Living in a 3rd world country can be very difficult for its inhabitants- especially minority groups. Minorities are usually underrepresented, abused and taken advantage of in a community. In countries like the Dominican Republic, where men are still considered superior to women, the inequality is extremely evident. Women compose 50% of the world’s population, yet they are still considered a minority. Women continue to be abused and taken advantage of in many societies despite the fact that they have demonstrated to be just as bright and capable as men. The men of the Dominican Republic are characterized as “alpha males” and are constantly expected to express their manliness. This idea emerged from the dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. He engraved the idea into the society that men were superior to women, therefore women had to do as men pleased. His reign was characterized by brutal murders, abuse of women and theft. He was a dictator of the Dominican Republic for thirty-one years. During this time frame the country lived in a state of fear, oppression and manipulation. My research will focus in determining the overall effect of his reign on the country’s social, political and economic conditions.
The rise of Trujillo occurred because of the corruption that invaded the country during the 1930’s and 1940’s. After the United States’ occupation of the Dominican Republic he was left in a very high position in the army. From there on he expanded his wealth by stealing from the poor and taking over land wherever he could. Also, he had connections with the Church which also allowed him to increase his wealth. In an editorial written in the TIME he is described as being the “gaudiest dictator”. He was manipulative and did everything in his power to get his way. The corruption that existed in the higher institutions was the reason why he achieved such an immense level of power. Even though people were not happy with his rule they were too frightened to act out against him. The level of fear was so intense, that even though the people were not happy with his rule they still praised him.
Women were victims of Trujillo since the beginning of his reign. He rose to power and believed that he could have any women he wanted to. Then he was faced with the Mirabal sisters. They refused to give themselves up to him and that got them into trouble. When the eldest sister rejected him at a party he got enraged. The next day he went to her house and took her father. He requested for her to stay with him and her father would be allowed to walk free. Julia Alvarez wrote a book describing the life of women including the Mirabal sisters during the Trujillo era. She describes the sisters’ encounters with Trujillo and all of the abuse that women faced with him. In her book Alvarez writes, quoting Minerva Mirabal, “‘Sometimes, watching the rabbits in their pens, I’d think, I’m no different from you, poor things’ ” (63). They were trapped by Trujillo. They had to do everything he said in order to remain alive. Trujillo treated women more as objects than human beings. Most women were so frightened by him that they just gave themselves up to him in order to avoid any conflict. The Mirabal sisters later became icons for Dominican women and to the Dominican Republic as a whole.
Not only were women forced to be with Trujillo and his associates, but they were also degraded. Women were not able to hold government jobs or even pursue higher education. One of the Mirabal sisters wanted to attend law school and they couldn’t because he prohibited that. Men and women practically had a pre-determined role in society. Men were supposed to be strong and confident while women were supposed to be constantly in distress and sexy. In the novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao the mistreatment and oppression that women faced is evident. Belicia was not able to achieve her dreams because she became pregnant and moved to the United States. While she lived in the Dominican Republic she only had mediocre jobs where men were constantly looking at her body. The husbands she had did not respect her, they constantly put her down and didn’t give her the position she deserved. Many people attempted to flee the Dominican Republic during the Trujillo era in order to escape his government. They believed that they would be better off in a foreign country, away from all of his terror, except they faced a new terror when entering a new country.
Women were not the only ones who faced the effects of Trujillo. He conducted a massacre in which “people who were not able to pronounce the “r” in perejil were executed”
(Ayuso 1). According to him this automatically meant that they were Haitians. This massacre is called “The Feast of the Goat”. It was an event that the media did not put too much emphasis on because they were afraid of the repercussions. A feud between the Dominican Republic and Haiti is starting to rise now in current times. People should look at past events like The Feast of the Goat and analyze the effects of them and determine whether or not it is worth it. We need to learn how to pick our fights. Is killing thousands of innocent people because we want to demonstrate superiority really the way to go?
Trujillo was more than a dictator. Not only did he impose his rule on the country but also imposed and encouraged violence and discrimination. Nothing positive can be said when speaking about him and his thirty-one years in power. He abused and took advantage of women. He also committed thousands of assassinations. Trujillo used his money and power to corrupt the entire government and higher institutions. He brainwashed the Dominicans into hating the neighboring country of Haiti. We cannot permit another event such as the Feast of the Goat to occur. Dominicans need to stay united in the name of democracy without committing injustices against any single person or country in order to demonstrate superiority.
1. Ayuso, Monica G. "'How lucky for you that your tongue can taste the 'r' in 'Parsley'': trauma theory and the literature of Hispaniola." Afro-Hispanic Review 30.1 (2011): 47+. Academic OneFile. Web. 12 Apr. 2015.
2. Díaz, Junot. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. New York: Riverhead Books, 2007. Print.
3. In the Time of the Butterflies. Dir. Mariano Barroso. By Julia Alvarez. Metro Golden Mayer, 2001. Film.
4. "DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Gaudiest Dictator." Editorial. TIME 19 Nov. 1945: n. page. Time. Time Inc., 19 Nov. 1945. Web. 12 Apr. 2015.