Τρίτη, 13 Ιουλίου 2010

The Trujillo Era

The Trujillo Era

Rafael Leónidas Trujillo ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930 to 1961.
When Vásquez attempted to win another term, opponents rebelled in February, 1930, in secret alliance with the commander of the National Army (the former National Guard), General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina, by which the latter remained 'neutral' in face of the rebellion. Vásquez resigned. Trujillo then stood for election himself, and in May was elected president virtually unopposed, after a violent campaign against his opponents.[44]
There was considerable economic growth during Trujillo's long and iron-fisted regime, although a great deal of the wealth was taken by the dictator and other regime elements. There was progress in healthcare, education, and transportation, with the building of hospitals and clinics, schools, and roads and harbors. Trujillo also carried out an important housing construction program and instituted a pension plan. He finally negotiated an undisputed border with Haiti in 1935, and achieved the end of the 50-year customs agreement in 1941, instead of 1956. He made the country debt-free in 1947,[17] a proud achievement for Dominicans for decades to come.
This was accompanied by absolute repression and the copious use of murder, torture, and terrorist methods against the opposition. Moreover, Trujillo's megalomania was on display in his renaming after himself the capital city Santo Domingo to "Ciudad Trujillo" (Trujillo City),[17] the nation's—and the Caribbean's—highest mountain Pico Duarte (Duarte Peak) to "Pico Trujillo", and many towns and a province. Some other places he renamed after members of his family. By the end of his first term in 1934 he was the country's wealthiest person,[33]:p360 one of the wealthiest in the world by the early 1950s,[45] and near the end of his regime his fortune was an estimated $800 million.[41]:p111
In 1937 Trujillo (who was himself one-quarter Haitian),[46] in an event known as the Parsley Massacre or, in the Dominican Republic, as El Corte (The Cutting),[47] ordered the Army to kill Haitians living on the Dominican side of the border. The Army killed an estimated 17,000 to 35,000 Haitians over six days, from the night of October 2, 1937 through October 8, 1937. To avoid leaving evidence of the Army's involvement, the soldiers used machetes rather than bullets.[31][46][48] The soldiers of Trujillo were said to have interrogated anyone with dark skin, using the shibboleth perejil (parsley) to tell Haitians from Dominicans when necessary; the 'r' of perejil was of difficult pronunciation for Haitians.[47] As a result of the massacre, the Dominican Republic agreed to pay Haiti US$750,000, later reduced to US$525,000.[34][44]
On November 25, 1960 Trujillo killed three of the four Mirabal sisters, nicknamed Las Mariposas (The Butterflies). The victims were Patria Mercedes Mirabal (born on February 27, 1924), Argentina Minerva Mirabal (born on March 12, 1926), and Antonia María Teresa Mirabal (born on October 15, 1935). Minerva was an aspiring lawyer who was extremely opposed to Trujillo's dictatorship since Trujillo had begun to make rude sexual advances towards her. The sisters have received many honors posthumously, and have many memorials in various cities in the Dominican Republic. Salcedo, their home province, changed its name to Hermanas Mirabal Province (Mirabal Sisters Province). The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is observed on the anniversary of their deaths.
For a long time, the US supported the Trujillo government, as did the Catholic Church and the Dominican elite. This support persisted despite the assassinations of political opposition, the massacre of Haitians, and Trujillo's plots against other countries. The US believed Trujillo was the lesser of two or more evils.[47] The U.S. finally broke with Trujillo in 1960, after Trujillo's agents attempted to assassinate the Venezuelan president, Rómulo Betancourt, a fierce critic of Trujillo.[44][49] Trujillo was assassinated on May 30, 1961.[44]


A democratically elected government under leftist Juan Bosch took office in February, 1963, but was overthrown in September. After nineteen months of military rule, a pro-Bosch revolt broke out in April, 1965. U.S. president Lyndon Johnson, concerned over the possible takeover of the revolt by communists who might create a "second Cuba", sent the Marines days later, followed immediately by the Army's 82d Airborne Division and other elements of the XVIIIth Airborne Corps in Operation Powerpack. "We don't propose to sit here in a rocking chair with our hands folded and let the Communist set up any government in the western hemisphere", Johnson said.[50] The forces were soon joined by comparatively small contingents from the Organization of American States. All these remained in the country for over a year and left after supervising elections in 1966 won by Joaquín Balaguer, who had been Trujillo's last puppet-president.[17][51]
Balaguer remained in power as president for 12 years. His tenure was a period of repression of human rights and civil liberties, ostensibly to keep pro-Castro or pro-communist parties out of power. His rule was further criticized for a growing disparity between rich and poor. It was, however, praised for an ambitious infrastructure program, which included large housing projects, sports complexes, theaters, museums, aqueducts, roads, highways, and the massive Columbus Lighthouse, completed in a subsequent tenure in 1992.

1978 to present

In 1978, Balaguer was succeeded in the presidency by opposition candidate Antonio Guzmán Fernández, of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD). Another PRD win in 1982 followed, under Salvador Jorge Blanco. Under the PRD presidents, the Dominican Republic experienced a period of relative freedom and basic human rights. Balaguer regained the presidency in 1986, and was re-elected in 1990 and 1994, this last time just defeating PRD candidate José Francisco Peña Gómez, a former mayor of Santo Domingo. The 1994 elections were flawed, bringing on international pressure, to which Balaguer responded by scheduling another presidential contest in 1996.[1] This time Leonel Fernández achieved the first-ever win for the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), which Bosch founded in 1973 after leaving the PRD (also founded by Bosch). Fernández oversaw a fast-growing economy, averaging 7.7% per year, with a drop in unemployment and stable exchange and inflation rates.[52]
In 2000 the PRD's Hipólito Mejía won the election. This was a time of economic troubles,[52] and Mejía was defeated in his re-election effort four years later by Fernández, who won re-election in 2008.[14] Fernández and the PLD are credited with initiatives that have moved the country forward technologically, such as the construction of the Metro Railway ("El Metro"). On the other hand, his administrations have also been accused of corruption.[52]

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