Trujillo used architecture to impose his dictatorship in the psyche of Dominicans

Dolores

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José Enrique Delmonte Soñé / Diario Libre

In his research for his doctorate, architect Jose Enrique Del Monte unfolds that Dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo discovered and used as of the 1940s the immense power that architecture can exercise on a people.

Del Monte has presented the thesis “Architectural language in the discourse of power in the Dominican Republic, 1940-1950.”

In an interview with Elina Maria Cruz of Diario Libre, Del Monte explains:

“In that sense, education, religion, art, culture, leisure and production are considered means of dissemination and control that become the force that truly sustains the regime. From a distance, we are amazed at how an entire society participated in consolidating a dictatorship like Trujillo’s. But in its initial moment, there was a feeling of need to direct the country towards progress without the obstacles...

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NALs

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It’s amazing the length people go to demonize that era beyond its demonization aspects. So now I guess the DR is better for adopting more noand buildings that has further made the country more ugly than then when many of the grand buildings still cherished today were built.

Dominicans can’t image Santo Domingo without the National Palace, the Palace of Fine Arts, the rescuing of the Alcázar de Colón (which must be one of the most photographed buildings in SD), the old Banreservas headquarters which still looks great from the outside, what’s SD without the malecón or the Duarte Bridge? All of that was built during that era and they are still cherished today, many considered some of SD’s most beautiful and impressive buildings.

If something SD has too little of are grand buildings and good urban planning which make several capital cities seem more grandiose than SD, even when one of those cities is smaller than SD!

SD had nice sidewalks, was more oderly, incorporated beauty in its urban design and overall was a more pleasant city. Today SD doesn’t have sny of that, plus now is crisscrossed by a cable web that is unreal, flooding in many areas whenever two drops fall, hardly any new large monument as most were built by Trujillo and Balaguer, overall it has become a dirty city, etc.

If the Trujillo Era was to be criticized in a legitimate way, the way to do that is make the city better than it was back then. Reality is that in many ways SD has gone backwards. There were no blackouts and water shortages back then, no need to use a tinaco. Imagine that!

It’s like complaining about the current education levrl when back then anyone that got an education got one of good quality. Say what you want, as long that the quality of education was better under Trujillo than today, there is really nothing more to say.
 

NALs

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If modern SD was built during that era, it would had been a nicer, cleaner, more oderly city that impress more and had better urbanism than today with less of a traffic problem, little flooding issues, great sidewalks everywhere, with no unreal spider web (aka, overhead cables) and much cleaner streets. Beauty in most of its areas. A true spectacle worthy of becoming a great tourist destination in its own right. That is simply a fact.
 

JD Jones

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There are quite a few of them, and most are huge and very impressive.
 

NALs

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There are quite a few of them, and most are huge and very impressive.
I think all the grand buildings built then are still standing, not to mention all the monuments built there. Lookat Santiago, the mostwell known monument that defines the city and the region is the Restauration Monument, the most impressive bridge is the Hermanos Patiño, etc. All were built then. It’s kind of embarrasing the so much time has gone by since they were built and nothing surpasses them as monuments, bridges, etc in the city. In fact, having a nice view of the monument from an apartment is a selling point!
 

XQT

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You seem to acknowledge Trujillo's demonizing aspect.
Between the lines you seem to admire other aspects of his rule.
A feeble attempt to portray the "good" aspects of evil.

Many despots around the world have built grand architecture with the peoples money,
To further show and enhance their power.
If you are an international traveller you will have seen this.

The grand architecture does not negate the evil aspect of their rule.
If you travel today, there are many current examples of despots and their architecture in evidence.

Evil, murder and suppression of the populous, has no redeeming qualities, other than control by fear for the benefit of the dictator.
Study history and you will see many examples, also of temporarily improved infrastructure in order to gain political control.

"Trujillo remained in absolute control of the Dominican Republic through his command of the army, by placing family members in office, and by having many of his political opponents murdered. He served officially as president from 1930 to 1938 and again from 1942 to 1952.

Competent in business, capable in administration, and ruthless in politics, Trujillo brought a degree of peace and prosperity to the republic that it had not previously enjoyed. However, the benefits of economic modernization were inequitably distributed in favour of Trujillo and his favourites and supporters. Moreover, the people of the country paid for the prosperity with the loss of their civil and political liberties."


The highlighted text in red, may bring other examples to mind.
 

bob saunders

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You seem to acknowledge Trujillo's demonizing aspect.
Between the lines you seem to admire other aspects of his rule.
A feeble attempt to portray the "good" aspects of evil.

Many despots around the world have built grand architecture with the peoples money,
To further show and enhance their power.
If you are an international traveller you will have seen this.

The grand architecture does not negate the evil aspect of their rule.
If you travel today, there are many current examples of despots and their architecture in evidence.

Evil, murder and suppression of the populous, has no redeeming qualities, other than control by fear for the benefit of the dictator.
Study history and you will see many examples, also of temporarily improved infrastructure in order to gain political control.

"Trujillo remained in absolute control of the Dominican Republic through his command of the army, by placing family members in office, and by having many of his political opponents murdered. He served officially as president from 1930 to 1938 and again from 1942 to 1952.

Competent in business, capable in administration, and ruthless in politics, Trujillo brought a degree of peace and prosperity to the republic that it had not previously enjoyed. However, the benefits of economic modernization were inequitably distributed in favour of Trujillo and his favourites and supporters. Moreover, the people of the country paid for the prosperity with the loss of their civil and political liberties."


The highlighted text in red, may bring other examples to mind.
All true, but under el mano Duro there was a very low crime rate, and clean streets.
 

NALs

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All true, but under el mano Duro there was a very low crime rate, and clean streets.
And the DR wasn’t famous for men for certain countries going to places like Sosúa or Boca Chica looking for hookers, Italian mafia dons discovered roaming around Dominican beaches, the Russian mafia, all sorts of criminals from various countries using the DR as their escape and hiding place, etc. Already 2 million Dominicans scattered around the world. The Interpol was founded in 1923. When have they seen the most activity in the DR, before or after Trujillo (take every 31 year interval if comparing time between one or the other is an issue)?
 

keepcoming

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My FIL has many stories about Trujillo and the way of life back then. He can spend hours reminiscing about those days.
 

NALs

Economist by Profession
Jan 20, 2003
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You seem to acknowledge Trujillo's demonizing aspect.
Between the lines you seem to admire other aspects of his rule.
A feeble attempt to portray the "good" aspects of evil.

Many despots around the world have built grand architecture with the peoples money,
To further show and enhance their power.
If you are an international traveller you will have seen this.

The grand architecture does not negate the evil aspect of their rule.
If you travel today, there are many current examples of despots and their architecture in evidence.

Evil, murder and suppression of the populous, has no redeeming qualities, other than control by fear for the benefit of the dictator.
Study history and you will see many examples, also of temporarily improved infrastructure in order to gain political control.

"Trujillo remained in absolute control of the Dominican Republic through his command of the army, by placing family members in office, and by having many of his political opponents murdered. He served officially as president from 1930 to 1938 and again from 1942 to 1952.

Competent in business, capable in administration, and ruthless in politics, Trujillo brought a degree of peace and prosperity to the republic that it had not previously enjoyed. However, the benefits of economic modernization were inequitably distributed in favour of Trujillo and his favourites and supporters. Moreover, the people of the country paid for the prosperity with the loss of their civil and political liberties."


The highlighted text in red, may bring other examples to mind.
You are aware that families that were affected by things like political killings, exile, etc accounted for less than 1% of the Dominican population, right?

The reality is that almost all Dominican families had no major issues with his regime.
 

bob saunders

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And that is exactly what a lot of the old timers remember. Sleeping with open/unlocked doors, etc. If his policies didn’t affect their family, they have fond memories.
My wife's family were close with the family Mirabal. The father of the Hermanas Mirabal was my MIL's godfather, and his brother was my wife's godfather. The Mirabal children were socialists and that is the real reason Trujillo, wanted to kill them. Obviously more involved in that.
 
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USA DOC

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He had a way of dealing with people.. especially the ladrons, no prison time.. he just killed them
 

XQT

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Sounds great,
A much needed clean up as some only can be dealt with with a hard hand.

Yet the definition of ladrones can also be extended to systemic opponents, who disappear in the night enemies of the state.
The despot decides who that is and sends the hit squads.

Yet too much liberalism and tolerance is creating obvious problems.
The drawbacks of democracy, not guarding the rights of the majority to a peaceful life.
There have to be limits to personal freedoms when they infringe the rights of others.

The world around many people can't deal with too much freedom.
Maybe they need a benevolent dictator??

There should be consequences to harmful actions.
Dominicans are getting away with a lot in corruption, crime and in traffic killing people.

Better architecture and law and order would be great!
Would citizens object to building nicer palaces and public building with tax money??

Of course private money and architects could build whatever they want.
He had a way of dealing with people.. especially the ladrons, no prison time.. he just killed them
 

NALs

Economist by Profession
Jan 20, 2003
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Better architecture and law and order would be great!
Would citizens object to building nicer palaces and public building with tax money??

Of course private money and architects could build whatever they want.
The very same Dominicans that throw garbage wherever and act in very uncivilized ways (look the traffic) do the opposite once in the Metro and cablecars. That has been the case since day one regardless if the station is in Piantini or Villa Mella. Let’s assume for a moment the grand aspect of these places has nothing to do with that.
 

XQT

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You are aware that families that were affected by things like political killings, exile, etc accounted for less than 1% of the Dominican population, right?

The reality is that almost all Dominican families had no major issues with his regime.

As we are interested in history and Trujillo,
It is worth remembering the period in the DR.

On 24 April 1965, young military officers rose in revolt in the Dominican Republic. Four days later US troops invaded the country. It was the first US military intervention in Latin America in more than three decades. These dramatic events brought to center stage a small, backward Caribbean republic where until 1916 civil war and dictatorship had been the rule, democracy and honest government the fleeting exception. Then the United States invaded, and the eight-year US occupation paved the way for the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, which stretched from 1930 until his assassination in May 1961. The country emerged from the trauma of Trujillo at a time when the United States was haunted by the fear of a second Cuba. In December 1962 the Dominican Republic held its first free elections in almost four decades. The victor, Juan Bosch, established a government characterized by administrative probity, political freedom, and the promise of social reform, but the Kennedy administration decided that he was soft on Communism. Bosch was overthrown in September 1963, and the de facto government that replaced him indulged in an orgy of corruption. As long as it ruled, there would be no social reforms and no free elections. When young officers rebelled on 24 April 1965 and announced that they would return Bosch to the presidency, the population responded with relief and enthusiasm. Urged on by Washington, “loyalist” generals attacked the capital, the stronghold of the revolt, only to be defeated by thousands of armed civilians and hundreds of rebel soldiers. On 28 April the US embassy warned, correctly, that it was a matter of days before the rebels took control of the entire country. It also alleged that Communists had gained control of the revolt. President Lyndon B. Johnson sent in the troops. A four-month stalemate ensued in the glare of the international press, with the rebels holding out in downtown Santo Domingo while the United States and the Dominican government it had created controlled the rest of the country. Finally in September 1965 a provisional government was established. Elections followed in June 1966. Observers and scholars at the time and later have disagreed as to whether the provisional government was a fair compromise brokered by Washington’s patient diplomacy or a diktat forced by Washington on the besieged rebels, and as to whether the June 1966 elections were free. The documents declassified by the US government since the 1980s show clearly that it was a diktat and that the elections were not truly free.

President Lyndon Johnson sent U.S. Marines to the island to support the junta and to place Joaquin Balaguer back in power. Balaguer had succeeded Gen. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, the brutal dictator who ruled the country with Washington's blessing for 31 years.

Trujillo used the U.S.-trained National Guard to banish, torture or kill his opponents.

Of course despots can rule with mano duro, and create architecture with government money to enhance their glory and power.
And of course political interests of foreign powers and their money frequently help to install despots to their liking,
To enhance their sphere of power.

History is fascinating and worth studying.
 

XQT

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The very same Dominicans that throw garbage wherever and act in very uncivilized ways (look the traffic) do the opposite once in the Metro and cablecars. That has been the case since day one regardless if the station is in Piantini or Villa Mella. Let’s assume for a moment the grand aspect of these places has nothing to do with that.
You are correct.
It is a lack of education, consideration and enforcement.
And maybe people do act better in a nice environment.

It all begins at home with educated parents and good manners being taught.
The decline of good manners can be seen in many places, other than the DR.

Of course placement of garbage receptacles and collection of garbage would also help.
Or the maintenance of roads and filling of pot holes.

Many Dominicans are surprised that off island water has to be payed for by all.
Much of garbage collection in buildings is done by privately payed contractors.
It all works well, but has to be payed for.

No stealing of electricity and water, no free lunch.
 
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aarhus

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This should be in the ancient history sub forum and not like something as if it happened recently. Trujillo. Are you kidding. The Dominicans don’t want anything like that again. This is one of the reasons this message board is slowing down.
 

JD Jones

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This should be in the ancient history sub forum and not like something as if it happened recently. Trujillo. Are you kidding. The Dominicans don’t want anything like that again. This is one of the reasons this message board is slowing down.
Read the title of the thread. Make a notation of it so you don't inadvertently click on it again and get bored.