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Trujillo’s Affect on Economic Stability

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    In what ways and with what consequences did Trujillo’s rise to power and dictatorship affect the Dominican Republic’s economic, political and social stability from 1930 to 1961? Anon Word Count: 2,803 Part A: Plan of Investigation In order to assess the effect of Trujillo’s rise to power and subsequent dictatorship on the Dominican Republic’s overall stability, this investigation focuses on the relationship between his economic, political and social policies and their effects on the country. It will evaluate the societal, fiscal and governmental situation prior to Trujillo’s regime and the impact of his reforms and rule on the land.

    In order to evaluate the effectiveness of his dictatorship, the policies used to influence the economy, as well as the ramifications his leadership had on the political and social stability of the country are explored. The two sources selected for evaluation, The Dominican People by Sagas, Ernesto, and The Dominican Republic by Moya Pons will be analyzed for their origins, purposes, limitations and values. Part B: Summary of Evidence Following the assassination of Ulises Heureaux, the Dominican Republic was left in a state of terrible economic ruin as his inability to properly regulate his people or the economy eventually led to the U.

    S’s intervention of 1905 in which all fiscal matters were now tended to by U. S agents. In addition to their personal interests invested in sugar production, the U. S saw it fit to position marines in the Dominican Republic so as to defend their investment against European oppression. While the troops were there, Rafael Molina Trujillo began his training with the Marines and quickly rose to the rank of commander of the army, a short step to assuming the presidency and total power. With the citizens pacified and the National Army under his control, Trujillo ran for president in 1930.

    Because he essentially commanded the country’s entire military force, Trujillo easily won and was inaugurated on August 16, 1930. Once he came to power, Trujillo began a process of national reconstruction founded on the belief that stability would only be achieved in accordance with the political unification of the territory; he essentially relinquished all other political parties as he ushered in the development of the economic resources of the country. Under his reign, Trujillo’s government carried out the most grandiose program of public works and construction ever realized in the Dominican Republic.

    In areas where there were no clear titles or connections to the people who inhabited the land, Trujillo’s administration redistributed the territory in a way that seemed equitable to the citizens and benefitted his pocket simultaneously; essentially he positioned the hardest laborers on the largest portions of land. Through the Trujillo-Hull Treaty, ratified on the 5th of February 1941, Trujillo ended the United States administration of Dominican customs, introduced the Peso to replace the Dollar, and retired the Dominican debt, all the while managing to amass a sizable personal fortune.

    While under his regime, the Dominican Republic underwent the drastic change from a rural, agricultural lifestyle, to a more industrialized and urban state of mind, with the center of this transformation located at the county’s capital, Santo Domingo. This change provided citizens with jobs, a higher standard of living, more affordable goods, a better means of transportation, and most importantly a sustainable and profitable economy.

    After a few years, the country’s prosperity began to be evident, as seen by the opening of tens of thousands of hectares of land donated by the state and the settling of thousands of peasant families in regions which until then were left uncultivated. At its peak, the Dominican economy’s GDP experienced a growth at the rate of about 6. 5 percent a year from 1950 to 1958. Under Trujillo, the Dominican Republic experienced a prolonged period in the country’s history where it was not directly attacked or occupied by Spain, the United States or Haiti.

    On the other hand, Trujillo’s rule is also largely characterized as despotic and tyrannical; assassination, prostitution, megalomania, any of the former could adequately describe his legislation. While at one point where it would have benefitted him, Trujillo claimed his Haitian nationality and dramatically kissed the Haitian flag, and attended a multitude of passive aggressive ‘peace’ meetings with hopes to keep Haitians on their side of the undefined border; he wanted to integrate himself with the Haitian elites to eventually render is control over them acceptable in a peaceful manner. When this did not work, Trujillo engendered with the use of mass propaganda a radical anti-Haitian racist movement where citizens were often forced to cooperate in order to further his agenda. Following alleged Haitian-Dominican border disputes, Trujillo in 1937 ordered one of the bloodiest genocides of history, essentially sending 15 to 20 thousand Haitians to their death by the military.

    Although published reasons for and why the killings took place blamed the common people, this movement was instituted in order to once again solidify the D. R’s economic stability; to Trujillo, undocumented and untaxed goods being transported across the border was money lost, and he used the cover of minor border tensions to orchestrate these killings. By integrating civilians in the killings, Trujillo also instilled in society ‘anti-Haitianism’, complete and utter racism against their neighbors in order to ensure that border integration was never an issue again.

    Eventually, a compensation of $525,000, negotiated down from $750,000 was paid to the Haitian government to cover the losses of the country. While rising to power, the dictator often forced industry owners to sell extensive portions of their companies for outrageously low figures. This process eventually led to Trujillo’s near-total (close to 80% of the market) control over the economy, forcing a dependence on the leader from the public; more than half of all Dominicans relied on Trujillo to provide their salary.

    This relationship later proved to be disastrous as his assassination once again threw the country into economic turmoil. The period after Trujillo’s assassination in 1961 and the 1965 civil war were both politically and economically chaotic, prompting simultaneous capital flight and increased demands for spending on social programs. Now with new methods of gaining capital, the economical distribution mirrored that of industrial America’s; during his reign the top 10% of the pop earned 39% of the country’s economy, and the bottom 50% earned 19%.

    This changed to the top 20% earning 60% and the bottom 20 earning 4. 5%, a truly sad exchange. Agriculture contributed to 25% of the nation’s GDP, provided 80-90% of the nation’s exports and employed 73% of the labor force in the D. R only to later deteriorate down to 35 of the labor force, 15% of the GDP, and 50% of the exports. In addition to economic diversity, social diversity was also implemented as new professions came about. People continued to deviate from Trujillo’s method, hich in fact did work and prospered, to new fields of work with only the faintest possibility of success in a new market; manufacturing began to play a more important role as society continued with hopes of advancement albeit their long period of economic disaster. The government also felt like land reforms were necessary after the Generalissimo’s death, as prior to this point harder working citizens were strategically located on larger portions of land to yield a bigger harvest. With the stress on sugar production gone, land was distributed it in a way that the IAD () saw fit and equitable, although this later proved to be a major failure.

    Part C: Evaluation of Sources Moya, Pons Frank. The Dominican Republic: A National History. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 1998. Print. This monograph offers insight to the events that led to the economical crisis in the Dominican Republic. As well as giving a detailed account of the circumstances prior to the U. S. intervention of 1905, this source provides a specific explanation for why the economy behaved as it did prior to Trujillo’s control, and what political changes he ushered in to stabilize the country.

    Moya’s main goal was to analyze the reasons for and why exactly the economy fluctuated so drastically, as well as offer a truthful portrayal of the dictator himself. In this source, Moya depicts Trujillo as the just redeemer of the Dominican Republic’s economy, all the while exposing him as a corrupt and cynical individual who often monopolized industries and coerced the public to suit his needs, illustrating how balanced the source is. This source however, lacks specific examples of how his rule affected the social stability of the Dominican Republic; it is just assumed that it was improved.

    Sagas, Ernesto, and Orlando Inoa. The Dominican People: A Documentary History. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2003. Print. This monograph offers insight as to the cons of Trujillo’s regime. Examples of this would be specific references to the 1937 Haitian massacre and the corruption he used to gain his fortune; it shows a negative side to his control. I will use this to contrast between his beneficial impacts to balance the amount of bias from the previous primary sources.

    Sagas and Inoa created this source with the intention of opposing the “benevolent despot” view that other authors attribute to the dictator. In this source, there is clearly a bias against Trujillo, as he is often considered excessively egotistic during the time of his presidency; there is even a chapter dedicated to his megalomania. This source, lacks specific economic references when discussing its development over his term; the social and societal impacts are valued much greater than the economical influences that Trujillo engendered. Part D: Analysis

    Referencing the economic crisis the Dominican Republic was left to deal with, Trujillo responded with amazing effectiveness; through his fiscal reforms and wide spread monopolization and land reform, the Dominican economy was restored back into its ‘sovereignty’. Prior to the signing of the Trujillo-Hull Treaty, any fiscal disclosures were handled by U. S agents. During this period, Trujillo coerced industry owners to grant him a large percentage of the company’s worth, continuing this process until he owned 80 percent of the country’s industrial production.

    Using the funds provided by this method, Trujillo invested a lot of his own personal fortune to further industrial assembly, specifically sugar production, the U. S. ‘s primary interest in the Dominican Republic. Agriculture contributed to 25% of the nations GDP, and provided 80-90% of the nation’s exports. As the country grew industrially, the external debt was slowly paid off; sugar exported into the United States served as compensation for their aid in paying off the debt and cheaper, more affordable goods helped to stimulate the economy.

    Once the debt was paid off and the ratification of this treaty was complete, the 36 year long period of control the U. S. held over the country was transferred to the hands of Trujillo. Under his control, the people were given jobs, the Dominican Republic gained its economic independence, but most importantly Trujillo provided the means for a stable economy; he relinquished the dependence the Dominican Republic once held with the U. S. only to place this burden on himself. At its peak, the economy was at par with that of the U.

    S. ‘s: 1 USD was of equal value to 1 Dominican Peso. To celebrate this feat, in 1955 a third of the nation’s national budget (of which 80,000 was spent on Angelita’s -Trujillo’s daughter- gown) was spent to fund a gala commemorating Trujillo’s 25th year in office; the sheer expense attributed to the funding of this celebration epitomized the regal stature of the country’s economy, all engendered by Trujillo’s rule. Politically and socially, Trujillo’s leadership also managed to develop stability in the country.

    Prior to his control, periods where numerous revolts and presidencies emerged in the span of what would now be one term, were very common. Under his rule, Trujillo fostered 31 years of unperturbed prosperity where the Dominican Republic faced no foreign animosity. Once the U. S. felt that the Dominican Army was up to par with that of the Americans’, Trujillo was left in position as commander of the National Police which under his control, remained to grow and subsequently increase his power.

    Rising to the position of president in such a blunt and direct manner influenced how exactly citizens would behave in society; members of the upper class finally appreciated a stern ruler, one who could provide the means for one to enjoy life while administering appropriate, often brutal repercussions to those who wrongly violated another’s rights. Seeing how they were now disarmed, the public had no choice but to abide by the law lain down by Trujillo, a sort of martial law.

    This does not go to say that citizens did not enjoy their living conditions, under his rule, “a man could have fallen asleep on the side of the road with an unlocked suitcase full of money, in the most populated section of the city, and still wake up to find not a peso touched”. In addition to an increased moral code that grew among citizens, the national police provided Dominican citizens with the utmost protection, as long as the residents did not dare to deter from the dictators’ agenda.

    During his time as president, Trujillo even granted women suffrage and made voting mandatory, all in attempt to unify the country politically and socially; under his leadership, civil war was unheard of. Consequently however, the dictator’s rule did have a negative side. While rising to power, any men who seemed to detriment his climb to presidency suddenly disappeared, several hundred accounts of murder even went undocumented for; the authoritative bureaucracy he instituted was administered with the belief that only traitors had to fear losing their life, the loyal were safe.

    Building upon the idea of loyalty, citizens living under his reign were mandated to recite “God in Heaven, Trujillo on Earth”, during any public political gatherings, and hang a portrait of the president in their houses, a sort of sustenance to fuel his megalomania, a result of the blinding power he managed to build. Due to the vast amount of the economy the president owned, 60% of all Dominicans depended on the ruler to provide for their income.

    This unequal distribution of economic power eventually led to yet another fiscal disaster as his assassination left 80% of the Dominican stock unregulated. Trujillo was the only one to benefit from this wealth, although the stability of the country was greatly furthered, the technological advancement that the funds could have went to were consumed by his family’s self indulgence, contradicting the economic stability he established. After his death, the now unstable government attempted to diversify the economy and incorporate new methods of gaining capital.

    In an environment where sugar production was the most stressed form of income for nearly 31 years however, it goes without being said that these methods were not highly effective until the late 1980’s and early 1990’s where mining, assembly manufacturing and tourism began to grow in stability. This was logical seeing how so much of the sugar market was directed and governed by Trujillo himself, once the head was cut the rest of the snake died; with his death the stress on the sugar market collapsed, and this held drastic consequences for the economic path the country would later follow.

    In fact, 40 years after his death, the low sugar production still often stifled the economy. Part E: Conclusion Although his means of sustaining the country are extremely controversial, his ruling definitely provided economic, social and political stability the country had not witnessed before. In addition to his monopolistic economic preference, the 1937 Haitian massacre ultimately impacted the country negatively. Lacking any clear motive behind this blatant genocide, Trujillo appeared to go completely against the social stability he publically practiced for so long.

    Because of the highly involved position that Trujillo assumed however, he deprived the nation of the opportunity of faster modernization and socio-economic development; throughout the reconstruction of the Dominican Republic under the Trujillo Era, his rule created people that could not function without depending on the dictator one way or another. Works Cited “Interview with Valentine Beltre. ” Personal interview. 02 Feb. 2012. Metz, Helen Chapin. Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies. Washington, D. C. : Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 2001. Print. Moya, Pons Frank.

    The Dominican Republic: A National History. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 1998. Print. Moya, Pons Frank. “Trujillo’s Inaugural Address. ” The Dominican Republic: A National History. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 1998. Print. Sagas, Ernesto, and Orlando Inoa. The Dominican People: A Documentary History. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2003. Print. THORNING, JOSEPH F. “• The Dominican Republic: Twenty-Five Years of Peace and Prosperity. ” World Affairs. Vol. 118, No. 2 (Summer) (pp. 45-47), 1995. Web. Derby, Lauren. The Dictator’s Seduction: Gender and State Spectacle during the Trujillo Regime.

    Callaloo, Vol. 23, No. 3, Dominican Republic Literature and Culture (Summer, 2000), pp. 1112-1146. The Johns Hopkins University Press ——————————————– [ 1 ]. Metz, Helen Chapin. Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies. Washington, D. C. : Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 2001. Print. 30 [ 2 ]. Metz, 33, 162; Moya, Pons Frank. The Dominican Republic: A National History. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 1998. Print, 265-266; Sagas, Ernesto, and Orlando Inoa. The Dominican People: A Documentary History. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2003.

    Print. 133. The external debt problem can be entirely attributed to Heureaux; the socially instable country, which under his control had recently ended a civil war, which left the country financially depressed. His response also ended up ruining the economy as the numerous loans contracted from Europe were not paid off. By the time of his death, the Dominican Republic owed over 34 million dollars to Europe, a debt paid off by the U. S who in turn maintained control of the Dominican Republic as they had personal interests grounded in sugar production industries.

    Under this accord, the U. S government assumed responsibility for all Dominican debt as well for the collection of customs duties and the allocation of those revenues to the Dominican government and to the repayment of its domestic and foreign debt. Although the senate did not entirely agree with this accord, it provided the foundation for the General Customs Receivership that would later be established in April 1905. [ 3 ]. Metz, 39. Trujillo now controlled a far more powerful national military institution than had previously existed.

    Moreover, he benefited from the United States 1920’s policy of nonintervention; a policy facilitated by the absence of any perceived threat to continued United States influence in the area from an outside power. [ 4 ]. Sagas & Inoa, 150. In addition to the disarmament of the public, the Dominican upper class saw in Trujillo their redeemer as prior rulers lacked effective leadership to impose order. [ 5 ]. Ibid, 151. The central theme of his inaugural speech was the country’s severe economic crisis- a result of the Great Depression as well as the condition that Heureaux left the state in. 6 ]. Moya, 366-67; Sagas & Inoa, 168-9. On September 24, 1940, Trujillo and Cordell Hull, U. S. Secretary of state, signed a treaty modifying the convention of 1924 to the effect that from that moment on the Customs office would no longer operate under the direction of the U. S. Government and that its offices and branches would become part of the Dominican public administration system. This became known as the “Trujillo-Hull Treaty”, ratified on February 15, 1941. Essentially this financially liberated the Dominican Republic from the U. S’s control for the first time since 1905. [ 7 ].

    Ibid, 365. Trujillo’s economic and financial empire grew so large that at the end of his life in 1961 he controlled nearly 80 percent of the country’s industrial production and his firms employed 45 percent of the country’s active force labor. Combined with his absolute control of the state which employed 15 percent of the labor force, this meant that nearly 60 percent of Dominican families depended on his will one way or another. Essentially, he monopolized the country. A notable example being the sugar industry of which he controlled 98 percent.

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