balaguer been one of the dictator's puppet presidents and close advisers.[3] After a few weeks of guerrilla war against Balaguer's regular army and not having received the much hoped-for peasant support, he was wounded and captured by Dominican government forces, and then summarilly executed.

Some twenty years passed before Caamaño was officially honored by the Dominican government as a hero for his attempts to restore rightful government to his country. Today, there is an avenue in Santo Domingo that bears the name Presidente Caamaño (the avenue borders the western bank of the Ozama River harbor, near its outlet to the Caribbean sea).

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Hamlet Hermann, Francis Caamaño (1983)
  • Richard W. Mansbach, Dominican Crisis, 1965 (1971)