64 Facts About Rafael Trujillo


Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina, nicknamed El Jefe, was a Dominican dictator who ruled the Dominican Republic from August 1930 until his assassination in May 1961.


Rafael Trujillo served as president from 1930 to 1938 and again from 1942 to 1952, ruling for the rest of the time as an unelected military strongman under figurehead presidents.


The Rafael Trujillo era unfolded in a Hispanic Caribbean environment particularly susceptible to dictators.


In perspective, the Rafael Trujillo dictatorship has been judged more prominent and more brutal than its contemporaries.


Rafael Trujillo remains a polarizing figure in the Dominican Republic, as the longevity and profound importance of his rule makes a detached evaluation difficult.


Rafael Leonidas Trujillo y Molina was born on 26 October 1891 in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, into a lower-middle-class family.


Rafael Trujillo's father was Jose Trujillo Valdez, the son of Silveria Valdez Mendez of colonial Dominican origin and Jose Trujillo Monagas, a Spanish sergeant who arrived in Santo Domingo as a member of the Spanish reinforcement troops during the annexation era.


Rafael Trujillo's mother was Altagracia Julia Molina Chevalier, later known as Mama Julia, the daughter of Pedro Molina Pena, of colonial Dominican origin, and the teacher Luisa Ercina Chevalier, whose parents were part of the remaining French descendants in Haiti: Rafael Trujillo's maternal great-grandfather, Justin Victor Turenne Carrie Blaise, was of French descent, while his maternal great-grandmother, Eleonore Juliette Chevallier Moreau, was part of Haiti's mulatto class.


In 1897, at the age of six, Rafael Trujillo was registered in the school of Juan Hilario Merino.


At the age of 16, Rafael Trujillo got a job as a telegraph operator, which he held for about three years.


Shortly after Rafael Trujillo turned to crime: cattle stealing, check counterfeiting, and postal robbery.


Rafael Trujillo spent several months in prison, which did not deter him, as he later formed a violent gang of robbers called The 42.


At the time, Rafael Trujillo was twenty-five and worked as a guardacampestre, controlling sugar cane workers at a plantation in Boca Chica.


In return for Rafael Trujillo letting Estrella take power, Estrella would allow Rafael Trujillo to run for president in new elections.


However, feigning "neutrality", Rafael Trujillo kept his men in barracks, allowing Estrella's rebels to take the capital virtually unopposed.


Two and a half weeks after Rafael Trujillo ascended to the presidency, the destructive Hurricane San Zenon hit Santo Domingo and left 2000 dead.


Rafael Trujillo renamed the rebuilt capital of the Dominican Republic, Ciudad Trujillo in his honor and had streets, monuments, and landmarks to honor him throughout the country.


On 16 August 1931, the first anniversary of his inauguration, Rafael Trujillo made the Dominican Party the nation's sole legal political party.


In 1934, Rafael Trujillo, who had promoted himself to generalissimo of the army, was up for re-election.


Rafael Trujillo was recommended for the Nobel Peace Prize by his admirers, but the committee declined the suggestion.


Rafael Trujillo kept his positions as generalissimo of the army and leader of the Dominican Party.


However, in 1942, with US President Franklin Roosevelt having run for a third term in the United States, Rafael Trujillo ran for president again and was elected unopposed.


Rafael Trujillo served for two terms, which he lengthened to five years each.


Rafael Trujillo maintained an execution list of people throughout the world who he felt were his direct enemies or who he felt had wronged him.


Rafael Trujillo was known for his open-door policy, accepting Jewish refugees from Europe, Japanese migration during the 1930s, and exiles from Spain following its civil war.


In 1940 an agreement was signed and Rafael Trujillo donated 26,000 acres of his properties for settlements.


Rafael Trujillo's government favored white refugees over others while Dominican troops expelled illegal immigrants, resulting in the 1937 Parsley Massacre of Haitian migrants.


The commission concluded that only forested waterways could support hydroelectric dams, so Rafael Trujillo banned logging in potential river watersheds.


Rafael Trujillo encouraged foreign investment in the Dominican Republic, particularly from Americans.


Rafael Trujillo gave a concession with mineral rights in the Azua Basin to Clem S Clarke, an oilman from Shreveport, Louisiana.


Rafael Trujillo tended toward peaceful coexistence with the United States government.


Rafael Trujillo encouraged diplomatic and economic ties with the United States, but his policies often caused friction with other nations of Latin America, especially Costa Rica and Venezuela.


Rafael Trujillo maintained friendly relations with Franco of Spain, Peron of Argentina, and Somoza of Nicaragua.


Encroachment by Haiti was an ongoing process, and when Rafael Trujillo took over, specifically the northwestern border region had become increasingly "Haitianized".


In 1933, and again in 1935, Rafael Trujillo met the Haitian President Stenio Vincent to settle the border issue.


Under pressure from Washington, Rafael Trujillo agreed to a reparation settlement in January 1938 of US$750,000.


In 1941, Lescot, who had received financial support from Rafael Trujillo, succeeded Vincent as President of Haiti.


Rafael Trujillo expected that Lescot would be his puppet, but Lescot turned against him.


In turn, when Fulgencio Batista was in power, Rafael Trujillo initially supported anti-Batista supporters of Carlos Prio Socarras in Oriente Province in 1955; however, weapons Rafael Trujillo sent were soon inherited by Fidel Castro's insurgents when Prio allied with Castro; Dominican-made Cristobal carbines and hand grenades became the rebels' standard weapons.


Rafael Trujillo, convinced that Batista would prevail, was very surprised when Batista showed up as a fugitive after he had been ousted.


Rafael Trujillo kept Batista until August 1959 as a "virtual prisoner".


Rafael Trujillo began to interfere more and more in the domestic affairs of neighboring countries.


Rafael Trujillo expressed great contempt for Venezuela's president Romulo Betancourt; an established and outspoken opponent of Trujillo, Betancourt associated with Dominicans who had plotted against the dictator.


Rafael Trujillo developed an obsessive personal hatred of Betancourt and supported numerous plots by Venezuelan exiles to overthrow him.


Rafael Trujillo was methodical, punctual, secretive, and guarded; he had no true friends, only associates and acquaintances.


Rafael Trujillo acquired cattle lands on a grand scale, and went into meat and milk production, operations that soon evolved into monopolies.


Jose Arismendy Rafael Trujillo oversaw the creation of the main radio station, La Voz Dominicana, and later the television station, the fourth in the Caribbean.


Rafael Trujillo was married three times and kept other women as mistresses.


On 13 August 1913, Rafael Trujillo married Aminta Ledesma Lachapelle, with whom he had 2 daughters, Julia, who died as an infant, and Flor de Oro, who died of lung cancer in 1978.


On 30 March 1927, Rafael Trujillo married Bienvenida Ricardo Martinez, a girl from Monte Cristi and the daughter of Buenaventura Ricardo Heureaux.


Trujillo's three children with Maria Martinez were Rafael Leonidas Ramfis, who was born on 5 June 1929, Maria de los Angeles del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, born in Paris on 10 June 1939, and Leonidas Rhadames, born on 1 December 1942.


In 1937, Trujillo met Lina Lovaton Pittaluga, an upper-class debutante with whom he had two children, Yolanda in 1939, and Rafael, born on 20 June 1943.


Rafael Trujillo was generally quite healthy but suffered from chronic lower urinary infections and, later, prostate problems.


Rafael Trujillo's favorite was Casa Caobas, on Estancia Fundacion near San Cristobal.


Rafael Trujillo used Estancia Ramfis, Estancia Rhadames, and a home at Playa de Najayo.


Rafael Trujillo maintained a penthouse at the Embajador Hotel in the capital.


Rafael Trujillo was popularly known as "El Jefe" or "El Benefactor" but was privately referred to as Chapitas because of his indiscriminate wearing of medals.


Dominican children emulated Rafael Trujillo by constructing toy medals from bottle caps.


On Tuesday, 30 May 1961, Rafael Trujillo was shot and killed when his blue 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air was ambushed on a road outside the Dominican capital.


Rafael Trujillo was the victim of an ambush plotted by a number of men, such as General Juan Tomas Diaz, Pedro Livio Cedeno, Antonio de la Maza, Amado Garcia Guerrero and General Antonio Imbert Barrera.


Rafael Trujillo's funeral was that of a statesman with the long procession ending in his hometown of San Cristobal, where his body was first buried.


However, Rafael Trujillo was certainly murdered with weapons supplied by the CIA.


Rafael Trujillo used the contacts with Bosch, Volman, and Figueres for a new purpose, as the United States moved to rally the Western Hemisphere against Cuba's Fidel Castro, Trujillo had become expendable.


Vidal was the unofficial business agent of the Dominican Republic while Rafael Trujillo was in power.