Who is General Rapael Trujilla?

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cburr | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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General Rafael Trujillo ruled in the Dominican Republic from 1930 until he was assassinated in 1961. He was President part of that time, for 8 years from 1930 to 1938, and again from 1942 to 1952. The rest of the time he was a military dictator. His nickname was “El Jefe” (the chief). Trujillo’s regime was brutal, especially as opposition to him increased. His secret police operation was very bloody.

Truijillo had an obsessive hatred of Venezuela’s President Betancourt, and made several efforts to have him overthrown or killed. These efforts, in addition to the murder of the Mirabal sisters (see Julia Alvarez’ book In the Time of the Butterflies) led to widespread opposition to Trujillo, not just in the Domincan Republic, but around the world. Finally, in 1961, Trujillo was shot to death by plotters who were backed by the CIA.

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jennifer-taubenheim | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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Rafael L. Trujillo ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930 until 1961 when he was assassinated. He was president between 1930 and 1938, and then again from 1942 until 1952. The rest of the time he was actually an unelected military dictator. During this time he enjoyed absolute power. He had a few different nicknames. He was called El Jefe, or The Chief. He was also called El Benefactor (The Benefactor). His time as ruler of the Dominical Republic is considered to be one of the bloodiest times of the 20th century.  One interesting fact about Trujillo is that his mother was actually half-Haitian, a fact which was kept hidden, especially after he ordered the massacre of Haitians. After Trujillo was assassinated in 1961, the Dominican Republic went through a period of instability, revolution, and more dictatorship.  The book shares many similarities with the life of Alvarez, the author, whose family fled the Dominican Republic when she was a child.

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