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US troop deployment sparks protests in Dominican Republic
The landing of hundreds of US troops at a port city in the Dominican Republic, barely 80 miles from the Haitian border, sparked protests and warnings that Washington may be preparing another military intervention aimed at quelling the popular unrest that has erupted in Haiti over attempts to rig the presidential election.
Some 800 US troops have disembarked at the Dominican port of Barahona as part of the “New Horizons” military exercise that is to extend for several months and will reportedly involve as many as 14,000 military personnel. The city is the closest major port in the Dominican Republic to the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.
Hundreds of demonstrators marched on the US Embassy in Santo Domingo as well as on the US military camp in Barahona, approximately 120 miles southwest of the capital.
Demonstrators representing leftist, union and student groups presented a statement to a US Embassy official demanding the immediate withdrawal of the US troops.
“For Dominicans, the presence of foreign military troops on our soil is unacceptable ... even more so when these troops are from a nation that has invaded us militarily on two occasions on the pretext of ‘saving lives,’ with the result of thousands of deaths,” the statement read.
The Dominican Republic was invaded and occupied by US Marines in 1916, a year after they landed in Haiti. The Dominican occupation lasted for eight years, while the US forces stayed in Haiti until 1934.
Washington again invaded with some 23,000 troops in 1965 after fomenting a military coup to deny an election victory to left nationalist leader Juan Bosch. After killing, wounding and imprisoning thousands of Dominicans, the US forces turned power over to the right-wing dictatorship of Joaquín Balaguer, which carried out a reign of terror over the next decade.