After the American occupation ended, the Dominican Republic  saw a short period of hopeful growth. And then Rafael Leonidas Trujillo reared his head.
Trujillo had joined the National Guard when the Americans were occupying the country and was trained by the United States Marines to “maintain order” once they vacated. In reality though, the training just ignited his greed and obsessive need for power. Having risen through the ranks, he held a sham election in 1930 and, as the only candidate, “won” the presidency. Very quickly, the Dominican people were introduced to the first true totalitarian (and egomaniacal) dictator in the Caribbean. He changed the name of Santo Domingo  to Ciudad Trujillo and renamed the highest mountain Pico Trujillo. By 1934 he was the richest man on the island, having seized sugar plantations and ranches for himself. Tying his personal wealth to the wealth of the country, he set it up so that the country flourished, even achieving the support of the United States. The economy soared, as did agricultural production, as did industrial progress, as did his own personal spending; he even built homes that he never lived in.
And the high cost was being paid by the people in the currency of repression. Under Trujillo, all households had to have portraits or plaques stating their allegiance to “El Jefe” (The Boss), children recited daily prayers for him, and anyone who was thought to be against him could suffer torture or death. His secret police would follow and question, perhaps even jail, anyone they wanted. Trujillo trusted no one, and spies were everywhere.
Trujillo was obsessed with creating “whiteness” in the Dominican Republic . Blanquismo, as it was called, was the driving force behind his order to massacre around 20,000 dark-skinned Haitian sugarcane workers in a river now named Río Masacre (Massacre River), although he claimed it was a response to the Haitian government’s support of exiled Dominicans who were plotting against him. In a mad dash to clean up his image, he promptly invited Jewish immigrants to relocate and escape the horrors of Hitler. This act and the anticommunist policies he adopted put him in the good graces of the U.S. government, but that relationship would eventually be his demise.
With Trujillo’s blatant attempt on the life of the Venezuelan president, Rómulo Betancourt, and his murder of the revolutionary Mirabal sisters, resentment grew, and he was assassinated by members of his own regime on May 30, 1961. It is widely believed that the CIA in the United States provided the weapons to his assassins in fear of having “another Cuba” on their hands.