Rafael Trujillo - Personality Cult

Personality Cult

In 1936, at the suggestion of Mario Fermín Cabral, Congress voted overwhelmingly to change the name of the capital from Santo Domingo to Ciudad Trujillo. The province of San Cristobal was changed to "Trujillo", and the nation's highest peak, Pico Duarte, was renamed Pico Trujillo. Statues of "El Jefe" were mass-produced and erected across the Republic, and bridges and public buildings were named in his honor. The nation's newspapers had praise for Trujillo as part of the front page, and license plates included slogans such as "¡Viva Trujillo!" and "Año Del Benefactor De La Patria" (Year of the Benefactor of the Nation.) An electric sign was erected in Ciudad Trujillo so that "Dios y Trujillo" could be seen at night as well as in the day. Eventually, even churches were required to post the slogan "Dios en cielo, Trujillo en tierra" (God in Heaven, Trujillo on Earth). As time went on, the order of the phrases was reversed (Trujillo on Earth, God in Heaven). Trujillo was recommended for the Nobel Peace Prize by his admirers, but the committee declined the suggestion. When he received (or summoned) a visitor, his four bodyguards would have submachine guns trained upon the "guest" during the meeting.

Trujillo was eligible to run again in 1938, but, citing the U.S. example of two presidential terms, he stated: "I voluntarily, and against the wishes of my people, refuse re-election to the high office." The Dominican Party nominated Trujillo's handpicked successor, 71 year old vice-president Jacinto Peynado, with Manuel de Jesús Troncoso as his running mate. They appeared alone on the ballot in the 1938 election. Retaining his positions as "Generalissimo" and leader of the Dominican Party, Trujillo only nominally ceded control to President Peynado. Peynado increased the size of the electric "Dios y Trujillo" sign and died on March 7, 1940, with Troncoso serving out the rest of the term. However, in 1942, with President Franklin D. Roosevelt having run for a third term in the United States, Trujillo ran for president again and was elected unopposed. He served for two terms, which he had lengthened to five years each. In 1952, he ceded the presidency to his brother, Héctor.

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