For decades scholars of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Latin America had paid close attention to individual states and their relationship to national peasantries. his abiding interest stemmed from long-term academic investment in agrarian conflict and popular revolution in places like Mexico, Cuba, and Nicaragua.
In October 1937, Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered his troops to slaughter Haitians living in the Dominican frontier and the Cibao. The horrific violence left as many as 15,000 dead. Trujillo apologists managed to justify the action nationally, but the massacre created an international public relations nightmare for the regime.
Rafael Trujillo, dictator of the Dominican Republic from 1930 to 1961, remains a figure of mythic proportions in the popular Dominican imagination. A light-skinned mulatto with Haitian ancestry, Trujillo rose from obscurity as a sugar plantation guard to establish one of Latin America’s most enduring dictatorships.