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The Dominican Republic in 1961

General Rafael L. Trujillo Molina was assassinated by a group of machine gun-wielding men on a road outside the capital on May 30. The assassination was said to have been organized by General J. T. Diaz from motives of personal revenge. President Joaquín Balaguer decreed nine days of national mourning. A number of plotters, including Diaz, were subsequently killed or captured.

The bullet-shattered windows of the car in which General Trujillo was riding at the time of his assassination.
the car in which General Trujillo was assassinated

A woman openly grieves during the funeral services for General Trujillo.
mourning Trujillo's death

Lieutenant General Rafael L. Trujillo, Jr., son of the dictator, was installed as Chief of Staff of all armed forces and as Secretary of State without portfoilio on June 2. He and President Balaguer both declared their desire for a free general election in 1962, an amnesty for all political exiles, and a "democratization" of the regime.

Lt. Gen. Rafael L. Trujillo, Jr., beneath a portrait of his father after being installed as Chief of Staff of all armed forces.
Rafael Trujillo, Jr.

An "observation mission" from the Organization of American States arrived in Ciudad Trujillo on June 7, and was welcomed by the government. The mission departed on June 14.

New unrest began on July 7, when a mob burned the government-owned radio station. The following day the first unauthorized student rally in 31 years was dispersed by police. On July 29 an opposition rally applauded attacks on President Balaguer for not allowing full freedom immediately.

A crowd gathers in Ciudad Trujillo on July 7 for the first antigovernment demonstration in more than thirty years.
demonstration in Ciudad Trujillo

President Balaguer appeared before the UN General Assembly at the beginning of October to plead for the removal of economic sanctions.

Arismendi Trujillo awaits the return of President Balaguer from his visit to the United Nations, on October 8.
Arismendi Trujillo

Héctor and Arismendi Trujillo, brothers of the late dictator, left the country in October. On October 28 the chairman of the OAS "watchdog committee on the Dominican Republic" revealed that Rafael, Jr., had offered to leave the country as well if the OAS would remove its sanctions. However, in the face of increased police activity and brutality, the OAS hinted that further proof of good intentions was needed.

Héctor and Arismendi returned to Ciudad Trujillo on November 15, and shortly thereafter U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk issued a statement to the effect that the brothers "may be planning to reassert dictatorial domination." Rafael, Jr., resigned as Chief of the Armed Forces and left the country on the yacht Angelita. On November 19, as U.S. warships patrolled off the Dominican coast, Héctor and Arismendi, together with other members of the Trujillo family, also departed. The departures triggered a series of demonstrations that culminated in the looting of Trujillo family properties. Meanwhile, President Balaguer dissolved the Trujillos' political party and announced his intention of remaining in office until the elections, scheduled for May 1962.

Youths demonstrate against the government and demand "freedom by Christmas" in Ciudad Trujillo on November 19, the same day that President Balaguer ousted members of the Trujillo family from the country.
youths demonstrate against the Dominican government

On November 23 the capital city's original name of Santo Domingo was restored.

Balaguer's intention of serving out his full term was met with increasing resistance, and on November 28 a general strike was called which lasted for 12 days.

A policeman hurls a tear-gas grenade at demonstrators who stoned police from a rooftop in Santo Domingo on December 13. The demonstration began in front of the nearby U.S. visa office where agitators reported that consular officials were issuing visas to informers for the overthrown Trujillo dictatorship.
police versus demonstrators in Santo Domingo

On December 17 Balaguer announced a compromise whereby the country would be ruled temporarily y a seven-man Council of State which would hold elections for a Constituent Assembly before August 16, 1962, and general elections before December 20. Balaguer would preside over the council until the OAS had removed its sanctions, after which he would be succeeded by opposition member Rafael Bonelli. The plan was approved by the opposition National Civic Union on December 19, and by the National Assembly on December 29.

See Also

In the Year 1961
Rafael L. Trujillo Molina

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The Robinson Library >> Dominican Republic

This page was last updated on 09/19/2018.