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Labor Action, 26 May 1947


Gaston Bruyere

U.S. Protects Its Island Interests Through

Trujillo: Santo Domingo’s Bloody Dictator


From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 21, 26 May 1947, pp. 3 & 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


THE Republic of Santo Domingo, which shares possession of a West Indian island with the Republic of Haiti, has been strangled by one of the darkest and most blood-thirsty tyrannies in history. The omnipotent tyrant who for the last 17 years has held in his bloody claws all the power of the country, has proven worse than even the most famous of South American military dictators; more brutal, gross, sanguinary and vengeful by reason of his cowardice.

Ever since 1930, when Rafael Leonidas Trujillo seized power by a comic-opera military conspiracy, he has bled the generous people of Santo Domingo white in the persons of their finest sons. Brandishing a threatening whip and standing with his soldier’s boot pressed down on the neck of the population, this colonial-plantation overseer has kept himself in power by means of fraud, persecution and murder as his normal regime. The barbarous foreman has known no limits; no curb has been put on the uniformed beast who offends human conscience with his thousands of crimes.

The most aggressive U. S. imperialists have never found a more loyal lackey than the Dominican tyrant. This abortion of Yankee imperialism grew up to political life about twenty years ago, and ever since then, while he stereotypes his smile to Wall Street, he has been brutally thrashing the blood-stained backs of the Dominican people. Reciprocating this abominable service. Wall Street and the State Department have given limitless support to the dictator. Confronting them, in the struggle against the powerful forces in the U.S.A. which- uphold Trujillo and his sanguinary regime, the American people in general and the revolutionary Socialists in particular, are in duty bound to help the Dominican revolutionaries and people to free themselves from the yoke of this tyranny in Santo Domingo. There, are thousands of Dominican revolutionaries in exile at the present time preparing an armed war against Trujillo. To them will fall the task, of setting an enslaved people economically and socially free.

Trujillo is not only the murderer of his people. He is also – and on a big scale – the colonial bridgehead of the most aggressive part of U.S. imperialism. Little by little, insensibly, this imperialist faction is turning into the American expression of fascism, making its objectives clearer daily. In the struggle for full dominion over universal economy, the Yankee imperialist neo-fascists are beginning to make their first attempts at liquidating all democratic manifestations in the country, with a recrudescence of racial and political chauvinism, anti-labor legislation, and the exacerbation of the lowest anti-Semitic passions. The game is already marked out: to submit declining British imperialism to the position. of a Yankee agent in Europe, to reinforce the Chinese and Japanese bourgeoisies in Asia, and to support unreservedly the Latin American tyrants. With the American continent in its fist, the U.S.A. expresses, through its ruling classes, the essence of Hitlerite policy. In the Caribbean area, Trujillo’s dictatorship is a military base against the revolutionary-democratic policies in Cuba an£ Venezuela. Today, Cuba and Venezuela have upset the balance of feudo-mperialist politics. Both nations are headed, although with petty-bourgeois timidity, toward a social-revolutionary policy, and against them Trujillo expresses the spirit of self-defense as Well as the desires of Yankee imperialism.

Rafael Leonidas Trujillo –

As a consequence of the decadent Monroe Doctrine of considering all the Americas as belonging to .the U.S.A. – a faithful imperialist interpretation – the fiepubliC of Santo Domingo was invaded by the U.S. military forces at the .close of the first World War and occupied by them for the space of eight years. The pretext was the usual one: pacification of the island; the. basic objective was the possession of its riches with the. penetration of imperialist capital. It was a long and bloody intervention, and during the .course of it the natives rose many times against foreign occupation, taking to the high mountains of the Cibao region, where they held .out and conducted guerrilla operations. The American military repression was unspeakable: the murder of thousands of defenseless people by drunken troopers, the complete control pf the whole state apparatus, and the founding of large factories for industrializing the sugar production as exclusive U.S. property.

During these years to which we are referring, Mr. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo was in jail for cattle-stealing. He had a sound knowledge of the mountainous territories where the Dominican patriots were .hiding out and fighting against the interventionist soldiery, and in order to get his jail-sentence shortened he offered his services to the invaders as an expert guide through the mountains and jungles. Thus, as a scout for an enemy army, Trujillo began his sinister career. In payment for these services, the Americans set him free and gave him military training in an academy which they had set up, so as to form the base for a native army as their permanent ally. Trujillo learned the technique of military organization in this academy, and he was one of its first graduates.

Once the native army had been organized, Trujillo became one of the three colonels who composed its high command. Through the cheap trick of making one of these colonels believe that his wife was being unfaithful to him with the other, and stirring up a duel of honor between them, in which both contestants were left dead on the field, Trujillo made himself Chief of staff of the Dominican army. Those who were present in the country at the time of this ridiculous and grisly event, say that both duellists appeared to have been killed from behind, and insist that it was Trujillo himself – who acted a second to one of them – who murdered the pair of them. These two colonels were the only obstacles to Trujillo’s sole command of the army.

The U.S. Army withdrew from the Republic of Santo Domingo after having cemented the sugar industry on very firm bases. They kept the customs’ control in their own hands, as a way of recovering the expenses occasioned by the intervention, and left with the certainty of maintaining the native army (whose arms they supplied) under their own control. The sugar industry and the native army reciprocated. The U.S. sugar-farm was well protected by the mercenary army.

But in spite of all this army repression, the Dominican people elected Dr. Horacio Vasquez – who had fought against the intervention – as president of the Republic. The new president took office under the enmity of the army, which resisted him slyly, until in 1930 Sr. Trujillo, who was by that time General-in-Chief, managed a coup d’etat and threw him out of power. In order to complete Dr. Vasquez’s presidential term, the primitively opportunist Trujillo installed the former vice-president, Dr. Estrella Urena, as president of the Republic. When the new elections came up, they took place under circumstances of terror, violation and fraud. In these elections, the now omnipotent Trujillo ran for president as the one and only candidate and, of course, he won office. This was 1930. The long years of U.S. military intervention had passed. The satrap’s apprenticeship had been well assimilated by Trujillo. The jail-bird and informer had become, in the space of a few years, the president of the Republic, an ally of the State Department, the head of the army, and the sinister master of Santo Domingo.

How He Exercises Tryannical Control

A few months after Trujillo took office as president, the island was scourged by a terrible tornado which destroyed nearly the whole of the old capital, ruined the harvests and blew down a third of the houses. The thousands of deaths produced by the tornado, famine and epidemics, stirred world solidarity. Help was sent from everywhere, especially irf the form of money, to protect the wasted population. Trujillo kept this money for himself, and sold to the wretched people, at high prices, the food and medicines which countries all over the world had sent as presents to the Dominicas. With the funds of the national exchequer, which had been destined for reconstruction purposes, he set up monuments to himself all over the place. The whole country was changed into a museum for exhibiting statues of the coarse and vulgar figure of the ridiculous tyrant.

From the pauperized Dominican people, he snatched away all manifestation of political expression. Ever since 1930, only one party has existed in the country: Trujillo’s party. All state employees are forced to belong to it, as well as anybody who hopes to do business or to lead a quiet life. The sinister dictator fixes the elections, nominates the candidates, and also has the faculty of suppressing legislators whenever -they do not suit his wishes. Thus, with every element of action and defense destroyed and under a regime of barbarous exploitation, the Dominican people, drag, out a miserable life between the prison and the graveyard.

All the key positions of power are under the absolute control of Trujillo’s numerous relatives. The most repugnant member of this grasping and pitiless clan is one of Trujillo’s brothers, known familiarly as “Black Trujillo,” whom the dictator has at present made head of the army. This Lombrosian type spends the army funds for his own uses, just as the rest of the relations spend the other funds. With the taxes which he squeezes out of the prostitutes and brothels, he pays for the upkeep of an extensive international spy system. When the recent World War caused the wretched exodus of European peoples to the lands of America, the tyrant encouraged thousands of refugees to come to Santo Domingo, where he despoiled them of their resources and then made them work in near-slavery conditions on the sugar plantations. Thousands of them have since died and their wives have been handed over as tribute to the mercenary troops.

Every branch of the economic field belongs to the dictator, except of course the sugar production, which belongs to the U.S.A. The peasant classes work exclusively for the heavy-handed master. Trujillo is the personal owner of nearly all the rich and fertile soil of the Republic, which he obtains by the simple procedure of murdering its real owners. He has absolute control over the herds of cattle, the milk, and all food products. The low acquisitive capacity of the population, nourished on root-vegetables, has resulted in a lack of interest by American exporters in the Dominican market. Inflation, developing there as in nearly all parts of the world, has put this little country out on the border of civilization and history. The minimum daily wage of qjty workers is only 70 cents. They are the favored few, since the .rest of the hungry population, in the country and the smaller towns, earns much less.

In spite of various electoral masquerades in which the tyrant pulled all the strings, and in spite of the fact that on one, or two occasions puppets of his creation have held apparent office as president of the Republic, the real master of the country since 1930, the strong man who governs its destiny, has always been Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, the Dominican satrap.

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