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Palma Sola: 60 years of a senseless massacre

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Palma Sola: 60 years of a senseless massacre

60 years ago single palm it was stained with blood. That place in the municipality of Las Matas de Farfán would probably stage the largest massacre that occurred in a single day that the Dominican Republic has ever known.

All the conditions were given. Those were the times of the Council of State chaired by Rafael Bonelly for the democratic transition; The first presidential elections had been held since the Trujillo era, and the churches were engaged in a fierce campaign against the “magical-religious” practices that were taking place in the south of the country.

And it is that, between 1961 and 1962, single palm It was the refuge of a religious movement that venerated Olivorio Mateo or “Papá Liborio”, a witch and guerrilla fighter who fought the First American Intervention in the country (1916-1924) and who, together with his son, was assassinated by the invaders in 1922.

Papá Liborio, guerrilla fighter against the First American Intervention.

Olivorio Mateo was very popular and his name, after his death, would become a kind of divine being for many locals in the southern region of the Dominican Republic, especially in the San Juan province.

That movement was led by the brothers Plinio and León Ventura de Rodríguez, better known as “Los Mellizos”, who settled together with thousands of their followers in Palma Sola, where they developed cults and praises in honor of the mythical “Papá Liborio”.

The Palma Sola massacre.

These practices were criticized by industrialists, merchants and, above all, by the churches that saw in this movement a focus of “sorcery and witchcraft”, which contradicted the Christian and conservative traditions of the time.

Given the dozens of complaints that were published in the country’s newspapers by political sectors that pointed to the cult of “Trujillista”, which was never proven, as well as the criticism that sprouted from the different churches; The Dominican State had no choice but to resort to the military and police forces to intervene in Palma Sola and evict “Los Mellizos” along with their thousands of followers.

the day of the massacre

That December 28, 1962, contingents of soldiers and officers led by General Miguel Rodríguez Reyes arrived in Palma Sola to evict the thousands of “Liboristas”. Among those troops was also a certain Francisco Alberto Caamaño Deñó, who years later would become a national hero.

General Miguel Rodriguez Reyes.

What happened next was unimaginable. Men, women and children found themselves in the midst of a hail of bullets that would claim the lives of hundreds of people.

The figures vary; the official number at that time was 42, but given the absurdity, it was soon learned that they amounted to more than one hundred. Others went further since they placed them at almost 800; the truth is that the exact number will never be known because all the corpses of men, women and children were buried in mass graves.

Nor was there ever a credible version to detail what really unleashed that carnage.

The pro-government versions aired at the time that the government forces were fired upon by the “Liboristas”, which caused a confrontation between both sides.

Several police officers were injured, including Caamaño Deñó; Even the commander of the contingent, General Rodríguez Reyes, was killed during the massacre.

Death toll ranges in the hundreds; Nobody agrees on the numbers.

Other versions relate that the authorities were willing to annihilate the movement from the beginning and not simply to evict them, so the parishioners decided to defend themselves.

Both versions have survived through the years without specifying the reason for this nonsense, since no government has prioritized unarchiving this tragic chapter of Dominican criminal history over a true mass murder.

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