Monday, November 11, 2013

Haiti and the era of Rafael Trujillo... (Part 1)

By : Herve Gilbert herve.gilbert@gmail.com
Available in Original French Version and  Spanish Version 
Haiti 1937 or memory of a massacre

This article on the Trujillo era was written to put in context the decision of the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic to make all Haitians living in the Dominican Republic as stateless, using a discriminatory law against them, which  denies the Dominican nationality to thousands of Haitians born in the Dominican land since 1929.


In today's article we will present a brief description of what was once called in the Dominican Republic, "the era of Trujillo," in reference to the Dominican dictator who ordered the massacre of more than 35,000 Haitians in 1937 in that country. We will begin with a short biography of Trujillo and we'll talk later about  the causes and consequences of that genocide, a shameful and brutal event that harmed his prestige in the entire world.
Brief biography of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo
Rafael Leonidas Trujillo

Rafael Leonidas Trujillo (1891-1961) was a soldier and politician who became Dominican President (1930-1938 , 1942-1952) and real head of state from 1930 to 1961 . We can say that President Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, became president after the military coup that overthrew President Horacio Vasquez after the popular uprising that took place in Santiago, February 23, 1930 , led by Rafael Estrella Ureña his ally and an opponent of Vasquez . Trujillo subtilized the political legacy of Rafael Estrella Ureña and became two months later the military and politician to take the reins of government.
At 39 years old , Rafael Leonidas Trujillo had thus become the president of the Dominican Republic August 16, 1930 , and suddenly had inherited the true heir of the American military intervention. The Dominican army was the mechanism by excellence of his repression and assassinations in order to keep the population under his yoke . He had a bad temper and his smile looked more like a grimace rarely imitated. Trujillo loved the good life, and not a friend of foreign  foods or foreign dishes, he preferred the Creole cuisine of the highest quality. He loved to dance to the sounds of folk music. He drank a lot and often getting drunk with his close friends .
Consequences - Haitian Massacre of 1937
Yes, it is true, it already sounds confusing and like a “déjà -vu” : a nationalist plan in which a race or a group should achieve by force or the extermination of ethnic cleansing , armed contingents , deportations , executions and at the end a small print referring to the impressive number of 35,000 dead in just two weeks epilogue.
The causes of the genocide committed by Trujillo October 2, 1937 have been explained in different ways by different historians , most of which alluded to border conflicts that have occurred in the past and yet apparently had ended on January 21, 1929 by the ratification of a treaty establishing conventional boundaries between the two countries .

For more than a century Haitians penetrated on abandoned farmland by the Dominicans during the time of the First Republic. Many efforts have been made in the nineteenth century to reach an agreement with Haiti . It has never been possible to clarify the issue of border limits. In the Treaty of 1874 , following negotiations , certain rights were granted to Haitians living on land previously claimed by the Dominicans. Meanwhile , in the early twentieth century , an attempt was made to reach a settlement on the limits of the border , which was finalized in 1929, under the government of Horacio Vásquez . But despite having signed on 21 January this year , the treaty on border limits did not include tens of thousands of Haitians who lived and worked as laborers in the sugar industry or as domestic servants in the homes of the family farmers and small traders in the south and in the north- west near the border .
These difficulties were added to other political causes: Dominican President Vasquez was overthrown in 1930, and in the Haitian side , the student revolt became a powerful movement was driven from power on 15 May of the same year President Louis Borno .
Among the various factors that led to the massacre of 1937 include a major aspiration of Trujillo " whitening border. He also wanted to destroy the opposition strongholds that he believed to be in the border areas and, according to him, also sought to invade the Dominican Republic.
President Stenio Vincent  and
President Trujillo in 1934.     
In November 1934 , Trujillo had visited Port -au- Prince, and in February 1935 , Vincent made ​​his visit to the Dominican Republic. During this last visit an agreement was reached in relation to these conflicts. In the same alliance with President Lescot, Trujillo had taken the decision not to publish or broadcast through Dominicans media in the country, any racist comments may offend Haiti and its government. Among other things, he was decided that the Dominican Republic would yield regions that Haitians had occupied for many years , and to consolidate the agreement was concluded that the way to solve this problem once and for all was to build an international highway which axis " will  be a demarcation between the two states. "



President Vincent accompanied by his Minister E. Lescot
 visit Trujillo in 1935.                                                      
However , Trujillo signed on March 9, 1935 another treaty with Haitian President Sténio Vincent in which some clauses in 1929 had been repealed . However, the agreements signed during this century , as in the past, did not prevent the penetration of Haitians in the Dominican Republic, where even their circulating currency , as in the Cibao and south of Azua . But there are those who want to believe that the Haitian Trujillo committed genocide in order to " purify" the Dominican race near the Dominican border.
However, there is good reason to believe that the causes were also due to his desire to put under his domination Haiti as evidenced by his attempt to bribe General Calixte , Commander of the National Guard of Haiti and then so the President Elie Lescot as well . But we must not forget another factor :the xenophobic impulse that was conveyed by the  Dominican extreme right activists who advocated hatred against Haitian immigrants and also wanted revenge for the occupation of the Dominican Republic by the Government of Boyer.
The massacre was formally started on the night of October 2, 1937 , when the tyrant came to Montecristi , where he was informed of a rumor that suggested that an imminent arrests and executions of its allies in Haiti would occur.  
Note that this genocide was known also under the name * Parsley, a phonetic term that murderers asked victims to decide whether they could pronounced the letter R with a Creole accent or a Dominican accent, a trick that would have been recommended by the Dominican President Rafael Trujillo himself. The latter ordered his troops to carry out the extermination of masses of people of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic , especially in farms located along the border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti . The massacre spread to Samana and to the western Cibao area and was carried out with knives, machetes specifically to give the impression that it was a riot between Haitians and Dominicans farmers. The act of Trujillo seemed inexplicable to observers, since he apparently maintained cordial relations with Haiti since 1933. Incidentally Trujillio facilitated European populations immigration in Dominican Republic white skin , especially Jewish immigrants one of his attempts to bleaching of the Dominican population , even by seeking to emigrate Dominican Blacks .
The genocide was carried out by the army with common criminals released for these purposes, began in the last days of September 1937 , and was pursued vigorously until October . For nearly two weeks, they had killed more than 30,000 people , men, women, elderly and children of all ages.
Trujillo and the 1938 elections

Rafael Trujillo's dictatorship is considered one of the
bloodiest in the Americas...                                     

However, the genocide committed against Haitians had received international condemnation prevented Trujillo stand as a candidate in the general election of 1938. The massacre of Haitians , popularly known as " cutting " caused an international scandal that forced Trujillo to negotiate an agreement by which the Dominican government undertook to pay the Haitian government compensation for victims with the government of Haiti . But this action also allowed the Trujillo regime to consolidate its hold on power with a government based on terror.
The tyrant has made ​​it clear when he resigned January 8, 1938 from office and could not be a candidate for president in 1938 , but maintained Jacinto B. Peynado and Manuel de Jesus Troncoso, respectively as president and vice president . And the Dominican Party corroborated this decision in the same direction after announcing to the public that during their party convention on February 28, 1938 they had chosen the binomial Peynado - Troncoso . The electoral farce was mounted and the Dominican Party , as expected got a second " overwhelming " victory. But in 1942 , he returned to power Trujillo and will remain until the date of 31 May 1961 , the day of his assassination committed with the participation directly or indirectly of the CIA, according to information that subsequently circulated in the media. The dictator became an embarrassment to the United States , especially after he orchestrated  the failed assassination of Venezuelan President Romulo Betancourt.
The consolidation of power
The massacre of Haitians , in economic terms, it is advantageous for the Dominican government , as it had pushed up prices of commodities in the country. Which had allowed Trujillo to a good supply of money to take important steps .
In 1946, he faced again with the oppostion movements led by the Socialist Party and the Democratic Youth, but these movements were crushed later with his usual methods of terror across the country. In July 1947 , Trujillo paid in the United States the amount of external debt amounting to the sum of $ 9. 271,855.55 cents. He then created the national currency bearing the effigies of the founders of Duarte, Sanchez and Mella nation.
Economic growth and monopolization

Trujillo welcoming the new President Magloire in
 Santo Domingo in February 1951.                           
The Trujillo dictatorship experienced economic growth due to policy changes in imports and the process of industrialization has increased after the Second World War with the establishment of food industries , cement , beverage and others.
The sugar industry was also developed under the acquired good prices since 1947 , prompting Trujillo to create with intelligence sugar factories in the country, such as: the central Catarey in Villa Altagracia in 1948, and four years later, in 1952 , bought the factory Edwin Kilbourne Monte Llano , Puerto Plata.
Trujillo has continued his policy of monopolization of sugar from foreign companies. In 1953 he bought the factory Ozama owned by Canadians, Amistad " owned by Puerto Ricans and " Porvenir " the Kelly family.


The situation in the Dominican Republic to the year 1954 was pretty good, exports rose and imports declined significantly. Indeed , imports had risen to 79 million, while exports were in the 112 million.

Haiti's Fight With The Dominican Republic

Trujillo has made his wishes in supporting almost all plants in 1955 when he acquired Barahona ( consuelo ) , Quisqueya , Boca Chica, Las Payas , and Santa Fe for a total of $ 39 million .
In 1947, when Trujillo paid the national debt and created the national currency, he was the richest man in the country . Own businesses, factories, farms and other businesses, the power of the Dominican population was complete. And it also accounted for the army of the nation. Never before in the history of the country - and the continent - a man had concentrated in his hands as much power as Trujillo.



Antonio Imbert is 90. Fifty years ago he was
 one of the seven men who ambushed and kil 
led Rafael Trujillo in May 30, 1961. And he  
said to the press by wearing his military uni-
form:                                                         
I shot the cruellest dictator in the Americas

He advocated the cult of his personality. The capital of the Republic took its name , as well as streets, roads , schools, warships , bridges, irrigation canals , Provinces, avenues and busts his image adorned all places public and government buildings. His egotism had grown limitless and it affubla securities chief, Benefactor and father of the new country.
The armed forces consist of the Army , Navy and Air , effective and disciplined force had increased significantly, and their ranks were built by young people from all social sectors of the country, but mainly young people from villages inside having finished their studies in high school.

To be continued ....
* The name Parsley given to this massacre  was to identify the Dominicans of Haitian origin or Haitians in the Dominican mulatto and black population in the border region where police Trujillo requested them to pronounce the name of the parsley plant Spanish ( Perejil ) . As the Creole language spoken by them did not consider the soft pronunciation of the letter "R" (in Haitian Creole parsley word translated " pèsil " and French " persey ") and the dominican police used this method apparently  to target  the Haitian victims for execution.
I have written this article by referring to several credible media sources from the Dominican Republic and with the help of Carl Gilbert in the editing.

This article may be shared, copied or reproduced in its entirety on your site, page or other social media available, but credit must be given in full to Haiti Connection Network, the author, the publisher with their names and emails as published at the bottom of the article.


Author : Herve Gilbert herve.gilbert@gmail.com



Dominicans Living And Working In Haiti



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