Rafael Trujillo Facts

Rafael Trujillo Facts
Rafael Trujillo was elected as President of the Dominican Republic twice, from 1930 to 1938 and from 1942 to 1952, before going behind the scenes where he continued to control the levers of power in his country until he was assassinated in 1961. Trujillo is best remembered for his corruption and ruling the Dominican Republic with an iron fist, although his carefully crafted public image helped make him somewhat of a populist and popular in some quarters of Dominican society. In many ways, Rafael Trujillo is the prototype of the twentieth century Latin American dictator. Trujillo was born Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina (the names are ordered according to Latin American naming tradition) on October 24, 1891 in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic to Jose and Silveria Trujillo. He was raised in a middle class family but became involved in criminal activity at a young age and served time in prison. Trujillo found his calling in life when the United States Marines occupied the Dominican Republic in 1916, which allowed him to join the newly American trained and sponsored Dominican military forces.
Interesting Rafael Trujillo Facts:
Trujillo quickly worked his way up in the military, becoming an officer and playing a leading role in the 1930 coup.
Trujillo became head of the police and army in 1930 under President Rafael Estrella as a reward for allowing Estrella to come to power during the coup. Estrella then stepped aside, allowing Trujillo to run for president as the Dominican Party candidate.
Trujillo ruthlessly used the police and army to win election and reelection four years later.
By 1938 there was no opposition to Trujillo or Dominican Party left in the country. He enacted sweeping, draconian laws that put the entire country in a police state, allowing him to arrest or kill any known opposition leaders.
Death squads and paramilitary groups, which became a common tactic used by right-wing Latin American governments from the 1960s through the 1990s, were first used by Trujillo during the 1930s. His former street thug associates from his criminal days served as paramilitaries who threatened, beat, and killed his political opponents.
In true strongman fashion, Trujillo had a nickname - el Jefe, or "The Boss."
El Jefe was married three times and had many mistresses, which he often flaunted in the open. He had at least seven children.
Despite the political repression he practiced, the Dominican Republic joined the United Nations during his rule.
Besides killing and imprisoning thousands, Trujillo also used his country's treasury as a personal piggy bank to make him and his family very wealthy.
Although Dominicans played baseball before Trujillo's rule, he is credited with helping to develop the professional Dominican league, in part by inviting American Negro League players to play there in the winter.
Trujillo's views on race were complicated to say the least. He clearly favored European immigration, but he viewed black Americans in a similar way. He had an open disdain for Haitians, which is most evident in the Parsley Massacre, where more than 20,000 Haitians were killed near the border by Dominican troops in 1937.
Trujillo was assassinated on May 31, 1961 when he was ambushed and gunned down outside of Santo Domingo. The assassination was part of a plot within the government.


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