Fifty Years After His Death, Does Trujillo Still Matter?
By John Gutierrez
June 07, 2011
Santiago de los Caballeros is the Dominican Republic’s “second-city” and it was here that a soon-to-be seven-year-old boy named Adriano Espaillat learned that Trujillo had died. Looking back, Espaillat, now a New York State Senator, still remembers the planes that would fly over his town dropping propaganda leaflets extolling Trujillo. “We would chase the papers as they fell from the planes,” Espaillat said. “They looked like doves.” But on the night of and day after El Jefe’s death, Espaillat recalls only that the adults in his world moved furtively. There were no celebrations in his town and it would be months before the offices of Trujillo’s Partido Dominicano, which were a few short blocks from Espaillat’s home, were torched in a belated act of revelry and defiance. In fact, Espaillat admits that his most vivid memories of the days after the assassination revolve around Trujillo’s funeral, a televised spectacle featuring mourners, many of them women, grieving wildly and publicly for the dead dictator. “I’ll never forget seeing that,” Espaillat said.