Dominican Republic 1938
Written: by M. B in1938;
First published: January 22, 1938;
Source: Workers Age, Vol. 7, No. 4, 1938, p. 3;
Transcribed: by Amaury Rodriguez, 2014.
Transcriber’s note: This article appeared in Workers Age (originally Revolutionary Age), organ of the American Communist Party (Majority Group) led by Jay Lovestone (1897-1990). Grammar corrected for clarity.
After requiring more than a month to break through  Dominican censorship, news finally reached the U.S. concerning the atrocious massacre of Haitians in Santo Domingo last October. The more sober sifting of news reveals at least the following: On October 2, 1937, General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, nominal president and actual military dictator of the nominal Republic of Santo Domingo, decided to clean up his part of the island of Haiti of “dogs, hogs and Haitians.” The scope of Trujillo’s announcement was not lost on his troops. In the town of Santiago alone, 1, 900 Haitians, resident for several decades, were rounded up and wiped out. In Monte Christi,  at least 50 were killed and thrown into the sea. Various eye-witness accounts of the truck-loads of wounded and dying moving across the border to Haiti and of hundreds of dead lying in a single trench indicate that at least 12,000 victims would probably be a conservative estimate.
The island of Haiti proper is divided into the two nominal republics of Haiti and Santo Domingo. Haiti has one-half the area and more than twice the population of Santo Domingo.  It is universally poverty-stricken. Many Haitian workers used to find work in the sugar fields at harvest time. But now Batista is now deporting them in hordes, further aggravating the unemployment problem. In eastern Santo Domingo also, the large American sugar plantations import Haitian labor during the harvest. Thousands of Negro agricultural workers have settled in the fertile, unoccupied land on the Dominican border. Life is miserable enough with unemployment and the mercilessly high cost of living created by private monopolies of salt, meat, milk, shoes and tobacco. Trujillo regularly adds the appropriate condiment to this monotonous dish with minor waves of terror and freelance  atrocities against particular individuals.
Trujillo was undoubtedly born with native gifts for gangsterism and banditry; in his early twenties, he already had a none-too-modest record for robbery, forgery and cattle-rustling. But his vital nutriment was suckled at the poisonous breasts of American imperialism. On his release from jail in 1918, Trujillo joined the National Guard, love-child of our occupational Marines, as a secret service agent. Except for a short period during which he had to leave the National Guard (he rejoined as an ordinary recruit), Trujillo worked his way up by means of graft, robbery and rape. When the American Marines were withdrawn in 1924, he swung into stride with the good old double-cross. One after another, his superiors were swept away until he became head of the whole National Guard. He changed the name to “National Army.” In 1930, Trujillo got down to serious business in Santo Domingo. With the aid of the “National Army,” created and made efficient by the U.S.A; he took over the government and made himself President. Since that time, his early U.S. training and nourishment have borne their deserved fruit: a full grown, bloody, unscrupulous butcher of the first rank.
“We” no longer have troops on the island of Haiti ; but “we” have 30 million dollars there. Trujillo, we take it, is expected to “stabilize” the labor problem. At the present moment, however, his ordinary long-range methods for suppressing revolutionary sentiment are apparently inadequate. The approaching “elections,” rumors of growing dissatisfaction, plots and possible revolts, are turning Trujillo to foreign difficulties as a safety valve. Another reason for the latest expedition seems to be Trujillo’s increasing intimacy with Nazi Germany. Hitler could use a convenient base of operations near the Panama Canal. And Trujillo has already completed plans for a land settlement of 40,000 Germans along the Haitian frontier. Many of the Haitians recently killed were squatters on lands which Trujillo intended to give the German settlers.
The U.S. has agreed to join Cuba and Mexico in mediating the dispute between Haiti and Santo Domingo. To expect anything but a whitewashing is, in our opinion, unmitigated optimism. If the negotiations with Germany are of a serious nature, our State Department knows how to substitute Realpolitik for humanitarian self-righteousness. Trujillo, we submit, has no more, if not less, pride than Batista.  And if our State Department knew how to handle Batista, a few dollars more or less should not stand in the way of a friendly – a “good neighbor,” if you will! – understanding between American and Dominican democracy. Certainly, the United States can more easily afford the expense than Germany.
The vice-president of Santo Domingo has an electric sign on his house which reads: “God and Trujillo” – in red, white  and blue. We suggest an addition, to read: “God and Trujillo – and Roosevelt.”
1. The word “through” appears as “thru” in the original text.
2. Monte Cristi province in the northwest of the Dominican Republic is misspelled as Monte Christi in the original text.
3. This is incorrect. The island of Quisqueya or Ayiti (indigenous names) and Hispaniola (colonial name) is comprised of both Haiti and Santo Domingo.
4. The word “freelance” appears as “free-lance” in the original text.
5. The author is referring to the island of Quisqueya or Hispaniola which comprises both Haiti and the Dominican Republic (also known as Santo Domingo).
6. Fulgencio Batista (1901-1973).
7. There is a coma in the original text.