Full name Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina. AKA ‘El Jefe’ (the chief), AKA ‘El Chivo’ (the goat), AKA ‘Chapita’ (bottle top).
Country: Dominican Republic.
Kill tally: Around 20,000 Haitians killed in 1937. (Estimates of the number of Haitians killed vary from several hundred to 30,000.) An unknown number of Dominican dissidents and opposition figures killed during his 31-year reign.
Background: The Dominican Republic (República Dominicana) is established in February 1844. The Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. Haiti occupies the western third.
Despite initial optimism a tradition of dictatorial “strong-man” (or “caudillo”) rule comes to be entrenched in the Republic, reaching its zenith 100 years later during the rule of Rafael Trujillo.
At the same time, longstanding tensions between the Dominican Republic and Haiti will assume a growing racial component as the fairer-skinned Dominicans come to feel threatened by and at the same time superior to their darker-skinned neighbours.
At the start of the 20th Century the United States begins to take a greater role in Dominican affairs, culminating in a US occupation that begins in May 1916 and continues to July 1924, when Horacio Vásquez Lajara is inaugurated as president and control of the country returns to the Dominican parliament. Read the rest of this entry »