Trujillo took power over the military and controlled it with unscrupulous heavy-handedness. Sinita tells Minerva,
"First, he was in the army, and all the people who were above him kept disappearing until he was the one right below the head of the whole armed forces" (Ch.2).
It was not long before he engineered the murder of the man ahead of him, and
"very soon after that, Trujillo became head of the armed forces" (Ch.2).
Trujillo also exercised control over censorship. He elevated himself to an almost god-like status, and mandated that he be revered in schools and in every home. Minerva relates that, as a student,
"we were issued new history textbooks with a picture of you-know-who embossed on the cover...our history now followed the plot of the Bible...we Dominicans had been waiting for centuries for the arrival of our Lord Trujillo on the scene" (Ch.2),
and Patria describes how, hanging on the wall at her home next to a picture of Jesus the Good Shepherd, was
"the required portrait of El Jefe, touched up to make him look better than he was" (Ch.4).
As Mate expresses early in her memories, children grew up thinking of Trujillo as a benevolent father -
""I am not saying I don't love our president, because I do" (Ch.3),
and in the Dominican Republic's centennial year, the whole country had to
"give some sort of patriotic affair to show their support of Trujillo" (Ch.2)