Rafael Trujillo

Leader of the Dominican Republic from 1930 - 1961

Essential Question:

What characteristics and actions have lead to Trujillo being considered the most ruthless dictator of the Western Hemisphere?

Early Days

  • "In his youth, Trujillo worked at a variety of legal and illegal trades, including cattle rustler, forger, and telegraph operator."
  • He was also an enthusiastic soldier in the American created National Guard. He got promoted frequently and when the National Guard transitioned to the National Police he was the commander in chief

"He who does not know how to deceive does not know how to rule." - Rafael Trujillo

Rise to Power

  • Trujillo used his military power to rise to Presidency. He intimidated and refused to help other political parties and eventually had an election where he won by more votes than there were registered voters.
  • Once in power he frequently used his inaugural slogan of "God and Trujillo"
  • When a cyclone hit Santo Domingo, he rebuilt with the help of the Red Cross and renamed it Cuidad Trujillo
  • He said of his efforts "I'm no Marc Antony. I aspire to be a Julius Caesar in deeds. If I were Nero I would burn down Santo Domingo and rebuild it more beautifully".
  • Trujillo immediately consolidated power by outlawing all political, media, trade unions, and private associations that opposed him.

"His opponents were either bribed, jailed, exiled or killed."

In 1938, Trujillo refused a third term as president but appointed himself to the generalissimo of the army and installed puppet presidents


"In October 1937, Trujillo announced his intention to "whiten" the Dominican Republic by ordering the massacre of Haitians. The Dominican Army murdered an estimated 25,000 Haitian men, women and children- all civilians."


  • Many acts during WWII and the Cold War caused Trujillo to fall out of favor with the rest of the world.
  • Even the Catholic Church mobilized against Trujillo with the murder of the Butterflies
  • The US Central Intelligence Agency sent arms to Trujillo's opponents at home who attacked and killed him in May, 1961.
1961 Newsreel: Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic is assassinated

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Original Rap by CooneyK

Growing up I was poor

Always wanting and needing more

As I got older I knew how to get it

All I needed was power and my wit

I took what I wanted pushed people who got in my way

When I was in the lead it was where I needed to stay

I took out the Haitians, opposers and the haters

When the butterflies tried to take me out I said see you laterz

Who knew that I could get too greedy

all I knew in life was how to be needy

I stopped working with world powers and I got caught

They worked together and thats how I got shot