Trujillo Molina, Rafael Leonidas (räfäĕlˈ lāōnēˈħäs trōhēˈyō mōlēˈnä) [key], 1891–1961, president of the Dominican Republic (1930–38, 1942–52). Trained by U.S. marines during U.S. occupation of the country, he was army chief in the presidency of Horacio Vásquez, whom he ousted in 1930. He became dictator and retained power until his death even when not in the presidency. His autocratic, efficient, and ruthless regime accomplished considerable material progress. Terroristic methods were used, however, not only to repress Dominican opposition, but also against neighboring Haiti; in 1937, to stop Haitian infiltration, Dominican troops crossed the border and massacred between 10,000 and 15,000 Haitians. Generalissimo Trujillo was constantly embroiled in difficulties with other Caribbean countries, charging that plots were being hatched against him abroad. In 1956 rumor blamed the Trujillo regime for the disappearance from New York City of Jesús de Galíndez, a Columbia Univ. instructor who had sharply criticized Trujillo. Trujillo was assassinated in 1961.
See R. D. Crassweller, Trujillo: The Life and Times of a Caribbean Dictator (1966); J. de Galíndez, The Era of Trujillo (pub. after his disappearance, 1973).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.