Dictator of Dominican Republic

The world has seen various dictators come and go throughout the years, some more notorious than others. Both the Dominican Republic and Haiti have been home to three such characters, the memories of which are still quite clear in the minds of many Dominican and Haitian people today.

Rafael Trujillo

trujillo dominican republic dictator During the nineteenth century Haiti won its independence from France and controlled its Spanish speaking neighbour until 1844 when the Dominican Republic became independent.In the twentieth century the United States replaced the Europeans as key investors in Dominican sugar, coffee, cocoa and bananas. The United States protected its economic investments by maintaining political control of the island. In 1906 the Dominicans signed a fifty year treaty with the US that gave the US control over the country's customs department. In 1916 US Marines occupied the country. In the 1920's when the US military left the Dominican Republic, they left in its place a US trained Dominican National Guard. The United States pulled the Marines out of the Dominican Republic in 1924 and left Rafael Trujillo in charge of the Dominican National Guard.

Trujillo, who began work as a telegraph operator at the age of sixteen, was accepted into the Dominican National Guard in 1918. Trujillo rose in the National Guards ranks as they fought against the Dominican guerilla movement. Trujillo ran against incumbent Horacio Vasquez for president in 1930 and fraudulently claimed ninety five percent of the vote. Once in power he used the National Guard to terrorise and banish all civilian opponents. He also established a secret police force called the SIM (Military Intelligence Service) which not only gathered information but engaged in torture and murder at Trujillo's request. He used the SIM to control the press, bribe businessmen and create a climate of fear and intimidation.

His brutality was well documented. For example, in 1937 El Jefe (Spanish for Boss/Chief) ordered the slaughter of 2, 000 black Haitians who squatted on Dominican territory or who worked and toiled as sugar cane cutters. He modelled his dictatorship after fascist Francsico Franco in Spain, whom he much admired. He modesty was so that he even renamed the capital city here Cuidad Trujillo instead of Santo Domingo and in the capital neon signs would flash declaring God and Trujillo. Obviously to quench/appease his blood thirsty soul.

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