Rafael Filiberto Bonnelly

Rafael Bonnelly
Rafael F.Bonnelly.jpg
Coat of arms of the Dominican Republic.svg 43rd President of the Dominican Republic
In office
January 18, 1962 – February 27, 1963
Vice President Eduardo Read Barrera (1962)
Nicolas Pichardo (1962-1963)
Preceded by Civic-Military Council
Succeeded by Juan Bosch
Coat of arms of the Dominican Republic.svg 25th Vice President of the Dominican Republic
In office
August 3, 1960 – January 18, 1962
Preceded by Joaquín Balaguer
Succeeded by Eduardo Read Barrera
Personal details
Born August 22, 1904
Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic
Died December 28, 1979 (age 75)
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Political party Dominican (1940s-1950s)
Revolutionary (1950s-1979)
Spouse(s) Aída Mercedes Batlle Morell[1]
Relations Furcy Fondeur LaJeneusse (grandfather)
Children Juan Sully, Rafael Francisco, Luisa Amelia and Aída Mercedes Bonnelly Batlle[2]

Rafael Filiberto Bonnelly Fondeur (August 22, 1904 – December 28, 1979) was a lawyer, scholar, diplomat, and, from 1962 until 1963, the President of the Dominican Republic, before he was president, he was vice president of the country from 1960 to 1962.

Early life

The Bonnelly-Fondeur family, circa 1902.
The marriage of María Luisa Fondeur and Carlos Sully Bonnelly, appears alongside their children: Carlos Sully Rafael, Carmen Camelia Florencia, Manuel Furcy, Manuel Ulises, Raúl, and Luis Alberto.

Rafael Filiberto Bonnelly Fondeur was born to Carlos Sully Bonnelly Arnaud and Ms Luisa Fondeur in Santiago de los Caballeros, the Dominican Republic. Bonnelly was born into a family of Corsican[3][4] and French descent,[4][5] descendants of white colonists that settled briefly in Saint-Domingue prior the Haitian Revolution, two generations of the Bonnelly family lived in Charlotte Amalie, Saint Thomas, and then they moved to the Cibao region in the Dominican Republic.[6] While the origins of his Fondeur family was said to be born in Bordeaux and Paris (between 1812 and 1818, proposed Penzo), they may have arrived at the years of España Boba (Foolish Spain) or during the Haitian occupation (for the author cited between 1819 and 1822).[5] He obtained his baccalaureate in Law on March 27, 1926 from the University of Santo Domingo. He became a teacher at the Normal School in Santo Domingo from 1926 to 1930. He married Aida Batlle and procreated four children: Luisa Amelia, Rafael Francisco, Juan Sully and Aida María. Also, he was the uncle of fashion designer Sully Bonnelly.

Bonnelly's first foray into public life was his participation in the revolt against President Horacio Vásquez in 1930, led by Dr. Rafael Estrella Ureña, and supported by then head of the Army, General Rafael Trujillo. Bonnelly later became a Deputy at the National Congress, but rapidly had a falling out with Trujillo, who had deported Dr. Estrella Ureña and assumed the Presidency of the Country, after publicly voting against an Education bill sent by the dictator to Congress.

His fall out with Trujillo in 1931 led to a 12-year professional hiatus, in which Bonnelly was prevented from working as a lawyer. The return of Dr. Estrella Ureña to the Dominican Republic in 1942, under an amnesty granted by Trujillo, led to Bonnelly's reappearance into Dominican public life as a Senator, between 1942 and 1944. After Dr. Ureña's death in 1945, Bonnelly started an ascending career as a public servant, which culminated with his naming as President of the Dominican Republic on January 1962.


His Career in Public Service

During these years, Bonnelly held the following posts:

1944–46 Minister of the Interior; 1946–48 Minister of Labor; 1948–49 Attorney General; 1949–53 Dean of the University of Santo Domingo; 1949–53 Professor of Constitutional and Civil Law; 1953–54 Prime Minister; 1954 Minister of Education; 1954–56 Ambassador to Spain; 1956–57 Minister of Justice, 1957–59 Ambassador to Venezuela; 1960–62 Vice-President of the Dominican Republic.

Bonnelly's main achievement as President was to organize the Dominican Republic's first free elections after the end of the 30-year-long Trujillo dictatorship, in which Dr. Juan Bosch was elected. But, during his brief but intensive Presidency, Bonnelly's Government wrote and passed some of the principal legislation in the country, such as the Banking and Housing laws, which are still used.

In 1966, Bonnelly made an unsuccessful run for the presidency in an election which was won by Dr. Joaquín Balaguer, with strong backing from the government of American President Lyndon Johnson. Bonnelly and Balaguer were friends in their early days, and served together in several posts during the Trujillo dictatorship, but they became political opponents after Balaguer was ousted from the Presidency in 1961, being substituted by Bonnelly, his Vice-president at the time.

Head to Head with Balaguer

Bonnelly's last public bout with Balaguer was a national display of penmanship between the two leaders, right after the national elections of May 1978. Seeing that Balaguer's Partido Reformista was losing the elections, Balaguer's generals raided the Electoral Board and stopped the vote counting, sinking the country in a state of unrest and uncertainty. During two weeks, Bonnelly and Balaguer engaged in a public debate published in the main newspapers of the country, which ended with Balaguer accepting his defeat and proclaiming Antonio Guzmán, the candidate for the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) and the President Elect.

In the summer of 1979, he was awarded the Doctorate Honoris Causa by the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM), the leading private university in the country. On December 28, 1979, Dr. Rafael Bonnelly died of cancer in his home in Santo Domingo.


  1. ^ Bonnelly de Espaillat, Lourdes (3 August 2009). "Cumpleaños: Aída Mercedes Batlle de Bonnelly" (in Spanish). Santo Domingo: Listín Diario. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  2. ^ "Fallece Aída Mercedes Batlle de Bonnelly, ex primera dama de la República" (in Spanish). Hoy. 28 January 2011. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  3. ^ "Falleció el padre del diseñador Sully Bonelly" (in Spanish). Santo Domingo: Listín Diario. 7 December 2008. Archived from the original on 24 April 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2014. Dedicó años investigando todo lo referente al apellido Bonnelly y sus orígenes históricos. Fue quien organizó exitosamente los dos encuentros de las distintas ramas de esta gran familia, realizados hace varios años. Viajó a Córcega tierra de origen del primer Bonnelly que se asentó en la República Dominicana, e hizo un levantamiento de sus ancestros. Interesado en la unidad familiar de los Bonnelly estaba escribiendo un libro para dejarlo como legado. Sus restos mortales serán traídos en los próximos días a la ciudad de Santo Domingo, República Dominicana.
  4. ^ a b Ivonna Ginebra (1995). "Segundo Encuentro de la Familia Bonnelly" (PDF). Instituto Dominicano de Genealogía. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 April 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  5. ^ a b Edwin Rafael Espinal Hernández (9 April 2005). "Precisiones sobre el origen de la familia Fondeur" (in Spanish). Instituto Dominicano de Genealogía. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  6. ^ Girard 2011, pp. 319–322.
Political offices
Preceded by
Joaquín Balaguer
Vice President of the Dominican Republic
1960 – 1962
Succeeded by
Eduardo R. Barrera
Preceded by
Civic-Military Council
President of the Dominican Republic
1962 – 1963
Succeeded by
Juan Bosch