The Dominican Republic

Power Struggles from 1940-1960

Rafael Trujillo

Rafael Trujillo was born on October 24, 1891 in San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. He was cruel, and used torture and political maneuvering to become president in 1930. Trujillo changed the name of the capital from Santo Domingo to Ciudad Trujillo. He took control of everything, and massacred many Haitian migrants. Trujillo was president until 1938. After that, his brother took over until 1942. However, he was only a "puppet successor," so Trujillo kept control. He took back the presidency in 1942, and kept it until 1952. He ruled by force until he was assassinated in 1961.


Minerva Bernardino, a human rights activist who later exiled herself because she was against Trujillo, fought for expanded rights in the new constitution in 1942.Trujillo made the Dominican Republic debt-free in 1947.


In 1955, Trujillo ordered every household to hang a plaque that read "in this house, Trujillo is chief." From 1956-1959, about 1,300 Japanese people immigrated to the Dominican Republic. In 1959, Trujillo broke relations with Cuba after Castro took power.


Trujillo was the leader of a massacre against Haitian immigrants. This is known as "The Parsley Massacre," because if you were stopped by a Dominican soldier or citizen you would be asked to pronounce the word "perejil," the Dominican word for parsley. If you could not pronounce the letter r in that word, then you would be killed by either machetes, bayonets, or rifles. This massacre lasted five days and 20,000-30,000 Haitian lives were lost. Any Dominican that helped a Haitian also lost their lives

Julia Alvarez

Julia Alvarez, the author of In the Time of Butterflies, was born in New York in 1950. Although she moved to the Dominican Republic, she loved America, and tried to be as American as she could. When she was ten, her father plotted to overthrow Trujillo, and they had to flee the country. They went to America, where Alvarez grew up and wrote her books.

The Mirabal Sisters

Dede, Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa Mirabal were citizens of the Dominican Republic who opposed Trujillo. They were involved in politics, and had many connections with others who opposed Trujillo. They were arrested for leaving a party before him. The sisters were very loud about their disapproval, and Trujillo didn't like that. He had them assassinated in 1960.