The Dominican Republic, and its owner, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo
All throughout the 20th century we can observe the marked presence of totalitarian regimes and governments in Latin America. Countries like Cuba, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic all suffered under the merciless rule of dictators and military leaders. Yet the latter country, the Dominican Republic, experienced a unique variation of these popular dictatorships, one that in the eyes of the world of those times was great, but in the eyes of the Dominicans, was nothing short of deadly.
Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, or “El Chivo”, controlled the people of the Dominican Republic in a manner that set him apart from the other leaders of that time. By controlling every aspect of the country’s economy, he controlled the people, by controlling each individual’s income and their jobs, he controlled their lives. (Sagas, 173) It is true that from the outside it may appear that the economy was getting better in the Dominican Republic, but the problem was that all of the enterprises and businesses were directly or indirectly owned and controlled by Trujillo himself, not the government. Building bridges, making better roads, and establishing monuments were Trujillo’s ideas as to how to make the Dominican Republic a better place. (de Besault, N/A) True that these things made the Republic more appealing and made transportation better, but the inhumane methods Trujillo employed to maintain his complete and utter control of the people completely overshadowed any positive things that he may have done.
This previously inexistent economy is what allowed Trujillo to attain and strengthen his power in the Dominican Republic. Oddly enough, the same people who put Trujillo in a governmental position are the same people that are still today trying to instill control on foreign governmental decisions, the United States of America. The United States occupied the Dominican Republic in 1916, and when they vacated the country, they named Rafael Leonidas Trujillo second chief of a military branch. (Bosch, 173) The weakened ruling party allowed Trujillo to ascend through the ranks and gain popularity from 1924 to 1930, when he was elected President. Promises and ideas of economic stability filled the eyes and ears of the Dominican people, and allowed El Chivo to come into power. The Great Depression and World War II also allowed Trujillo to do as he pleased; due to the fact that the great powers had to shift their focus elsewhere.
Slowly but surely Rafael Trujillo started making the Dominican Republic his own little piggybank. As he saw that the country had been stripped of many industries, he started to buy back everything that was in foreign control. (Sagas, 172) If he could not buy the business or gain control of the economic sector through lawful competition, he would gain control unlawfully. These other means often consisted of giving unfair interest rates to...