The Triumvirate established itself in the Dominican State by bloody and repressive force: it dissolved the National Congress and annulled the democratic Constitution of 1963. In December, guerrillas directed by the leaders of the Movimiento Revolucionario 14 de Junio stirred up a revolt in the mountains and were imprisoned and massacred by the army. The disgruntled population organized itself in an attempt to reestablish constitutionality. A group of military men, led by Colonel Francisco Alberto Caamaño Deñó and the Lieutenant Colonel Rafael Tomás Fernández Domínguez decided to defend popular will: on April 25, 1965, the Civil War erupted in the city of Santo Domingo. Three days later, April 28, the landing of 42,000 U.S. soldiers began on the Dominican coast.
Various months of confrontation between the parallel governments went by (the “constitutionalist” and the “national reconstruction” governments, the latter supported by the United States) until the Act of Reconciliation was signed in September, and the provisional government of Hector García Godoy was inaugurated. The elections supervised by the invading troops that, on their campaign, had assassinated more than 350 political activists of the PRD and the left, gave the title of “victor” to Doctor Joaquín Balaguer and his Partido Reformista Social Cristiano. Dominican conservatism, Trujillo ideology in a new suit, retook power. The “twelve years” began.
The photographic exhibition of Milvio Pérez, recording the key events concerning the April Revolution in 1965. This exhibition, for the quality of its content and craft, is a unique historical legacy. It is also a tribute to the men and women who gallantly gave their lives in defense of the Homeland.
Milvio Bernardo Pérez Pérez was born in Rio Verde, Cutupú, La Vega, on May 26, 1939, in a humble family. His parents, María Clotilde Pérez and Bernardo Pérez, instilled an austere and strict home education and strong core values. From an early age, his father taught him drastically the course he would follow throughout his life when he prevented him from attending a school where it was obligatory to say the motto: “Viva Trujillo”. Thus began to define a revolutionary trajectory that would end by joining initially the Movimiento 14 de Junio and later to the Socialist Popular Party.
In 1961, Milvio Pérez realized that photography, practice he had started from a very early age, could become an accurate and unquestionable way to denounce the tragic events that were to take place and raise social awareness. He was able to capture, through the photographic lens, all the moments of social life that he experienced.
In this way, he risked and worked consistently to capture with his lens the persecution and dismantling of spies and secret agents of the regime, the demolition of busts, statues and tirades of the tyrant at the University of Santo Domingo and all the important events that occurred as a result of the fall of the dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, including the trial of the assassins of the Mirabal sisters, as well as the portraits of Professor Juan Bosch in his inauguration as President of the Republic.
The outbreak of the April 1965 War, however, was the event that catapulted him with the honorable title of The April Photographer. Through his snapshots he immortalized the protests, rallies, frog-men, assassinations committed by invading troops, the shooting of students in the National Palace, the arrival of the Marines to Ciudad Nueva, the assault on the hotel Matum in Santiago, the dead … All the dead, from Feliciano Matos, who refused to collect garbage by order of an American, to André Riviere and Illio Capocci.
41 years after those events, these photographs, capable of showing even the smallest details, capture the courage of the people united in arms, ready to surrender their lives to defend the country. They are an eloquent testimony of how, in the hands of Milvio Perez, the camera managed to become an efficient rifle, capable of perpetuating the memory of the events that shook the Dominican nation in those fateful and glorious days of April 1965.
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