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Re-Envisioning History

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0021390/00001

Material Information

Title: Re-Envisioning History Memory, Myth and Fiction in Literary Representations of the Trujillato
Physical Description: 1 online resource (196 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Stokes, Christina
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2009

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: alvarez, andres, castillo, danticat, dominican, ferreras, freddy, history, julia, literature, llosa, mario, memory, myth, narration, novels, prestol, requena, trujillato, trujillo, vargas
Romance Languages and Literatures -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Romance Languages thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: RE-ENVISIONING HISTORY: MEMORY, MYTH, AND FICTION IN LITERARY REPRESENTATIONS OF THE TRUJILLATO This study analyzes how literary narrative perceives and represents 20th century Dominican history, in particular Rafael Leonidas Trujillo?s dictatorship. The narratives analyzed in this study are: El Masacre se pasa a pie (1973), by the Dominican Freddy Prestol Castillo, The Farming of Bones (1998), by the Haitian-American Edwidge Danticat, Las Mirabal (1976), by Ramo acuten Alberto Ferreras, In the Time of Butterflies (1995), by the Dominican-American Julia capital a acutelvarez, Cementerio sin cruces (1949), by the exiled Dominican author Andre acutes Requena, and La Fiesta del Chivo (2000), by the well-know Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa. The narratives selected share much in common in that they are all to greater and lesser extents historical-political narratives. They are also narratives of dictatorship and focus on the experience of living under a dictatorship, not the dictator. Additionally, the selected narratives can also be categorized as those written during the Trujillato and those written after Trujillo?s assassination. This is important in that his death allowed for the re-writing of the official history without fear of repercussion. Of particular interest to this study is how the literary texts chosen reconstruct Dominican historical discourses thereby creating new interpretations. This study also focuses on the development of Dominican national identity or identities, (black, white, Indian, masculine, feminine, etc.) and their representation in literature. The Dominican historical event or period that will be studied is the ?Trujillato? or the era of Trujillo (1930-1961), and more specifically within this time frame, the massacre of the Haitians along the Dominican-Haitian border in 1937, and the imprisonment and execution of the Mirabal sisters in 1962. For each historical event, I have selected two novels: one written by a Dominican and another written by either an ?outsider? or someone who is ?marginalized?. This analysis allows for a better understanding of how national identities are constantly being re-negotiated and of how Dominican history is constantly being recorded and re-written by both Dominican and non-Dominican authors.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Christina Stokes.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2009.
Local: Adviser: Barradas, Efrain.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2009
System ID: UFE0021390:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0021390/00001

Material Information

Title: Re-Envisioning History Memory, Myth and Fiction in Literary Representations of the Trujillato
Physical Description: 1 online resource (196 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Stokes, Christina
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2009

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: alvarez, andres, castillo, danticat, dominican, ferreras, freddy, history, julia, literature, llosa, mario, memory, myth, narration, novels, prestol, requena, trujillato, trujillo, vargas
Romance Languages and Literatures -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Romance Languages thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: RE-ENVISIONING HISTORY: MEMORY, MYTH, AND FICTION IN LITERARY REPRESENTATIONS OF THE TRUJILLATO This study analyzes how literary narrative perceives and represents 20th century Dominican history, in particular Rafael Leonidas Trujillo?s dictatorship. The narratives analyzed in this study are: El Masacre se pasa a pie (1973), by the Dominican Freddy Prestol Castillo, The Farming of Bones (1998), by the Haitian-American Edwidge Danticat, Las Mirabal (1976), by Ramo acuten Alberto Ferreras, In the Time of Butterflies (1995), by the Dominican-American Julia capital a acutelvarez, Cementerio sin cruces (1949), by the exiled Dominican author Andre acutes Requena, and La Fiesta del Chivo (2000), by the well-know Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa. The narratives selected share much in common in that they are all to greater and lesser extents historical-political narratives. They are also narratives of dictatorship and focus on the experience of living under a dictatorship, not the dictator. Additionally, the selected narratives can also be categorized as those written during the Trujillato and those written after Trujillo?s assassination. This is important in that his death allowed for the re-writing of the official history without fear of repercussion. Of particular interest to this study is how the literary texts chosen reconstruct Dominican historical discourses thereby creating new interpretations. This study also focuses on the development of Dominican national identity or identities, (black, white, Indian, masculine, feminine, etc.) and their representation in literature. The Dominican historical event or period that will be studied is the ?Trujillato? or the era of Trujillo (1930-1961), and more specifically within this time frame, the massacre of the Haitians along the Dominican-Haitian border in 1937, and the imprisonment and execution of the Mirabal sisters in 1962. For each historical event, I have selected two novels: one written by a Dominican and another written by either an ?outsider? or someone who is ?marginalized?. This analysis allows for a better understanding of how national identities are constantly being re-negotiated and of how Dominican history is constantly being recorded and re-written by both Dominican and non-Dominican authors.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Christina Stokes.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2009.
Local: Adviser: Barradas, Efrain.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2009
System ID: UFE0021390:00001


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RE-ENVISIONING HISTORY: MEMORY, MYTH AND FICTION IN LITERARY
REPRESENTATIONS OF THE TRUJILLATO





















By

CHRISTINA E. STOKES


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

2009


































2009 Christina E. Stokes




































In Memoriam
Alvaro F6lix Bolafios
Luis Cosby









ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I would like to express my deepest thanks to all the people who have made this study

possible. I deeply thank Dr. Efrafn Barradas who has been my mentor and advisor during my

years as a doctoral student. His guidance and insight have been invaluable. I also want to the

thank the rest of my committee, Dr. F6lix Bolafios, Dr. Tace Hedrick, Dr. Reynaldo Jim6nez, and

Dr. Martin Sorbille, for their help in contextualizing my work and careful reading of this study. I

thank Dr. Andr6a Avellaneda, Dr. Geraldine Cleary Nichols and Dr. David Pharies for being

wonderful teachers and mentors. Many thanks go to the staff of the Department of Spanish and

Portuguese, especially Ann Elton, Terry Lopez, and Sue Ollman. I also thank the staff of the

Latin American Collection of Smathers Library, Paul Losch and Richard Phillips for their

invaluable help in obtaining texts.

I would also like to express my gratitude to my mother, Consuelo Cosby and my sister,

Angela O'Connell for their encouragement and enthusiasm. Finally, I thank my husband, John

and stepdaughter, Shelby for their love and support.









TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .............................................................................. .....................4

A B ST R A C T ................................................................ .............................. ............... .... 7

CHAPTER

1 IN T R O D U C T IO N ....................................................................... ............................... 9

H isto rical A m n esia .................................................................................................................10
The 1937 Massacre of Haitian Migrants ........................................................................13
L as M irab al .................................................................... ............................. .......... ............... 14
T h e T rujillo era .......................................................................................................................15
C lassification of N arratives ................................................................... ...........................16
Rafael Le6nidas Trujillo Molina ...................... ................................................................. 17
The United States Intervention of 1916 1924 ..........................................................22
The Role of the United States in Trujillo's Regime ..........................................................23
N arrating the N action ........................ .. .................................................... ...................26
A Matter of Perspective in Narrating the Trujillo era ..........................................................27
Turn Towards History: New Historicism & Cultural Materialism.......................... ...29
F iction, H history and T ruth ..................................................................... ...........................29
T he B urden of H history ...........................................................................................................34
C o n clu sio n ............................................................... ........................ .....................3 5

2 LITERATURE AS MEMORY: THE 1937 MASSACRE OF HAITIAN CITIZENS AS
NARRATED IN EL MASSACRE SE PASA A PIE AND THE FARMING OF BONES ...37

In tro d u ctio n .................................................................... ............................. .......... ............... 3 7
Narrating Horror ........................... ................................................................................. .....40
The Official Word: Silence.........................................................................................42
A Witness Testifies: Freddy Prestol Castillo........................................ ......................44
A Survivor's Tale: Edwidge Danticat................... ............................................................48
E xile, Solitude & S terility ...................................................................................... .................53
V ictim or P erpetrator? ........................................................... ...........................................56
Haitian Response to the Massacre ......................................................... .....................61
Dominican Reaction to the Massacre .................................................... .....................64
Racism as Official Discourse: Antihaitianismo..........................................................65
H aitian s as T thieves ................................................................ ...........................................7 1
T he D angers of N nationalism ............................................................................................. ...72
Im agin in g T rujillo ................................................................................................................... 7 6
C o n c lu sio n .................................................................................... ........... ........... ................. 7 7

3 CHALLENGING "EL JEFE" IN LAS MIRABAL AND IN THE TIME OF THE
B U T T E R F L IE S ..................................................................................... ...........................82









In tro d u ctio n ....................... ... ............ .............................................................. ..... ............ ....8 2
The Mirabal Sisters Historical Background ........................................ ....................83
Las Mirabal: A Dominican Interpretation of the Sisters ........................................85
In the Time of the Butterflies: The Voice of the Dominican Diaspora ................................87
Las Mirabal and In the Time of the Butterflies: Providing Testimony .........................89
Resisting the Reader in In the Time of the Butterflies. ........................................................91
Narrative Structure in Las Mirabal and In the Time of the Butterflies ................................93
A M matter of Perspective ......................................................... .................. ........................95
A Cure For H historical A m nesia............................................................. ..................... 96
Narrating the Dominican Republic........................................................................................98
Dominican Men: Too Afraid to Fight Tyranny? ............................. .........................99
The United States Military and Trujillo: The Weakening of the Dominican Male...... 102
Racism in the Dominican Republic......................................................................... 104
Dominican Nationalism and United States Imperialism .......................... ......... 107
Resisting Patriarchy in the Dominican Republic................................. .....................111
Feminism and Patriarchy in the Trujillo era ......................................................111
Trujillo, The Dictator: The Second Level of Patriarchy.......................................... 115
T he H heroine and the T yrant ....................................................................... ................. 117
Minerva Mirabal: Narrating A National Heroine.......................................................... 119
T he M irabal Fam ily ...................................................... ................ ........................... 119
Motherhood and Love of Country........................................................................... 121
The M ythification of M inerva........................................................... ....................... 122
C conclusion ................................................................... ............................. ..... ............. ..126

4 PORTRAIT OF A DICTATORSHIP: "THE ERA OF TRUJILLO" IN CEMENTERIO
SIN CRUCES AND LA FIESTA DEL CHIVO ................... .... .....................131

Introduction .................................................................................................................... .... 13 1
Writing to Correct a Wrong: Andr6s Requena................................................................... 137
D ictators and C ow ards........................................................................................................ 139
Requena's Cry for Help: Cementerio sin cruces ................................................................141
Cementerio sin cruces: Providing testimony...................................................................... 146
An Outsider Looks In: Mario Vargas Llosa....................................................................... 147
Re-imagining the Dominican Republic during the era of Trujillo .......................................150
The role of wom en during the era of Trujillo...................................................................... 155
P ortrait of a D ictator .................................................................................................... ........ 162
C o n c lu sio n .......................................................................................................................... ..16 5

5 C O N C L U SIO N .................................................................................... ........................... 168

LIST OF REFEREN CES..... ................................................. ....................... ... ............ 181

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ....................................................................................................196









Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

RE-ENVISIONING HISTORY: MEMORY, MYTH, AND FICTION IN LITERARY
REPRESENTATIONS OF THE TRUJILLATO

By

Christina E. Stokes

August 2009

Chair: Efrain Barradas
Major: Romance Languages

This study analyzes how literary narrative perceives and represents 20th century Dominican

history, in particular Rafael Leonidas Trujillo's dictatorship. The narratives analyzed in this

study are: El Masacre se pasa a pie (1973), by the Dominican Freddy Prestol Castillo, The

Farming of Bones (1998), by the Haitian-American Edwidge Danticat, Las Mirabal (1976), by

Ram6n Alberto Ferreras, In the Time of Butterflies (1995), by the Dominican-American Julia

Alvarez, Cementerio sin cruces (1949), by the exiled Dominican author Andr6s Requena, and La

Fiesta del Chivo (2000), by the well-know Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa. The narratives

selected share much in common in that they are all to greater and lesser extents historical-

political narratives. They are also narratives of dictatorship and focus on the experience of living

under a dictatorship, not the dictator. Additionally, the selected narratives can also be

categorized as those written during the Trujillato and those written after Trujillo's assassination.

This is important in that his death allowed for the re-writing of the official history without fear of

repercussion.

Of particular interest to this study is how the literary texts chosen reconstruct Dominican

historical discourses thereby creating new interpretations. This study also focuses on the

development of Dominican national identity or identities, (black, white, Indian, masculine,









feminine, etc.) and their representation in literature. The Dominican historical event or period

that will be studied is the 'Trujillato' or the era of Trujillo (1930-1961), and more specifically

within this time frame, the massacre of the Haitians along the Dominican-Haitian border in 1937,

and the imprisonment and execution of the Mirabal sisters in 1962. For each historical event, I

have selected two novels: one written by a Dominican and another written by either an 'outsider'

or someone who is 'marginalized'. This analysis allows for a better understanding of how

national identities are constantly being re-negotiated and of how Dominican history is constantly

being recorded and re-written by both Dominican and non-Dominican authors.









CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

Without memory, our existence would be barren and opaque, like a prison cell into which
no light penetrates; like a tomb which rejects the living .... if anything can, it is memory
that will save humanity.

Elie Wiesel, "Hope, Despair and Memory"

El escritor ha sido, es y seguird siendo un descontento. Nadie que est6 satisfecho es capaz
de escribir, nadie que est6 de acuerdo, reconciliado con la realidad, cometerfa el ambicioso
desatino de inventar realidades verbales. La vocaci6n literaria nace del desacuerdo de un
hombre con el mundo, de la intuici6n de deficiencies, vacfos y escorias a su alrededor.

Mario Vargas Llosa, "La literature es fuego"


The central focus of this study is on how literary narrative perceives and represents some

events in 20th century Dominican history. Specifically, it analyses the way in which the dictator

Rafael Le6nidas Trujillo Molina, the 1937 massacre of Haitian citizens along the Dominican-

Haitian border and the revolutionary and national heroine Minerva Mirabal, have been narrated

by some representative writers, in Dominican as well as other literatures. It will also focus on

how the nation has been narrated and how these narratives engage with and challenge earlier

accounts of the same event.

Literature is important in the study of history, as it narrates the human experience of

history. History begins where memory ends. Both are significant in the study of past events. It

is also significant for future events. Memory, as noted by Elie Wiesel in his Nobel Peace Prize

acceptance speech, can save humanity. Additionally, Gayle Green explains that "memory is our

means of connecting past and present and constructing a self and versions of experience we can

live with. To doubt it is to doubt ourselves, to lose it is to lose ourselves; yet doubt it we must,

for it is treacherous" (293). Literature adds an important element to memory. As Mario Vargas









Llosa notes, "La literature nos da una imagen que es una imagen que parece viva, que en cierto

modo es viva, y que la memorial no puede darnos" (Felipe Gonzalez 36).

This study includes narrative of both memory and history. Some authors write from

memory, others from a historical distance. All aim to keep the Trujillo era alive in collective

memory. With Green's words in mind this study critically examines the history being recreated

in these narratives. This analysis will allow for a better understanding of this dictator's literary

representation and of how Dominican history is being recorded and re-written in literature.

Historical Amnesia

As time moves forward, it is easy for history to be lost, forgotten from historical and

cultural memory. The ex-Spanish president, Felipe Gonzalez (1982-1996), notes that "los

espafioles no conocen a Franco, la generaci6n con cuarenta afios ya no saben qui6n era Franco"

(37). Similarly even Dominicans who suffered under Trujillo, one of the world's most brutal and

longest dictatorships, are forgetting him. The journalist and author Bernard Diederich offers an

anecdote that serves as a compelling example:

A little boy playing under a huge shaded tree in the backyard of the Juan Tomis Diaz
house looked puzzled when a recent visitor asked if it was the garage they had discovered
the body of El Jefe. [The boy responds] "What Jefe?". (264)1

Some academics believe that the act of forgetting is important in the creation of national unity.

For example, Ernest Renan in "The Meaning of Nationality" explains that, "the essential element

of a nation is that all its individuals must have many things in common, but must also have

forgotten many things" (137). This idea repeated by Benedict Anderson in Imagined

Communities (2000). However, it is precisely this forgetting, which Renan believes is an

important element in the formation of nationalism, that the narratives in this study are fighting



1 The use of italics is the author's.









against. Moreover, Julia Alvarez in "A Message from Julia" observes, "The Czech novelist

Milan Kundera says in one of his books that the struggle against power 'is the struggle of

memory against forgetting'". These authors seek to remember and to ensure that future

generations will also know the Trujillo era. This act of remembrance can be subversive, as

Kundera has noted. Remembering is also important for change. As Wiesel states:

Remembering is a noble and necessary act. The call of memory, the call to memory,
reaches us from the very dawn of history. No commandment figures so frequently, so
insistently in the Bible .... New Year's Day, Rosh Hashana, is also called Yom Hazikaron,
the day of memory. On that day, the day of universal judgment, man appeals to God to
remember: our salvation depends on it. If God wishes to remember our suffering, all will
be well; if He refuses, all will be lost. Thus, the rejection of memory becomes a divine
curse, one that would doom us to repeat past disasters, past wars. ("Hope")

In the same vein as Wiesel, Green believes that "memory is especially important to anyone who

cares about change, for forgetting dooms us to repetition" (291). Yet problematically, memory is

not infallible. As Green observes:

Memory revises, reorders, refigures, resignifies; it includes or omits, embellishes or
represses, decorates or drops, according to imperatives of its own. Far from being a
trustworthy describer or 'reality,' it is a shaper and a shape shifter that takes liberties with
the past .... In fact, memory is a creative writer, Mother of the Muses,. maker of
stories the stories by which we construct meaning through temporality and assure
ourselves that time past is not time lost. (294)

It is not only memory that provides an obstacle to the understanding of past events. Holocaust

survivors, like the prisoners who experienced unimaginable torture in Trujillo's prisons and

those who survived the 1937 Haitian genocide, have found it difficult to narrate their

experiences. Of this Wiesel explains:

We tried. It was not easy. At first, because of the language; language failed us. We would
have to invent a new vocabulary, for our own words were inadequate, anemic. And then
too, the people around us refused to listen; and even those who listened refused to believe;
and even those who believed could not comprehend. Of course they could not. Nobody
could. The experience of the camps defies comprehension. ("Hope")









As one reads of the atrocities committed by United States Marines in the Dominican Republic,

the torture political prisoners endured under Trujillo, or the senseless and brutal killing of

Haitian infants by Trujillo's army, it is indeed difficult to comprehend. And yet, we must

comprehend if we hope to prevent it from happening again and as Wiesel notes "save humanity"

("Hope").

Keeping the memory of the Trujillo era alive is only one of the reasons the six authors

selected for this study write. As Vargas Llosa notes an author is "un eterno aguaFiestas [un]

perturbador social". He continues:

Es precise, por eso, recorder a nuestras sociedades lo que les espera. Advertirles que la
literature es fuego, que ella significa inconformismo y rebeli6n, que la raz6n del ser del
escritor es la protest, la contradicci6n y la crftica. ("Literatura")

According to him, authors write because they are unhappy with the world they live in, so they

create new ones. The authors in this study, some who rewrite history from memory (Prestol

Castillo, Ferreras, Requena) and others who interpret it from a greater distance (Danticat,

Alvarez, Vargas Llosa) recreate and reinvent the Trujillo era using the voices of the marginalized

and the deceased, thereby resuscitating them and allowing them to tell their story. Their act of

remembrance is both subversive and yet necessary for humanity.

Since this study is interested in how Dominican history has been perceived and

represented, for each historical event I have chosen two narratives: one written by a Dominican

author who is both temporally and geographic close to the historical event and another written by

a non-Dominican author, who is distanced temporally and geographical from the narrated event.

These narratives can further be categorized as those written during the Trujillo regime, which

begins August 16, 1930, and those written after Trujillo's assassination on May 30, 1961. His

death was important because it allowed for the re-writing of the official history without fear of

repercussion. According to Doris Sommer and Esteban Torres, aside from freedom of









expression Dominican critics "agree that Dominican art can be divided into two major period

before and after the tyrant" (277). This division is based more on ideology than chronology. As

they explain, after Trujillo's death several exiled writers returned to the Dominican Republic.

These authors:

[brought] with them a series of questions .. about the meaning of their work. The social
upheaval was so severe that their intellectual and artistic intervention was not noticed until
later, when the habits of criticism and dialogue were established .... This urgency and
catharsis tended to limit the production and the impact of literary work. (277-8)

This lasted until the 1965 U.S. invasion of the country, which would not only polarize the

country but also initiate a type of transcendental epic style of literature (Sommer and Torres

278).

The 1937 Massacre of Haitian Migrants

The first historical event studied is the massacre of thousands of Haitian citizens by the

Dominican army, along the Dominican-Haitian border in October of 1937. The massacre

occurred early in Trujillo's dictatorship and served to illustrate that his cruelty had no

boundaries. It also helped him better define what it meant to be a 'Dominican': as in it is not

being 'Haitian'. Haitians represented the necessary 'other' needed to create a national identity.

Haitians were black and of African descent. Dominicans, according to Trujillo and Joaqufn

Balaguer, were white and of European roots. The narratives El Masacre se pasa a pie (1973), by

the Dominican Freddy Prestol Castillo and The Farming of Bones (1998), by the Haitian-

American Edwidge Danticat, offer differing literary representations of the massacre. Prestol

Castillo was a witness to the genocide. He claims that he wrote his narrative during the massacre

and that, out of fear of it being discovered by Trujillo's henchman, he buried the manuscript until

1973, when it was published. In his narrative Prestol Castillo seeks the understanding of his

reader and attempts to explain how Dominicans could have participated in such a horrific act. In









contrast, Danticat was born in Haiti in 1969 and came to the United States when she was twelve

years old. Her narrative is told from the viewpoint of a female Haitian survivor of the genocide

and reflects a feminine and Haitian perspective. In comparison with Prestol Castillo, she is

distanced both chronologically and geographically from the historical event.

Although it happened 80 years ago the massacre still has a profound impact on the

Dominican psyche. As Michelle Wucker explains:

The memory of what happed at the Massacre River in 1937 is still vivid in the minds of the
islanders. Even now, it is nearly impossible for Dominicans and Haitians to think of each
other without some trace of the tragedy of their mutual history that took place that year.
(Why The Cocks Fight 44)

The xenophobia that led to the massacre is still evident in Dominican society today. In 2001 in

Santo Domingo, a book titled Geopolitica de la isla de Santo Domingo: Migraci6n haitiana v

seguridad national by Pelegrfn Castillo Semin was published. It readily illustrates the feelings

of xenophobia towards Haitians by Dominicans, some of whom view the Haitians as the source

of all Dominican problems. This racial intolerance can also be seen in the 1930's in the works of

both Manuel Pefia Batlle and Joaqufn Balaguer. More recently, it was seen in Dominicans

treatment of Haitians in the 1990's. In June of 1991, U.S. Congressional Hearings were held

regarding the unacceptable working conditions of Haitian workers in the Dominican Republic.

In partial response, Dominican President Joaqufn Balaguer who had served as Trujillo's puppet

president, ordered the expulsion of all Haitians under the age of 16 or over the age of 60 living in

the Dominican Republic. Six to seven thousand Haitians were forcibly expelled and an

estimated 25,000 fled in fear (Corte, et al. 97).

Las Mirabal

The second historical event analyzed is the life and death of three of the four Mirabal

Sisters at the hands of Trujillo. The Mirabal sisters, who were well-known anti-Trujillo activists,









occurred at the very end of the regime (November 25, 1960) and is credited, by some historians,

with providing the motivation needed to finally assassinate him. Today, Dominicans view the

three Mirabal sisters as national heroines and an important monument stands in their honor in

Santo Domingo. Since they were executed only months before Trujillo's assassination, there

weren't any literary narratives on this event written during the Trujillo era. Therefore, the two

narratives selected were written after the death of Trujillo. The Dominican narrative is the

fictional biography Las Mirabal (1976), by Ram6n Alberto Ferreras, who was an anti-Trujillo

leader. He was imprisoned many times by Trujillo and Balaguer and dedicated the narrative to

political prisoners. Undaunted, by his repeated visits to La Victoria prison, Ferreras criticizes

Balaguer in Las Mirabal and publishes it while Balaguer is president. The second narrative

studied is In the Time of Butterflies (1995), by the Dominican-American Julia Alvarez. It is also

a fictional biography. The title makes reference to fact that Mirabal sisters were also known by

their code name 'Las Mariposas' or 'The Butterflies'.

The Trujillo era

Providing a general view of the Trujillo regime, I have selected the following accounts:

Cementerio sin cruces (1949), by the exiled Dominican author Andr6s Requena and La Fiesta del

Chivo (2000), by the well-know Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa. Trujillo's active libido and

numerous conquests of women were legendary, prompting Dominicans to nickname him, "El

Chivo", "The Goat" in English. As Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheenbrand explain, the goat

"symbolizes the powers of procreation, the life force, the libido and fertility ... ." (435).

Interestingly, while each narrates the Trujillo era, both authors wrote for a non-Dominican

reader. It is important to consider that Cementerio sin cruces was written during the Trujillo era,

which led to Requena's assassination in New York City, in March of 1952. He had, at one point,

been a Trujillo supporter and had served as a Dominican diplomat in Chile. He later became an









editor of an anti-Trujillo newspaper and a known anti-Trujillo leader. Although he was in exile

at the time it was written, his narrative provides an inside view of the political situation in the

Dominican Republic. Conversely, Vargas Llosa, who writes his account forty years after

Trujillo's death, does not have first hand knowledge of the inside workings of this dictator's

regime.

Classification of Narratives

Narratives can be classified into dozens of genres and sometimes they fall into more than

one. While all six narratives focus on the Trujillo era, only one is a historical novel. There is no

one definition for this genre and the definitions offered by literary critics vary. The differences

in definition, for the most part, are based on the relationship of the narrative time with the

author's lifetime and the extent to which the historical events and characters are present in the

novel. Seymour Menton in his study of what he calls Latin America's new historical novel,

defines it as ". novels whose action takes place completely (in some cases, predominantly) in

the past arbitrarily defined here as a past not directly experience by the author" (16).

Likewise, William W. Moseley in his study on the Chilean historical novel defines it "as a

fictitious narrative of some length, dealing with a period prior to the conscious lifetime of the

author, and built upon an historical framework of major importance" (338). However, David

Cowart in History and the Contemporary Novel (1989) offers an alternate definition. He writes:

I myself prefer to define historical fiction simply and broadly as fiction in which the past
figures with some prominence. Such fiction does not require historical personages or
events ... nor does it have to be set at some specified remove in time. Thus I count as
historical fiction any novel in which a historical consciousness manifests itself strongly in
either the characters or the action. (6)

Both Menton and Moseley maintain that the time of the novel should be prior to the author's

lifetime, while for Cowart this distinction is not necessary. For the purposes of this study, the

definition offered by Menton and Moseley will be used. According to it, all of the narratives









included in this study, with the exception of The Farming of Bones, would be excluded because

they include the author's own lifetime.

Similarly, there is no one official definition for the 'novel of dictator'. Carlos Pacheco

defines it as "todas aquellas obras de prosa narrative cuyo tema principal sea la figure del

dictador (aunque 61 no sea necesariamente el personaje protag6nico) o el regimen dictatorial"

(38). He does not distinguish between novels of dictator and novels of dictatorship and uses the

terms interchangeably. On the other hand, Angel Rama, uses the term, "novelas sobre

dictadores" (15). According to him, the authors of these works "no buscan incorporar al pante6n

de las glorias nacionales a los dictadores y a sus esbirros, sino que pretenden comprender un

pasado reciente cuya sombra se proyecta hasta hoy" (15). Unlike Pacheco, this author of this

study does not consider the terms interchangeable. Therefore, while all of the narratives include

Trujillo as a character, none of the narratives selected are novels of dictator as defined here

because he is not a major character in any of the narratives studied. The focus of these narratives

is not Trujillo, the dictator, but the experience of living under his regime. Given that these texts

seek to understand the past, by allowing Trujillo's victims, some posthumously, to provide

testimony, all of the narratives studied would be "novelas sobre dictadores". They are also

narratives of dictatorship since in each text the oppression of the Trujillo era is a central theme.

Rafael Le6nidas Trujillo Molina

The 20th century saw a long list of dictators rise to power among them; Idi Amin, the

Emperor Bokassa, Papa Doc Duvalier, Francisco Franco, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Benito

Mussolini, Augusto Pinochet, Pol Pot, Mobutu Sese Seko, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-tung and

Rafael Le6nidas Trujillo. They told their people they and the nation were one; that they were the

nation. While many brought death and destruction to their people, few were murdered or

overthrown. Rafael Le6nidas Trujillo is one of the few who were murdered.









For more than three decades, Trujillo was the Dominican Republic.2 While dictators

usually achieve power as the result of wars and violence, Trujillo forced his way into power with

the help of the United States military. Trujillo got his start in politics during the United States

occupation of the Dominican Republic (1916-24) when he joined the Dominican National Police

force created by the U.S. Marines. He rose rapidly through the ranks as he and the newly created

police force helped the marines defeat a Dominican resistance movement. In 1930 he used the

National Police force, which had been created, armed and supported by the United States

government, to seize political power from President Horacio Vasquez. Trujillo staged

fraudulent elections claiming he had more votes than there were registered voters. It is for this

reason that, according to Howard Wiarda, "Noel Henrfquez called Trujillo 'the bastard son of the

occupation forces,' and why the United States is often held accountable by Dominicans for the

entire Trujillo era" (9). Trujillo's dictatorship, which spanned from 1930 the year he deceitfully

became president of his country, to 1961 when he was assassinated, was one of the longest,

cruelest, and most absolute in modern times. Until Fidel Castro of Cuba surpassed him, Trujillo

had ruled longer than any other leader in Latin America. As Wiarda explains:

The Trujillo regime was probably the strongest and most absolute dictatorship ever to be
established in the world. Trujillo did not share power with anyone but maintained nearly
absolute authority in his own hands. It would not be accurate to label his system with Left
or Right, Nazi or Fascist, for the Trujillo regime was essentially the story of a single
individual and his personal power. (179)

In an effort to take ownership of and control the Dominican Republic, Trujillo monopolized the

nation's economic system. He took personal control of large parts of the Dominican economy





2 Useful analyses of the Trujillo regime include: Trujillo: The Life and Times of a Caribbean Dictator (1986) by
Robert D. Crassweller, La Era de Trujillo (1999) by Jesds de Galindez, and Dictatorship and Development (1970)
by Howard J. Wiarda.










and expropriated the sugar estates and cattle ranches of political opponents.3 In short, Trujillo

ran the Dominican Republic as if it were a business he owned. At the time of his death in 1961

Trujillo was worth 800 million dollars [5.3 billion dollars today] (Rogozinski 258).

As part of Trujillo's effort to merge himself and the Dominican Republic into one, he

cultivated a national ideology which had three main components: hispanofilia, a Spanish term

which has no English equivalent and means love or admiration of Spain, anti-Haitianism and

anticommunism. As Roberto Cassi et al. explains, Trujillo's vision of nationalism believed that:

El dominicano era mejor que el otro, que el enemigo, el haitiano, recurrencia ajustada al
caricter reaccionario de ese pretendido nacionalismo. De ahi que la esencia hispinica
tuviese por correlato obligado el enfrentamiento national con Haiti magnificado hasta
proporciones aterradoras como categorfa fundamentalisima de la constituci6n de la
propia naci6n dominica. (60)

It is Trujillo's hard line towards communism that assured him support from the United States.

The cruelty and sadism Trujillo's regime is difficult to imagine. He organized an efficient

network of informers and security forces creating a reign of terror. He ordered the assassination

of countless Dominicans, among them the Mirabal sisters, the subject of chapter three of this

study, and the author Andr6s Requena, who is the subject of chapter four of this work. Trujillo

also killed non-Dominicans. He was responsible for the deaths of the Spaniards Jos6 Almoina in

Mexico City and Jests de Galfndez in New York City.4 Most famously, in 1960 Trujillo

attempted, but failed, to assassinate the Venezuelan President R6mulo Betancourt. Betancourt


3 For more information see Frank Moya Pons' "Import-Substitution Industrialization Policies in the Dominican
Republic, 1925-61".

4 Almoina, a Spaniard, had been Trujillo's private secretary from 1945-1947. He had published a lavishly pro-
Trujillo book titled Yo fui secretario de Trujillo (1950). Interestingly he was also the author of a book titled Una
satrapia en el Caribe (1949), which denounced the Trujillo regime, and was published under the name Gregorio
Bustamante. It was this book that would cost the author his life. In 1960 while living in exile in Mexico City, he
was run down by a truck and shot by Trujillo's men. Galindez published his doctoral dissertation titledLa Era de
Trujillo, which infuriated the dictator. He was living in New York at the time of his kidnapping on March 12, 1956.
He was flown to the Dominican Republic where he was apparently murdered. The English translation of his work is
titled The Era of Trujillo, Dominican Dictator (1973). The American pilot Gerald Murphy, who flew Galindez to
the Dominican Republic, later disappeared himself.









had harshly criticized Trujillo's brutal regime, infuriating the dictator. However, Trujillo's

greatest expression of cruelty came in October 1937 when he ordered the massacre of thousands

of Haitian citizens living along the Dominican-Haitian border; this is the subject of the second

chapter of this study. Despite his record of human rights violations Wiarda notes that:

If not positively favorable, United State policy toward Trujillo consistently remained
benevolently neutral; and it was not until the last two years of his rule that the traditionally
warm relations began to cool. (137)

Trujillo also had a penchant for self-adulation and Dominicans were constantly reminded of his

greatness. He renamed Pico Duarte, the highest mountain in the Antilles, Pico Trujillo and Santo

Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic and the oldest city in the Western Hemisphere

located in Trujillo province, Ciudad Trujillo. Every main street in every city bore his name and

every park was adorned with busts of Trujillo, totaling more than 1,800 in Santo Domingo alone

(Zuluaga 30). As Wucker notes the dictator was "[o]nce listed in the Guinness Book of World

Records as the world leader who build the most statues in his own honor" (69). In every

business, hung a plaque declaring that, "In this house, Trujillo is boss", on water pumps,

"Trujillo alone gives us water to drink", on a group home for senior citizens, "Trujillo is the only

one who gives us shelter", and along roadsides signs proclaimed, "Thank You, Trujillo". Jos6

Almoina notes, "La megalomania de Trujillo es posiblemente el caso mas pintoresco de cuantos

puede ofrecer la historic del mundo. Hay que reconocer que en esto no ha tenido par el dictador

dominicano" (Una satrapfa en el Caribe 48). Not to be outdone by other generals around the

world, Trujillo became the world's first five star general (William Krehm 170). His own son

Ramfis became a colonel at the age of four, most likely making him the youngest colonel in

history; at age eleven he would become a General. Trujillo also likened himself to Jesus Christ

and the sign "God and Trujillo" appeared everywhere, even in flashing neon along roadsides.

Dominican's first response to Trujillo's death as Wucker notes, "was to tear down the many









monuments he had build to himself [and change] the name of the capital back to Santo Domingo

from Ciudad Trujillo" (Why the Cocks Fight 69).

Trujillo also gave himself numerous awards and titles. Miguel Collado observes Trujillo

was ''[e]l tirano de los mil nombres" (16). His list of titles is almost endless and include the

following: His Excellency Generalisimo Doctor Rafael Le6nidas Trujillo Molina, the Honorable

First Magistrate of the Nation, General of Generals, Benefactor of the Fatherland, Restorer of the

Financial Independence of the Dominican Republic and Father of the New Dominion.

Additionally, he awarded himself many medals prompting Dominicans to give him the pejorative

nickname "Chapitas", referring to the use of bottle caps (chapitas in Spanish) as toy medals by

Dominican children. Not surprisingly, in his obituary "End of the Dictator" in Time he was

described as a "medal-jingling dictator."

Trujillo's megalomania was not limited to the Dominican Republic. In 1936, a year before

the Haitian massacre, Trujillo arranged a joint nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize for himself

and Haitian President St6nio Joseph Vincent. Among the people nominating him was Max

Henrfquez Urefia, a Dominican intellectual and statesman. It was rejected on the grounds that

Trujillo had seized power militarily. The award instead went to another Latin American, Carlos

Saavedra Lamas for his work in ending the Chaco War between Paraguay and Bolivia (1932-

1935).

Trujillo has been immortalized in novels, movies, plays, and music although in his case

truth was stranger than fiction. For example, the Trujillo era can be seen in motion pictures such

as the El misterio Galfndez (2003). The movie is based on a novel by Spanish writer Manuel

Vgzquez Montalbin and focuses on the abduction, torture, and death of Jesds Galfndez. In the

2001 motion picture In the Time of the Butterflies based on the novel by Julia Alvarez of the









same name is released. Also, in 2005 the motion picture La Fiesta del Chivo, based on the novel

by Mario Vargas Llosa of the same name is released. The director is the Peruvian director Luis

Llosa, Vargas Llosa's cousin. As Galfndez observed, "The human side of this political

personage is most interesting and worthy of a novel" ("Inside" 241). Likewise Krehm notes:

[. .] the grotesque dictatorlets that have stalked through the earlier chapters of this book
were summed up and outdone in the person of the Dominican Republic president, doctor
and generalissimo [sic] Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. There the racketeering of the Nicaraguan
Somoza cohabitated with the sadism of the Guatemalan Ubico under a crazy quilt of
exhibitionism; in fiction such a character would be torn apart by the critics for its slapdash
improbability. (169)

For this reason, among others, historians and artists, both Dominican and non-Dominican alike,

have found Trujillo to be an irresistible subject. It is also for this reason that narrating Trujillo is

so difficult.

The United States Intervention of 1916 1924

The United States intervention of 1916, without which Trujillo would not have risen to

power, had a profound affect on the Dominican psyche. As Juan Bosch describes:

Era una agresi6n imperialista, un abuso imperdonable de fuerza ejercido en un pafs d6bil;
pero el pueblo dominicano, con el alma envenenada por la p6cima caudillista, no tenfa ya
capacidad para reaccionar. ... La Repiblica habia muerto, y su cadaver iba a dar vida a
una nueva era, que Rafael Le6nidas Trujillo, colocandose a la altura de Cristo, bautizarfa
con su nombre. (119)

Similarly, Am6rico Lugo maintains that, "Aquf no ha habido guerra con los Estados Unidos de

Am6rica: ni hemos sido vencidos, ni hemos aceptado, sino sufrido su ocupaci6n" (20-1).

Dominicans had little choice but to accept Trujillo as a leader for they knew that rejecting him

would likely lead to another United States invasion. As Vargas Llosa explains in an interview

with Ramona Koval:

I think one of the most depressing aspects of a dictatorship, any kind of dictatorship, is that
when you study it, when you investigate, when you approach the phenomenon, you
discover that a dictatorship wouldn't be possible without many accomplices. Many, many
accomplices. In certain cases-in most cases, I would say-with a large support of society









for very different reasons, but in a given moment, it as if a very large section of a society
decides to abdicate their right to be free, to participate in social and political life; and to
transfer these rights to a big man. And without this abdication, I don't think someone like
Trujillo or all these great dictators in history would have been possible. ("Interview with
Mario Vargas Llosa," Books & Writing's Summer Season)

However, some Dominicans reacted to the various occupations with nationalism. Lugo states

that, "El Nacionalismo es la defense de nuestro caricter original espafiol, es la defense de la

libertad de las generaciones dominicanas del future, es la defense de nuestro pasado glorioso, es

la defense de la Gran Patria Hispano-Americana" (16). It is this Dominican nationalism that

would resist United States imperial efforts. As Lugo writes, "[e]l Nacionalismo rechaza,

asimismo, la misi6n de policia que los Estados Unidos de Am6rica pretenden arrogarse en

territorio dominicano" (11). The Dominican authors in this study were not, as described by

Vargas Llosa, "accomplices". Ferreras, Prestol Castillo, and Requena rejected Trujillo and

fought against him.

The various United States interventions and their effects, both psychological and political,

on the Dominican people have been narrated extensively in Dominican literature where they

have been viewed as a historical trauma. In this study, it appears most prominently in the works

of Ferreras and Alvarez who, through the characters in their narratives, provide testimony of

atrocities committed by the United States Marines.

The Role of the United States in Trujillo's Regime

Trujillo was assassinated just outside of Santo Domingo in 1961 by a group of army

officers and civilians, allegedly with CIA backing. As Julio C6sar Martfnez states, "[y] lo mat6

la CIA, ni6guelo quien lo niegue [sic] con miras de capitalizar una acci6n que jams se hubiera

realizado si no hubiera sido con el apoyo y la venia de la CIA" (8). Dominicans had not able to

kill Trujillo without the support and help of the United States. Wiarda explains, "According to









some of those involved, the psychological factor of United States assistance was most important"

(171). Dwight Eisenhower, in his presidential memoir, recalls that:

By May, intelligence reports told me, that the life expectancy of the Trujillo regime once
again appeared uncertain. Trujillo had begun to attack Dominicans associated with the
Catholic Church. 'This kind of attack, I remarked on hearing the report, 'is usually the last
desperate resort of a dictator'. (534)

Eisenhower's comments reflect Trujillo's loss of control in the Dominican Republic towards the

end of his dictatorship. As Abraham Lowenthal explains, "Whatever the reasons, it is clear that

by 1961 American officials regard the Dominican Republic as a potential 'second Cuba' and that

it was necessary to remove Trujillo from power" (527). Despite the obvious involvement of the

CIA, Wiarda observes "[f]or nationalistic reasons, the role of the United States in the conspiracy

is seldom mentioned in the Dominican Republic." (172). There is a certain irony in his manner

of death as he was killed with weapons provided by the United States, the same country whose

weapons he used to seize power. It is also ironic that Trujillo's death was, in part, a result of his

megalomaniacal and macho personality. As the former Spanish president Felipe Gonzalez and

Vargas Llosa discuss:

Gonzalez. Una de las caracterfsticas de su dictadura caudillista era presumir de no
hacerse proteger. Cosa que con frecuencia hacia como exhibici6n de poder.

-Vargas Llosa. Bueno, el machismo, ,no? El era el macho, no necesitaba que lo
protegieran. Detestaba tener guardaespaldas. En realidad, por eso lo mataron, ,no?

Gonzalez. Eso es. Ese recorrido era absurdo que lo hiciera sin protecci6n. Nunca se le
hubiera ocurrido a Franco hacer un recorrido de esa naturaleza sin protecci6n. (23)

After his assassination, Dominicans danced for months to popular merengue, "Mataron al Chivo

en la carretera" an irreverent merengue written to celebrate the general's assassination.

In 1962 Juan Bosch, who had lived in exile during Trujillo's regime, became president of

the Dominican Republic. He was ousted a year later, in 1963, by a military coup. In April of

1965, civil war broke out between Bosch's followers and the old Trujilloist army. The United









States, fearful of another Cuba, took over the country and supported the Trujilloist army.

According to Thomas Skidmore and Peter Smith "[t]he invading force consisted of 22,000

marines, a contingent whose size amazed even American civilian officials on the scene" (290).

Jos6 Alcintara Alminzar offers insight on how Dominicans view the "War of April". He

describes, "asf denominamos a aquella heroica experiencia del pueblo dominicano en defense de

su process democritico y de su soberanfa" (325). In 1966 Joaqufn Balaguer, who had served

under Trujillo, was returned to power by the United States, replacing Juan Bosch who had been

democratically elected in December 1962. President Eisenhower notes in his memoir that

anotherhr recurring subject in all of my talks was a refutation of the charge that the United

States favors imperialism and dictatorship .... 'We repudiated dictatorship in any form,' I told

an audience in Santiago" (532). Yet, many Dominicans would disagree with the former

president. As Wiarda explains:

For the Marine-created constabulary through which Trujillo rose to power, for the praise
which congressmen, clerics, ambassadors, and other high officials showered upon him, for
the aid given him, and for the close and friendly relationship which long existed between
the two countries, the United States was often considered by many Dominicans to bear
responsibility for the entire Trujillo era. (192)

Similarly Lowenthal points out that onlyny when events elsewhere made Trujillo seem more a

threat than a source of stability in the Caribbean did American support for Trujillo end" (526).

The United States' long support of Trujillo without regard for the suffering of the

Dominican people (and Haitian during the 1937 massacre), calls to mind an opinion held by

Aim6 C6saire. He writes, "American domination the only domination from which one never

recovers. I mean from which one never recovers unscarred" (77). The narratives in this study

reflect C6saire's observation and offer critiques of the post colonial situation of the Dominican

Republic by showing how the United States replaced the previous Spanish colonizers and

Haitian occupiers through its multiple invasions of the country and its endorsement of Trujillo,









and later the neo-Trujillista Joaqufn Balaguer as leaders. As Juan Bosch once stated, "This

country is not pro-American, it is United States property." ("Balaguer and His Firm Ally, the

U.S., Are Targets of Dominican Unrest," The New York Times).

Narrating the Nation

In offering their interpretation of Dominican history, the authors create an image of the

Dominican Republic. Anderson defines the nation as "an imagined political community and

imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign" (6). This image is both created and reflected

by, in part, narrative. Neil Larson maintains that "[t]he nation, far from being the pre-c \islin.

essential content of the narratives making up a tradition, it itself is nothing but a narrative, a

fiction, produced by, among others, these very fictional narratives themselves" (Determinations

84). Moreover, Alvarez in "Ten of My Writing Commandments" claims, "We storytellers are

helping to create the culture we live in, and so, in a very real sense, we are helping to rule the

empire" (38). For these reasons narration is an important representation of the nation.

In addition to studying how the Trujillo era is narrated, this study will also focus on how

the Dominican Republic is perceived and represented in the six fictional narratives studied.

These authors have differing relationships to the country they narrate. For Ferreras and Prestol

Castillo it was home. For Alvarez, who can now return but chooses not to, and Requena, it is a

land from which they were exiled. Danticat and Vargas Llosa have an indirect relationship with

the Dominican Republic. If, as Sommer maintains, "literature informs a national consciousness

by articulating it", then what national consciousness is created by the narratives written by

outsiders? (Foundational Fictions 20). Considering that collective memory can be distorted by

narrative, this study will attempt to provide an answer.









A Matter of Perspective in Narrating the Trujillo era

In each case, the narrative written outside of the Dominican Republic (Danticat, Alvarez,

Vargas Llosa) achieved far greater commercial success. This success has allowed these voices to

eclipse Dominican narrative (voices), which also seek to offer their own interpretations of the

past yet have a difficult time being heard. These authors, even those who write in English as

both Danticat and Alvarez do, have the ability to shape how Dominicans view themselves and

how others view Dominicans and the Dominican Republic. Roberto Marcall6 Abreu, a

Dominican journalist and author, explains how this is possible. He says:

Nuestra literature, en sentido general, y es lo que creo, esti al margen de la que hoy dia se
produce en el mundo. .... y nos debe llenar de vergtienza que vengan de fuera a explotar
temas locales con una repercusi6n international que ningin escritor nuestro ha logrado.
(419-20)

He continues to explain that Dominicans do not read Dominican literature because there exists a

"desprecio de las letras nacionales" (409). He partially credits this to a lack of advertising and

marketing of Dominican literature. Therefore, due in part to the large publishing companies that

promote it, narrative on Dominican history written by outsiders is more widely read by both

Dominicans and non-Dominicans alike.

C6saire's earlier observation on the scarring caused by American domination leads to a

question posed by Larson. How has Dominican literature recorded this painful period? Larson,

in an article titled "iC6mo narrar el Trujillato?" argues that while Trujillo is dead, his influence

remains. As evidence of this, he points to the democratic election of the neo-Trujillista Joaqufn

Balaguer in 1986. Larson also argues that life for the vast majority of Dominicans has not

changed much in the forty years since Trujillo's assassination. Based on these political and

economic facts he believes that Dominicans have not been able to effectively narrate the era of

Trujillo. He states:









El Trujillato parece estar suspendido en la mente de la sociedad actual como contenido
vivido, pero sin forma adecuada, representado, en el mejor de los casos, como un
sinnimero de an6cdotas sensacionales ensartadas en el hilo biogrifico del propio dictador.
(90)

However, Trujillo appears often in Dominican narrative. Collado observes that Trujillo, as a

shadow or perhaps a ghost, appears constantly in Dominican narrative (12). However, Bruno

Rosario Candelier claims that Dominican literary production has not reflected their "ser

national" and that with few exceptions, Dominican novels have only written about Dominican

internal conflicts and armed revolutions (Tendencias 15). In contrast to their Dominican

counterparts, who suffered the psychological trauma of dictatorship, the authors in this study

(Danticat, Alvarez and Vargas Llosa) who live outside of the Dominican Republic have very

successfully narrated the Trujillo era. Their position as outsiders places them in a privileged

position as they do not directly experience the ongoing effects of Trujillo's dictatorship

mentioned by Larson. As Carine Mardorossian explains "exiled writers are often seen as better

equipped to provide and 'objective' view of the two worlds they are straddling by virtue of their

alienation" (16). It is this alienation that allows them to more effectively narrate the Trujillo era.

Fernando Valerio Holgufn offers a response to Larson in an article titled "En el tiempo de

Las Mariposas de Julia Alvarez: Una interpretaci6n de la historic." He claims that the

representation of the totality of an era is impossible and in support of his argument cites Pierre

Macherey, who believes that what authors reflect are fragments of history, much like a broken

mirror reflects fragments of a whole. The narratives I have selected for my work are much like

the broken mirror metaphor used by Macherey, in that they individually reflect fragments of

Dominican history.









Turn Towards History: New Historicism & Cultural Materialism

In the late 1970's and early 1980's, literary critics became interested in the relationship

between literature and history and in how literature reflects, shapes and represents history. In

particular, critics of new historicism believe that literature and history are inseparable; that

literature is used in the representation of history and that literature contains insights into

historical moments (John Branningan 169-70). They are also interested in how cultures are

represented and believed that to this end all texts could be examined for their historicity, just as

any historical phenomenon (e.g. a merengue on Trujillo's death) could be analyzed much as one

would a literary text.

New historicism and cultural materialism, which emerged later, share many of the same

views, such as a focus on the political function of literary texts. Yet, a major difference is that

new historicists usually concentrate on those at the top of the social hierarchy (the wealthy, the

monarchy, the church) and how those classes maintain power, while cultural materialists prefer

to concentrate on those at the bottom of the social hierarchy (the poor, women and other

marginalized peoples) and how they subvert power (Dino Felluga). This study combines

elements of both in its study of the wealthy and educated Dominican Mirabal sisters and an

illiterate, poor, Haitian woman and genocide survivor. Additionally, it looks for ways in which

subversion and resistance to political oppression are articulated and represented.

Fiction, History and Truth

As previously noted, an important focus of this study is the relationship between literature

and history. There is no precise definition for the term 'literature'. Roland Barthes offers this

simple definition, "Literature is what gets taught" (qtd. in Eagleton 172). However, 'history' is

easier to define. Nancy Partner defines it as "meaning imposed on time by means of language:

history imposes syntax on time" (97). She continues to say that:









Knowing that time is resistless, amorphous, the universal solvent of meaning, we yet
demand, ... form, and in this quintessentially human act of imposing form on formless
time are coiled the high tensions of art, religion, and philosophy. (92) 5

Similarly, David Carr believes that "narrative imposes on the events of the past a form that in

themselves they do not have" (11). Narrative plays an important function in society because as

H. Porter Abbott explains, "narrative is the principal way in which our species organizes its

understanding of time" (3). Both the historian and the novelist share the same task, in that both

impose form on the formless, in this case it is time, and in doing so they create narrative,

necessary for humans to understand time.

Hayden White has widely studied the relationship between history and narrative and

believes that historiographical and fictional narratives are not only related but that

historiographical narratives need literary narrative in order to be understood. In Tropics of

Discourse (1978) White maintains that:

The older distinction between fiction and history, in which fiction is conceived as the
representation of the imaginable and history as the representation of the actual, must give
place to the recognition that we can only know the actual by contrasting it with or likening
it to the imaginable. (98)

As White explains, literature not only plays a unique role but also is also necessary in the

interpretation of reality. This idea is reflected in Ded6 Mirabal's comments in the "Epilogue" of

In the Time of the Butterflies where she describes the death of her three sisters. She states, "We

had lost hope, and we needed a story to understand what had happened to us" (313). In

Metahistory (1973), White maintains that the historical works of Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche and

Croce are much more than objective reconstructions of past reality and argues that they contain

an element of imagination. He rejects the idea that historians narrate history as it happened

because imposing form on time, which is formless, requires the use of narrative, which has its


5 Emphasis is the author's.









own rules and structure. Therefore, according to White, no clear distinction exists between

historiographical and literary narration, a point further developed in The Content of Form (1987).

Paul Recouer, in Memory, History, Forgetting (2004) asks simply, "Does not the representation

of the past consist in a interpretation of the stated facts?" (235). The obvious answer for this

author is yes. Both the historian and the artist in their narratives interpret the past.

If we recognize, as the above-mentioned critics do, that there is no frontier between literary

narration and historical narration, since both are narratives and both include the interpretation of

past events, then both are equally valid in the study of history and humanity. This point is

clearly made by White when he says of the literary critic and novelist Gene Bell-Villada:

Would he wish to say that their works do not teach us about real history because they are
fictions? Are their novels less true for being fictional? Are they less fictional for being
historical? Could any history be a true as these novels without availing itself of the kind of
poetic tropes found in the work of Vargas Llosa, Carpentier, Donoso, and Cortizar?
(Figural 13)

Much can be learned from past events through the study of literary narrative and, in particular in

Latin America, where novels tend to focus more on the social-political than the psychological

and where there has always been a close link between history and the novel. Additionally, in

One Master for Another (1983) Doris Sommer states, "books have no clear-cut frontiers with

other works of literature or other discourses like history, politics, economics, etc." (x). They are

a part of the discourse created by culture and therefore are a reflection of it. Aime6 C6saire, in

agreement with White and Sommer, believes that historians or novelists are the same thing (55).

In the sense that both apply narrative to time, there is no difference between the historian and the

novelists.

The novelist Virginia Warner Brodie makes an important observation. She reminds the

reader that, "A novel, is by definition, fiction. The characters never really lived; the incidents

never really happened. Perhaps it was not like that at all" (211). Roberto Gonzalez Echevarrfa









similarly writes that, "the novelist 'invents' new plots and characters" (The Voice of the Masters

69). In other words, the Trujillo who appears in these narratives has been 'invented' by the

authors. Gonzalez Echevarrfa continues, "within the text of the novel, it is the novelist, through

the voice of omniscience, who has replaced God. The third person is the novelist's unholy, yet

powerful, ghost" (69). Alvarez in the "Postscript" of In the Time of the Butterflies informs the

reader that, "I began to invent them [the Mirabal sisters] .... what you find in these pages are

not the Mirabal sisters of fact, or even the Mirabal sisters of legend" (324). Therefore, when

talking about historical fiction or novels of dictatorship, one must keep in mind that it is, above

all, fiction. While the characters in the novel may share the names with actual famous historical

people, they are ultimately fictional creations of the author. This is not to say that fiction does

not have historiographic value. Vargas Llosa maintains that:

La verdad que expresa una novela, la verdad que expresa la literature no es la verdad
hist6rica. No es la verdad sociol6gica, no es una verdad que se pueda demostrar
objetivamente. Es una verdad subjetiva. Es una verdad que no es demostrable pero si es
una verdad en el sentido que nos ilumina como no nos ilumina ninguna ciencia social una
determinada realidad .... [La march Radetsky] Es una novela que a mi me parece
deslumbrante porque lo que 61 cuenta s6lo una novela podfa contarlo; no hay historiador,
no hay soci6logo, que pueda describir esos mecanismos intemos que tienen que ver con la
psicologfa, con el sistema de valores de lo ciudadanos que fue socavando el imperio hasta
que ese imperio, con la Primera Guerra Mundial, se desmoron6. (Felipe Gonzalez 34)

As Vargas Llosa explains, literature serves an important and unique role in society as it is the

means by which history can be experienced.

Additionally, history and literature differ in focus. As James G. Kennedy notes, "The real

difference [between a history and a novel] is that the historical imagination gives generalizations

that are factually true, whereas the literary imagination offers individuals' experiences which

have at best practical truth" (153). While historians are mainly interested in generalizations,

authors are interested in individual experiences. It is in their narrative that the voice of the

marginalized can be heard and how the human experience of history, in this case dictatorship,









can be explained, understood, and perhaps even felt. In this way, authors supplement the

historian's representation of history. It is also why literary narrative is important in the study of

history.

Vargas Llosa, a novelist, believes that literary narrative is superior to historiographic

literature because:

Al final uno cree que las guerras napole6nicas en Rusia fueron como las describi6 Tolstoi
y no como las described los historiadores porque La guerra y la paz es una novela que uno
no puede olvidar. Es una novela plagada de inexactitudes hist6ricas, pero ,a qui6n le
importa esas inexactitudes hist6ricas cuando entra en la magia extraordinaria de La guerra
y lapaz? (36)

The authors in this study are not unique in blurring the lines between fiction and history.

Historians have also 'crossed the line', so to speak, and meddled into imaginative writing. Both

have done so for similar reasons. The renowned Dominican historian Bernardo Vega, in the

preface of his first piece of fiction, Domini Canes: Los Perros del Sefior (1988), mentions that

when he writes a historical text, he always tries to "mantener la objetividad y el rigor acad6mico

que este tipo de trabajo obliga" (9). However, he realizes that this type of writing is not well

read. He continues, "La labor acad6mica, por su propia naturaleza, no es entendible o no atrae a

un segment important de la poblaci6n que si deberfa conocer sobre estas cosas y que s6lo se

interest en leer ficci6n ligera" (9). Here, Vega recognizes the ability of fiction to reach a larger

audience and, therefore, have a greater impact. Additionally, he explains that mixing history

with fiction is justified "pues la literature y el mito pueden poner de manifiesto lo que la historic

ha ocultado o lo que ha sido olvidado" (10). Vega ventures into the world of historical fiction

for several reasons: first, he wants the freedom to write with imagination and second, he wants

Dominicans to think about their history.









The Burden of History

Alfred MacAdam observes that since the 1940s in Spanish American literature, "Writing

has now become the means by which Latin America can learn to live with its ghosts, learn from

them and use the burden of history instead of being crushed by it" (562). Additionally, he

believes that this recent literature serves as a "monument that seeks to keep a collective memory

alive with all its contradictions against the wishes of 'official' history" (562). The narratives

in this study support MacAdam's observations. The inside cover of In the Time of the

Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez, consists of names of people who Trujillo assassinated. As Ilan

Stavans notes, these names transform Butterflies into a political artifact. He states, "Recalling

the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., the names seem endless, an homage to patriotic

anonymity" (555). Included in the list are the names of two distinguished Dominican authors

who were killed for their writings, Ram6n Marrero Aristy and Andr6s Requena. Ram6n Alberto

Ferreras, who fears that the Mirabal sisters are being forgotten, writes Las Mirabal in an effort to

keep their memory alive. Freddy Prestol Castillo offers his testimony in El Masacre se pasa a pie

in an effort to not be overwhelmed by the inhumanity of the genocide he witnessed. Edwidge

Danticat, in The Farming of Bones, introduces the North American reader to a historical event

that is largely neglected, thereby keeping the 1937 massacre alive in historical memory.

Similarly Andr6s Requena bravely writes Cementerio sin cruces so that the world may know just

how much the Dominican people were suffering under Trujillo's regime. His narrative, written

during the Trujillo era, can be seen as plea for help. It is a plea that would go ignored. Mario

Vargas Llosa, in La Fiesta del Chivo, challenges 'official' history by allowing Trujillo's

assassins to narrate their experiences living under political oppression. In the six narratives

studied, the voice of the victims is central. Thus, speaking in the 'unofficial' voice of the

marginalized, they all challenge the 'official' history provided by Trujillo.









Winston Churchill, in response to an inquiry regarding his perceived lack of concern for

what future generations might think of him, famously said, "History will be kind to me for I

intend to write it myself" (John Martin). History, as historians and artists are currently writing it,

has not been kind to Trujillo. According to Jawaharial Nehru, independent India's first prime

minister historyoy is almost always written by the victors and conquerors and gives their

viewpoint" (Oxford). In each of these narratives Trujillo has been repositioned as the 'other' as

it is not he telling the story. He is no longer the victor and his viewpoint is missing in these

narratives. With the possible exception of Danticat, who narrates events before her time and

Vargas Llosa, who doesn't have a direct relationship with the Dominican Republic, these

authors, who consider themselves to be authoritative interpreters of Dominican history, are

interested interpreters of their histories and are by no means detached from the experiences they

are narrating. These authors are currently the victors and the narratives include their viewpoint.

Each author studied, Danticat and Vargas Llosa included, uses literary narrative to question,

subvert, rewrite and reinvent official historiographic discourse. In their narration of counter

histories, these authors using literary strategies, not only highlight the fiction but also the silences

of official histories.

Conclusion

The chapters that follow will examine the historical experience of the Trujillo era as

recovered by literary narrative instead of historiographic narrative. These six narratives were

selected because they produce a critical understanding of Dominican and, to a lesser extent,

Haitian history. Read closely in the chapters to come, they also illustrate the variety of narratives

of dictatorship with the Trujillo era as a subject. It is hoped that the study of these narratives,

each told from the viewpoint of the victim, will lead to a better understanding, not only of this









dictator, but also of the devastating effects of political oppression on its victims. This

understanding is necessary if we hope to rid the world of dictators.

Finally, David William Foster in Alternate Voices in the Contemporary Latin American

Narrative (1985) mentions that as critics "we must cease to devote all of our critical energies to

Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Jorge Luis Borges and concern ourselves with other vast literary

riches of Latin America" (xvi). In its study of lesser-known Dominican authors such as Ferreras,

Prestol Castillo and Requena, this dissertation is, in part, an answer to his call.










CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE AS MEMORY: THE 1937 MASSACRE OF HAITIAN CITIZENS AS
NARRATED IN EL MASSACRE SE PASA A PIE AND THE FARMING OF BONES



El General
searches for a word; he is all the world
there is. [...]

El General has found his word: perejil.
Who says it, lives. [...]

The general remembers the tiny green sprigs
men of his village wore in their capes
to honor the birth of a son. He will
order many, this time, to be killed

for a single, beautiful word.
-Rita Dove "Parsley"


The negrita falls forward. The word has killed her. Through her throat. Uvula. Tongue.
Teeth. Lips. Through her breath. Given the circumstances, one wonders if the Devil hasn't
joined Trujillo's Cabinet
Ren6 Philoctdte Massacre River


Introduction

The first week of October 1937, Dominican dictator Rafael Le6nidas Trujillo ordered his

oversized army of 2700 men to identify and kill Haitian citizens living on the Dominican side of

the Dominican-Haitian border. 1 Trujillo's goal was not to merely send Haiti a political message,

but rather to kill as many Haitians as possible. 2 According to Richard Turits: "After the first

days of the slaughter, the official checkpoint and bridge between Haiti and the Dominican



1 Almost two years prior to the massacre, a Time (2 Dec. 1935) article notes that Trujillo's army of 2700 was
oversized for a country the size of the Dominican Republic but was needed in order to keep him in power
("Canceled Junket").
2 Human Rights Watch notes that, "The 1937 Massacre coincided with the fall in world sugar prices, making
migrant labor here largely employed in US-controlled plantations more vulnerable to xenophobic aggression."










Republic were closed, thus impeding Haitians' escape" (591). He also notes that Haitians were

"slain even as they attempted to escape to Haiti while crossing the fatefully named Massacre

River that divides the two nations" (591). 3 Additionally, Turits explains that the Dominican

Army used machetes rather than guns because it, "reduced noise that would have alerted more

Haitians and propelled them to flee" (590). 4 In the span of a few days, thousands of defenseless

men, women, and children were brutally slaughtered. Turits writes that "[a]s a result of the

massacre, virtually the entire Haitian population in the Dominican frontier was either killed or

forced to flee across the border" (630). In his biography of Trujillo, Robert D. Crassweller

describes the massacre:

At Dajab6n, on the banks of the Massacre, more thousands were cut down by machete and
rifle as they sought the refuge of the old boundary line. Bodies clogged the river. Bodies
were piled into obscure little valleys. Bodies lay in the village streets and on country roads
and in gentle green fields. Trails of blood lay on dusty country lanes up and down the
border. Blood dripped from trucks that carried corpses to secluded ravines for disposal.
(154-5)

The journalist Albert Hicks was sent to the Dominican Republic just days after the massacre to

interview survivors. His description of the massacre is similar to Crassweller's.

By the morning of October 4, the massacre had spent itself. Tales of the horror
immediately spread through the Dominican Republic and Haiti, tales of brutalities
unequaled in modem history. Groups of Haitians here, groups there, hacked to death with
machetes, stabbed to death with knives, shoe with Krag rifles. Haitian homes raided,
whole families wiped out, babies beaten to death against trees and sides of houses, tossed
on bayonets. The tales were endless and investigations several weeks later proved them all
to be true. (111)



3 The river, El Masacre, was named for the killing of French buccaneers by Spanish soldiers in the 18th century, not
for the 1937 massacre.

4 Eugenio Matibag explains, "Because knifing or bayoneting was the preferred mode of dispatching the victims it
saved bullets and also made the deaths seem the work of enraged Dominican farmers and ranchers the Haitians
refer to the massacre with the Krbyol kout kouto, the' stabbing, like a single knife wound'. The Spanish term of the
same even was el corte: the cutting, as in the harvesting of cane. And during the first week of October, feme os,
fanning of bones, meant the mowing down left and right of borderland Haitians, a harvest of death by the
thousands" (147).









The massacre did not generate much interest among the ruling class in Haiti. Consequently, no

one really knows how many Haitians, and Dominicans mistaken for Haitians, lost their lives.

Furthermore, the victims of the massacre lived along the border, a place seen as both part of and

separate from the rest of the country. Lauren Derby explains the extent of their marginalization:

[. .] the border has concurrently been seen by capitaleio elites as the primordial sign and
site of barbarism, or a hybrid space of racial and international admixture [. .] This
imaginary spatial map delimits those included and excluded from the nation. (491)

Their marginalization explains, in part, the lack of interest in determining the number of victims.

Therefore, figures on the number of people killed vary widely. Crassweller believes "[a] figure

between 15,000 and 20,000 would be a reasonable estimate, but this is guesswork" (156).

However, Lowell Gudmundson and Francisco A. Scaran place the figure at 30,000 (340).

Edwidge Danticat, one of the authors studied in this chapter, places the figure even higher. She

says, "The estimates are from 14,000 to 40,000. I lean more toward the higher number" (David

Barsamian 3).

Trujillo's intent in ordering the massacre was to firmly define the border between the two

countries and nationalize lands currently belonging to wealthy landowners; not rid the

Dominican nation of Haitians or to "whiten" the country as is commonly believed.5 Turits

observes that:

The efforts of the Dominican state to eliminate Haitians were directed essentially at the
frontier provinces, not throughout the country. And in terms of its lasting impact on the
Dominican Republic, the Haitian massacre materially altered only the frontier, not the
nation as a whole. (631)

Furthermore, he notes that there was only "one reported instance when the country's plantation

workers were attacked during the massacre" and that the "rest of the country's over 20,000



5 The massacre left Dominican landowners without laborers to work the land prompting many leave. Trujillo seized
the abandoned land.









Haitian sugar workers, [. .] were not targeted (626). If Trujillo's intent were to whiten the

country Haitians throughout the country, would have been killed. Yet, the massacre was limited

only to the border region. After the massacre Turits maintains, "the border, once a porous and

somewhat artificial division to frontier citizens, had become instead a deep and horrific scar"

(631). Similarly, John Augelli explains: "The international boundary between the two countries

was consciously honed into one of the sharpest political and cultural divides in the world" (33).

Despite the tremendous cost of human life, some viewed the newly defined border positively.

Andr6s L. Mateo explains that Dominican intellectuals under Trujillo claimed that "si hay

fronteras es por la montafia de cadiveres de 1937. Si hay Patria, es por Trujillo ... Gracias a 61,

por otra parte, la naci6n ya no es dubitable en sus contomos" (122). Thus, some Dominicans

justified the massacre as needed for nation building.

Narrating Horror

The narratives analyzed in this chapter, El Masacre se pasa a pie (1973) by the Dominican

lawyer and author Freddy Prestol Castillo (1913-1981) and The Farming of Bones (1998) by the

Haitian author Edwidge Danticat (1969 ) are set against the background of the 1937 massacre

of Haitians and present fictionalized accounts of the massacre. Both narratives illustrate the

difficulty of narrating genocide. Frederic Jameson notes, "History is what hurts" (102). The

history retold in El Masacre and The Farming of Bones is no exception; it is painful and

traumatic. Representing such a horrific historical event is a difficult task for the imagination,

challenging both the author and the reader. Reinterpreting the moment is a challenge when

reality is indeed stranger than fiction or is more horrific than what the imagination can imagine.

The gruesome nature of the 1937 Haitian Massacre exceeds most imaginations. This is even

more so when the author was also witness to the event and has been traumatized by it. Dominick

LaCapra explains:









Extremely traumatic series of events beggar the imagination, and such events often involve
the literalization of metaphor as one's wildest dreams or most hellish nightmares seem to
be realized or even exceeded by brute facts. Such facts go beyond the imagination's
powers of representation. Indeed, when things of an unimaginable magnitude actually
occur and phantasms seem to run rampant in 'ordinary' reality, what is there for the
imagination to do? Such events cannot be intensified through imaginative recreation or
transfiguration. (Representing the Holocaust 181)

At the time, the massacre seemed unreal to both Dominicans and Haitians who had difficulty

believing news of the event. Prestol Castillo's text, in both structure and content, reveals that he

is overwhelmed by the task of narrating the massacre and his writing has been criticized for

lacking imagination. However, despite its many narrative flaws, some literary critics have

praised the text. Doris Sommer, for instance, observes that the it narrative "is an example of the

kind of writing that is apparently impoverished by the author's lack of imagination, but respected

for his unmediated objectivity" ("El Masacre se pasa a pie: Guilt and Impotence Under

Trujillo." 164). Similarly, Danticat realizes the limitations of both her imagination and narrative

and is challenged by the massacre. In an interview with Shauna Scott Rhone she explains, "'The

horror of what happened can't be matched by writing it. No matter how many times it's written,

it can't be close to the truth of living it'" (3).

The gruesomeness of the event also challenges the reader. The inhumanity described in

these two texts of horror and suffering often threatens to shock the reader into incredulity and

can traumatize the reader. LaCapra observes that texts representing the Jewish Holocaust,

"Indeed, texts may undergo minor traumas or trigger them in the reader" (History and Memory

After Auschwitz 16-7). Given that these narratives recreate an unimaginable horror and cruelty,

it is difficult, if not impossible, for the reader to not be affected. The 1937 massacre is not

unique in the challenges it poses for representation. Elena Poniatowska and Carlos P6rez note

that in Latin America reality can seem unreal. They claim, "One hardly needs novels, because









our fantastic reality far exceeds our fiction. Surrealism is still the order of the day" (75). It

seems equally unreal today.

The Official Word: Silence

El Masacre and The Farming of Bones bear witness to an event the official governments

of both countries have ignored and tried to silence. Renee Shea explains, "The event slipped

from history, unspoken by the governments on both sides of the Massacre River" ("The

Dangerous Job of Edwidge Danticat" 97). In the Dominican Republic, not only did Trujillo

imposed silence but Lucia Suarez notes that, "To be Dominican, the people had to condone (or

'not know about') the massacre, and forget their own racial history and ethical responsibility"

(132). In other words, love of country required that the massacre be forgotten. Furthermore,

what little was written about it was untrue. Prestol Castillo writes, "El periodista de mi pais,

atado al carro de la opresi6n, que dard en titulares la noticia de esto acontecimientos que 61 no ha

visto. Noticia mentirosa" (50). In contrast to these reporters, Prestol Castillo's testimony comes

from first hand knowledge and is published after Trujillo's death. The publication of the text

while Trujillo was alive would have surely lead to Prestol Castillo's imprisonment or death.

Like his Dominican counterpart, President Vincent of Haiti also insisted that the massacre

be silenced in his own country. William Krehm explains:

Faced with mounting discontent, Vincent curtailed civil liberties. When the Dominican
massacre took place, and the press tried voicing the indignation of the Haitian nation, it
was gagged. Journalists were condemned to hard labor. Some of Vincent's former
nationalist comrades languished in his prisons. (201)

Eighty years later, the massacre is still ignored in Haiti. Danticat says in an interview, "This is a

part of history that's not in the history books; it's not something we talk about." ("An Interview

between Edwidge Danticat and Renee Shea" 12). Not surprisingly, no official monument exists









in memory of the victims in either country and no official event exists to commemorate the date

of the massacre.

Despite the silence imposed by the government of both the Dominican Republic and Haiti,

Michelle Wucker notes that the inhabitants of Hispaniola have not forgotten the massacre:

The memory of what happened at the Massacre River in 1937 is still vivid in the minds of
the islanders. Even now, it is nearly impossible for Dominicans and Haitians to think of
each other without some trace of the tragedy of their mutual history that took place that
year. (Why the Cocks Fight 44)

Likewise, Augelli observes that: "Time has done little to soften the feelings of fear and hatred

that the Dominicans harbor toward Haiti" (22). Not only have Dominicans and Haitians not

forgotten the event, some feel that it is time to talk about it. In an interview with Wucker,

Danticat tells of the support she has received from the Haitian and Dominican community.

Algunos haitianos, encantados de que estuviera acerca de un tabd en la historic, enviaron
investigaciones, fotograffas, libros y articulos. Otros le advirtieron que no distorsionara la
historic. Algunos pensaron que debfa dedicarme a escribir algo positive sobre Haitf, algo
en que triunfamos, como la revoluci6n [.. .] Algunos amigos dominicanos me apoyaron y
me dijeron que era hora de desenterrar este acontecimiento. ("Edwidge Danticat: La voz
de los olvidados" 43)

The support Danticat has received from Haitians and Dominicans as well as the success of El

Masacre speaks to the need to talk about the massacre that still exists more than 80 years after

the event.

For differing reasons the authors studied in this chapter have chosen to counter official

history and to remember the genocide. In choosing to remember, they reflect an observation

made by Harold Schulweis who notes, "the question of our time is not whether to remember but

what to remember and how to transmit our me mi i' (ix). For Prestol Castillo and Danticat the

question has not been whether or not to remember the massacre, but instead the on how the past

should be reconstructed and narrated. Their narratives offer what George Lipsitz calls "counter-

memory." According to him, "counter-memory is not a rejection of history, but a reconstitution









of it" (227). This study will look at complicated relationship between the traumatic event,

memory, and imagination. Examining the texts narrative practices and themes will provide

insight into this massacre and of how these two countries define themselves and each other.

A Witness Testifies: Freddy Prestol Castillo

The Dominican author and attorney Freddy Prestol Castillo is not well known outside of

his country. He was the author of two novels, El Masacre se pasa a pie and Pablo Mama

published posthumously in 1985. He also published essays, short stories, news articles, and law

textbooks. Prestol Castillo also held several public posts under Trujillo, but was never a strong

supporter of the dictator. After Trujillo ordered the killing of the Dominican author Ram6n

Marrero Aristy, a close friend of Prestol Castillo, he became much more critical of the dictator.

El Masacre se pasa a pie is Prestol Castillo's first novel. It was published in 1973, twelve

years after Trujillo's assassination and 36 years after the massacre. Prestol Castillo was 24 years

old at the time of the massacre and was one of three judges sent to preside over the legal

proceedings against the Dominicans involved with the killing of the Haitians. (Vega Trujillo v

Haiti 142). There are differing accounts as to whether Prestol Castillo arrived just before or just

after the massacre. In the text, the narrator witnesses the event. While in Dajab6n6, he keeps a

journal that, after years of being buried in his mother's patio, was recovered and published as El

Masacre se pasa a pie. Despite its controversial subject matter, the book was very well received

within the Dominican Republic. David Howard explains that, "El Masacre se pasa a pie has sold

over 34,000 copies, a substantial amount given that the majority of publications in the

Dominican Republic do not exceed an initial print run of 1,000 copies" (140). The commercial



6 Dajab6n is a Dominican town on the Massacre River, which divides the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It is one
of the largest border points between the two countries and was one of the towns most affected by the massacre.
Directly across the river is the larger Haitian town of Ouanaminthe.









success of the book illustrates Dominicans' interest in their past and a hunger for the knowledge

that Trujillo sought to silence.

A blend of fact and fiction, El Masacre defies literary classification. Lydia Gil explains,

"no es un texto ficticio, pero que tampoco se trata de un testimonio" (38). Prestol Castillo labels

it a novel; yet he later tells Sommer in an interview that, "Yo lo puse novela al terminarlo, pero

lo consider simplemente mi libro" ( "El Masacre se pasa a pie: Guilt and Impotence Under

Trujillo" 165). Prestol Castillo is both the author and narrator, yet the book lacks the reflection

and structure often found in an autobiography. The narrative, broken down into 31 chapters, is

fragmented and not always chronological. Most of the chapters of El Masacre, 2 26, are

dedicated to the massacre and its effects on both its perpetrators and victims. When the

author/narrator arrives in Dajab6n the genocide has already begun. He is confused and asks,

";El Corte! ... iQu6 era aquello? ... Ninguno me lo habia querido explicar" (22)7.

The slaughter, which Prestol Castillo describes as "el festfn homicide" (26) and "la

vendimia roja" (27), is narrated with most detail in the second chapter. In describing the

massacre the voice of the narrator, that of the young magistrate, seems to disappear. Rita De

Maeseneer notes:

En muchos fragments no se encuentran ni siquiera huellas explicitas de la presencia del
yo narrador, de manera que el lector tiene la impresi6n de que esos fragments son
narrados por un narrador omnisciente. Es como si el yo narrador se escondiera detris de
una voz general, ambigtiedad que expresa la dificultad de hablar de la matanza, de asumir
en la escritura este hecho doloroso del pasado dominicano. (165)

Additionally, the disappearance of the narrative voice also speaks to the guilt and impotence he

feels in his inability to do anything to stop the killings he knows are inherently wrong. Chapters

1, 27, and 31 are mostly autobiographical focusing on details of his life. They describe a young



7Emphasis is the author's.









man born into wealth. However his wealth vanishes when sugar prices fall dramatically in the

1920's. Prestol Castillo is bitter at the loss of his family fortune and must borrow money to pay

for his law license.

Paradoxically, the author both criticizes and justifies the massacre as he also tries to

explain how Dominicans, and in particular himself, could have been capable of such

inhumanity. As Howard observes, "the narrator is unable to face up to his responsibility to

humanity and fails to react to the campaign of racial murder, although he knows that he should

do so" (141). Furthermore, Sommer notes that the "narrative alternates between horrible

atrocities and guild-ridden impotence" (Foundational Fictions 171). For Prestol Castillo writing

is a way to deal with the guilt he feels for his involvement in the massacre. He writes:

Me repugnaba estos jueces, cuyo trato rehusaba. ,Me parecian cerdos? Comfan un pan
culpable .... Pero ... (No era yo, tambi6n un cerdo? Asi me recriminaba mi conciencia.
Sin embardo, digo: ino lo soy! Escribo mis notas de este crime! Es para denunciarlo! Si
callara, me igualarfa a los jueces, que llegan cada dia, demacrados, a comer un plato de
lentejas en el mes6n y callarin para siempre. (116)

Gil also notes the internal conflict the narrator describes and notes that the work is a, "texto

hibrido que present simultineamente la denuncia de los actos barbdricos que se llevaron a cabo

[.. .] y la defense del comportamiento dominicano frente a estos events de 1937" (43).

Crassweller explains that while Dominicans did not approve of the killings, many felt that

securing the border was necessary (159). Although Prestol Castillo does not show empathy

toward the victims, he realizes that the massacre was wrong. However, he also feels that





8 In addition to El Masacre se pasa a pie Prestol Castillo also wrote the essay, Paisajes y meditaciones de una
frontera (1943). Both deal with the 1937 massacre. The essay is not easily accessible. It is only available in two
U.S. libraries: Harvard University and University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras and is in Limited Circulation.
Therefore, I have not been able to read it.









Dominicanization of the border was necessary. Therefore, the narrative continually contradicts

itself as the author attempts to both support and condemn the massacre.

For Prestol Castillo, the story told in El Masacre is a lived reality and a reconstruction of

memory. He relies on what Maurice Halbwachs calls "autobiographical mc ,i (52) to

recreate his narrative as much of his original document, which he claims was written in 1937

while he was in Dajab6n, has been destroyed. In the preface to El Masacre he writes,

En esos instantes me parecfa haber perdido un hijo! Alfin aparecid: era mds bien un
rimero de abono. Otra vez, quise llorar: hojas rasgadas, casi ilegibles; pedazos rafdos
por los insects, trozos convertidos en estie'rcol. A la postre, habia aparecido el hijo
deforme, el monstruo ... Pero el hijo! (14)9

Although Prestol Castillo witnessed much of he retells, he is nonetheless writing from a position

of forgetting. Michael Bernald-Donals explains:

Witness is a moment of forgetting, a moment of seeing without knowing that indelibly
marks the source of history as an abyss. It is a moment of the disaster; and that moment,
the moment of forgetting, demands that the memory be inscribed, though it is a memory a
testimony whose historical circumstances and whose discursive control are simply not
available to subsequent witnesses. (214)

In another article, Bernald-Donals and Richard Glejzer reiterate that witnesses to an event also

experience forgetting. They note that, ". living memory is not so much the recuperation of

events as it is an imprint of the loss of the event, and narratives histories, built as a bulwark

against memory's loss, stand in for and replace the event" (5). Similarly, LaCapra maintains

that:

With respect to trauma, memory is always secondary since what occurs is not integrated
into experience or directly remembered, and the event must be reconstructed from its
effects and traces. (Representing the Holocaust 21)




9 The use of italics, punctuation, and spelling errors have been faithfully transcribed from the text and reflect Prestol
Castillo's style. Because he uses ellipses frequently, I have placed my ellipses in brackets to distinguish between the
two.









Therefore, what witnesses such as Prestol Castillo provide is not a description of the event as it

unfolded, but rather as Bernald-Donals explains, "the effect of events upon N ilncisss" (205).

The structure of El Masacre illustrates the traumatic effect the massacre had on the

narrator/author. 10 It is repetitive, poorly organized and requires a patient reader. Suarez in the

The Tears of Hispaniola notes that the narrative:

[. .] reads like a horrible stream-of-consciousness memory of fragments of conversations,
orders, fearful comments, and impotent observations by the author. In many ways, I
propose, it seems that the text tries to make sense of an irrational horror. That irrational
horror is described via fragments of interactions between people who are inebriated actors
screaming accusations they will later have to believe. (45)

Sommer explains that the reader, recognizing the narrative's value as a testimonial, keeps on

reading.

[.. .] many of Prestol's Dominican readers are either impatient with his undisciplined prose
or indulgent because of his book's value as a testimonial both to the horror of the trujillato
and to the intellectuals whom he could not buy off. ("El Masacre se pasa a pie: Guilt and
Impotence Under Trujillo" 164)

Thus, the massacre's effect on the young magistrate is seen in both the content and structure of

his writing. The fragmented, repetitive narrative reflects the trauma he is experiencing and his

inability to rationalize the horror in his own mind, much less put it into words.

A Survivor's Tale: Edwidge Danticat

Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti and moved to the United States when she was twelve

years old. Mallay Charters notes that she is the "first African Haitian female author to write in

English and be published by a major house" (42). She is also, according to Martin Munro,

"Haiti's most widely read author" (35). Danticat received national attention when her book

Krik? Krak! was a 1995 National Book Award nominee. In contrast with Prestol Castillo,

10 Cathy Caruth, a leading literary theorist of trauma defines it as: "An overwhelming experience of sudden, or
catastrophic events, in which the response to the event occurs in the often delayed, and uncontrolled repetitive
occurrence of hallucinations and other intrusive phenomena" ("Unclaimed experience: Trauma and the Possibility
of History" 181).









Danticat was born 32 years after the massacre. Therefore, she must rely on learned history or

"historical mc m, 1i (Halbwachs 52) for information on the massacre and writes from research

and the individual and collective memory of those she interviewed. Although Danticat did not

directly experience the event, she has been emotionally affected by the massacre. In the

"Preface" to Massacre River (2005) 11 Danticat writes:

Having read Ren6 Philoct6te's Massacre River, I grieved then, as I do now, for the
Massacre River's survivors, those who suffered the machetes that chopped the Haitian
heads and the fingers that counted them. (8)

Danticat is aware of the pitfalls of speaking for others. In an interview with Shea she notes, "I

was purposely questioning myself and what I was doing writing this story in English, stealing

it, if you will, from the true survivors who were not able or allowed to tell their stories" ("The

Hunger to Tell: Edwidge Danticat and The Farming of Bones" 17-8). Danticat incorporates this

concern into her narrative. Yves, in The Farming of Bones tells Amabelle, "'I know what will

happen,' he said. 'You tell the story, and then it's retold as they wish, written in words you do

not understand, in a language that is theirs, and not yours'" (246). Like Prestol Castillo, Danticat

does not fictionalize history with the purpose of entertaining the reader. She recreates the

massacre with the hope that it will lead a healing which has not yet taken place. Therefore, she

does not blame the Dominican people for the massacre. 12 Danticat offers an explanation for the

massacre in the voice of Tibon, a Haitian sugar cane worker. He explains:

The ruin of the poor is their poverty, [. .] The poor man, no matter who he is, is always
despised by his neighbors. When you stay too long at a neighbor's house, it's only natural
that he become weary of you and hate you. (178)

Also, in an effort to show cruelty is not limited to only Trujillo, the narrator explains that the:


1 Massacre River is the English translation of Le people des terres me&1es. Port-au-Prince: Deschamps, 1989.
12 Charters explains, "to foster greater understanding between the two nations, Danticat organizes joint Haitian-
Dominican community youth groups in the New York are with writer Junot Diaz" (43).









[The Haitian King Henri Christophe] was sometimes cruel. He used to march battalions of
soldiers off the mountain, ordering them to plunge to their deaths as a disciplinary example
to the others. Thousands of our people died constructing what you see here. But this is not
singular to him. All monuments of this great size are built with human blood' (279).

Thus, both nations have been victims of cruel leaders. Danticat's project consists of helping to

heal the wounds between Haiti and the Dominican Republic and creating a memorial to the

deceased so that they may be remembered.

The Farming of Bones, which won the American Book Award in 1999, explores the effects

of the massacre on individual lives and is Danticat's response to the forgetting of the 1937

massacre. 13 In the narrative she imagines the lives of Haitians and reinterprets their place in

Haitian history. The protagonist and narrator of the The Farming of Bones is Amabelle D6sir, a

young Haitian woman and survivor of the massacre. Danticat bases Amabelle on the true story

of a Haitian domestic worker thereby resuscitating her from the dead so that she may tell her

story. The author explains to Sarah Anne Johnson:

It was about a Dominican colonel who killed his maid at the dinner table to prove his
loyalty to Trujillo, the president of the Dominican Republic. I realized the maid was
Amabelle, but she lives. Once I had that, and all the research, I could enter the story. (25)

Albert C. Hicks, a news reporter also writes:

In an inland town an Army captain and his sefiora laid their napkins down as they finished
the first course of their evening meal. Their servant was no longer young. She had been
with the family for several decades. Her hair was gray against her black face. She entered
the dining room to clear the table. The captain rose from his chair, picked up the carving
knife and before the gray, old woman realized what her master was doing, the captain had
sunk the blade into her breast. The piercing cry that stabbed the night air came from the
throat of the horrified sefiora. The servant, at her feet, had made only a few gurgling
sounds and had died. For a considerable period after that day the captain's wife had to live
locked in a room in a sanatorium, a raving maniac. She couldn't understand that her
husband was simply acting on orders from El Generalissimo. (106-7)

This is not the only account of violence within the family unit. Crassweller documents:









Under military orders, the exterminations were carried out even on individual basis, within
the bosoms of families. The case of a Captain Bison6 was later widely recalled. On direct
orders, and in his own home, he discharged his revolver into the body of his family's aged
Haitian cook, who had been regarded for yeas as one of themselves. (155)

In an interview Danticat she states that, "When she [Amabelle] gave testimony, it felt very much

like I was a recorder and she looked over my shoulder as I wrote" (3). Amabelle's voice is that

of the oppressed and marginalized; she is young, poor, orphaned, Haitian, and a woman. She

represents the triumph of survival in that despite the silence imposed by her government, her

voice is heard.

Amabelle's testimony is narrated in the first person, in the past tense and is linear.

However, it is interrupted by fragments of dreams and memories that are non-linear, printed in

bold and narrated in the present tense. The narrative begins with a memory, an intimate moment

between two lovers, Amabelle and Sebastian, and starts with the words, "His name is Sebastian

Onus (1). This sentence is repeated throughout the narrative for Amabelle believes that, "Men

with names never truly die. It is only the nameless and faceless who vanish like smoke into the

early morning air" (282). In giving the nameless like her lover Sebastian, a Haitian sugarcane

worker, a name she hopes that their lives will not be forgotten.

The story takes place in the fictive Dominican border town of Alegrfa and begins shortly

before the massacre. The name of town stands in stark contrast to the reality of the place. Of the

name Amabelle says, "Perhaps there had been joy for them [Dominicans] in finding that sugar

could be made from blood" (271). It concludes 25 years later with Amabelle bathing in the

Massacre River and searching for a new beginning, although it is not clear if she finds it. It is the

same river where her parents had drowned 25 years earlier, leaving her an orphan.

From the very first chapter The Farming of Bones describes the effects of both physical

and psychological trauma on the individual. Danticat uses Amabelle, a Haitian domestic worker,









to personalize the political and her scarred body is the site of government violence. As she

notes, "Now my flesh was simply a map of scars and bruises, a marred testament" (227).

Despite the silence imposed by the presidents of both countries, the past is visibly written on

Amabelle's body. These scars, which she views as a testament, also serve as a physical reminder

and prevent her from overcoming the massacre. Nancy Peterson explains, "Engulfed by a

painful history, Amabelle remains empty of any human or humane feeling throughout her life"

(171). She says, "I choose a living death because I am not brave" (283). Amabelle also

illustrates what Sigmund Freud describes as profound mourning. He explains:

Profound mourning, the reaction to the loss of someone who is loved, contains the same
painful frame of mind, the same loss of interest in the outside world in so far as it does
not recall him the same loss of capacity to adopt any new object of love (which would
mean replacing him) and the same turning away from any activity that is not connected
with thoughts of him. It is easy to see that this inhibition and circumscription of the ego is
the expression of an exclusive devotion to mourning which leaves nothing over for other
purposes or other interests. (244)

After loosing Sebastian in the massacre, she is unable to find intimacy with anyone else and

remains alone. The text however does end with the possibility that Amabelle may finally

overcome the massacre. The final sentence of the books states, "He [a Haitian homeless

professor], like me, was looking for the dawn" (310). Yet, the reader is left to wonder if

Amabelle ever finds it.

Danticat dedicates 64 of 320 pages of text to the actual massacre. When narrating the

massacre, the book does it in the past tense. The change of verb tense speaks to the inability of

narrating trauma as is it being experienced. For Amabelle, her dreams are her memory. They

are told in present tense, in bold font and in chronological order. It is in her dreams that she

remembers her parents and others she has lost. She is not unique in this as it is same for Mimi,

Sebestien's mother who says to Amabelle, "Leave me now ... I am going to dream up my

children" (243). Unable to write down their memories, Amabelle and Mimi's memories are









stored in their dreams. Dominican women also rely on dreams to remember. Sefiora Valencia

uses dreams to remember her mother, who died while giving birth to her (15). Memory, in

particular is important for Danticat who explains that her grandmother, "believed that no one

really dies as long as someone remembers, someone who will acknowledge that this person had,

in spite of everything, been here" ("We Are Ugly, But We Are Here." 27).

Exile, Solitude & Sterility

The author/narrator in El Massacre and Amabelle in The Farming of Bones share a

condition of aloneness and sterility. Prestol Castillo notes:

Escrib bajo cielofronterizo, en soledad. Sin darme cuenta, yo estaba exiliado.
Evidentemente, en aquel yermo, era un preso mds. Sin ser preso.... Escribia
furtivamente, mientras la aldea dormia. Yen aquel meandro profundo del silencio yo
pensaba en mi triste destiny: condenado a soledad, lo mismo que mi generacidn,
penitenciada a la esterilidad. (7)

For Prestol Castillo the border represents exile. He describes the border as, "Frontera: Pufiales,

sequfa, reses, hambre" (127). Crassweller describes that Dajab6n and other border towns, "took

on a character they retain today a remoteness and an almost somber loneliness" (150). It is an

unwelcoming, almost inhabitable place that is sparsely populated and where, according to Prestol

Castillo, "Hacia aquellas lejanfas s6lo van restos de maquinas y restos de hombres" (21). The

border represents the margins of the nation and is a place where few people want to live. The

fact that Prestol Castillo was sent to the border is indicative of his marginal position in society.

Amabelle is also a marginal member of society, both in the Haiti, the country of her birth,

and in the Dominican Republic. She is considered an outsider in the Dominican Republic and an

inside/outsider in Haiti, not a foreigner, but not Haitian either. She explains Dominicans view of

Haitians:

To them we are always foreigners, even if granmemes' granmemes' were born in this
country,' a man responded in Krey6l, which we most often spoke instead of Spanish -
among ourselves. 'This make its easier for them to push out when they want to'. (69)









However, Amabelle does not see herself as an outsider in the Dominican Republic. The physical

scars left by the massacre mark her as an outsider in Haiti, the country of her birth. She explains

that in Haiti, "They recognize us without knowing us. We were those people, the nearly dead,

the ones who escaped from the other side of the river" (220). In being forced to return to Haiti,

Amabelle is exiled from the place she considers home, the town of Alegrfa on the border. It is a

difficult place to inhabit, as Amabelle mentions, "A border is a veil not many people can wear"

(264). She belongs to the space created by the mixing of two cultures, the border, and therefore

does not identify completely with either country.

In addition to living at the margins of their respective nations, both Prestol Castillo, the

character, and Amabelle are alone. Neither narrator marries nor has children. Prestol Castillo

states, "No tengo con quien dialogar [ .] Estoy solo" (131). He does have a girlfriend named

Angela. However, the relationship is doomed to fail. He says, "Habia un contrast enorme entire

mi cobardia, uncido al carro de la tiranfa, y aquella vida, heroica, aquel ser delicado y bello,

vestida como la m~s desgraciada de aquellas obreras" (141). She would mail him letters

"invitLndome a 'ser un hombre', y dar la espalda a la dictadura" (142). For Angela leaving the

country is a sign of manhood. He writes that she, "Me sefialaba el camino: el mar, el extranjero,

'para asf, readquirir la calidad de hombre'" (142). Prestol Castillo's' also friend urges him to

leave telling him, "Toma el camino de la liberaci6n! Ten tanto valor como Angela! Eres joven.

Si tuviera tu edad, no estarfa aquf" (143). However, a sense of duty to his family keeps him from

leaving. He explains that, "mi madre y hermanos, pequeiios, todos los cuales dependfan del pan

que pudiera darles yo" (143). His inability to leave makes him feel cowardly. He says: "[...]

Angela la valiente- la que se habia escapado sola y me sentia el mis cobarde de los hombres!"

(147). He leaves the reader wondering why he could not have supported his family from exile.









Amabelle is also alone. The drowning of Amabelle's parents in the Massacre River leaves

her orphaned and foreshadows the many more deaths to come. She works as a servant for the

Dominican family who had taken her in after her finding by the river where her parents had just

drowned. Yet, the same river means both life and death for Haitians. Crossing it means both life

and death. Amabelle's parents drowned crossing the river. It is also the river where bodies were

dumped during the massacre. However, the river also signifies a better life. Amabelle notes

that, "Both he [Sebastien] and me, we would have been beggars if we did not come here" (121-

2).

The massacre orphans Amabelle again, separating her from both her adoptive Dominican

family and Sebastien. She also displays the difficulty of living with memory and trauma; her

need to remember does not allow her to overcome trauma. She believes:

The slaughter is the only thing that is mine enough to pass on. All I want to do is find a
place to lay it down now and again, a safe nest where it will neither be scattered by the
winds, nor remain forever buried beneath the sod.

I just need to lay it down sometimes. Even in the rare silence of the night, with no faces
around. (266)

Unable to deal with the trauma endured and she isolates herself. She explains, "There were

times when I shut myself in those two rooms that were mine and took to bed for months" (269).

She shares a bed with Sebastien's friend Yves, but notes that, "When he climbed onto the bed, I

pretended to be asleep or even dead" (250). Ultimately, she is unable to overcome the death of

her lover, Sebastien, who is killed during the massacre. His mother tells her, "I asked my son

why there is no love between you and him, and he told me about Sebastien" (244). Amabelle's

inability to live is explained by Caruth who writes, "It is because the mind cannot confront the

possibility of its death directly that survival becomes for the human being, paradoxically, an

endless testimony to the impossibility of living" ("Violence and Time: Traumatic Survivals" 25).









However, despite strong desire to tell the story of Sebastien, Amabelle waits years to tell

her story and then, given the opportunity to share it with her childhood companion, Sefiora

Valencia, she chooses not to because she realizes the futility in sharing her story with her.

Although Sefiora Valencia harbored Haitians in her house during the massacre, she is supportive

of her husband Sefior Pico who as an Army officer carried out the orders to kill. Thus, no one in

the narrative actually hears Amabelle's story.

Victim or Perpetrator?

In times of great challenges, when survival is at stake, the line between victim and

perpetrator can be very fine. El Masacre and The Farming of Bones, illustrate how it is possible

to be both victim and perpetrator. In the very first lines of the introduction of the narrative

Prestol Castillo portrays himself as a victim and as a hero, someone willing to risk his life so that

the truth may be known. He writes, "Al cabo de mis sufrimientos, estaba escrito el libro. Si

cafa en manos de la policia secret, habrfa sido sentenciado a muerte. El peligro hizo de mi y del

libro dos personajes oprimidos" (8).

Prestol Castillo also portrays the Dominican people as victims of oppressive government.

He notes, "En Santo Domingo esti prohibida la expresi6n del pensamiento. S61o tenemos el

derecho de hablar para hacer loas al Presidente" (19). He maintains that Dominicans are

innocent of the crime committed because they were simply following orders. Eric Santner

mentions some Germans involved in the Holocaust viewed themselves as innocent because they

were under orders and thus the evil did not come from within but was instead external. He

explains:

This strengthens the feeling of being oneself the victim of evil forces; first the evil Jews,
then the evil Nazis, and finally the evil Russians. In each instance the evil is externalized.
It is sought for on the outside, and it strikes on from the outside. (7)









Prestol Castillo emphasizes that the order to kill came from the most powerful person in the

country and was carried out by those with the least amount of power in society. He describes,

"Lo afecta la sentencia que dict6 un senior todopoderoso en la capital de mi pais. Este orden6:

'Mueran todos los Haitianos!'" (84). Some of the 'soldiers' sent to the border, were nothing

more than poor farmers rounded up and ordered to kill Haitians. Manuel Robert, a soldier, says:

... yo hasta toy arrepentfo ... que me faltan fuerza! ... Cuanto mi negro matamo, hay
que mati much mi! ... Eto es el diablo! Eto parece que no acabard! ... Mis pobres
hijos! ... Ni habian comfo cuando me atrapin. Iba yo palos laos de 'Mariano Cestero'
cuando ahi me paran y me dan este pufial. (43)

His comments reflect that the soldier also is a victim of Trujillo. He explains, "Y eran 6rdenes.

Ordenes que el Capitin tenfa que ejecutar, temeroso 61 de vestir el mismo traje. Ordenes. Y las

6rdenes ... se cumplen, y nada mis!" (103). Other soldiers were prisoners who had been freed

so that they may carry out the order to kill. The narrator observes, "La noches de la aldea

estaban grividas de pufiales, de presidarios libertados. La noche olia a ron" (7). In El Masacre,

evil was external and imposed on the temporary soldiers, many of whom used alcohol to numb

their feelings of wrongdoing and who later ended up insane as a result of their participation in

the massacre.

This makeshift Dominican Army, comprised largely of poor farmers and criminals who

had no choice but to serve, is confused as to why they have been ordered to kill. Prestol Castillo

transcribes the words of a soldier:

Y yo, que me diba pa mi casa, de los lao de Moca y me hicfen mata to los negros que
jallara, sin sab6 por qu6. Se me ocurri6 hablarle al Sargento y en un trfs me traga! 'Son
joidene!' son 'joidene' Que dique poique roban vaca! ... Ta bien! pero yo no
tengo vaca ni diablo que robaime! (45)

Another soldier wonders, "%Por qu6 se han de ir los negros, tan buenos? ... Trabajaban barato .

." (39). Like the soldiers, the officers in charge are also confused by the order. Prestol Castillo









notes that the captain must resort to alcohol in order to carry out the apparently nonsensical

orders he has received.

Capitin Ventarr6n no podfa resistir el peso de la tragedia de la cual se le hacia ejecutor.
Tenia el cargo de tefiir de rojo toda la larga campana, los llanos y las lomas. Para asumir
su papel de Atila, acudfa al alcohol. i Matar a millares! Ancianos, nifios y mujeres ...
,Por que? ... iNo lo sabia! ... Era un 'orden' ..... .(24)

Yet, the captain had no problem stealing from the Haitians he killed. He tells his soldiers that the

cattle belonging to the Haitians killed were being sent to Trujillo. But, the soldiers quickly

realize "Que no hay tal Cumando! sino el mesmo Capitin! que se las roba toas y las manda pa

su finca, en Mao! Carajo!" (45).

The soldiers, like the captian, also drank heavily. Prestol Castillo notes that, "No hay

limited en esta tierra ni para el alcohol ni para la muerte" (87). He narrates one of the soldiers'

comments:

-Acabo de recibf unaj 6idene seriaj. El Gobiemo ordena el degtiello de cuanto 'maiiese'
jallemo. No repete eda ni pinta. Qu6melos jata vivos. Ey! ... Saigentooo! ... tajablando
el Capitin Ventarr6n! Un trago! .... (23)

However, not even alcohol was enough for some soldiers. They were simply unwilling or unable

to carry out the order given and deserted. Hicks describes:

Here and there gunfire was heard above the cries of the Haitians. But most of the shots
were killing mutinous Dominican soldiers. Great numbers were refusing to obey the
orders of The Benefactor of the Fatherland. (107)

Prestol Castillo also notes, "El amanecer se inicia enterrando los reservista que querfan fugarse.

Aquf nadie puede fugarse" (46). Here Prestol Castillo reiterates that the soldiers were also

victims of the massacre.

El Masacre also describes the effects of the massacre on those charged with carrying out

the killings, in other words the perpetrators who he also views as victims. He writes:

Estos 'reservistas' retornan hoy a la aldea cansados, alcoholizados. Sientan fiebres y raras
dolencias. Algunos morirfan de inexplicable mal. Otros, como el Raso Patricio,









enloquecerian. Despu6s de "El Corte', deambularon muchos locos en la aldea. Casi todos
quedarfan con los nervios destrozados. Habrfa mon6manos, victims de insomnios; y en
todos, la misma desolaci6n. gPor qu6 han matado? .... (102)

Prestol Castillo notes that it is possible both a victim and tormentor. He repeatedly compares the

Haitian victims with the Dominican perpetrators and writes, "Entonces mir6 al resto de aquella

tropa desvencijada y sin fe, tan mirtir como los mismos haitianos" (46). He also compares the

perpetrators, who he recognizes are criminals, with other workers around the world. He

observes, "Son los obreros del crime. Fatigados y sin esperanzas, como los demis obreros del

mundo" (43). After the massacre, the soldiers, to their great surprise, were treated as criminals

for having killed. Prestol Castillo writes:

Los 'reservistas' recibieron 6rdenes de pasar a cambiar la ropa. Dejarfan los trapos sucios
que trafan y debfan vestir entonces el traje vil, rayado, de los reclusos, el uniform de los
presidarios criminals. [...] Manuel Robert como que despert6 violentamente, cuando el
Sargento de Guardia entreg6 las ropas degradantes, prenda del ladr6n o del criminal, a
veces del politico de mi pafs ... A 61, Manuel, que habia cumplido las 6rdenes del
General que orden6 el degtiello, convertirlo en presidiario? ... Era un error? No
seria otro? (103)

Prestol Castillo, who was sent to serve as judge in the legal proceedings against the soldiers,

views the country as a whole as a victim. He writes that the Dominican Republic is, "unpobre

pafs ignorance y castigado por el hambre" (10). Comparing their level of poverty to that of Haiti

he states:

... pobrecillos de nosotros! ... pobrecillos! Eso somos! ... Ron, tambora, merengue ...
y dictadores! ... Toda esta belleza! ,Para qu6? Para contemplar la barbarie! Ah! s! ...
Los haitianos! pobrecitos .. Necesitan sanidad, comida, educaci6n. salvajes? ..
Tanto como nosotros! (10)

The author repeatedly attempts to convince the reader that the Dominican Republic was not

much different than Haiti and that Dominicans were just as much victims as the Haitians

slaughtered in the massacre. In addition to poverty, the Dominican Republic is a country gripped

by tyranny. He explains, "La tiranfa es el tirano y todos los que no son el tirano" (8). He later









describes that educated people, like his friend who he simply calls "El Doctor", live in constant

fear. He writes:

Se asfixiaba en el ambiente tdxico de la tiranfa. Sospechoso al fin para la dictadura,
crefamos que en cualquier moment un asesino pagado, irresponsablemente, a favor de
noche e impunidad, le arrancarfa la vida al salir de la cdtedra o en cualquier esquina. (9)

The Dominican Republic imagined by Prestol Castillo is poor, uneducated, and oppressed.

Ironically, it is not too different from the victims of the massacre.

In El Masacre, the narrator feels guilt for his involvement in the massacre, yet he does not

reach the level of empathy. Santner explains:

The capacity to feel grief for others and guilt for the suffering one has directly or indirectly
caused, depends on the capacity to experience empathy for the other as other. This
capacity in turn depends on the successful working through of those primitive experiences
of mourning which first consolidate the boundaries between self and other, thereby
opening up a space for empathy. (7)

The author/narrator is also unable to identify with the victims, who at times he views a little

more than animals. Prestol Castillo grew up wealthy, disconnected from poorer Dominicans. He

writes:

No conocia lo que habia dentro de aquellos bohfos, achatados y tristes. Yo vefa los
obreros, sucios, unos hombres que cantaban tristes melodfas en los atardeceres del Puerto.
Parecianme otra clase de hombres ... Algo asi como los nifios miran en un libro de
dibujos horribles, animals peligrosos y fuertes. (16-7)

In contrast he notes, "La gente masticaba 'chiclets', hablaba ingl6s, jugaba al tenis y despu6s iba

al cine o a las exclusivas salas de Fiestas" (17). The use of the word animals to describe the

poor versus his use of the word gente used to describe the wealthy provides insight. Prestol

Castillo's inability to see the poor as human beings, much less as equals, prevents him from

feeling empathy for the victims of the massacre. At one point he claims, "el haitiano e una

'garrapata' que le ha cafo [sic] a la Republica [sic] y a la garrapata hay matarla hasta la iltima!"

(72). Alexander and Margarete Mitscherlich also explain that:









In these attempts to shake off guilt, it is remarkable how little attention is paid to the
victims .... Now there is hardly for any kind of sympathy with others. If somehow,
somewhere, one finds an object deserving of sympathy, it usually turns out to be none
other than oneself. (25)

This attitude is observed in Prestol Castillo text when acknowledges a difference between

himself and other Dominicans. He writes, "Dos tipos de victims de la miseria de mi pafs. Una

diferencia habia: Aquellos eran ignorantes. No sabian el peso de su cruz. Para los universitarios

con hambre la coyuntura era mis cruel adn, conocian su crime" (117). Thus, he views himself

as the worst victim in attempt to deal with the guilt he is feeling.

Amabelle, a victim, would also find herself in the position of perpetrator, or killer. She

suffocates Odette, the woman who had saved her from certain death, to keep her from screaming

as they swam across the Massacre River towards Haiti. She describes:

It is the way you try to stun a half-dead bird still waving its wings, a headless chicken
courageously racing down a dirt road. I kept one hand on her mouth and moved the other
one to her nose and pressed down hard for her own good, for our own good. She did not
struggle but abandoned her body to the water and the lack of air. (201-2)

Amabelle is traumatized by her own actions. After reaching the shore, she stands over Odette's

body for several hours. She says, "Wherever I go, I will always be standing over her body. No

farewell could be enough. All I had wanted was for her to be still" (205). Like the Dominican

soldiers who killed Haitians so that they themselves would not be killed for failing to follow

orders, Amabelle makes the same decision. She suffocates Odette so that she may survive.

Amabelle seems to justify her actions by noting that she did it for "our own good" (202), but

doesn't explain how dying could be "good" for Odette.

Haitian Response to the Massacre

The Haitian President Vincent chose not to response or avenge the deaths. Crassweller

notes that, "There was not even a diplomatic initiative by Haiti for five dac\ '" (156). Quentin









Reynolds, a journalist with Collier's Weekly, was sent to the Dominican Republic to investigate

the massacre. He reports:

Trujillo, following the Hitler pattern, had found his whipping boy. With Hitler it was the
Jew; with Trujillo it was the Haitian. There was little that Haiti could do about it. I saw
President Stenio Vincent, who had been a poet. 'What can we do?' He shrugged helpless
shoulders. 'We are not a warlike people'. (ix)

Philoctete offers the differing explanation for the lack of a Haitian response to the killing of its

citizens:

[. .] a twenty-peso bill: Banco Central de la Repdblica Dominicana Veinte Pesos de Oro.
The price agreed upon by the Haitian government for a Haitian neck, for Haitian organs,
for a Haitian memory. A Haitian ass. Voilh! The League of Nation is satisfied. ..

That tens of thousands of skulls are knocking about, rattling around, clonking into one
another basta! So what! Port-au-Prince has cashed in, no muss, no fuss, no delegation,
no ceremony, no special delivery. No formal receipt. No sealed envelope. Just handed
over directly. A grocer's change: twenty pesos for a head. (178-9)

The lack of Haitian response shows the lack of importance the people living along the border had

in Haitian society and how easily and cheaply their lives were sold. Frank Moya Pons explains

that, "The Dominican government paid $525,000 as compensation for damages and injuries

occasioned by what was officially termed 'frontier conflicts'". (The Dominican Republic 369).

Furthermore Crassweller writes, "A substantial part of the agreed -upon final $275,000 [. .] was

disbursed under the table to deserving public figures instead of being devoted to compensation

for losses and injuries suffered in the massacres" (159). Prestol Castillo offers the following

explanation for lack of Haitian interest in the massacre:

En Haiti hay hambre y odio de raza. Los mulatos que estudiaron en Paris, o que apafiaron
los latifundios, miran con odio a sus hermanos, la raza de 6bano que qued6 sin tierra y que
roba eternamente al Santo Domingo aledafio al rfo Masacre. (80)

The same idea expressed by Tibon, a Haitian sugar cane worker, in the The Farming of Bones

who says, "They have so many of us here because our own country our government- has









forsake us [. .] Poor people are sold to work in the cane fields so our own country can be free of

them" (178).

The lack of reaction on the part of Haiti caused confusion for the Dominican Army.

Captain Ventarr6n in El Masacre wonders, "iVendrin? iVendrin los haitianos a vengar sus

hermanos? .. ." (31). Later the captain observes, "No vienen haitianos vengadores" (88). The

lack of response allowed Dominicans to refuse responsibility for the act. The author Philoctete

explains in Massacre River, "The highly sensitive citizens of the Dominican Republic have no

doubt quickly grasped what we need not point out: the Haitian authorities have abandoned the

Haitian border people. [. .] We [Dominicans] wash our hands of this" (175).

In The Farming of Bones, there is also surprise at the lack of a response. Yves asks, "Tell

me, why don't our people go to war because of this? [... .] Why won't our president fight?"

(197). To this date, there not been an official Haitian response to the mass killing of its citizens.

However, the survivor's response to the massacre can be found in Danticat's text. As Shea

notes:

The survivors of the massacre, like Amabelle, confront the Dominican Republic and Haiti
with a silent, but disruptive corporeal testimony that draws attention to a reality that has
been buried and enciphered in the historical record. ("The Dangerous Job of Edwidge
Danticat" 104)

Danticat also notes her book is, "[. .] about survivors, and we're children of survivors" ("An

Interview between Edwidge Danticat and Renee Shea" 4). In the absence of an official response,

the response of the survivors is the only one heard. The success of The Farming of Bones

ensured that it was a response heard around the world.









Dominican Reaction to the Massacre

Trujillo never accepted responsibility for the massacre and to the end maintained that the

killings were the result of a dispute between Dominican farmers and cattle ranchers and Haitians.

The reaction of the Dominican people to the massacre was mixed. Eugenio Matibag explains:

For Trujillo and the Dominican people, moreover, the massacre achieved a sort of
symbolic success or vindication: no one would applaud such atrocities, no one could
approve them unreservedly, but the genocide meant secure borders, and secure borders
meant a secure country, and what many condemn in public they commend in private
anyway. (149)

While some Dominicans agreed with the Dominicanization of the border, others chose to risk

their lives to hide Haitians. Prestol Castillo writes, "Adn temen algunos, pues hay haitianos

escondidos en las casas" (32). Likewise, in The Farming of Bones, Sefiora Valencia helped

Haitians avoid the massacre. She says:

During El Corte, though I was bleeding and nearly died, I hid many of your people [.. ] I
hid a baby who is now a student at the medical school with Rosalinda and her husband. I
hid Sylvie and two families in your old room. I hid some of Dofia Sabine's people before
she and her husband could escape to Haiti. I did what I could in my situation. (299)

Sefiora Valencia is caught between sympathy for Haitians, hiding several in her house, and

loyalty to her husband. While she was saving the lives of Haitians, her husband, Sefior Pico, was

killing them. There is great irony in her hiding of Haitians in the house of a Dominican army

officer for as Ivin Grull6n explains, "En nuestro pafs se puede ser 'pro-yanqui', pero no pro-

haitiano, aunque sean aquellos quienes explotan los dominicanos" (29). Although Sefiora

Valencia risks her life to save Haitians, she also defends her husband's actions claiming that,

"Many good men commit terrible acts these da\ '" (150). As a couple, they represent the

division found in the Dominican Republic between the killers and those brave enough to go

against the order to kill. Yet, Amabelle wonders, "Would she be brave enough to stand between

me and her husband if she had to?" (141).









Racism as Official Discourse: Antihaitianismo

Antihaitianismo, Spanish for anti-Haitianism, began during Hispaniola's colonial history,

when France ruled Saint Domingue and Spain ruled Santo Domingo. After achieving

independence from France, Haiti from 1822-1844 occupied Santo Domingo. In 1844,

Dominicans gained its independence from Haiti. Relations between Haiti and the Dominican

Republic have been hostile ever since. Michel-Rolph Trouillot notes that, "The Haitian

invasions of the eastern side have often been held as the starting point of Dominican

Negrophobia" (3).

The Dominican Republic would also come to define itself in relation to Haiti. Roberto

Cass~ further explains that:

[E]l dominicano era mejor que el otro, que el enemigo, el haitiano, recurrencia ajustada al
caricter reaccionario de ese pretendido nacionalismo. De ahi que la esencia hispinica
tuviese por correlate obligado el enfrentamiento national con Haiti magnificado hasta
proporciones aterradoras como categorfa fundamentalisima de la constituci6n del a
propia naci6n dominica. (60)

Joaquin Balaguer believes, "Santo Domingo es, por instinto de conservaci6n, el pueblo mis

espafiol y mis tradicionalista de Am6rica" (63). According to Dominicans, their country is white,

Catholic, and Hispanic. In contrast, Haiti is black, practices Voodoo, and is African. Thus,

Dominicans view themselves as racially superior. It also means that for Dominicans, nation

becomes tied with race. However, anti-Haitian beliefs in the Dominican Republic are at odds

with the ethnic reality of many black Dominicans, placing them in a situation in which they must

negate their black heritage. Trouillot explains, "Between Ryswick and Aranjuez, Santo

Domingo, a society with one of the world's highest ratios of individuals of mixed ancestry,

became also a negrophobic society" (2). Even Trujillo, whose grandmother was Haitian, in order









to imagine himself as a Dominican had to deny his own ancestry.14 Additionally, John Augelli

notes, "The Dominican peasants, even those who were obviously black, came to feel ashamed of

any association that smacked of Haitian origin" (33). This, in part, helps explain just how

Dominicans, or how anyone in general, could be capable of such inhumanity and cruelty. Garcia

Cruz explains that Dominicans:

[S]e caracteriza por una obsesi6n de ser blanco, de actuar como un blanco y lucir como un
blanco. Este individuo niega y oculta su descendencia negra, se avergtienza de sus rasgos
y de su pasado, y en su necesidad compulsive de refinarse y mostrarse distinto, hay temor
y ansiedad excesiva de ser descubierto, por lo que tratara de apartarse de todo aquello que
le recuerde su origen, sera hostile con sus compafieros de raza y de cultural y por eso su
crueldad hacia ellos, pues le recuerdan y le reviven su punto de partida. (115)

The correlation of blackness with Haitian identity is a long-standing theme within Dominican

national ideology. However Lauren Derby explains:

Raza was not primarily marked by skin color; indeed this marker would have been a most
ambiguous signifier in a zone which had seen four hundred years of extensive
intermarriage and cultural mixing. Yet there was a difference, universally acknowledged
in the border, between Dominicans and Haitians [. .] Race here was fundamentally a
cultural construct. (525)

Therefore, the complexities of national (Dominican) national identity came down to a simple

word, perejil. As Philoctete describes, "The grand design of a national government is to kill

people through the power of a word ... As a weapon against the border people, Rafael Le6nidas

Trujillo suggested 'perejil'" (146-7). Philoctete also notes:

For the last forty-eight hours, the Haitian people of the border have been learning to say
'perejil'. A banal word. A kitchen herb. That can cost a life. If you can pronounce it
well, you are Dominican, blanco de la tierra, and the soldiers present arms: 'i Guardia
salud!" But if the r wanders into the i, the j, or if the p, and the 1, the r become dislocated,
jam up, grab at one another, come undone, start scrapping, go off in a huff, then you are
Haitian and ready for the firing squad: 'i Guardia, fisilelo!' [sic]. (111)




14 Alberto Despradel Cabral notes that: "Rafael Leonidas, hijo de Altagracia Julia Molina Chevalier por la parte
matema, era nieto y bisnieto de haitianos" (79).









Augelli also explains that, "The Dominican peasants, even those who were obviously black,

came to feel ashamed of any association that smacked of Haitian origin" (33). Gudmundson and

Scaran maintain that, "Accordingly, the dark skin common in the Dominican population was

transformed into a trait inherited from Indian ainccsii \" (340). Given that it was impossible to be

black and Dominican, Dominicans of darker color were considered 'Indian'. This Dominican

racial myth is perpetuated in El Masacre when the narrator describes dofia Francina as, "una

bella india de la aldea" (35).

The Farming of Bones also illustrates the same racial myth. Sefiora Valencia gives birth to

twins, one slightly darker than the other. She says to Amabelle, "See what we've brought forth

together, my Spanish prince and my Indian princess. [...] She will steal many hearts, my

Rosalinda. Look at that profile. The profile of Anacaona, a true Indian queen" (29). Her

comments propagate Dominican racial national myth. Interestingly, the lighter-skinned baby

named after Trujillo, dies within days of birth. The darker child lives and thrives, the opposite of

what happens during the massacre, only days away from happening.

Antihaitianismo is often named as the catalyst for the massacre, which was unprovoked,

brutal, and came without warning. Rumors of the killings quickly reached the Haitian capital

Port-au-Prince. However, given the 1935 agreement on the border between the two countries,

Haitians had difficulty believing what they were hearing.15 Haitian historian Jean Price-Mars

describes their reaction to news of the killings:

,Serfa cierto? ,Serfa possible? Y, ,por qu6?, se preguntaba uno, ansioso. La noticia
parecia tan extravagant como inverosimil. Qu6 pudo haber, por tanto, sucedido para dar
origen a esta matanza colectiva de haitianos en la Repiblica Dominicana? (215-6)

15 Spain and France agreed by the Treaty of Aranjuez of 1777, upon the Rivers Dajab6n or Massacre as the
boundary. However in 1895, in the Treaty of Basel Spain ceded the entire island to France. From 1822-1844 the
whole island was under the control of the Haitian President Boyer. On February 27, 1844 the Dominican Republic
became a sovereign state. On February 27, 1935 Presidents Stenio Joseph Vincent and Rafael Le6nidas Trujillo
signed a new border agreement.









In the Dominican Republic, there had also been no warning and the response was similar. Turits

explains that to people living along the border, "the genocidal rampage appeared to come out of

nowhere, like an act of madness" (620). Derby also notes that before the massacre, "Border

Dominicans did not hold an univocal set of negative stereotypes related to Haiti and Haitians.

Most of the Dominicans border residents visited Haiti frequently" (513). Similarly Turits writes:

"As one Haitian refugee from the massacre recalled, 'Although there were two sides, the people

were one, united.'" (526). He further maintains that, "And no clear economic hierarchy or

conflict existed between ethnic Haitians and ethnic Dominicans in the region's rural areas."

(528). Reaction throughout the rest of the country was similar. Moya Pons notes that massacre,

"caused a gigantic shock among the Dominican people, who either witnessed with terror the

massacre or heard the ominous rumors about it that circulated from household to household"

(The Dominican Republic 368). The reaction of shock, surprise, and bewilderment described by

both Haitian and Dominican historians illustrates that before the massacre, antihaitianismo16 was

not very prevalent in the Dominican Republic. Fernando Valerio Holguin explains that:

The discourse of anti-Haitian primitivism served as an intellectual justification for the
dehumanization, enslavement, and genocide of Haitian people, set forth as a historical
necessity for the foundation of 'Patria Nueva' of which Trujillo was God and Father.
(Primitive Borders 83)

Turits also believes that the conflict between Haitians and Dominicans came after the massacre

and served to justify it. He explains:

This new mode of racism emerged as a result of state terror and the official anti-Haitianism
that followed it and served to rationalize the massacre. The main consequence of the
bloodbath for Dominicans was the destruction of the Haitian-Dominican frontier world and
the transformation of popular meanings of Dominican identity, culture, and nationality.

16 Antihaitianismo is a negative prejudice towards Haitians, who are viewed as descendents of black slaves by
Dominicans who see themselves as descendents of white Spaniards. This anti-Haitian ideology was heavily
propagated during Trujillo's dictatorship. Also Derby explains that: "The dominant Dominican ideology, anti-
Haitianism is essentially a class-based prejudice, a rejection of the sub-stratum of Haitian cane cutters who are seen
as patently subhuman" (493).









But this construction of Dominican nationality rests on historical amnesia of the
premassacre frontier world, of its culturally pluralist nation as well as its transnational
community. It also rests on a problematic interpretation of the Haitian massacre as a
reflection of (rather than an impetus for) the widespread anti-Haitianism that exists today
in the Dominican Republic. In 1937 Dominican frontier residents had to bury the Haitian
members of their community. And in so doing, they also buried their own way of life, and
ultimately the memories of their collective past. (535)

Therefore, what is often overlooked is the fact that Trujillo used antihaitianismo to justify the

massacre and it was only after the massacre that it became prevalent in the Dominican Republic.

El Masacre expresses a strong anti-Haitian undertone and racist sentiment. Howard notes

that in the narrative, "Haitians are described consistently as primitive, savage, and alien to the

Dominican civilization, an ironic reversal of the barbarity of the Dominican-led massacre" (141).

Haiti is consistently identified with blackness. The narrator says, "La noche anulaba, pintaba de

negro. Como el destino de Haitf. Con el color de Haitf" (88). He also describes how Haitian

people, who are African descent are unable to speak Spanish. He observes, i Qu6 temblor y

pavura vi en mis de un labio grueso, afro-espafiol, y en mis de una articulaci6n de sonidos

ambiguos, pugnando por hablar claro el espafiol, para demostrar que era dominicano quien

hablaba!" (23).

El Masacre mentions the little value Dominicans placed on Haitian life at the time of the

massacre.

Pienso en la agonfa de Haitf, despreciado aun por los dominicanos negros, que lo
consideran inferior y cobarde. Por su parte este haitiano ha desplazado al criollo en una
competencia de trabajo dando mis rendimiento por menor salario, en una vida cuasi
animal. (71)

He notes that Dominicans have dehumanized Haitians and writes, "... el hombre puede

ficilmente explotar al hombre. Sobre todo, hay unos series a quienes dificilmente podrfa llamarse

hombres: los negros de Haitf, brazo barato" (35). Along the border, many Dominicans married

Haitians. Their offspring were viewed with disdain. Prestol Castillo writes, ". .. hijos mfo y de









la haitiana. iNo sirven! iMala raza!" (60). In the Dominican Republic any amount of Haitian

blood was enough to qualify one as "Haitian". Prestol Castillo repeats anti-Haitian ideology in

his text, which takes place before, during, and shortly after the massacre. However, Crassweller

mentions that before the massacre there was not "any general prejudice against individual

Haitians, who mingle in large numbers with Dominicans. The ancient hostility was national and

public, not personal and private" (149-50). Therefore, the Prestol Castillo inaccurately

represents the border area before the massacre and repeats Trujillo's justification for the

massacre, which blamed Haitians for the massacre.

The Farming of Bones also presents an inaccurate picture. Sefior Pico in The Farming of

Bones most clearly illustrates the disdain Dominicans had for Haitians before the massacre.

Upon learning that Haitians had drank from some of his cups Amabelle says, "he shattered the

cups and saucers, one by one" (116). He also shuns his daughter Rosalinda, who according to

Amabelle, had "her father's bronze complexion" (293). In shunning her for the color of skin,

which is similar to his, he is also negating a part of himself. Amabelle is also aware of

antiahitianismo even before the killings began. She comments, "I was never nafve, or blind. I

knew. I knew that the death of many was coming. I knew that the streams and rivers would run

with blood. I knew as well how to say 'pesi' as to say 'perejil" (265). For her, the massacre did

not come as a total surprise. The Framing of Bones also illustrates the little value of human life

on the border. Many of the characters prefer death to living. Mimi, who is young says, I don't

want to live so long. .. I'd rather die young like Joel did. ... I'd rather have death surprise me, I

don't want to wait a long time for it to come find me. (60). Like El Masacre, The Farming of

Bones inaccurately represents the border region before the massacre and suggests that Haitians

may have been responsible for their own deaths.









Haitians as Thieves

Anti-Haitian ideology also claimed that Haitians were stealing from Dominicans and

therefore the border needed to be enforced. Fernando Infante explains, "El dia dos de octubre,

en el Ayuntamiento de Dajab6n improvis6 un discurso declarando que no tolerard la

continuaci6n de las depredaciones haitianas en las regions fronterizas" (77). However, Derby

disagrees and explains that:

The accusation that Haitians were somehow behind a constant, silent drain of Dominican
cattle across the border is a rumor circulated constantly in the border from the early part of
this century until today, even though many border residents agree that the claim that the
Haitians were constantly stealing Dominican goods was not true. (521)

Prestol Castillo's text reveals the rift between myth and reality seen in the comments made by

Infante and Derby. He mentions that Dominicans did not believe that Haitians were thieves but

were required to say so. He writes, "Pero cuando llegaba la ronda a su casa, 61 hablarfa mal de

los haitianos. 'No se puede vivir. Todo lo roban! i Son unos perros! .. .' decia el aguzado don

Francisco" (92). However, the text repeats the idea that the Haitians were stealing from the

Dominican Republic. The narrator notes, "Otra causa de extinci6n del ganado era el robo de los

haitianos" (29). He later mentions, "Sf, habian sido los malditos haitianos, que acabaron con las

reses" (98). He perpetuates the idea that Dominicans are going hungry because of Haitian theft

and claims:

Ah! 'maiiases' del Diablo! ... Antenoche estubi6n aquf, y no qued6 un rabo e yuca pa los
probe negros jijo mfo ... y pa mf tengo, que los haitianos trabajan con el Diablo! ...
Caminan con la noche como de dia! .... (30)

At another point he says, that Haitians are "[l]a langosta negra arrasaba en las noches los plantfos

de yuca y mafz" (80). In presenting Haitians as thieves, Prestol Castillo justifies the massacre.

Haitians are to blame for having stolen from Dominicans. Yet, the text continually contradicts









itself. At times, it maintains that Haitian are thieves, at other times sympathizing with Haitians

and justifying their actions. The narrator explains:

El sargento gritaba. Dentro de su embriaguez, en el moment del sacrifice de los negros
de Haiti, inexplicablemente venia a su mente algo que surgia del subconsciente: 'estos
negros, son bueno ... Pero son ladrone! Deben morir!' (27).

Haitians, almost in acknowledgment of their wrongdoing don't question the sentence of death.

The narrator says, "Los negros iban a cumplir una sentencia de muerte, sin protest" (27). In

contrast, Amabelle narrates a very different Haitian response. She displays a defiant tone when

she notes:

The Generalissimo's mind was surely as dark as death, but if he had heard Odette's 'pesi,'
it might of startle him, not the tears and supplications he would have expected, no shriek
from unbound fear, but a provocation, a challenge, a dare. To the devil with your world,
your grass, your wind, your water, your air, your words. You ask for perejil, I give you
more. (203)

She also describes others who were defiant and says, "'I will stay and fight,' Undl said. 'I work

hard; I have a right to be here. The brigade stays to fight. While we fight we can help others'"

(126).

The Dangers of Nationalism

Both El Masacre and The Farming of Bones highlight the atrocities that occur under

dictatorships and other repressive regimes. Often these acts of violence are justified as necessary

out of love of nation. Trujillo disguised hatred and racism as nationalism. Love for the

Dominican Republic included xenophobia towards Haitians. Trujillo enthusiastically promoted

antihaitianismo and as Augelli notes, public denunciation of the Haitian connection became a

duty" (33). Human Rights Watch reports that, "Throughout the mid-twentieth century, Trujillo

fed the Dominican population a steady diet of anti-Haitian propaganda, relying on the schools

and the media to disseminate these ideas". Among those ideas was the idea that Haiti posed a

threat the Dominican Republic. Turits explains, "Dominican intellectuals represented the









Haitian presence in the Dominican frontier as a "pacific invasion" that was endangering the

Dominican nation" (562). Furthermore, Vega believes that:

Trujillo, como la mayor parte de los dominicanos, temia que la Repiblica Dominicana
fuese eventualmente abrumada por la mayor poblaci6n haitiana, empobrecida, analfabeta,
y la mis densa del Nuevo Mundo. (Trujillo y Haiti 62)

According to intellectuals working for Trujillo, the country was under siege from its poorer,

more populous neighbor. Jos6 Almoina, who had been Trujillo's secretary, even goes so far as

to justify the genocide. In a book published thirteen years after the massacre and while Trujillo

was still in power, he writes of the dictator:

[N]o se le puede culpar por hacerlo. Los sucesos de 1937 fueron el saldo a la historic de la
ocupaci6n de 1822-1844 [.. .] Trujillo resolvi6 en 1937 todo un process hist6rico, clarific6
para siempre el ambiente y dej6 liberado el porvenir de su Patria. [. .] Trujillo tenfa
entonces que salvar a su pafs y lo hizo con plena conciencia de las responsabilidades,
enfrentando un peligro evidence y hasta aventurando su propio destino. (Yo fui secretario
de Trujillo 121-2)

Similarly Mateo notes, "Con la massacre del 1937, Trujillo arriba a la maxima fulguraci6n del

nacionalismo, a la demostraci6n tranquila de recursos extremes para salvar la Patria" (119).

Thus, the massacre is justified from Trujillo's perspective as the self-defense of a country and

culture under siege.

Some Dominicans also thought their culture was under attack by Haitian immigrants.

Joaqufn Balaguer, President under Trujillo, maintains "[l]o que Santo Domingo desea es

conservar su cultural y sus costumbres como pueblo espafiol e impedir la desintegraci6n de su

alma y la pedida de sus rasgos distintivos" (64). Thus, the massacre is seen as necessary for

protecting Dominican culture. Eugenio Matibag notes:

For Trujillo and the Dominican people, moreover, the massacre achieved a sort of
symbolic success or vindication: no one would applaud such atrocities, no one could
approve them unreservedly, but the genocide meant secure borders, and secure borders
meant a secure country, and what many condemn in public they commend in private
anyway. (149)









Matibag's observation explains, in part, the many contradictions found in Prestol Castillo's

narrative.

Like Trujillo, El Masacre uses nationalism as a justification for the massacre. As Howard

notes, "El massacre presents the tragedy of extreme nationalism and the atrocities of genocide"

(141). The narrator laments the lack of a border between the two countries. He describes,

"Miseria con una sola moneda: la luna redonda, que flota sobre el agua del Masacre, pobre

riacho ... que se pasa a pies .... (129). He later reiterates that the river "no es frontera, ya que

se pasa ficilmente a pie" (129). The text also references Haiti's occupation of the Dominican

Republic as justification for the massacre although, the narrator at one point refuses to let it be an

excuse of genocide. He states:

Horror! Horror! iEs que tenemos que cobrar deudas de sangre, tambi6n con sangre? .
No! Pese a sus crfmenes del siglo pasado, los haitianos son nuestros mis desgraciados
hermanos, mis desgraciados que nosotros! (10)

Later, he remembers Haiti's violent past while wondering why Haiti has not responded to the

killing of its citizens. He remembers, "Sobre aquellas sabanas nos liberamos de las cadenas con

que sojuzg6 Haiti a la Repdblica Dominicana por 22 afios. En ese period Haiti degoll6, fusil6,

hostig6 sin piedad, al pueblo dominicano. ,I [sic] estos pufiales de hoy?" (72). Regarding

Prestol Castillo's use of history to justify genocide Grull6n notes:

Es lamentable, sin embargo, que este escritor, al evocar tanto el pasado, haya dejado la
impresi6n de que dicha matanza se justificaba frente a los crfmenes cometidos por los
haitianos un siglo atris, cuando las tropas de Dessalines masacraron en su retirada hacia
Haiti a los dominicanos indefenso que encontraron en su camino. (39)

The massacre is often viewed as an outcome of reassertion of Dominican nationality along the

border. Similarly, Pedro San Miguel explains that the massacre is also viewed as necessary for

the defense of Dominican nation, "Asf, la horrible matanza de haitianos realizada en las zonas

fronterizas en 1937 es presentada como un acontecimiento de primer orden en la defense de la









nacionalidad dominicana" (88). F. E. Puello Moscoso explains, "He dicho, y lo repito, que aqui

no hay conciencia national. No hay ciudadanos, hay habitantes" (96). Prestol Castillo

recognizes the need for the border and notes that most Dominicans have no idea of nation. He

says, "En esta vida la de don Francisco es un signo la Repdblica Dominicana no pasa de dos

vanas palabras, 'Repdblica Dominicana': no la conoce nadie" (91). Furthermore, Prestol

Castillo describes his childhood teacher as someone who was, "extranjerizado en sus

preferencias" (15). He also lacks any sense of nationalism. As Prestol Castillo notes:

No conocia su pafs. Era de una familiar ilustre de la capital yjamis habia salido a 'esos
pueblos' de su propio pafs. Limitados a sus pequefia ciudad colonial, llena de rancios
prestigious, hacian alarde de una concentraci6n citadina, en el fondo antinacional, que los
separaba de las demas provincias, aldeas y territories. (15)

In short, the teacher has difficulty in imagining the towns along the border as belonging the

Dominican Republic. His comment, "Esos pueblos deben ser insoportables" (15), reflects his

inability to imagine them as part of the Dominican Republic. Prestol Castillo paints an

unflattering image of his teacher, noting that he was, "[. .] un maestro sofisticado, lleno de

cortesia vacia, desprovisto de sentido nacionalista" (17). In his treatment of the teacher, Prestol

Castillo acknowledges that the not all Dominicans have a clear definition or concept of the

Dominican Republic.

The Farming of Bones warns against the dangers of nationalism and the narrative criticizes

the type of nationalism, both Haitian and Dominican that can lead to these atrocities.

After the massacre Amabelle lives with Man Rapadou who explains that she poisoned her

husband during the American occupation of Haiti because "[. .] greater than my love for this

man was love for my country. I could not let him trade us all, sell us to the Yankis" (277).

Dominicans also kill out of love of country. Sefiora Valencia's father says of her husband, Sefior

Pico, "' I have seen this before. Your man, he believes that everything he is doing, he's doing









for his country. At least this is what he must tell himself" (138). Thus, both Dominicans and

Haitians kill out of love of country.

Imagining Trujillo

Like the massacre itself, which is the text both justifies and condemns, the soldiers'

comments made after meeting Trujillo El Masacre are contradictory. Some view Trujillo as a

deity. They are told, "no se laven la mano con que saludaron al General" (120). The narrator

describes that Trujillo "[e]ra como la aparici6n y desaparici6n de una deidad" (120). Another

soldier observes, "-El General estaba vestio como un Dio. Con ese Jefe, cojo yo a Haiti en dos

dia" (121). However, others describe:

El General apareci6 al fin. Venfa vestido con todas sus condecoraciones. Brillaba el sol
sobre oro, plata y aceros. Un traje azul, un hombre erecto y encima una cabeza gris y
joven. [...] Su mano era delicada, fina como de sal6n.

-. Y ese, es el General?'

'- No parece! ..'

Ellos lo crefan mis grande, mis fuerte, sobrenatural. .. Y se volvian a preguntar si ese era
el mismo General. Ese hombre lo puede todo! ... Y ipor qu6 tiene las manos tan finas?
(120)

The soldiers who question Trujillo's status as a deity feel defrauded. Yet, there is no resistance

to Trujillo, no mention of overthrowing him from power. The only person who resists Trujillo is

Angela, the narrator's fiance, and rather than stay and fight for freedom, she flees the country.

Trujillo, as a character appears indirectly in The Farming of Bones. His large portrait

hangs in Sefiora Valencia's living room, much like his presence hangs over the Dominican

Republic. Amabelle also hears his voice on the radio. She says, "a voice for all of its authority

was still as shrill as a birdcall" (97). Although Amabelle never sees Trujillo, his presence saves

her life. Amabelle and her Yves are in Dajab6n trying to cross into Haiti when they are attacked

by an angry mob. Trujillo is also in Dajab6n speaking in a church. Amabelle and Yves lives are









saved when Trujillo's departure from the church distracts the mob. A priest communicates

Trujillo's racist ideology. Father Romain, who Amabelle visits hoping for information on

Sebastien, repeats Trujillo's anti-Haitian and nationalist ideology. Because of severe beatings by

Trujillo's men, he is imbecilic and drooling as he repeats Trujillo's xenophobic words.

On this island, walk too far in either direction and people speak a different language, [... ]
Our motherland is Spain; theirs is darkest Africa, you understand? They once came here
only to cut sugarcane, but now there are more of them than there will be can to cut, you
understand? Our problem is one of dominion. Tell me, does anyone like to have their
house flooded with visitors, to the point that the visitors replace their own children? How
can a country be ours if we are in smaller numbers than the outsiders? Those of us who
love our country are taking measures to keep it our own. [. .] Sometimes I cannot believe
that this one island produced two such different peoples. [. .] We, as Dominicans, must
have our separate traditions and our own ways of living. If not, in less then three
generations, we will all be Haitians. In three generations, our children and grandchildren
will have their blood completely tainted unless we defend ourselves now, you understand?
(259-60)

His sister explains to Amabelle that while Father Romain was in prison," They forced him to say

these things that he says now whenever his mind wanders" (260).

Conclusion

The narratives studied in this chapter are acts of memory; El Masacre is personal memory,

The Farming of Bones is based on historical and collective memory. Prestol Castillo and

Danticat, for differing reasons, have chosen not to forget. Nobel Laureate and Holocaust

survivor Elie Wiesel notes that the desire to forget traumatic experiences is normal. However,

when there are no memorials for the dead, it is up to living to remember. In his Nobel lecture,

Wiesel states:

Of course we could try to forget the past. Why not? Is it not natural for a human being to
repress what causes him pain, what causes him shame? Like the body memory protects its
wounds. When day breaks after a sleepless night, one's ghosts must withdraw; the dead
are ordered back to their graves. But for the first time in history, we could not bury our
dead. We bear their graves within ourselves.

For us, forgetting was never an option. (12-11-86)









Like the Jewish Holocaust, the victims of the Haitian massacre have no graves. They also have

no identity. As Philoct6te's notes, "Words have birth certificates and death certificates, too"

(146). The Haitians slaughtered had neither. Prestol Castillo notes:

Los muertos de esta vorigine no tienen nombre. Ni siquiera cifra como el presidio. Si
nuestras mulas chocan en el camino, con un cadaver, pararemos las mulas y enterraremos a
ese hombre. iCuil hombre? El muerto no serfa 'hombre', para don David. Era, 'un
haitiano' 'Nada mas que un haitiano'. (85)

Similarly, Amabelle the narrator of The Farming of Bones, notes of those killed in the massacre,

"There were no graves, there were no markers" (270). The words of Wiesel, Prestol Castillo and

Amabelle bring to mind Schulweis who believes memoryoy is a w\ aining. a protest, and act of

fidelity to the martyrs" (xv). Thus, for some it is out of respect for and in solidarity with the

dead, that one must not forget.

By means of the written word, each author memorializes the victims of the massacre, who

otherwise would not have a memorial. In particular, remembering the victims is paramount to

Danticat who explains:

I hope this does not sound too pretentious, but I feel that in some way the work is a kind of
memorial to those who died, a plea to remember them. Some reviewers said the book
suffered from that intent. I hope not, but I do hope that each time someone picks up that
book they will think of those forty thousand plus people who were massacred. (Johnson
25-6)

After writing the short story "Nineteen Thirty-Sc\ c n" included in Krik? Krak?, Danticat visits

the Massacre River. She explains in an interview with Charters:

There were no markers. I felt like I was standing on top of a huge mass grave, and just
couldn't see the bodies. That's the first time I remember thinking, 'Nature has no
memory' [... ] and that's why we have to have memory'. (43)

Similarly Nick Nesbitt observes, "[. .] the poet takes from the dead their only possession, their

memory among the living, and abrogates it to her own project" (207). Danticat's project is one









of healing. As Peterson explains, "writing a traumatic history of injustice can lead to healing"

(170). During an online interview with her readers and the Chicago Sun-Times, Danticat said:

The reason for telling a story like that is not to rub salt on old wounds but to remind people
that we cannot let these things happen. Haiti took over the Dominican Republic once and
we, too, caused them a lot of pain. As Amabelle would say, now it is time for testimony,
but also for healing. ("An Atrocity Lushly Revisited")

Furthermore she asks Shea, "How can a nation or a culture work through a past event that they

choose to not recognize or wish to forget" ("The Dangerous Job of Edwidge Danticat" 100).

An analysis of both narratives shows a denunciation of the massacre by the authors

through very different means. Prestol Castillo attempts to explain how Dominicans could have

participated in such a horrific event. He justifies the massacre as needed for nation building as

Dominicans, like his childhood teacher had not concept of nation. He also blames Haitians for

their own deaths. Therefore, his narrative focuses on the effect of the massacre on Dominicans.

In contrast, Danticat's narrative focuses on the massacre's effect on Haitians, without ever

blaming Dominicans for the massacre.

For the reader familiar with the 1937 Massacre, El Masacre and The Farming of Bones

remind the reader of the little value of human life. Trujillo, who single-handedly masterminded

the killings, was never arrested and charged with crimes against humanity. To the contrary, the

massacre had very little impact on his close relationship with the United States and he continued

to receive its support. The massacre was widely reported on in the United States press. Despite

this, it took a month for the United States to acknowledge the massacre.17 Yet, not much

happened as a result. Howard Wiarda notes, "The Haitian slaughter of 1937 produced some

concern in the United States, but he easily weathered this storm" (138). Furthermore, Raymond

Pulley explains that, "The Roosevelt administration took little notice of the Dominican Haitian

17 Crassweller notes that "The United States showed official concern on November 7" (157).









incident of October 1937 ... [and] no reprimand for this crime against the Haitian people

emanated from Washington" (31). Less than two years after the massacre, on July 13, 1939

while Trujillo was on a state visit to the United States, The New York Times reported, "US

Representative Hamilton Fish praised General Trujillo's statesmanship and described him as 'a

builder greater than all the Spanish conquistadors together'" ("Mayor Welcomes Trujillo to City"

3).

Likewise, international reaction to the massacre was limited. Wiarda claims that the

slaughter of some 15,000 Haitians in 1937 produced a revulsion abroad which threatened

Trujillo's rule (32). However, Philoctete disagrees and notes that, "No Red Cross agency

anywhere in the world spoke up on their behalf [...] nor did any other international,

philanthropic, humanitarian organization" (123). So marginalized were the victims of the

massacre that Philoctete observes that, Even religions aren't giving a thought to the Haitian

border people" (131).

Thus, there are no happy conclusions to be found in either history or these narratives. The

message is in the 20th century it was possible to murder thousands of innocent people, less than

1,000 miles off the shores of the United States (less than the distance between Miami and New

York City), and not suffer any negative consequences. If there is any satisfaction for the reader,

it comes from knowing that each author has given a voice to the victims thereby countering the

official silence of history.

In the United States, Haiti is synonymous with poverty. As Joel Dreyfuss explains, "I call

it 'the Phrase' and it comes up almost any time Haiti is mentioned in the news, 'the Poorest

Nation in the Western Hemisphere'" (56). He continues to say that:

The Phrase grates with us because it also denies so much else about Haiti: our art, our
music, our rich Afro-Euro-American culture. It denies the humanity of Haitians, the









capacity to survive, to overcome, even to triumph over this poverty, a historical experience
we share with so many other [sic] in this same Western Hemisphere. (58)

Yet, Haiti is much more than that. Both Prestol Castillo and Danticat's narratives testify to the

strength and resilience of the Haitian people and the richness of their culture.









CHAPTER 3
CHALLENGING "EL JEFE" IN LAS MIRABAL AND IN THE TIME OF THE
BUTTERFLIES


In my own D.R. we have many rains: / the sprinkle, the shower, the hurricane, / the tears,
the many tears for our many dead.
Julia Alvarez, "Redwing Sonnets"


Cuando supe que habian caido las tres hermanas
Mirabal
me dije:
la sociedad establecida ha muerto.
Pedro Mir, "Am6n de Mariposas"


Introduction

This chapter focuses on the fictionalization and literary representation of two important

20th century Dominican historical figures, the dictator Rafael Le6nidas Trujillo Molina and the

revolutionary and national heroine Minerva Mirabal Reyes. It also focuses on how the Trujillo

era and the Dominican Republic have been narrated. The two works analyzed are Las Mirabal

(1976), by the Dominican author Ram6n Alberto Ferreras, and the In the Time of the Butterflies

(1995), by the Dominican American author Julia Alvarez. The Mirabal sisters, Patria, Minerva

and Marfa Teresa were part of a revolutionary group which sought to overthrow Trujillo. Of the

sisters, Minerva was the most politically active. Consequently, hers is the most developed

character in the texts selected and it is the reason this study focuses mainly on her and not on her

sisters. These two narratives, published 19 years apart, provide contrasting, opposing, and very

different literary manifestations of the Dominican Republic, Trujillo, Minerva, and the events

that lead to her murder by Trujillo's men on a lonely and dangerous mountainous road.









The Mirabal Sisters Historical Background

On November 25, 1960, Trujillo's henchmen assassinated Patria, Minerva, and Maria

Teresa Mirabal after ambushing their Jeep on a mountain road. In the days leading up to their

death it had been widely rumored that Trujillo wanted the sisters murdered for their involvement

in the "Movimiento Revolucionario 14 de Junio" (MR-1J4). Minerva's husband, Manuel

Tavarez Justo, was the leader of this leftist revolutionary group which sought a government

similar to the one in Cuba.18 Leandro Guzmin, Maria Teresa's husband, was also closely

involved. Minerva and Maria Teresa were also linked to the movement and had been imprisoned

earlier in 1960. The men ordered to kill the sisters were reluctant and invented any excuse to

avoid it. According to Bernard Dietrich, "Trujillo grew impatient when he learned his agents

had not carried out his orders by November 22" (69). This was rectified on November 25, 1960

when, as Dietrich explains, the women were dragged out of the car and killed with clubs. Their

bodies were placed in their Jeep that was driven to the edge of a precipice and hurled over (71).

The three sisters, along with their driver, Rufino de la Cruz Disla, were found dead near their

wrecked Jeep, at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff in the northern part of the country. Today the

chassis of the Jeep is displayed defiantly outside of Ded6 Mirabal's ancestral home in Ojo de

Agua. She is the only surviving sibling.19

The sisters' death had a profound effect on the Dominican psyche. According to Dietrich,

this particular assassination "did something to their machismo. They could never forgive

Trujillo this crime" (72). Similarly, Jos6 Rafael Vargas notes, "Pero esta muerte conjunta



s1 Manuel, known as Manolo, was fighting the remnants of Tmjillo's regime when he was shot and killed in 1963.
At the time of his death he was the leader of the 14th of June Movement.
19 For additional biographical information on the Mirabal sisters, see Minerva Mirabal: historic de un heroina(1982)
by William Galvin. For historical studies of Trujillo's regime see Robert Crassweller's, Trujillo: the Life and Times
of a Caribbean Dictator (1996) and Frank Moya Pons' The Dominican Republic. A National History (1998).









despert6 la ira del pueblo que sinti6 en ese crime los latigazos de un regimen vergonzoso"

(231). Additionally, Valentina Peguero-Danilo de los Santos notes, "La muerte de Patria,

Minerva, y Maria Teresa Mirabal provoc6 un resentimiento antitrujillista en todos los sectors

sociales" (365). Some historians maintain that the murder of the Mirabal sisters precipitated

Trujillo's own assassination. As Etzel Baez explains:

El final de las hermanas Mirabal no es triste. El sacrificio de sus vidas no queja
ajusticiado. El gesto de las heroinas contribuy6 a remover los cimientos de la tiranfa de
Rafael Le6nidas Trujillo Molina, quien fue ajusticiado el 30 de mayo del 1961, a los seis
meses de ocurrido el horrible asesinato de Patria, Minerva y Maria Teresa, el 25 de
noviembre del 1960. (39)

Tragically, it is as a result of their death, that the martyred sisters' are victorious. As Vargas

observes, "Las Mirabal, a partir de ese moment, se convirtieron en un simbolo de resistencia

contra una dictadura que entraba en crisis" (231). More specifically, they became symbols of

feminine resistance and today throughout Latin America and the Caribbean November 25th is

observed as the National Day of Observance of Violence against Women. The sisters'

posthumous victory can be seen in a monument that today stands in their honor. After a trip to

Washington D.C. Trujillo built a replica of the Washington Monument (considered by some to

be a phallic symbol) in honor of himself and placed it on George Washington Avenue in Santo

Domingo. Not surprisingly, Dominicans called the obelisk, "the male monument" (William

Krehm 167). Today, the 137-foot obelisk, which once paid tribute the autocrat, is adorned with a

mural of the three Mirabal sisters titled, "A Song to Liberty", by the Dominican artist Elsa

Ndfiez. The image of the three sisters on Trujillo's "male monument" reflects the conversion of

the obelisk from one that pays homage to the dictator to one that memorializes the Mirabal

sisters. This conversion recognizes women's role in history and symbolizes the sisters'

posthumous victory over Trujillo. Such a monument also serves as a place for public veneration

and as a type of altar, thereby contributing to the conversion of the sisters into icons. In contrast,









less than six months after his father's death, Trujillo's son Rafael L. Trujillo Jr., known as

Ramfis, proposed the elimination of his father's name from all public places. As reported by The

New York Times (13 Nov. 1961), "the proposal followed the recent removal of virtually all

statues and busts of the dictator ... from public places and buildings through the country"

("Trujillo Would Remove Fathers' Place Names"). Additionally, Dietrich explains that on "May

4, 1962 it became a crime to praise the dead tyrant in writings, speeches or art in the Dominican

Republic" (252). The disdain Dominicans had for Trujillo extended to his family and after his

assassination, the family was expelled for life from the country (Moya Pons, The Dominican

Republic 382).

In addition to public monuments, narratives such as Ferreras' Las Mirabal elevated the

sisters to martyrdom by turning what was a political assassination into a noble sacrifice.

Furthermore, Ferreras encourages women to follow the Mirabal sisters' example. He presents

the text to:

[Al] pueblo dominicano y a sus mujeres: para que abreven en la pristine [sic] fuente del
ejemplo de sacrificio y martirologio sublimes, de estas tres monstruos del amor a su pueblo
y a sus semejantes de toda la humanidad.

By specifically mentioning Dominican women, Ferreras reiterates the need for their involvement

in the political system.

Las Mirabal: A Dominican Interpretation of the Sisters

The Dominican novelist, poet, and journalist Ram6n Alberto Ferreras, commonly known

as "El Chino", was one of the Dominican Republic's most prolific writers, with 36 publications

to his name. He was also an enemy and harsh critic of Trujillo. Not surprisingly, he was

frequently imprisoned during both Trujillo's dictatorship and the subsequent Joaqufn Balaguer

presidencies. Ferreras narrated his, and others, experiences as a political prisoner in several

books titled Preso (1962), Circel (1966) and Politicos press (1969). However, he is best










known for editing a newspaper titled Patria. During the "War of April 1965" both national

newspapers, El Listin Diario and El Caribe ceased publication.20 In the absence of these two

newspapers, Patria was launched in 1965, with Ferreras as the editor. It served as a voice for

Dominicans who were fighting against the United States and who supported leftist leader Juan

Bosch, the exiled founder of the "Partido Revolucionario Dominicano" and who for years had

lived in exile. The newspaper denounced the remnants of the old Trujillo army and the occupiers

(the United States Marines) that supported them. Ferreras would later publish a book on the

intervention and the ensuing civil war, titled Guerra patria (1966). Previously, in 1961-1962,

Ferreras had written for a newspaper titled 1J4 for the 14 of June Revolutionary Movement. The

newspaper was highly critical of the remnants of Trujillo's government that remained even after

the dictator's assassination in 1960. Additionally in 1981, Ferreras published a book about the

failed 14th of June invasion titled, Recuerdos de junio 1959.

During one of Balaguer's presidencies, Ferreras published in the Dominican Republic,

Media Isla III: Las Mirabal.21 The timing is important because, as previously mentioned,

Balaguer frequently imprisoned Ferreras. Undaunted by his numerous 'visits' to La Victoria

prison, Ferreras condemned both Trujillo and Balaguer in this text. Of Balaguer he wrote that he

is the president of, "el regimen neotrujillista que ahora desangra a las juventudes dominicanas [..

.]" (475). Las Mirabal is the third book in a series of four, titled Media Isla. His narrative

20 On April 28, 1965, the United States military found itself in the Dominican Republic for the fourth time in 58
years (1903, 1914, 1916, 1965). President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered in forces that eventually totaled 20,000, to
secure Santo Domingo and to restore order. The intervention, which claimed the lives of 27 U.S. soldiers, ended on
September 21, 1966.
21 A lawyer by trade, Balaguer had held various political posts under Trujillo. He served as vice president from
1957-1960 and assumed the presidency in 1960 when the dictator's brother, Hector Trujillo resigned. Power rested,
however, with the dictator until his assassination in May 1961. Unable to control the chaos following the
assassination, Balaguer was ousted by the Dominican military in January of 1962. The United States occupation
(1965-1966) would return Balaguer to the presidency. He was president from (1960-1962, 1966-1978, and 1986-
1996). Ferreras was imprisoned by Trujillo for 4 months in 1960 and was imprisoned 12 times during Balaguer's
various presidencies.









Chapeo (1973), the first in the series of historical-testimonial novels, was recognized in the

"Testimonio" category by Casa de Las Am6ricas, in Cuba, in 1973.

Las Mirabal is the first narrative written about the Mirabal sisters. The text, which can be

considered a fictional biography, provides the reader with the history of the Mirabal family. It

begins with its origin in 19th century Spain and ends with the murder of three of the four Mirabal

sisters by Trujillo in 1960. In it, Ferreras hopes to provide the reader with historical information

on the heroines' family. To this end, it offers information such as the height of several of the

Mirabal family members (28) and the length of time Minerva's mother, Dofia Chea, nursed her

children (110). He observes "todos mencionan y alaban [a las Mirabal], pero pocos conocen ...

sus orfgenes, vidas y proyecciones" (back cover). The narrative is also highly critical of United

States foreign policy in the Dominican Republic, which is clearly responsible for this family's

misery. The Mirabal family is representative of other Dominican families who fought against

oppression and, as a result, suffered imprisonment, torture, and politically motivated murder.

In the Time of the Butterflies: The Voice of the Dominican Diaspora.

Julia Alvarez, in Something to Declare (1998), states that she views herself as a

Dominican-American writer (173). Yet, she frequently understates her Dominican heritage. The

first thing she states on her website is "I guess the first thing I should say is that I was not born in

the Dominican Republic". The emphasis on 'not' is hers. In an article for American Scholar she

provides insight into her upbringing. She writes, "Although I was raised in the Dominican

Republic by Dominican parents in an extended Dominican family, mine was an American

childhood" (71). As a child, she viewed the United States not the Dominican Republic, as home.

She explains:

All my childhood I had dressed like an American, eaten American foods, and befriended
American children. I had gone to an American school and spent most of the day speaking
and reading English. At night my prayers were full of blond hair and blue eyes and snow









and just such a plane ride as this one. All my childhood I had longed for this moment of
arrival. And here I was, an American girl, coming home at last. (85)

Despite her self-description as "an American girl," some literary critics have accepted Alvarez

into the Dominican literary cannon. Bruno Rosario Candelier, an important Dominican literary

critic, considers Butterflies an important national novel, ranking it with such titles as Enriquilllo

(1882), by Manuel de Jesis de Galvin and Escalera para Electra (1970), by Aida Cartagena (27).

However, not all literary critics agree with this judgment. For example, Andr6s L. Mateo

explains in an interview with Eugenio Garcia Cuevas that literature produced by Julia Alvarez is:

[U]na literature norteamericana producida por dominicanos que incorpora experiencias
vilidas de la identidad dominicana y que las hace colar por via de un circuit commercial
con caracteristicas propias de la mentalidad del lector anglosaj6n. (27)

Silvio Torres-Saillant simply describes Alvarez as "la c6lebre escritora angl6fona de padres

dominicanos" (Yolas 207). In 2006 in commemoration of November 25th, Alvarez invited Ded6

and Minou, Minerva's daughter, to Vermont. It is telling that, as Margaret Michniewicz

observed, Alvarez needed Minou to translate "my questions and Ded6's answers" ("Legendary

Butterflies: The Mirabal Sisters' Legacy of Resistance," Vermont Woman).

Alvarez, the Dominican with an American education, writes in a language that from a

Dominican viewpoint can be seen as imperial. Some critics such as Lynn Chun Ink have found

this to be problematic. She maintains that, "By giving primacy to the English language and to a

United States readership, Alvarez reaffirms American hegemony" ("Remaking identity,

unmaking nation: historical recovery and the reconstruction of community in In the Time of the

Butterflies and The Farming of Bones"). Additionally, her "American childhood" is also

problematic because it alters her view of the Dominican Republic, a country she is clearly does

not know well. She inserts herself into Butterflies as the gringa dominicana (3) interviewer. In

a phone conversation, the gringa asks at what time she can meet with Ded6 Mirabal, the only









surviving sister, who thinks to herself, "Oh yes. The gringos need a time" (4). Additionally,

when she speaks with Ded6, she mangles the Spanish language. She is also unable find to her

way around the Dominican Republic. For these reasons the interviewer behaves much more like

gringa, or a foreigner, and very little like a dominicana. Perhaps, it is for this reason, that Ded6

considers her to be an, "American woman" (5), and not a 'gringa dominicana'. The

interviewer's lack of familiarity with the Spanish language and the Dominican Republic

highlights a comment made by Roberto Gonzalez Echevarria:

Had Julia Alvarez concentrated more on her dialogue with Ded6 she would have produced
a better book. It would have had the touch of irony provided by the realization that the
gringa dominicana would never really be able to understand the other woman, much less
translate her. ("Sisters in Death")

In conclusion, the author of this study agrees with Alvarez's self assessment as an "American

girl" and maintains that she is an American of Dominican descent.

Butterflies is Alvarez's second novel. Similar to Las Mirabal, this narrative is a fictional

autobiography. Alvarez acknowledges reading Ferreras' Las Mirabal, of which she says that, in

conjunction with other Dominican narrative and poetry, "\\ cic especially helpful in providing

facts and inspiration" (325). Therefore, Butterflies could also be read as a re-writing of Las

Mirabal. While in her first novel, How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents (1992), Alvarez deals

with issues of identity and with the difficulties experienced by the Garcia girls upon their arrival

in New York City, in Butterflies she takes a step backward, back to a more distant past, one

which explains the reason the Garcia girls ended up in New York City in the first place.

Las Mirabal and In the Time of the Butterflies: Providing Testimony

Seven years after the publication of Butterflies, Alvarez published the young reader book

Before We Were Free (2002), which she dedicates to, "all those who stayed." In an "Authors

Note" at the end of this novel, Alvarez explains to her young North American reader:









There is a tradition in Latin America countries known as testimonio. It is the responsibility
of those who survive the struggle for freedom to give testimony. To tell the story in order
to keep alive the memory of those who died. ... it is a fictional way to keep my promise.
To give testimony. (166-7)

She continues to write manyay of the most moving testimonies of the Dominican dictatorship

have not been written down" (166). Yet, unlike a traditional testimonio in which John Beverly

notes a narrative is "told in the first person by a narrator who is also the real life protagonist or

witness of the events her or she recounts" (2), Alvarez recreates the Mirabal sisters and in doing

so offers her reader 'fictional' or 'imagined' testimony. Both Alvarez and critics, such as Ciria

Concepci6n Bados, maintain that the narrative is a testimonial account (414). However, I agree

with Ignacio L6pez-Calvo, who sustains that Butterflies is not a testimonio because "[t]he fact

that she 'took liberties' would exclude her narrative from the testimonial subgenre" (113-4).

Interestingly, L6pez-Calvo maintains that Las Mirabal is a perfect example of Dominican

testimonial narrative published after Trujillo's death. He explains:

Rather than creating memorable and psychologically developed characters, these texts
concentrate on the description and denunciation of sociopolitical injustice and corruption,
as seen by witnesses or the intellectuals who provide a voice. (113)

Since many of the characters in the text are deceased historical figures, the testimony they

provide is fictional and created by Ferreras. While he does not alter history to the extent that

Alvarez does, his is also a fictional testimonio.

In a similar sense to Ferreras, who wrote a series titled Media Isla, Alvarez's narratives

could be seen as a series in the sense that How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents documents

the lives of those who escaped and survived, Butterflies and Before We Were Free, document the

sacrifice made by those who stayed, in the first case the Mirabal sisters, in the later an uncle and

cousin of the Garcia girls. Instead of fleeing, the Mirabal sisters and the relatives of the Garcia









girls stay in the Dominican Republic and fight for freedom. Consequently, Trujillo's henchmen

assassinate them. Both Ferreras and Alvarez speak on behalf of the murdered victims.

Before Butterflies, narrating the Trujillo era had been the domain of men. Women have

frequently been categorized as "the other" in political, social and literary incursions, and this is,

in part, what makes Butterflies unique. It is the first time the story of the Mirabal sisters has

been interpreted by a woman. Additionally, all of the narrators are not only women; they are the

voices of the three murdered sisters and their surviving sister, with the exception of the thinly

disguised gringa-dominicana, which is Julia Alvarez. From this female viewpoint, Alvarez

describes the place of women in dictatorships, in that they suffer a double oppression, one

socially (patriarchy) and one politically (dictatorship). In an interview with Heidi Johnson-

Wright, Mario Vargas Llosa explains that, "' Women were the worst victims of the dictatorship',

because they were also often victims of machismo" ("January Interview with Mario Vargas

Llosa," January Magazine).

Resisting the Reader in In the Time of the Butterflies.

In contrast to Ferreras, who writes for a Dominican reader already familiar with the

Trujillo era and, to a certain extent, personally experienced, Alvarez writes for a North American

audience unfamiliar with Dominican history. As she explains, "I hope this book deepens North

Americans' understanding of the nightmare you endured and the heavy losses you suffered"

(324). Alvarez, like her reader, is also distanced, both temporally and geographically, from the

events she narrates. As if to remind her reader that she is writing about a foreign country, she

often code-switches, incorporating Spanish words into her narrative. Doris Sommer points out

"[t]o switch codes is to enter or leave one nation for another by merely releasing a foreign sound,

a word, a grammar tic, slipping into an always borrowed and precarious language"

("Introduction," 7). These Spanish words are also exclusionary. As a result, Ellen McCracken









notes "monolingual English readers are partially incompetent decoders of the text" (7).

Gonzalez Echevarrfa criticizes the "Hispanisms" found in Butterflies as he feels they are

unnecessary. ("Sisters in Death"). Unlike the Garcia sisters in How the Garcia Girls Lost Their

Accents, the Mirabal sisters do not loose their accents in Butterflies.

In addition to not offering translations for the words in Spanish, Alvarez also doesn't

provide any information to explain her historical references. For example, Marfa Teresa writes

in her journal [s]he [Minerva] reminds me it's going to be a hard crowd to address after this

Galfndez thing" (136). No explanation of who Galfndez is offered. This additional obstacle

means that not only are monolingual English readers incompetent decoders of the text, but so are

those who are unfamiliar with 20th century Dominican history.

Given that Alvarez's self identified North American audience is unfamiliar with both the

Spanish language and the period of history she is recreating; she creates a narrative that

intentionally resists, excludes and places at a disadvantage the same reader she is targeting.

However, Sommer in "Resistant Texts and Incompetent Readers", explains that foreign words

can also be "read as invitations to work at extracting meaning, to assimilate oneself to the

Other's culture" (526). This may be Alvarez's way of encouraging her North American

audience to learn more about the Dominican Republic. Alternatively, according to Sommer, it

could also be the method she uses to remind the reader that she is culturally different from him or

her, creating a boundary between the self who writes and the other who reads ("Resistant Texts"

533). The added coding narrows the competent reader who can decode her text to bilingual

English Spanish speakers who are familiar with 20th century Dominican history; someone

much like herself.









Narrative Structure in Las Mirabal and In the Time of the Butterflies

Las Mirabal and Butterflies challenge 'official' history in both content and form. They

share a similar and complicated narrative structure with multiple narrators, one of which is

Minerva herself. The authors, aware that no single perspective is adequate for the representation

of reality, use a multitude of narrators to tell the story. This polyphony of voices allows the

reader to benefit from many different visions of Minerva, as different speakers at different points

describe her in time, both present and past. These different narrators also perform a similar

function as an omniscient narrator, which allows the reader to see events from different points of

view. Additionally, in Butterflies, the deceased sisters are their own biographers as they are also

the narrators. An omniscient third person narrates Ded6's memories. In Las Mirabal, the only

sister to narrate is Minerva, when the reader is given access to her journal. Allowing the

characters to relate their own stories allows the reader to know the characters more intimately. It

also makes the narrative more dramatic since all of the characters narrate their own experiences

in the first person. However, the complicated narrative structure in Las Mirabal is often

confusing, as it is difficult to keep track of which character is narrating. In contrast, Butterflies is

much easier to follow because, as Gonzalez Echevarria notes, Alvarez "is skilled at narrative

construction" ("Sisters in Death").

Both authors also incorporate several different literary forms into their text, such as diaries,

letters and drawings. Ferreras includes a chapter in which Minerva communicates via her

journal. Similarly, Maria Teresa in Butterflies, narrates through her diary. The use of the written

word allows the narrator to express her inner thoughts. Also, Mark Currie explains, "We are

more likely to sympathize with people when we have a lot of information about their inner lives,

their motivations, their fears, etc" (19). Moreover, the present tense used in this type of writing

creates, in the reader, a sense of immediate involvement and anticipation while providing a direct









record of the experience that is not altered by later reflection. Unlike Ferreras, Alvarez includes

diagrams of things, such as Minerva's house and a homemade bomb.

Las Mirabal is divided into 15 chapters that focus on the Mirabal family dating back to

their Spanish ancestry and their arrival in the Dominican Republic in the 19th century. In this

text there are several examples of older Mirabal family members orally passing on history to the

younger Mirabals. For example, an uncle of the Mirabal sisters narrates the second chapter, in

which he describes the United States occupation of the Dominican Republic of 1916-1924.

Butterflies is divided into three sections, an "Epilogue", narrated by Ded6 who serves as

the backbone to the entire story, and a "Postscript". Each section contains four chapters; one

dedicated to each of the four sisters and each beginning with Ded6. The first section covers the

years 1943-1946, the second section 1948-1959, and the third section the year 1960. The

"Epilogue" brings the reader back to 1994 where Ded6 describes the trial of her sisters'

murderers. Both texts switch from present to past, neither following the linear time preferred by

historians.

By including actual documents, each text also blurs the line between fiction and history.

For example, Ferreras includes Pedro Mir's poem about the Mirabal sisters, "Am6n de

Mariposas", in its entirety as well as parts of actual newspaper articles. He combines these

documents with narrative techniques such as dialogue and mosaic narrative. These 'real'

documents remind the reader of the contemporary historical references of the narrative. He is

very concerned with historical accuracy and uses narrative techniques as a tool to describe the

Mirabal family. In contrast Alvarez, self admittedly, is not concerned with historical accuracy.

She explains, "The actual sisters I never knew, nor did I have access to enough information or

the talents and inclinations of a biographer to be able to adequately record them" (324). She









consciously distorts history through omissions and e \~.i rdLli ,n As Gonzalez Echevarrfa notes,

"I find no connection between the specific dates Ms. Alvarez gives to mark periods in the

Mirabals' lives and either Dominican or broader Latin American history" ("Sisters in Death").

Yet, she is not interested in portraying these famous historical characters accurately or to use her

word, "adequately" (324). She uses the sisters to illuminate the experience of living under the

Trujillo regime. As she defends her lack of interest in history by explaining that, "A novel is not,

after all, a historical document, but a way to travel through the human heart" (324).

A Matter of Perspective

Both Ferreras and Alvarez had a personal connection to Trujillo. Ferreras had been

involved with a group who sought to remove Trujillo from power. With the assistance of the

Venezuelan President R6mulo Betancourt and Cuban President Fidel Castro, a group of

Dominican exiles with leftist tendencies departed from Cuba for the Dominican Republic with

the intent of deposing Trujillo. Trujillo was informed and all were either captured or killed.

Although the invasion ended poorly, it would serve as inspiration for a clandestine group, calling

itself the 14th of June Movement that would continue to plot to depose Trujillo.22 Ferreras, a

founding member, was imprisoned upon Trujillo's discovery of the group. He has also written

extensively on the human consequences of historical events, mainly the United States

interventions/invasions (depending on the viewpoint) and the Trujillo regime.

Likewise, Alvarez's own father was also a member the group. The Alvarez family,

knowing the danger they were in, escaped to New York City. Alvarez explains in Something to

Declare that:




22 For more information on the 14 of June Revolutionary Movement see Roberto CassA's Los origenes del
Movimiento 14 de Junio: la izquierda Dominicana (1999).









Patria, Minerva, and Marfa Teresa were members of the same underground he [Alvarez's
father] had bailed out of in order to save his life. These three brave sisters and their
husbands stood in stark contrast to the self-saving actions of my own family and of other
Dominican exiles. Because of this, the Mirabal sisters haunted me. (198)

Butterflies reflects her own thoughts of her father and other Dominican exiles as she views their

abandonment of the Dominican Republic as "self-saving" (Something 198). Upon finding out

that her friend had left the country, Minerva in Butterflies says "[s]o Sina had abandoned our

struggle" (270). Why she thinks this of Sina and not of her friend Virgilio Morales, who leaves

for Venezuela, is unclear. Exile does not mean abandonment of the fight, as seen in Virgilio who

plans to continue the fight from exile. He justifies leaving by explaining, "If I leave my country,

it's only to continue the struggle. We can't let Chapita [Trujillo] kill us all" (73). Furthermore,

she also explains on her website "[a]s much as there is ever a definitive 'reason' for writing a

book, being a survivor placed a responsibility on me to tell the story of these brave young

women who did not survive the dictatorship". Thus, as Ilan Stavans notes, "Her novel is a

wonderful examination of how it feels like to be a survivor, how it feels to come from a society

where justice and freedom are unwelcome ... ." ("Las Mariposas," The Nation).

A Cure For Historical Amnesia

Two days after their death, El Caribe (27 Nov. 1960), the official newspaper of the Trujillo

regime, reported the deaths of Minerva, Patria, Marfa Teresa and their driver, Rufino de la Cruz,

as an accident that occurred when Rufino lost control of the vehicle (Domingo Saint-Hilaire). It

failed to mention the sisters' anti-Trujillo activities. It also neglects to mention that there is a

surviving sister. Alternatively, The New York Times (9 Dec. 1960) reported, just weeks after

the report in El Caribe, that the three sisters "were tortured before being murdered, according to

information deemed reliable by diplomatic sources here" ("3 Dominican Sisters Reported

Tortured"). In each narrative, Minerva, posthumously, informs the reader of the circumstances









of her and her sisters' death. In each, she points to Trujillo's henchmen as her assassins. These

narratives, written after and inspired by her death, grant her the opportunity to challenge the

'fiction' of official discourse, which claimed that her death had been an accident.

In addition to challenging the 'official' record, these two authors, having survived Trujillo,

are fighting historical amnesia. Both Ferreras and Alvarez believe strongly in the power of the

written word and each has taken on the responsibility of giving testimony. Ferreras has

extensively narrated both the Trujillo experience and the effects of political oppression; yet he

wonders if, ",estin cayendo tambi6n estas tres heroinas, mirtires y ejemplos para la sociedad

dominicana, en el mismo saco del olvido en que han caido otros numerosos heroes y mirtires ...

?" (478).

Likewise, Alvarez dedicates Butterflies "[t]o Dominicans separated by language form the

world I've created, I hope this book deepens North Americans' understanding of the nightmare

you endured and the heavy losses you suffered of which this story tells only a few" (324). In

addition to providing testimony, Alvarez also believes in the power of the written word to affect

change. In Homecoming (1984) she writes, theseee ten poems speak of the healing art of

talking, of the power of the word that can topple dictatorships or name the world" (120). In an

essay titled, "I Came to Help: Resistance Writ Small" she states, "I want to posit the small,

sometimes invisible way but utterly powerful way that we can be a force for change" (Jennifer

Browdy de Hernmndez 212). Alvarez is not alone or unique in her mission. Guiseppe Bellini

notes that Alvarez is not the only writer denouncing political oppression and that they usually are

"mujeres que se han refugiado en los Estados Unidos y escriben en ingl6s, los ojos y el alma

vueltos hacia la tierra que han dejado que en si llevan la huella permanent de la persecuci6n"

(135).









Having been personally affected, these two authors are very close to the events they are

narrating. They are by no means detached; the history they are narrating is, in part, their own. It

should, therefore, not be surprising that the author of each text inserts him or herself into the

narration. Ferreras makes reference to himself in the final pages of his narrative as he explains

that the Mirabal sisters' assassins, despite a 30 year prison sentence, were allowed, not only to

leave prison but to leave the Dominican Republic. He explains, "por medios dolorosos que el

autor de esta obra le ha sido materialmente impossible averiguar" (451). In Butterflies, Alvarez

appears in the first page of the narrative as the 'gringa dominicana', who interviews the

surviving sister Ded6 Mirabal.

Narrating the Dominican Republic

Las Mirabal and Butterflies differ sharply in their image of the Dominican Republic, home

to Ferreras and former home to Alvarez. As Timothy Brennan notes, "We live in a world

obsessed with national pride, and rampant with boundary wars, with nationalism on the banner of

countless parties, no matter how conflicting or destination" (45). The national pride he speaks of

is evident in Las Mirabal, but not in Butterflies. For example, of the Canca River Ferreras

writes,"se las consider entire las mejores del mundo, o de Am6rica, por lo menos" (67). On

another occasion, Minerva remarks that the fields surrounding her house "son los mas bellos del

mundo" (130). Aside from having the best rivers and fields in the world, Ferreras in Las

Mirabal, mentions that the Dominican Republic is a country in which even the rural areas have

been modernized. He describes:

En el iltimo tercio del siglo XX,. ya las zonas rulares estin repletas de casi todas las
comodidades de la edad contemporinea, incluidos la radio, la television, el agua corriente,
la refrigeraci6n, la rapidez de la transportaci6n y el contact con el resto del pafs y del
mundo occidental, al trav6s de las comunicaciones habladas, escritas, televisadas o
cinematogrificas, y la alfabetizaci6n masiva de todos los que asisten a las aulas de escuelas
y colegios urbanos y rurales. (36)









The Mirabal family in Las Mirabal is also very patriotic. Dofia Chea asks her husband if they

can name their first born child Patria, "[. .] por resumir en su nombre el anhelo de todo un

pueblo entonces sojuzgado por la bota invasora yanqui [.. .] (109). Later, when asked by a nun

for Patria's birth date, she proudly responds "[v]eintisiete de febrero de 1924, tres meses y trece

dias antes de que los americanos se fueran de este pais, el 12 dejulio de 1924" (141).

Additionally, Minerva writes in her journal, "Creo que el patriotism por estos contornos viene

por idiosincracia [sic], en la sangre de los naturales, porque nuestros viejos nos lo han

transmitido como una herencia" (163).

Butterflies contradicts Las Mirabal's modern vision of the country. It describes a

Dominican Republic in which the streets don't have names because most of the campesinos can't

read, so it wouldn't do any good (4). Additionally, Ded6 re-lives her happy memories because,

as she states, "I have no television here" (7). Ded6 also mentions that even Dominicans are

surprised that she drives. She explains, "They are always so surprised. And not just the

American women who think of this as an 'underdeveloped' country" (172). It also portrays a

country in which women, at least in Minerva's time, had few legal rights. Thus, Butterflies

portrays a Dominican Republic, which at the end of the 20th century is poor, underdeveloped,

machista and illiterate.

Dominican Men: Too Afraid to Fight Tyranny?

Silvio Sirias maintains that Alvarez in Butterflies, "explores the theme of machismo ....

The concept of machismo connotes a man's strength, bravery, power, and importance" (79). He

provides examples of machismo, such as Jaimito, Dede's husband, who maintains "[i]n his

house, he was the one to wear the pants" (177). He also believes that "many of the male

characters in the novel are domineering, including Trujillo himself" (79). I suggest that a closer

reading of Butterflies reveals weak, demasculanized men (including Trujillo). It is Las Mirabal









in which the men, with the exception of Trujillo, while strong, are not good examples of

machismo.

In Las Mirabal, Ferreras writes of men who are brave but not necessarily machistas. As he

describes, "los patriots y hombres humildes de estos campos, que prefirieron morir tirindoles

tiros, a vivir lami6ndole las botas a los yanquis" (187). Despite their fear they fight the United

State Marines and they plot against Trujillo. The text also states that, "no parece possible que este

regimen tan insensible est6 gobernando un pafs con un pueblo como este, tan rebelde y tan viril"

(300). Similarly, towards the end of his dictatorship, Ferreras notes that:

Trujillo mostraba debilidad y estaba un poco desmoralizado por la cantidad de elements
representativess' que se encontraban press, muchos de ellos hijos de sus colaboradores
mis cercanos. (355)

At the time Minerva and her sisters were fighting for freedom, so were many of their fellow

Dominicans, both men and women.

Alternatively, in Butterflies it would seem that Minerva and her sisters are, for the most

part, alone in their fight. The men, for the most part, are too afraid to stand up to Trujillo.

Therefore, Minerva in Butterflies blames men like her father for Trujillo's regime, describing

them as "scared fulanitos who have kept the devil in power all these years" (179). Her statement

is sexist in that she makes no mention of women, such as her mother Dofia Chea, who also

silently and passively endured the tyrant without doing anything to remove him from power.

Furthermore, Alvarez overlooks that Sina, a fellow revolutionary mentioned by Ferreras, was

also imprisoned with the Mirabal sisters. Ferreras writes that when Trujillo's men came looking

for Marfa Teresa, "Ya Sina Cabral estaba en La Victoria [a prison], porque a ella fue la primera a

quien hicieron presa" (323-4). Also present in Las Mirabal but absent in Butterflies is the

imprisonment of Dofia Chea. In the jail where the sisters are sent, they are the only

revolutionaries. The other women they share the cell with are prostitutes and lesbians. In short,









Alvarez omits the other female revolutionaries while she harshly criticizes men, sparing women,

who did nothing to remove the tyrant from power. In contrast, Ferreras does the opposite. He

highlights Sina's revolutionary activities and imprisonment, blaming only the United States for

Trujillo.

Alvarez's text reflects Vargas Llosa's belief that Trujillo accumulated power, "fueled by

'the complicity of the people' and by 'the abdication of the right to resist'" ("January Interview

with Mario Vargas Llosa," January Magazine). His thought echoes Patria in Butterflies. She

states:

I don't know, I wanted to start believing in my fellow Dominicans again. Once the goat
was a bad memory in our past, that would be the real revolution we would have to fight:
forgiving each other for what we had all let come to pass. (222)

Both Alvarez and Vargas Llosa partially blame the Dominican people for the Trujillo regime.

This culpability or complicity of the Dominican people is not evident in Las Mirabal in which

Ferreras emphasizes the strength and brutality of the marines and the impossibility of defeating

them, despite the heroic efforts of the 'gavilleros'.23

The "scared fiil mil, '\" (179) in Butterflies are also weak and unable, or unwilling, to fight

tyranny, even when their own daughter's honor and safety are at stake. These weak males forced

women to be strong. Unlike Minerva's father, Don Enrique, who offers up Minerva when the

police come looking for her, it is her mother who stands up for her. Dofia Chea, in Butterflies,

insists, "If she goes, I go" (103). In contrast, Minerva observes of her father, "I have never seen

him so scared" (103). Minerva notes, "I was stronger than Papa, Mama was much stronger. He

was the weakest one of all" (89). Thus, Minerva begins her political activism out of a need for



23 From 1917 to 1921, the United States forces battled a guerrilla movement known as the gavilleros (Knight 328).
Many Dominicans viewed as revolutionaries as fighting for their country's sovereignty. Trujillo fought along with
and in support of the United States and against the gavilleros in essence his own countrymen and women.









survival. The men in her life are simply unable to protect her from the tyrant. She learns of

'Trujillo's secret' from her friend Sinita who tells her that, "Trujillo is having everyone killed"

(19). It is obvious that the men in Butterflies are incapable of stopping him. Not surprisingly, of

both her father and uncle, she says they are "good-for-nothing" (88,116). It is the Mirabal

women, Dofia Chea included, who display the type of bravery one would expect from men in a

machista society. For this reason, Minerva, in Butterflies, sees herself as superior to "my poor,

trapped countryman" (107).

In Butterflies, Minerva often views men to be small, both literally and figuratively,

reflecting her overall view of most men. Of a fellow revolutionary, Dr. Vifias, she says, "The

genial little man" (272). She describes Trujillo as, "much smaller than I had imagined him" (27).

On another occasion she notes that he is a, "little man" (96). When referring to her husband and

brothers-in-law she says, "'The boys', I began, 'we believe they're all about to be killed.' I

heard myself strangely demoting our men to the mere helpless boys. Another diminutive and

from me" (273). The men, having been reduce to 'boys' by historical events, mainly United

States imperial practices, are helpless and need women to save them.

The United States Military and Trujillo: The Weakening of the Dominican Male.

In addition to the humiliation suffered at the hands of the United States Marines, the men

were also demasculanized by Trujillo. Torres-Saillant explains that, "Estamos ante un var6n

feminizado con respect al lider" (Yolas 239). He further explains that Dominican men were

unable to measure up to Trujillo's projected manhood. He states, "Pues de su identidad de

macho mayor se desprendfa el poder filico que doblegaba a sus aliados masculinos,

convirti6ndolos en hombres-hembras con relaci6n a la potestad viril del caudillo" (Yolas 242).

In Alvarez's narrative, the men have not only been weakened, they have been

demasculinized. Their masculinity has been stripped away by the United States military, which









did as it pleased in the Dominican Republic. As Ferreras explains, "Lo que se les tenia a los

americanos no era miedo, era terror, pinico. ... El peor era Bock Law, un birbaro que acab6 con

media humanidad por estos contornos" (121). However, for Ferreras this fear does not mean that

the men were in any weakened. In Butterflies, the United States military also clearly dominated

and humiliated the Dominicans. Patria explains, "Of course, I sympathized with our patriots.

But what could we do against the Yanquis? They killed anyone who stood in their way. They

burnt our house down and call it a mistake" (57).

The demasculinization of the Dominican men, referenced by both Alvarez and Torres-

Saillant, is not evident in Las Mirabal. With the possible exception of Ferreras' historically

accurate physical description of Trujillo, where he notes that he wore make-up (in an effort to

whiten his skin), there is no evidence of male weakness or demasculinization in his text. To the

contrary, many examples of strong men are evident. For example, Patria's husband Pedrito

briefly considers giving up the fight but changes his mind. He thinks to himself in prison:

No, no voy a hacer eso, serfa indigno de mi despu6s de haber estado con tanta gente preso,
incluidos [sic] el doctor Manuel Tejada Florentino, distinguido cardi6logo,... a quienes
ya ultimaron en La 40 a fuerza de electricidad o de soga por el pescuezo. Los huesos se le
moverfan en sus tumbas si abandon la lucha por la liberaci6n de este pueblo digno de
mejor suerte. (423)

Their inability to overcome United States imperialism and Trujillo is not due to lack of bravery

or intent. Dominicans were convinced that eliminating Trujillo would lead to another U.S.

invasion. They were simply unable to defeat the United State Marines.

However, the demasculinization of the Dominican men, in Butterflies, can be seen

symbolically in Don Enrique's inability to produce any male children. Minerva is aware of the

importance of producing a male. Upon finding out her father has a mistress she asks of her half

sister, "'Do you have a brother?' ... It was a delicious revenge to hear them murmur, 'No

seiora'" (86). His inability to produce the much-desired son also reflects his lack of power in









society. In contrast, Las Mirabal notes that Don Enrique did indeed have a son, "ipor fin, un

var6n!" (359), with another mistress. While Alvarez mentions the mistress with whom Don

Enrique produces an additional four daughters, she omits the one who produces a son for Don

Enrique. Moreover, Jaimito, the most macho of the sisters' husbands, has his power usurped.

After years of submissiveness, Ded6, the most passive of the Mirabal sisters, stands up to her

husband, who, to her surprise, backs down. The reader is told, "Jaimito blinked in surprise at her

sharp tone. Was it really this easy, Ded6 wondered, taking command?" (183). His weak and

passive response demonstrates that Jaimito wasn't really a strong macho person after all.

Additionally, Minerva's husband, Manuel, in Butterflies is demasculinized by his inability

to provide for his family financially. Minerva's house is described by Marfa Teresa, in her

journal, as a "little shack... I suppose it's the best Manolo can do, given how broke they are. I

tried not to look too shocked so as not to depress Minerva" (138-9). Alternatively, in Las

Mirabal Manuel has no problems financially providing for his family. The reader learns that

"Minerva se install en una casona [con] un ambiente acogedor y c6modo en ella, agradable a la

vista" (260). Dominicans during the Trujillo era, in Butterflies, are weak and sacred, rendering

them incapable of defending themselves against the tyrant. Men and women have responded

differently to oppression and it is the women who seem less afraid and more likely to stand up to

Trujillo.

Racism in the Dominican Republic

Race in the Dominican Republic is very important signifying both nationality and religion.

Blacks are Haitian and practice Voodoo; whites and indios are Dominicans and practice

Catholicism. It is inconceivable, to Dominicans, that they could be black. As Michelle Wucker

explains, "Today, mulatto and black Dominicans call themselves indio, and they say that their

color is dark like the Indians but different in quality from African skins. They can identify with


104









Enriquillo because he was Christian" (Why the Cocks Fight 66). Trujillo's regime was based on

white European supremacy. Franklin Knight explains that "until the 1960's, contrary to

appearances, Trujillo would promote the Dominican Republic as a white Hispanic society"

(225). Additionally, Torres-Saillant explains that:

That historical context has given Dominican ruling classes occasion to construct a nation-
building-ideology primarily on self-differentiation from Haiti; including the area of racial
identification .... And insofar as Haitians are seen as homogeneously black, anti-
Haitianism manifests itself also as a declared contempt for blackness. ("Dominican
Literature," 54-5)

Ferreras' text is not immune to this national ideology and reflects an importance on race. He

often makes reference to the color of the characters' skin. For example, Pedrito, Patria's

husband, in describing his friend Roberto, says he was a "mulato de profundo mirar" (405). In

this description of Roberto, Ferreras acknowledges an Afro-Dominican presence. He also

mentions the Haitian presence in the Dominican Republic and notes that the poor working

conditions of that Haitians were "traidos a los centrales azucareros a trabajar en forma casi

esclava.. ." (235). The conflict between Dominican and Haitian cultures is evident in a

conversation Minerva has with Uncle Tilo who tells her:

Se formaba pleitos masivos entire los obreros cuando los muchos haitianos que habian
traido para la obra se ponfan a bailar su 'Judi' [sic] y los dominicanos les tiraban piedras
porque parece que les hacian poca gracia el baile de aquella gente. Claro, al sentirse
agredidos, los haitianos repostaban la agresi6n. Aquel baile era muy alegre.... Decian
que era con muertos que bailaban los haitianos. Por eso causaban una mala impresi6n el
baile entire los dominicanos.... (62)

In Las Mirabal, Minerva learns of the 1937 massacre of Haitian migrants by overhearing adults

talking about it. She writes in her journal that:

Para ese tiempo, siendo apenas una nifia, ofa a mis padres y a algunos vecino de cierta edad
y de much confianza en mi casa, cuando hablaban de la matanza de los haitianos. Y yo
me decia para mis adentros, sin comunicirselo a nadie, iy por qu6 los matan si tambi6n
son series humans? iAcaso no tienen derecho a la vida por no haber nacido mis aci de la
frontera? (163)









The fact that she doesn't mention her thoughts on the massacre to anyone, reflects Dominicans

complicated and contradictory relationship with Haitians. On one level, they feel guilty for the

poor treatment of Haitians. However, they go to great lengths to differentiate themselves from

Haitians, who they view to be black and synonymous with lack of civilization and everything

backward. Candito, a family friend, refers to the massacre in Las Mirabal as, "[las] masacres

haitian6fobas del afio trigico de 1937" (165). In his description of the massacre he says:

Ahi [el Monte de los Melones] mataron muchos haitianos, casi todos los haitianos que
trajeron o que vivian por estos alrededores en 1937. Hay muchas piedras y arbustos pero
uno va y encuentra los huesos que los puede recoger por camionadas. (165)

Candito also personalizes the massacre. He tells Minerva, "... mataron a Carlos y a Ana, su

mujer que eran dos haitianos realengos" (165). After hearing about the massacre, Minerva thinks

to herself, "Que tragedia espantosa vivieron esos infelices haitianos que hoy tienen tantos

descendientes dominicanos viviendo en algunas regions del pafs" (166). Her comments

recognize the Afro-Dominican presence that Trujillo, along with other Dominican intellectuals,

pretended didn't exist. Interestingly, Candito mentions that the government, without naming

Trujillo, ordered the killings.

Alternatively Alvarez's narrative, much like Trujillo's vision of the Dominican Republic,

ignores the Afro-Dominican presence in the Dominican Republic. Alvarez identifies black and

non-Christian with Haiti and European with Christianity. The Mirabal's Haitian domestic

worker is the only black character in the narrative. Fela is described as an "ebony black sibyl"

(63). The only Spanish character in the text is Don Bernardo. Minerva describes him as our

next door angel disguised as an old Spaniard with an ailing wife" (214). When no one else, out

of fear, would help the sisters, Don Bernardo fearlessly comes to their aid. With these two

characters, Fela the Haitian "sibyl" and Don Bernardo the Spanish "angel", Alvarez duplicates

Trujillo's image of the nation.









Aside from race, the cultural conflict between the people of African descent and those of

European descent is evident in Butterflies in the relationship the family has with Fela. Maria

Teresa writes that she wants to learn "spells from Fela (I better not tell Mami!)" (42). It is

obvious that her mother would not approve of her daughter learning about another religion.

After the sisters' death Fela "started going wacky" (63). Ded6, upon discovering that "Fela had

set up an altar with pictures of the girls cut out from the popular posters that appeared each

November" (64) gives her an ultimatum. She tells her to either leave the house or dismantle the

altar. Fela refuses to give up her altar and instead chooses to leave. When Minerva's daughter

Minou asks about her, Ded6 explains, "It was disrespectful to your mother's memory. She was

Catholic, Minou, a Catholic!" (64). Her view of Fela's religious practices as "wacky" and her

unwillingness to let her keep the altar, reflect the conflict between the African religion and

Catholicism, both of which are practiced in the Dominican Republic.

The 1937 massacre of Haitians is mentioned in Butterfies, but more abstractly than it is in

Las Mirabal, where the names of Haitians who died are mentioned. Patria in Butterflies states,

"thousands of Haitians massacred at the border, making the river, they say, still run red iAy,

Dios santo! (53). The description offered here is general and not individual. In similarity with

Las Mirabal, this text neglects to mention that Trujillo ordered the killings. The social position

of Haitians in the Dominican Republic is evident in Ded6's criticism of a project created by her

husband and Manolo, Minerva's husband. The project, according to her, consisted of "growing

onions in some godforsaken desert area where you couldn't even get Haitians to live" (187).

Dominican Nationalism and United States Imperialism

By showing how Trujillo was kept in power with support of the United States, each of the

two texts studied challenges Milton Eisenhower's claim that "[w]e [the United States] deplore

dictatorship in any form" (78). Consequently, a central theme to these narratives is anti-









imperialism. United States foreign policy also contributed to Dominican nationalism. The

Dominican Republic endured multiple invasions by the United States, which generated a strong

sense of nationalism, uniting Dominicans of all classes. Knight explains that when the marines

in 1924 were imposing orders:

A powerful anti-American sentiment stimulated a new xenophobic nationalism that
temporarily brought together the wealthy and the poor, the rural and the urban, the guerrilla
opponents and the respectable classes into a recalcitrant opposition to foreign military rule.
(223)

Faced with a common threat, Dominicans set aside their economic and social differences to band

together. This sense of nationalism explains how these economically privileged women became

revolutionaries. Additionally, this foreign influence is noted in the narratives to differing

degrees and is responsible for a certain degree of anti-yankism.

The characters in Las Mirabal use various terms to describe the United States Marine

Corps Occupying Force in the Dominican Republic, e.g. "yanquis", "americanos",

"norteamericanos", "in\ laic,'", "demonios", and "birbaros en figure humana". The most

wrenching testimony provided by characters in Las Mirabal are not the crimes perpetrated by

Trujillo but the crimes committed by the United States Marines. Minerva's uncle Tilo provides

testimony of some of the atrocities committed. He states:

Con el pretexto de perseguir 'gavilleros', los yanquis acabaron con medio mundo. A Rita
Campos le quemaron su casa y le mataron sus hijos, ella era muy pobre, pero muy
trabajadora.... Y a las madres les mataban los hijos en su presencia. (102-3)

On another occasion he tells Minerva that the Marines treated the 'gavilleros' and their families

brutally. He explains:

... los habian torturado birbaramente, llegando en algunos casos a provocar que segin
caminaran pisaran sus propios intestines, los cuales les habian sido echados fuera por la
tortura de las marcas de fuego en sus respectivos vientres. .. a veces amarraban los
hombres a la cola de los caballos y echaban 6stos a correr a todo galope, hasta que la
victims morfan desgarradas al ser arrastradas por las bestias echadas a correr con sus
lastres humans detris. (185)









He also tells Minerva:

Los americanos fusilaban much gente por estos montes y buscaban gente de la cercanfas a
quienes ponian a cavar las fosas comunes donde enterraban a los fusilados. Dondequiera
que mataban uno, allf lo enterraban, para que medio se borraran las huellas de sus
innumerables crimenes. (183-4)

However, despite these crimes, Tilo says that publicly people were cautious. However, "en la

intimidad se hablaba much contra los yanquis y en lo possible, todo el mundo ayudaba a los

guerrilleros en su lucha contra el in\ .a >i" (185). Ultimately, Las Mirabal blames the United

States, not Trujillo, for the problems the country faces. Dofia Chea describes, "Antes de venir

los yanquis viviamos pacificamente por estas zonas, muy tranquilamente" (209). The Mirabal

family, in this text, has been both witness and victim of the crimes committed by the marines and

is a harsh critic of the United States.

While the characters in Las Mirabal use a variety of pejorative words to describe the

United States Marines, Butterflies' characters use the Spanish terms "yanquis" and "gringos".

According to Shara McCallum, "This diction supports Alvarez's substantial condemnation of the

United States' involvement in and occupation of the Dominican Republic" (110). Additionally,

while Las Mirabal focuses on the atrocities suffered by the Dominican people at the hands of the

United States military, Butterflies personalizes the occupation for the Mirabal family. In Las

Mirabal, Dofia Chea, in her narration of the burning of her mother's house, mentions that she is

not sure who was responsible for the incident, since earlier in the day as Dominican

revolutionaries known as 'gavilleros' had stopped by asking for money. When their request was

denied they threatened to return and bum down the house. Dofia Chea says, "Yo no acuso a

nadie de habernos quemado la casa, pero la cosa qued6 en el misterio" (102). Butterflies also

narrates the burning of the family home, yet in this text, Dofia Chea says that theyhy burned our

house down and called it a mistake. They weren't in their own country so they didn't have to









answer to anyone" (57). Thus, in Butterflies she accuses the United States for an incident in

which, according to Las Mirabal, no one really knows who was responsible.

This condemnation of past United States foreign policy places the North American reader

in an interesting position; one in which they see themselves as the perpetrator of the sisters'

murder. In her criticism of the United States, Alvarez forces the reader to realize that they are in

some way responsible for the suffering and killing of Dominicans. With the exception of

Minerva and the 'Movimiento Revolucionario 14 de Junio', most Dominicans were incapable or

unwilling to do anything about it, as they feared for their lives. This fright is seen in Don

Enrique and Jaimito, Ded6's husband. Predictably, it is the brave who are killed and the fearful

who survived the Trujillo era.

By means of Ded6, in Butterflies, the reader gets a glimpse of what Dominicans similar to

her thought of North Americans in 1994 the time of her interview. The familiar stereotype of

the loud, violent, American, who is punctual, appears in the narrative in the form of the 'gringa

dominicana' who is really Alvarez's alter ego. The gringa arrives to her meeting with Ded6,

startling her and prompting her to think to herself, "But really, this woman should shut car doors

with less violence .... Any Dominican of a certain generation would have jumped at that

gunshot sound" (5). The image of the violent American is also present in Patria's nightmares.

She describes "the Yanquis were back, but it wasn't my grandmother's house they were burning

- it was Pedrito's and mine. My babies, all three of them, were going up in flames" (52). By

means of the deceased Mirabal sisters and Ded6 in 1994, Butterflies offers the North American

readers insight into how Dominicans, throughout the 20th century, have viewed them. It is not a

flattering picture.









Both Las Mirabal and Butterflies express disappointment with the post-Mirabal sisters'

Dominican Republic. Minerva and her sisters gave their lives fighting for freedom. And yet,

Ferreras notes that at a service held for the martyrs, "Un escaso ndmero de amigos intimos de la

familia,... asiste a los oficios religiosos" (478). Furthermore, although Minerva and her sisters

fought to overthrow Trujillo's regime for years his death did not lead to the society they had

envisioned. As a result, Ded6 in Butterflies is disillusioned with the post-Trujillo Dominican

Republic. She says "[w]e are now the playground of the Caribbean, who were once its killing

fields. The cemetery is beginning to flower .... Was it for this, the sacrifice of the butterflies?"

(318).

Resisting Patriarchy in the Dominican Republic

Feminism and Patriarchy in the Trujillo era

In Las Mirabal, the Dominican Republic is portrayed as a feminist society. Trujillo,

recognizing that it could be used a method of control, supported the creation of a feminist

organization and passed legislation to support women rights. He gave the women the right to

vote in 1942 much earlier than in other Latin American countries, such as Mexico (1953) and

Columbia (1954). At the time, only Ecuador, Cuba, Uruguay had already granted women the

right to vote (Esperanqa Bosch Fiol, et al. 135-6). It is ironic that an autocrat who was

fraudulently elected would grant women the right to vote. Additionally, women are free to study

and even become lawyers even during the Trujillo era something Minerva has to fight for, a

historical inaccuracy, in Butterflies. As narrated in Las Mirabal, women were already in law

school when Minerva applied. Furthermore, Trujillo was in Spain during Minerva's application

and first year of law school and posed no resistance (238).

In contrast with Las Mirabal, which largely ignores patriarchy, it is a main theme in

Butterflies. Kelly Oliver observes whileie these women [the Mirabal sisters] were fighting









against the national patriarch, Trujillo, they are also fighting against their own local patriarchs at

home" (243). These observations reflect Minerva's thoughts in Butterflies. Finally out of the

house and away at boarding school she realizes, "I'd just left a small cage to go into a bigger

one, the size of our whole country" (13).

The first level of patriarchy usually manifests itself in the private sphere with the girl's

father. Las Mirabal portrays a father and daughter, Don Enrique and Minerva, who are both

opposed to Trujillo and creates, in Don Enrique, a father who is loved and respected by his four

daughters. Uncle Tilo explains, "Cuando mis cuatro sobrinas vieron lo que ocurrfa con su padre,

se hicieron enemigas mortales de Trujillo" (48). As the reader discovers, Don Enrique "era un

padre mas o menos condescendiente, que nunca les pegaba por cualquier cosa" (126). Also out

of respect for her father, Minerva refused to challenge his authority. As Dofia Chea points out,

"A veces como que querfa rebelarse a Don Enrique, pero se sofrenaba" (152). Don Enrique, in

this text, is not at all a controlling father. To the contrary, he is generous, a man who gives his

daughters liberty. Minerva writes in her journal, ". .. vivimos como nos da la gana, coreteando y

jugando todo el dia por estos floridos campos" (130). While this makes Minerva happy, Dofia

Chea complains, "Don Enrique es un consentidor y, por complacer a mis cuatro hijas, las deja ir

a todos los sitios que ellas quieran" (196). It is Dofia Chea who takes her job of protecting her

four daughters' morality very seriously. Minerva tells the reader that, "Mami nos mandaba

acompafiadas a lavar para que nos respetaran mis" (118). When Dofia Chea wanted her

daughters to be educated beyond the fourth grade, which was the highest offered in Ojo de Agua,

their hometown, Don Enrique agrees, as this was common among wealthy Dominicans.

While Don Enrique is not a controlling, dominating figure in his daughters' lives, in Las

Mirabal, he attempts to be so in Butterflies. Minerva explains:









The four of us had to ask permission for everything: to walk out to the fields to see the
tobacco filling out; to go to the lagoon and dip our feet on a hot day; to stand in front of the
store and pet the horses as the men loaded up their wagons with supplies. (11)

Minerva is yearning for freedom and education, both denied by her father. However Dofia Chea,

who is illiterate, understands the importance of educating her daughters. Don Enrique initially is

opposed to sending his girls off to school, since he does not see the need for women's education.

It is Dofia Chea who convinces him to let them go away to study, arguing that they "needed

education to go along with our cash" (12). Unlike in Las Mirabal where the education of

women was tied to class and economic status, education in this text is seen as means of liberation

for women.

Butterflies also creates a Don Enrique that is so afraid of Trujillo that he is unable to

protect his family. Minerva says, "I have never seen him so scared .... Papa looks like he'll

agree to anything" (103). On another occasion, Trujillo's men tell Minerva that she has been

invited to sit at his table. Don Enrique passively says "[i]t is really quite an honor .... Go on,

my daughter. You are keeping Don Manuel waiting" (94). Minerva looks back at him angrily

and wonders, "Has he lost all his principles?" (95).

Additionally, the relationship between Minerva and her father in Butterflies is disturbing

due to its seemingly incestuous nature. Minerva, who is 23 years old at the time says, "Papi

discouraged boyfriends. I was his treasure, he'd say, patting his lap.... One time he offered my

anything if I would sit in his lap. 'Just come here and whisper it in my ear'" (84). Instead of

refusing her father's odd request, Minerva uses the opportunity to ask for something she wants,

to go to law school. Minerva, on some level, realizes the oddity of the situation and describes,

"And here I was, a grown woman sitting on my father's lap" (85).

In addition to portraying Don Enrique as someone machista, who strictly controls his

daughters whereabouts and questions their need for education, paradoxically in Butterflies he is









the only male and the weakest member of the family. Minerva states, "I was much stronger than

Papa, Mama was much stronger. He was the weakest one of all" (89). By making Minerva

stronger than her father and every other male character in the novel, including Trujillo, Alvarez

subverts the patriarchal structure. Moreover, it is not only Dominican men who are criticized in

Butterflies, but men in general. Dofia Chea notes, "You're right, they're all scoundrels -

Dominicans, Yanquis, every last man" (57).

In Las Mirabal, a few days after the Discovery Day Dance, Trujillo's men came looking

for Minerva because "dizque que era comunista" (45). After questioning her and searching the

house for communist books banned by Trujillo, they left. However, in Butterflies Don Enrique

is arrested for leaving the Discovery Day Dance before Trujillo. He left the dance early at the

request of his son-in-law Pedrito. Minerva states, "Papi lifts his shoulders and lets them fall.

'You young people know what to do'" (101). His body language is that of a person who has

been defeated representing a much different image of Don Enrique than seen in Las Mirabal,

where he is ordering his family to leave. It begins to rain so he decides to leave Trujillo's party

early. He says, "ya nosotros cumplimos, esta por llover, cualquiera se va. i Vamonos hombres!,

y regres6 con su familiar a Ojo de Agua donde vivia" (45). Alvarez's recreation of Don Enrique

is that of a weak, defeated and powerless male.

While both recreate Don Enrique, Las Mirabal portrays a father and daughter who are

opposed to Trujillo and creates a Don Enrique who is loved and respected by Minerva. In her

words he was "tan bueno, tan amable, tan visionario que es mi padre" (166). He is the type of

father who has given his daughter an education and freedom. In short, he is a poor example of

someone who is controlling and machista. In contrast, the reader's first introduction to Don

Enrique in Butterflies is when he is drunk on rum, burping and "slurring his \w r ids" (9) and


114









needing the help of his daughter to climb the stairs (10). This drinking continues throughout the

novel. As Minerva notes, "He was drinking too much" (91). Moreover, Minerva has little

respect for her father. Of him she says that he is a, "good-for-nothing father" (88). In creating a

Minerva who is superior to her father, Alvarez subverts the private patriarchal structure.

Trujillo, The Dictator: The Second Level of Patriarchy

The second level of patriarchy is found in the public or, in this case, political sphere. From

the very first pages of Butterflies, the reader becomes aware of the oppression the country is

under. The Mirabals, enjoying a summer evening in their yard, become aware of the danger of

saying the wrong thing. As the reader learns:

Suddenly, the dark fills with spies who are paid to hear things and report them down at
Security .... Words repeated, distorted, words recreated by those who might bear them a
grudge, words stitched to words until they are the winding sheet the family will be buried
in when their bodies are found dumped in a ditch, their tongues cut off for speaking too
much. (10)

The challenge to public patriarchy in Butterflies is seen in Minerva's relationship with Trujillo.

From the very beginning, Minerva reveals that she, as a woman, considers herself superior to

Trujillo. After Sinita, her childhood friend, proclaims that, "Trujillo is a devil" (24), Minerva

responds, "No, he is a man. And in spite of all I'd heard, I felt sorry for him. iPobrecito!" (24).

The use of the diminutive shows condescension. Additionally she says of Trujillo, "This regime

is seductive. How else would a whole nation fall prey to this little man" (96). By means of

Minerva's comments, the reader comes to understand the erotic power of this charismatic tyrant.

However, describing the tyrant as a 'little man' reflects her feeling of superiority.

These two texts reposition Trujillo as the 'other' in that it is not he telling the story but

rather his victims and, therefore, it should be kept in mind that the view is not objective.

Butterflies adds little to the physical description of Trujillo already found in Las Mirabal in

which Trujillo is described as "[a]quel hombre, rosadito, pintado todo de pan-ca-ke (sic),









entorchado con su bicornio de plumas, saliendo de aquel patio espafiol, con una concha acistica

detras. Era aquello una cosa de novela" (225). Similarly, in Butterflies the reader learns that

Trujillo goes to the United States to "buy elevator shoes, his skin whiteners and creams, his satin

sashes and rare bird plumes for his bicom Napoleonic hats" (96). Both describe a tyrant who is

slightly effeminate, which is in sharp contrast to the cruelty of his personality, which Ferreras

describes as "el mis grande arrancapescuezos nacido en la Am6rica Latina" (445).

In each text, Trujillo himself is but a minor character, with Alvarez dedicating much more

narrative space to him than Ferreras. As Sirias notes:

In the novel, Rafael Trujillo exists somewhere between a theme and a character. As the
later, his appearances are brief and his characterization is kept deliberately low-key
because the idea of Trujillo is more important than the man himself. The dictator appears
infrequently in the novel, and his character, rather than being well-developed, is more of a
caricature. (75)

Trujillo appears four times in Butterflies. In Alvarez's reconstruction of him, like Ferreras', the

reader does not have access to his inner thoughts. Upon seeing Trujillo for the first time,

Minerva observes that, ". .. he looked much smaller than I had imagined him, looming as he

always was from some wall or other" (27). She sees him years later and notes that "[h]e looks

younger than I remember him from our performance five years ago, the hair darkened, the figure

trim" (95).

Ferreras all but silences Trujillo, who is barely mentioned in Las Mirabal. He is

referenced to by the characters in the text, but only speaks in a first person voice twice. And,

while Butterflies attempts to explain how Trujillo maintained power, in part through seduction or

perhaps even charisma, Las Mirabal limits itself to narrating political oppression and does not

say anything positive about Trujillo. It places the responsibility for his control over the

Dominican people squarely on the shoulders of the United States government, who supported









and maintained him in power. Am6rico Lugo shares this view noting that "la fiera del

imperialismo yanqui ha saltado sobre el suelo quisqueyano" (30).

In each narrative, the cruelty of Trujillo's regime takes backseat only to the cruelty

demonstrated by United States Marines against the Dominican nationalists. This can be partially

explained because Dominicans view Trujillo, who fought with the marines and against his own

countrymen, as belonging to the Unites States imperial machine.

The Heroine and the Tyrant

In Las Mirabal, Minerva first attracts Trujillo's attention at the now infamous Discovery

Day Dance, in which Trujillo becomes aware of Minerva's defiance. As Ded6 explains:

Lo cierto fue que 61 como que le insinu6 que iba a mandar a sus sibditos a que se la
trajeran o se la conquistaran y ella le contest: "iY si yo voy y me los conquisto a ellos? ..
Trujillo se dio cuenta de que la actitud de Minerva fue muy altiva ... desafiante. (227)

Even before her exchange with Trujillo at the Discovery Day Dance, according to Ferreras, "se

decia que Minerva Mirabal era comunista y enemiga de Trujillo" (25). In Las Mirabal, Trujillo

makes it clear that he physically desires Minerva. While her father is imprisoned, Minerva

refuses to visit Trujillo saying, "Si yo he de ir al Jaragua [a hotel] me tiro por unos de estos

balcones" (235). Dofia Chea supports and defends her daughter. She explains, "para nosotras, la

moral vale much, vale mas que nada. ... Preferimos la muerte a ser deshonradas" (236-7). After

10 days, Trujillo releases the family.

Butterflies also recounts the Discovery Day Dance. However, Alvarez replaces Minerva's

political defiance with sexual rejection. Furthermore, the relationship between Trujillo and

Minerva is more physical. As Minerva explains, "He yanks me by the wrist, thrusting his pelvis

at me in a vulgar way, and I can see my hand in an endless slow motion rise a mind all its own

- and come down on the astonished, made-up face" (100). Consequently, Alvarez adds an

element of sexual tension between Trujillo and Minerva that is missing in Ferreras' retelling of









the Discovery Day Dance. Before Trujillo's slap, Minerva states, ". he draws me close to him,

so close that I can fell the hardness of his groin" (100). When Trujillo offers to free her father in

exchange for a 'private' visit, Minerva responds much as she did in Las Mirabal, by saying, "I'd

sooner jump out that window than be forced to do something against my honor" (111).

Additionally in Butterflies Minerva is also attracted to Trujillo. Even she, his most ardent

critic, cannot resist his attraction. As a school girl she explains, "I think we were all falling in

love with the phantom hero in Lina's sweet and simple heart" (22). Later, as an adult, Minerva

describes, "He rises from his chair, and I am so sure he is going to ask me that I feel a twinge of

disappointment when he turns instead to the wife of the Spanish ambassador" (96). She

continues to explain, "I see now how easily this happens. You give in on little things, and soon

you're serving in his government, marching in his parades, sleeping in his bed" (99). Minerva's

character in Butterflies is both attracted to and repulsed by Trujillo. Her comments reflect an

observation made by Laura Frost who maintains that, "simultaneously embracing and resisting

the fascist beast is an erotically-charged fantasy that recurs throughout feminist discourse" (40).

This "erotically-charged fantasy" is absent in Las Mirabal. Minerva in this text does not

express any positive feelings towards Trujillo. While both Las Mirabal and Butterflies document

the attraction Trujillo felt for Minerva, Butterflies, some would argue, exaggerates the sexual

attraction Trujillo had for Minerva, leading the reader to believe that Trujillo ordered her murder

because she had rejected him. However, Vargas explains that the three sisters had been

persecuted by Trujillo for years, "no por aparentes motives pasionales como se ha dicho, sino

por sus ideas political y sus convicciones antitrujillistas" (225).









Minerva Mirabal: Narrating A National Heroine


The Mirabal Family

In Las Mirabal, Ferreras describes the Mirabal family origins dating back to the 19th

century. He writes of a family, who as a whole, was opposed to Trujillo's regime. The narrator

explains:

Jos6, natural de Salcedo, fue involucrado en el complot del coronel Leonicio Blanco,
vejado, torturado, masacrado y fusilado.... A este Mirabal lo fusilaron en el cementerio
de Camunguf, lugar de destino de los muchos dominicanos viriles que entregaron la vida
en aras del ideal de libertad que Trujillo no permitia. (25)

Thus, Minerva and her sisters are not the first Mirabals to die at the hands of Trujillo. Like many

members of his family, Don Enrique is an antitrujillista. As Ferreras explains, he is imprisoned

by the dictator for refusing to buy a book praising Trujillo from a traveling salesman. Tilo

explains that the salesman:

... estuvo aquf, tratando de vender a Enrique por RD$20.00 un libro alabando a Trujillo.
Enrique no quiso comprarlo ... El tipo se fue y no volvi6, lo que vino luego fue la
averiguaci6n de por qu6 Enrique Mirabal no habia comprado el libro que alababa a
Trujillo. Y la verdad fue que lo aprisionaron por no haber otra cosa de qu6 acusarlo. (46)

It is during this imprisonment that Don Enrique succumbs to an illness that would cause his

death barely a month after his release. His sudden illness and death prompts his family to

believe that the injections given to him prison, supposedly to help him, were really intended to

kill him. Tilo explains that "[d]esde antes de soltar a Enrique se decia por aquf que le estaban

poniendo inyecciones para matarlo." (48). In Butterflies, this brave defiance, which resulted in

his early death, is omitted and Don Enrique is imprisoned for simply leaving a party before

Trujillo. Ferreras notes that Trujillo views the family, not just the sisters, as problematic. He

writes that ". .. 61 [Trujillo] solamente tenfa dos problems que resolver aquf, en el pafs. Uno es

el de los 'falduces', o sea, los curas, la iglesia, y el otro, la familiar Mirabal, no dijo Las

Hermanas, sino 'la familiar Eso sali6 publicado en El Caribe" (334-5).









The names chosen for the sisters provides insight into the Mirabal family. It also allows

the reader to see that Ferreras' description of it is more accurate historically. Fernando Valerio-

Holgufn mentions that the names of the sisters themselves are paradoxical given the patriarchal

society in which they were born. The name Patria means Fatherland, and Minerva, the most

politically active of the sisters, is named after the Roman goddess of wisdom. Ferreras also notes

that Patria was born during the first American occupation (1914-1924) of the Dominican

Republic. She was named Patria in defiance of said occupation. Patria, in turn, would continue

this family tradition by naming her youngest son Ernesto in honor of Che Guevarra.

Alternatively, in Butterflies, the Mirabal family, with the sole exception of Minerva, her

sisters and at times her mother, is petrified of the dictator. The women have less fear of the

tyrant than the men do. As previously mentioned, this fear weakens Don Enrique to the point

that he is unable to protect Minerva and fearful, he offers up his own daughter to the oppressor.

Las Mirabal gives the reader the sense that Minerva was a strong leader among many other

revolutionaries. As noted, entiree los press habia representatives de todos los sectors sociales

de la Repdblica" (328). Similarly, Peguero-Danilo de los Santos observes that "[h]acia 1960, las

circeles dominicanas estaban repletas y el asesinato piblico llegaba a su paroxismo con la

muerte violent de las Mirabal ... que realizaban un activismo abierto y disidente" (365). She

was a leader amongst a strong and defiant people, who were not only fighting for freedom from

Trujillo but also the United States. Minerva was unquestionably brave, as noted by a friend, who

tells her "Tu valentia escasea en el pafs" (298). Yet, it is not this bravery that keeps her from

fleeing the country when given the opportunity. It is her imprisoned husband that keeps her in

the Dominican Republic as Vargas explains, "Minerva sospechaba los intentos del dictador, pero









sus sentimientos de solidaridad para con sus esposos no permiti6 la vacilaci6n ni el miedo"

(229).

Motherhood and Love of Country

As defined by Hans Kohn, "Nationalism is a state of mind, in which the supreme loyalty of

the individual is felt to be due the nation-state" (9). In Las Mirabal, Minerva displays a strong

sense of national pride, seen in her deep love for her country. This would cause her problems, as

she loved the Dominican Republic and not Trujillo. Trujillo, who thought that he was the nation,

insisted that loyalty to him come before love of family or friends (Howard Wiarda 129).

Instead, Minerva is deeply patriotic. As Benedict Anderson explains, ". .. nations inspire love,

and often profoundly self-sacrificing love" (141). This self-sacrificing love is more important to

Minerva than motherhood. It is a love of country that is often repeated in Las Mirabal. For

example Minerva states, "Yo quiero a mis hijos y a mi familiar, pero quiero mis a mi pueblo"

(298). When asked by Ded6 who would raise her children in the event that she was killed by

Trujillo, she replies:

A mi no me importa que me maten, pues no voy a ser la primera ni la ltima .... No
importa [quien criard a mis hijos]... el pueblo dominicano me los crfa.... Lucho por los
infelices ... Hay demasiado [sic] hambre y miseria. (429)

She feels more loyalty to her country than to her children. She continues to say, "Si para liberar

a este pafs se necesita la sangre de muchos dominicanos y entire esa sangre yo tengo que dar la

mfa, pues, estoy presta a entregarla" (434). On another occasion, she remarks:

... siempre considerar6 que este es un puebo [sic] digno de mejor suerte, que siempre
debi6 merecer un gobiemo menos malo que el de Trujillo. .... El pueblo dominicano tiene
que liberarse en alguna forma de este tirano sanguinario .... Siempre he aspirado para mf,
como el mis grande logro de mi vida ayudar a liberar a mi pueblo de la tiranfa. (160)

In Las Mirabal, up to the very end of her life, Minerva is brave, never relenting her goal to

eliminate tyranny, which, for her, is more important her own life. For this reason, she has









become a symbol of defiant Dominican nationalism, in that love of country was greater than her

loyalty to Trujillo.

In contrast, motherhood is more important than nationalism to Minerva in Butterflies.

After a stay in prison she says, "How lovely to be called mother again. ... (258). Minerva,

after being imprisoned, seems to give up, to be broken down. She explains, "All my life, I have

been trying to get out of the house .... By then I couldn't think of anything I wanted more that

to stay home with my sisters at Mami's, raising our children" (257). Towards the end of the

narrative, Minerva seems to have lost her desire to fight against tyranny. She becomes

agoraphobic and is unable to display the strength she once showed. She knows she has changed

and says, "I had been so much stronger and braver in prison. Now at home I was falling apart"

(258). In this representation of Minerva, love for her children is stronger than fighting for her

country's freedom from tyranny. She wants to confess to an old friend that ". I didn't feel

like the same person as before prison. That I wanted my own life back again" (265), but can't.

Essentially, she has been defeated by Trujillo.

The Mythification of Minerva

In both narratives, Minerva underestimates Trujillo. In Las Mirabal, she believes that

"[m]atarme a mf serfa de los mis grandes escindalos del mundo" (428). Comparably, in

Butterflies, she says, "Trujillo was not going to murder a defenseless woman and dig his own

grave. Silly rumors" (199). And while this may have been the case, it didn't keep Trujillo from

ordering her assassination.

While in Las Mirabal the death of the Mirabal sisters is narrated three different times by

three of the murderers who admitted to killing each one of the sisters; the actual killing or

murder of the sisters is not mentioned in Butterflies. It appears in the "Epilogue," narrated by

Ded6. This reflects her lack of preoccupation with how they were murdered. During the ensuing









trials of the supposed killers, Ded6 went to Puerto Rico and later the United States to avoid being

exposed to it ("Personal Interview", Mirabal).

Their bravery and subsequent brutal assassination lead to the mythification of the sisters

and of Minerva in particular. Ferreras makes no claim to demythify the sisters. Despite saying

of the deceased sisters, "i Que en paz descansen los despojos mortales de aquellas tres ejemplares

mujeres que entregaron hasta la vida por la revoluci6n dominicana!" (478), it is his text that

demythologizes the sisters. Minerva, in Las Mirabal, is a much more believable than in

Butterflies. In Las Mirabal she is one of many revolutionaries. Moreover, she does not see

herself superior to others. She is not an anomaly within the Mirabal family, which had other

"antitrujillista" members.

In contrast, Alvarez stated intent is to demythologize the Mirabal sisters. She explains that

"by making them myth we lost the Mirabals once more ." (324). Additionally, she notes that

". .. such deification was dangerous, the same god-making impulse that had created our tyrant"

(324). In demythologizing the deceased sisters, Alvarez hopes to remove the fiction that goes

with the myth exposing more authentic Mirabal sisters and showing that their courage is possible

"for us, ordinary men and women" (Butterflies 324).

Despite her expressed intent, Alvarez ultimately fails to demythologize the sisters and

Minerva, in particular. She recreates the myth she is hoping to dispel by making Minerva in

Butterflies, unequalled. She writes, "Manuel de Moya shakes his head. 'Minerva Mirabal, you

are as complicated a woman as ... as .. He throws up his hands, unable to finish the

comparison" (111). In other words, she has no equal, or at least not a male one. On another

occasion, Minerva imagines that her and Trujillo are even. She says "[f]or a moment, I imagine

them evenly balanced, his will on one side, mine on another" (115). Minerva, realizing the dice









are lopsided, outwits Trujillo and wins her father's release from prison. Thus, Alvarez does not

resist the temptation to glorify Minerva. She also exalts Minerva by informing the reader of how

other Dominicans view her. Minerva explains, "My months in prison had elevated me to

superhuman status. It would hardly have been seemly for someone who had challenged our

dictator to suddenly succumb to a nervous attack at the communion rail" (259). Alternatively,

Ferreras resists this temptation and does not use words such as "superhuman" to describe, and

therefore elevate to mythical status, Minerva. To the contrary, as previously mentioned, he

wants to encourage women to participate in the political process by showing them how Minerva,

who while brave, was not 'superhuman'.

Additionally, Butterflies inadequately documents the suffering of the Mirabal sisters. The

reader learns of the sisters' experiences in prison through Mate's diary entries. Her entries

mention her lesbian affair with Magdalena (a fellow prisoner), her miscarriage and her constant

hunger. The pages recording the worst of her experiences, the ones she refuses to talk about,

were ripped out and are inaccessible to the reader. Yet, the sisters' suffered terribly in prison.

As Robert Crassweller states, "They had not had an easy time of it. Trujillo bore a particular

resentment against them, and their experiences in jail had included all the indignities heaped

upon female prisoners" (402).

Las Mirabal also glosses over the suffering of the Mirabal sisters in prison. Ferreras writes

that "[t]res meses pasaron allf las tres [Minerva, Marfa Teresa, Sina], torturadas con el solo

hechos de tenerlas en solitaria y comiendo la porquerfa que les daban como raci6n" (332).

However, he does document the suffering endured by the sisters' husbands. He writes:

El mismo Manolo decia muchas veces en confidencias a su cufiada: 'Ded6, eso era lo mis
doloroso, un golpe encima de otro, una herida sobre otra a medio cicatrizar. Esto es,
cuando ya una herida esti por cerrarse, viene la otra tunda de golpes a volver a reabrirla.'


124









Al final de las torturas, las espaldas de Manolo parecian un gigantesca parilla de esas de
asar care que se usan en los barrios humildes de la ciudades dominicanas. (325)

Thus, despite minimizing the suffering of the sisters, the cruelty of the prison experience is

recognized.

The glossing over of violence in Butterflies is not limited only to their prison experience.

It is also evident in the deaths of the sisters. Ded6 in Butterflies says, "But I do not think they

violated my sisters, no. I checked as best I could. I think it is safe to say they acted like

gentlemen murderers in that way" (303). However, historians disagree. According to Kai

Schoenhals the sisters were "raped, beaten to death and then thrown into an abyss" (xxviii).

Additionally Crassweller contents the sisters were "taken into custody, and fresh abominations

were practiced upon them, followed soon by the assassinations" (402). In omitting the worst of

the sisters' suffering, Alvarez to a certain extent dehumanizes and idealizes the experience of

living under Trujillo. As Lucia Suarez writes, "Alvarez tries to recuperate the Mirabal sisters

from mythification, only to mythify them further, blurring further the violence of Trujillo's

dictatorship" (22). Furthermore, Ink believes that:

Although Alvarez claims to write the Mirabals' story to convey the reality of their
involvement, the details she does provide fail to convey the extent of the abuse the sisters
endured under Trujillo. The conditions under which they are kept are deplorable, but
prison life is generally idealized ... Most important, the narrative of the torture is the only
missing portion of the diary ... The result is a sense of mystery that renders the women
more legend than flesh and blood. By leaving out details that would humanize their story,
the text creates the Mirabals as examples. ("Remaking identity,. ." Callaloo)

Alvarez overlooks the worst of the suffering the sisters endured. Consequently, she recreates a

Trujillo was more benevolent towards the sisters than he actually was. In fairness, it should be

noted that Las Mirabal also rejects the idea that the sisters were raped. Ferreras writes "[n]o

habia sefiales de que los cuerpos de la Mirabal fueron objeto de violaci6n sexual ... (454).









Alvarez also fails to demythify the sisters because their fictional characters are poorly

developed and each one closely resembles a stereotype. As Isabel Zakrzewski Brown contends:

These [stereotypes] include: the pious one, Patria; the pragmatic one Ded6; the rebellious
one, Minerva; and the innocent one, Mate. The four come together to form a perfect
whole: the now legendary Mirabal sisters. Alvarez thus is unable to avoid the
mythification process she has professed to elude. (110)

Additionally, Ink reasons that "Alvarez ... undermines her own claim to de-mythologization.

What she establishes in place of the Mirabal of fact or legend is another national myth"

("Remaking identity .." Callaloo). However, Ben Jacques disagrees; he argues, "By creating

fictional characters for the national heroines, Alvarez demythologizes them. She brings them

back to life not as saints, but as ordinary, yet extraordinary women who respond to oppression

out of their personal values and character" ("Real Flights of Imagination," Americas). Given

Alvarez's stated lack of interest in the biography of actual Minerva, it is not surprising that her

recreation would be just as fictional as the mythical Minerva she is attempting to de-mythify.

Conclusion

Both Ferreras and Alvarez set out with a similar intent: to keep the memory of the Mirabal

sisters alive, to ensure that history (not just the Mirabal sisters) is not forgotten. Ferreras

mentions that the contributions of many other women have also been forgotten. He explains:

Las damas y mujeres del pueblo mencionadas en lo que va de este trabajo,... no fueron
las dnicas que actuaron en aquellos apacibles o bravos dias en que nuestras f6minas tenfan
que, en muchos casos, 'dormir con un ojo abierto'. .. De aquellas que acompafiaron a sus
hombres en las luchas por la libertad y por el bien de la Repiblica, de esas quedaron casi
en su totalidad sus nombres en el tintero de nuestros historiadores, y s6lo buceos mis
profundos en fojas y documents arcaicos podrin en el future pr6ximo o lejano, decir algo
de lo much que merecen que de ellas se diga en los fastos gloriosos de nuestra historic
national. (Historia 138)

Additionally, Ferreras hopes to encourage women to be feminists by showing them feminists can

be positively viewed by Dominicans. He writes:









Ellas, a quienes el pueblo dominicano conoce hoy y reverencia como Las Hermanas
Mirabal, fueron feministas de primera linea, aunque nunca militaran en una de las Ilamadas
agrupaciones feministas que proliferaron el pafs. (Historia 138)

The feminist groups to which he references were little more than pawns of Trujillo. Ferreras'

narrative shows a strong Minerva who, along with her fellow countrymen and women, fought

oppression. In this text, Minerva's struggles are more collective. She is the leader of a much

larger group. Ferreras explains that "habia muchas c6lulas del movimiento" (325). Most

importantly, she is never broken down, never afraid and never regrets her actions. Minerva was

recognized for her intelligence, bravery and leadership skills among people who were also strong

and brave; not weak and uneducated. And although fighting tyranny is more important to her

than motherhood, Minerva, the historical figure, is not mythified in Las Mirabal. Therefore, it is

the older, Dominican text, written by a man, which portrays a much stronger and feminist

Minerva Mirabal without, as one might expect, projecting on her a masculanized version of

heroism. She is simply a mother, who after seeing her beloved father die as a result of his unjust

imprisonment, decides to fight for a better future for her children.

Unlike Ferreras, Alvarez is more concerned with creating the sense and feel of the Trujillo

era. In re-writing the older version, written by Ferreras, she creates a very different Minerva. In

her interpretation Minerva is much less of a feminist. The women in Alvarez's novel, Minerva

included, are portrayed as victims of a machista, phallocentric, patriarchial society. The fact that

there was a brutal tyrant in power appears only as a secondary oppression. The women are first

oppressed by the men in their lives, husbands, fathers, etc., and secondly by Trujillo. Alvarez

inverts the traditional patriarchal society and places Minerva at the top of the hierarchy,

displacing even Trujillo from power, who she outwits. Yet, this displacement and feminization of

power makes Minerva's character hard to believe.









Alvarez, in her attempt to make Minerva seem strong among weak women and even

weaker men, misrepresents the Dominican people and diminishes Minerva's role. She also

discredits the Mirabal family. Ded6, as the surviving sister, has become the guardian of her

sisters' memory and Alvarez goes to her seeking information about her sisters. Yet, she quickly

discredits Ded6 by informing the reader that she has lied to her. The text claims, "Ded6 lies to

the voice" (4). Later, the narrator informs the reader that Ded6 is dishonest, "'Not at all', she

[Ded6] lies" (4). Additionally, the reader's first introduction to Don Enrique, the sisters' beloved

father, is when he is drunk. Her sister Marfa Teresa commits adultery with another woman while

in prison. Finally, Minerva ends up agoraphobic.

These two texts offer a very different visions of the Dominican Republic, Trujillo, and

Minerva. Ferreras describes a modern, feminist country in which women have full access to

education, while Alvarez portrays a much more backward, machista, stereotypical Third World

country. Ferreras reveals Dominicans, both men and women, who are strong and who fight

political oppression, from the United States and Trujillo's regime. In contrast, Alvarez writes of

a country in which the women, with the exception of a few, are passive and the men are weak

and powerless on several levels.

Since Alvarez was able to write about the Dominican Republic from the United States, she

was able to write from a position of greater safety than Ferreras, who had been repeatedly

imprisoned by President Balaguer, who was in power when Las Mirabal was published. Yet, it

is his text that is most harshly critical of the Dominican political situation.

Alvarez, who writes in English and has access to large publishers, also writes from a

position of greater power. Of the two narratives it is Alvarez's that has eclipsed that of Ferreras

and her voice has overshadowed his in the Dominican national consciousness. Even from abroad









and writing in a foreign language, she has the ability to influence how Dominicans view

themselves and how others view Dominicans. Roberto Marcall6 Abreu, a Dominican journalist

and author, finds this influence problematic. He writes:

Nuestra literature, en sentido general, y es lo que creo, esti al margen de la que hoy dia se
produce en el mundo. .... y nos debe llenar de vergtienza que vengan de fuera a explotar
temas locales con una repercusi6n international que ningin escritor nuestro ha logrado.
(419-20)

Specifically, he is referring to Mario Vargas Llosa's La Fiesta del Chivo (2000) and Mayra

Montero's Del rojo de tu sombra (1993). He continues to explain that Dominicans do not read

Dominican literature because there exists a "desprecio de las letras nacionales" (409). Therefore,

narrative written by 'outsiders', even about that whose topic is Dominican history, is much more

widely read by both Dominicans and non-Dominicans alike.

Alvarez's narrative has been translated into 13 different languages and is the one that is for

sale in the Mirabal Museum. Yet, in this author's personal interview of Ded6, it became

apparent that Las Mirabal offered a much more accurate description of her family. (Ded6 has

read neither narrative.) This success leads me to wonder what effect her narrative, which offers a

negative view of the Dominican Republic, has had on how Dominicans view both themselves

and their country. There has been a Dominican response to her narrative, yet for

abovementioned reasons it hasn't really received the attention hers has and so the Dominican

voice has not been heard.24 In short, the commercial success of Alvarez's novel has allowed her

voice (that of the American girl with the American education who writes in an imperial, as

Dominicans see it, language) to overshadow Dominican narrative (voices), which also seeks to

interpret and document the past. Alvarez's ability, from abroad, to affect how Dominican view



24 See Miguel Aquino Garcia's. Tres heroinas v un tirano. La historic veridica de las Hermanas Mirabal v su
asesinato por Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. Santo Domingo: Editora Corripio, 1996.









themselves reflects what is also happening politically in that Dominicans-Americans are allowed

to vote in Dominican elections. So important is their vote and their dollars that political

candidates actively campaign in New York City. Torres-Saillant notes that the power of the

diaspora can have a positive or negative effect on the country of origin. He observes:

... having representation of the Antillean world in the hands of diasporic intellects who do
not root themselves culturally or politically in 'the region' may lead to their strategic use of
their privileged position ... to continue the work of upholding the humanity and the
historical groundedness of their people. But, they could also, wielding greater might
than their counterparts in the region, resort to the deployment of 'borrowed eyes' to look at
their parents' homelands, adding to the long tradition of inimical representation that the
Caribbean has endured for over five centuries. ("Intellectual" 252)

It is through the comparison of the Dominican and diasporic text that the 'inimical

representation' that Torres-Saillant writes of becomes most evident in Butterflies. And while it

may have achieved its goal of "[deepening] North Americans' understanding" (324) of the

Trujillo era, a laudable achievement, it also inadequately and erroneously portrays the

Dominican Republic, its history and its people. As previously mentioned, Alvarez is not

concerned with these inaccuracies. She explains, "I sometimes took liberties by changing

dates, by reconstructing events, and by collapsing characters or incidents." (324). However, not

all novelists share her lack of concern for history. The novelist Virginia Brodine asserts "I

believe writers of historical fiction should be held accountable by historians" (208). While

Butterflies is not a historical novel because it includes the author's lifetime, Alvarez believes that

as a survivor it is her responsibility to give testimony and to keep the memory of those who died

(Before 166-7). For this reason, even if Alvarez could not avoid due to her American education

and upbringing viewing the Dominican Republic through the eyes of an "American", Butterflies

could have at least offered its reader a more accurate representation of Dominican history.











CHAPTER 4
PORTRAIT OF A DICTATORSHIP: "THE ERA OF TRUJILLO" IN CEMENTERIO SIN
CRUCES AND LA FIESTA DEL CHIVO



Monumento a los gloriosos heroes del 30 de mayo de 1961. Hombres de acero, que esa
noche luminosa ajusticiaron en este lugar al dictador Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina,
poniendo asi fin a la tiranfa mis horrenda de toda la historic latinoamericana. Honrar a los
que luchan por la libertad, nos ayudard a no olvidar sus ideales.


Fundaci6n H6roes del 30 del Mayo 199925

Soy uno de esa Am6rica Latina de rostro marcado de profundas huellas de dolor, que
recuerdan el destierro, la tortura, la prisi6n y la muerte de muchos hombres y de sus
mujeres. Soy uno de esa Am6rica Latina cuya geograffa ain exhibe regimenes totalitarios
que avergtienzan a la humanidad entera.

Oscar Arias Sgnchez, Nobel Lecture, December 10, 1987



Introduction

More than 30 years of tyrannical rule came to an abrupt and violent end on the night of

May 30, 1961 when Rafael Trujillo was ambushed and shot to death. However, the era of

Trujillo did not end with the death of the tyrant. Robert D. Crassweller explains that the plot to

kill Trujillo consisted of two groups; an Action Group and a Political Group. The Action Group,

made up of eight men, was responsible for planning and carrying out assassination. Many of the

men involved in the killing that night were part of Trujillo's inner circle. Two separate cars were

involved in the ambush. In the first car, an Oldsmobile, was Hudscar Tejeda and Pedro Livio

Cedefio. In the second car, a Chevrolet, rode Antonio Imbert Barrera, Antonio de la Maza,

Amado Garcia Guerrero and Salvador Estrella Sadhala. The only member of the Action Group


25 These words are inscribed on a plaque marking the place of Trujillo's death. Interestingly it commemorates the
assassins and not the victim of the assassination.









to survive was Antonio de la Maza. The others were quickly rounded up and killed, most

suffering a death much worse than Trujillo's. Upon Trujillo's death, the Political Group was to

take over the government. For various reasons, including simple fear, the Political Group never

fulfilled its role (Crassweller 436). A Time article reports:

The only thing out of keeping about Trujillo's death was the aftermath. Instead of serving
as a signal for revolution to sweep down the hills into the capital, the assassination was
followed by stupefied silence among his 2,900,000 subjects. ("End of the Dictator")

Eduardo Garcia Michel offers insight into the Dominican mindset after the death of the tyrant

and explains the silence mentioned in the Time article:

Despu6s del 30 de mayo de 1961 una atm6sfera de tension y descreimiento arropo a la
poblaci6n. ,Serfa cierto que Trujillo estL muerto? Se preguntaba la gente. Parecia
demasiado ficil que tantos afios de terror desparecieran en tan s6lo un soplo. Muchos
creyeron que la noticia de que Trujillo habia sido ajusticiado era un 'gancho', para poner
en evidencia a sus enemigos. Cuando se convencieron de que sf, de que habia muerto el
tirano, hubo luto, real, pues la ignorancia es ancha, pero tambi6n hubo luto fingido, puesto
que la maquinaria represiva estaba intacta y el miedo persistia. (291)

The fear that seemed to paralyze some members of the Political Group is understandable for

Joaqufn Balaguer notes that, "Trujillo no s6lo sojuzg6 la voluntad, sino el pensamiento mismo de

sus ciudadanos. La vida national, durante mis de 30 afios, fluctia totalmente en tomo a su

nombre y obedece a las directrices de su caricter absorbente" (73-4). Also adding to the fear

was the presence of Trujillo's son, Ramfis. The day after the assassination, he arrived from Paris

by charter flight and assumed control of the country. In the days following the assassination,

Time reports, "1,000 suspected opponents of the regime were rounded up." (End of the Dictator).

On Nov. 18, 1961, the captured assassins were killed, execution style. The following day,

Trujillo's immediate family was expelled from the country for life. (Frank Moya Pons 382).

While Dominicans were surprised by Trujillo's death, it did not come as a surprise to the

United States, which for 30 years had been supportive of the dictator. Six months before

Trujillo's assassination, The Nation reports:









The United States hovers over the Dominican Republic these days, \w iling, eagerly for a
reward. The reasoning is simple: Everyone sees that the regime of Generalissimo Rafael
Leonidas Trujillo Molina is tottering; everyone knows the State Department nudged it a
bit: surely, after the crash, the new regime will embrace the nudger. (Stanley Meisler)

After Trujillo's death, Dominicans democratically elected Juan Bosch, who had been a strong

critic of Trujillo and had been the leader of Dominican opposition in exile. Founder of both the

Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) in 1939 and the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) in

1973, he did not embrace the United States. Requena had been hopeful that the United States

would

The texts analyzed in this chapter, Cementerio sin cruces: novela del martirio de la

Repdblica Dominicana bajo la rapaz tiranfa de Trujillo (1949), by Dominican author Andrds

Requena (1908-1952) and La Fiesta del Chivo (2000), by the well-know Peruvian author Mario

Vargas Llosa (1936) provide a general view of the Trujillo regime. Silvio Torres-Saillant notes

that Requena was part of the Dominican diaspora living in the United States in the first half of

the 20th century and included authors such as Pedro Henrfquez Ureiia, Camila Henrfquez Ureiia,

and Manuel Florentino Cestero (29). Although it was written in the United States, for the

purposes of this study, Cementerio sin cruces, is included as providing an inside view of the

Dominican Republic because Requena writes from memory. Dominican literary critics such as

Frank Moya Pons (Bibliografia de la Literatura Dominicana) andJoaqufn Balaguer have also

included the novel in studies on Dominican literature. As an active member of the Trujillo

regime, Requena was in a position to provide first hand knowledge and insight. In this respect,

he is unlike Julia Alvarez and Edwidge Danticat, who also live and write in the United States and

who, in the works analyzed earlier in this study, In the Time of the Butterflies (1995) and The

Farming of Bones (1998) respectively, narrate events they did not directly experience.









Published 51 years apart, Cementerio sin cruces and La Fiesta del Chivo, seek, albeit

through very different means, to dismantle the mythology surrounding Trujillo's regime and

illustrate the effect of the era of Trujillo on the Dominican people. Additionally, La Fiesta del

Chivo, written almost 40 years after the death of the dictator, provides the reader insight into the

frame of mind of the group of men who assassinated Trujillo. Like the authors previously

analyzed in this study, both Requena and Vargas Llosa rewrite and subvert official history while

giving voice to marginal groups that have been silenced or forgotten.

Both Cementerio sin cruces and La Fiesta del Chivo can be classified as political novels.

Joseph L. Blotner describes the political novel as, "a book which directly describes, interprets, or

analyzes political phenomena" (2). Yet, a novel can be both political and historical. Seymour

Menton in his study of what he calls Latin America's new historical novel, defines it as, "[... ]

novels whose action takes place completely (in some cases, predominantly) in the past -

arbitrarily defined here as a past not directly experienced by the author" (16).26 Thus, a novel

based on political events experienced by the author would be a political but not a historical

novel. Requena directly experienced the era of Trujillo and therefore Cementerio sin cruces, can

be considered a political novel, but not a historical novel based on the previously given

definition. Alternatively, Vargas Llosa, born in Peru in 1936 lived during the era of Trujillo, but

did not directly experience the event. Therefore, La Fiesta del Chivo, published 39 years after

the death of Trujillo, is both a political and historical novel. It should be mentioned that Vargas

Llosa would disagree with this classification of his work. In an interview with Raymond L.

Williams the Peruvian author mentions:

Recab6 asi un material muy rico a partir del cual escribf una novela que no es un libro de
historic disfrazado, que no es un reportaje disimulado, sino eso, una novela, una historic

26 Because Requena uses ellipses often, I have placed my ellipses in brackets to distinguish between the two.


134









donde hay mis invenci6n que memorial y en la que incluso los personajes y los hechos
hist6ricos estin tratados con la libertad con que un novelist describe sus histories. (90)

In another interview he reiterates, La Fiesta del Chivo, "[. .] no es una novela hist6rica. Si se

hiciera una estadistica, hay much mis invenci6n que historic .. ." ("Cuando Vargas Llosa mat6

al chivo [sic]"). However, Vargas Llosa does believe that novel, though fictional, represents the

'human truth' of the dictatorship" (Nesmith).

Although these narratives recreate the era of Trujillo and narrate the experience of living in

the Dominican Republic during the era of Trujillo, they are not dictator novels as the dictator is

not a main character in either text. However, since his presence is strongly felt and the novels

narrate the experience of living under extreme oppression, both narratives can be classified as

novels of dictatorship. Carlos Pacheco notes that the use of literature as a means to fight tyranny

began in Latin America with the Romantic literary movement. He explains:

El espiritu romintico, [. .] justiciero, liberal, citadino, europeista, se muestra incapaz de
soportar en silencio la opresi6n tirinica. [. .] La oposici6n al tirano serd frontal e
irreducible. Y la literature vendri a ser un arma en este combat a muerte. (55)

Cementerio sin cruces is the only text in this study that was written and published during the

trujillato and is an example of literature as means to confront tyranny.27 The narrative brazenly

offers a harsh critique of Trujillo, while the dictator is still in power. As Franklin Guti6rrez, et

al. note, Requena "ridiculiza y caricaturiza al dictador" (13). This criticism would lead to the

author's death on the October 2, 1952 in New York City.28 That Trujillo would order killings

within the United States without negative consequence is telling of the U.S. support he enjoyed.

As Alan Block notes:


27 The era of Trujillo (1930-1961) is also known as the 'trujillato'.

28 According to the New York Times article "50 Attend Funeral of Trujillo Enemy." (7 Oct. 1952) the FBI had been
aware that Trujillo had placed a bounty on Requena's head but had done nothing to stop it claiming that they did not
have jurisdiction.










[.. .] carrying out a political assassination in a country like the United States "requires
precision, care, and a mix of foreign and domestic operatives. It is also important to be
able to manipulate congressional and public opinion. (186)

The foreign killings also illustrates the extreme to which Trujillo went to eliminate anyone he

considered an enemy. Sadly Requena's death highlights the dangers of fighting tyranny, even if

the weapon of choice is a fictional narrative.29

For several reasons, these narratives are emotionally challenging for the reader. Both

narratives dedicate many pages to the detailed description of the torture and subsequent death

inflicted on political prisoners during the Trujillo era. A large portion of La Fiesta del Chivo

describes the fate of the captured conspirators. In particular, the description of the torture

General Roman endured is unimaginable, brutal, and gut wrenching to the point that the reader is

relieved when he is finally and mercifully killed. The torture is so horrific that the Vargas Llosa

had to minimize it so as not to shock the reader into incredulity. He explains in an interview

that:

Lo pas6 muy mal, fueron muy dificiles de escribir, pero no podfa soslayarlos. He tenido
incluso que suavizar el material con el que contaba, porque la desmesura de la violencia lo
hacia inverosimil. La represi6n y la tortura de la Era Trujillo llegaron a unos extremes de
v6rtigo, que no son creibles: un caso tfpico de c6mo la realidad supera a la ficci6n
("Cuando Vargas Llosa mat6 al chivo [sic]")







29 Requena was not the only person murdered by Trujillo's men outside of the Dominican Republic. Howard
Wiarda documented, "The long tentacles of the Trujillo regime covered most of Central America, the Caribbean,
and the United States and reached out to include Dominican exiles, other Latin American, opponents, and United
States citizens. Mauricio Baez, a prominent Dominican labor leader who was forced into exile, 'disappeared' in
Havana in 1950. Andres Requena, novelist and editor of an anti-Trujillo newspaper, was shot in New York in 1951.
Eduardo Col6n y Piris, a Puerto Rican youth who has spoken disrespectfully of Trujillo while touring the Dominican
Republic, vanished and was never heard from again. Charles R. Barnes, and Episcopalian clergyman, was found
dead in the Dominican Republic after smuggling accounts of the 1937 Haitian massacre out of the country ... Jesus
de Galindez ... disappeared from New York in 1956 and the suicide of a pilot who worked for Trujillo" (58).









Rewriting this part of history proved to be challenging for the author. In interview with Tulio

Demicheli Vargas Llosa states that this book, "es uno de los que mis me ha costado escribir en

mi vida [...]".

Writing to Correct a Wrong: Andres Requena

Andr6s Requena differs from the previous Dominican authors analyzed in this study, in

that he is not well known in his own country. Requena wrote three novels; Los enemigos de la

tierra (1936), Camino de fuego (1941) and Cementerio sin cruces. He also authored: Romancero

heroico del generalisimo (1937), a book of essays titled Un paladin de la democracia: el

generalisimo Truiillo Molina (1938), and a book of poetry titled Romance de Puerto Truiillo

(1940). Requena was not an author by profession. At the time of his death, the New York Times

notes that he had been working as a tailor ("50 Attend Funeral of Trujillo Enemy"). Like many

Dominicans, Requena had been a supporter of Trujillo and had held several political positions

within his regime. After his appointment to the Dominican embassy in Chile, Requena became

disenfranchised with the Trujillo regime. He resigned his post and fled to Cuba and then to the

United States. In 1944, he joined the U.S. Army and served for two years. It is during this time

that he becomes a U.S. citizen. Like Jos6 Martf, who founded the newspaper title Patria (1892),

Requena also founded the newspaper title Patria (1946) in New York City. Both newspapers

advocated freedom for the founders' respective homeland: the first Cuba's independence from

Spain, the latter the Dominican Republic's freedom from tyranny. Requena's Patria is harshly

critical of Trujillo and serves as a prelude to the novel Cementerio sin cruces (1949) published in

Mexico just 3 years after the newspaper's founding. The novel offers an inside view into









Trujillo's regime and is a harsh critique of Trujillo. This criticism would lead to his death on the

October 2, 1952 in New York City.30

Very little has been published about Requena. Furthermore, some of what has been

published contains erroneous information. For example in the introduction to the 2001 edition of

Cementerio sin cruces, Di6genes C6spedes writes that Requena was killed in March of 1952

(11). Official reports indicate that he was murdered in October. Furthermore, Requena was born

in 1908, not 1922 as C6spedes mentions (12). He is not alone in his confusion. Bemardo Vega

in Almoina, Galfndez (2001) mentions that Requena was killed, "en septiembre de 1952" (62-3).

It is worth noting that Requena is absent from Joaquin Balaguer's Historia de la literature

dominicana published in 1955 while Trujillo was alive. However, Requena does appear in

Balaguer's memoir titled Memorias de un cortesano (1988) and published more than 20 years

after the death of the tyrant. The author describes Requena as a novelista y politico" (445). He

also lists the titles of Requena's works and the date, but not the cause, of his untimely death

(445).

Prior to the 2001 edition of Cementerio sin cruces published by the Comisi6n Permanente

de la Feria del Libro in Santo Domingo, the novel was not easily found in the Dominican

Republic. C6spedes explains "[h]oy entregamos a los lectores quienes duele nuestra literature,

esta obra que s6lo figure de nombre en las histories literarias, sin que el grueso de los

dominicanos y dominicanas la hayan leido" (15). The literary critic Giovanni Di Pietro mentions

that it took him some time to find a copy of the 1949 edition of Cementerio sin cruces published

in Mexico. In an essay dated 1999 he explains, "[t]odavia hoy, despu6s de 35 afios del





30 The author was shot to death at 10 p.m. in the doorway of an apartment building in lower Manhattlan.









ajusticiamiento del tirano, parece que se la consider para asi decirlo una 'novela non grata"'

(161).

Dictators and Cowards

According to Di Pietro, the 1949 edition includes a "Nota del autor" which is absent from

the 2001 edition published in Santo Domingo.31 He quotes Requena who explains his reasons

for writing the novel. He tells his reader that within him, "late el coraz6n de un hombre que se

equivoc6 y que despu6s, con el sacrifice del exilio, trat6 desesperadamente de enmendar su

error" (166). Requena feels that his support of Trujillo was a mistake and Cementerio sin cruces

is his way of absolving the guilt he feels for having support the tyrant. He further believes that

continued support of the tyrant would be cowardly and explains to reader:

Mas pienso que, equivocarse con la excusa de tal inexperiencia, puede acaso ser
perdonable, pero continuar apoyando a tal sitrapa, cuando se conocen sus reales 'hazafias',
y los afios y la raz6n nos hacen imperative de un examen de conciencia, es algo que no
tiene nombre por lo cobarde y servil. (167)

He describes Trujillo's supporters as cowards, describing one of Trujillo's generals as, "tan

cobarde como corpulento [... .]" (191). In addition to the author's note, Requena mentions

cowardice in the dedication of Cementerio sin cruces where he writes:

A lajuventud que en el interior del pais despert6 la conciencia popular con sus actos de
heroico civismo en 1946-19477, y que hoy, con desacostumbrado valor y antes que
claudicar se gana la vida vendiendo carb6n y ,<>, frente a la aterrada
admiraci6n de una sociedad acobardada .... (180) 32

The author dedicates the book to Dominicans, who much like himself, are brave enough to stand

up to the dictator. Vargas Llosa also mentions cowardice in an interview with the Spanish

newspaper, El Pais. When asked if people suffering from tyranny are, in some way, responsible


31 As of the time of this writing, I have been unable to obtain a copy of the 1949 edition.

32 Camino de fuego and Cementerio sin cruces were published together in the same edition. The first page of
Cementerio sin cruces is page 173.









for their situation he responds, "Creo que sf. Con escasas excepciones hay siempre una

responsabilidad en los pueblos que por ingenuidad, confusion y a veces cobardia, aceptan las

dictaduras" ("Desarrollo integro del foro con Vargas Llosa".) In other words, Dominican's

acceptance of Trujillo whether through action or inaction, to a certain extent, allows them to be

held responsible for his regime. This idea completely overlooks the fact that Trujillo was in

power with the support of the United States. As Requena explains:

Y lo peor de todo era que sus labios tenfan que permanecer cerrados porque protestar era
considerado como un acto de violencia contra los intereses forasteros, de los cuales la
tiranfa era armado vigilante que defendia a sangre y fuego de las pretensiones de los
exasperados esclavos nativos. (224)

Furthermore, many Dominicans believed that removing Trujillo from power would result in

another U.S. invasion.33 Requena's willingness to speak out against the dictator, knowing it may

cost him his life, reveals both his bravery and his unwillingness to show support, by any means,

for Trujillo.

Unable to accept the conditions under which Dominicans are living and feeling guilty for

his participation in Trujillo's regime, Requena in Cementerio sin cruces provides testimony in

hopes that will precipitate change. He notes in the text:

Ahora, sin embargo, la fortaleza era el mejor simbolo de la forma terrible en que se
ejecutaban las persecuciones political. Detris de sus gruesos barrotes, y frente al mar
Caribe sobre cuyas olas creci6 la nifiez del continent nuevo, sufrfan hombres y mujeres
indignidades en que a veces la muerte misma era deseada como una liberaci6n. iY lo
mejor serfa ir a ver y a ofr las quejas de esas gentes, por cuya suerte parece que el mundo
esti ciego y sordo! (309)

This need to expose the truth behind the Trujillo regime was more important to him than his own

life. Requena was undoubtedly aware that Cementerio sin cruces could cost him his life and that

Trujillo was unlikely to forgive such an act of defiance, especially from someone who had


3History would prove Dominicans correct. In 1965, the United States, fearful of another Cuba, invaded the country
and placed Trujillo's figurehead president Balaguer in power. (Skidmore and Smith)









previously supported his regime. He also knew of Trujillo's ability and willingness to kill in the

United States. In the same novel that cost him his life, he mentions the murder of Sergio

Bencosme by Trujillo's men in New York City (221). He also notes "[e]n otras ocasiones, la

mano del tirano persigui6 sin piedad a exilados en diversas parties del mundo, asesinando a sus

enemigos [.. .]" (222). In the final pages of the narrative a government official warns a family

leaving the country. He tells them ".. .Y, sin rodeos, les advirti6 que, donde quiera que se

encontrase, debfan abstenerse de hablar mal del gobiemo, 'porque el brazo de Trujillo tenia

medios para llegar a todas parties' .. ." (378). Although Requena understands the danger he is

placing himself in, he believes that "alguien debfa arriesgarse para tratar de cambiar el curso

siniestro de la suerte dominicana [.. .]" (319). In addition to placing himself in danger

Requena's family was also placed in jeopardy. He explains, "A las families de los lideres en el

exilio se les maltrataba si salian a la calle, y bis bienes eran confiscados y campos y fincas

incendiadas y destruidas" (356).

Requena's Cry for Help: Cementerio sin cruces

Cementerio sin cruces recreates a recently lived event and describes horrors and

humiliations suffered by Dominicans during the first 19 years of Trujillo's dictatorship. He

dedicates the novel to Dominicans who have lost their lives fighting against the dictator. The

narrative consists of two parts, with only a few months separating the each. The first part begins

with the funeral Rafael Moreno, a poet, who after being falsely accused of insulting an

Archbishop, was shot to death by Trujillo's henchmen. Requena describes Moreno's death, "Le

dieron como cinco balazos, a quemarropa, mientras el pobre muchacho iba paseando con un libro

debajo del brazo .. ." (194). The violent death stands in stark contrast to Moreno's personality.

The description of his death also illustrates the complete absence of a judicial system and the

spineless methods used by Trujillo's police force.









In response to the unjust and cowardly killing of the poet, Dominicans are defiant. Usually

people did not attend the funerals of Trujillo's victims for fear of being associated with anyone

who was an enemy of Trujillo. As the narrator explains, "En tales casos, lo mejor era no hablar

much del asunto, y evitar que le vieran a uno cerca del velorio" (182). However, many

Dominicans bravely and disobediently attended the poet's funeral. One the first page of the

narrative Requena writes, "Frente a la casa de madera del ancho y descuidado Callej6n Ozama,

se iban congregando visitantes en ndmero desacostumbrado para la modestia de quien habia sido

muerto a tiros hacia poco mis de cuatro horas" (181). Attendance of the wake was a rebellious

act. He explains "[a]quello era ya un abierta manifestaci6n contra el gobierno [. .] porque era

una osadfa muy grande el manifestar cualquier sentimiento de piedad hacia alguna de sus

victims" (194-5). Requena, in beginning the novel with an open act of defiance against the

government, illustrates that the dictator does not have total control and that Dominicans are

willing to defy him. Additionally, the printing press owned by Moreno's godfather is also

falsely accused of printing anti-Trujillo propaganda. The text mentions:

[e]l servicio secret sabe que en este aparato estan sacando propaganda contra el gobierno,
y especialmente insultos contra el mismo president y su familia... Es initil que siga
negando, porque todos ustedes estan embarrados .... (249)

Trujillo's lack of control is seen in his regime's inability to stop the anonymous letters criticizing

the Archbishop from reaching him and in its inability to stop anti-Trujillo pamphlets from being

printed and distributed throughout the capital. Trujillo inability to control Dominicans is also

evidenced by "las declaraciones de los lideres en el exilio pasaban de boca en boca por todo el

pafs, y el gobiemo nada podfa hacer para callar a la gente" (340).

While Dominicans attendance of the wake was courageous, Requena also describes how

even brave Dominicans can be intimidated. He describes, "[.. .] dos compafieros llamados Jos6

Robles y Pepe Lira, ambos ya muy entrados en aios, entraron al ventorillo. Venfan palidos y









nerviosos. A Jos6 Robles que no era hombre cobarde, le temblaba la voz [.. .]" (232). The idea

is repeated again in his description of Miguel Perdomo, who "no era hombre cobarde, pero se

daba cuenta de que al correr de las horas se iba asustando como pocas veces habia sentido temor

en su vida" (245). Even the dictator's brother Satin is afraid of his brother (261). Fear on a

national level can be seen in the treatment of Moreno's family, who is also affected by the false

accusation. His godfather sees a sharp drop in customers at his printing business. The narrator

describes:

Mgs tarde, la misma viuda Moreno le aconsej6 que se abstuviera por un tiempo de
visitarla, pues temia que ello pudiese perjudicarle.

Pronto don Pedro se dio cuenta de que afectaba al negocio de su imprenta tal actitud suya,
cuando viejos clients le confesaron que era debido al rumor de que 61 estaba ayudando a
la madre de alguien que habia sido asesinado por el gobiemo, el que ellos le retiraran
trabajos que ya habian sido ordenados. Porque nadie querfa ganarse, ni indirectamente, la
mala voluntad del dictador ayudando a una persona que osaba no tener en cuenta su
enemistad. (197)

Requena later describes that the fear of association with anti-Trujillistas the is known to

Dominicans as "la lepra' (230). However, cowardice is not limited to the victims of Trujillo's

regime and even the dictator is ashamed of his cowardice. Requena mentions after beating "un

viejo indefenso" the dictator "se avergonz6 de su cobardia, especialmente cuando estaba en

visperas de recibir una medalla de oro que le designaba como el <> ..

." (289).

While perhaps not evident in Cementerio sin cruces, Requena had some talent as a writer.

Manuel Rueda observes that Requena:

[.. .] quiso ser escritor y casi lo logra. Talento y condiciones para la tarea no le faltaron,
pero si preparaci6n, pudiendo decirse (si es possible establecer tales diferencias) que fue
mis novelist que escritor. (132)

By all accounts his best work was his first novel Los enemigos de la Tierra which tells the story

of a peasant who moves to the city. Luis Alberto Sanchez notes that:









Andr6s Requena,... sobresale entire todos los contemporaneos de su patria. Tanto en Los
enemigos de la Tierra ... como en Cibao (que lef el manuscrito, hacia 1942) ... Requena
se muestra como un vigoroso narrador .... (246)

In contrast with Los enemigos de la Tierra, published while Requena living in the Dominican

Republic and still a supporter of Trujillo, Cementerio sin cruces was written with the sole

intention exposing the abuses of the regime and ousting Trujillo from power. Carlos Pacheco

observes:

Se describe para derrocar al tirano, para despertar, acrecentar y galvanizar una fuerza de
oposici6n contra 61. La novela es concebida y utilizada como un arma political e ideol6gica
y su autor result obviamente afectado por la violencia represiva del regimen. (56)

Sanchez notes the text is a "[t]remendo alegato, disfrazado de novela" (432). However,

Requena's talent and narrative ability, evident in his first novel, is absent from Cementerio sin

cruces leaving his ideology exposed as seen in the following quote.

Estos son pueblos pobres, y la political de aquel gran pafs esta regida por hombres que
estan sentados en tronos de oro, de petr6leo y de acero. Nuestras naciones tienen que
comenzar por respetarse ellas mismas, como, en cierto sentido, M6xico y la Argentina,
para ser respetadas. Aquf tienen voz principal los inversionistas de los ingenios, y s6lo
exigen que haya un hombre fuerte que les garantice s u dinero. No importa que sea u n
asesino o un malhechor. La democracia la vive el hombre humilde del pueblo yanqui, que
esta de nuestra parte, pero ellos no llegan a ministros de Estado .. Por eso es que
Norteam6rica no comprende por qu6 desconffan tanto de ella en densos sectors de la
Am6rica nuestra, y siempre sera asf, mientras que sus diplomaticos tratan de vender por el
mundo la palabra democracia con el charlatanismo e insinceridad con que van sus
vendedores ambulantes de casa en casa ofreciendo utensilios de cocina .... (366)

Missing is the 'disfrazado' part mentioned by Sanchez. In other words, the disguise needed for it

to succeed as art, in this case a novel, is absent. Jorge Castellanos and Miguel A. Martfnez

explain:

Al novelist panfletario lo mueve un prop6sito extra-literario: mas que artist se consider
un combatiente, cuya obra no tiene finalidad est6tica, sino que es un instrument de lucha
contra la tiranfa. [. .] El product final se parece mas a un libelo inflamado que una
novela. (80)


144









Sanch6z also notes the pamphlet quality present in the text and observes, "Amarga y fuerte, la

obra de Requena tiene mis de panfleto que de novela, pese a que su maestrfa en el g6nero no

permit ninguna flaqueza en el relato" (433). Requena's strong dislike of Trujillo results in a

narrative that is more propaganda than political novel. Blotner notes that the political novel

"has described and interpreted human experience, selectively taking the facts of existence and

imposing order and form upon them in an esthetic pattern to make them meaningful" (1). The

difference between literature and propaganda is the author's ability combine ideology with form.

Cementerio sin cruces is missing form. Additionally, according to Manuel Rueda, what is

missing from Cementerio sin cruces is "la matizaci6n psicol6gica, la profundizaci6n de las ideas

y la mano del escritor avezado que conoce el secret de las palabras y que hace que cualquier

otro element quede supeditado a ellas" (132). When ideology becomes more important than

form, literature becomes propaganda. As Raymond Gonzales explains, "The successful political

novelist is the one who selects the appropriate style to express the content in as close a balance

between form and theme as he can achieve" (110). Requena's inability to provide form is

evidenced in the following quote that reads more like a description:

Cuando se propalaba que a alguna familiar le habia caido <, era porque se estaba en
piblica desgracia gubernamental, y si miembros del ej6rcito intervenfan al hacer un
registro, entonces tal desgracia era total y significaba abierta persecuci6n por estar bajo la
terrible sospecha de algin crime politico. Las victims quedaban en tal caso,
desamparadas de toda ayuda de familiares y amigos. Los mismos abogados no se atrevian
a inquirir siquiera por su suerte en forma t6cnicamente judicial, porque con roda
probabilidad el jurista intruso irfa a hacerle compafifa a la carcel o a la tumba.

Si la acci6n de la llamadajusticia trujillista se tomaba entonces tiempo en materializar su
persecuci6n en nombre de la ley, o por voluntad direct del tirano, < mantenfa
constantemente el aislamiento sobre la victima. En calls y plazas le era negado el saludo
por los amigos mis fntimos, y su casa o negocio, no eran visitados por client o persona
alguna, temeroso de contagiarse en la desgracia sin remedio. (198)









Ultimately Cementerio sin cruces fails to achieve this balance between form and ideology and

according to Fernando Valerio Holguin many Dominicans consider it, "una novela fallida"

(Presencia de Trujillo 161).

Cementerio sin cruces: Providing testimony

Despite its narrative shortcomings as a novel, the text does succeed as a fictional

testimonial. Di Pietro explains that the narrative is a:

[. .] testimonio de la lucha antitrujillista. Porque, para decir verdad, la present novela no
posee casi nada que la recomendarfa en t6rminos estrictamente novelisticos, pues la trama,
los personajes, las situaciones, el mismo texto, etc., se quedan todos cortos al respect [..
.] Donde la novela funciona, es en su denuncia de lo que Requena querfa denunciar con
ella, o sea, la dictadura de Trujillo. (162-4)

Furthermore, Requena's shortcomings in narrative ability do not negate its content or message.

As Carlos Esteban Deive notes, "Requena no es un narrador de altos vuelos, pero describe bien y,

sobre todo, importa a los lectores dominicanos por lo que cuenta" (10).

Cementerio sin cruces is much more than a simple criticism of Trujillo; it is a call for

justice as seen in the dedication of the text. The author dedicates his work "[a] los miles de

dominicanos asesinados por Trujillo, y cuyas muertes tiene que ser cobradas, inexorablemente".

Requena differs from the other Dominican authors previously studied in that the he wrote

Cementerio sin cruces from a position of exile, although self-imposed, and his audience was not

Dominican. Ana Gallego Ciufias notes that the narrative was a "'ic\l sin destino" since books

criticizing Trujillo were banned from the country (45). However, Estrella Betances de Pujadas

maintains that the ban did not prevent Dominicans from reading the novel as Dominicans

traveling outside of the country would read the text (66). Requena had little need to expose

Dominicans to a reality they were experiencing and knew all too well. Thus, the novel written

for non-Dominicans or Dominicans living in exile, was a plea to the international community for

help. However, it is not a plea for himself; he was safely in the United States and had already









obtained U.S. citizenship. Requena's concern was for Dominicans still living in the country

under conditions he believes:

[.. .] no tienen antecedentes en la revoluciones criollas este largo e interminable
sufrimiento de un pueblo en cuya opresi6n se han empleado los iltimos m6todos de
aniquilamiento y opresi6n que las mis diab6licas tiranfas han podido inventor para
perpetrarse en el poder a trav6s de los tiempos. (310)

Requena's cry for help, poorly disguised as novel, would go unanswered until 1961 when a

group of men who like Requena had been supporters of Trujillo, assassinate him.

Pablo Neruda in an introduction to La tragedia dominicana (1946), which like Cementerio

sin cruces was during the Trujillo era and seeks to expose the horrors of the regime, writes:

Todos o casi todos protegen hechos como la siniestra pandilla nazi argentina, la
servidumbre de Bolivia entregada a algunos audaces aventureros fascistas, y cuando se
habla de atacar las cuevas de la tiranfa, todo se vuelve hip6crita sustentaci6n de principios
que no vienen a cuento, todo se vuelve papeleo y excusas, y el rostro complete de la
libertad americana continda atravesado por estas siniestras cicatrices. Nadie intervene.
Los abrazos contindan, y las condecoraciones del muladar se ostentan en el banquet de las
naciones libres. Mientras tanto los muertos, los martirizados, los encarcelados, los
desterrados de la Repdblica Dominicana hacen preguntas mortales a toda nuestra America,
y estas preguntas deben, alguna vez, ser contestadas. (vi-vii)

Cementerio sin cruces highlights the hypocrisy Neruda mentions and makes it difficult to use

ignorance as an excuse for inaction.

An Outsider Looks In: Mario Vargas Llosa

Like Requena, Vargas Llosa does not write fiction merely to entertain the reader. He has

repeatedly mentioned that literature should serve another purpose and believes:

el efecto politico mis visible de la literature es el despertar en nosotros una conciencia
respect de las deficiencies del mundo que nos rodea para satisfacer nuestras expectativas,
nuestras ambiciones, nuestros deseos, y eso es politico, esa es una manera de former
ciudadanos alertas y crfticos sobre lo que ocurre en rededor. (Literatura v political 53)

Vargas Llosa also thinks ". .. la literature es un manera de superar a los Trujillo, al horror."

(Cuando Vargas Llosa mat6 al chivo [sic]"). In 1975 Vargas Llosa spent 8 months in the









Dominican Republic. It is during this time that he got the idea for La Fiesta del Chivo.34 The

novel, consisting of several interlocking stories, is largely told in the third person and from three

main points of view; Urania Cabral's, Trujillo's and the seven men who killed Trujillo. It

examines the thoughts and lives of important politicians revealing their insecurities and fears:

Trujillo, the figure head president Joaquin Balaguer, intelligence chief Johnny Abbes Garcia, and

each of Trujillo's killers. The narrative structure is complex prompting readers to often ask

Vargas Llosa who is the 'td' the narrators refer to in the text, as it is not immediately obvious.

He explains it is the narrators speaking to him or herself using the pronoun "tW" (Literatura y

political 92). In other words, the reader experiences the narrator speaking to him or herself.

Adding the complexity, the novel has many narrative voices and different narrators sometimes

describe the same event. The polyphonic narrative challenges the monologic power of Trujillo's

regime and it is in this way that the narrative is subversive of power. Adding to the complexity,

the chapters are not in chronological order and the narrative moves back and forth in time.

The commercial success of La Fiesta del Chivo in the Dominican Republic reveals that

Dominicans are interested in reading about the era of Trujillo. The Dominican editorial

company Editora Taller underestimated interest in the subject. The first edition of 2,000 rapidly

sold out and a second edition of 20,000 was printed. The book sold quickly 12,000 copies, a

recordd national" (Manuel Jim6nez). Despite its commercial success, Dominican reaction to La

Fiesta del Chivo has been mixed. Susan Nesmith notes that Antonio De la Maza's relatives were

unhappy with how he was represented in the novel, believing that it would confuse younger

generations who didn't live through 'the system that asphyxiated us.'" In an effort to counter




34 The novel was adapted into a theatre production in 2004. It was also made into a movie in 2005. Luis Llosa,
Mario Vargas Llosa's cousin, directed the film.









Vargas Llosa's representation, the family placed an advertisement in the newspaper Hoy.

Bernardo Vega in an interview with Nesmith explains that:

The families are not happy with the book because he treats them as humans who get drunk
and cheat on their wives and have human weaknesses, rather than as the heroes we read
about in history books.

The families of the conspirators were not the only upset Dominicans. Ram6n Font Bernard,

director of the Dominican National Archive where Vargas Llosa did extensive research for the

novel, describes it as a: "paquete de chismograffa y alcantarilla de inmundicias" (Juan Jesis

Azndrez). Furthermore, when Vargas Llosa visited the Dominican Republic to promote his

book he was:

protegido por un cuerpo de seguridad privado, y dotaciones policiales se estacionaron en
los access del hotel o los lugares visitados. El temor a una agresi6n no es gratuito [. .] se
dispuso la contracci6n de matones para darle tal paliza 'para que no pudiera volver a
escribir jamss. (Azndrez)

Carlos Francisco Elias, a literary critic, in an interview explains the negative reaction

Dominicans had to the La Fiesta del Chivo, "The iron curtain that we have covered ourselves

with for decades has been broken" (Nesmith). Nesmith also notes thishs book has left many in

this Caribbean nation of 8 million people feeling a little exposed, a little embarrassed." Some of

the embarrassment comes from the questions La Fiesta del Chivo has generated. Azndrez writes:

Jos6 Israel Cuello, 'La obra esti siendo lefda masivamente por los j6venes, generando en
ellos preguntas a sus padres, a sus abuelos o a sus bisabuelos; entire ellas: iD6nde estabas
tu?'

La mayorfa estaban con el d6spota, con el duefio absolute del Estado ... quien, de grado
o fuerza, comprometi6 a toda una generaci6n.

By providing the reader access to the character's thoughts, La Fiesta del Chivo attempts to

answer the question, "iD6nde estabas td?". To this end, Vargas Llosa does not place the Trujillo

era in context with other world leaders and events. Valerio Holgufn observes:









En esta novela, la dictadura de Trujillo queda totalmente excluida del context de las
dictaduras latinoamericanas y del rol hegem6nico de los Estados Unidos en cuanto a la
creaci6n y sostenimiento de dichas dictaduras. (Presencia de Trujillo 212)

In other words, the novel looks inward at the psychological aspects of tyranny, not outward

toward the external factors, such as U.S. imperialism, that facilitated it.

Re-imagining the Dominican Republic during the era of Trujillo

Few dictators have ruled as harshly as Trujillo. According to Franklin Knight, "Trujillo

completely dominated the state in every way, providing a modicum of social and economic

reforms at the expense of human and political rights" (224). The journalist Herbert Matthews

makes a similar observation. He writes in The New York Times:

Every individual, including those in the family, is subject to the Generalissimo's every
whim. He can and does make and break men overnight, whether they are foreign
ministers, army generals or hotel chefs ... no one can deny that he has rule with a
thoroughness unsurpassed by any other totalitarian regime. ("Dominicans Thrive at Cost of
Liberty")

The effect of living under such oppression is narrated in Cementerio sin cruces where Requena

repeatedly compares the country to a prison. He describes Santo Domingo as, "una larga madeja

de celdas de un inmensa prisi6n, la que no se sabe donde comenzaba ni donde iba a terminar. .."

(234). He also describes his country as a "pafs amado pero ahora convertido en una enorme

prisi6n colectiva" (379). The Dominican Republic is also often compared to a concentration

camp. The text states that dictatorship has converted the country into an, "... enorme campo de

concentraci6n" (320). It later reiterates, Campoo de concentraci6n en que 61 tiene convertida la

republica" (353). Requena is not the only one to make this observation. Pericles Franco Ornes,

a well-known anti-Trujillista also makes the same comparison in his work titled La tragedia

dominicana (1946), published while Trujillo was in power. Franco Ornes states, "La Repdblica

Dominicana es una inmensa circel, un vasto campo de concentraci6n" (13). The title

Cementerio sin cruces appears several times in the narrative. Requena writes that, "todas las









ciudades dominicanas, eran un largo, ancho y desolado cementerio sin cruces. ." (308). This

comparison is also made by Jesds de Galfndez who in his doctoral dissertation titled La era de

Trujillo (1956) describes, "En apariencia ese orden es perfect; pero es el orden de los

cementerios" (298).

Considering the oppression Dominicans were living under, it is not surprising that

Cementerio sin cruces portrays a country that is, to a certain extent, hopeless. The feeling of

resignation is evident in Requena's portrayal of Ram6n Espinosa who works in a print shop. He

writes:

Para Ram6n Espinosa aquel era otro dia mis en su dura lucha por la vida. Se levantaba
bajo el mon6tono fatalismo que era comdn en los trabajadores del pafs. Como todos los
demis, 61 tenia la impresi6n de que rodaba en un circulo vicioso, del cual era impossible
fugarse. (223)

Understandably, the narrator notes that Dominicans were "aterrado por veinte afios de feroz

tiranfa" (182). During that time they lived in what the narrator describes as a "podrido

ambiente" (199). He also informs the reader that the years under Trujillo's rule have been "aiios

terrible" (198). Adding to the sense of hopelessness, Dominicans have come to the realization,

"al pasar los afios Trujillo parecia estar dispuesto a seguir, a sangre y fuego, con las riendas del

poder entire sus garras" (200-1).

Dominicans are not only oppressed in Cementerio sin cruces; they are also, for the most

part, poor. As Requena writes, "La vida cotidiana no es realmente un lecho de rosas para el

noventa y nueve por ciento de los habitantes de la ahora infortunada Repiblica Dominicana"

(221). Food is scarce and people do not have money for clothes. As the narrator describes,

"Aquella vida miserable no parecia tener fin. La ropa convertida en harapos y la comida escasa;

la atenci6n m6dica debfan pedirla como limosna, si no tenfan para el m6dico, que acaso estaba









tan necesitado como ellos mismos ." (224). While people were struggling to buy food, Trujillo's

wealth was growing. Osgood Hardy explains:

Trujillo's enterprises and taxes helped drive up living costs, while the generalisimo's [sic]
personal monopolies including salt, tobacco, employee [sic] insurance, rice, and peanut
oil, the last two prime necessities in the life of the common people enable him to enjoy an
enormous income. (414)

Cementerio sin cruces documents how Trujillo became wealthy at the expense of Dominicans

mentioning, "Impuestos sobre el arroz y otros granos necesarios s6lo alcanzaban para hacer una

comida escasa" (341). Additionally, jobs were scarce. The narrator explains the difficulty

Miguel Perdomo, one of the characters had in finding employment, "[. .] para cada trabajo que

encontr6 con que en la capital habia por lo menos dos hombres listos a desempefiarlo" (245).

While the situation was bad for everyone, women suffered the most. The narrator notes, "para la

mujer y sobre todo para la mujer pobre la existencia es un verdadero infiemo" (257). In

addition to political oppression, women also faced machismo. Requena describes that women,

"[s]i obtienen empleo, tienen que encara el problema del duefio mismo del trabajo, que se cree

con derecho, casi siempre, a poder dormir con ellas, por el solo hecho de dejarlas ganarse unos

cincuenta centavos diaries en su negocio" (257). Women in rural areas also faced an additional

threat, the dictator's brother Satan who, "gozaba lo que casi equivalia a un derecho pernada

sobre la aterrada poblaci6n femenina .. ." (260).

In addition to poverty and oppression, Requena describes the cruelty inflicted on

Dominicans suspected of being against the government. Several of the characters are falsely

accused of printing anti-Trujillo pamphlets. The narrator describes the almost inhuman

condition in which these political prisoners were kept. He describes, "Ni sibanas ni almohadas

se conocian en las celdas en donde encerraban a los enemigos politicos del regimen" (307).









Additionally, Trujillo's direct involvement in the torture of prisoners is described. Requena

writes,

Yo creo que nos han roto todos los huesos del cuerpo... Al pobre Pepe Lira casi lo
mataron a palos ...

Trujillo viene para aci, ahora mismo.

El fue quien nos interrog6 ayer...

LY les pegaron delante de 61 mismo?

-Cuando trajeron a Arroyito, 61, le rompi6 casi todos los dientes, pegindole con una
pistola.... (274)

At a later point a prisoner says, "Trujillo no pudo interrogarnos, cuando vino, porque estdbamos

medio muertos, de tantos golpes ... ." (275). Even more painful than the torture is the feeling of

despair experienced by the former print shop workers who are now prisoners. Requena writes

that they felt, "totalmente desamparados, sin tener a quien recurrir. No podfan invocar la

majestad de lajusticia criolla y menos aun las leyes internacionales [.. .] Porque la ferocidad de

Trujillo estaba por encima de toda esa hueca palabrerfa ... ." (281).

The Dominican Republic portrayed by Requena is a country that is poor, oppressed,

fearful, and hopeless. Interestingly Dominicans are both submissive and subversive. Requena

writes that years of harsh political rule have converted "a nuestro pueblo trabajador en un rebafio

de gente sumisa." (353). However, Dominicans in Cementerio sin cruces are also subversive as

seen in their willingness to attend Moreno's wake. Furthermore, the narrator also explains, "la

gente se escondfa para no tener que doblegarse ante 61, en un saludo ceremonioso y cortesano,

que era obligatorio y cuya desobediencia costaba golpes y circel" (304). He also states that, "El

pueblo estL listo para secundar la revoluci6n, y s6lo un milagro ha de salvar al gobiemo ahora"

(321). However, like Trujillo's assassins, who expected the revolution to occur immediately









upon Trujillo's death, Requena underestimates the Trujillo regime. The revolution he mentions

would take years to occur.

In contrast with Cementerio sin cruces, where the reader learns how average Dominicans

viewed their country, La Fiesta del Chivo allows the reader to see the Dominican Republic

through the eyes of Trujillo. Whereas Cementerio sin cruces, portrays a poor country, Trujillo in

La Fiesta del Chivo believes that he has converted the country into "un pafs modern y pr6spero"

(105). He also resentful because Dominicans ungrateful and not appreciative of all he has done,

citing as en example "la d6cil Lina Lovat6n [. .] a la a que sacrifice tambi6n por este pafs

malagradecido" (157). He also believes that Balaguer is ungrateful. He tells him:

[n]o me diga que no sabe c6mo se consigue la paz. Con cuinto sacrificio y cuinta sangre.
Agradezca que yo le permit mirar al otro lado dedicarse a lo bueno, mientras yo, Abbes,
el teniente Pefia Rivera y otros tenfamos tranquilo al pafs para que usted escribiera sus
poemas y sus discursos. Estoy seguro que su aguda inteligencia me entiende de sobra.
(304)

In an internal dialogue, Trujillo describes the Dominican Republic as a:

[n]aci6n de malagradecidos, cobardes y traidores. Porque para sacarlo del atraso, el caos,
la ignorancia y la barbarie, se habia tenido de sangre muchas veces. ,Se lo agradecerfan en
el future estos pendejos? (97)

At another point talking to himself he says that it is a, "pafs ingrato, gente sin honor" (510).

Trujillo sees himself as the country's savior and believes that without him, the country would be,

"el paisito africano que era cuando me lo ech6 al hombro" (154). This way of thinking is

common among dictators. George Blanksten explains, "[i]n his own view, the caudillo is an

indispensable man. He normally feels that he is the only figure on the national seen who can

'save the country'" (500). This can also lead to the sense loneliness expressed by Trujillo in La

Fiesta del Chivo. He thinks to himself that if he had someone he could trust, "No se hubiera

sentido tan solo, a veces, a la hora de tomar algunas decisions" (97). This loneliness also

contributes to his feeling of "desmoralizaci6n" (98).


154









Trujillo in La Fiesta del Chivo clearly is unwilling to entertain the thought of leaving

power. Upon hearing that his wife, fearful that his regime may end unexpectedly, has put money

in a Swiss bank account, he thinks to himself:

A la Prestante Dama tendria que refiirla esta tarde y recordarle que Rafael Leonidas
Trujillo Mollina no era Batista, ni el cerdo de P6rez Jim6nez, ni el cucufato de Rojas
Pinilla, ni siquiera el engominado general Per6n. El no iba a pasar sus iltimos afios como
estadista jubilado en el extranjero. Vivirfa hasta el ultimo minute en este pais que gracias
61 dej6 de ser una tribu, una horda, una caricature, y se convirti6 en Repdblica. (158)

This refusal to leave power under any circumstance is also expressed in Cementerio sin cruces

and is one of the reasons why Dominicans felt hopeless. Requena describes "al pasar los afios

Trujillo parecia estar dispuesto a seguir, a sangre y fuego, con las riendas del poder entire sus

garras" (200-1).

Despite years of tyrannical rule, Franco Ornes maintains, "A pesar del terror y de la

demagogia trujillista, el pueblo no esti postrado ni se ha dejado engafiar por el regimen tirinico"

(39). The defiance displayed by Dominicans in Cementerio sin cruces and mentioned by Ornes is

not evident in La Fiesta del Chivo. Valerio Holgufn notes the absence and writes:

Asimismo, no aparecen en ninguna parte de la novela referencias a los movimientos
politicos, focos de resistencia, invasiones, apresamientos, torturas, desapariciones y
asesinatos de muchos dominicanos. A lo sumo, parecerfa que el complot de los que
mataron a Trujillo se debe a 'inica y exclusivamente' a razones personales... (157)

The role of women during the era of Trujillo

It is well documented that Trujillo used sex as an instrument of power to humiliate and

degrade his collaborators, sometimes openly sleeping with their wives. Cementerio sin cruces

tells the story of a college professor who was forced to tolerate "que el dictador se acostara con

su mujer mientras 61 tenia que quedarse haci6ndole compafifa a los oficiales que esperaban a la

puerta... (204). He describes, "Su caso era tan triste que hasta los mismo compafieros se

compadecian de la vergonzante posici6n en que el hambre sexual del tirano le puso" (204). After









Trujillo slept with his wife the husband experiences "una sensaci6n de vaci6, de humillaci6n y de

vergiienza" (207). The wife returns after spending the night with Trujillo "pilida y como

enferma" (209). In his memoir, Joaquin Balaguer describes the extent of humiliation suffered by

Dominicans. He writes:

Pero nadie que no haya vivido en el pais durante la 'Era de Trujillo', puede medir en su
exacta dimension lo que signific6 moralmente para los dominicanos aquel period de
nuestra historic. El hombre, en esa 6poca, se rebajo hasta el punto de convertirse en un
titere. El sentimiento de la dignidad ciudadana desapareci6 totalmente. (103)

In addition to being a means to humiliate, Trujillo also used sex to gain power. As Howard

Wiarda explains, "There is, in fact, little doubt that Trujillo was driven by the urge to dominate.

He uses money, wealth, people, even sex to that end" (39). Crassweller also notes that:

In the attitudes and usages which he brought to sex, however, Trujillo was entirely
masculine. His huge enjoyment of it and the heroic scale on which he practiced it were
quite remarkable. But there was another side, and this, while it certainly cannot be
identified as the usual feminine attitude toward sex, nevertheless is probably encountered
more frequently among women than men. It is the use of sex for other purposes than sex
itself, the use of it as a lever. In Trujillo's case it was employed at times as an instrument
of power. (79-80) 35

Additionally Lauren Derby also observes in The Dictator's Seduction, "Trujillo's power was

based as much on the consumption of women through sexual conquest as it was on the

domination of enemies of state" (1113). Vargas Llosa notes that Trujillo's use of sex as a

method for staying in power is not common to all dictatorships. He explains:

Ese es un aspect [austeridad en material sexual] de la dictadura latinoamericana que no se
da much en las dictaduras, diga-mos [sic], mis elaboradas. La de Hitler, por ejemplo, la
del propio Mussolini, a pesar de ser italiano, no vinieron acompafiadas de es desborde
fren6tico de la sexualidad que pasa a ser un ingredient fundamental del sistema
autoritario. Eso ha ocurrido en todas las dictaduras latinoamericanas, con algunas pocas
excepciones. Pero en la de Trujillo, sf; allf el sexo pas6 a ser un ingredient fundamental
de lo que es el sistema autoritario, de control, de humillaci6n, de castigo. (Felipe Gonzalez
21)



35 Despite the sexist ideology, Crassweller's text is an important study of this dictator.









Trujillo used sexual conquest to enhance his macho stature and his appetite for sex was well

known. Requena, in Cementerio sin cruces describes the "desenfrenada hambre sexual del

tirano" (202). This placed parents of attractive girls in a difficult situation. Derby also observes

the same and writes that, "parents went to great lengths to prevent their daughters from being

noticed by the dictator, since refusing his attentions carried a high price and could even cost a

girl's father his job" (1114). Protecting daughters from Trujillo was difficult as Ram6n Alberto

Ferreras writes:

Para una familiar con hijas atractivas la alternative era intentar recluirlas, cosa dificil de
llevar a la practice en un territorio reducido, o tratar de abandonar el lugar y establecerse
en otra parte, lo que tambi6n envolvia anunciarles. La ultima soluci6n era la de amoldarse
al sistema, como hizo la mayorfa. (170)

However, not all families attempted to protect their daughters from Trujillo. Valerio Holgufn

notes that, "El vasallaje de todos los dominicanos se maniFiesta principalmente a trav6s de la

sexualidad: padres que le entregan a Trujillo sus esposas e hijas" (Presencia de Trujillo en la

narrative contemporinea 155). Ferreras also tells the story of a mother who "sofiaba con que una

de sus hermosas hijas fueran amante o querida de Trujillo" (Trujillo y sus mujeres 107). Vargas

Llosa also mentions that "' [. ..]muchos ciudadanos le llevaban a sus hijas y no era para

conseguir favors, sino porque lo tenfan por un semidi6s'".(Xavier Moret) Other Dominicans,

hoping to impress Trujillo, presented him with girls, in essence prostituting them. Crassweller

writes, "His friends and those who sought to advance in his favor by this means, were always

proposing females for his many beds." (79). Balaguer also explains that Trujillo was a "hombre

de aparatosa vida sexual, a quien la adulaci6n o el interns ofrecian diariamente las mas variadas

bellezas ndbiles [sic], en bandeja de plata, (198). The problem was that the older Trujillo got,

the younger he liked the girls. Crassweller explains:









Only in his final years did his taste turn strongly to very young women... Those he
selected came sometimes from a relatively high social level and sometimes from modest
backgrounds. They were almost always virgins. (79)

If the girl was resistant, Cementerio sin cruces notes that "se presionaba a la muchacha para

hacerla caer en las orgias sexuales de Trujillo" (247).

Cementerio sin cruces tells the story of Marfa del Carmen, who agrees to sleep with the

dictator in exchange for her father's and boyfriend's release from prison. She also negotiates

with Trujillo to have her family leave the country. He agrees on the condition that she stay

behind. The actual encounter between Trujillo and Marfa del Carmen is not narrated. Upon

hearing the news of her sacrifice, "Algunos bajaban la cabeza, avergonzados, como si en vez de

Marfa del Carmen vieran en su puesto a hijas o hermanas que antes que sufrieron igual

deshonor" (388). According to the narrative Marfa del Carmen's sacrifice:

[e]ra como un sfmbolo de la dolorosa humillaci6n del pafs, que tenfa que seguir tolerando
el oprobio de una tiranfa en la cual el crime estaba primero que la ley, y bayonetas y
ametralladoras imponfan la voluntad absolute de un asqueroso senior de horca y chuchillo.
(388)

However, for Marfa del Carmen the sacrifice of her body, "aquello que llamarfan deshonor de su

cuerpo, era un precio pequefio, pequefifsimo, comparado con lo que obtuvo en cambio..."

(381).

Women in Cementerio sin cruces are stronger than men. While Trujillo is beating an

elderly man in the presence of other male prisoners, Palmira, the only female prisoner is the only

one who dares to come to the victim's rescue. The text states that Trujillo "en pocos se encontr6

peg~ndole asf a un viejo indefenso, frente a una mujer que desafiaba su c6lera para tender a su

victim" (289). Afterward, she tells the dictator, "Si no lo llevan pronto al hospital se muere

aquf mismo ... ." (289). Trujillo responds by ordering medical care for the victim. (289). The

power of women during the trujillato is also seen in the dictator's wife, dofia Marfa, who in many









ways is similar to the tyrant. The text notes, "la llamada <>

ejercia un poder omnipotente, que ella gozaba con la siniestra impudicia del marido mismo"

(191). She is described as "cruel e implacable como el marido mismo" (216). Also like Trujillo,

she is "casi analfabeta" (218). Dofia Maria is not only openly defiant of the dictator but she

dominates him. Clearly not intimated by him, she publicly calls him "Chapita" (215) in front of

his advisors. Furthermore, the narrative explains that:

Trujillo se prometi6 a si mismo que lo primero que harfa, como saludo, serfa mandarla [his
wife] al infiemo, para que los hombre que estaban escuchando se dieran cuenta de que 61
era quien realmente llevaba los pantalones en la familiar, en el patriarcal sentido criollo.
(215)

She would later, "llenarlo de insultos sin que el dictador tuviese tiempo de meter la cuna de una

sola palabra entire el atropello de frases soeces que le diriga. ... ." (215).

As in Cementerio sin cruces, La Fiesta del Chivo also tells the story of a girl who sacrifices

her body to Trujillo, only in this story the girl does not do so willingly; it is her father who

sacrifices her. The novel begins and ends with Urania Cabral. Her story is interwoven with

story of the dictator's assassins and Trujillo's final day. After years in exile in the United States,

Urania, a 49 year old Harvard graduate and attorney at the World Bank, returns to the Dominican

Republic in 1996 to visit her ailing father. Her father, Senator Agustin, had once belonged to

Trujillo's inner circle. In 1961, he is inexplicably expelled from Trujillo's inner circle.

According to Urania's aunt the Senator's fall from grace, "Era lo mis grave que habia ocurrido

en la familiar, mis todavia que el accident en que muri6 tu mami" (260). It had also left the

Senator, "<>" (285). An article in the The New York Times helps to

explain the Senator's dispair. It states, "A major fall from grace meant complete retirement from

public life and real difficulty in gaining any sort of living" ("Trujillo Wielded Absolute rule; Ran

country as a Baronial Fief").









In an attempt to regain entry to Trujillo's inner circle, Urania's father offers her as a sexual

sacrifice to Trujillo. She is 14 years old at the time. She goes to Trujillo's house thinking that

she has been invited to a party. Upon realizing that she has been invited for something else, she

thinks to herself, "%El senador Agustfn Cabral la enviaba, ofrenda viva, al Benefactor y Padre de

la Patria Nueva? Sf." (424). The experience, narrated in detail, permanently traumatizes her

and left her "remilgada, indiferente, frigida" (211). She later explains to her aunt and cousins,

"Mis nunca un hombre me volvi6 a poner la mano, desde aquella vez. Mi inico hombre fue

Trujillo [.. .] A mf, papa y Su Excelencia me volvieron un desierto" (513). Not surprisingly, she

never marries telling her father, "Tu hijita se qued6 para vestir santos" (65).

In an effort to understand how Dominicans could have allowed Trujillo to treat them so

poorly, Urania while studying in Cambridge, "contrajo el <>: leer y

coleccionar libros sobre la Era de Trujillo" (204). Speaking to herself she says:

Hay muchas cosas de la Era que has llegad a entender; algunas, al principio, te parecian
inextricables, pero, a fuerza de leer, escuchar, cotejar y pensar, has llegado a comprender
que tantos millones de personas, machacadas por la propaganda, por la falta de
informaci6n, embrutecidas por el adoctrinamiento, el aislamiento, despojadas de libre
albedrfo, de voluntad y hasta de curiosidad por el divinizar a Trujillo. No solo a temerlos,
sino a quererlo, como llegan a querer los hijos a los padres autoritarios, a convencerse de
que azotes y castigos son por su bien. (75)

However, she does not understand why intellectuals, many educated in the United Status would

support Trujillo. Again speaking to herself she acknowledges:

Lo que nunca has llegado a entender es que los dominicanos mas preparados, las cabezas
del pafs, abogados, m6dicos, ingenieros, salidos a veces de muy buenas universidades de
Estados Unidos o de Europa, sensibles, cultos, con experiencia, lectures, ideas,
presumiblemente un desarrollado sentido del ridiculo, sentimientos, pruritos, aceptaran ser
vejados de manera tan salvaje (lo fueron todos alguna vez)[. .]. (75)

She asks her father how men could have accepted Trujillo sleeping with their wives:

iC6mo era possible, papi? Que un hombre como Froilkn Arala, culto preparado, inteligente,
llegara a aceptar eso. iQu6 les daba, para convertir a don Froilan, a Chirinos, a Manuel
Alfonso, a ti, a todos sus brazos derechos e izquierdos, en trapos sucios? (75).









She knows as she asks it that her question will go unanswered, as her father, who has suffered a

stroke, is unable to speak. Her question is the same one that young Dominicans are now asking

their elders.

Urania is one of the few fictional characters not based on a historical person in the

narrative. She is also the only main character who is still alive at the end of the novel which

explains why her story is the only one told in the present tense. Her story is psychologically

centered and the least convincing. It is also structurally awkward as the narrative itself seems to

forget her story and includes 142 consecutive pages with mentioning her. Valerio Holgufn is

critical of Urania, maintaining that, "Vargas Llosa tuvo la necesidad de incluir un personaje que

fuera medio extranjero (turista) para apoyar su propio punto de vista externo,.. ." (159). He also

believes, "Vargas Llosa/Urania se apropia del discurso primitivista europea y lo reproduce con

respect a los dominicanos para construirlos como el Otro-Primitivo" (159). Vargas Llosa

explains in an interview, "Me invent el personaje de Urania porque no querfa que la novela se

contara s6lo desde el interior de la dictadura" (Xavier Moret). Furthermore, Vargas Llosa notes

that women suffer from double oppression because in addition to political oppression, they also

suffer from machismo. He maintains:

Mis todavfa en el caso de un regimen como el de Trujillo, que utiliz6 el sexo como un
instrument de coerci6n, de avasallamiento de la sociedad. Esto hizo que la mujer fuera
realmente un objeto maltratado, brutalizado de una manera terrible durante esos afios.
(Literatura v political 91)

Urania illustrates the double oppression women faced. She also provides the reader with a

contemporary view of Trujillo and represents someone who has not been able to heal from the

trauma. She describes her night with Trujillo to her aunt and cousin. It is the first time she has

spoken about it with anyone. Yet, speaking about it does not seem to help Urania. Upon

returning to her hotel room she encounters a tourist who says to her, May I buy you a drink,









dear lady?" to which she responds, "Get out of my way, you dirty drunk" (518). 36 Thus, it

would appear that Urania will remain alone for more time to come.

Both Maria del Carmen in Cementerio sin cruces and Urania Cabral in La Fiesta del Chivo

illustrate women's suppression and mistreatment at the hands of Trujillo. They also show the

reader how Trujillo used sex and humiliation as a way to stay in power. The narratives differ in

that Maria del Carmen used sex to obtain her families freedom while Urania Cabral was offered

to the dictator as a sacrifice. Additionally, the shame and dishonor Dominicans associate with

having slept with Trujillo mentioned in Cementerio sin cruces is absent in La Fiesta del Chivo

where Urania thinks, "iQu6 hizo mi mama? iSe resign? iSe alegr6, orgullosa de ese honor?

Esa era la norma verdad? Las buenas dominicanas agradecian que el jefe se dignara tirdrselas"

(70).

Portrait of a Dictator

Requena offers an unflattering and overly simplistic image of Trujillo. He portrays the

image of a person who suffers from megalomania as evidenced by the, "mil6simo busto de

mirmol en su honor, pagado por una aterrorizante recolecci6n hecha por los miembros del

partido official" (205). Requena also writes that Trujillo is like a ".[. .] C6sar de opereta en cuyo

pecho no cabian mas medallas y en cuyas manos no cabia mas sangre, pasedbanse con insolencia

desconocida hasta entonces en pauses civilizados" (308). He is poorly educated and didn't have

mucha confianza en el valor de los hombres que perdian su tiempo leyendo libros" (362). He

is also motivated primarily by money and sex. Frustrated, Trujillo in Cementerio sin cruces,

thinks to himself, "!Si solo sus enemigos le dejaran tranquilo, acumulando oro y gozando de sus





36 The use of English and italics is the author's.









orgias!" (220). The text also challenges the myth of Trujillo's penchant for cleanliness

mentioning that:

[e]l tirano estaba sin afeitar, y sus facciones ordinarias aparentaban diez afios mis de los
que tenfa. con los dedos llenos de pesada sortijas, daba la sensaci6n de una mandarin
chino transplantado a la vida sofocante del tr6pico en la burlona alucinaci6n de una
pesadilla criolla. (219)

Physically Trujillo described as a "hombre pequefio y obeso, su rostro mulato bien oscuro y el

gesto omnipotente de un rey de opereta, .. ." (211). Requena's portrayal of Trujillo is simplistic

and does not explain how he achieved and maintained power.

Both Cementerio sin cruces and La Fiesta del Chivo document Trujillo's unbriddled sexual

drive and use of sex as a means to humiliate. Jos6 Almoina explains:

el process mental de Trujillo [es] primitive, prel6gico, complicado. Esto explica que guste
de que adulen su 'machismo" y para seguir demostrindolo, no trepida ante el uso de
afrodisfacos, pues no en balde discurren los aios. (79)

Cementerio sin cruces portrays a dictator who needed to, "tumbar mujeres en la cama para

convencerse de su virilidad" (129). La Fiesta del Chivo illustrates the tyrant's reaction to his

impotence and describes his inability to deflower Urania. Trujillo is devastated by this inability

for he believes that his ability to maintain an erection represents, "un macho cabal, un chivo con

un gtievo todavia capaz de ponerse tieso y de romper los cofiitos virgenes que le pusieran

delante" (507-8). Vargas Llosa also explains:

El poder sexual de alguna manera simboliza el poder politico tambi6n. Eso en el caso de
Trujillo fue muy claro. Y por eso la humillaci6n supreme para 61 fue esta enfermedad final
que recort6 tremendamente su potencia, digamos, viril. Algo que a 61 lo humillaba, lo
ofendfa, lo vejaba, y que trataba desesperadamente de ocultar porque inconscientemente,
quiza conscientemente, tenfa la sensaci6n de que si eso se sabia se le iba a restar autoridad.
Se le iba a perder el respeto. (Gonzalez 22-3)

Facing impotence, Urania tells her surprised cousin that the tyrant:

Empez6 a llorar [... .] por su pr6stata hinchada, por su gtievo muerto, por tener que tirarse a
las doncellitas con los dedos, como le gustaba a Petn. Parecia medio loco, de









desesperaci6n. Ahora s6 por qu6. Porque ese gtievo que habia roto tantos cofiitos, ya no se
paraba. Eso hacia llorar al titan. (509-10)

The dictator is further demythified in Urania's description:

Procuraba no mirar su cuerpo, pero, a veces, sus ojos corrfan sobre el vientre algo fofo, el
pubis emblanquecido, el pequefio sexo muerto y las piemas lampifias. Este era el
Generalisimo, el Benefactor de la Patria, el Padre de la Patria Nueva, el Restaurador de la
Independencia Financiara. (510-11)

The surprise expressed by her cousin illustrates the demythification of the tyrant in La Fiesta del

Chivo. She simply cannot image the all-powerful tyrant crying over his inability to maintain an

erection. In addition to demythifying Trujillo's sexual prowess, Trujillo is portrayed as someone

who, "Podfa dominar a los hombres, poner a tres millones de dominicanos de rodillas, pero no

controlar su esffnter" (165). Aging and unable to control his body Trujillo urinates on himself.

The narrative mentions, "Se le habia salido otra vez. Pasarfa por la horrenda humillaci6n al

ponerse de pie de que los Gittleman y algunos invitados notaran que se habia meado en los

pantalones sin darse cuanta, como un viejo" (233).

In addition to his failing body, Trujillo is disappointed in his family. He states his family

is a, "una familiar de parisitos, indtiles, badulaques y pobres diablos" (229). He describes his

wife as a "vampiro insaciable" (166). His sons are "exitosos fracasos" and "nulidades con

nombres de personajes de opera" (32). He also believes that, "El error de mi vida ha sido mi

familiar" (159).

In sharp contrast with Cementerio sin cruces where Trujillo is a much smaller character, in

La Fiesta del Chivo, Vargas Llosa writes in detail the subjective interiority of Trujillo, describing

his secrets, fears, insecurities, offering the reader insight into both the public and private Trujillo.

This view makes Trujillo seem very human and sympathetic. Vargas Llosa's depiction of

Trujillo and his disappointment in his family and in his own physical deterioration almost makes

the reader sympathize and feel pity for the aging dictator. Vargas Llosa notes that, "'Lo terrible


164









de los dictadores es que no son demonios, sino series humanss' ("Vargas Llosa"). However, the

100 pages following his death narrates in detail the torture endured by the conspirators and

serves to remind the reader of the inhumanity of the Trujillo regime, which was so firmly

entrenched in Dominican society that it continued after the dictator's death.

Conclusion

Although admittedly these Cementerio sin cruces and La Fiesta del Chivo are fiction, they

allow the contemporary reader to experience the era of Trujillo. As David Carr observes:

To be sure, fictional stories do not represent reality because what they portray by
definition never happened. But it is often thought that stories can be life-like precisely by
virtue of theirform. That is, they capable of representing the way certain events, if they
had happened, might have unfolded. (13)

Cementerio sin cruces narrates the experience ordinary Dominicans had living during the era of

Trujillo while La Fiesta del Chivo offers insight into the thoughts of important Dominicans,

including Trujillo. Also, by means of Urania, it shows that effects of tyranny last for many years

after the tyrant is removed from power. Interestingly, both texts narrate the role of women in the

era of Trujillo and show how for women, the experience was much different than for men.

The era of Trujillo illustrates the difficulty in recreating or reimagining actual events. In

particular, the fictionalization of a historical character such as Trujillo is not easy. For Requena

it means fictionalizing a character that is still alive. For Vargas Llosa, the character is further

removed. For this reason he explains, "'Me he documentado lo mis possible sobre 61, su 6poca y

los acontecimientos, pero no para ser fiel a la historic. Las novelas no tienen la obligaci6n de

decir la verdad, sino de decir la verdad a trav6s de las mentiras'" (Fietta Jarque). Carlos Fuentes

expresses the difficulty Latin American authors, in particular, face. He writes:

Ya hemos indicado algunos de los desaffos tradicionales para nuestra literature: nuestra
historic ha sido mas imaginative que nuestra ficci6n; el escritor ha debido competir con m
montanas, rfos, selvas, desiertos de dimension sobrehumana. ,C6mo inventar personajes









mas fabulosos que Cortes y Pizarro, mas siniestros que Santa Anna o Rosas, mas
tragic6micos que Trujillo o Batista? (95)

Additionally, an article in The New York Times notes, "Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina was

like a character out of an historical novel. He ruled the Dominican Republic as a baronical fief

with an absolutism seldom rivaled in modern history" ("Trujillo Wielded Absolute rule; Ran

country as a Baronial Fief'). Despite the difficulty in re-imaginging someone like Trujillo, who

had he not actually existed, would be unbelievable and difficult to image, Miguel Collado notes

that, "Trujillo como una sombra, como un fantasma tal vez aparece constantemente en la

narrative dominicana: tanto en la narrative de corto aliento (cuento y relato) como en la de largo

aliento (novela)" (12).

Cementerio sin cruces and La Fiesta del Chivo offer sharply different representations of

Trujillo, or versions of reality. While Cementerio sin cruces, in an attempt to illustrate the

tyranny Dominicans were living under, sharply attacks Trujillo, La Fiesta del Chivo offers a

more sympathetic, to not say pathetic, view of the tyrant. Vargas Llosa's narrative reveals

Trujillo as a broken down man disappointed with his family and his aging and failing body. He

is also disappointed in his country, which in his mind has taken his efforts and sacrifices for

granted. Whereas in Cementerio sin cruces Dominicans are hopeless, La Fiesta del Chivo shows

how the tyrant also experiences "desmoralizaci6n" (98).

Both Cementerio sin cruces and La Fiesta del Chivo are political novels. Lufs Alberto

Sinchez further classifies the Latin American political novel into three categories:

1) el de ataque o defense de un caudillo, dictador o tirano; 2) de conspiraciones, intrigas,
conjuras y revoluciones propiamente dichas; 3) de prisi6n y destierro. ... hay pauses en
donde la political invade casi absorbentemente la novela, y suele ser aquellos en donde no
se ha logrado un equilibro institutional o se ha logrado recientemente. (427)

Cementerio sin cruces and La Fiesta del Chivo fall within the first category. However, while

Cementerio sin cruces clearly attacks the dictator to the point where the novel resembles









propaganda and not literature, in La Fiesta del Chivo the attack is not so evident and narrative's

intent appears to be the humanization of Trujillo.

Both authors fictionalize history and use the novel as an instrument for questioning,

subverting, rewriting and reinventing official historiographic discourse. However, some

historical events during Trujillo's regime exceed the imagination and would be unbelievable had

they not actually happened. In such cases, the author in his or her version of the event must

remove the 'unbelievable' elements so that the reader will find the event credible. It is in this

way that history is lost. Valerio-Holgufn notes:

El trujillato se convertido en mercancias que se venden en forma de novelas, studios
sociol6gicos e hist6ricos, anecdotarios, testimonies, peliculas, teatro, pinturea, y fotograffa.
Este mercado ha pasado de local a intemacional con las iltimas producciones de artists y
cineastas extranjeros. Pero,,, la mercantilizaci6n no rescata, en muchos casos, la memorial
hist6rica, sino que la borra ... Esti claro que 'el pasado como pasado' significa el 'pasado
como memorial hist6rica', porque el pasado que se vende es un pasado despojado de las
brutalidades y convertido en nostalgemas con el prop6sito de venta para el consume
masivo. (Presencia de Truiillo 210-11)

Paradoxically, the effort to demythify and denounce the dictator by means of fiction can lead to a

loss, on some level, of historical knowledge.









CHAPTER 5
CONCLUSION



And here we come back to memory. We must remember the suffering of my people, as we
must remember that of the Ethiopians, the Cambodians, the boat people, Palestinians, the
Mesquite Indians, the Argentinian "dciipirci il'\" the list seems endless ... Mankind
needs to remember more than ever.
Elie Wiesel, Nobel Lecture



The idea for this project came from an article written by Neil Larson, titled "iC6mo narrar

el trujillato?". Supporting his argument with political and economic facts Larson believes that

Dominicans have not been able to effectively narrate the era of Trujillo. This is surprising since

many Dominican authors have recreated Trujillo in their work. As Miguel Collado explains,

"Trujillo como una sombrea, como un fantasma tal vez aparece constantemente en la narrative

dominicana: tanto en la narrative de corto aliento (cuento y relato) como en la de largo aliento

(novela)" (12). The fictionalization of a dictator is common in countries where freedom of

expression has been limited. Luis Alberto Sanchez notes in Am6rica: novela sin novelistas that,

"... a nacidn libre y democrdtica menor novela polftica; a nacidn sujeta a despotismo, mayor

novela polftica. Cuando la tribune y el diario disfrutan de libertad, la political se refugia en ellos,

no necesita los disfraces de la novela, alusiva, sino ocasionalmente" (211-2).42 Fernando Valerio

Holguin, in a response to Larson, provides In the Time of the Butterflies as an example of a

Dominican novel that has effectively narrated the era of Trujillo ("En el tiempo de Las

Mariposas de Julia Alvarez: Una interpretaci6n de la historic"). However, for reasons explained

in Chapter 3, this study did not consider it a Dominican novel and therefore it does not serve here

as a counterargument to Larson. Thus, this project set out to explore how era of Trujillo has

42 Emphais is author's









been perceived and recreated in Dominican and non-Dominican literature. It also explored how

the narratives written by Julia Alvarez, Edwidge Danticat, and Mario Vargas Llosa engaged and

challenged earlier accounts of the same event, written by Dominican authors (Ram6n Alberto

Ferreras, Freddy Prestol Castillo, Andr6s Requena). All of the authors studied fictionalized

history and used narrative as an instrument for questioning, subverting, rewriting and reinventing

official historiographic discourse. In their reinterpretation of Dominican history, these authors

also created an image of the Dominican Republic. In Determinations: Essays on theory,

Narrative and Nation in the Americas (2001) Larson defines the nation as, "nothing but a

narrative, a fiction, produced by, among others, these very fictional narratives themselves" (84).

Parting from this definition, this study also focused on how the Dominican Republic was

represented in the selected narratives.

While the works of Alvarez, Danticat and Vargas Llosa are clear examples of a fictional

novel, the works of Ferreras and Prestol Castillo defy literary classification. Parts of Las

Mirabal reads like a novel, others read like a history book. Furthermore, Ferreras directly inserts

himself into the text. The same is true for El Masacre se pasa a pie, where Prestol Castillo,

eyewitness to the 1937 massacre, recreates the event. The narrator is not clearly defined and it is

impossible to determine when it is the author himself and when it is a fictional character. At

times, the narrator seems to disappear altogether. The narrative is part autobiography, part novel.

The hybrid nature of these two narratives and the incomplete fictionalization of the lives of the

Mirabal sisters and the 1937 massacre make it difficult to classify these two narratives.

Unlike Las Mirabal and El Masacre se pasa a pie, Cementerio sin cruces reads like a novel.

However, the fictionalization of the event is not complete and while Requena, unlike Ferreras

and Prestol Castillo, does not directly insert himself into the text, his ideology is clearly evident









causing the text read more like a political track than fictional narrative. This is surprising

because Requena had previously shown he had talent and narrative ability. Initially Requena had

been a Trujillo supporter. During this time, he wrote a novel titled Los enemigos de la tierra,

which describes the trials and tribulations of people migrating from the countryside to the city of

Santo Domingo, and illustrates Requena's talent as an author. Yet, this narrative ability is absent

from Cementerio sin cruces, which was written during Requena's exile in the United States and

is a harshly critical of the Dominican dictator. The objective of Cementerio sin cruces is not to

tell a story as it was in Los enemigos de la Tierra, but to denounce Trujillo and to inform readers

of cruelty and oppression Dominicans were experiencing during the era of Trujillo. It is the

change of objective and change in Requena's attitude towards Trujillo that helps to explain the

text's shortcomings.

The era of Trujillo illustrates the difficulty in recreating or reimagining actual events, in

part because some historical events during Trujillo's regime exceed the imagination and would

be unbelievable had they not actually happened. Carlos Fuentes notes this difficulty and writes:

Ya hemos indicado algunos de los desaffos tradicionales para nuestra literature: nuestra
historic ha sido mas imaginative que nuestra ficci6n; el escritor ha debido competir con m
montanas, rfos, selvas, desiertos de dimension sobrehumana. tC6mo inventar personajes
mas fabulosos que Cortes y Pizarro, mas siniestros que Santa Anna o Rosas, mis
tragic6micos que Trujillo o Batista? (95-6)

Although admittedly these narratives are fiction, they allow the contemporary reader to

experience the Trujillo era. As David Carr observes:

To be sure, fictional stories do not represent reality because what they portray by
definition never happened. But it is often thought that stories can be life-like precisely by
virtue of theirform. That is, they are capable of representing the way certain events, if
they had happened, might have unfolded. (13)

However, these authors in their use of historical figures, historical documents, and references to

actual historical events, blur the line between history and fiction. Thus, it is important to note









that the authors studied do not offer objective recreations of history. As Rosalind Coward

maintains, "there are no neutral conventions in novelistic writing' all accounts of reality are

versions of reality" (55).

For the Dominican authors in this study, the reality they are recreating is a lived reality.

Converting these lived experiences into art has been particularly difficult for them. The

Dominican authors in this study, Ferreras, Prestol Castillo and Requena, had varying reasons for

revisiting such a painful and traumatic part of their history. Both Prestol Castillo and Requena

had been active supporters of the Trujillo regime. With time, they come to regret their

involvement with the Trujillo regime and become strong critics of the dictator. They fictionalize

the experience in an attempt to both explain their participation and alleviate feelings of regret.

Furthermore, their narratives express the cowardice and the guilt caused by their participation in

the regime. In contrast, Ferreras writes to keep the memory of the Mirabal sisters alive, which

explains why his text contains many historical facts and figures, making the text cumbersome to

read. All three authors bravely criticized Trujillo, at great personal expense. Both Trujillo and

Balaguer repeatedly imprisoned Ferreras and Trujillo's henchmen assassinated Requena. To

help put the era of Trujillo into perspective, in 1946 Albert C. Hicks notes "if the Dominicans

murdered by Trujillo total three thousand a modest figure the same proportion of persons

killed in the United States for political reasons only would be well over 300,000" (227). If

Trujillo did not kill anyone else from 1946 to 1961, when he was assassinated, and accounting

for a doubling of the U.S. population, the figure today would be 600,000 people.

Ferreras, Prestol Castillo and Requena's painful and direct experience with the dictatorship

limited their ability to fictionalize the event and ultimately their narratives fail to convert the

reality they experienced into art. Some authors were unable to mask their ideology adequately.









For example, Manual Rueda observes of Cementerio sin cruces that, "se nota la prisa del autor

por hacer piblica su denuncia de la dictadura, deja al desnudo sus habilidades y carencias" (132).

Other authors are unable to hide the effects of trauma. This is especially evident in the form and

content of El Masacre se pasa a pie, which in its repetitiveness and stream of consciousness

quality of writing seen throughout the narrative, clearly illustrates the trauma endured by the

author. In short, the Dominican authors have been unable to mask their pain and their emotions;

anger, frustration, humiliation, and guilt among others, are clearly visible. Vargas Llosa explains

in La historic secret de una novela that:

Escribir una novela es una ceremonia parecida al strip-tease. Como la muchacha que, bajo
impddicos reflectores, se liberal de sus ropas y muestra, uno a uno, sus encantos secrets, el
novelist desnuda tambi6n su intimidad en piblico a trav6s de sus novelas. Pero, claro,
hay diferencias. Las experiencias personales (vividas, sonadas, ofdas, lefdas) que fueron
el estimulo primero para escribir la historic quedan tan maliciosamente disfrazadas durante
el process de la creaci6n que, cuando la novela esta terminada, nadie,... puede escuchar
con facilidad ese coraz6n autobiogrifico que fatalmente late en toda ficci6n. Escribir una
novela es un strip-tease invertido y todos los novelistas son parab6licos (en algunos casos
explicitos) exhibicionistas. (11)

Ultimately the Dominican narratives studied here fail as novels. The reverse strip tease remains

incomplete and in the end the author is still naked, his motivation for writing evident. However,

this failure does not necessarily diminish their merit as testimonials. These narratives serve as a

public record, documenting violence and terror of the Trujillo regime thereby challenging

official discourse.

In contrast, the non-Dominican authors, Alvarez, Danticat, and Vargas Llosa, did not

directly experience Trujillo's dictatorship. Their position as outsiders places them in a privileged

position as they do not directly experience the ongoing effects of Trujillo's dictatorship Larson

mentions in ",C6mo narrar el Trujillato?". For varying reasons, they have recreated and

reinterpreted the era of Trujillo. Alvarez and Danticat wrote to inform their audience of a

historical event that is largely unknown to them. Additionally, Danticat believes that literature









can help heal the wounds of the past. For this reason she does not blame Dominicans for the

1937 Massacre. Moreover, while she places the blame for the massacre squarely on Trujillo's

shoulders, she is careful to not demonize the Dominican Republic and describes how Haiti has

also endured a cruel dictator thereby illustrating that the phenomenon is by no means exclusively

Dominican. She also makes it a point to show how Haitians, like Dominicans, have been willing

to kill family members in the name of nationalism. Similarly, Vargas Llosa believes in the

healing power of literature mentioning in an interview with the Spanish newspaper Expansi6n

that "la literature es una manera de superar a los Trujillo, al horror" ("Cuando Vargas Llosa mat6

al chivo").

All of the authors analyzed in this project fictionalizationalize different aspects of

Dominican national history and utilize the narrative as an instrument for questioning, subverting,

rewriting and reinventing official historiographic discourse. To this end, they resuscitate the

voices of the marginalized and the deceased, allowing them to tell their story. Paradoxically, this

is both an act of remembrance and of historical amnesia. When truth is in reality stranger than

fiction, truth is altered so that the reader will believe it. Vargas Llosa explains that "[l]a

desmesura de la violencia en la Era Trujillo fue tal que parecia inverosimil y no tuve mas

remedio que suavizarla" ("Cuando Vargas Llosa mat6 al chivo"). Thus, the effort to demythify

and denounce the dictator by means of fiction can lead to a loss, on some level, of historical

knowledge.

In the process of recreating the era of Trujillo, the authors create an image of the

Dominican Republic. Some of the narratives studies offer contrasting and opposing literary

manifestation of the Dominican Republic and its people. Alvarez presents a stereotypical Latin

American Third World country: uneducated, poor, and machista. Vargas Llosa allows the reader









the see the country as Trujillo sees it; a modem and prosperous country. In contrast, Ferreras

presents a modern, feminist country, in which women have full access to education. Both

Prestol Castillo and Danticat misrepresent the border area before the massacre, using anti-Haitian

ideology as a catalyst for the slaughter when in reality it was used as justification for the

massacre (Robert D. Crassweller 149). Furthermore, Prestol Castillo describes a country that is

suffering from harsh political oppression where Dominicans are forced, under the threat of death,

to carry out nonsensical orders. Unable to cope with reality, many resort to alcohol; others suffer

from mental breakdowns. Like Prestol Castillo, Requena portrays a country that is ruled harshly

and where there is a complete and total lack of freedom. He repeatedly likens the country to a

cemetery or a concentration camp. Yet, despite this heavy oppression Trujillo does not have

complete control of the country. In an open act of defiance, every morning anti-Trujillo

pamphlets litter the streets of Santo Domingo.

Although the Trujillo era is recreated in each of the narratives, Trujillo is not a primary

character in any of the narratives studied. He appears as a secondary character in In the time of

the Butterflies, Cementerio sin cruces, and La Fiesta del chivo. Las Mirabal, El Masacre se pasa

a pie, and The Framing of Bones barely mention him, however his presence is felt throughout

each narrative. Of the narratives studied, Vargas Llosa offers the most intimate portrait of the

dictator, allowing the reader access to the tyrant's inner thoughts. Interestingly, he also portrays

the dictator as physically weak, an old man who can no longer control his bladder, suffers from

impotence, and is overly preoccupied by his inability to deflower girls. Emotionally, he deeply

disappointed in his family and feels that Dominicans have taken his considerable talents for

granted. However, Vargas Llosa describes in great detail the torture endured by political

prisoners. In contrast, Alvarez portrays a dictator that is charming and seductive. In an effort to


174









demythify the Mirabal sisters, she glosses over the torture they endured in prison and instead

describes a lesbian affair between one of the Mirabal sisters and another female prisoner.43 In

Cementerio sin cruces, Trujillo is portrayed as poorly educated, cruel, and motivated primarily

by money and sex. While this narrative is most critical of the dictator, it offers an overly

simplistic view of Trujillo that does not explain how he achieved and maintained power.

The role of women in the era of Trujillo is a common theme in all of the texts studied.

Women living under dictatorships can suffer from a double oppression, one socially and one

politically. Yet, despite this double oppression in each text there are examples of women who

are strong. In El Masacre se pasa a pie, Angela, the narrator's girlfriend, is much stronger than

the narrator. Despite great pressure, unlike the narrator, she never succumbs to Trujillo and

rather than live under oppression flees the country. Sefiora Valencia in The Farming of Bones

bravely stands up to her husband. Although she is married to an Army officer, during the

massacre she bravely hides Haitians in her house. Paradoxically, she does not condemn her

husband for his involvement in the massacre. Ferreras dedicates Las Mirabal to women,

reiterating the importance of their involvement in the political system. Both Ferreras and

Alvarez further mythify the Mirabal sisters. Additionally, in In the Time of the Butterflies the

Mirabal sisters are much stronger than men who appear to have been demasculanized by Trujillo.

As an example, Minerva's father is unwilling to protect her from Trujillo and, out of fear, offers

her to the dictator. The same happens La Fiesta del Chivo where Urania's father, in hopes of

regaining entry to Trujillo's inner circle, offers her as a sexual sacrifice. In contrast, Cementerio

sin cruces describes how Marfa del Carmen willing sacrifices her body in exchange for her

father's freedom. Unlike Vargas Llosa, Requena does not describe the sexual encounter. The


43 The sexualization of the Dominican Republic and its history is also mentioned by Trenton Hickman who notes the
sexualiation of coffee production in Alvarez's short story titled Cafecito Story.









novel ends with Maria del Carmen in a long, black car headed toward one of Trujillo's many

homes. Also, Requena and, to a lesser extent Alvarez, describe the shame and dishonor

Dominicans associate with sleeping with the dictator. However, Vargas Llosa presents sleeping

with the tyrant as an honor, something that good Dominican women viewed as a privilege.

In terms of narrative ability, Alvarez, Danticat and Vargas Llosa are masters of their art as

evidenced by the use of multiple narrators and the complicated narrative structure found in In the

Time of the Butterflies, The Farming of Bones and La Fiesta del Chivo. Their position as

outsiders places them in a privileged position, as they do not directly experience the ongoing

effects of Trujillo's dictatorship Larson mentions in ",C6mo narrar el Trujillato?". Alvarez,

Danticat and Vargas Llosa, also have access to major publishers. Their works are immediately

translated into many languages, thus they write from a position of great power. The commercial

success of their work has allowed their voices to overshadow Dominican narrative voices. These

Dominican voices also offer their interpretation of the era of Trujillo yet they have a difficult

time being heard. Di6genes Valdez observes difficulty Dominican authors have in being heard

and the impact that these international best sellers have on them:

La aparici6n en nuestro medio de la novela La Fiesta del chivo, del insigne escritor
peruano Mario Vargas Llosa, ha impactado nuestro ambiente cultural en varias vertientes,
algo que debe mover a preocupaci6n a los intelectuales nacionales. Sin restar m6ritos de
ninguna clase a la obra de Vargas Llosa, en nuestro medio el tema de la dictadura de
Trujillo ha sido trabajado con envidiable acierto por various novelistas, sin que lograsen
despertar el revuelo que ha levantado La Fiesta del chivo. Mas que un asunto de calidad,
la diferencia estriba en la innegable dimension social intemacional del autor peruano, pero
del mismo modo se evidencia, que a los autores nacionales se les lee con poca atenci6n y
peor ain, con poca buena fe. (431)

It is important to remember that Ferreras, Prestol Castillo and Requena recreate a lived reality.

In contrast, Alvarez, Danticat and Vargas Llosa are outsiders who must imagine how

Dominicans felt living under Trujillo regime. Yet, the success of their work provides Alvarez,

Danticat, and Vargas Llosa with the ability to influence Dominican national consciousness, also









influencing how Dominicans view themselves and how others view Dominicans.44 This is not

only true of the Dominican Republic. Martin Munro notes that Danticat is "Haiti's most widely

read author" (35). Their status as outsiders can lead to misconceptions and misunderstandings.

In an interview with the Spanish newspaper, El Pais Vargas Llosa was asked if he believes that

people suffering from tyranny are, in some way, responsible for their situation he responds,

"Creo que si. Con escasas excepciones hay siempre una responsabilidad en los pueblos que por

ingenuidad, confusion y a veces cobardia, aceptan las dictaduras" ("Desarrollo integro del foro

con Vargas Llosa".) In other words, Dominican's acceptance of Trujillo whether by action or

inaction, to a certain extent, allows them to be held responsible for his regime. However, Rueda

disagrees and believes that such thinking reveals ignorance. At a conference in 1980 he

explains:

Con alguna frecuencia ofmos decir que un pueblo tiene el gobierno que merece, frase
determinista que no viene avalada por un studio profundo de la realidad de los pueblos
avasallados. El pueblo nunca es responsible por su miseria, la que le llega siempre de lo
alto y que esta determinada por un tipo de sociedad en la que trabajo y beneficio no son
correspondientes y en la que el poderfo de unos pocos se basa en la explotaci6n de los mis.
(114-5)

Rueda's statement illustrates how authors, such as Vargas Llosa, risk making erroneous

assumptions. If as Doris Sommer notes in Foundational Fictions "literature informs a national

consciousness by articulating it" (20), we should be concerned when talented authors such as

Alvarez, Danticat, and Vargas Llosa skillfully disguise misconceptions in their narratives and

mass produce it for both Dominican and non-Dominican consumption. Their access to major

publishing houses creates the opportunity for Dominican and Haitian national identity and

consciousness to be affected by an author who did not fully understand the historical event he or


44 As evidence of this, In the Time of the Butterflies is for sale at the Mirabal Museum, although Ded6 Mirabal, who
runs the museum, confided in a personal interview that she has not read Alvarez's novel. Ferreras' work, which is
much more accurate historically, is notably absent.









she was fictionalizing. For this reason, the novelist Virginia Brodine states, "I believe writers of

historical fiction should be held accountable by historians" (208).

I partially agree with Larson's claim that Dominican's have not been able to effectively

narrate the era of Trujillo, as it relates to the three Dominican texts studied. Admittedly, these

narratives fail as novels. Yet, despite their narrative shortcomings they succeed because they

allow the contemporary reader to experience the historical event. Furthermore, the shortcomings

have not prevented Dominicans from buying the works of fiction. In a country where an initial

print run is usually 1000, El Masacre se pasa a pie sold 34,000 copies. (David Howard 140).

The pain and humiliation Dominicans and Haitians suffered is clearly expressed in the

Dominican texts, making them particularly difficult to read as they can trigger trauma in the

reader. For the North American reader who is familiar enough with history to know that the

United States supported Trujillo's dictatorship these narratives can also trigger feelings of shame

and guilt. In fact, the library at the University of Florida is named after one of Trujillo's

supporters. Because of his relationship with Trujillo, in 1961, President John F. Kennedy sent

Senator George A. Smathers (1913-2007) to the Dominican Republic with the sole purpose of

convincing Trujillo to retire. His refusal to willingly relinquish power resulted in his

assassination soon after. In 1991, after receiving a 26 million dollar gift from Senator Smathers,

the university renamed its library system after him.

In El tema de la dictadura en la narrative del mundo hispinico, Giuseppe Bellini

distinguishes between Latin-American and non Latin-American authors of novels of dictatorship.

According to Bellini the great divide between a novel such as Tirano Banderas (1926) by the

Spaniard Ram6n Marfa del Valle-Inclhn and La sangre (1915) by the Dominican Tulio Cestero,

is a direct experience with political repression. Bellini writes, "Se trata de una aproximaci6n al









problema desde una posici6n externa; falta una experiencia direct" (14). While most literary

critics agree that Tirano Banderas is one of the best written novels of dictatorship, Bellini states,

"El lector sigue con interns la narraci6n, pero inmediatamente percibe que a Tirano Banderas le

falta algo que tienen El Sefior Presidente y las demis novelas hispanoamericanas que denuncian

las dictaduras: una experiencia direct de dolor" (22). While the non-Dominican narratives

studied here clearly succeed as novels and have enjoyed great commercial success, Bellini's

observation of Tirano Banderas holds true for In the time of the Butterflies, The Farming of

Bones, and La Fiesta del Chivo, what is missing from these novels is the author's direct

experience of living during the era of Trujillo. In contrast, as Larson has observed, the texts by

Ferreras, Prestol Castillo and Requena fail to convert reality into art. However, they do allow the

voice of the marginalized and oppressed to be heard and succeed in describing the experience of

living during Trujillo's dictatorship. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, they serve as

memorials for Trujillo's victims.

The Trujillo dictatorship continues to interest authors. In 2007, the Dominican-American

author Junot Diaz published The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. The Pulitzer Award

winning novel moves back and forth in time and place between modern day New Jersey and

contemporary Santo Domingo and the country during the Trujillo era. In his narrative Diaz

engages, contradicts, and rewrites the earlier narratives by Alvarez and Vargas Llosa, who are

both explicitly mentioned. To cite an example, unlike Senator Cabral in La Fiesta del Chivo, Dr.

Cabral, one of the main characters in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, does not offer up

his daughter to the dictator. This refusal leads to his arrest and torture and is the reason the

Cabral flees the Dominican Republic and ends up in New Jersey. However, Diaz's narrative is

similar to the six studied here in that while the era of Trujillo looms over and overshadows the









text, Trujillo is not a major character. Perhaps it is because as the author explains in a footnote,

". .. his power was terminal in ways that few historians or writers have ever truly captured, or I

would argue, imagined. He was our Sauron, our Arawn, our Darkseid, our Once and Future

Dictator, a personaje so outlandish, so perverse, so dreadful that not even a sci-fi writer could

have made his ass up" (2).

Despite their considerable ability, none of the six authors studied here have allowed

Trujillo to be a primary character, focusing instead on the experience of living during the era and

allowing the voice of his victims to be heard. Yet, I am hopeful that Trujillo will appear as a

primary character in a Dominican novel. It may take time for Dominicans are still recovering

from the era of Trujillo. As Lola in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao describes, "Ten

million Trujillos is all we are" (324). However, when he appears it will be a sign that the county

has finally come to terms with a painful part of their history.











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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Christina Stokes was born in Madrid, Spain. She attended The Ohio State University

where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1992. After graduation she worked as a

Financial Analyst for NCR and Eaton Corporation. She later pursued her Masters of Arts degree

in Spanish at Cleveland State University. Beginning in 2000, she continued her graduate studies

at the doctoral level at the University of Florida. Her major field of study is 20th century

Dominican literature. She received a Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University of Florida in

August of 2009





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RE-ENVISIONING HISTORY: MEMORY, MYTH AND FICTION IN LITERARY REPRESENTATIONS OF THE TRUJILLATO By CHRISTINA E. STOKES A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2009 1

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2009 Christina E. Stokes 2

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In Memoriam Alvaro FŽlix Bola–os Luis Cosby 3

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to express my d eepest thanks to all the people who have made this study possible. I deeply thank Dr. Efra’n Barradas who has been my mentor and advisor during my years as a doctoral student. His guidance and in sight have been invaluable I also want to the thank the rest of my committee, Dr. FŽlix Bola –os, Dr. Tace Hedrick, Dr. Reynaldo JimŽnez, and Dr. Mart’n Sorbille, for their help in contextualiz ing my work and careful reading of this study. I thank Dr. AndrŽa Avellaneda, Dr. Geraldine Clea ry Nichols and Dr. David Pharies for being wonderful teachers and mentors. Ma ny thanks go to the staff of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, especially Ann Elton, Terry Lopez, a nd Sue Ollman. I also thank the staff of the Latin American Collection of Smathers Librar y, Paul Losch and Richard Phillips for their invaluable help in obtaining texts. I would also like to express my gratitude to my mother, C onsuelo Cosby and my sister, Angela O'Connell for their enc ouragement and enthusiasm. Finally, I thank my husband, John and stepdaughter, Shelby for their love and support. 4

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TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 ABSTRACT.....................................................................................................................................7 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION................................................................................................................. ...9 Historical Amnesia............................................................................................................. ....10 The 1937 Massacre of Haitian Migrants................................................................................13 Las Mirabal.............................................................................................................................14 The Trujillo era............................................................................................................... ........15 Classification of Narratives....................................................................................................16 Rafael Le—nidas Trujillo Molina............................................................................................17 The United States Inte rvention of 1916 1924......................................................................22 The Role of the United States in Trujillo's Regime...............................................................23 Narrating the Nation........................................................................................................... ....26 A Matter of Perspective in Narrating the Trujillo era.............................................................27 Turn Towards History: New Hist oricism & Cultural Materialism........................................29 Fiction, History and Truth......................................................................................................29 The Burden of History............................................................................................................34 Conclusion..............................................................................................................................35 2 LITERATURE AS MEMORY: THE 1937 MA SSACRE OF HAITIAN CITIZENS AS NARRATED IN EL MASSACRE SE PASA A PIE AND THE FARMING OF BONES ...37 Introduction................................................................................................................... ..........37 Narrating Horror.....................................................................................................................40 The Official Word: Silence..................................................................................................... 42 A Witness Testifies: Freddy Prestol Castillo.........................................................................44 A Survivor's Tale: Edwidge Danticat....................................................................................48 Exile, Solitude & Sterility.................................................................................................... ...53 Victim or Perpetrator?............................................................................................................56 Haitian Response to the Massacre..........................................................................................61 Dominican Reaction to the Massacre.....................................................................................64 Racism as Official Discourse: Antihaitianismo .....................................................................65 Haitians as Thieves............................................................................................................ .....71 The Dangers of Nationalism...................................................................................................72 Imagining Trujillo............................................................................................................. ......76 Conclusion..............................................................................................................................77 3 CHALLENGING "EL JEFE" IN LAS MIRABAL AND IN THE TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES ......................................................................................................................82 5

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Introduction................................................................................................................... ..........82 The Mirabal Sisters Historical Background........................................................................83 Las Mirabal: A Dominican Interpre tation of the Sisters.......................................................85 In the Time of the Butterflies : The Voice of the Dominican Diaspora..................................87 Las Mirabal and In the Time of the Butterflies: Providing Testimony...........................89 Resisting the Reader in In the Time of the Butterflies ...........................................................91 Narrative Structure in Las Mirabal and In the Time of the Butterflies ..................................93 A Matter of Perspective........................................................................................................ ..95 A Cure For Historical Amnesia..............................................................................................96 Narrating the Dominican Republic.........................................................................................98 Dominican Men: Too Afraid to Fight Tyranny?...................................................................99 The United States Military and Trujillo: The Weakening of the Dominican Male......102 Racism in the Dominican Republic...............................................................................104 Dominican Nationalism and Un ited States Imperialism...............................................107 Resisting Patriarchy in the Dominican Republic..................................................................111 Feminism and Patriarchy in the Trujillo era..................................................................111 Trujillo, The Dictator: The Second Level of Patriarchy................................................115 The Heroine and the Tyrant...........................................................................................117 Minerva Mirabal: Narra ting A National Heroine................................................................119 The Mirabal Family.......................................................................................................119 Motherhood and Love of Country.................................................................................121 The Mythification of Minerva.......................................................................................122 Conclusion............................................................................................................................126 4 PORTRAIT OF A DICTATORSHIP: "THE ERA OF TRUJILLO" IN CEMENTERIO SIN CRUCES AND LA FIESTA DEL CHIVO ..................................................................131 Introduction................................................................................................................... ........131 Writing to Correct a Wrong: AndrŽs Requena....................................................................137 Dictators and Cowards..........................................................................................................139 Requena's Cry for Help: Cementerio sin cruces .................................................................141 Cementerio sin cruces : Providing testimony.......................................................................146 An Outsider Looks In: Mario Vargas Llosa........................................................................147 Re-imagining the Dominican Republic during the era of Trujillo.......................................150 The role of women during the era of Trujillo.......................................................................155 Portrait of a Dictator......................................................................................................... ....162 Conclusion............................................................................................................................165 5 CONCLUSION................................................................................................................... ..168 LIST OF REFERENCES.............................................................................................................181 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.......................................................................................................196 6

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Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy RE-ENVISIONING HISTORY: MEMORY, MYTH, AND FICTION IN LITERARY REPRESENTATIONS OF THE TRUJILLATO By Christina E. Stokes August 2009 Chair: Efrain Barradas Major: Romance Languages This study analyzes how literary narrative perceives and represents 20 th century Dominican history, in particular Rafael Le onidas Trujillo's dicatorship. Th e narratives analyzed in this study are: El Masacre se pasa a pie (1973), by the Dominican Freddy Prestol Castillo, The Farming of Bones (1998), by the Haitian-American Edwidge Danticat, Las Mirabal (1976), by Ram—n Alberto Ferreras, In the Time of Butterflies (1995), by the Dominican-American Julia lvarez, Cementerio sin cruces (1949), by the exiled Dominican author AndrŽs Requena, and La Fiesta del Chivo (2000), by the well-know Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa. The narratives selected share much in common in that they ar e all to greater and lesser extents historicalpolitical narratives. They are also narratives of dictatorship and focus on the experience of living under a dictatorship, not the dictator. Additi onally, the selected narratives can also be categorized as those written during the Truji llato and those written afte r Trujillo's assassination. This is important in that his death allowed for the re-writing of the official history without fear of repercussion. Of particular interest to this study is how the literary texts chosen reconstruct Dominican historical discourses thereby cr eating new interpretations. This study also focuses on the development of Dominican national identity or identities, (black, white, Indian, masculine, 7

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feminine, etc.) and their represen tation in literature. The Domini can historical event or period that will be studied is the Trujillato' or the era of Trujillo (1930-1961) and more specifically within this time frame, the massacre of the Haitians along the Dominican-Haitian border in 1937, and the imprisonment and execution of the Mirabal sisters in 1962. For each historical event, I have selected two novels: one written by a Dominican and another written by either an outsider' or someone who is marginalized'. This analys is allows for a better understanding of how national identities are constantly being re-negotiated and of how Do minican history is constantly being recorded and re-written by both Dominican and non-Dominican authors. 8

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Without memory, our existence would be barr en and opaque, like a prison cell into which no light penetrates; like a tomb which rejects th e living . if anything can, it is memory that will save humanity. Elie Wiesel, "Hope, Despair and Memory" El escritor ha sido, es y seguir‡ siendo un desc ontento. Nadie que estŽ satisfecho es capaz de escribir, nadie que estŽ de acuerdo, reconciliado con la re alidad, cometer’a el ambicioso desatino de inventar realidades verbales. La vocaci—n literaria nace del desacuerdo de un hombre con el mundo, de la intuici—n de deficien cias, vac’os y escorias a su alrededor. Mario Vargas Llosa, "La literatura es fuego" The central focus of this study is on how litera ry narrative perceives and represents some events in 20th century Dominican history. Specifi cally, it analyses the way in which the dictator Rafael Le—nidas Trujillo Molin a, the 1937 massacre of Haitian citizens along the DominicanHaitian border and the revolutionary and national heroine Minerva Mirabal, have been narrated by some representative writers, in Dominican as well as other liter atures. It will also focus on how the nation has been narrated and how these narratives engage with and challenge earlier accounts of the same event. Literature is important in the study of hist ory, as it narrates th e human experience of history. History begins where memory ends. Both are significan t in the study of past events. It is also significant for future events. Memory, as noted by Elie Wiesel in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, can save humanity. Additionally, Gayle Green explains that "memory is our means of connecting past and present and construc ting a self and versions of experience we can live with. To doubt it is to doubt ourselves, to lose it is to lose ourselves; yet doubt it we must, for it is treacherous" (293). Literature adds an important element to memory. As Mario Vargas 9

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Llosa notes, "La literatura nos da una imagen que es una imagen que parece viva, que en cierto modo es viva, y que la memoria no pue de darnos" (Felipe Gonz‡lez 36). This study includes narrative of both memory and history. Some authors write from memory, others from a historical distance. All aim to keep the Trujillo era alive in collective memory. With Green's words in mind this study critically examines the history being recreated in these narratives. This analysis will allow fo r a better understanding of th is dictator's literary representation and of how Dominican history is being recorded and re-written in literature. Historical Amnesia As time moves forward, it is easy for history to be lost, forgotten from historical and cultural memory. The ex-Spanish president, Felipe Gonz‡lez (1982-1996 ), notes that "los espa–oles no conocen a Franco, la generaci—n co n cuarenta a–os ya no saben quiŽn era Franco" (37). Similarly even Dominicans who suffered under Trujillo, one of the world's most brutal and longest dictatorships, are forgetting him. The jo urnalist and author Bern ard Diederich offers an anecdote that serves as a compelling example: A little boy playing under a huge shaded tree in the backyard of the Juan Tom‡s D’az house looked puzzled when a recent visitor aske d if it was the garage they had discovered the body of El Jefe [The boy responds] "What Jefe ?". (264) 1 Some academics believe that the act of forgetting is important in the creation of national unity. For example, Ernest Renan in "The Meaning of Na tionality" explains that, "the essential element of a nation is that all its indi viduals must have many things in common, but must also have forgotten many things" (137). This id ea repeated by Benedict Anderson in Imagined Communities (2000). However, it is precisely this forgetting, which Renan believes is an important element in the formation of nationalism that the narratives in this study are fighting 1 The use of italics is the author's. 10

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against. Moreover, Julia l varez in "A Message from Julia observes, "The Czech novelist Milan Kundera says in one of his books that the struggle against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting'". These authors se ek to remember and to ensure that future generations will also know the Trujillo era. This act of remembrance can be subversive, as Kundera has noted. Remembering is also im portant for change. As Wiesel states: Remembering is a noble and necessary act. The call of memory, the call to memory, reaches us from the very dawn of history. No commandment figures so frequently, so insistently in the Bible. New Year's Day, Rosh Hashana is also called Yom Hazikaron the day of memory. On that day, the day of universal judgment, man appeals to God to remember: our salvation depends on it. If G od wishes to remember our suffering, all will be well; if He refuses, all will be lost. T hus, the rejection of memory becomes a divine curse, one that would doom us to repeat past disasters, past wars. ("Hope") In the same vein as Wiesel, Green believes that "memory is especially important to anyone who cares about change, for forgetting dooms us to repetition" (291). Yet problematically, memory is not infallible. As Green observes: Memory revises, reorders, refigures, resignif ies; it includes or omits, embellishes or represses, decorates or drops, according to imperatives of its own. Far from being a trustworthy describer or reality,' it is a shaper and a shape sh ifter that takes liberties with the past . In fact, memory is a creative writer, Mother of the Muses, maker of stories the stories by which we construc t meaning through temporality and assure ourselves that time past is not time lost. (294) It is not only memory that provides an obstacle to the understanding of past events. Holocaust survivors, like the prisoners w ho experienced unimaginable tort ure in Trujillo's prisons and those who survived the 1937 Haitian genocide, have found it difficult to narrate their experiences. Of this Wiesel explains: We tried. It was not easy. At first, because of the language; language failed us. We would have to invent a new vocabulary, for our own words were inadequate, anemic. And then too, the people around us refused to listen; and even those who listened refused to believe; and even those who believed could not comprehend. Of course they could not. Nobody could. The experience of the camps defies comprehension. ("Hope") 11

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As one reads of the atrocities committed by Un ited States Marines in the Dominican Republic, the torture political prisoners endured under Truj illo, or the senseless and brutal killing of Haitian infants by Trujillo's army, it is indeed difficult to comprehend. And yet, we must comprehend if we hope to prevent it from happeni ng again and as Wiesel notes "save humanity" ("Hope"). Keeping the memory of the Trujillo era alive is only one of the r easons the six authors selected for this study write. As Vargas Llosa note s an author is "un eterno aguaFiestas [un] perturbador social". He continues: Es preciso, por eso, recordar a nuestras socied ades lo que les espera. Advertirles que la literatura es fuego, que ella significa inconformismo y rebeli— n, que la raz—n del ser del escritor es la protesta, la contradicci—n y la cr’t ica. ("Literatura") According to him, authors write because they are unhappy with the world they live in, so they create new ones. The authors in this study, so me who rewrite history from memory (Prestol Castillo, Ferreras, Requena) and others who in terpret it from a greate r distance (Danticat, lvarez, Vargas Llosa) recreate and reinvent the Trujillo era usi ng the voices of the marginalized and the deceased, thereby resuscitating them and a llowing them to tell their story. Their act of remembrance is both subversive and yet necessary for humanity. Since this study is interested in how Do minican history has been perceived and represented, for each historical event I have c hosen two narratives: one written by a Dominican author who is both temporally and geographic clos e to the historical even t and another written by a non-Dominican author, who is distanced temporally and geographical from the narrated event. These narratives can further be categorized as those written during the Trujillo regime, which begins August 16, 1930, and those written after Trujillo's assassination on May 30, 1961. His death was important because it allowed for the re-w riting of the official hi story without fear of repercussion. According to Doris Sommer and Esteban Torres, aside from freedom of 12

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expression Dominican critics "agree that Domini can art can be divided into two major period before and after the tyrant" (277). This division is based more on ideology than chronology. As they explain, after Trujillo's death several exiled writers retu rned to the Dominican Republic. These authors: [brought] with them a series of questions about the meaning of their work. The social upheaval was so severe that their intellectual and artistic intervention was not noticed until later, when the habits of criticism and dial ogue were established . This urgency and catharsis tended to limit the production a nd the impact of literary work. (277-8) This lasted until the 1965 U.S. invasion of the country, which would not only polarize the country but also initiate a type of transcendent al epic style of literature (Sommer and Torres 278). The 1937 Massacre of Haitian Migrants The first historical event studied is the ma ssacre of thousands of Haitian citizens by the Dominican army, along the Dominican-Haitian border in October of 1937. The massacre occurred early in Trujillo's dictatorship and served to illustrate that his cruelty had no boundaries. It also helped him bette r define what it meant to be a Dominican': as in it is not being Haitian'. Haitians represented the necess ary other' needed to create a national identity. Haitians were black and of African descent. Dominicans, according to Trujillo and Joaqu’n Balaguer, were white and of Eur opean roots. The narratives El Masacre se pasa a pie (1973), by the Dominican Freddy Prestol Castillo and The Farming of Bones (1998), by the HaitianAmerican Edwidge Danticat, offer differing litera ry representations of the massacre. Prestol Castillo was a witness to the genocide. He clai ms that he wrote his narrative during the massacre and that, out of fear of it being discovered by Trujillo's henchman, he buried the manuscript until 1973, when it was published. In his narrative Pres tol Castillo seeks the understanding of his reader and attempts to explain how Dominicans could have participated in such a horrific act. In 13

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contrast, Danticat was born in Haiti in 1969 and came to the United States when she was twelve years old. Her narrative is told from the viewpoi nt of a female Haitian survivor of the genocide and reflects a feminine and Haitian perspective. In comparison with Prestol Castillo, she is distanced both chronological ly and geographically from the historical event. Although it happened 80 years ago the massacre still ha s a profound impact on the Dominican psyche. As Michelle Wucker explains: The memory of what happed at the Massacre Rive r in 1937 is still vivid in the minds of the islanders. Even now, it is nearly impossible for Dominicans and Haitians to think of each other without some trace of the tragedy of thei r mutual history that took place that year. ( Why The Cocks Fight 44) The xenophobia that led to the massacre is still ev ident in Dominican society today. In 2001 in Santo Domingo, a book titled Geopol’tica de la isla de Sant o Domingo: Migraci—n haitiana y seguridad nacional by Pelegr’n Castillo Sem‡n was published. It readily illustrates the feelings of xenophobia towards Haitians by Dominicans, some of whom view the Haitians as the source of all Dominican problems. This racial intolerance can also be seen in the 1930's in the works of both Manuel Pe–a Batlle and Joaqu’n Balaguer. More recently, it was seen in Dominicans treatment of Haitians in the 1990's. In June of 1991, U.S. Congressional Hearings were held regarding the unacceptable working conditions of Haitian workers in the Dominican Republic. In partial response, Dominican President Joaq u’n Balaguer who had served as Trujillo's puppet president, ordered the expulsion of all Haitians under th e age of 16 or over th e age of 60 living in the Dominican Republic. Six to seven thousa nd Haitians were forcibly expelled and an estimated 25,000 fled in f ear (Corte, et al. 97). Las Mirabal The second historical event analyzed is the life and death of three of the four Mirabal Sisters at the hands of Trujillo. Th e Mirabal sisters, who were well-known anti-Trujillo activists, 14

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occurred at the very end of the regime (Novemb er 25, 1960) and is credited, by some historians, with providing the motivation need ed to finally assassinate him Today, Dominicans view the three Mirabal sisters as national heroines and an important monument stands in their honor in Santo Domingo. Since they were executed only m onths before Trujillo's assassination, there weren't any literary narratives on th is event written during the Truji llo era. Therefore, the two narratives selected were written after the death of Trujillo. The Domi nican narrative is the fictional biography Las Mirabal (1976), by Ram—n Alberto Ferreras, who was an anti-Trujillo leader. He was imprisoned many times by Trujillo and Balaguer and dedicated the narrative to political prisoners. Undaunted, by his repeated vis its to La Victoria prison, Ferreras criticizes Balaguer in Las Mirabal and publishes it while Balaguer is president. The second narrative studied is In the Time of Butterflies (1995), by the Dominican-American Julia lvarez. It is also a fictional biography. The title ma kes reference to fact that Mi rabal sisters were also known by their code name Las Mariposas' or The Butterflies'. The Trujillo era Providing a general view of the Trujillo regi me, I have selected the following accounts: Cementerio sin cruces (1949), by the exiled Dominican author AndrŽs Requena and La Fiesta del Chivo (2000), by the well-know Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa. Trujillo's active libido and numerous conquests of women were legendary, prompting Dominicans to nickname him, "El Chivo", "The Goat" in English. As Jean Ch evalier and Alain Ghee nbrand explain, the goat "symbolizes the powers of procreation, the life force, the libido and fertility ." (435). Interestingly, while each narra tes the Trujillo era, both au thors wrote for a non-Dominican reader. It is importa nt to consider that Cementerio sin cruces was written during the Trujillo era, which led to Requena's assassinat ion in New York City, in Marc h of 1952. He had, at one point, been a Trujillo supporter and had served as a Do minican diplomat in Chile. He later became an 15

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editor of an anti-Trujillo news paper and a known anti-Trujillo l eader. Although he was in exile at the time it was written, his narrative provides an inside view of the political situation in the Dominican Republic. Conversely, Vargas Llos a, who writes his account forty years after Trujillo's death, does not have first hand knowledge of the inside workings of this dictator's regime. Classification of Narratives Narratives can be classified into dozens of ge nres and sometimes they fall into more than one. While all six narratives focus on the Trujillo era, only one is a histor ical novel. There is no one definition for this genre and the definitions offered by literary critics vary. The differences in definition, for the most part, are based on the relationship of the narrative time with the author's lifetime and the extent to which the hist orical events and characters are present in the novel. Seymour Menton in his study of what he calls Latin America' s new historical novel, defines it as ". novels whose action takes place completely (in some cases, predominantly) in the past arbitrarily defined here as a past not directly experience by the author" (16). Likewise, William W. Moseley in his study on the Chilean historical novel defines it "as a fictitious narrative of some length, dealing with a period prior to the c onscious lifetime of the author, and built upon an historical framework of major importance" (338). However, David Cowart in History and the Contemporary Novel (1989) offers an alternat e definition. He writes: I myself prefer to define historical fiction si mply and broadly as fiction in which the past figures with some prominence. Such ficti on does not require hist orical personages or events nor does it have to be set at some specified remove in time. Thus I count as historical fiction any novel in which a historical consciousne ss manifests itself strongly in either the characters or the action. (6) Both Menton and Moseley maintain that the time of the novel should be prior to the author's lifetime, while for Cowart this distinction is not necessary. For the pur poses of this study, the definition offered by Menton and Moseley will be us ed. According to it, all of the narratives 16

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included in this study, with the exception of The Farming of Bones would be excluded because they include the author's own lifetime. Similarly, there is no one official definition fo r the novel of dictator'. Carlos Pacheco defines it as "todas aquellas obr as de prosa narrativa cuyo tema principal sea la figura del dictador (aunque Žl no sea necesariamente el pe rsonaje protag—nico) o el rŽgimen dictatorial" (38). He does not distinguish between novels of dictator and novels of di ctatorship and uses the terms interchangeably. On the other hand, Angel Rama, uses the term, "novelas sobre dictadores" (15). According to him, the authors of these works "no buscan incorporar al pante—n de las glorias nacionales a los dictadores y a sus esbirros, sino que pretenden comprender un pasado reciente cuya sombra se proyecta hasta hoy" (15). Unlike Pacheco, this author of this study does not consider the terms interchangeable. Therefore, while all of the narratives include Trujillo as a character, none of the narratives selected are novels of dictator as defined here because he is not a major character in any of the narratives studied. The focus of these narratives is not Trujillo, the dictator, but the experience of living under his regime. Given that these texts seek to understand the past, by allowing Trujillo's victims, some posthumously, to provide testimony, all of the narratives studied would be "novelas sobre dictadores". They are also narratives of dictatorship since in each text the oppr ession of the Trujillo era is a central theme. Rafael Le—nidas Trujillo Molina The 20 th century saw a long list of dictators ri se to power among them; Idi Amin, the Emperor Bokassa, Papa Doc Duvalier, Francisco Franco, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Benito Mussolini, Augusto Pinochet, Pol Pot, Mobut u Sese Seko, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-tung and Rafael Le—nidas Trujillo. They told their people they and th e nation were one; that they were the nation. While many brought death and destructi on to their people, few were murdered or overthrown. Rafael Le—nidas Trujillo is one of the few who were murdered. 17

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For more than three decades, Trujillo was the Dominican Republic. 2 While dictators usually achieve power as the result of wars and violence, Trujillo forced his way into power with the help of the United States military. Trujillo got his start in politics during the United States occupation of the Dominican Re public (1916-24) when he joined the Dominican National Police force created by the U.S. Marines. He rose rapi dly through the ranks as he and the newly created police force helped the marines defeat a Dominican resistance movement. In 1930 he used the National Police force, which had been create d, armed and supported by the United States government, to seize political power from Pres ident Horacio V‡squez. Trujillo staged fraudulent elections claiming he had more votes than there were registered vot ers. It is for this reason that, according to Howard Wiarda, "Noel Henr ’quez called Trujillo the bastard son of the occupation forces,' and why the United States is often held a ccountable by Dominicans for the entire Trujillo era" (9). Truji llo's dictatorship, which spanned fr om 1930 the year he deceitfully became president of his country, to 1961 when he was assassinated, was one of the longest, cruelest, and most absolute in modern times. Until Fidel Castro of Cuba surpassed him, Trujillo had ruled longer than any ot her leader in Latin America. As Wiarda explains: The Trujillo regime was probabl y the strongest and most absolu te dictatorship ever to be established in the world. Truj illo did not share power with anyone but maintained nearly absolute authority in his own hands. It would not be accurate to label his system with Left or Right, Nazi or Fascist, for the Trujillo regime was essentially the story of a single individual and his personal power. (179) In an effort to take ownership of and contro l the Dominican Republic, Trujillo monopolized the nation's economic system. He took personal cont rol of large parts of the Dominican economy 2 Useful analyses of the Trujillo regime include: Trujillo: The Life and Times of a Caribbean Dictator (1986) by Robert D. Crassweller, La Era de Trujillo (1999) by Jesœs de Gal’ndez, and Dictatorship and Development (1970) by Howard J. Wiarda. 18

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and expropriated the sugar estates an d cattle ranches of political opponents. 3 In short, Trujillo ran the Dominican Republic as if it were a busin ess he owned. At the time of his death in 1961 Trujillo was worth 800 million dollars [5.3 billion dollars today] (Rogozinski 258). As part of Trujillo's effort to merge hi mself and the Dominican Republic into one, he cultivated a national ideology whic h had three main components: hispanofilia a Spanish term which has no English equivalent and means l ove or admiration of Sp ain, anti-Haitianism and anticommunism. As Roberto Cass‡ et al. explains, Trujillo's visi on of nationalism believed that: El dominicano era mejor que el otro que el enemigo, el haitia no, recurrencia ajustada al car‡cter reaccionario de ese pr etendido nacionalismo. De ah ’ que la esencia hisp‡nica tuviese por correlato obligado el enfrentamiento nacional con Hait’ magnificado hasta proporciones aterradoras como categor’a f undamental’sima de la constituci—n de la propia naci—n dominica. (60) It is Trujillo's hard line toward s communism that assured him support from the United States. The cruelty and sadism Trujillo's regime is difficult to imagine. He organized an efficient network of informers and security forces creating a reign of terror. He ordered the assassination of countless Dominicans, among them the Mirabal si sters, the subject of chapter three of this study, and the author AndrŽs Requena, who is the subject of chapter four of this work. Trujillo also killed non-Dominicans. He was responsible for the deaths of the Spaniards JosŽ Almoina in Mexico City and Jesœs de Gal’ndez in New York City. 4 Most famously, in 1960 Trujillo attempted, but failed, to assassinate the Venezuel an President R—mulo Betancourt. Betancourt 3 For more information see Frank Moya Pons' "Import-Substitution Industrialization Policies in the Dominican Republic, 1925-61". 4 Almoina, a Spaniard, had been Trujillo's private secret ary from 1945-1947. He had published a lavishly proTrujillo book titled Yo fui secretario de Trujillo (1950). Interestingly he was also the author of a book titled Una satrap’a en el Caribe (1949), which denounced the Trujillo regime, and was published under the name Gregorio Bustamante. It was this book that would cost the author his life. In 1960 while living in exile in Mexico City, he was run down by a truck and shot by Trujillo's men. Gal’ndez published his doctoral dissertation titled La Era de Trujillo which infuriated the dictator. He was living in New York at the time of his kidnapping on March 12, 1956. He was flown to the Dominican Republic where he was appare ntly murdered. The English translation of his work is titled The Era of Trujillo, Dominican Dictator (1973). The American pilot Gerald Murphy, who flew Gal’ndez to the Dominican Republic, later disappeared himself. 19

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had harshly criticized Trujillo's brutal regime, infuriating the dictator. However, Trujillo's greatest expression of cruelty came in October 1937 when he ordered the massacre of thousands of Haitian citizens living along the DominicanHaitian border; this is the subject of the second chapter of this study. Despite his record of human rights violations Wiarda notes that: If not positively favorable, United State polic y toward Trujillo consistently remained benevolently neutral; and it was not until the last two years of his rule that the traditionally warm relations began to cool. (137) Trujillo also had a penchant for self-adulation and Dominicans were constantly reminded of his greatness. He renamed Pico Duar te, the highest mountain in the An tilles, Pico Trujillo and Santo Domingo, the capital of the Domini can Republic and the oldest city in the Western Hemisphere located in Trujillo province, Ciuda d Trujillo. Every main street in every city bore his name and every park was adorned with busts of Trujillo, totaling more than 1,800 in Santo Domingo alone (Zuluaga 30). As Wucker notes the dictator was "[o]nce liste d in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world leader who build the mo st statues in his own honor" (69). In every business, hung a plaque declari ng that, "In this house, Truj illo is boss", on water pumps, "Trujillo alone gives us water to drink", on a group home for senior citizens, "Trujillo is the only one who gives us shelter", and along roadsides si gns proclaimed, "Thank You, Trujillo". JosŽ Almoina notes, "La megaloman’a de Trujillo es po siblemente el caso m‡s pintoresco de cuantos puede ofrecer la historia del mundo. Hay que rec onocer que en esto no ha tenido par el dictador dominicano" ( Una satrap’a en el Caribe 48). Not to be outdone by other generals around the world, Trujillo became the world's first five st ar general (William Krehm 170). His own son Ramfis became a colonel at the age of four, most likely making him the youngest colonel in history; at age eleven he would become a General. Trujillo also likened himself to Jesus Christ and the sign "God and Trujillo" appeared everyw here, even in flashing neon along roadsides. Dominican's first response to Trujillo's deat h as Wucker notes, "was to tear down the many 20

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monuments he had build to himself [and change] the name of the capital back to Santo Domingo from Ciudad Trujillo" ( Why the Cocks Fight 69). Trujillo also gave himself nu merous awards and titles. Mi guel Collado observes Trujillo was [e]l tirano de los mil nombres" (16). His li st of titles is almost endless and include the following: His Excellency General’ simo Doctor Rafael Le—nidas Trujillo Molina, the Honorable First Magistrate of the Nation, General of Generals Benefactor of the Fatherland, Restorer of the Financial Independence of the Dominican Re public and Father of the New Dominion. Additionally, he awarded himself many medals prompting Dominicans to give him the pejorative nickname "Chapitas", referring to the use of bottl e caps (chapitas in Spanish) as toy medals by Dominican children. Not surprisingly, in his obituary "End of the Dictator" in Time he was described as a "medal-jingling dictator." Trujillo's megalomania was not limited to the Dominican Republic. In 1936, a year before the Haitian massacre, Trujillo arranged a join t nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize for himself and Haitian President StŽnio Joseph Vincen t. Among the people nominating him was Max Henr’quez Ure–a, a Dominican intellectual and st atesman. It was rejected on the grounds that Trujillo had seized power militarily. The award instead went to another Latin American, Carlos Saavedra Lamas for his work in ending the Chaco War between Paraguay and Bolivia (19321935). Trujillo has been immortalized in novels, movies, plays, and music although in his case truth was stranger than fiction. For example, the Tr ujillo era can be seen in motion pictures such as the El misterio Gal’ndez (2003). The movie is based on a novel by Spanish writer Manuel V‡zquez Montalb‡n and focuses on the abduction, torture, and death of Jesœs Gal’ndez. In the 2001 motion picture In the Time of the Butterflies based on the novel by Julia lvarez of the 21

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same name is released. Also, in 2005 the motion picture La Fiesta del Chivo based on the novel by Mario Vargas Llosa of the same name is release d. The director is the Peruvian director Luis Llosa, Vargas Llosa's cousin. As Gal’ndez observed, "The human side of this political personage is most interesting and worthy of a novel" ("Inside 241). Likewise Krehm notes: [. .] the grotesque dictatorlets that have stalked through the earlier chapters of this book were summed up and outdone in the person of the Dominican Republic president, doctor and generalissimo [sic] Rafael Leonidas Trujil lo. There the racketeering of the Nicaraguan Somoza cohabitated with the sadism of the Guatemalan Ubico under a crazy quilt of exhibitionism; in fiction such a character would be torn apart by the critics for its slapdash improbability. (169) For this reason, among others, historians and ar tists, both Dominican and non-Dominican alike, have found Trujillo to be an irresistible subject. It is also for this reason th at narrating Trujillo is so difficult. The United States Intervention of 1916 1924 The United States intervention of 1916, without which Trujill o would not have risen to power, had a profound affect on the Dominican psyche. As Juan Bosch describes: Era una agresi—n imperialista, un abuso imper donable de fuerza ejercido en un pa’s dŽbil; pero el pueblo dominicano, con el alma envenenada por la p—cima caudillista, no ten’a ya capacidad para reaccionar. La Repœblica hab’a muerto, y su cad‡ver iba a dar vida a una nueva era, que Rafael Le—nidas Trujillo, co loc‡ndose a la altura de Cristo, bautizar’a con su nombre. (119) Similarly, AmŽrico Lugo maintains that, "Aqu’ no ha habido guerra con lo s Estados Unidos de AmŽrica: ni hemos sido vencidos, ni hemos aceptado, sino sufrido su ocupaci—n" (20-1). Dominicans had little choice but to accept Trujillo as a leader fo r they knew that rejecting him would likely lead to another Unite d States invasion. As Vargas Llosa explains in an interview with Ramona Koval: I think one of the most depressing aspects of a dictatorship, any kind of dictatorship, is that when you study it, when you investigate, when you approach the phenomenon, you discover that a dictatorship wouldn't be possible without many accomplices. Many, many accomplices. In certain casesin most cases, I would saywith a larg e support of society 22

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for very different reasons, but in a given mome nt, it as if a very larg e section of a society decides to abdicate their right to be free, to participate in so cial and political life; and to transfer these rights to a bi g man. And without this abdication, I don't think someone like Trujillo or all these great dict ators in history would have been possible. ("Interview with Mario Vargas Llosa," Books & Writing's Summer Season) However, some Dominicans reacted to the variou s occupations with nationalism. Lugo states that, "El Nacionalismo es la defensa de nuestro ca r‡cter original espa–ol, es la defensa de la libertad de las generaciones dominicanas del futur o, es la defensa de nuestro pasado glorioso, es la defensa de la Gran Patria Hispano-Americana" (16). It is this Dominican nationalism that would resist United States impe rial efforts. As Lugo writes, "[e]l Nacionalismo rechaza, asimismo, la misi—n de polic’a que los Estados Unidos de AmŽrica pretenden arrogarse en territorio dominicano" (11). The Dominican aut hors in this study were not, as described by Vargas Llosa, "accomplices". Ferreras, Prestol Castillo, and Requena rejected Trujillo and fought against him. The various United States interventions and th eir effects, both psyc hological and political, on the Dominican people have been narrated exte nsively in Dominican literature where they have been viewed as a historical trauma. In this study, it appear s most prominently in the works of Ferreras and lvarez who, through the charact ers in their narratives provide testimony of atrocities committed by the United States Marines. The Role of the United States in Trujillo's Regime Trujillo was assassinated ju st outside of Santo Domingo in 1961 by a group of army officers and civilians, alle gedly with CIA backing. As Julio CŽsar Mart’nez states, "[y] lo mat— la CIA, niŽguelo quien lo nie gue [sic] con miras de capitalizar una acci—n que jam‡s se hubiera realizado si no hubiera sido con el apoyo y la venia de la CIA" (8). Dominicans had not able to kill Trujillo without the support a nd help of the United States. Wiarda explains, "According to 23

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some of those involved, the psychol ogical factor of United States assistance was most important" (171). Dwight Eisenhower, in his pr esidential memoir, recalls that: By May, intelligence reports told me, that the life expectancy of the Trujillo regime once again appeared uncertain. Tr ujillo had begun to attack Do minicans associated with the Catholic Church. This kind of attack, I remark ed on hearing the report, is usually the last desperate resort of a dictator'. (534) Eisenhower's comments reflect Trujillo's loss of control in the Dominican Republic towards the end of his dictatorship. As Ab raham Lowenthal explains, "Whatever the reasons, it is clear that by 1961 American officials regard the Dominican Republic as a potential second Cuba' and that it was necessary to remove Trujillo from power" (527). Despite the obvious involvement of the CIA, Wiarda observes "[f]or nationa listic reasons, the role of the United States in the conspiracy is seldom mentioned in the Dominican Republic." (172). There is a ce rtain irony in his manner of death as he was killed with weapons provi ded by the United States, the same country whose weapons he used to seize power. It is also ironic that Trujillo's death was, in part, a result of his megalomaniacal and macho personality. As the former Spanish president Felipe Gonz‡lez and Vargas Llosa discuss: Gonz‡lez. Una de las caracter’sticas de su dictadura caudillista era presumir de no hacerse proteger. Cosa que con frecuenc ia hac’a como exhibici—n de poder. -Vargas Llosa. Bueno, el machismo, no? ƒl era el macho, no necesitaba que lo protegieran. Detestaba tener guardaespaldas. En realidad, por eso lo mataron, no? Gonz‡lez. Eso es. Ese recorrido era absur do que lo hiciera sin protecci—n. Nunca se le hubiera ocurrido a Franco hacer un recorrido de esa naturaleza sin protecci—n. (23) After his assassination, Dominican s danced for months to popul ar merengue, "Mataron al Chivo en la carretera" an irreverent merengue written to celebrate the general's assassination. In 1962 Juan Bosch, who had lived in exile during Trujillo's regime, became president of the Dominican Republic. He was ousted a year later, in 1963, by a military coup. In April of 1965, civil war broke out between Bosch's follower s and the old Trujilloist army. The United 24

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States, fearful of another Cuba, took over the country and supported th e Trujilloist army. According to Thomas Skidmore and Peter Sm ith "[t]he invading force consisted of 22,000 marines, a contingent whose size amazed even Am erican civilian officials on the scene" (290). JosŽ Alc‡ntara Alm‡nzar offers insight on how Dominicans view the "War of April". He describes, "as’ denominamos a aquella heroica experiencia del pueblo do minicano en defensa de su proceso democr‡tico y de su soberan’a" ( 325). In 1966 Joaqu’n Balaguer, who had served under Trujillo, was returned to power by the Un ited States, replacing Juan Bosch who had been democratically elected in December 1962. Presid ent Eisenhower notes in his memoir that "[a]nother recurring subject in al l of my talks was a refutation of the charge that the United States favors imperialism and dictatorship . We repudiated dictatorship in any form,' I told an audience in Santiago" ( 532). Yet, many Dominicans would disagree with the former president. As Wiarda explains: For the Marine-created consta bulary through which Trujillo ro se to power, for the praise which congressmen, clerics, ambassadors, and other high officials showered upon him, for the aid given him, and for the close and fr iendly relationship which long existed between the two countries, the United States was often considered by many Dominicans to bear responsibility for the entire Trujillo era. (192) Similarly Lowenthal points out that "[o]nly when events elsewher e made Trujillo seem more a threat than a source of stability in the Caribbean did American support for Trujillo end" (526). The United States' long support of Trujillo without regard for the suffering of the Dominican people (and Haitian during the 1937 ma ssacre), calls to mind an opinion held by AimŽ CŽsaire. He writes, "American domina tion the only dominati on from which one never recovers. I mean from which one never recove rs unscarred" (77). The narratives in this study reflect CŽsaire's observation and offer critiques of the post colonial situation of the Dominican Republic by showing how the United States repl aced the previous Spanish colonizers and Haitian occupiers through its multiple invasions of the country and its endorsement of Trujillo, 25

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and later the neo-Trujillista Jo aqu’n Balaguer as leaders. As Juan Bosch once stated, "This country is not pro-American, it is United Stat es property." ("Balaguer and His Firm Ally, the U.S., Are Targets of Dominican Unrest," The New York Times ). Narrating the Nation In offering their interpretation of Dominican history, the authors crea te an image of the Dominican Republic. Anderson defines the nation as "an imagined political community and imagined as both inherently limite d and sovereign" (6). This im age is both created and reflected by, in part, narrative. Neil Larson maintains that "[t]he nation, far from being the pre-existing, essential content of th e narratives making up a tradition, it its elf is nothing but a narrative, a fiction, produced by, among others, these ve ry fictional narratives themselves" ( Determinations 84). Moreover, lvarez in "Ten of My Writi ng Commandments" claims, "We storytellers are helping to create the culture we liv e in, and so, in a very real sens e, we are helping to rule the empire" (38). For these reasons narration is an important re presentation of the nation. In addition to studying how the Trujillo era is narrated, this study will also focus on how the Dominican Republic is perceived and represen ted in the six fictional narratives studied. These authors have differing relationships to the country they narrate. For Ferreras and Prestol Castillo it was home. For lvarez, who can now return but chooses not to, and Requena, it is a land from which they were exiled. Danticat and Va rgas Llosa have an indirect relationship with the Dominican Republic. If, as Sommer maintain s, "literature informs a national consciousness by articulating it", then what national consci ousness is created by the narratives written by outsiders? ( Foundational Fictions 20). Considering that collec tive memory can be distorted by narrative, this study will atte mpt to provide an answer. 26

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A Matter of Perspective in Narrating the Trujillo era In each case, the narrative written outside of the Dominican Republic (Danticat, lvarez, Vargas Llosa) achieved far greater commercial success. This success has allowed these voices to eclipse Dominican narrative (voices), which also seek to offer their own interpretations of the past yet have a difficult time being heard. Thes e authors, even those who write in English as both Danticat and lvarez do, have the ability to shape how Dominicans view themselves and how others view Dominicans and the Dominican Republic. Roberto MarcallŽ Abreu, a Dominican journalist and author, explai ns how this is possible. He says: Nuestra literatura, en sentido ge neral, y es lo que creo, est‡ al margen de la que hoy d’a se produce en el mundo. y nos debe llenar de vergŸenza que vengan de fuera a explotar temas locales con una repercusi—n internaci onal que ningœn escritor nuestro ha logrado. (419-20) He continues to explain that Dominicans do not r ead Dominican literature because there exists a "desprecio de las letras nacionale s" (409). He partially credits th is to a lack of advertising and marketing of Dominican literature. Therefore, due in part to th e large publishing companies that promote it, narrative on Dominican history written by outsiders is more widely read by both Dominicans and non-Dominicans alike. CŽsaire's earlier observation on the scarring caused by American domination leads to a question posed by Larson. How has Dominican lite rature recorded this painful period? Larson, in an article titled "C—mo narrar el Trujillato?" argues that while Trujillo is dead, his influence remains. As evidence of this, he points to the democratic election of th e neo-Trujillista Joaqu’n Balaguer in 1986. Larson also ar gues that life for the vast ma jority of Dominicans has not changed much in the forty years since Trujillo 's assassination. Base d on these political and economic facts he believes that Dominicans have not been able to effectively narrate the era of Trujillo. He states: 27

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El Trujillato parece estar suspendido en la me nte de la sociedad actual como contenido vivido, pero sin forma adecuada, represen tado, en el mejor de los casos, como un sinnœmero de anŽcdotas sensacionales ensartadas en el hilo biogr‡fic o del propio dictador. (90) However, Trujillo appears often in Dominican narrative. Collado observes that Trujillo, as a shadow or perhaps a ghost, appears constantly in Dominican narrative (12). However, Bruno Rosario Candelier claims that Dominican lite rary production has not reflected their "ser nacional" and that with few exceptions, Domini can novels have only written about Dominican internal conflicts and armed revolutions ( Tendencias 15). In contrast to their Dominican counterparts, who suffered the psychological trau ma of dictatorship, the authors in this study (Danticat, lvarez and Vargas Ll osa) who live outside of the Dominican Republic have very successfully narrated the Trujillo era. Their position as outsiders places them in a privileged position as they do not directly experience the ongoing effects of Trujillo's dictatorship mentioned by Larson. As Carine Mardorossian expl ains "exiled writers are often seen as better equipped to provide and objective' view of the two worlds they are straddling by virtue of their alienation" (16). It is this alienation that allows them to more effectively narrate the Trujillo era. Fernando Valerio Holgu’n offers a response to La rson in an article titled "En el tiempo de Las Mariposas de Julia lvarez: Una interpreta ci—n de la historia." He claims that the representation of the totality of an era is impossible and in su pport of his argument cites Pierre Macherey, who believes that what authors reflec t are fragments of history, much like a broken mirror reflects fragments of a whole. The narratives I have selected for my work are much like the broken mirror metaphor used by Macherey, in that they individually reflect fragments of Dominican history. 28

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Turn Towards History: New Historicism & Cultural Materialism In the late 1970's and early 1980' s, literary critic s became interested in the relationship between literature and history a nd in how literature reflects, shapes and represents history. In particular, critics of new histor icism believe that literature and history are inseparable; that literature is used in the represen tation of history and that lite rature contains insights into historical moments (John Branni ngan 169-70). They are also in terested in how cultures are represented and believed that to this end all texts could be examin ed for their historicity, just as any historical phenomenon (e.g. a merengue on Trujillo 's death) could be an alyzed much as one would a literary text. New historicism and cultural materialism, which emerged later, share many of the same views, such as a focus on the political function of literary texts. Yet, a major difference is that new historicists usually concentr ate on those at the top of the so cial hierarchy (t he wealthy, the monarchy, the church) and how those classes maintain power, while cultural materialists prefer to concentrate on those at th e bottom of the social hierar chy (the poor, women and other marginalized peoples) and how they subvert power (Dino Felluga). This study combines elements of both in its study of the wealthy a nd educated Dominican Mirabal sisters and an illiterate, poor, Haitian woman a nd genocide survivor. Additionall y, it looks for ways in which subversion and resistance to political oppression are articulated and represented. Fiction, History and Truth As previously noted, an important focus of th is study is the relations hip between literature and history. There is no precise definition for the term literatur e'. Roland Barthes offers this simple definition, "Literature is what gets taught" (qtd. in Eaglet on 172). However, history' is easier to define. Nancy Partner defines it as "meaning imposed on time by means of language: history imposes syntax on time" (97) She continues to say that: 29

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Knowing that time is resistless, amorphous, the universal solvent of meaning, we yet demand, form and in this quintessentially human act of imposing form on formless time are coiled the high tensions of art, religion, and philosophy. (92) 5 Similarly, David Carr believes that "narrative imposes on the events of the past a form that in themselves they do not have" (11). Narrative pl ays an important function in society because as H. Porter Abbott explains, "narrative is the pr incipal way in which our species organizes its understanding of time" (3). Both the historian and the novelist shar e the same task, in that both impose form on the formless, in this case it is time, and in doing so they create narrative, necessary for humans to understand time. Hayden White has widely studied the relati onship between history and narrative and believes that historiographical and fictional narratives ar e not only related but that historiographical narratives need literary narra tive in order to be understood. In Tropics of Discourse (1978) White maintains that: The older distinction between fiction and hist ory, in which fiction is conceived as the representation of the imaginable and history as the representa tion of the actual, must give place to the recognition that we can only know the actual by contrasting it with or likening it to the imaginable (98) As White explains, literature not only plays a un ique role but also is also necessary in the interpretation of reality. This idea is reflected in DedŽ Mirabal' s comments in the "Epilogue" of In the Time of the Butterflies where she describes the death of he r three sisters. She states, "We had lost hope, and we needed a story to unde rstand what had happene d to us" (313). In Metahistory (1973), White maintains that the historic al works of Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche and Croce are much more than objective reconstructions of past reality and argues that they contain an element of imagination. He rejects the idea th at historians narrate hi story as it happened because imposing form on time, which is formless, requires the use of narrative, which has its 5 Emphasis is the author's. 30

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own rules and structure. Therefore, accordi ng to White, no clear dis tinction exists between historiographical and l iterary narration, a point further developed in The Content of Form (1987). Paul Recouer, in Memory, History, Forgetting (2004) asks simply, "Does not the representation of the past consist in a interpre tation of the stated f acts?" (235). The obvious answer for this author is yes. Both the historian and the ar tist in their narratives interpret the past. If we recognize, as the above-m entioned critics do, that there is no frontier between literary narration and historical narration, since both are narratives and both include the interpretation of past events, then both are equally valid in the study of history and humanity. This point is clearly made by White when he says of the literary critic and novelis t Gene Bell-Villada: Would he wish to say that their works do not teach us about real hi story because they are fictions? Are their novels less true for be ing fictional? Are they less fictional for being historical? Could any history be a true as these novels without availing itself of the kind of poetic tropes found in the work of Vargas Llosa, Carpentier, Donoso, and Cort‡zar? ( Figural 13) Much can be learned from past events through the study of literary narrative and, in particular in Latin America, where novels tend to focus more on the social-political than the psychological and where there has always been a close link betw een history and the novel. Additionally, in One Master for Another (1983) Doris Sommer states, "books have no clear-cut frontiers with other works of literature or other discourses like history, politics, economics, etc." (x). They are a part of the discourse created by culture and therefore are a reflec tion of it. AimeŽ CŽsaire, in agreement with White and Sommer, believes that hi storians or novelists are the same thing (55). In the sense that both apply narrative to time, there is no difference between the historian and the novelists. The novelist Virginia Warner Brodie makes an important observation. She reminds the reader that, "A novel, is by definition, fiction. The characters never really lived; the incidents never really happened. Perhaps it was not like that at all" (211) Roberto Gonz‡lez Echevarr’a 31

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similarly writes that, "the novelist i nvents' new plots and characters" ( The Voice of the Masters 69). In other words, the Trujillo who appears in these narratives has been invented' by the authors. Gonz‡lez Echevarr’a cont inues, "within the te xt of the novel, it is the novelist, through the voice of omniscience, who has replaced G od. The third person is the novelist's unholy, yet powerful, ghost" (69). lvare z in the "Postscript" of In the Time of the Butterflies informs the reader that, "I began to invent them [the Mirabal sisters] . what you find in these pages are not the Mirabal sisters of fact, or even the Mira bal sisters of legend" ( 324). Therefore, when talking about historical fiction or novels of dictatorship, one must keep in mind that it is, above all, fiction. While the characte rs in the novel may share the names with actual famous historical people, they are ultimately fictional creations of th e author. This is not to say that fiction does not have historiographic value. Vargas Llosa maintains that: La verdad que expresa una novela, la verdad que expresa la literatu ra no es la verdad hist—rica. No es la verdad sociol—gica, no es una verdad que se pueda demostrar objetivamente. Es una verdad subjetiva. Es una verdad que no es de mostrable pero s’ es una verdad en el sentido que nos ilumina co mo no nos ilumina ninguna ciencia social una determinada realidad. [ La marcha Radetsky ] Es una novela que a m’ me parece deslumbrante porque lo que Žl cuenta s—lo una novela pod’a contar lo; no hay historiador, no hay soci—logo, que pueda describir esos mecanismos internos que tienen que ver con la psicolog’a, con el sistema de valores de lo ciudadanos que fue socavando el imperio hasta que ese imperio, con la Primera Guerra Mund ial, se desmoron—. (Fe lipe Gonz‡lez 34) As Vargas Llosa explains, literature serves an im portant and unique role in society as it is the means by which history can be experienced. Additionally, history and literatur e differ in focus. As James G. Kennedy notes, "The real difference [between a history and a novel] is that the historical imagination gives generalizations that are factually true, whereas the literary im agination offers individuals' experiences which have at best practical truth" ( 153). While historians are mainly interested in generalizations, authors are interested in individu al experiences. It is in thei r narrative that the voice of the marginalized can be heard and how the human ex perience of history, in this case dictatorship, 32

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can be explained, understood, and perhaps even felt. In this way, authors supplement the historian's representation of hist ory. It is also why literary narra tive is important in the study of history. Vargas Llosa, a novelist, believes that literary narrative is superior to historiographic literature because: Al final uno cree que las guerras napole—nicas en Rusia fueron como las describi— Tolstoi y no como las describen los historiadores porque La guerra y la paz es una novela que uno no puede olvidar. Es una novela plagada de inexactitudes hist—ricas pero a quiŽn le importa esas inexactitudes hist—ricas cua ndo entra en la magia extraordinaria de La guerra y la paz ? (36) The authors in this study are not unique in blurring the lines between fiction and history. Historians have also crossed th e line', so to speak, and meddled into imaginative writing. Both have done so for similar reasons. The renowne d Dominican historian Bernardo Vega, in the preface of his firs t piece of fiction, Domini Canes: Los Perros del Se–or (1988), mentions that when he writes a historical text, he always tries to "mantener la objetividad y el rigor acadŽmico que este tipo de trabajo obliga" (9). However, he realizes that this type of writing is not well read. He continues, "La labor acadŽmica, por su propia naturale za, no es entendible o no atrae a un segmento importante de la poblaci—n que s’ debe r’a conocer sobre estas cosas y que s—lo se interesa en leer ficci—n ligera" (9). Here, Vega recognizes the ability of fiction to reach a larger audience and, therefore, have a greater impact. Additionally, he explains that mixing history with fiction is justified "pues la literatura y el mito pueden pone r de manifiesto lo que la historia ha ocultado o lo que ha sido olvida do" (10). Vega ventures into the world of historical fiction for several reasons: first, he wants the freedom to write with imagination and second, he wants Dominicans to think about their history. 33

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The Burden of History Alfred MacAdam observes that since the 1940s in Spanish American literature, "Writing has now become the means by which Latin America can learn to live with its ghosts, learn from them and use the burden of history instead of being crushed by it" (562). Additionally, he believes that this recent literature serves as a "monument that seeks to keep a collective memory alive with all its contradictions against the wishes of official history" (562). The narratives in this study support MacAdam's obs ervations. The inside cover of In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia lvarez, consists of names of people who Trujillo assassinated. As Ilan Stavans notes, these names transform Butterflies into a political artifact He states, "Recalling the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., the names seem endless, an homage to patriotic anonymity" (555). Included in the list are the names of two distinguis hed Dominican authors who were killed for their writings, Ram—n Marrero Aristy and AndrŽs Requena. Ram—n Alberto Ferreras, who fears that the Mirabal sisters are being forgotten, writes Las Mirabal in an effort to keep their memory alive. Freddy Prestol Castillo offers his testimony in El Masacre se pasa a pie in an effort to not be overwhelmed by the inhu manity of the genocide he witnessed. Edwidge Danticat, in The Farming of Bones introduces the North American reader to a historical event that is largely neglected, thereby keeping th e 1937 massacre alive in historical memory. Similarly AndrŽs Requena bravely writes Cementerio sin cruces so that the world may know just how much the Dominican people were suffering unde r Trujillo's regime. His narrative, written during the Trujillo era, can be seen as plea for help. It is a plea that would go ignored. Mario Vargas Llosa, in La Fiesta del Chivo, challenges official' hist ory by allowing Trujillo's assassins to narrate their expe riences living under political opp ression. In the six narratives studied, the voice of the victims is central. T hus, speaking in the unofficial' voice of the marginalized, they all challenge the o fficial' history provided by Trujillo. 34

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Winston Churchill, in response to an inquiry regarding his perceived lack of concern for what future generations might th ink of him, famously said, "His tory will be kind to me for I intend to write it myself" (John Martin). History, as historians and artist s are currently writing it, has not been kind to Trujillo. According to Jawaharial Nehru, independent India's first prime minister "[h]istory is almost always written by the victors and conquerors and gives their viewpoint" ( Oxford ). In each of these narratives Trujillo has been repositioned as the other' as it is not he telling the story. He is no longer the vi ctor and his viewpoint is missing in these narratives. With the possible exception of Danti cat, who narrates events before her time and Vargas Llosa, who doesn't have a direct re lationship with the Dominican Republic, these authors, who consider themselves to be author itative interpreters of Dominican history, are interested interpreters of their histories and ar e by no means detached from the experiences they are narrating. These authors are currently the vict ors and the narratives incl ude their viewpoint. Each author studied, Danticat and Vargas Llosa included, uses literary narrative to question, subvert, rewrite and reinvent offi cial historiographic discourse. In their narration of counter histories, these authors using lite rary strategies, not only highlight the fiction but also the silences of official histories. Conclusion The chapters that follow will examine the hi storical experience of the Trujillo era as recovered by literary narrative in stead of historiographic narrative. These six narratives were selected because they produce a critical unders tanding of Dominican and, to a lesser extent, Haitian history. Read closely in th e chapters to come, they also illustrate the variety of narratives of dictatorship with the Trujillo era as a subject. It is hoped th at the study of these narratives, each told from the viewpoint of the victim, will lead to a better understanding, not only of this 35

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dictator, but also of the deva stating effects of political opp ression on its victims. This understanding is necessary if we hope to rid the world of dictators. Finally, David William Foster in Alternate Voices in the Contemporary Latin American Narrative (1985) mentions that as critics "we must ceas e to devote all of our critical energies to Gabriel Garc’a M‡rquez and Jorge Luis Borges and concern ourselves wi th other vast literary riches of Latin America" (xvi). In its study of lesse r-known Dominican author s such as Ferreras, Prestol Castillo and Requena, this disserta tion is, in part, an answer to his call. 36

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CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE AS MEMORY: THE 1937 MA SSACRE OF HAITIAN CITIZENS AS NARRATED IN EL MASSACRE SE PASA A PIE AND THE FARMING OF BONES El General searches for a word; he is all the world there is. [. .] El General has found his word: perejil. Who says it, lives. [. .] The general remembers the tiny green sprigs men of his village wore in their capes to honor the birth of a son. He will order many, this time, to be killed for a single, beautiful word. -Rita Dove "Parsley" The negrita falls forward. The word has killed her. Through her throat. Uvula. Tongue. Teeth. Lips. Through her breath. Given the ci rcumstances, one wonders if the Devil hasn't joined Trujillo's Cabinet RenŽ Philoctte Massacre River Introduction The first week of October 1937, Dominican dict ator Rafael Le—nidas Trujillo ordered his oversized army of 2700 men to identify and kill Ha itian citizens living on the Dominican side of the Dominican-Haitian border. 1 Trujillo's goal was not to merely send Haiti a political message, but rather to kill as many Haitians as possible. 2 According to Richard Turits: "After the first days of the slaughter, the official checkpoint and bridge between Ha iti and the Dominican 1 Almost two years prior to the massacre, a Time (2 Dec. 1935) article notes that Trujillo's army of 2700 was oversized for a country the size of the Dominican Republic but was needed in order to keep him in power ("Canceled Junket"). 2 Human Rights Watch notes that, "The 1937 Massacre coincided with the fall in world sugar prices, making migrant labor here largely employed in US-controlled plantations more vulnerable to xenophobic aggression." 37

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Republic were closed, thus impeding Haitians' escape" (591). He also notes that Haitians were "slain even as they attempted to escape to Haiti while crossing the fatefully named Massacre River that divides the two nations" (591). 3 Additionally, Turits expl ains that the Dominican Army used machetes rather than guns because it, "reduced noise that would have alerted more Haitians and propelled them to flee" (590). 4 In the span of a few days, thousands of defenseless men, women, and children were brutally slaughtered. Turits writes that "[a]s a result of the massacre, virtually the entire Ha itian population in the Dominican frontier was either killed or forced to flee across the border" (6 30). In his biography of Trujillo, Robert D. Crassweller describes the massacre: At Dajab—n, on the banks of the Massacre, mo re thousands were cut down by machete and rifle as they sought the refuge of the old boundary line. Bodi es clogged the river. Bodies were piled into obscure little valleys. Bodies lay in the village stre ets and on country roads and in gentle green fields. Trails of bl ood lay on dusty country lanes up and down the border. Blood dripped from trucks that carri ed corpses to secluded ravines for disposal. (154-5) The journalist Albert Hicks was sent to the Do minican Republic just days after the massacre to interview survivors. His desc ription of the massacre is similar to Crassweller's. By the morning of October 4, the massacre had spent itself. Tales of the horror immediately spread through the Dominican Republic and Haiti, tales of brutalities unequaled in modern history. Groups of Haitians here, groups there, hacked to death with machetes, stabbed to death with knives, shoe with Krag rifles. Haitian homes raided, whole families wiped out, babies beaten to de ath against trees and si des of houses, tossed on bayonets. The tales were endless and invest igations several weeks later proved them all to be true. (111) 3 The river, El Masacre, was named for the killing of French buccaneers by Spanish soldiers in the 18 th century, not for the 1937 massacre. 4 Eugenio Matibag explains, "Because knifi ng or bayoneting was the preferred m ode of dispatching the victims it saved bullets and also made the deaths seem the work of enraged Dominican farmers and ranchers the Haitians refer to the massacre with the Kryol kout kouto, the stabbing, like a single knife wound'. The Spanish term of the same even was el corte: the cutting, as in the harvesting of cane. And during the first week of October, feme os, farming of bones, meant the mowing down left and right of borderland Haitians, a harvest of death by the thousands" (147). 38

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The massacre did not generate much interest am ong the ruling class in Ha iti. Consequently, no one really knows how many Haitians, and Domini cans mistaken for Haitians, lost their lives. Furthermore, the victims of the massacre lived al ong the border, a place seen as both part of and separate from the rest of the country. Lauren Der by explains the extent of their marginalization: [. .] the border has concurrently been seen by capitale–o elites as the primordial sign and site of barbarism, or a hybrid space of raci al and international admixture [. .] This imaginary spatial map delimits those incl uded and excluded from the nation. (491) Their marginalization explains, in part, the lack of interest in determining the number of victims. Therefore, figures on the number of people killed vary widely. Crassweller believes "[a] figure between 15,000 and 20,000 would be a reasonable es timate, but this is guesswork" (156). However, Lowell Gudmundson and Francisco A. Scaran place the figure at 30,000 (340). Edwidge Danticat, one of the authors studied in th is chapter, places the figure even higher. She says, "The estimates are from 14,000 to 40,000. I lean more toward the higher number" (David Barsamian 3). Trujillo's intent in ordering the massacre was to firmly define the border between the two countries and nationalize lands currently belonging to wea lthy landowners; not rid the Dominican nation of Haitians or to "white n" the country as is commonly believed. 5 Turits observes that: The efforts of the Dominican state to eliminat e Haitians were directed essentially at the frontier provinces, not throughout the country. And in terms of its lasting impact on the Dominican Republic, the Haitian massacre mate rially altered only the frontier, not the nation as a whole. (631) Furthermore, he notes that th ere was only "one reported instan ce when the country's plantation workers were attacked during the massacre" a nd that the "rest of the country's over 20,000 5 The massacre left Dominican landowners without laborers to work the land prompting many leave. Trujillo seized the abandoned land. 39

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Haitian sugar workers, [. .] were not targeted (6 26). If Trujillo's intent were to whiten the country Haitians throughout the country, would have been killed. Yet, the massacre was limited only to the border region. After the massacre Tu rits maintains, "the bor der, once a porous and somewhat artificial division to frontier citizens, had become instead a deep and horrific scar" (631). Similarly, John Augelli explains: "The in ternational boundary between the two countries was consciously honed into one of the sharpest polit ical and cultural divides in the world" (33). Despite the tremendous cost of human life, so me viewed the newly defined border positively. AndrŽs L. Mateo explains that Dominican intellectuals under Trujillo claimed that "si hay fronteras es por la monta–a de cad ‡veres de 1937. Si hay Patria, es por Trujillo Gracias a Žl, por otra parte, la naci—n ya no es dubitable en sus contornos" (122). Thus, some Dominicans justified the massacre as needed for nation building. Narrating Horror The narratives analyzed in this chapter, El Masacre se pasa a pie (1973) by the Dominican lawyer and author Freddy Prestol Castillo (1913-1981) and The Farming of Bones (1998) by the Haitian author Edwidge Danticat (1969 ) ar e set against the background of the 1937 massacre of Haitians and present fictionalized accounts of the massacre. Both narratives illustrate the difficulty of narrating genocide. Frederic James on notes, "History is what hurts" (102). The history retold in El Masacre and The Farming of Bones is no exception; it is painful and traumatic. Representing such a horrific historic al event is a difficult ta sk for the imagination, challenging both the author and th e reader. Reinterpreting the moment is a challenge when reality is indeed stranger than fi ction or is more horrific than wh at the imagination can imagine. The gruesome nature of the 1937 Haitian Massacre exceeds most imaginations. This is even more so when the author was also witness to th e event and has been traumatized by it. Dominick LaCapra explains: 40

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Extremely traumatic series of events beggar th e imagination, and such events often involve the literalization of metaphor as one's wildest dreams or most hellish nightmares seem to be realized or even exceeded by brute fact s. Such facts go beyond the imagination's powers of representation. Indeed, when thi ngs of an unimaginable magnitude actually occur and phantasms seem to run rampant in ordinary' reality, what is there for the imagination to do? Such even ts cannot be intensified thr ough imaginative recreation or transfiguration. ( Representing the Holocaust 181) At the time, the massacre seemed unreal to both Dominicans and Haiti ans who had difficulty believing news of the event. Prestol Castillo's te xt, in both structure and c ontent, reveals that he is overwhelmed by the task of narrating the ma ssacre and his writing has been criticized for lacking imagination. However, despite its ma ny narrative flaws, some literary critics have praised the text. Doris Sommer, for instance, obs erves that the it narrative "is an example of the kind of writing that is apparently impoverished by the author's lack of imagination, but respected for his unmediated objectivity" (" El Masacre se pasa a pie : Guilt and Impotence Under Trujillo." 164). Similarly, Danticat realizes the limitations of both her imagination and narrative and is challenged by the massacre. In an interv iew with Shauna Scott Rhone she explains, "The horror of what happened can't be matched by writ ing it. No matter how many times it's written, it can't be close to the truth of living it'" (3). The gruesomeness of the event also challenge s the reader. The inhumanity described in these two texts of horror and suffering often threat ens to shock the reader into incredulity and can traumatize the reader. LaCapra observes th at texts representing th e Jewish Holocaust, "Indeed, texts may undergo minor traumas or trigger them in the reader" ( History and Memory After Auschwitz 16-7). Given that these narratives re create an unimaginable horror and cruelty, it is difficult, if not impossible, for the reader to not be affected. The 1937 massacre is not unique in the challenges it poses for representation. Elena Poniatowska and Carlos PŽrez note that in Latin America reality can seem unreal. They claim, "One hardly needs novels, because 41

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our fantastic reality far exceeds our fiction. Surrealism is still the order of the day" (75). It seems equally unreal today. The Official Word: Silence El Masacre and The Farming of Bones bear witness to an event the official governments of both countries have ignored and tried to sile nce. Rene Shea explains, "The event slipped from history, unspoken by the governments on bo th sides of the Massacre River" ("The Dangerous Job of Edwidge Danticat" 97). In the Dominican Republic, not only did Trujillo imposed silence but Luc’a Su‡rez notes that, "T o be Dominican, the people had to condone (or not know about') the massacre, and forget their own racial history and ethical responsibility" (132). In other words, love of country require d that the massacre be forgotten. Furthermore, what little was written about it was untrue. Pres tol Castillo writes, "El periodista de mi pa’s, atado al carro de la opresi—n, que dar‡ en titulares la noticia de esto acontecimientos que Žl no ha visto. Noticia mentirosa" (50). In contrast to these reporters, Prestol Castillo's testimony comes from first hand knowledge and is published after Tr ujillo's death. The publication of the text while Trujillo was alive would ha ve surely lead to Prestol Cas tillo's imprisonment or death. Like his Dominican counterpart, President Vinc ent of Haiti also insisted that the massacre be silenced in his own count ry. William Krehm explains: Faced with mounting discontent, Vincent curtai led civil liberties. When the Dominican massacre took place, and the press tried voic ing the indignation of the Haitian nation, it was gagged. Journalists were condemned to hard labor. Some of Vincent's former nationalist comrades languished in his prisons. (201) Eighty years later, the massacre is still ignored in Ha iti. Danticat says in an interview, "This is a part of history that's not in th e history books; it's not something we talk about." ("An Interview between Edwidge Danticat and Rene Shea" 12). Not surprisingly, no official monument exists 42

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in memory of the victims in either country and no official event exists to commemorate the date of the massacre. Despite the silence imposed by the government of both the Dominican Republic and Haiti, Michelle Wucker notes that the inhabitants of Hispaniola have not forgotten the massacre: The memory of what happened at the Massacre Ri ver in 1937 is still vivid in the minds of the islanders. Even now, it is nearly impossible for Dominicans and Haitians to think of each other without some trace of the tragedy of their mutual histor y that took place that year. ( Why the Cocks Fight 44) Likewise, Augelli observes that: "Time has done littl e to soften the feelings of fear and hatred that the Dominicans harbor toward Haiti" (22) Not only have Dominicans and Haitians not forgotten the event, some feel that it is time to talk about it. In an interview with Wucker, Danticat tells of the support she has received from the Haitian and Dominican community. Algunos haitianos, encantados de que estuvier a acerca de un tabœ en la historia, enviaron investigaciones, fotograf’as, libr os y art’culos. Otros le advi rtieron que no distorsionara la historia. Algunos pensaron que deb’a dedicarm e a escribir algo positivo sobre Hait’, algo en que triunfamos, como la revoluci—n [. .] Algunos amigos domi nicanos me apoyaron y me dijeron que era hora de desenterrar este acontecimiento. ("Edwidge Danticat: La voz de los olvidados" 43) The support Danticat has received from Haitians and Dominicans as well as the success of El Masacre speaks to the need to talk about the massacr e that still exists more than 80 years after the event. For differing reasons the authors studied in this chapter have chosen to counter official history and to remember the genocide. In c hoosing to remember, they reflect an observation made by Harold Schulweis who notes, "the question of our time is not whether to remember but what to remember and how to transmit our memory (ix). For Prestol Castillo and Danticat the question has not been whether or not to remember the massacre, but instead the on how the past should be reconstructed and narrat ed. Their narratives offer what George Lipsitz calls "countermemory." According to him, "counter-memory is not a rejection of hist ory, but a reconstitution 43

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of it" (227). This study will look at complicated relationship between the traumatic event, memory, and imagination. Examining the texts narrative practices and themes will provide insight into this massacre and of how these tw o countries define themselves and each other. A Witness Testifies: Freddy Prestol Castillo The Dominican author and attorney Freddy Pres tol Castillo is not well known outside of his country. He was the author of two novels, El Masacre se pasa a pie and Pablo Mam‡ published posthumously in 1985. He also published e ssays, short stories, ne ws articles, and law textbooks. Prestol Castillo also held several publ ic posts under Trujillo, but was never a strong supporter of the dictator. Afte r Trujillo ordered the killing of the Dominican author Ram—n Marrero Aristy, a close friend of Prestol Castillo, he became much more critical of the dictator. El Masacre se pasa a pie is Prestol Castillo's first novel. It was published in 1973, twelve years after Trujillo's assassination and 36 years after the massacre. Prestol Castillo was 24 years old at the time of the massacre and was one of three judges sent to preside over the legal proceedings against the Dominicans involved with the killing of the Haitians. (Vega Trujillo y Hait’ 142). There are differing accounts as to whether Pr estol Castillo arrived just before or just after the massacre. In the text, the narrator witnesses the event. While in Dajab—n 6 he keeps a journal that, after years of being buried in hi s mother's patio, was recovered and published as El Masacre se pasa a pie Despite its controversial subject matter, the book was very well received within the Dominican Republic. David Howard explains that, El Masacre se pasa a pie has sold over 34,000 copies, a substantial amount given that the major ity of publications in the Dominican Republic do not exceed an initial pr int run of 1,000 copies" (140). The commercial 6 Dajab—n is a Dominican town on the Massacre River, which divides the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It is one of the largest border points between the two countries an d was one of the towns most affected by the massacre. Directly across the river is the larger Haitian town of Ouanaminthe. 44

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success of the book illustrates Domi nicans' interest in their past and a hunger for the knowledge that Trujillo sought to silence. A blend of fact and fiction, El Masacre defies literary classifi cation. Lydia Gil explains, "no es un texto ficticio, pero que tampoco se trata de un testimonio" (38). Prestol Castillo labels it a novel; yet he later tells Sommer in an interv iew that, "Yo lo puse novela al terminarlo, pero lo considero simplemente mi libro" ( El Masacre se pasa a pie : Guilt and Impotence Under Trujillo" 165). Prestol Castillo is both the author and narr ator, yet the book l acks the reflection and structure often found in an autobiography. Th e narrative, broken down into 31 chapters, is fragmented and not always chronolog ical. Most of the chapters of El Masacre 2 26, are dedicated to the massacre and its effects on bo th its perpetrators and victims. When the author/narrator arrives in Dajab—n the genocide has already begun. He is confused and asks, El Corte! QuŽ era aquello? Ninguno me lo hab’a querido explicar" (22) 7 The slaughter, which Prestol Castillo descri bes as "el fest’n ho micida" (26) and "la vendimia roja" (27), is narrated with most detail in the second chapter. In describing the massacre the voice of the narrator that of the young magistrate, seems to disappear. Rita De Maeseneer notes: En muchos fragmentos no se encuentran ni si quiera huellas explicitas de la presencia del yo narrador, de manera que el lector tiene la impresi—n de que esos fragmentos son narrados por un narrador omnisciente. Es como si el yo narrador se escondiera detr‡s de una voz general, ambigŸedad que expresa la dificultad de hablar de la matanza, de asumir en la escritura este hecho dol oroso del pasado dominicano. (165) Additionally, the disappearance of the narrative voice also speaks to the guilt and impotence he feels in his inability to do anything to stop the killings he knows are inherently wrong. Chapters 1, 27, and 31 are mostly autobiographical focusing on details of his life. They describe a young 7 Emphasis is the author's. 45

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man born into wealth. However his wealth vanish es when sugar prices fall dramatically in the 1920's. Prestol Castillo is bitter at the loss of his family fortune and must borrow money to pay for his law license. Paradoxically, the author both criticizes and justifies the massacre as he also tries to explain how Dominicans, and in particular himself, could have been capable of such inhumanity. 8 As Howard observes, "the narrator is unable to face up to his responsibility to humanity and fails to react to the campaign of racial murder, although he knows that he should do so" (141). Furthermore, Sommer notes that the "narrative altern ates between horrible atrocities and guild-ridden impotence" ( Foundational Fictions 171). For Prestol Castillo writing is a way to deal with the guilt he feels for hi s involvement in the massacre. He writes: Me repugnaba estos jueces, cuyo trato rehusab a. Me parec’an cerdos? Com’an un pan culpable . Pero No era yo, tambiŽn un cerdo? As’ me recriminaba mi conciencia. Sin embardo, digo: no lo soy! Escribo mis notas de este crimen! Es para denunciarlo! Si callara, me igualar’a a los jueces, que llegan cada d’a, demacrados, a comer un plato de lentejas en el mes—n y calla r‡n para siempre. (116) Gil also notes the internal conflict the narrator de scribes and notes that the work is a, "texto h’brido que presenta simult‡neamente la denuncia de los actos barb‡ricos que se llevaron a cabo [. .] y la defensa del comportamiento dominicano frente a estos ev entos de 1937" (43). Crassweller explains that while Dominicans di d not approve of the killings, many felt that securing the border was necessary (159). Although Prestol Cast illo does not show empathy toward the victims, he realizes that the ma ssacre was wrong. However, he also feels that 8 In addition to El Masacre se pasa a pie Prestol Castillo also wrote the essay, Paisajes y meditaciones de una frontera (1943). Both deal with the 1937 massacre. The essay is not easily accessible. It is only available in two U.S. libraries: Harvard University an d University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras and is in Limited Circulation. Therefore, I have not been able to read it. 46

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Dominicanization of the border wa s necessary. Therefore, the na rrative continually contradicts itself as the author attempts to both support and condemn the massacre. For Prestol Castillo, the story told in El Masacre is a lived reality a nd a reconstruction of memory. He relies on what Maurice Halbw achs calls "autobiographical memory" (52) to recreate his narrative as much of his original document, which he claims was written in 1937 while he was in Dajab—n, has been destroyed. In the preface to El Masacre he writes, En esos instantes me parec’a haber perdido un hijo! Al fin apareci—: era m‡s bien un rimero de abono. Otra vez, quise llorar: hoj as rasgadas, casi ilegib les; pedazos ra’dos por los insectos, trozos convertidos en esti Žrcol. A la postre, hab’a aparecido el hijo deforme, el monstruo Pero el hijo! (14) 9 Although Prestol Castillo witnessed much of he re tells, he is nonetheless writing from a position of forgetting. Michael Bernald-Donals explains: Witness is a moment of forg etting, a moment of seeing w ithout knowing that indelibly marks the source of history as an abyss. It is a moment of the disaster; and that moment, the moment of forgetting, demands that the memory be inscribed, though it is a memory a testimony whose historical circumstances a nd whose discursive co ntrol are simply not available to subsequent witnesses. (214) In another article, Bernald-Donals and Richard Glejzer reiterate th at witnesses to an event also experience forgetting. They note that, ". livi ng memory is not so much the recuperation of events as it is an imprint of the loss of the ev ent, and narratives histories, built as a bulwark against memory's loss, stand in for and replace the event" (5). Similarly, LaCapra maintains that: With respect to trauma, memory is always s econdary since what occurs is not integrated into experience or directly remembered, and the event must be reconstructed from its effects and traces. ( Representing the Holocaust 21) 9 The use of italics, punctuation, and spelling errors have be en faithfully transcribed from the text and reflect Prestol Castillo's style. Because he uses ellipses frequently, I have placed my ellipses in brackets to distinguish between the two. 47

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Therefore, what witnesses such as Prestol Castillo provide is not a description of the event as it unfolded, but rather as Bernald-Donals explains, "the effect of events upon witnesses" (205). The structure of El Masacre illustrates the traumatic effect the massacre had on the narrator/author. 10 It is repetitive, poorly organized and requires a patient reader. Su‡rez in the The Tears of Hispaniola notes that the narrative: [. .] reads like a horrible stream-of-consci ousness memory of fragments of conversations, orders, fearful comments, and impotent obser vations by the author. In many ways, I propose, it seems that the text tries to make se nse of an irrational horro r. That irrational horror is described via fragments of interactio ns between people who are inebriated actors screaming accusations they will later have to believe. (45) Sommer explains that the read er, recognizing the narrative's va lue as a testimonial, keeps on reading. [. .] many of Prestol's Domini can readers are either impatient with his undi sciplined prose or indulgent because of his book's value as a testimonial both to the horror of the trujillato and to the intellectuals whom he could not buy off. (" El Masacre se pasa a pie : Guilt and Impotence Under Trujillo" 164) Thus, the massacre's effect on the young magistrate is seen in bot h the content and structure of his writing. The fragmented, repe titive narrative reflect s the trauma he is experiencing and his inability to rationalize the horror in his own mind, much less put it into words. A Survivor's Tale: Edwidge Danticat Edwidge Danticat was born in Haiti and move d to the United States when she was twelve years old. Mallay Charters notes that she is the "first African Haitian female author to write in English and be published by a major house" (42). She is also, according to Martin Munro, "Haiti's most widely read au thor" (35). Danticat received national attention when her book Krik? Krak! was a 1995 National Book Award nominee. In contrast with Prestol Castillo, 10 Cathy Caruth, a leading literary theorist of trauma defines it as: "An overwhelming experience of sudden, or catastrophic events, in which the response to the event occurs in the often delayed, and uncontrolled repetitive occurrence of hallucinations and other intrusive phenomen a" ("Unclaimed experience: Trauma and the Possibility of History" 181). 48

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Danticat was born 32 years after the massacre. Th erefore, she must rely on learned history or "historical memory" (Halbwachs 52) for informa tion on the massacre and writes from research and the individual and collective memory of t hose she interviewed. A lthough Danticat did not directly experience the event, she has been em otionally affected by the massacre. In the "Preface" to Massacre River (2005) 11 Danticat writes: Having read RenŽ Philoctte's Massacre River I grieved then, as I do now, for the Massacre River's survivors, those who suffere d the machetes that chopped the Haitian heads and the fingers th at counted them. (8) Danticat is aware of the pitfalls of speaking for others. In an interview with Shea she notes, "I was purposely questioning myself and what I was doing writing this story in English, stealing it, if you will, from the true survivors who were not able or allowed to tell their stories" ("The Hunger to Tell: Edwidge Danticat and The Farming of Bones 17-8). Danticat incorporates this concern into her narrative. Yves, in The Farming of Bones tells Amabelle, "I know what will happen,' he said. You tell the stor y, and then it's retold as th ey wish, written in words you do not understand, in a language that is theirs, and no t yours'" (246). Like Prestol Castillo, Danticat does not fictionalize history with the purpose of entertaining th e reader. She recreates the massacre with the hope that it w ill lead a healing which has not ye t taken place. Therefore, she does not blame the Dominican people for the massacre. 12 Danticat offers an explanation for the massacre in the voice of Tibon, a Haitian sugar cane worker. He explains: The ruin of the poor is their poverty, [. .] The poor man, no matter who he is, is always despised by his neighbors. When you stay too long at a neighbor's hous e, it's only natural that he become weary of you and hate you. (178) Also, in an effort to show cruelty is not limited to only Trujillo, the narrator explains that the: 11 Massacre River is the English translation of Le peuple des terres mlŽes Port-au-Prince: Deschamps, 1989. 12 Charters explains, "to foster greater understanding between the two nations, Danticat organizes joint HaitianDominican community youth group s in the New York are with writer Junot D’az" (43). 49

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[The Haitian King Henri Christophe] was sometimes cruel. He used to march battalions of soldiers off the mountain, ordering them to plunge to their deaths as a disciplinary example to the others. Thousands of our people died c onstructing what you see here. But this is not singular to him. All monuments of this great size are built with human blood' (279). Thus, both nations have been victims of cruel leader s. Danticat's project consists of helping to heal the wounds between Haiti and the Dominica n Republic and creating a memorial to the deceased so that they may be remembered. The Farming of Bones which won the American Book Awa rd in 1999, explores the effects of the massacre on individual lives and is Danti cat's response to the forgetting of the 1937 massacre. 13 In the narrative she imagines the lives of Haitians and reinterprets their place in Haitian history. The protagonist and narrator of the The Farming of Bones is Amabelle DŽsir, a young Haitian woman and survivor of the massacre. Danticat bases Amabelle on the true story of a Haitian domestic worker thereby resuscitatin g her from the dead so that she may tell her story. The author explains to Sarah Anne Johnson: It was about a Dominican colonel who killed his maid at the dinne r table to prove his loyalty to Trujillo, the president of the Dominican Republic. I realized the maid was Amabelle, but she lives. Once I had that, and a ll the research, I could enter the story. (25) Albert C. Hicks, a news reporter also writes: In an inland town an Army captain and his se –ora laid their napkins down as they finished the first course of their evening meal. Th eir servant was no longer young. She had been with the family for several decades. Her hair was gray against her black face. She entered the dining room to clear the table. The captain rose from his chair, picked up the carving knife and before the gray, old woman realized what her master was doing, the captain had sunk the blade into her breast. The piercing cry that stabbed the night air came from the throat of the horrified se–ora. The servan t, at her feet, had made only a few gurgling sounds and had died. For a considerable period after that day the captain's wife had to live locked in a room in a sanatorium, a raving maniac. She couldn't understand that her husband was simply acting on orders fr om El Generalissimo. (106-7) This is not the only account of violence within the family unit. Crassweller documents: 50

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Under military orders, the exterminations were carried out even on individual basis, within the bosoms of families. The case of a Captain Bison— was later widely recalled. On direct orders, and in his own home, he discharged hi s revolver into the body of his family's aged Haitian cook, who had been regarded for yeas as one of themselves. (155) In an interview Danticat she states that, "When she [Amabelle] ga ve testimony, it felt very much like I was a recorder and she looke d over my shoulder as I wrote" (3). Amabelle's voice is that of the oppressed and marginalized; she is young, poor, orphaned, Haitia n, and a woman. She represents the triumph of surv ival in that despite the sile nce imposed by her government, her voice is heard. Amabelle's testimony is narrated in the first person, in the past te nse and is linear. However, it is interrupted by fragments of dream s and memories that ar e non-linear, printed in bold and narrated in the present tense. The narr ative begins with a memory, an intimate moment between two lovers, Amabelle and Sebastian, and st arts with the words, "His name is Sebastian Onus (1). This sentence is repeated throughout the narrative fo r Amabelle believes that, "Men with names never truly die. It is only the nameless and faceless who vanish like smoke into the early morning air" (282). In giving the name less like her lover Sebastian, a Haitian sugarcane worker, a name she hopes that their lives will not be forgotten. The story takes place in the fi ctive Dominican border town of Alegr’a and begins shortly before the massacre. The name of town stands in st ark contrast to the reality of the place. Of the name Amabelle says, "Perhaps there had been jo y for them [Dominicans] in finding that sugar could be made from blood" (271). It conclude s 25 years later with Amabelle bathing in the Massacre River and searching for a new beginning, alt hough it is not clear if sh e finds it. It is the same river where her parents had drowned 25 years earlier, leaving her an orphan. From the very first chapter The Farming of Bones describes the effects of both physical and psychological trauma on the individual. Dan ticat uses Amabelle, a Haitian domestic worker, 51

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to personalize the political and her scarred body is the site of government violence. As she notes, "Now my flesh was simply a map of s cars and bruises, a marred testament" (227). Despite the silence imposed by the presidents of both countries, the past is visibly written on Amabelle's body. These scars, which she views as a testament, also serve as a physical reminder and prevent her from overcoming the massacr e. Nancy Peterson explains, "Engulfed by a painful history, Amabelle remains empty of a ny human or humane fee ling throughout her life" (171). She says, "I choose a living death be cause I am not brave" (283). Amabelle also illustrates what Sigmund Freud describe s as profound mourning. He explains: Profound mourning, the reac tion to the loss of someone who is loved, contains the same painful frame of mind, the same loss of interest in the outside world in so far as it does not recall him the same loss of capacity to adopt any new object of love (which would mean replacing him) and the same turning away from any activity that is not connected with thoughts of him. It is eas y to see that this inhibition a nd circumscription of the ego is the expression of an exclusive devotion to mourning which leaves nothing over for other purposes or other interests. (244) After loosing Sebastian in the massacre, she is unable to find intimacy with anyone else and remains alone. The text however does end with the possibility that Amabelle may finally overcome the massacre. The final sentence of the books states, "He [a Haitian homeless professor], like me, was looking for the dawn" (3 10). Yet, the reader is left to wonder if Amabelle ever finds it. Danticat dedicates 64 of 320 pages of text to the actual massacre. When narrating the massacre, the book does it in the past tense. The change of verb te nse speaks to th e inability of narrating trauma as is it being experienced. For Amabelle, her dreams are her memory. They are told in present tense, in bol d font and in chronological order. It is in her dreams that she remembers her parents and others she has lost. She is not unique in this as it is same for Mimi, Sebestien's mother who says to Amabelle, "L eave me now I am going to dream up my children" (243). Unable to wr ite down their memories, Amabelle and Mimi's memories are 52

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stored in their dreams. Domini can women also rely on dreams to remember. Se–ora Valencia uses dreams to remember her mother, who died while giving birth to her (15). Memory, in particular is important for Danticat who explai ns that her grandmother, "believed that no one really dies as long as someone remembers, so meone who will acknowledge that this person had, in spite of everything, been here" ("We Are Ugly, But We Are Here." 27). Exile, Solitude & Sterility The author/narrator in El Massacre and Amabelle in The Farming of Bones share a condition of aloneness and steril ity. Prestol Castillo notes: Escrib’ bajo cielo fronterizo, en soledad. Sin darme cuenta, yo estaba exiliado. Evidentemente, en aquel yermo, era un pres o m‡s. Sin ser preso. Escrib’a furtivamente, mientras la aldea dorm’a. Y en aquel meandro profundo del silencio yo pensaba en mi triste destino: condenado a soledad, lo mismo que mi generaci—n, penitenciada a la esterilidad. (7) For Prestol Castillo the border represents exile. He describes the border as "Frontera: Pu–ales, sequ’a, reses, hambre" (127). Crassweller desc ribes that Dajab—n and other border towns, "took on a character they retain today a remoteness and an almost somber loneliness" (150). It is an unwelcoming, almost inhabitable place that is spar sely populated and where, according to Prestol Castillo, "Hacia aquellas lejan’as s—lo van restos de m‡quinas y restos de hombres" (21). The border represents the margins of the nation and is a place where few people want to live. The fact that Prestol Castillo was sent to the border is indicative of hi s marginal position in society. Amabelle is also a marginal member of societ y, both in the Haiti, the country of her birth, and in the Dominican Republic. She is considered an outsider in the Dominican Republic and an inside/outsider in Haiti, not a foreigner, but not Haitian either. She expl ains Dominicans view of Haitians: To them we are always foreigners, even if granmms' granmms' were born in this country,' a man responded in Kreyl, which we most often spoke instead of Spanish among ourselves. This make its easier for them to push out when they want to'. (69) 53

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However, Amabelle does not see herself as an ou tsider in the Dominican Republic. The physical scars left by the massacre mark her as an outsider in Haiti, the country of her birth. She explains that in Haiti, "They recognize us without knowing us. We were those people, the nearly dead, the ones who escaped from the other side of the river" (220). In being forced to return to Haiti, Amabelle is exiled from the place she considers ho me, the town of Alegr’a on the border. It is a difficult place to inhabit, as Amabelle mentions "A border is a veil not many people can wear" (264). She belongs to the space created by the mi xing of two cultures, th e border, and therefore does not identify completely with either country. In addition to living at the margins of thei r respective nations, both Prestol Castillo, the character, and Amabelle are alone. Neither narrat or marries nor has children. Prestol Castillo states, "No tengo con quien dialogar [ .] Estoy solo" (131). He does have a girlfriend named ngela. However, the relationship is doomed to fail. He says, "Hab’a un contraste enorme entre mi cobard’a, uncido al carro de la tiran’a, y aquella vida, heroica, a quel ser delicado y bello, vestida como la m‡s desgraciada de aquellas obreras" (141). She would mail him letters "invit‡ndome a ser un hombre', y dar la espalda a la dictadura" (142). For ngela leaving the country is a sign of manhood. He writes that she, "M e se–alaba el camino: el mar, el extranjero, para as’, readquirir la calidad de hombre'" (142). Prestol Castillo's' also friend urges him to leave telling him, "Toma el camino de la liberaci —n! Ten tanto valor como Angela! Eres joven. Si tuviera tu edad, no estar’a aqu’ (143). However, a sense of dut y to his family keeps him from leaving. He explains that, "mi madre y herma nos, peque–os, todos los cuales depend’an del pan que pudiera darles yo" (143). His inability to leave makes him f eel cowardly. He says: "[] Angela la valientela que se hab’a escapado sola y me sen t’a el m‡s cobarde de los hombres!" (147). He leaves the reader wondering why he c ould not have supported his family from exile. 54

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Amabelle is also alone. The drowning of Amab elle's parents in the Massacre River leaves her orphaned and foreshadows the many more deaths to come. She works as a servant for the Dominican family who had taken her in after he r finding by the river where her parents had just drowned. Yet, the same river means both life and death for Haitians. Crossing it means both life and death. Amabelle's parents drow ned crossing the river. It is also the river where bodies were dumped during the massacre. However, the river also signifies a better life. Amabelle notes that, "Both he [Sebastien] and me we would have been beggars if we did not come here" (1212). The massacre orphans Amabelle again, separatin g her from both her adoptive Dominican family and Sebastien. She also displays the di fficulty of living with memory and trauma; her need to remember does not allow her to overcome trauma. She believes: The slaughter is the only thing that is mine enough to pass on. All I want to do is find a place to lay it down now and again, a safe nest where it will neither be scattered by the winds, nor remain forever buried beneath the sod. I just need to lay it down sometimes. Even in the rare silence of th e night, with no faces around. (266) Unable to deal with the trauma endured and she isolates herself. She explains, "There were times when I shut myself in those two rooms that were mine and took to bed for months" (269). She shares a bed with Sebastien's friend Yves, but notes that, "When he climbed onto the bed, I pretended to be asleep or even dead" (250). Ultimately, she is unable to overcome the death of her lover, Sebastien, who is killed during the mass acre. His mother tells her, "I asked my son why there is no love between you and him, and he told me about Sebastien" (244). Amabelle's inability to live is explained by Caruth who wr ites, "It is because the mind cannot confront the possibility of its death directly that surviv al becomes for the human being, paradoxically, an endless testimony to the impossib ility of living" ("Violence and Time: Traumatic Survivals" 25). 55

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However, despite strong desire to tell the st ory of Sebastien, Amabelle waits years to tell her story and then, given the opportunity to share it with her childhood companion, Se–ora Valencia, she chooses not to beca use she realizes the futility in sharing her story with her. Although Se–ora Valencia harbored Haitians in her house during the massacre, she is supportive of her husband Se–or Pico who as an Army officer carried out the orders to kill. Thus, no one in the narrative actually hears Amabelle's story. Victim or Perpetrator? In times of great challenges, when survival is at stake, the line between victim and perpetrator can be very fine. El Masacre and The Farming of Bones illustrate how it is possible to be both victim and perpetrator. In the very first lines of the introduction of the narrative Prestol Castillo portrays himself as a victim and as a hero, someone willing to risk his life so that the truth may be known. He writes, "Al cabo de mis sufrimientos, estaba escrito el libro. Si ca’a en manos de la polic’a secret a, habr’a sido sentenci ado a muerte. El pelig ro hizo de m’ y del libro dos personajes oprimidos" (8). Prestol Castillo also portrays the Dominican people as victims of oppressive government. He notes, "En Santo Domingo est‡ prohibida la expresi—n del pensamiento. S—lo tenemos el derecho de hablar para hacer loas al Presid ente" (19). He mainta ins that Dominicans are innocent of the crime committed because they were simply following orders. Eric Santner mentions some Germans involved in the Holocaust viewed themselves as innocent because they were under orders and thus the evil did not come from within but was instead external. He explains: This strengthens the feeling of being oneself the victim of evil forces; first the evil Jews, then the evil Nazis, and finally the evil Russian s. In each instance the evil is externalized. It is sought for on the outside, and it strikes on from the outside. (7) 56

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Prestol Castillo emphasizes that the order to ki ll came from the most powerful person in the country and was carried out by thos e with the least amount of power in society. He describes, "Lo afecta la sentencia que dict— un se–or todopoderoso en la capital de mi pa’s. Este orden—: Mueran todos los Haitianos!'" (84) Some of the soldiers' sent to the border, were nothing more than poor farmers rounded up and ordered to kill Haitians. Manuel Robert, a soldier, says: yo hasta toy arrepent’o que me falta n fuerza! Cuanto m‡ negro matamo, hay que mat‡ mucho m‡! Eto es el diablo! Eto parece que no acabar‡! Mis pobres hijos! Ni hab’an com’o cuando me atra p‡n. Iba yo palos laos de Mariano Cestero' cuando ah’ me paran y me dan este pu–al. (43) His comments reflect that the soldier also is a vict im of Trujillo. He explains, "Y eran —rdenes. Ordenes que el Capit‡n ten’a que ej ecutar, temeroso Žl de vestir el mismo traje. Ordenes. Y las —rdenes se cumplen, y nada m‡s!" (103). Ot her soldiers were prisoners who had been freed so that they may carry out the order to kill. The narrator observes, "La noches de la aldea estaban gr‡vidas de pu–ales, de presidarios lib ertados. La noche ol’a a ron" (7). In El Masacre evil was external and imposed on the temporary so ldiers, many of whom used alcohol to numb their feelings of wrongdoing and who later ended up insane as a result of their participation in the massacre. This makeshift Dominican Army, comprised largely of poor farmers and criminals who had no choice but to serve, is confused as to why they have been ordered to kill. Prestol Castillo transcribes the words of a soldier: Y yo, que me diba pa mi casa, de los lao de Moca y me hic’en mata to los negros que jallara, sin sabŽ por quŽ. Se me ocurri— hablarle al Sargento y en un tr’s me traga! Son joidene!' son joidene' Que dique poi que roban vaca! Ta bien! pero yo no tengo vaca ni diablo que robaime! (45) Another soldier wonders, "Por quŽ se han de ir los negros, tan buenos? Trabajaban barato ." (39). Like the soldiers, the officers in charge are also confused by the order. Prestol Castillo 57

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notes that the captain must reso rt to alcohol in order to carry out the apparently nonsensical orders he has received. Capit‡n Ventarr—n no pod’a resistir el peso de la tragedia de la cual se le hacia ejecutor. Tenia el cargo de te–ir de rojo toda la larga campana, los llanos y las lomas. Para asumir su papel de Atila, acud’a al al cohol. Matar a millares! An cianos, ni–os y mujeres Por que? No lo sab’a! Era un orden' .(24) Yet, the captain had no problem stealing from the Haitians he killed. He tells his soldiers that the cattle belonging to the Haitians killed were being sent to Trujillo. But, the soldiers quickly realize "Que no hay tal Cumando! sino el mesmo Ca pit‡n! que se las roba toas y las manda pa su finca, en Mao! Carajo!" (45). The soldiers, like the captian, also drank heavil y. Prestol Castillo notes that, "No hay l’mite en esta tierra ni para el alcohol ni para la muerte" (87). He narra tes one of the soldiers' comments: -Acabo de recib’ unaj —idene seriaj. El Gobierno ordena el degŸello de cuanto ma–ese' jallemo. No repete ed‡ ni pinta. QuŽmelos ja ta vivos. Ey! Saigentooo! t‡ jablando el Capit‡n Ventarr—n! Un trago! . (23) However, not even alcohol was enough for some so ldiers. They were simply unwilling or unable to carry out the order given a nd deserted. Hicks describes: Here and there gunfire was heard above the crie s of the Haitians. But most of the shots were killing mutinous Dominican soldiers. Great numbers were refusing to obey the orders of The Benefactor of the Fatherland. (107) Prestol Castillo also notes, "El amanecer se inicia enterrando los reservista que quer’an fugarse. Aqu’ nadie puede fugarse" (46). Here Prestol Cast illo reiterates that th e soldiers were also victims of the massacre. El Masacre also describes the effects of the ma ssacre on those charged with carrying out the killings, in other words the perpetrators who he also views as victims. He writes: Estos reservistas' retornan hoy a la aldea cansados, alcoholiza dos. Sientan fiebres y raras dolencias. Algunos morir’an de inexplicable mal. Otros, como el Raso Patricio, 58

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enloquecer’an. DespuŽs de "El Corte', deambular on muchos locos en la aldea. Casi todos quedar’an con los nervios dest rozados. Habr’a mon—manos, vi ctimas de insomnios; y en todos, la misma desolaci—n. Por quŽ han matado? . (102) Prestol Castillo notes that it is possible both a vict im and tormentor. He repeatedly compares the Haitian victims with the Dominican perpetrators a nd writes, "Entonces mir— al resto de aquella tropa desvencijada y sin fe, tan m‡rtir como los mismos haitianos" (46). He also compares the perpetrators, who he recognizes are criminals, with other workers around the world. He observes, "Son los obreros del crimen. Fatigados y sin esperanzas, como los dem‡s obreros del mundo" (43). After the massacre, the soldiers, to their great surprise, we re treated as criminals for having killed. Prestol Castillo writes: Los reservistas' recibieron —rdene s de pasar a cambiar la ropa. Dejar’an los trapos sucios que tra’an y deb’an vestir ent onces el traje vil, rayado, de los reclusos, el uniforme de los presidarios criminales. [] Manuel Robert como que despert— violentamente, cuando el Sargento de Guardia entreg— las ropas degrad antes, prenda del ladr—n o del criminal, a veces del pol’tico de mi pa’s A Žl Manuel, que hab’a cumplido las —rdenes del General que orden— el degŸello, c onvertirlo en presidiario? Era un error? No ser’a otro? (103) Prestol Castillo, who was sent to serve as judge in the legal proceedings against the soldiers, views the country as a whole as a victim. He writes that the Dominican Republic is, un pobre pa’s ignorante y castigado por el hambre (10). Comparing their level of poverty to that of Haiti he states: pobrecillos de nosotros! pobrecillos! Eso somos! Ron, tambora, merengue y dictadores! Toda esta belleza! Para quŽ ? Para contemplar la ba rbarie! Ah! s’! Los haitianos! pobrecitos Necesitan sa nidad, comida, educaci—n. salvajes? Tanto como nosotros! (10) The author repeatedly attempts to convince th e reader that the Dominican Republic was not much different than Haiti and that Dominicans were just as much victims as the Haitians slaughtered in the massacre. In addition to pove rty, the Dominican Republic is a country gripped by tyranny. He explains, La tiran’a es el tirano y t odos los que no son el tirano (8). He later 59

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describes that educated people, li ke his friend who he simply calls "El Doctor", live in constant fear. He writes: Se asfixiaba en el ambiente t—xico de la tiran’a. Sospechoso al fin para la dictadura, cre’amos que en cualquier momento un asesino pagado, irresponsabl emente, a favor de noche e impunidad, le arrancar’a la vida al salir de la c‡te dra o en cualquier esquina. (9) The Dominican Republic imagined by Prestol Castillo is poor, uneducated, and oppressed. Ironically, it is not too different fr om the victims of the massacre. In El Masacre the narrator feels guilt for his involvement in the massacre, yet he does not reach the level of empathy. Santner explains: The capacity to feel grief for others and guilt fo r the suffering one has directly or indirectly caused, depends on the capacity to experience empathy for the other as other This capacity in turn depends on the successful working through of those primitive experiences of mourning which first consolidate the bounda ries between self and other, thereby opening up a space for empathy. (7) The author/narrator is also unable to identify with the victims, who at times he views a little more than animals. Prestol Castillo grew up w ealthy, disconnected from poorer Dominicans. He writes: No conoc’a lo que hab’a dentro de aquellos boh’os, achatados y tris tes. Yo ve’a los obreros, sucios, unos hombres que cantaban tristes melod’as en los atardeceres del Puerto Parec’anme otra clase de hombres Algo as’ como los ni–os miran en un libro de dibujos horribles, animales peligr osos y fuertes. (16-7) In contrast he notes, "La gente masticaba chiclet s', hablaba inglŽs, jugaba al tenis y despuŽs iba al cine o a las exclusivas salas de Fiestas" (17). The use of the word animales to describe the poor versus his use of the word gente used to describe the wealt hy provides insight. Prestol Castillo's inability to see the poor as human beings, much less as equals, prevents him from feeling empathy for the victims of the massacre. At one point he claims, "el haitiano e una garrapata' que le ha ca’o [sic] a la Republica [sic] y a la garrapata hay matarla hasta la œltima!" (72). Alexander and Margarete Mits cherlich also explain that: 60

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In these attempts to shake off guilt, it is re markable how little atte ntion is paid to the victims. Now there is hardly for any kind of sympathy with ot hers. If somehow, somewhere, one finds an object deserving of sympathy, it usually turns out to be none other than oneself. (25) This attitude is observed in Prestol Castillo text when acknowledges a difference between himself and other Dominicans. He writes, "Dos ti pos de victimas de la miseria de mi pa’s. Una diferencia hab’a: Aquellos eran ignorantes. No sab’ an el peso de su cruz. Para los universitarios con hambre la coyuntura era m‡s cruel aœn, conoc’ an su crimen" (117). Thus, he views himself as the worst victim in attempt to d eal with the guilt he is feeling. Amabelle, a victim, would also find herself in the position of perpetrator, or killer. She suffocates Odette, the woman who had saved her fr om certain death, to keep her from screaming as they swam across the Massacre River towards Haiti. She describes: It is the way you try to stun a half-dead bi rd still waving its wings, a headless chicken courageously racing down a dirt road. I ke pt one hand on her mouth and moved the other one to her nose and pressed down hard for her own good, for our own good. She did not struggle but abandoned her body to the wate r and the lack of air. (201-2) Amabelle is traumatized by her own actions. Afte r reaching the shore, sh e stands over Odette's body for several hours. She says, "Wherever I go, I will always be standing over her body. No farewell could be enough. All I had wanted was fo r her to be still" (205) Like the Dominican soldiers who killed Haitians so that they th emselves would not be killed for failing to follow orders, Amabelle makes the same decision. She suffocates Odette so that she may survive. Amabelle seems to justify her actions by noting that she did it for "our own good" (202), but doesn't explain how dying could be "good" for Odette. Haitian Response to the Massacre The Haitian President Vincent chose not to response or avenge the deaths. Crassweller notes that, "There was not even a diplomatic initiative by Haiti for five days" (156). Quentin 61

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Reynolds, a journalist wi th Collier's Weekly, was sent to the Dominican Republic to investigate the massacre. He reports: Trujillo, following the Hitler pattern, had found his whippi ng boy. With Hitler it was the Jew; with Trujillo it was the Haitian. There was little that Haiti could do about it. I saw President Stenio Vincent, who had been a poe t. What can we do?' He shrugged helpless shoulders. We are not a wa rlike people'. (ix) Philoctte offers the differing explanation for the lack of a Haitian response to the killing of its citizens: [. .] a twenty-peso bill: Banco Central de la Repœblica Dominicana Veinte Pesos de Oro The price agreed upon by the Haitian government for a Haitian neck, for Haitian organs, for a Haitian memory. A Haitian ass. Voilˆ The League of Nation is satisfied. That tens of thousands of skulls are k nocking about, rattling around, clonking into one another basta So what! Port-au-Prince has cashe d in, no muss, no fuss, no delegation, no ceremony, no special delivery. No formal rece ipt. No sealed envelope. Just handed over directly. A grocer's change: twenty pesos for a head. (178-9) The lack of Haitian response shows the lack of importance the people living along the border had in Haitian society and how easily and cheaply thei r lives were sold. Fra nk Moya Pons explains that, "The Dominican government paid $525,000 as compensation for damages and injuries occasioned by what was officially termed f rontier conflicts'". (The Dominican Republic 369). Furthermore Crassweller writes, "A substantial pa rt of the agreed -upon final $275,000 [. .] was disbursed under the table to de serving public figures instead of being devoted to compensation for losses and injuries suffered in the massacres" (159). Prestol Castillo offers the following explanation for lack of Haitian interest in the massacre: En Hait’ hay hambre y odio de raza. Los mulatos que estudiaron en Par’s, o que apa–aron los latifundios, miran con odio a sus hermanos, la raza de Žbano que qued— sin tierra y que roba eternamente al Santo Domingo al eda–o al r’o Masacre. (80) The same idea expressed by Tibon, a Haitian sugar cane worker, in the The Farming of Bones who says, "They have so many of us here because our own country our governmenthas 62

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forsake us [. .] Poor people are sold to work in the cane fields so our own country can be free of them" (178). The lack of reaction on the part of Haiti caused confusion for the Dominican Army. Captain Ventarr—n in El Masacre wonders, "Vendr‡n? Vendr‡n los haitianos a vengar sus hermanos? ." (31). Later the captain obser ves, "No vienen haitianos vengadores" (88). The lack of response allowed Dominicans to refuse re sponsibility for the act. The author Philoctte explains in Massacre River "The highly sensitive citizens of the Dominican Republic have no doubt quickly grasped what we need not point out: the Haitian authorities have abandoned the Haitian border people. [. .] We [Dominicans] wash our hands of this" (175). In The Farming of Bones there is also surprise at the lack of a response. Yves asks, "Tell me, why don't our people go to war because of this? [. .] Why won' t our president fight?" (197). To this date, there not been an official Haitian response to the mass killing of its citizens. However, the survivor's response to the massacr e can be found in Danticat's text. As Shea notes: The survivors of the massacre, like Amabelle confront the Dominican Republic and Haiti with a silent, but disruptive corporeal testimony that draws at tention to a reality that has been buried and enciphered in the historical record. ("The Dangerous Job of Edwidge Danticat" 104) Danticat also notes her book is, "[. .] about su rvivors, and we're children of survivors" ("An Interview between Edwidge Danticat and Rene Shea" 4). In the absence of an official response, the response of the survivors is the only one heard. The success of The Farming of Bones ensured that it was a respons e heard around the world. 63

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Dominican Reaction to the Massacre Trujillo never accepted responsibility for the massacre and to the end maintained that the killings were the result of a dispute between Do minican farmers and cattle ranchers and Haitians. The reaction of the Dominican people to the ma ssacre was mixed. Eugenio Matibag explains: For Trujillo and the Dominican people, moreover, the massacre achieved a sort of symbolic success or vindication: no one would applaud such atrocities, no one could approve them unreservedly, but the genocide meant secure borders, and secure borders meant a secure country, and what many conde mn in public they commend in private anyway. (149) While some Dominicans agreed with the Dominican ization of the border, others chose to risk their lives to hide Haitians. Prestol Castillo writes, "Aœn temen algunos, pues hay haitianos escondidos en las casas" (32). Li kewise, in The Farming of Bones Se–ora Valencia helped Haitians avoid the massacre. She says: During El Corte, though I was bl eeding and nearly died, I hid many of your people [. ] I hid a baby who is now a student at the medi cal school with Rosalinda and her husband. I hid Sylvie and two families in your old room. I hid some of Do–a Sabine's people before she and her husband could escape to Haiti. I did what I could in my situation. (299) Se–ora Valencia is caught between sympathy for Haitians, hiding several in her house, and loyalty to her husband. While she was saving the lives of Haitians, her husband, Se–or Pico, was killing them. There is great irony in her hiding of Haitians in the house of a Dominican army officer for as Iv‡n Grull—n explains, "En nuestro pa’s se puede ser pro-yanqui', pero no prohaitiano, aunque sean aquellos quienes explot an los dominicanos" (29). Although Se–ora Valencia risks her life to save Haitians, she also defends her husband' s actions claiming that, "Many good men commit terrible acts these days (150). As a couple, they represent the division found in the Dominican Republic betw een the killers and those brave enough to go against the order to kill. Yet, Amabelle wonde rs, "Would she be brave enough to stand between me and her husband if she had to?" (141). 64

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Racism as Official Discourse: Antihaitianismo Antihaitianismo Spanish for anti-Haitianism, began dur ing Hispaniola's colonial history, when France ruled Saint Domingue and Spai n ruled Santo Domingo. After achieving independence from France, Haiti from 1822-1844 occupied Santo Domingo. In 1844, Dominicans gained its independence from Haiti. Relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic have been hostile ever since. Mi chel-Rolph Trouillot notes that, "The Haitian invasions of the eastern side have often been held as the starting point of Dominican Negrophobia" (3). The Dominican Republic would also come to defi ne itself in relation to Haiti. Roberto Cass‡ further explains that: [E]l dominicano era mejor que el otro que el enemigo, el haitiano, recurrencia ajustada al car‡cter reaccionario de ese pr etendido nacionalismo. De ah ’ que la esencia hisp‡nica tuviese por correlato obligado el enfrentamiento nacional con Hait’ magnificado hasta proporciones aterradoras como categor’a fundamental’sima de la constituci—n del a propia naci—n dominica. (60) Joaqu’n Balaguer believes, "Santo Domingo es, por instinto de conservaci—n, el pueblo m‡s espa–ol y m‡s tradicionalista de AmŽrica" (63). According to Dominicans, their country is white, Catholic, and Hispanic. In contrast, Haiti is black, practices Voodoo, and is African. Thus, Dominicans view themselves as racially superior It also means that for Dominicans, nation becomes tied with race. However, anti-Haitian beliefs in the Dominican Republic are at odds with the ethnic reality of many black Dominicans, placing them in a situation in which they must negate their black heritage. Trouillot explains, "Between Ryswick and Aranjuez, Santo Domingo, a society with one of the world's highe st ratios of individua ls of mixed ancestry, became also a negrophobic society" (2). Even Tr ujillo, whose grandmother was Haitian, in order 65

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to imagine himself as a Dominican had to deny his own ancestry. 14 Additionally, John Augelli notes, "The Dominican peasants, even those who were obviously bl ack, came to feel ashamed of any association that smacked of Haitian origin" (33). This, in part, helps explain just how Dominicans, or how anyone in general, could be capable of such inhumanity and cruelty. Garc’a Cruz explains that Dominicans: [S]e caracteriza por una obsesi—n de ser blanc o, de actuar como un blanco y lucir como un blanco. Este individuo niega y oculta su desc endencia negra, se avergŸenza de sus rasgos y de su pasado, y en su necesidad compulsiva de refinarse y mostrarse distinto, hay temor y ansiedad excesiva de ser descubierto, por lo que tratara de apartars e de todo aquello que le recuerde su origen, ser‡ hostil con sus compa–eros de r aza y de cultura y por eso su crueldad hacia ellos, pues le recuerdan y le reviven su punto de partida. (115) The correlation of blackness with Haitian identity is a long-standing theme within Dominican national ideology. However Lauren Derby explains: Raza was not primarily marked by skin color; in deed this marker would have been a most ambiguous signifier in a zone which had seen four hundred years of extensive intermarriage and cultural mixing. Yet ther e was a difference, universally acknowledged in the border, between Dominicans and Haitians [. .] Race here was fundamentally a cultural construct. (525) Therefore, the complexities of national (Dominican) national identity came down to a simple word, perejil As Philoctte describes, "The gra nd design of a national government is to kill people through the power of a word As a weapon against the border people, Rafael Le—nidas Trujillo suggested perejil '" (146-7). Philoct te also notes: For the last forty-eight hours, the Haitian pe ople of the border have been learning to say perejil'. A banal word. A kitchen herb. That can cost a life. If you can pronounce it well, you are Dominican, blanco de la tierra and the soldiers pr esent arms: Guardia salud!" But if the r wanders into the i, the j, or if the p, and the l, the r become dislocated, jam up, grab at one another, come undone, star t scrapping, go off in a huff, then you are Haitian and ready for the firing squad: Guardia, fœsilelo!' [sic]. (111) 14 Alberto Despradel Cabral notes that: "Rafael Leonidas hijo de Altagracia Julia Molina Chevalier por la parte materna, era nieto y bisnieto de haitianos" (79). 66

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Augelli also explains that, "The Dominican pe asants, even those who were obviously black, came to feel ashamed of any association that sm acked of Haitian origin" (33). Gudmundson and Scaran maintain that, "Accordingly, the dark skin common in the Dominican population was transformed into a trait inherited from Indian ancestry" (340). Gi ven that it was impossible to be black and Dominican, Dominicans of darker color were considered Indian'. This Dominican racial myth is perpetuated in El Masacre when the narrator describe s do–a Francina as, "una bella india de la aldea" (35). The Farming of Bones also illustrates the same racial my th. Se–ora Valencia gives birth to twins, one slightly darker than the other. Sh e says to Amabelle, "See what we've brought forth together, my Spanish prince and my Indian prin cess. [. .] She will steal many hearts, my Rosalinda. Look at that profile The profile of Anacaona, a true Indian queen" (29). Her comments propagate Dominican r acial national myth. Interes tingly, the lighter-skinned baby named after Trujillo, dies within days of birth. The darker child lives and thrives, the opposite of what happens during the massacre, only days away from happening. Antihaitianismo is often named as the catalyst for the massacre, which was unprovoked, brutal, and came without warning. Rumors of the killings quick ly reached the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince. However, given the 1935 agre ement on the border between the two countries, Haitians had difficulty believing what they were hearing. 15 Haitian historian Jean Price-Mars describes their reaction to news of the killings: Ser’a cierto? Ser’a posible? Y, por quŽ?, se preguntaba uno, ansioso. La noticia parec’a tan extravagante como inveros’mil. QuŽ pudo haber, por tanto, sucedido para dar origen a esta matanza colec tiva de haitianos en la Repœb lica Dominicana? (215-6) 15 Spain and France agreed by the Treaty of Aranjuez of 1777, upon the Rivers Dajab—n or Massacre as the boundary. However in 1895, in the Treaty of Basel Spain ceded the entire island to France. From 1822-1844 the whole island was under the control of the Haitian Presiden t Boyer. On February 27, 1844 the Dominican Republic became a sovereign state. On February 27, 1935 Presidents St nio Joseph Vincent and Rafael Le—nidas Trujillo signed a new border agreement. 67

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In the Dominican Republic, there had also been no warning and the response was similar. Turits explains that to people living al ong the border, "the genocidal ramp age appeared to come out of nowhere, like an act of madness" (620). Derby al so notes that before the massacre, "Border Dominicans did not hold an univocal set of negative stereotypes related to Haiti and Haitians. Most of the Dominicans border resi dents visited Haiti frequently" ( 513). Similarly Turits writes: "As one Haitian refugee from the massacre recall ed, Although there were two sides, the people were one, united.'" (526). He further main tains that, "And no clear economic hierarchy or conflict existed between ethnic Haitians and ethnic Dominicans in the region's rural areas." (528). Reaction throughout the rest of the country was similar. Moya Pons notes that massacre, "caused a gigantic shock among the Dominican peopl e, who either witnessed with terror the massacre or heard the ominous ru mors about it that circulated from household to household" (The Dominican Republic 368). The reaction of shock, surpri se, and bewilderment described by both Haitian and Dominican historians illustrates that before the massacre, antihaitianismo 16 was not very prevalent in the Dominican Republic Fernando Valerio Holgu’n explains that: The discourse of anti-Haitian primitivism served as an intellectual justification for the dehumanization, enslavement, and genocide of Haitian people, set forth as a historical necessity for the foundation of Patria Nuev a' of which Trujillo was God and Father. (Primitive Borders 83) Turits also believes that the conflict between Haitians and Dominicans came after the massacre and served to justify it. He explains: This new mode of racism emerged as a result of state terror and the official anti-Haitianism that followed it and served to rationalize th e massacre. The main consequence of the bloodbath for Dominicans was the destruction of the Haitian-Dominican frontier world and the transformation of popular meanings of Do minican identity, cultu re, and nationality. 16 Antihaitianismo is a negative prejudice towards Haitians, who are viewed as descendents of black slaves by Dominicans who see themselves as descendents of white Spaniards. This anti-Ha itian ideology was heavily propagated during Trujillo's dictatorship. Also Derby explains that: "The dominant Dominican ideology, antiHaitianism is essentially a class-based prejudice, a rejectio n of the sub-stratum of Haitian cane cutters who are seen as patently subhuman" (493). 68

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But this construction of Dominican nationa lity rests on historical amnesia of the premassacre frontier world, of its culturally pluralist nation as well as its transnational community. It also rests on a problematic in terpretation of the Haitian massacre as a reflection of (rather than an impetus for) the widespread anti-Haitianism that exists today in the Dominican Republic. In 1937 Dominican fr ontier residents had to bury the Haitian members of their community. And in so doing, th ey also buried their own way of life, and ultimately the memories of th eir collective past. (535) Therefore, what is often overlooked is the fact that Trujillo used antihaitianismo to justify the massacre and it was only after the massacre that it became prevalent in the Dominican Republic. El Masacre expresses a strong anti-Haitian undertone and racist sentiment. Howard notes that in the narrative, "Haitians are described cons istently as primitive, savage, and alien to the Dominican civilization, an ironic reversal of the barbar ity of the Dominican-led massacre" (141). Haiti is consistently identified with blackness. Th e narrator says, "La noche anulaba, pintaba de negro. Como el destino de Hait’. Con el colo r de Hait’" (88). He also describes how Haitian people, who are African descent are unable to sp eak Spanish. He observes, QuŽ temblor y pavura v’ en m‡s de un labio grueso, afro-espa–ol, y en m‡s de una articulaci—n de sonidos ambiguos, pugnando por hablar clar o el espa–ol, para demost rar que era dominicano quien hablaba!" (23). El Masacre mentions the little value Dominicans placed on Haitian life at the time of the massacre. Pienso en la agon’a de Hait’, desprecia do aun por los dominicanos negros, que lo consideran inferior y cobarde. Por su parte este haitiano ha despla zado al criollo en una competencia de trabajo dando m‡s rendimiento por menor salario, en una vida cuasi animal. (71) He notes that Dominicans have dehumanized Ha itians and writes, ". el hombre puede f‡cilmente explotar al hombre. Sobre todo, hay unos seres a quienes dif’cilmente podr’a llamarse hombres: los negros de Hait’, brazo barato" (35). Along the border, many Dominicans married Haitians. Their offspring were viewed with disdain. Prestol Castillo writes, ". hijos m’o y de 69

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la haitiana. No sirven! Mal a raza!" (60). In the Domini can Republic any amount of Haitian blood was enough to qualify one as "H aitian". Prestol Castillo re peats anti-Haitian ideology in his text, which takes place before, during, and shor tly after the massacre. However, Crassweller mentions that before the massacre there was not "any general prejud ice against individual Haitians, who mingle in large numbers with Domi nicans. The ancient hostility was national and public, not personal and private" (149-50). Th erefore, the Prestol Castillo inaccurately represents the border area before the massacre and repeats Trujillo's justification for the massacre, which blamed Haitians for the massacre. The Farming of Bones also presents an inaccurate pictur e. Se–or Pico in The Farming of Bones most clearly illustrates the disdain Dominicans had for Haitians before the massacre. Upon learning that Haitians had drank from some of his cups Amabelle says, "he shattered the cups and saucers, one by one" (116). He also shuns his daughter Rosalinda, who according to Amabelle, had "her father's bronze complexion" (293). In shunning her for the color of skin, which is similar to his, he is also negating a part of himself. Amabelle is also aware of antiahitianismo even before the killings began. She comm ents, "I was never na•ve, or blind. I knew. I knew that the death of many was comin g. I knew that the stream s and rivers would run with blood. I knew as well how to say psi' as to say perejil" (265). For her, the massacre did not come as a total surprise. The Framing of Bones also illustrates the lit tle value of human life on the border. Many of the characters prefer de ath to living. Mimi, who is young says, I don't want to live so long. I'd rather die young like Joel did. I'd rather ha ve death surprise me, I don't want to wait a long time for it to co me find me. (60). Like El Masacre The Farming of Bones inaccurately represents the border region be fore the massacre and suggests that Haitians may have been responsible for their own deaths. 70

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Haitians as Thieves Anti-Haitian ideology also claimed that Ha itians were stealing from Dominicans and therefore the border needed to be enforced. Fe rnando Infante explains, "El d’a dos de octubre, en el Ayuntamiento de Dajab—n improvis— un discurso declarando que no tolerar‡ la continuaci—n de las depredaciones haitianas en las regiones fronter izas" (77). However, Derby disagrees and explains that: The accusation that Haitians were somehow be hind a constant, silent drain of Dominican cattle across the border is a rumor circulated c onstantly in the border fr om the early part of this century until today, even though many borde r residents agree that the claim that the Haitians were constantly stealing Do minican goods was not true. (521) Prestol Castillo's text reveals the rift between myth and reality seen in the comments made by Infante and Derby. He mentions that Dominicans did not believe that Hait ians were thieves but were required to say so. He writes, "Pero cuando llegaba la ronda a su casa, Žl hablar’a mal de los haitianos. No se puede vivir. Todo lo roban! Son unos perros! .' dec’a el aguzado don Francisco" (92). However, the text repeats the idea that the Haitians were stealing from the Dominican Republic. The narrator notes, "Otra ca usa de extinci—n del ganado era el robo de los haitianos" (29). He later mentions, "S’, hab’an sido los malditos haitianos, que acabaron con las reses" (98). He perpetuates the idea that Dominicans are goin g hungry because of Haitian theft and claims: Ah! ma–ases' del Diablo! Antenoche estubiŽn aqu’, y no qued— un rabo e yuca pa los probe negros jijo m’o y pa m’ tengo, que los haitianos trabajan con el Diablo! Caminan con la noche como de d’a! .(30) At another point he says, that Haitians are "[l]a langosta negra arrasaba en las noches los plant’os de yuca y ma’z" (80). In presenting Haitians as th ieves, Prestol Castillo justifies the massacre. Haitians are to blame for having stolen from Dominicans. Yet, the text continually contradicts 71

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itself. At times, it maintains that Haitian are thieves, at other times sympathizing with Haitians and justifying their actions The narrator explains: El sargento gritaba. Dentro de su embriagu ez, en el momento del sacrifico de los negros de Hait’, inexplicablemente venia a su mente algo que surg’a del subconsciente: estos negros, son bueno Pero son ladrone! Deben morir!' (27). Haitians, almost in acknowledgment of their wrongdoing don't question the sentence of death. The narrator says, "Los negros iban a cumplir una sentencia de muerte, si n protesta" (27). In contrast, Amabelle narrates a very different Hait ian response. She displays a defiant tone when she notes: The Generalissimo's mind was surely as dark as death, but if he had heard Odette's psi,' it might of startle him, not th e tears and supplications he w ould have expected, no shriek from unbound fear, but a provocatio n, a challenge, a dare. To the devil with your world, your grass, your wind, your water, your air, you r words. You ask for perejil, I give you more. (203) She also describes others who were defiant and says, "I will stay and fight,' Unl said. I work hard; I have a right to be here. The brigade stay s to fight. While we fight we can help others'" (126). The Dangers of Nationalism Both El Masacre and The Farming of Bones highlight the atroci ties that occur under dictatorships and other repr essive regimes. Often these acts of violence are justified as necessary out of love of nation. Trujillo disguised hatr ed and racism as nationalism. Love for the Dominican Republic included xenophobia towards Haiti ans. Trujillo enthus iastically promoted antihaitianismo and as Augelli notes, public denunciation of the Haitian connection became a duty" (33). Human Rights Watch reports that "Throughout the mid-twentie th century, Trujillo fed the Dominican population a st eady diet of anti-Haitian prop aganda, relying on the schools and the media to disseminate these ideas". Among those ideas was the idea that Haiti posed a threat the Dominican Republic. Turits explai ns, "Dominican intellectuals represented the 72

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Haitian presence in the Dominican frontier as a "pacific invasion" that was endangering the Dominican nation" (562). Furt hermore, Vega believes that: Trujillo, como la mayor parte de los do minicanos, tem’a que la Repœblica Dominicana fuese eventualmente abrumada por la mayor poblaci—n haitiana, empobrecida, analfabeta, y la m‡s densa del Nuevo Mundo. (Trujillo y Hait’ 62) According to intellectuals working for Trujill o, the country was under siege from its poorer, more populous neighbor. JosŽ Almoina, who had b een Trujillo's secretary, even goes so far as to justify the genocide. In a book published thirt een years after the massacre and while Trujillo was still in power, he writes of the dictator: [N]o se le puede culpar por hacerlo. Los suces os de 1937 fueron el saldo a la historia de la ocupaci—n de 1822-1844 [. .] Trujillo resolvi— en 1937 todo un proceso hist—rico, clarific— para siempre el ambiente y dej— liberado el po rvenir de su Patria. [. .] Trujillo ten’a entonces que salvar a su pa’s y lo hizo c on plena conciencia de las responsabilidades, enfrentando un peligro evidente y hasta aventu rando su propio destino. (Yo fui secretario de Trujillo 121-2) Similarly Mateo notes, "Con la masacre del 1937, Trujillo arriba a la m‡xima fulguraci—n del nacionalismo, a la demostraci—n tranquila de recurs os extremos para salvar la Patria" (119). Thus, the massacre is justified fr om Trujillo's perspective as th e self-defense of a country and culture under siege. Some Dominicans also thought their culture was under attack by Haitian immigrants. Joaqu’n Balaguer, President under Trujillo, maintains "[l]o que Santo Domingo desea es conservar su cultura y sus costum bres como pueblo espa–ol e impedir la desintegraci—n de su alma y la pedida de sus rasgos distintivos" (64). Thus, the ma ssacre is seen as necessary for protecting Dominican culture. Eugenio Matibag notes: For Trujillo and the Dominican people, moreover, the massacre achieved a sort of symbolic success or vindication: no one would applaud such atrocities, no one could approve them unreservedly, but the genocide meant secure borders, and secure borders meant a secure country, and what many conde mn in public they commend in private anyway. (149) 73

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Matibag's observation explains, in part, the ma ny contradictions found in Prestol Castillo's narrative. Like Trujillo, El Masacre uses nationalism as a justification for the massacre. As Howard notes, El masacre presents the tragedy of extreme nationalism and the atrocities of genocide" (141). The narrator laments the lack of a border between the tw o countries. He describes, "Miseria con una sola moneda: la luna redonda que flota sobre el a gua del Masacre, pobre riacho que se pasa a pies . (129). He later reiterates that the river "no es frontera, ya que se pasa f‡cilmente a pie" (129). The text also references Haiti's occ upation of the Dominican Republic as justification for the ma ssacre although, the narrator at one point refuses to let it be an excuse of genocide. He states: Horror! Horror! Es que tenemos que cobrar deudas de sangre, tambiŽn con sangre? No! Pese a sus cr’menes del siglo pasado, los haitianos son nuestros m‡s desgraciados hermanos, m‡s desgraciados que nosotros! (10) Later, he remembers Haiti's violent past wh ile wondering why Haiti has not responded to the killing of its citizens. He remembers, "Sobre aquellas sabanas nos liberamos de las cadenas con que sojuzg— Hait’ a la Repœblica Dominicana por 22 a–os. En ese periodo Hait’ degoll—, fusil—, hostig— sin piedad, al pueblo dominicano. I [s ic] estos pu–ales de hoy?" (72). Regarding Prestol Castillo's use of history to justify genocide Grull—n notes: Es lamentable, sin embargo, que este escritor al evocar tanto el pasado, haya dejado la impresi—n de que dicha matanza se justificab a frente a los cr’menes cometidos por los haitianos un siglo atr‡s, cuando las tropas de Dessalines masacraron en su retirada hacia Hait’ a los dominicanos indefenso que en contraron en su camino. (39) The massacre is often viewed as an outcome of reassertion of Dominican nationality along the border. Similarly, Pedro San Miguel explains that the massacre is also viewed as necessary for the defense of Dominican nation, "As’, la horrible matanza de haitianos realizada en las zonas fronterizas en 1937 es presentada como un acontecimi ento de primer orden en la defensa de la 74

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nacionalidad dominicana" (88). F. E. Puello Mosc oso explains, "He dicho, y lo repito, que aqu’ no hay conciencia nacional. No hay ciudadanos hay habitantes" (96). Prestol Castillo recognizes the need for the border and notes that most Dominicans have no idea of nation. He says, "En esta vida la de don Francisco es un signo la Repœblica Dominicana no pasa de dos vanas palabras, Repœblica Dominicana': no la conoce nadie" (91). Furthermore, Prestol Castillo describes his childhood teacher as someone who was, "extranjerizado en sus preferencias" (15). He also lacks any sense of nationalism. As Prestol Castillo notes: No conoc’a su pa’s. Era de una familia ilustre de la capita l y jam‡s hab’a salido a esos pueblos' de su propio pa’s. Limitados a su s peque–a ciudad coloni al, llena de rancios prestigios, hac’an alarde de una concentraci—n citadina, en el fondo antinacional, que los separaba de las dem‡s provincias, aldeas y territorios. (15) In short, the teacher has difficulty in imagin ing the towns along the border as belonging the Dominican Republic. His comment, "Esos pueblos deben ser insoportables" (15), reflects his inability to imagine them as part of the Do minican Republic. Prestol Castillo paints an unflattering image of his teacher, noting that he was, "[. .] un maestro sofisticado, lleno de cortes’a vac’a, desprovisto de se ntido nacionalista" (17). In his tr eatment of the teacher, Prestol Castillo acknowledges that the not all Dominican s have a clear definition or concept of the Dominican Republic. The Farming of Bones warns against the dangers of nati onalism and the narrative criticizes the type of nationalism, both Haitian and Domi nican that can lead to these atrocities. After the massacre Amabelle lives with Man Rapadou who explains th at she poisoned her husband during the American occupation of Haiti becau se "[. .] greater than my love for this man was love for my country. I could not let hi m trade us all, sell us to the Yankis" (277). Dominicans also kill out of love of country. Se–ora Valencia's father says of her husband, Se–or Pico, I have seen this before. Your man, he believes that everything he is doing, he's doing 75

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for his country. At least this is what he must tell himself" (138). Thus, both Dominicans and Haitians kill out of love of country. Imagining Trujillo Like the massacre itself, which is the text both justifies and c ondemns, the soldiers' comments made after meeting Trujillo El Masacre are contradictory. Some view Trujillo as a deity. They are told, "no se la ven la mano con que saludaron al General" (120). The narrator describes that Trujillo "[e]ra como la aparici —n y desaparici—n de una deidad" (120). Another solidier observes, "-El General estaba vest’o como un Dio. Con ese Jefe, cojo yo a Hait’ en dos d’a" (121). However, others describe: El General apareci— al fin. Ven’a vestido c on todas sus condecoracione s. Brillaba el sol sobre oro, plata y aceros. Un traje azul un hombre erecto y encima una cabeza gris y joven. [. .] Su mano era de licada, fina como de sal—n. -. Y ese, es el General?' No parece! .' Ellos lo cre’an m‡s grande, m‡s fuerte, sobrenat ural. Y se volv’an a preguntar si ese era el mismo General Ese hombre lo puede todo! Y por quŽ tiene las manos tan finas? (120) The solidiers who question Trujillo's status as a deity feel defraude d. Yet, there is no resistance to Trujillo, no mention of overthr owing him from power. The only pe rson who resists Trujillo is Angela, the narrator's fiancŽ, and rather than st ay and fight for freedom, she flees the country. Trujillo, as a character appears in directly in The Farming of Bones His large portrait hangs in Se–ora Valencia's living room, much like his presence hangs over the Dominican Republic. Amabelle also hears hi s voice on the radio. She says, "a voice for all of its authority was still as shrill as a birdcal l" (97). Although Amabelle never sees Trujillo, his presence saves her life. Amabelle and her Yves are in Dajab—n tr ying to cross into Haiti when they are attacked by an angry mob. Trujillo is also in Dajab—n spea king in a church. Amabelle and Yves lives are 76

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saved when Trujillo's departure from the chur ch distracts the mob. A priest communicates Trujillo's racist ideology. Father Romain, who Amabelle visits hoping for information on Sebastien, repeats Trujillo's anti-Haitian and na tionalist ideology. Because of severe beatings by Trujillo's men, he is imbecili c and drooling as he repeats Tr ujillo's xenophobic words. On this island, walk too far in either directi on and people speak a different language, [. ] Our motherland is Spain; theirs is darkest Africa, you understand? They once came here only to cut sugarcane, but now th ere are more of them than there will be can to cut, you understand? Our problem is one of dominion. Tell me, does anyone like to have their house flooded with visitors, to the point that the visitors replace their own children? How can a country be ours if we are in smaller num bers than the outsiders? Those of us who love our country are taking measures to keep it our own. [. .] Sometimes I cannot believe that this one island produced tw o such different peoples. [. .] We, as Dominicans, must have our separate traditions and our own wa ys of living. If not, in less then three generations, we will all be Haitians. In th ree generations, our children and grandchildren will have their blood completely tainted unl ess we defend ourselves now, you understand? (259-60) His sister explains to Amabelle that while Father Romain was in prison," They forced him to say these things that he says now wh enever his mind wanders" (260). Conclusion The narratives studied in this chapte r are acts of memory; El Masacre is personal memory, The Farming of Bones is based on historical and collec tive memory. Prestol Castillo and Danticat, for differing reasons, have chosen not to forget. Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel notes that the desire to fo rget traumatic experiences is normal. However, when there are no memorials for the dead, it is up to living to remember. In his Nobel lecture, Wiesel states: Of course we could try to forget the past. W hy not? Is it not natural for a human being to repress what causes him pain, what causes him shame? Like the body memory protects its wounds. When day breaks after a sleepless night, one's ghosts must withdraw; the dead are ordered back to their graves. But for th e first time in history, we could not bury our dead. We bear their graves within ourselves. For us, forgetting was never an option. (12-11-86) 77

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Like the Jewish Holocaust, the victims of the Ha itian massacre have no graves. They also have no identity. As Philoctte's notes, "Words have bi rth certificates and de ath certificates, too" (146). The Haitians slaughtered had neither. Prestol Castillo notes: Los muertos de esta vor‡gine no tienen nombre. Ni siquiera cifra co mo el presidio. Si nuestras mulas chocan en el camino, con un cad ‡ver, pararemos las mulas y enterraremos a ese hombre. Cu‡l hombre? El muerto no ser’a hombre', para don David. Era, un haitiano' Nada m‡s que un haitiano'. (85) Similarly, Amabelle the narrato r of The Farming of Bones, notes of those kill ed in the massacre, "There were no graves, there were no markers" ( 270). The words of Wiesel, Prestol Castillo and Amabelle bring to mind Schulweis who believes "[ m]emory is a warning, a protest, and act of fidelity to the martyrs" (xv). Thus, for some it is out of respect for and in solidarity with the dead, that one must not forget. By means of the written word, each author me morializes the victims of the massacre, who otherwise would not have a memorial. In partic ular, remembering the victims is paramount to Danticat who explains: I hope this does not sound too pretentious, but I feel that in some way the work is a kind of memorial to those who died, a plea to reme mber them. Some reviewers said the book suffered from that intent. I hope not, but I do hope that each time someone picks up that book they will think of those forty thousand plus people who were massacred. (Johnson 25-6) After writing the short story "Nineteen Thirty-Seven" included in Krik? Krak? Danticat visits the Massacre River. She explains in an interview with Charters: There were no markers. I felt like I was standing on top of a huge mass grave, and just couldn't see the bodies. That's the first time I remember thinking, Nature has no memory' [. ] and that's why we have to have memory'. (43) Similarly Nick Nesbitt observes, "[. .] the poe t takes from the dead their only possession, their memory among the living, and abrogates it to her own project" (207). Danticat's project is one 78

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of healing. As Peterson explains "writing a traumatic history of injustice can lead to healing" (170). During an online interview with he r readers and the Chicago Sun-Times Danticat said: The reason for telling a story like that is not to rub salt on old wounds but to remind people that we cannot let these things happen. Ha iti took over the Dominican Republic once and we, too, caused them a lot of pain. As Amab elle would say, now it is time for testimony, but also for healing. ("An Atro city Lushly Revisited") Furthermore she asks Shea, "How can a nation or a culture work through a past event that they choose to not recognize or wish to forget" ("The Dangerous Job of Edwidge Danticat" 100). An analysis of both narratives shows a denunciation of the ma ssacre by the authors through very different means. Prestol Castillo attempts to explain how Dominicans could have participated in such a horrific event. He jus tifies the massacre as need ed for nation building as Dominicans, like his childhood teacher had not con cept of nation. He also blames Haitians for their own deaths. Therefore, his narrative focuses on the effect of the massacre on Dominicans. In contrast, Danticat's narrative focuses on th e massacre's effect on Ha itians, without ever blaming Dominicans for the massacre. For the reader familiar with the 1937 Massacre, El Masacre and The Farming of Bones remind the reader of the little value of human life. Trujillo, who single-handedly masterminded the killings, was never arrested and charged with crimes against humanity. To the contrary, the massacre had very little impact on his close rela tionship with the United States and he continued to receive its support. The massacre was widely reported on in the United States press. Despite this, it took a month for the United States to acknowledge the massacre. 17 Yet, not much happened as a result. Howard Wiarda notes, "The Haitian slaughter of 1937 produced some concern in the United States, but he easily weat hered this storm" (138). Furthermore, Raymond Pulley explains that, "The Roosevelt administra tion took little notice of the Dominican Haitian 17 Crassweller notes that "The United States show ed official concern on November 7" (157). 79

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incident of October 1937 [and] no reprimand for this crime against the Haitian people emanated from Washington" (31). Less than two years after the massacre, on July 13, 1939 while Trujillo was on a state visit to the United States, The New York Times reported, "US Representative Hamilton Fish praised General Tru jillo's statesmanship and described him as a builder greater than all the Span ish conquistadors together'" ("Mayor Welcomes Trujillo to City" 3). Likewise, international reaction to the mass acre was limited. Wiarda claims that the slaughter of some 15,000 Haitians in 1937 produc ed a revulsion abroad which threatened Trujillo's rule (32). Howeve r, Philoctte disagrees and notes that, "No Red Cross agency anywhere in the world spoke up on their beha lf [] nor did any other international, philanthropic, humanitarian organization" (123). So marginalized were the victims of the massacre that Philoctte observes that, Even religions aren't giving a thought to the Haitian border people" (131). Thus, there are no happy conclusions to be found in either history or these narratives. The message is in the 20 th century it was possible to murder t housands of innocent people, less than 1,000 miles off the shores of the United States (less than the distance between Miami and New York City), and not suffer any negative consequen ces. If there is any satisfaction for the reader, it comes from knowing that each author has give n a voice to the victims thereby countering the official silence of history. In the United States, Haiti is synonymous with poverty. As Jo el Dreyfuss explains, "I call it the Phrase' and it comes up almost any time Haiti is mentioned in the news, the Poorest Nation in the Western Hemisphere'" ( 56). He continues to say that: The Phrase grates with us because it also de nies so much else about Haiti: our art, our music, our rich Afro-Euro-American culture. It denies the human ity of Haitians, the 80

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capacity to survive, to overcome, even to triu mph over this poverty, a historical experience we share with so many other [sic] in this same Western Hemisphere. (58) Yet, Haiti is much more than that. Both Prestol Castillo and Danticat's narratives testify to the strength and resilience of the Haitian peopl e and the richness of their culture. 81

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CHAPTER 3 CHALLENGING "EL JEFE" IN LAS MIRABAL AND IN THE TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES In my own D.R. we have many rains: / the spri nkle, the shower, the hu rricane, / the tears, the many tears for our many dead. Julia Alvarez, "Redwing Sonnets" Cuando supe que hab’an ca’do las tres hermanas Mirabal me dije: la sociedad establecida ha muerto. Pedro Mir, "AmŽn de Mariposas" Introduction This chapter focuses on the fictionalization a nd literary representation of two important 20th century Dominican historical figures, the di ctator Rafael Le—nidas Tr ujillo Molina and the revolutionary and national heroine Minerva Mirabal Reyes. It also focuses on how the Trujillo era and the Dominican Republic have been narrate d. The two works analyzed are Las Mirabal (1976), by the Dominican author Ra m—n Alberto Ferreras, and the In the Time of the Butterflies (1995), by the Dominican American author Julia Al varez. The Mirabal si sters, Patria, Minerva and Mar’a Teresa were part of a revolutionary group which sought to overthrow Trujillo. Of the sisters, Minerva was the most politically active. Consequently, hers is the most developed character in the texts selected and it is the reason this study fo cuses mainly on her and not on her sisters. These two narratives, published 19 year s apart, provide contrasting, opposing, and very different literary manifestations of the Domini can Republic, Trujillo, Minerva, and the events that lead to her murder by Trujillo's men on a lonely and dangerous mountainous road. 82

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The Mirabal Sisters Historical Background On November 25, 1960, Trujillo's henchmen assassinated Patria, Minerva, and Mar’a Teresa Mirabal after ambushing their Jeep on a mountain road. In the days leading up to their death it had been widely rumored that Trujillo wa nted the sisters murdered for their involvement in the "Movimiento Revolucionario 14 de J unio" (MR-1J4). Minerva's husband, Manuel Tav‡rez Justo, was the leader of this leftist revolutionary group which sought a government similar to the one in Cuba. 18 Leandro Guzm‡n, Mar’a Tere sa's husband, was also closely involved. Minerva and Mar’a Tere sa were also linked to the m ovement and had been imprisoned earlier in 1960. The men ordered to kill the sist ers were reluctant and invented any excuse to avoid it. According to Bernard Dietrich, "Truji llo grew impatient when he learned his agents had not carried out his orders by November 22" (69). This was rectified on November 25, 1960 when, as Dietrich explains, the women were dragged out of the car and killed with clubs. Their bodies were placed in their Jeep that was driven to the edge of a precipice and hurled over (71). The three sisters, along with thei r driver, Rufino de la Cruz Disl a, were found dead near their wrecked Jeep, at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff in the northern part of the country. Today the chassis of the Jeep is displayed defiantly outsi de of DedŽ Mirabal's an cestral home in Ojo de Agua. She is the only surviving sibling. 19 The sisters' death had a prof ound effect on the Dominican psyc he. According to Dietrich, this particular assassination "d id something to their machismo. They could never forgive Trujillo this crime" (72). Similarly, JosŽ Ra fael Vargas notes, "Pero esta muerte conjunta 18 Manuel, known as Manolo, was fighting the remnants of Tr ujillo's regime when he was shot and killed in 1963. At the time of his death he was the leader of the 14 th of June Movement. 19 For additional biographical information on the Mirabal sisters, see Minerva Mirabal: historia de un hero’na (1982) by William Galv‡n. For historical studies of Trujillo's regime see Robert Crassweller's, Trujillo: the Life and Times of a Caribbean Dictator (1996) and Frank Moya Pons' The Dominican Republic. A National History (1998). 83

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despert— la ira del pueblo que sinti— en es e crimen los latigazos de un rŽgimen vergonzoso" (231). Additionally, Valentina Peguero-Danilo de los Santos notes, "La muerte de Patria, Minerva, y Mar’a Teresa Mirabal provoc— un resen timiento antitrujillista en todos los sectores sociales" (365). Some historians maintain that the murder of the Mirabal sisters precipitated Trujillo's own assassination. As Etzel B‡ez explains: El final de las hermanas Mirabal no es tris te. El sacrificio de sus vidas no queja ajusticiado. El gesto de las hero’nas contribuy— a remover los cimientos de la tiran’a de Rafael Le—nidas Trujillo Molin a, quien fue ajusticiado el 30 de mayo del 1961, a los seis meses de ocurrido el horrible asesinato de Patria, Minerva y Mar’a Teresa, el 25 de noviembre del 1960. (39) Tragically, it is as a result of their death, that the martyred sist ers' are victorious. As Vargas observes, "Las Mirabal, a partir de ese moment o, se convirtieron en un s’mbolo de resistencia contra una dictadura que entraba en crisis" (231 ). More specifically, they became symbols of feminine resistance and today throughout La tin America and the Caribbean November 25 th is observed as the National Day of Observance of Violence against Women. The sisters' posthumous victory can be seen in a monument that today stands in their honor. After a trip to Washington D.C. Trujillo built a replica of the Washington Monument (considered by some to be a phallic symbol) in honor of himself and placed it on George Washington Avenue in Santo Domingo. Not surprisingly, Dominicans called the obelisk, "the male monument" (William Krehm 167). Today, the 137-foot obelisk, which once pa id tribute the autocrat, is adorned with a mural of the three Mirabal sisters titled, "A Song to Liberty", by the Dominican artist Elsa Nœ–ez. The image of the three sisters on Truji llo's "male monument" reflects the conversion of the obelisk from one that pays homage to the di ctator to one that memorializes the Mirabal sisters. This conversion rec ognizes women's role in history and symbolizes the sisters' posthumous victory over Trujillo. Such a monument also serves as a place for public veneration and as a type of altar, thereby co ntributing to the conversion of the sisters into icons. In contrast, 84

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less than six months after his fa ther's death, Trujillo's son Ra fael L. Trujillo Jr., known as Ramfis, proposed the elimination of his father's na me from all public places. As reported by The New York Times (13 Nov. 1961), "the proposal followed the recent removal of virtually all statues and busts of the dictat or from public places and buildings through the country" ("Trujillo Would Remove Fathers' Place Names"). Additionally, Dietrich explains that on "May 4, 1962 it became a crime to praise the dead tyrant in writings, speeches or art in the Dominican Republic" (252). The disdain Dominicans had for Trujillo extended to his family and after his assassination, the family was expelled for lif e from the country (Moya Pons, The Dominican Republic 382). In addition to public monuments, narra tives such as Ferreras' Las Mirabal elevated the sisters to martyrdom by turning what was a poli tical assassination into a noble sacrifice. Furthermore, Ferreras encourages women to follow the Mirabal sisters' example. He presents the text to: [Al] pueblo dominicano y a sus mujeres: para que abreven en la pristina [sic] fuente del ejemplo de sacrificio y martirol ogio sublimes, de estas tres m onstruos del amor a su pueblo y a sus semejantes de toda la humanidad. By specifically mentioning Domini can women, Ferreras reiterates th e need for their involvement in the political system. Las Mirabal: A Dominican Interpretation of the Sisters The Dominican novelist, poet, and journalist Ram—n Alberto Ferreras, commonly known as "El Chino", was one of the Dominican Republic's most prolific writers, with 36 publications to his name. He was also an enemy and harsh critic of Trujillo. Not surprisingly, he was frequently imprisoned during both Trujillo's dictatorship and th e subsequent Joaqu’n Balaguer presidencies. Ferreras narrated hi s, and others, experiences as a political prisoner in several books titled Preso (1962), C‡rcel (1966) and Pol’ticos presos (1969). However, he is best 85

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known for editing a newspaper titled Patria During the "War of April 1965" both national newspapers, El List’n Diario and El Caribe ceased publication. 20 In the absence of these two newspapers, Patria was launched in 1965, with Ferreras as the editor. It served as a voice for Dominicans who were fighting agai nst the United States and who supported leftist leader Juan Bosch, the exiled founder of the "Partido Revoluc ionario Dominicano" and who for years had lived in exile. The newspaper denounced the remnan ts of the old Trujillo army and the occupiers (the United States Marine s) that supported them. Ferreras would later publish a book on the intervention and the ensuing civil war, titled Guerra patria (1966). Previously, in 1961-1962, Ferreras had written for a newspaper titled 1J4 for the 14 of June Revolutionary Movement. The newspaper was highly critical of th e remnants of Trujillo's government that remained even after the dictator's assassination in 1960. Additionally in 1981, Ferreras published a book about the failed 14 th of June invasion titled, Recuerdos de junio 1959 During one of Balaguer's presidencies, Fe rreras published in the Dominican Republic, Media Isla III: Las Mirabal 21 The timing is important because, as previously mentioned, Balaguer frequently imprisoned Ferreras. Undaun ted by his numerous vis its' to La Victoria prison, Ferreras condemned both Trujillo and Balaguer in this text. Of Balaguer he wrote that he is the president of, "el rŽgimen neotrujillista que ahora desangra a las juventudes dominicanas [. .]" (475). Las Mirabal is the third book in a series of four, titled Media Isla His narrative 20 On April 28, 1965, the United States military found itsel f in the Dominican Republic for the fourth time in 58 years (1903, 1914, 1916, 1965). President Lyndon B. John son ordered in forces that eventually totaled 20,000, to secure Santo Domingo and to restore order. The intervention, which claimed the lives of 27 U.S. soldiers, ended on September 21, 1966. 21 A lawyer by trade, Balaguer had held various political posts under Trujillo. He served as vice president from 1957-1960 and assumed the presidency in 1960 when the dict ator's brother, Hector Trujillo resigned. Power rested, however, with the dictator until his assassination in May 1961. Unable to control the chaos following the assassination, Balaguer was ousted by the Dominican military in January of 1962. The United States occupation (1965-1966) would return Balaguer to the presidency. He was president from (1960-1962, 1966-1978, and 19861996). Ferreras was imprisoned by Trujillo for 4 mont hs in 1960 and was imprisoned 12 times during Balaguer's various presidencies. 86

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Chapeo (1973) the first in the series of historical-testimonial novels, was recognized in the "Testimonio" category by Casa de Las AmŽricas, in Cuba, in 1973. Las Mirabal is the first narrative writte n about the Mirabal sisters. The text, which can be considered a fictional biography, pr ovides the reader with the history of the Mirabal family. It begins with its origin in 19 th century Spain and ends with the mu rder of three of the four Mirabal sisters by Trujillo in 1960. In it, Ferreras hopes to provide the reader with historical information on the heroines' family. To this end, it offers information such as the height of several of the Mirabal family members (28) and the length of time Minerva's mother, Do–a Chea, nursed her children (110). He observes "todos mencionan y alab an [a las Mirabal], pero pocos conocen sus or’genes, vidas y proyecciones" (back cover). The narrative is also highly critical of United States foreign policy in the Dominican Republic, wh ich is clearly responsible for this family's misery. The Mirabal family is representative of other Dominican families who fought against oppression and, as a result, suffered imprisonment, torture, and politically motivated murder. In the Time of the Butterflies : The Voice of the Dominican Diaspora. Julia lvarez, in Something to Declare (1998), states that sh e views herself as a Dominican-American writer (173). Yet, she frequently understates her Dominican heritage. The first thing she states on her website is "I gue ss the first thing I shoul d say is that I was not born in the Dominican Republic". The emphasis on not' is hers. In an article for American Scholar she provides insight into her upbri nging. She writes, "Although I was raised in the Dominican Republic by Dominican parents in an extended Dominican family, mine was an American childhood" (71). As a child, she viewed the United States not the Dominican Republic, as home. She explains: All my childhood I had dressed like an Ameri can, eaten American foods, and befriended American children. I had gone to an American school and spent most of the day speaking and reading English. At night my prayers were full of blond ha ir and blue eyes and snow 87

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and just such a plane ride as this one. A ll my childhood I had longed for this moment of arrival. And here I was, an American girl, coming home at last. (85) Despite her self-description as "an American girl ," some literary critics have accepted Alvarez into the Dominican literary cannon. Bruno Rosario Candelier, an important Dominican literary critic, considers Butterflies an important national novel, ranki ng it with such ti tles as Enriquilllo (1882), by Manuel de Jesœs de Galv‡n and Escalera para Electra (1970), by Aida Cartagena (27). However, not all literary critic s agree with this judgment. For example, AndrŽs L. Mateo explains in an interview with Eugenio Garc’a Cu evas that literature pr oduced by Julia Alvarez is: [U]na literatura norteamericana producida por dominicanos que incorpora experiencias v‡lidas de la identidad dominicana y que las hace colar por v’a de un circuito comercial con caracter’sticas propias de la mental idad del lector a nglosaj—n. (27) Silvio Torres-Saillant simply describes Alvarez as "la cŽlebre escritora angl—fona de padres dominicanos" (Yolas 207). In 2006 in commemoration of November 25 th Alvarez invited DedŽ and Minou, Minerva's daughter, to Vermont. It is telling that as Margaret Michniewicz observed, Alvarez needed Minou to translate "my questions and DedŽ's answers" ("Legendary Butterflies: The Mirabal Sisters' Le gacy of Resistance," Vermont Woman ). Alvarez, the Dominican with an American e ducation, writes in a language that from a Dominican viewpoint can be seen as imperial. Some critics such as Lynn Chun Ink have found this to be problematic. She maintains that, "B y giving primacy to the English language and to a United States readership, Al varez reaffirms American hegemony" ("Remaking identity, unmaking nation: historical recove ry and the reconstruction of comm unity in In the Time of the Butterflies and The Farming of Bones "). Additionally, her "Ame rican childhood" is also problematic because it alters her view of the Dominican Republic, a country she is clearly does not know well. She insert s herself into Butterflies as the gringa dominicana (3) interviewer. In a phone conversation, the gringa asks at what time she can meet with DedŽ Mirabal, the only 88

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surviving sister, who thinks to he rself, "Oh yes. The gringos n eed a time" (4). Additionally, when she speaks with DedŽ, she mangles the Spanish language. She is also unable find to her way around the Dominican Republic. For these reas ons the interviewer behaves much more like gringa or a foreigner, an d very little like a dominicana Perhaps, it is for this reason, that DedŽ considers her to be an, "American woman" (5), and not a gringa dominicana'. The interviewer's lack of familiarity with the Spanish language and the Dominican Republic highlights a comment made by R oberto Gonz‡lez Echevarr’a: Had Julia Alvarez concentrated more on her di alogue with DedŽ she would have produced a better book. It would have had the touch of irony provided by the realization that the gringa dominicana would never really be able to understand the other woman, much less translate her. ("Sisters in Death") In conclusion, the author of this study agrees with Alvarez's self assessment as an "American girl" and maintains that she is an American of Dominican descent. Butterflies is Alvarez's second novel. Similar to Las Mirabal this narrative is a fictional autobiography. Alvarez acknowledges reading Ferreras' Las Mirabal of which she says that, in conjunction with other Dominican narrative and poetry, "were especially helpful in providing facts and inspiration" (325) Therefore, Butterflies could also be read as a re-writing of Las Mirabal. While in her first novel, How th e Garc’a Girls Lost their Accents (1992), Alvarez deals with issues of identity and with the difficulties experienced by the Garc’a girls upon their arrival in New York City, in Butterflies she takes a step backward, back to a more distant past, one which explains the reason the Garc’a girls ende d up in New York City in the first place. Las Mirabal and In the Time of the Butterflies: Providing Testimony Seven years after the publication of Butterflies Alvarez published th e young reader book Before We Were Free (2002) which she dedicates to, "all those who stayed." In an "Authors Note" at the end of this novel, Alvarez explains to her young North American reader: 89

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There is a tradition in Latin America countries known as testimonio It is the responsibility of those who survive the struggle for freedom to give tes timony. To tell the story in order to keep alive the memory of those who died. it is a fictional way to keep my promise. To give testimony. (166-7) She continues to write "[m]any of the most m oving testimonies of the Dominican dictatorship have not been written down" ( 166). Yet, unlike a traditional testimonio in which John Beverly notes a narrative is "told in the first person by a na rrator who is also the re al life protagonist or witness of the events her or sh e recounts" (2), Alvarez recreates the Mirabal sisters and in doing so offers her reader fictional' or imagined' testimony. Both Alvarez and critics, such as Ciria Concepci—n Bados, maintain that the narrative is a testimonial account (414) However, I agree with Ignacio L—pez-Calvo, who sustains that Butterflies is not a testimonio because "[t]he fact that she took liberties would exclude her narrative from the testimonial subgenre" (113-4). Interestingly, L—pez-Calvo maintains that Las Mirabal is a perfect example of Dominican testimonial narrative pub lished after Trujillo's death. He explains: Rather than creating memorable and psychol ogically developed characters, these texts concentrate on the description and denunciation of sociopolitical inju stice and corruption, as seen by witnesses or the intelle ctuals who provide a voice. (113) Since many of the characters in the text are deceased historical fi gures, the testimony they provide is fictional and created by Ferreras. While he does not alter histor y to the extent that Alvarez does, his is also a fictional testimonio In a similar sense to Ferreras, w ho wrote a series titled Media Isla Alvarez's narratives could be seen as a series in the sense th at How the Garc’a Girls Lost Their Accents documents the lives of those who escaped and survived, Butterflies and Before We Were Free document the sacrifice made by those who stayed, in the first case the Mirabal sisters, in the later an uncle and cousin of the Garc’a girls. Instead of fleeing, th e Mirabal sisters and the relatives of the Garc’a 90

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girls stay in the Dominican Repub lic and fight for freedom. Cons equently, Trujillo's henchmen assassinate them. Both Ferreras and Alvarez speak on behalf of the murdered victims. Before Butterflies narrating the Trujillo era had been the domain of men. Women have frequently been categorized as "t he other" in political, social and literary in cursions, and this is, in part, what makes Butterflies unique. It is the first time th e story of the Mirabal sisters has been interpreted by a woman. Add itionally, all of the narrators are not only women; they are the voices of the three murdered sisters and their surv iving sister, with the exception of the thinly disguised gringa-dominicana which is Julia Alvarez. From this female viewpoint, Alvarez describes the place of women in dictatorship s, in that they suffer a double oppression, one socially (patriarchy) and one pol itically (dictatorship). In an interview with Heidi JohnsonWright, Mario Vargas Llosa explains that, Wome n were the worst victims of the dictatorship', because they were also often victims of machismo" ("January Interview with Mario Vargas Llosa," January Magazine ). Resisting the Reader in In the Time of the Butterflies In contrast to Ferreras, who writes for a Dominican reader already familiar with the Trujillo era and, to a certain ex tent, personally experienced, Alvar ez writes for a North American audience unfamiliar with Dominican history. As she explains, "I hope this book deepens North Americans' understanding of the nightmare you endured and the heavy losses you suffered" (324). Alvarez, like her reader is also distanced, both tempora lly and geographically, from the events she narrates. As if to remind her reader that she is writing about a foreign country, she often code-switches, incorporating Spanish word s into her narrative. Doris Sommer points out "[t]o switch codes is to enter or leave one nation for another by merely releasing a foreign sound, a word, a grammar tic, slipping into an always borrowed and precarious language" ("Introduction," 7). These Spanish words are also exclusionary. As a result, Ellen McCracken 91

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notes "monolingual English reader s are partially incompetent d ecoders of the text" (7). Gonz‡lez Echevarr’a criticizes th e "Hispanisms" found in Butterflies as he feels they are unnecessary. ("Sist ers in Death") Unlike the Garc’a sisters in How the Garc’a Girls Lost Their Accents the Mirabal sisters do not loos e their accents in Butterflies In addition to not offering translations for the words in Spanish, Alvarez also doesn't provide any information to explai n her historical refe rences. For example, Mar’a Teresa writes in her journal "[s]he [Minerva] reminds me it's going to be a hard crowd to address after this Gal’ndez thing" (136). No explanation of who Gal’ndez is offered. This additional obstacle means that not only are monolingual English readers incompetent decoders of the text, but so are those who are unfamiliar with 20 th century Dominican history. Given that Alvarez's self identified North Am erican audience is unfamiliar with both the Spanish language and the period of history sh e is recreating; she cr eates a narrative that intentionally resists, excludes a nd places at a disadvantage the sa me reader she is targeting. However, Sommer in "Resistant Texts and Inco mpetent Readers", explains that foreign words can also be "read as invitations to work at extracting meaning, to assimilate oneself to the Other's culture" (526). This may be Alvare z's way of encouraging her North American audience to learn more about the Dominican Re public. Alternatively, according to Sommer, it could also be the method she uses to remind the read er that she is culturally different from him or her, creating a boundary between th e self who writes and the other who reads ("Resistant Texts" 533). The added coding narrows the competent reader who can decode her text to bilingual English Spanish speakers who are familiar with 20 th century Dominican history; someone much like herself. 92

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Narrative Structure in Las Mirabal and In the Time of the Butterflies Las Mirabal and Butterflies challenge official' history in both content and form. They share a similar and complicated narrative structure with multiple narrators, one of which is Minerva herself. The authors, aware that no single perspective is adequate for the representation of reality, use a multitude of narrators to tell the story. This polyphony of voices allows the reader to benefit from many differe nt visions of Minerva, as differe nt speakers at different points describe her in time, both present and past. Th ese different narrators also perform a similar function as an omniscient narrator, which allows the reader to see events from different points of view. Additionally, in Butterflies the deceased sisters are their own biographers as they are also the narrators. An omniscient third person narrates DedŽ's memories. In Las Mirabal the only sister to narrate is Minerva, when the reader is given access to her journal. Allowing the characters to relate their own stories allows the reader to know the characters more intimately. It also makes the narrative more dramatic since all of the characters narrate their own experiences in the first person. However, the compli cated narrative struct ure in Las Mirabal is often confusing, as it is difficult to keep track of whic h character is narrating. In contrast, Butterflies is much easier to follow because, as Gonz‡lez Eche varr’a notes, Alvarez "is skilled at narrative construction" ("Sisters in Death") Both authors also incorporate several different l iterary forms into their text, such as diaries, letters and drawings. Ferreras includes a chapter in which Minerva communicates via her journal. Similarly, Mar’a Teresa in Butterflies narrates through her diary. The use of the written word allows the narrator to express her inner thoughts. Also, Mark Cu rrie explains, "We are more likely to sympathize with people when we have a lot of information about their inner lives, their motivations, their fears, etc" (19). Moreover, the present tens e used in this type of writing creates, in the reader, a sense of immediate involvement and antic ipation while prov iding a direct 93

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record of the experience that is not altered by later reflection. Unlike Fe rreras, Alvarez includes diagrams of things, such as Mi nerva's house and a homemade bomb. Las Mirabal is divided into 15 chapters that focu s on the Mirabal family dating back to their Spanish ancestry and their arriva l in the Dominican Republic in the 19 th century. In this text there are several examples of older Mirabal family members orally passing on history to the younger Mirabals. For example, an uncle of the Mi rabal sisters narrates the second chapter, in which he describes the United States occupa tion of the Dominican Republic of 1916-1924. Butterflies is divided into three sections, an "Epi logue", narrated by DedŽ who serves as the backbone to the entire story, and a "Postscript". Each secti on contains four chapters; one dedicated to each of the four si sters and each beginning with DedŽ. The first section covers the years 1943-1946, the second section 1948-1959, and the third section the year 1960. The "Epilogue" brings the reader b ack to 1994 where DedŽ describe s the trial of her sisters' murderers. Both texts switch from present to past, neither following the linear time preferred by historians. By including actual documents, each text also blurs the line between fiction and history. For example, Ferreras includes Pedro Mir's poem about the Mirabal sisters, "AmŽn de Mariposas", in its entirety as well as parts of actual newspape r articles. He combines these documents with narrative techniques such as dialogue and mosaic narrative. These real' documents remind the reader of the contemporary hist orical references of th e narrative. He is very concerned with historical accuracy and uses narrative techniques as a tool to describe the Mirabal family. In contrast Alvarez, self adm ittedly, is not concerned with historical accuracy. She explains, "The actual sisters I never knew, nor did I have access to enough information or the talents and inclinatio ns of a biographer to be able to adequately record them" (324). She 94

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consciously distorts history th rough omissions and exaggeration. As Gonz‡lez Echevarr’a notes, "I find no connection between the specific dates Ms. Alvarez gives to mark periods in the Mirabals' lives and either Domini can or broader Latin American hi story" ("Sisters in Death"). Yet, she is not interested in portraying these famous historical characters accurately or to use her word, "adequately" (324). She uses the sisters to illuminate the experience of living under the Trujillo regime. As she defends her lack of inte rest in history by explaining that, "A novel is not, after all, a historical document, but a way to travel through the human heart" (324). A Matter of Perspective Both Ferreras and Alvarez had a personal c onnection to Trujillo. Ferreras had been involved with a group who sought to remove Trujillo from power. With the assistance of the Venezuelan President R—mulo Betancourt and Cuban President Fidel Castro, a group of Dominican exiles with leftist tendencies departed from Cuba for the Dominican Republic with the intent of deposing Trujillo. Trujillo was informed and all we re either captured or killed. Although the invasion ended poorly, it would serve as inspiration for a cl andestine group, calling itself the 14th of June Movement that woul d continue to plot to depose Trujillo. 22 Ferreras, a founding member, was imprisoned u pon Trujillo's discov ery of the group. He has also written extensively on the human consequences of hi storical events, mainly the United States interventions/invasions (depending on the viewpoint) and the Trujillo regime. Likewise, Alvarez's own father was also a member the group. The Alvarez family, knowing the danger they were in, escaped to New Yo rk City. Alvarez explains in Something to Declare that: 22 For more information on the 14 of June Revolutionary Movement see Roberto Cass‡'s Los or’genes del Movimiento 14 de Junio: la izquierda Dominicana (1999) 95

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Patria, Minerva, and Mar’a Teresa were members of the same underground he [Alvarez's father] had bailed out of in order to save hi s life. These three brave sisters and their husbands stood in stark contrast to the self-sav ing actions of my own family and of other Dominican exiles. Because of this, the Mirabal sisters haunted me. (198) Butterflies reflects her own thoughts of her father and other Dominican exiles as she views their abandonment of the Dominican Repub lic as "self-saving" (Something 198). Upon finding out that her friend had left the country, Minerva in Butterflies says "[s]o Sina had abandoned our struggle" (270). Why she thinks this of Sina a nd not of her friend Virgilio Morales, who leaves for Venezuela, is unclear. Exile does not mean abandonment of the fight, as seen in Virgilio who plans to continue the fight from exile. He jus tifies leaving by explaining, "If I leave my country, it's only to continue the struggle. We can't let Chapita [Trujillo] kill us all (73). Furthermore, she also explains on her website "[a]s much as there is ever a definitive reason' for writing a book, being a survivor placed a responsibility on me to tell the story of these brave young women who did not survive the dictatorship". Thus, as Ilan Stavans notes, "Her novel is a wonderful examination of how it feels like to be a survivor, how it feels to come from a society where justice and freedom are unwelcome ." ("Las Mariposas," The Nation ). A Cure For Historical Amnesia Two days after their death, El Caribe (27 Nov. 1960), the official newspaper of the Trujillo regime, reported the deaths of Minerva, Patria, Ma r’a Teresa and their driver, Rufino de la Cruz, as an accident that occurred when Rufino lost control of the vehicle (Dom ingo Saint-Hilaire). It failed to mention the sisters' anti-Trujillo activities It also neglects to mention that there is a surviving sister. Alternatively, The New York Times (9 Dec. 1960) reported, just weeks after the report in El Caribe, that the three sisters "were tortured before being murdered, according to information deemed reliable by diplomatic sources here" ("3 Dominican Sisters Reported Tortured"). In each narrative, Minerva, posthumously, informs th e reader of the circumstances 96

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of her and her sisters' death. In each, she points to Trujillo's he nchmen as her assassins. These narratives, written after and inspired by her de ath, grant her the opportun ity to challenge the fiction' of official discours e, which claimed that her death had been an accident. In addition to challenging the official' record, these two authors, having survived Trujillo, are fighting historical amnesia. Both Ferreras and Alvarez believe strongly in the power of the written word and each has taken on the respons ibility of giving testimony. Ferreras has extensively narrated both th e Trujillo experience and the eff ects of political oppression; yet he wonders if, "est‡n cayendo tambiŽn estas tres hero ’nas, m‡rtires y ejemplos para la sociedad dominicana, en el mismo saco del olvido en que han ca’do otros numerosos hŽroes y m‡rtires ?" (478). Likewise, Alvarez dedicates Butterflies "[t]o Dominicans separated by language form the world I've created, I hope this book deepens Nort h Americans' understanding of the nightmare you endured and the heavy losses you suffered of which this story tells only a few" (324). In addition to providing testimony, Alvar ez also believes in the power of the written word to affect change. In Homecoming (1984) she writes, "[t]hese ten po ems speak of the healing art of talking, of the power of the word that can topple dictatorships or name the world" (120). In an essay titled, "I Came to Help: Resistance Writ Sm all" she states, "I want to posit the small, sometimes invisible way but utte rly powerful way that we can be a force for change" (Jennifer Browdy de Hern‡ndez 212). Alvarez is not al one or unique in her mission. Guiseppe Bellini notes that Alvarez is not the onl y writer denouncing political oppre ssion and that they usually are "mujeres que se han refugiado en los Estados Uni dos y escriben en inglŽs, los ojos y el alma vueltos hacia la tierra que han de jado que en s’ llevan la huella permanente de la persecuci—n" (135). 97

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Having been personally affected, these two aut hors are very close to the events they are narrating. They are by no means detached; the histor y they are narrating is, in part, their own. It should, therefore, not be surprisi ng that the author of each text inserts him or herself into the narration Ferreras makes reference to himself in the fi nal pages of his narrative as he explains that the Mirabal sisters' assass ins, despite a 30 year prison sent ence, were allowed, not only to leave prison but to leave the Dominican Republic. He explains, "por medios dolorosos que el autor de esta obra le ha sido materialmente imposible averiguar" ( 451). In Butterflies Alvarez appears in the first page of the narrative as the gringa dominicana ', who interviews the surviving sister DedŽ Mirabal. Narrating the Dominican Republic Las Mirabal and Butterflies differ sharply in their image of the Dominican Republic, home to Ferreras and former home to Alvarez. As Timothy Brennan notes, "We live in a world obsessed with national pride, and rampant with boundary wars, with nati onalism on the banner of countless parties, no matter how conf licting or destination" (45). The national pride he speaks of is evident in Las Mirabal but not in Butterflies For example, of the Canca River Ferreras writes,"se las considera entre las mejores del mundo, o de AmŽrica, por lo menos" (67). On another occasion, Minerva remark s that the fields surrounding he r house "son los m‡s bellos del mundo" (130). Aside from having the best rivers and fields in the world, Ferreras in Las Mirabal mentions that the Dominican Republic is a country in which even the rural areas have been modernized. He describes: En el œltimo tercio del siglo XX, ya las zonas rulares est‡n replet as de casi todas las comodidades de la edad contempor‡nea, incluido s la radio, la televisi —n, el agua corriente, la refrigeraci—n, la rapidez de la transportaci—n y el contacto con el resto del pa’s y del mundo occidental, al travŽs de las comuni caciones habladas, escritas, televisadas o cinematogr‡ficas, y la alfabetizac i—n masiva de todos los que as isten a las aulas de escuelas y colegios urbanos y rurales. (36) 98

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The Mirabal family in Las Mirabal is also very patriotic. Do–a Chea asks her husband if they can name their first born child Patria, "[. .] por resumir en su nombre el anhelo de todo un pueblo entonces sojuzgado por la bota invasora ya nqui [. .] (109). Later, when asked by a nun for Patria's birth date, she proudl y responds "[v]eintisiete de febr ero de 1924, tres meses y trece d’as antes de que los americanos se fueran de este pa’s, el 12 de julio de 1924" (141). Additionally, Minerva writes in he r journal, "Creo que el patrio tismo por estos contornos viene por idiosincracia [sic], en la sangre de los naturales, porque nuestros viejos nos lo han transmitido como una herencia" (163). Butterflies contradicts Las Mirabal 's modern vision of the country. It describes a Dominican Republic in which the streets don't have names because most of the campesinos can't read, so it wouldn't do any good (4). Additionall y, DedŽ re-lives her happy memories because, as she states, "I have no televi sion here" (7). DedŽ also ment ions that even Dominicans are surprised that she drives. Sh e explains, "They are always so surprised. And not just the American women who think of this as an underd eveloped' country" (172). It also portrays a country in which women, at least in Minerva's time, had few legal rights. Thus, Butterflies portrays a Dominican Republic, which at the end of the 20 th century is poor, underdeveloped, machista and illiterate. Dominican Men: Too Afraid to Fight Tyranny? Silvio Sirias maintains th at Alvarez in Butterflies "explores the theme of machismo. The concept of machismo connotes a man's streng th, bravery, power, and importance" (79). He provides examples of machismo, such as Ja imito, Dede's husband, who maintains "[i]n his house, he was the one to wear th e pants" (177). He also be lieves that "many of the male characters in the novel are domineer ing, including Trujillo himself" (79). I suggest that a closer reading of Butterflies reveals weak, demasculanized men (inc luding Trujillo). It is Las Mirabal 99

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in which the men, with the exception of Trujillo, while strong, are not good examples of machismo. In Las Mirabal Ferreras writes of men who are brave but not necessarily machistas. As he describes, "los patriotas y hombres humildes de estos campos, que prefirieron morir tir‡ndoles tiros, a vivir lamiŽndole las botas a los yanquis" (187). Despite th eir fear they fight the United State Marines and they plot agains t Trujillo. The text also states that, "no parece posible que este rŽgimen tan insensible estŽ gobernando un pa’s c on un pueblo como este, tan rebelde y tan viril" (300). Similarly, towards the end of hi s dictatorship, Ferreras notes that: Trujillo mostraba debilidad y estaba un poco desmoralizado por la cantidad de elementos representativos' que se encontraban presos, mu chos de ellos hijos de sus colaboradores m‡s cercanos. (355) At the time Minerva and her sisters were figh ting for freedom, so were many of their fellow Dominicans, both men and women. Alternatively, in Butterflies it would seem that Minerva and her sisters are, for the most part, alone in their fight. The men, for the most part, are too afraid to stand up to Trujillo. Therefore, Minerva in Butterflies blames men like her father for Trujillo's regime, describing them as "scared fulanitos who have kept the devil in power a ll these years" (179). Her statement is sexist in that she makes no mention of wome n, such as her mother Do–a Chea, who also silently and passively endured the tyrant without doing anything to remove him from power. Furthermore, Alvarez overlooks that Sina, a fellow revolutiona ry mentioned by Ferreras, was also imprisoned with the Mirabal sisters. Ferr eras writes that when Tr ujillo's men came looking for Mar’a Teresa, "Ya Sina Cabral estaba en La Vi ctoria [a prison], porque a ella fue la primera a quien hicieron presa" (323-4). Also present in Las Mirabal but absent in Butterflies is the imprisonment of Do–a Chea. In the jail where the sisters are sent, they are the only revolutionaries. The other women th ey share the cell with are prosti tutes and lesbians. In short, 100

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Alvarez omits the other female revolutionaries while she harshly criticizes men, sparing women, who did nothing to remove the tyrant from power In contrast, Ferreras does the opposite. He highlights Sina's revolutionary activities and imprisonment, blaming only the United States for Trujillo. Alvarez's text reflects Vargas Llosa's belief that Trujillo accumu lated power, "fueled by the complicity of the people' and by the abdica tion of the right to resi st'" ("January Interview with Mario Vargas Llosa," January Magazine ). His thought echoes Patria in Butterflies She states: I don't know, I wanted to start believing in my fellow Dominicans again. Once the goat was a bad memory in our past, that would be the real revolution we would have to fight: forgiving each other for what we had all let come to pass. (222) Both Alvarez and Vargas Llosa partially blame the Dominican people for the Trujillo regime. This culpability or complicity of the Domi nican people is not evident in Las Mirabal in which Ferreras emphasizes the strength and brutality of the marines and the impossibility of defeating them, despite the heroic efforts of the gavilleros'. 23 The "scared fulanitos (179) in Butterflies are also weak and unable, or unwilling, to fight tyranny, even when their own daughter's honor and safe ty are at stake. These weak males forced women to be strong. Unlike Minerva's father, Don Enrique, who offers up Minerva when the police come looking for her, it is her mother who stands up for he r. Do–a Chea, in Butterflies insists, "If she goes, I go" (103). In contrast, Minerva observes of her father, "I have never seen him so scared" (103). Minerva notes, "I was stro nger than Pap‡, Mam‡ was much stronger. He was the weakest one of all" (89) Thus, Minerva begins her polit ical activism out of a need for 23 From 1917 to 1921, the United States forces battled a guerrilla movement known as the gavilleros (Knight 328) Many Dominicans viewed as revolutionaries as fighting for their country's sovereignty. Trujillo fought along with and in support of the United States and against the gavilleros in essence his own countrymen and women. 101

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survival. The men in her life are simply unable to protect her from the tyrant. She learns of Trujillo's secret' from her friend Sinita who tell s her that, "Trujillo is having everyone killed" (19). It is obvious that the men in Butterflies are incapable of stopping h im. Not surprisingly, of both her father and uncle, she says they are good-for-nothing" (88,116). It is the Mirabal women, Do–a Chea included, who display the type of bravery one would expect from men in a machista society. For this reason, Minerva, in Butterflies sees herself as superior to "my poor, trapped countryman" (107). In Butterflies Minerva often views men to be sm all, both literally and figuratively, reflecting her overall view of mo st men. Of a fellow revolutiona ry, Dr. Vi–as, she says, "The genial little man" (272). She de scribes Trujillo as, "much smaller th an I had imagined him" (27). On another occasion she notes that he is a, "littl e man" (96). When referring to her husband and brothers-in-law she says, "'The boys', I began, we believe they're all about to be killed.' I heard myself strangely demoting our men to the mere helpless boys. Another diminutive and from me" (273). The men, having been reduce to boys' by historical events, mainly United States imperial practices, are helpless and need women to save them. The United States Military and Trujillo: The Weakening of the Dominican Male. In addition to the humiliation suffered at the hands of the United States Marines, the men were also demasculanized by Trujillo. Torres-Sa illant explains that, "Estamos ante un var—n feminizado con respecto al l’der" (Yolas 239). He further explains that Dominican men were unable to measure up to Trujillo's projected ma nhood. He states, "Pues de su identidad de macho mayor se desprend’a el poder f‡lic o que doblegaba a sus aliados masculinos, convirtiŽndolos en hombres-hembras con relaci —n a la potestad viril del caudillo" (Yolas 242). In Alvarez's narrative, the men have not only been weakened, they have been demasculinized. Their masculinity has been st ripped away by the United States military, which 102

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did as it pleased in the Dominican Republic. As Ferreras explains, "Lo que se les ten’a a los americanos no era miedo, era terror, p‡nico. El peor era Bock Law, un b‡rbaro que acab— con media humanidad por estos contornos" (121). However, for Ferreras this fear does not mean that the men were in any weakened. In Butterflies the United States military also clearly dominated and humiliated the Dominicans. Patria explains, "Of course, I sympathized with our patriots. But what could we do against the Yanquis? They killed anyone who stood in their way. They burnt our house down and ca ll it a mistake" (57). The demasculinization of the Dominican me n, referenced by both Alvarez and TorresSaillant, is not evident in Las Mirabal With the possible excepti on of Ferreras' historically accurate physical description of Tr ujillo, where he notes that he wore make-up (in an effort to whiten his skin), there is no evidence of male w eakness or demasculinization in his text. To the contrary, many examples of strong men are evid ent. For example, Patria's husband Pedrito briefly considers giving up the fi ght but changes his mind. He th inks to himself in prison: No, no voy a hacer eso, ser’a indigno de m’ de spuŽs de haber estado con tanta gente preso, inclu’dos [sic] el doctor Manuel Tejada Flor entino, distinguido cardi —logo, a quienes ya ultimaron en La 40 a fuerza de electricidad o de soga por el pescuezo. Los huesos se le mover’an en sus tumbas si ab andono la lucha por la liberaci —n de este pueblo digno de mejor suerte. (423) Their inability to overcome United States imperialis m and Trujillo is not due to lack of bravery or intent. Dominicans were convinced that e liminating Trujillo would lead to another U.S. invasion. They were simply unable to defeat the United State Marines. However, the demasculinization of the Dominican men, in Butterflies can be seen symbolically in Don Enrique's inability to produ ce any male children. Minerva is aware of the importance of producing a male. Upon finding out he r father has a mistress she asks of her half sister, "Do you have a brother?' It was a delicious revenge to hear them murmur, No se–ora '" (86). His inability to produce the much-des ired son also reflects his lack of power in 103

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society. In contrast, Las Mirabal notes that Don Enrique did i ndeed have a son, "por fin, un var—n!" (359), with another mistress. While Alvarez mentions the mi stress with whom Don Enrique produces an additional four daughters, she omits the one who produces a son for Don Enrique. Moreover, Jaimito, the most macho of the sisters' husbands, has his power usurped. After years of submissiveness, DedŽ, the most passi ve of the Mirabal sisters, stands up to her husband, who, to her surprise, backs down. The reader is told, "Jaimito blinke d in surprise at her sharp tone. Was it really this easy, DedŽ wondered, taking command?" (183). His weak and passive response demonstrates that Jaimito wasn 't really a strong mac ho person after all. Additionally, Minerva's husba nd, Manuel, in Butterflies is demasculinized by his inability to provide for his family financially. Minerv a's house is described by Mar’a Teresa, in her journal, as a "little shack I suppose it's the best Manolo can do, given how broke they are. I tried not to look too shocked so as not to depr ess Minerva" (138-9). Alternatively, in Las Mirabal Manuel has no problems financially providing fo r his family. The reader learns that "Minerva se instal— en una casona [con] un ambien te acogedor y c—modo en ella, agradable a la vista" (260). Dominicans during th e Trujillo era, in Butterflies are weak and sacred, rendering them incapable of defending themselves agains t the tyrant. Men and women have responded differently to oppression and it is the women who seem less afraid and more likely to stand up to Trujillo. Racism in the Dominican Republic Race in the Dominican Republic is very importa nt signifying both nationality and religion. Blacks are Haitian and pr actice Voodoo; whites and indios are Dominicans and practice Catholicism. It is inconceivable, to Dominicans, that they could be black. As Michelle Wucker explains, "Today, mulatto and bl ack Dominicans call themselves indio and they say that their color is dark like the Indians but different in quality from African skins. They can identify with 104

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Enriquillo because he was Christian" (Why the Cocks Fight 66). Trujillo's regime was based on white European supremacy. Franklin Knight explains that "until the 1960's, contrary to appearances, Trujillo would promote the Domini can Republic as a white Hispanic society" (225). Additionally, Torres-Saillant explains that: That historical context has given Dominican ruling classes occasion to construct a nationbuilding-ideology primarily on self-differentiati on from Haiti; including the area of racial identification . And insofar as Haitians are seen as homogeneously black, antiHaitianism manifests itself also as a decl ared contempt for blackness. ("Dominican Literature," 54-5) Ferreras' text is not i mmune to this national ideology and re flects an importance on race. He often makes reference to the color of the char acters' skin. For example, Pedrito, Patria's husband, in describing his friend Ro berto, says he was a "mulato de profundo mirar" (405). In this description of Roberto, Ferreras acknowledg es an Afro-Dominican presence. He also mentions the Haitian presence in the Domini can Republic and notes that the poor working conditions of that Haitians were "tra’dos a lo s centrales azucareros a trabajar en forma casi esclava ." (235). The conf lict between Dominican and Haitia n cultures is evident in a conversation Minerva has with Uncle Tilo who tells her: Se formaba pleitos masivos entre los obreros cuando los muchos ha itianos que hab’an tra’do para la obra se pon’an a bailar su Judœ' [sic] y los dominicanos les tiraban piedras porque parece que les hac’an poca gracia el baile de aquella gente. Claro, al sentirse agredidos, los haitianos repostaban la agresi—n. Aquel baile era muy alegre. Dec’an que era con muertos que bailaban los haitianos Por eso causaban una mala impresi—n el baile entre los dominicanos. (62) In Las Mirabal Minerva learns of the 1937 massacre of Haitian migrants by overhearing adults talking about it. She writes in her journal that: Para ese tiempo, siendo apenas una ni–a, o’a a mis padres y a algunos vecino de cierta edad y de mucha confianza en mi cas a, cuando hablaban de la ma tanza de los haitianos. Y yo me dec’a para mis adentros, sin comunic‡rselo a nadie, y por quŽ los matan si tambiŽn son seres humanos? Acaso no tienen derecho a la vida por no haber nacido m‡s ac‡ de la frontera? (163) 105

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The fact that she doesn't mention her thoughts on the massacre to anyone, reflects Dominicans complicated and contradictory relationship with Ha itians. On one level, they feel guilty for the poor treatment of Haitians. However, they go to great lengths to differentiate themselves from Haitians, who they view to be black and synonym ous with lack of civilization and everything backward. Candito, a family friend, re fers to the massacre in Las Mirabal as, "[las] masacres haitian—fobas del a–o tr‡gico de 1937" (165). In his description of the massacre he says: Ah’ [el Monte de los Melones] mataron muc hos haitianos, casi todos los haitianos que trajeron o que viv’an por estos alrededores en 1937. Hay muchas piedras y arbustos pero uno va y encuentra los huesos que los pue de recoger por camionadas. (165) Candito also personalizes the massacre. He tells Minerva, ". mataron a Carlos y a Ana, su mujer que eran dos haitianos realengos" (165). After hearing about the ma ssacre, Minerva thinks to herself, "Que tragedia es pantosa vivieron esos infelices haitianos que hoy tienen tantos descendientes dominicanos viviendo en alguna s regiones del pa’s" (166). Her comments recognize the Afro-Dominican presence that Truj illo, along with other Dominican intellectuals, pretended didn't exist. Inte restingly, Candito mentions th at the government, without naming Trujillo, ordered the killings. Alternatively Alvarez's narrative, much like Tr ujillo's vision of the Dominican Republic, ignores the Afro-Dominican presence in the Do minican Republic. Alvar ez identifies black and non-Christian with Haiti and European with Ch ristianity. The Mirabal's Haitian domestic worker is the only black character in the narrative. Fela is described as an "ebony black sibyl" (63). The only Spanish character in the text is Don Bernardo. Minerva describes him as our next door angel disguised as an old Spaniard wi th an ailing wife" (214). When no one else, out of fear, would help the sisters, Don Bernardo fe arlessly comes to their aid. With these two characters, Fela the Haitian "sibyl" and Don Be rnardo the Spanish "angel", Alvarez duplicates Trujillo's image of the nation. 106

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Aside from race, the cultural conflict between the people of African descent and those of European descent is evident in Butterflies in the relationship the fam ily has with Fela. Mar’a Teresa writes that she wants to learn "spells from Fela (I better not tell Ma m‡!)" (42). It is obvious that her mother would not approve of her daughter learning abou t another religion. After the sisters' death Fela "s tarted going wacky" (63). De dŽ, upon discovering that "Fela had set up an altar with pictures of the girls cut out from the popular posters that appeared each November" (64) gives her an ultimatum. She tell s her to either leave th e house or dismantle the altar. Fela refuses to give up her altar and in stead chooses to leave. When Minerva's daughter Minou asks about her, DedŽ explains, "It was di srespectful to your mother's memory. She was Catholic, Minou, a Catholic!" (64). Her view of Fela's religious practices as "wacky" and her unwillingness to let her keep the altar, reflect the conflict between the African religion and Catholicism, both of which are prac ticed in the Dominican Republic. The 1937 massacre of Haitians is mentioned in Butterfies but more abstractly than it is in Las Mirabal where the names of Haitians who died are mentioned. Patria in Butterflies states, "thousands of Haitians massacred at the border making the river, they say, still run red Ay, Dios santo! (53). The description offered here is genera l and not individual. In similarity with Las Mirabal this text neglects to mention that Trujillo ordered the killings. The social position of Haitians in the Dominican Republic is evident in DedŽ's criticism of a project created by her husband and Manolo, Minerva's husband. The project according to her, c onsisted of "growing onions in some godforsaken desert area where yo u couldn't even get Haiti ans to live" (187). Dominican Nationalism and Un ited States Imperialism By showing how Trujillo was kept in power w ith support of the United States, each of the two texts studied challenges Mi lton Eisenhower's claim that "[w] e [the United States] deplore dictatorship in any form" (78). Consequently, a central theme to these narratives is anti107

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imperialism. United States foreign policy also contributed to Domini can nationalism. The Dominican Republic endured multiple invasions by the United States, which generated a strong sense of nationalism, uniting Dominicans of all cla sses. Knight explains that when the marines in 1924 were imposing orders: A powerful anti-American sentiment stimulated a new xenophobic nationalism that temporarily brought together the wealthy and the poor, the rural and the urban, the guerrilla opponents and the respectable cla sses into a recalcitrant oppos ition to foreign military rule. (223) Faced with a common threat, Dominicans set aside their economic and social differences to band together. This sense of nationalism explains how these economically privileged women became revolutionaries. Additionally, th is foreign influence is noted in the narratives to differing degrees and is responsible for a cer tain degree of anti-yankism. The characters in Las Mirabal use various terms to describe the United States Marine Corps Occupying Force in the Dominican Republic, e.g. "yanquis", "americanos", "norteamericanos", "invasores", "demonios", and "b‡rbaros en figura humana". The most wrenching testimony provided by characters in Las Mirabal are not the crimes perpetrated by Trujillo but the crimes committed by the United St ates Marines. Minerva's uncle Tilo provides testimony of some of the atrocities committed. He states: Con el pretexto de persegui r gavilleros', los yanquis acab aron con medio mundo. A Rita Campos le quemaron su casa y le mataron sus hijos, ella era muy pobre, pero muy trabajadora. Y a las madres les mata ban los hijos en su presencia. (102-3) On another occasion he tells Minerva that the Ma rines treated the gavilleros' and their families brutally. He explains: los hab’an torturado b‡rbaramente, llegando en algunos casos a provocar que segœn caminaran pisaran sus propios intestinos, los cuales les hab’an sido echados fuera por la tortura de las marcas de fuego en sus resp ectivos vientres. a veces amarraban los hombres a la cola de los caballos y echaban Žstos a correr a todo galope, hasta que la v’ctimas mor’an desgarradas al ser arrastra das por las bestias ech adas a correr con sus lastres humanos detr‡s. (185) 108

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He also tells Minerva: Los americanos fusilaban mucha gente por esto s montes y buscaban gente de la cercan’as a quienes pon’an a cavar las fosas comunes donde enterraban a los fusilados. Dondequiera que mataban uno, all’ lo enterraban, para que medio se borraran las huellas de sus innumerables cr’menes. (183-4) However, despite these crimes, Tilo says that publ icly people were cautious. However, "en la intimidad se hablaba mucho contra los yanquis y en lo posible, todo el mundo ayudaba a los guerrilleros en su lucha contra el inva sor" (185). Ultimately, Las Mirabal blames the United States, not Trujillo, for the problems the country faces. Do–a Chea describes, "Antes de venir los yanquis viv’amos pac’ficamente por estas zo nas, muy tranquilamente" (209). The Mirabal family, in this text, has been both witness and vi ctim of the crimes committed by the marines and is a harsh critic of the United States. While the characters in Las Mirabal use a variety of pejorati ve words to describe the United States Marines, Butterflies characters use the Spanish te rms "yanquis" and "gringos". According to Shara McCallum, "This diction suppor ts Alvarez's substantia l condemnation of the United States' involvement in and occupation of the Dominican Republic" (110). Additionally, while Las Mirabal focuses on the atrocities suffered by th e Dominican people at the hands of the United States military, Butterflies personalizes the occupation fo r the Mirabal family. In Las Mirabal Do–a Chea, in her narration of the burning of her mother's house, mentions that she is not sure who was responsible for the incide nt, since earlier in the day as Dominican revolutionaries known as gavilleros' had stoppe d by asking for money. When their request was denied they threatened to return and burn dow n the house. Do–a Chea says, "Yo no acuso a nadie de habernos quemado la casa, pero la co sa qued— en el misterio" (102). Butterflies also narrates the burning of the family home, yet in th is text, Do–a Chea says that "[t]hey burned our house down and called it a mistake. They weren't in their own country so they didn't have to 109

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answer to anyone" (57). Thus, in Butterflies she accuses the United States for an incident in which, according to Las Mirabal no one really knows w ho was responsible. This condemnation of past United States fo reign policy places the North American reader in an interesting position; one in which they se e themselves as the perpetrator of the sisters' murder. In her criticism of the Un ited States, Alvarez forces the read er to realize that they are in some way responsible for the suffering and kil ling of Dominicans. With the exception of Minerva and the Movimiento Revolucionario 14 de Junio', most Dominicans were incapable or unwilling to do anything about it, as they feared for their lives. This fright is seen in Don Enrique and Jaimito, DedŽ's husband. Predictably, it is the brave who are killed and the fearful who survived the Trujillo era. By means of DedŽ, in Butterflies the reader gets a glimpse of what Dominicans similar to her thought of North Americans in 1994 the time of her interview. The familiar stereotype of the loud, violent, American, who is punctual, ap pears in the narrative in the form of the gringa dominicana who is really Alvarez's alter ego. The gringa arrives to her meeting with DedŽ, startling her and prompting her to think to herself, "But really, this woman should shut car doors with less violence . Any Dominican of a certain generation would have jumped at that gunshot sound" (5). The image of the violent Amer ican is also present in Patria's nightmares. She describes "the Yanquis were back, but it wa sn't my grandmother's house they were burning it was Pedrito's and mine. My babies, all three of them, were going up in flames" (52). By means of the deceased Mirabal si sters and DedŽ in 1994, Butterflies offers the North American readers insight into how Dominicans, throughout the 20 th century, have viewed them. It is not a flattering picture. 110

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Both Las Mirabal and Butterflies express disappointment with the post-Mirabal sisters' Dominican Republic. Minerva and her sisters gave their lives fi ghting for freedom. And yet, Ferreras notes that at a service held for the mart yrs, "Un escaso nœmero de amigos ’ntimos de la familia, asiste a los oficios religiosos" ( 478). Furthermore, although Minerva and her sisters fought to overthrow Trujillo's regime for years hi s death did not lead to the society they had envisioned. As a result DedŽ in Butterflies is disillusioned with th e post-Trujillo Dominican Republic. She says "[w]e are now the playgroun d of the Caribbean, who were once its killing fields. The cemetery is beginning to flower . Was it for this, the sacrifice of the butterflies?" (318). Resisting Patriarchy in the Dominican Republic Feminism and Patriarchy in the Trujillo era In Las Mirabal the Dominican Republic is portrayed as a feminist society. Trujillo, recognizing that it could be used a method of control, supported the creation of a feminist organization and passed legislati on to support women rights. He gave the women the right to vote in 1942 much earlier than in other Latin American countries, such as Mexico (1953) and Columbia (1954). At the time, only Ecuador, Cuba, Uruguay had already granted women the right to vote (Esperana Bosch Fiol et al. 135-6). It is iron ic that an autocrat who was fraudulently elected would grant women the right to vote. Additionally, women are free to study and even become lawyers even during the Trujillo era something Minerva has to fight for, a historical inaccuracy, in Butterflies As narrated in Las Mirabal women were already in law school when Minerva applied. Furthermore, Tru jillo was in Spain during Minerva's application and first year of law school a nd posed no resistance (238). In contrast with Las Mirabal, which largely ignores patriarchy, it is a main theme in Butterflies Kelly Oliver observes "[w]hile these wo men [the Mirabal sisters] were fighting 111

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against the national patriarch, Trujillo, they are al so fighting against their own local patriarchs at home" (243). These observations reflect Mi nerva's thoughts in Butterflies Finally out of the house and away at boarding school she realizes, I'd just left a small cage to go into a bigger one, the size of our whole country" (13). The first level of patriarchy usually manifests itself in the private sphere with the girl's father. Las Mirabal portrays a father and daughter, Don Enrique and Minerva, who are both opposed to Trujillo and creates, in Don Enrique, a father who is loved and respected by his four daughters. Uncle Tilo explains, "C uando mis cuatro sobrinas vieron lo que ocurr’a con su padre, se hicieron enemigas mortales de Trujillo" (48) As the reader discove rs, Don Enrique "era un padre m‡s o menos condescendiente, que nunca les pegaba por cualquier co sa" (126). Also out of respect for her father, Minerva refused to ch allenge his authority. As Do–a Chea points out, "A veces como que quer’a rebelarse a Don Enrique, pero se sofrenaba" (152). Don Enrique, in this text, is not at all a contro lling father. To the contrary, he is generous, a man who gives his daughters liberty. Minerva writes in her journal, ". vivimos co mo nos da la gana, coreteando y jugando todo el d’a por estos floridos campos" (130). While this makes Minerva happy, Do–a Chea complains, "Don Enrique es un consentidor y, por complacer a mis cuatro hijas, las deja ir a todos los sitios que ellas quieran (196). It is Do–a Chea who takes her job of protecting her four daughters' morality very seriously. Mine rva tells the reader that, "Mam‡ nos mandaba acompa–adas a lavar para que nos respetaran m‡s" (118). When Do–a Chea wanted her daughters to be educated beyond the fourth grade, which was the highest offered in Ojo de Agua, their hometown, Don Enrique agrees, as this was common among wealthy Dominicans. While Don Enrique is not a controlling, domi nating figure in his daughters' lives, in Las Mirabal he attempts to be so in Butterflies Minerva explains: 112

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The four of us had to ask permission for everyt hing: to walk out to the fields to see the tobacco filling out; to go to the lagoon and dip ou r feet on a hot day; to stand in front of the store and pet the horses as the men load ed up their wagons with supplies. (11) Minerva is yearning for freedom and education, both denied by her father. However Do–a Chea, who is illiterate, understands the importance of educating her daughter s. Don Enrique initially is opposed to sending his girls off to school, since he does not see the need for women's education. It is Do–a Chea who convinces him to let them go away to study, argui ng that they "needed education to go along with our cash" (12). Unlike in Las Mirabal where the education of women was tied to class and economic status, education in this text is seen as means of liberation for women. Butterflies also creates a Don Enrique that is so afraid of Trujillo that he is unable to protect his family. Minerva says, "I have never seen him so scared . Pap‡ looks like he'll agree to anything" (103). On another occasion, Tr ujillo's men tell Minerva that she has been invited to sit at his tabl e. Don Enrique passively says "[i]t is really quite an honor . Go on, my daughter. You are keeping Don Manuel waiting" (94). Minerva looks back at him angrily and wonders, "Has he lost all his principles?" (95). Additionally, the relationship between Minerva and her father in Butterflies is disturbing due to its seemingly incestuous nature. Minerva, who is 23 years old at the time says, "Pap‡ discouraged boyfriends. I was his treasure, he'd say, patting his lap. One time he offered my anything if I would sit in his lap. Just come here and whisper it in my ear'" (84). Instead of refusing her father's odd request, Minerva uses th e opportunity to ask for something she wants, to go to law school. Minerva, on some level, rea lizes the oddity of the situation and describes, "And here I was, a grown woman s itting on my father's lap" (85). In addition to portraying Don Enrique as so meone machista, who strictly controls his daughters whereabouts and questions their need for education, paradoxically in Butterflies he is 113

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the only male and the weakest member of the fam ily. Minerva states, "I was much stronger than Pap‡, Mam‡ was much stronger. He was the we akest one of all" (89) By making Minerva stronger than her father and every other male ch aracter in the novel, including Trujillo, Alvarez subverts the patriarchal structure. Moreover, it is not only Dominican me n who are criticized in Butterflies but men in general. Do–a Chea notes "You're right, they're all scoundrels Dominicans, Yanquis, every last man" (57). In Las Mirabal a few days after the Discovery Day Dance, Trujillo's men came looking for Minerva because "dizque que era comunista" (45). After questioning her and searching the house for communist books banned by Trujillo, they left. However, in Butterflies Don Enrique is arrested for leaving the Disc overy Day Dance before Trujillo. He left the dance early at the request of his son-in-law Pedrito. Minerva states "Pap‡ lifts his shoulders and lets them fall. You young people know what to do'" (101). His body language is that of a person who has been defeated representing a much different im age of Don Enrique than seen in Las Mirabal where he is ordering his family to leave. It begins to rain so he decides to leave Trujillo's party early. He says, "ya nosotros cumplimos, est‡ por llover, cualquiera se va. V‡monos hombres!, y regres— con su familia a Ojo de Agua donde vi v’a" (45). Alvarez's recreation of Don Enrique is that of a weak, defeated and powerless male. While both recreate Don Enrique, Las Mirabal portrays a father and daughter who are opposed to Trujillo and creates a Don Enrique who is loved and respected by Minerva. In her words he was "tan bueno, tan amable, tan visionari o que es mi padre" (166). He is the type of father who has given his daughter an education and freedom. In short, he is a poor example of someone who is controlling and machista. In contrast, the reader's first introduction to Don Enrique in Butterflies is when he is drunk on rum, burpi ng and "slurring his words" (9) and 114

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needing the help of his daughter to climb the stairs (10). This drinking continues throughout the novel. As Minerva notes, "He was drinking too much" (91). Moreove r, Minerva has little respect for her father. Of him she says that he is a, "good-for-nothing father (88). In creating a Minerva who is superior to her father, Alvarez subverts the private patr iarchal structure. Trujillo, The Dictator: The S econd Level of Patriarchy The second level of patriarchy is found in the pub lic or, in this case, po litical sphere. From the very first pages of Butterflies the reader becomes aware of the oppression the country is under. The Mirabals, enjoying a summer evening in their yard, b ecome aware of the danger of saying the wrong thing. As the reader learns: Suddenly, the dark fills with spies who are pa id to hear things and report them down at Security . Words repeated, distorted, wo rds recreated by those w ho might bear them a grudge, words stitched to words until they ar e the winding sheet the family will be buried in when their bodies are found dumped in a di tch, their tongues cut off for speaking too much. (10) The challenge to public patriarchy in Butterflies is seen in Minerva's re lationship with Trujillo. From the very beginning, Minerv a reveals that she, as a woman, considers herself superior to Trujillo. After Sinita, her chil dhood friend, proclaims that, "Truji llo is a devil" (24), Minerva responds, "No, he is a man. And in spite of all I'd heard, I felt sorry for him. Pobrecito !" (24). The use of the diminutive shows condescension. A dditionally she says of Trujillo, "This regime is seductive. How else would a whole nation fall prey to this little man" (96). By means of Minerva's comments, the reader comes to understand the erotic power of this charismatic tyrant. However, describing the tyrant as a little man' reflects her feeling of superiority. These two texts reposition Trujillo as the other in that it is not he telling the story but rather his victims and, therefore, it should be kept in mind that the view is not objective. Butterflies adds little to the physical description of Trujillo already found in Las Mirabal in which Trujillo is described as "[a]quel hombre, rosadito, pintado todo de pan-ca-ke (sic), 115

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entorchado con su bicornio de plumas, saliendo de aquel patio espa–ol, con una concha acœstica detr‡s. Era aquello una cosa de nov ela" (225). Similarly, in Butterflies the reader learns that Trujillo goes to the United States to "buy elevator shoes, his skin whiteners and creams, his satin sashes and rare bird plumes for his bicorn Napole onic hats" (96). Both describe a tyrant who is slightly effeminate, which is in sharp contrast to the cruelty of his personality, which Ferreras describes as "el m‡s grande arrancapescuezo s nacido en la AmŽrica Latina" (445). In each text, Trujillo himself is but a minor character, with Alvarez dedicating much more narrative space to him than Ferreras. As Sirias notes: In the novel, Rafael Trujillo exists somewhere between a them e and a character. As the later, his appearances are brief and his char acterization is kept deliberately low-key because the idea of Trujillo is more important than the man himself. The dictator appears infrequently in the novel, and his character, ra ther than being well-developed, is more of a caricature. (75) Trujillo appears four times in Butterflies In Alvarez's reconstructi on of him, like Ferreras', the reader does not have access to his inner though ts. Upon seeing Trujillo for the first time, Minerva observes that, ". he looked much smaller than I had imagined him, looming as he always was from some wall or ot her" (27). She sees him years later and notes that "[h]e looks younger than I remember him from our performance five years ago, the hair darkened, the figure trim" (95). Ferreras all but silences Trujillo, who is barely mentioned in Las Mirabal He is referenced to by the characters in the text, but only speaks in a first person voice twice. And, while Butterflies attempts to explain how Trujillo maintained power, in part through seduction or perhaps even charisma, Las Mirabal limits itself to narrating polit ical oppression and does not say anything positive about Trujillo. It places the responsibility for his control over the Dominican people squarely on the shoulders of the United States government, who supported 116

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and maintained him in power. AmŽrico Lugo sh ares this view noting that "la fiera del imperialismo yanqui ha saltado sobr e el suelo quisqueyano" (30). In each narrative, the cruelty of Trujillo's regime takes backseat only to the cruelty demonstrated by United States Marines against the Dominican nationalists. This can be partially explained because Dominicans view Trujillo, wh o fought with the marines and against his own countrymen, as belonging to the Unites States imperial machine. The Heroine and the Tyrant In Las Mirabal Minerva first attracts Trujillo's atte ntion at the now infamous Discovery Day Dance, in which Trujillo becomes aware of Minerva's defiance. As DedŽ explains: Lo cierto fue que Žl como que le insinu— que iba a mandar a sus sœbditos a que se la trajeran o se la conquistaran y ella le contest—: "Y si yo voy y me los conquisto a ellos? Trujillo se dio cuenta de que la actitud de Minerva fue muy altiva desafiante. (227) Even before her exchange with Trujillo at the Discovery Day Dance, acco rding to Ferreras, "se dec’a que Minerva Mirabal era comunista y enem iga de Trujillo" (25). In Las Mirabal Trujillo makes it clear that he physically desires Mine rva. While her father is imprisoned, Minerva refuses to visit Trujillo saying, "Si yo he de ir al Jaragua [a hotel] me tiro por unos de estos balcones" (235). Do–a Chea supports and defends he r daughter. She explains, "para nosotras, la moral vale mucho, vale m‡s que nada. ... Preferimos la muerte a ser des honradas" (236-7). After 10 days, Trujillo rel eases the family. Butterflies also recounts the Discovery Day Dance. However, Alvarez replaces Minerva's political defiance with sexual rejection. Furthe rmore, the relationship between Trujillo and Minerva is more physical. As Mi nerva explains, "He yanks me by th e wrist, thrus ting his pelvis at me in a vulgar way, and I can see my hand in an endless slow motion rise a mind all its own and come down on the astonished, made-up fac e" (100). Consequently, Alvarez adds an element of sexual tension between Trujillo and Minerva that is mi ssing in Ferreras' retelling of 117

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the Discovery Day Dance. Before Trujillo's slap, Minerva states, ". he draws me close to him, so close that I can fell the hardness of his groin" (100). When Truji llo offers to free her father in exchange for a private' visit, Minerva responds much as she did in Las Mirabal by saying, "I'd sooner jump out that window than be forced to do something against my honor" (111). Additionally in Butterflies Minerva is also attracted to Trujillo. Even she, his most ardent critic, cannot resist his attraction. As a school gi rl she explains, "I think we were all falling in love with the phantom hero in Lina's sweet and simp le heart" (22). Later, as an adult, Minerva describes, "He rises from his chair, and I am so sure he is going to ask me that I feel a twinge of disappointment when he turns instead to the wife of the Spanish ambassador" (96). She continues to explain, "I see now how easily this happens. You gi ve in on little things, and soon you're serving in his government, marching in his parades, sleeping in his bed" (99). Minerva's character in Butterflies is both attracted to and repulsed by Trujillo. Her comments reflect an observation made by Laura Frost who maintains that, "simultaneously embracing and resisting the fascist beast is an erotically-charged fantasy that recurs throughout feminist discourse" (40). This "erotically-charged fantas y" is absent in Las Mirabal Minerva in this text does not express any positive feelings towards Trujillo. While both Las Mirabal and Butterflies document the attraction Trujillo felt for Minerva, Butterflies some would argue, ex aggerates the sexual attraction Trujillo had for Minerva, leading the r eader to believe that Trujillo ordered her murder because she had rejected him. However, Varg as explains that the three sisters had been persecuted by Trujillo for years, "no por apar entes motivos pasionales como se ha dicho, sino por sus ideas pol’ticas y sus convicc iones antitrujillistas" (225). 118

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Minerva Mirabal: Narrating A National Heroine The Mirabal Family In Las Mirabal Ferreras describes the Mirabal fa mily origins dating back to the 19 th century. He writes of a family, who as a whole, was opposed to Trujillo's regime. The narrator explains: JosŽ, natural de Salcedo, fue involucrado en el complot del corone l Leonicio Blanco, vejado, torturado, masacrado y fusilado. A este Mirabal lo fusilaron en el cementerio de Camungu’, lugar de destino de los muchos dominicanos vi riles que entregaron la vida en aras del ideal de libertad que Trujillo no permit’a. (25) Thus, Minerva and her sisters are not the first Mira bals to die at the hands of Trujillo. Like many members of his family, Don Enrique is an antitrujillista. As Fe rreras explains, he is imprisoned by the dictator for refusing to buy a book praising Trujillo from a traveling salesman. Tilo explains that the salesman: estuvo aqu’, tratando de vender a Enri que por RD$20.00 un libro alabando a Trujillo. Enrique no quiso comprarlo El tipo se fue y no volvi—, lo que vino luego fue la averiguaci—n de por quŽ Enrique Mirabal no hab’a comprado el libro que alababa a Trujillo. Y la verdad fue que lo aprisionaron por no haber otra cosa de quŽ acusarlo. (46) It is during this imprisonment that Don Enrique succumbs to an illne ss that would cause his death barely a month after his re lease. His sudden illness and death prompts his family to believe that the injections given to him prison, su pposedly to help him, were really intended to kill him. Tilo explains that "[d]esde antes de soltar a Enrique se dec’a por aqu’ que le estaban poniendo inyecciones para matarlo." (48). In Butterflies this brave defiance, which resulted in his early death, is omitted and Don Enrique is imprisoned for simply leaving a party before Trujillo. Ferreras notes that Tr ujillo views the family, not just the sisters, as problematic. He writes that ". Žl [Trujillo] so lamente ten’a dos problemas que reso lver aqu’, en el pa’s. Uno es el de los falduces', o sea, los curas, la igle sia, y el otro, la familia Mirabal, no dijo Las Hermanas, sino la familia'. Eso sali— publicado en El Caribe (334-5). 119

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The names chosen for the sisters provides insight into the Mirabal family. It also allows the reader to see that Ferreras' description of it is mo re accurate historically. Fernando ValerioHolgu’n mentions that the names of the sisters themselves are paradoxical given the patriarchal society in which they were born. The name Pa tria means Fatherland, and Minerva, the most politically active of the sisters, is named after the Roman goddess of wisdom. Ferreras also notes that Patria was born during the first Amer ican occupation (1914-1924) of the Dominican Republic. She was named Patria in defiance of sa id occupation. Patria, in turn, would continue this family tradition by naming her youngest son Ernesto in honor of Che Guevarra. Alternatively, in Butterflies the Mirabal family, with the sole exception of Minerva, her sisters and at times her mother, is petrified of the dictator. The women have less fear of the tyrant than the men do. As previously mentione d, this fear weakens Don Enrique to the point that he is unable to protect Minerva and fearful, he offers up his own daughter to the oppressor. Las Mirabal gives the reader the sense that Mine rva was a strong leader among many other revolutionaries. As noted, "entre los presos hab’a representativos de todos los sectores sociales de la Repœblica" (328). Similarly, Peguero-Danil o de los Santos observe s that "[h]acia 1960, las c‡rceles dominicanas estaban repletas y el as esinato pœblico llegaba a su paroxismo con la muerte violenta de las Mirabal que reali zaban un activismo abierto y disidente" (365). She was a leader amongst a strong and defiant people, who were not only fighting for freedom from Trujillo but also the United St ates. Minerva was unquestionably brave, as noted by a friend, who tells her "Tu valent’a escasea en el pa’s" (298). Yet, it is not this bravery that keeps her from fleeing the country when given th e opportunity. It is her impr isoned husband that keeps her in the Dominican Republic as Vargas explains, "Miner va sospechaba los intentos del dictador, pero 120

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sus sentimientos de solidaridad para con sus esposos no permiti— la vacilaci—n ni el miedo" (229). Motherhood and Love of Country As defined by Hans Kohn, "Nationalism is a st ate of mind, in which th e supreme loyalty of the individual is felt to be due th e nation-state" (9). In Las Mirabal Minerva displays a strong sense of national pride, seen in her deep love for her country. Th is would cause her problems, as she loved the Dominican Republic and not Trujillo. Trujillo, who thought that he was the nation, insisted that loyalty to him co me before love of family or friends (Howard Wiarda 129). Instead, Minerva is deeply patriotic. As Benedi ct Anderson explains, ". nations inspire love, and often profoundly self-sacrificing love" (141). This self-sacrificing love is more important to Minerva than motherhood. It is a love of country that is often repeated in Las Mirabal For example Minerva states, "Yo quiero a mis hijos y a mi familia, pero quiero m‡s a mi pueblo" (298). When asked by DedŽ who would raise her children in the event that she was killed by Trujillo, she replies: A m’ no me importa que me maten, pues no voy a ser la primera ni la œltima. No importa [quien criar‡ a mis hijos]. el pue blo dominicano me los cr ’a. Lucho por los infelices Hay demasiado [sic] hambre y miseria. (429) She feels more loyalty to her country than to he r children. She continues to say, "Si para liberar a este pa’s se necesita la sangre de muchos dominicanos y entre esa sangre yo tengo que dar la m’a, pues, estoy presta a entregarla" ( 434). On another occasion, she remarks: siempre considerarŽ que este es un puebo [sic] digno de mejor suerte, que siempre debi— merecer un gobierno menos ma lo que el de Trujillo. El pueblo dominicano tiene que liberarse en alguna forma de este tirano sa nguinario. Siempre he aspirado para m’, como el m‡s grande logro de mi vida ayudar a liberar a mi pueblo de la tiran’a. (160) In Las Mirabal up to the very end of her life, Minerva is brave, never relenting her goal to eliminate tyranny, which, for her, is more importa nt her own life. For this reason, she has 121

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become a symbol of defiant Dominican nationalism, in that love of country was greater than her loyalty to Trujillo. In contrast, motherhood is more important than nationalism to Minerva in Butterflies After a stay in prison she says, "How lovely to be called mother again. (258). Minerva, after being imprisoned, seems to give up, to be broken down. She explains, "All my life, I have been trying to get out of the house . By then I couldn't think of anyt hing I wanted more that to stay home with my sisters at Mam‡'s, raisi ng our children" (257). Towards the end of the narrative, Minerva seems to have lost her de sire to fight against tyranny. She becomes agoraphobic and is unable to display the strengt h she once showed. She knows she has changed and says, "I had been so much st ronger and braver in prison. No w at home I was falling apart" (258). In this representation of Minerva, love for her children is stronger than fighting for her country's freedom from tyranny. She wants to confess to an old frie nd that ". I didn't feel like the same person as before prison. That I want ed my own life back again" (265), but can't. Essentially, she has been de feated by Trujillo. The Mythification of Minerva In both narratives, Minerva underestim ates Trujillo. In Las Mirabal she believes that "[m]atarme a m’ ser’a de los m‡s grandes es c‡ndalos del mundo" ( 428). Comparably, in Butterflies she says, "Trujillo was not going to murder a defenseless woman and dig his own grave. Silly rumors" (199). And while this may ha ve been the case, it didn't keep Trujillo from ordering her assassination. While in Las Mirabal the death of the Mirabal sisters is narrated three different times by three of the murderers who admitted to killing each one of the sisters; the actual killing or murder of the sisters is not mentioned in Butterflies It appears in the "Epilogue," narrated by DedŽ. This reflects her lack of preoccupation w ith how they were murdered. During the ensuing 122

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trials of the supposed killers, DedŽ went to Puerto Rico and later the United States to avoid being exposed to it ("Personal Interview", Mirabal). Their bravery and subsequent brutal assassinat ion lead to the mythification of the sisters and of Minerva in particular. Ferreras makes no claim to demythify the sisters. Despite saying of the deceased sisters, "Que en paz descansen los despojos mortales de aquellas tres ejemplares mujeres que entregaron hasta la vida por la revoluci—n dominican a!" (478), it is his text that demythologizes the sisters. Minerva, in Las Mirabal is a much more believable than in Butterflies In Las Mirabal she is one of many revolutionari es. Moreover, she does not see herself superior to others. She is not an a nomaly within the Mirabal family, which had other "antitrujillista" members. In contrast, Alvarez stated inte nt is to demythologize the Miraba l sisters. She explains that "by making them myth we lost the Mirabals once mo re ." (324). Additionally, she notes that ". such deification was dangerous, the same god-making impulse that had created our tyrant" (324). In demythologizing the deceased sisters, Alvarez hopes to remove the fiction that goes with the myth exposing more authentic Mirabal si sters and showing that th eir courage is possible "for us, ordinary men and women" (Butterflies 324). Despite her expressed intent, Alvarez ultimately fails to demythologize the sisters and Minerva, in particular. She recreates the myth she is hoping to dispel by making Minerva in Butterflies unequalled. She writes, "Manuel de Moya shakes his head. Minerva Mirabal, you are as complicated a woman as as He throws up his hands, unable to finish the comparison" (111). In other words, she has no equal, or at least not a male one. On another occasion, Minerva imagines that her and Trujillo are even. She says "[f]or a moment, I imagine them evenly balanced, his will on one side, mine on another" (115). Minerva, realizing the dice 123

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are lopsided, outwits Trujillo and wins her fath er's release from prison. Thus, Alvarez does not resist the temptation to glorify Minerva. She al so exalts Minerva by informing the reader of how other Dominicans view her. Minerva explains, "My months in prison had elevated me to superhuman status. It would hardly have been seemly for someone who had challenged our dictator to suddenly succumb to a nervous atta ck at the communion rail" (259). Alternatively, Ferreras resists this temptation and does not us e words such as "superhuman" to describe, and therefore elevate to mythical status, Minerva. To the contrary, as previously mentioned, he wants to encourage women to participate in the political process by showing them how Minerva, who while brave, was not superhuman'. Additionally, Butterflies inadequately documents the suffering of the Mirabal sisters. The reader learns of the sisters' experiences in pr ison through Mate's diary entries. Her entries mention her lesbian affair with Magdalena (a fe llow prisoner), her miscarriage and her constant hunger. The pages recording the worst of her ex periences, the ones she refuses to talk about, were ripped out and are inaccessible to the reader. Yet, the sisters' suffe red terribly in prison. As Robert Crassweller states, "They had not had an easy time of it. Trujillo bore a particular resentment against them, and their experiences in jail had included a ll the indignities heaped upon female prisoners" (402). Las Mirabal also glosses over the suffering of the Mira bal sisters in prison. Ferreras writes that "[t]res meses pasaron all’ las tres [Minerva Mar’a Teresa, Sina], torturadas con el solo hechos de tenerlas en solitaria y comiendo la porquer’a que les daban como raci—n" (332). However, he does document the suffering endured by the sisters' husba nds. He writes: El mismo Manolo dec’a muchas veces en confid encias a su cu–ada: D edŽ, eso era lo m‡s doloroso, un golpe encima de otro, una herida sobre otra a medio cicatrizar. Esto es, cuando ya una herida est‡ por cerrarse, viene la otra tunda de golpes a volver a reabrirla.' 124

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Al final de las torturas, las espaldas de Manolo parec’an un gigantesca parilla de esas de asar carne que se usan en los barrios humild es de la ciudades do minicanas. (325) Thus, despite minimizing the suffering of the sist ers, the cruelty of the prison experience is recognized. The glossing over of violence in Butterflies is not limited only to their prison experience. It is also evident in the deaths of the sisters. DedŽ in Butterflies says, "But I do not think they violated my sisters, no. I checked as best I co uld. I think it is safe to say they acted like gentlemen murderers in that way" (303). Howe ver, historians disagree. According to Kai Schoenhals the sisters were "raped, beaten to deat h and then thrown into an abyss" (xxviii). Additionally Crassweller contents the sisters we re "taken into custody, and fresh abominations were practiced upon them, followed soon by the assa ssinations" (402). In omitting the worst of the sisters' suffering, Alvarez to a certain extent dehumanizes and idealizes the experience of living under Trujillo. As Luc’a Su‡rez writes, "Alvarez tries to recuperate the Mirabal sisters from mythification, only to mythify them furthe r, blurring further the violence of Trujillo's dictatorship" (22). Furthermore, Ink believes that: Although Alvarez claims to write the Miraba ls' story to convey th e reality of their involvement, the details she does provide fail to convey the extent of the abuse the sisters endured under Trujillo. The conditions under which they are kept are deplorable, but prison life is generally idealized Most important, the narra tive of the torture is the only missing portion of the diary The result is a sense of mystery that renders the women more legend than flesh and blood. By leavi ng out details that woul d humanize their story, the text creates the Mirabals as exampl es. ("Remaking identity, ." Callaloo ) Alvarez overlooks the worst of the suffering the si sters endured. Consequently, she recreates a Trujillo was more benevolent towa rds the sisters than he actually was. In fairness, it should be noted that Las Mirabal also rejects the idea that the sister s were raped. Ferreras writes "[n]o hab’a se–ales de que los cuerpos de la Mirabal fueron objeto de violaci—n sexual (454). 125

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Alvarez also fails to demythify the sisters because their fictional characters are poorly developed and each one closely resembles a stereo type. As Isabel Zakrzewski Brown contends: These [stereotypes] include: the pious one, Patr ia; the pragmatic one DedŽ; the rebellious one, Minerva; and the innocent one, Mate. The four come together to form a perfect whole: the now legendary Mirabal sisters. Alvarez thus is unable to avoid the mythification process she ha s professed to elude. (110) Additionally, Ink reasons that "Alvarez undermines her own claim to de-mythologization. What she establishes in place of the Mirabal of fact or legend is another national myth" ("Remaking identity ., Callaloo ). However, Ben Jacques disa grees; he argues, "By creating fictional characters for the national heroines, Al varez demythologizes them. She brings them back to life not as saints, but as ordinar y, yet extraordinary wome n who respond to oppression out of their personal values and character" ("Real Flights of Imagination," Americas ). Given Alvarez's stated lack of interest in the biography of actual Minerva, it is not surprising that her recreation would be just as fictional as the my thical Minerva she is attempting to de-mythify. Conclusion Both Ferreras and Alvarez set out with a simila r intent: to keep the memory of the Mirabal sisters alive, to ensure that hi story (not just the Mirabal sist ers) is not forgotten. Ferreras mentions that the contributions of many other wo men have also been forgotten. He explains: Las damas y mujeres del pueblo mencionadas en lo que va de este trabajo, no fueron las œnicas que actuaron en aquellos apacibles o bravos d’as en que nuestras fŽminas ten’an que, en muchos casos, dormir con un ojo abierto'. De aquellas que acompa–aron a sus hombres en las luchas por la libertad y por el bien de la Repœblica, de esas quedaron casi en su totalidad sus nombres en el tintero de nuestros historiadores, y s—lo buceos m‡s profundos en fojas y documentos arcaicos podr‡n en el futuro pr—ximo o lejano, decir algo de lo mucho que merecen que de ellas se diga en los fastos gloriosos de nuestra historia nacional. (Historia 138) Additionally, Ferreras hopes to encourage women to be feminists by showing them feminists can be positively viewed by Dominicans. He writes: 126

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Ellas, a quienes el pueblo dominicano cono ce hoy y reverencia como Las Hermanas Mirabal, fueron feministas de primera l’nea, aunque nunca militaran en una de las llamadas agrupaciones feministas que pr oliferaron el pa’s. (Historia 138) The feminist groups to which he references were little more than pawns of Trujillo. Ferreras' narrative shows a strong Minerva who, along with her fello w countrymen and women, fought oppression. In this text, Minerva' s struggles are more collective. She is the leader of a much larger group. Ferreras explains that "hab’a muchas cŽlulas del movimiento" (325). Most importantly, she is never broken down, never afraid and never regrets her actions. Minerva was recognized for her intelligence, bravery and leadership skills am ong people who were also strong and brave; not weak and uneducated. And alt hough fighting tyranny is more important to her than motherhood, Minerva, the historical fi gure, is not mythified in Las Mirabal Therefore, it is the older, Dominican text, written by a man, which portrays a much stronger and feminist Minerva Mirabal without, as one might expect projecting on her a masc ulanized version of heroism. She is simply a mother, who after seeing her beloved father die as a result of his unjust imprisonment, decides to fight for a better future for her children. Unlike Ferreras, Alvarez is more concerned with creating the sense and feel of the Trujillo era. In re-writing the older vers ion, written by Ferreras, she creates a very different Minerva. In her interpretation Minerva is much less of a fe minist. The women in Alvarez's novel, Minerva included, are portrayed as victims of a machista, phallocentric, patria rchial society. The fact that there was a brutal tyrant in pow er appears only as a secondary oppression. The women are first oppressed by the men in their lives, husbands, fath ers, etc., and secondly by Trujillo. Alvarez inverts the traditional patriarc hal society and places Minerva at the top of the hierarchy, displacing even Trujillo from pow er, who she outwits. Yet, this displacement and feminization of power makes Minerva's charac ter hard to believe. 127

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Alvarez, in her attempt to make Minerv a seem strong among weak women and even weaker men, misrepresents the Dominican people and diminishes Minerva's role. She also discredits the Mirabal family. DedŽ, as the su rviving sister, has become the guardian of her sisters' memory and Alvarez goes to her seeking information about her sisters. Yet, she quickly discredits DedŽ by informing the reader that she ha s lied to her. The text claims, "DedŽ lies to the voice" (4). Later, the narrat or informs the reader that DedŽ is dishonest, "Not at all', she [DedŽ] lies" (4). Additionally, the reader's fi rst introduction to Don Enri que, the sisters' beloved father, is when he is drunk. Her sister Mar’a Teresa commits adultery with another woman while in prison. Finally, Minerva ends up agoraphobic. These two texts offer a very different visi ons of the Dominican Republic, Trujillo, and Minerva. Ferreras describes a modern, feminist country in which women have full access to education, while Alvarez portrays a much more backward, machista, stereotypical Third World country. Ferreras reveals Dominicans, both me n and women, who are strong and who fight political oppression, from the United States and Trujillo's regime. In contrast, Alvarez writes of a country in which the women, with the exception of a few, are passive and the men are weak and powerless on several levels. Since Alvarez was able to write about the Dominican Republic from the United States, she was able to write from a position of greater sa fety than Ferreras, who had been repeatedly imprisoned by President Balaguer, who was in power when Las Mirabal was published. Yet, it is his text that is most harshly critical of the Domi nican political situation. Alvarez, who writes in English and has access to large publishers, also writes from a position of greater power. Of the two narratives it is Alvarez's th at has eclipsed that of Ferreras and her voice has overshadowed his in the Dominican national consciousness. Even from abroad 128

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and writing in a foreign language, she has the ability to influence how Dominicans view themselves and how others view Dominicans. Roberto MarcallŽ Abreu, a Dominican journalist and author, finds this influence problematic. He writes: Nuestra literatura, en sentido ge neral, y es lo que creo, est‡ al margen de la que hoy d’a se produce en el mundo. y nos debe llenar de vergŸenza que vengan de fuera a explotar temas locales con una repercusi—n internaci onal que ningœn escritor nuestro ha logrado. (419-20) Specifically, he is referring to Mario Vargas Llosa's La Fiesta del Chivo (2000) and Mayra Montero's Del rojo de tu sombra (1993). He continues to explai n that Dominicans do not read Dominican literature because there exists a "despr ecio de las letras nacion ales" (409). Therefore, narrative written by outsiders', ev en about that whose topic is Do minican history, is much more widely read by both Dominican s and non-Dominicans alike. Alvarez's narrative has been translated into 13 different languages and is the one that is for sale in the Mirabal Museum. Yet, in this au thor's personal interview of DedŽ, it became apparent that Las Mirabal offered a much more accurate description of her family. (DedŽ has read neither narrative.) This su ccess leads me to wonder what effect her narrative, which offers a negative view of the Dominican Republic, has had on how Dominicans view both themselves and their country. There has been a Dominican response to her narrative, yet for abovementioned reasons it hasn't really received the attention hers has and so the Dominican voice has not been heard. 24 In short, the commercial succe ss of Alvarez's novel has allowed her voice (that of the American girl with the Amer ican education who writes in an imperial, as Dominicans see it, language) to overshadow Dominican narrative (voices), which also seeks to interpret and document the past. Alvarez's abilit y, from abroad, to affect how Dominican view 24 See Miguel Aquino Garc’a's. Tres hero’nas y un tirano. La historia ver’dica de las Hermanas Mirabal y su asesinato por Rafael Leonidas Truj illo. Santo Domingo: Editora Corripio, 1996. 129

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themselves reflects what is also happening politi cally in that Dominicans-Americans are allowed to vote in Dominican elections. So important is their vote and their dol lars that political candidates actively campaign in New York City. Torres-Saillant notes that the power of the diaspora can have a positive or negative effect on the country of origin. He observes: having representation of the Antillean wo rld in the hands of di asporic intellects who do not root themselves culturally or politically in the region' may lead to their st rategic use of their privileged position to continue the work of upholding the humanity and the historical groundedness of their people. Bu t, they could also, wielding greater might than their counterparts in the region, resort to the deploym ent of borrowed eyes' to look at their parents' homelands, adding to the long tr adition of inimical re presentation that the Caribbean has endured for over five centuries. ("Inte llectual" 252) It is through the comparison of the Domini can and diasporic text that the inimical representation' that Torres-Saillant write s of becomes most evident in Butterflies And while it may have achieved its goal of "[deepening] North Americans' understanding" (324) of the Trujillo era, a laudable achievement, it also inadequately and e rroneously portrays the Dominican Republic, its history a nd its people. As previously mentioned, Alvarez is not concerned with these inaccuracies. She explai ns, "I sometimes took liberties by changing dates, by reconstructing events, a nd by collapsing characters or inci dents." (324). However, not all novelists share her lack of concern for hist ory. The novelist Virginia Brodine asserts "I believe writers of historical fiction should be held accountable by historians" (208). While Butterflies is not a historical novel because it includes the author's lifetime, Alvarez believes that as a survivor it is her responsibil ity to give testimony and to keep the memory of those who died (Before 166-7). For this reason, even if Alvarez could not avoid due to her American education and upbringing viewing the Dominican Republic th rough the eyes of an "American", Butterflies could have at least offered its reader a more accurate representation of Dominican history. 130

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CHAPTER 4 PORTRAIT OF A DICTATORSHIP: "THE ERA OF TRUJILLO" IN CEMENTERIO SIN CRUCES AND LA FIESTA DEL CHIVO Monumento a los gloriosos hŽroes del 30 de mayo de 1961. Hombres de acero, que esa noche luminosa ajusticiaron en este lugar al dictador Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina, poniendo as’ fin a la tiran’a m‡s horrenda de toda la historia latinoame ricana. Honrar a los que luchan por la libertad, nos ayudar‡ a no olvidar sus ideales. Fundaci—n HŽroes del 30 del Mayo 1999 25 Soy uno de esa AmŽrica Latina de rostro ma rcado de profundas huellas de dolor, que recuerdan el destierro, la tort ura, la prisi—n y la muerte de muchos hombres y de sus mujeres. Soy uno de esa AmŽrica Latina cuya ge ograf’a aœn exhibe reg’menes totalitarios que avergŸenzan a la humanidad entera. Oscar Arias S‡nchez, Nobel Lecture, December 10, 1987 Introduction More than 30 years of tyrannical rule came to an abrupt and violent end on the night of May 30, 1961 when Rafael Trujillo was ambushed and shot to death. However, the era of Trujillo did not end with the death of the tyrant. Robert D. Crassw eller explains that the plot to kill Trujillo consisted of two groups; an Acti on Group and a Political Group. The Action Group, made up of eight men, was responsible for plan ning and carrying out assa ssination. Many of the men involved in the killing that night were part of Trujillo's inner circle. Two separate cars were involved in the ambush. In the first car, an Oldsmobile, was Hu‡scar Tejeda and Pedro Livio Cede–o. In the second car, a Chevrolet, rode Antonio Imbert Barrera, Antonio de la Maza, Amado Garc’a Guerrero and Salvador Estrella Sadhal‡. The only member of the Action Group 25 These words are inscribed on a plaque marking the place of Trujillo's death. Inte restingly it commemorates the assassins and not the victim of the assassination. 131

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to survive was Antonio de la Maza. The othe rs were quickly rounded up and killed, most suffering a death much worse than Trujillo's. Up on Trujillo's death, the Political Group was to take over the government. For various reasons, including simple fear, the Political Group never fulfilled its role (Crassweller 436). A Time article reports: The only thing out of keeping about Trujillo's death was the aftermath. Instead of serving as a signal for revolution to sweep down the hills into the capital, the assassination was followed by stupefied silence among his 2,900,000 subjects. ("End of the Dictator") Eduardo Garc’a Michel offers insight into the Dominican mindset after th e death of the tyrant and explains the silence mentioned in the Time article: DespuŽs del 30 de mayo de 1961 una atm—sfera de tensi—n y descreimiento arropo a la poblaci—n. Ser’a cierto que Tr ujillo est‡ muerto? Se preguntaba la gente. Parec’a demasiado f‡cil que tantos a–os de terror de sparecieran en tan s—lo un soplo. Muchos creyeron que la noticia de que Trujillo hab’a sido ajusticiado era un gancho', para poner en evidencia a sus enemigos. Cuando se conve ncieron de que s’, de que hab’a muerto el tirano, hubo luto, real, pues la ignorancia es ancha, pero tambiŽn hubo luto fingido, puesto que la maquinaria represiva estaba in tacta y el miedo persist’a. (291) The fear that seemed to paralyze some member s of the Political Group is understandable for Joaqu’n Balaguer notes that, "Trujillo no s—lo so juzg— la voluntad, sino el pensamiento mismo de sus ciudadanos. La vida nacional, durante m‡s de 30 a–os, fluctœa totalmente en torno a su nombre y obedece a las directrices de su car‡cter absorbente" (73-4). Also adding to the fear was the presence of Trujillo's son, Ramfis. The day after the assassination, he arrived from Paris by charter flight and assumed control of the c ountry. In the days following the assassination, Time reports, "1,000 suspected opponents of the regime were rounded up." (End of the Dictator). On Nov. 18, 1961, the captured assassins were killed, execution style. The following day, Trujillo's immediate family was expelled from th e country for life. (Frank Moya Pons 382). While Dominicans were surprised by Trujillo's death, it did no t come as a surprise to the United States, which for 30 years had been suppor tive of the dictator. Six months before Trujillo's assassination, The Nation reports: 132

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The United States hovers over the Dominican Republic these days, wa iting, eagerly for a reward. The reasoning is simple: Everyone sees that the regime of Generalissimo Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina is tottering; everyone k nows the State Department nudged it a bit: surely, after the crash, the new regime will embrace the nudger. (Stanley Meisler) After Trujillo's death, Dominicans democratica lly elected Juan Bosch, who had been a strong critic of Trujillo and had been the leader of Dominican opposition in exile. Founder of both the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) in 1939 a nd the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) in 1973, he did not embrace the United States. Requ ena had been hopeful that the United States would The texts analyzed in this chapter, Cementer io sin cruces: novela del martirio de la Repœblica Dominicana bajo la rapaz tiran’a de Trujillo (1949), by Dominican author AndrŽs Requena (1908-1952) and La Fiesta del Chivo (2000), by the well-know Pe ruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa (1936) provide a general view of the Trujillo regime. Silvio Torres-Saillant notes that Requena was part of the Dominican diaspora living in the United States in the first half of the 20 th century and included authors such as Pedro Henr’quez Ure–a, Camila Henr’quez Ure–a, and Manuel Florentino Cestero (29). Although it was written in the United States, for the purposes of this study, Cementerio sin cruces is included as providing an inside view of the Dominican Republic because Requena writes from me mory. Dominican literary critics such as Frank Moya Pons (Bibliografia de la Literatura Dominicana) and Joaqu’n Balaguer have also included the novel in studies on Do minican literature. As an ac tive member of the Trujillo regime, Requena was in a position to provide firs t hand knowledge and insight In this respect, he is unlike Julia Alvarez and Edwidge Danticat, who also live and write in the United States and who, in the works analyzed earlier in this study, In th e Time of the Butterflies (1995) and The Farming of Bones (1998) respectively, narrate events th ey did not directly experience. 133

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Published 51 years apart, Cementerio sin cruces and La Fiesta del Chivo seek, albeit through very different means, to dismantle the mythology surrounding Tr ujillo's regime and illustrate the effect of the era of Trujillo on the Dominican people. Additionally, La Fiesta del Chivo written almost 40 years after the death of the dictator, provides the r eader insight into the frame of mind of the group of me n who assassinated Trujillo. Like the authors previously analyzed in this study, both Requena and Vargas Llosa rewrite and subvert official history while giving voice to marginal groups that have been silenced or forgotten. Both Cementerio sin cruces and La Fiesta del Chivo can be classified as political novels. Joseph L. Blotner describes the political novel as "a book which directly describes, interprets, or analyzes political phenomena" (2). Yet, a novel can be both political an d historical. Seymour Menton in his study of what he ca lls Latin America's new historical novel, defines it as, "[. ] novels whose action takes place co mpletely (in some cases, predominantly) in the past arbitrarily defined here as a past not directly expe rienced by the author" (16) 26 Thus, a novel based on political events experien ced by the author would be a po litical but not a historical novel. Requena directly experi enced the era of Trujillo and therefore Cementerio sin cruces can be considered a political novel, but not a hi storical novel based on the previously given definition. Alternatively, Vargas Llosa, born in Pe ru in 1936 lived during the era of Trujillo, but did not directly experien ce the event. Therefore, La Fiesta del Chivo published 39 years after the death of Trujillo, is both a political and histor ical novel. It should be mentioned that Vargas Llosa would disagree with this classification of his work. In an interview with Raymond L. Williams the Peruvian author mentions: RecabŽ as’ un material muy rico a partir del cual escrib’ una novela que no es un libro de historia disfrazado, que no es un reportaje disimulado, sino eso, una novela, una historia 26 Because Requena uses ellipses often, I have placed my el lipses in brackets to distinguish between the two. 134

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donde hay m‡s invenci—n que memoria y en la que incluso los personajes y los hechos hist—ricos est‡n tratados con la libertad con que un novelista escribe sus historias. (90) In another interview he reiterates, La Fiesta del Chivo "[. .] no es una nove la hist—rica. Si se hiciera una estad’stica, hay much a m‡s invenci—n que historia ." ("Cuando Vargas Llosa mat— al chivo [sic]"). However, Vargas Llosa does believe that novel, though fictional, represents the human truth' of the dictatorship" (Nesmith). Although these narratives recreate the era of Tr ujillo and narrate the experience of living in the Dominican Republic during the era of Trujillo, th ey are not dictator novels as the dictator is not a main character in either text. However, since his presence is strongly felt and the novels narrate the experience of living under extreme oppression, both narratives can be classified as novels of dictatorship. Carlos P acheco notes that the us e of literature as a means to fight tyranny began in Latin America with the Romantic literary movement. He explains: El esp’ritu rom‡ntico, [. .] justiciero, liber al, citadino, europe’sta, se muestra incapaz de soportar en silencio la opresi —n tir‡nica. [. .] La oposic i—n al tirano ser‡ frontal e irreducible. Y la literatu ra vendr‡ a ser un arma en este combate a muerte. (55) Cementerio sin cruces is the only text in this study that was written and published during the trujillato and is an example of lit erature as means to confront tyranny. 27 The narrative brazenly offers a harsh critique of Trujill o, while the dictator is still in power. As Franklin GutiŽrrez, et al. note, Requena "ridiculiza y caricaturi za al dictador" (13). This criticism would lead to the author's death on the October 2, 1952 in New York City. 28 That Trujillo would order killings within the United States without negative consequence is telling of the U.S. support he enjoyed. As Alan Block notes: 27 The era of Trujillo (1930-1961) is also known as the trujillato'. 28 According to the New York Times article "50 Attend Funeral of Trujillo Enemy." (7 Oct. 1952) the FBI had been aware that Trujillo had placed a bounty on Requena's head but had done nothing to stop it claiming that they did not have jurisdiction. 135

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[. .] carrying out a political assassination in a country like the Un ited States "requires precision, care, and a mix of foreign and domestic operatives. It is al so important to be able to manipulate congressiona l and public opinion. (186) The foreign killings also illustrates the extreme to which Trujillo went to eliminate anyone he considered an enemy. Sadly Requena's death high lights the dangers of fi ghting tyranny, even if the weapon of choice is a fictional narrative. 29 For several reasons, these narratives are emotionally challenging for the reader. Both narratives dedicate many pages to the detailed descrip tion of the torture and subsequent death inflicted on political prisoners dur ing the Trujillo era. A large portion of La Fiesta del Chivo describes the fate of the capture d conspirators. In particular, the description of the torture General Rom‡n endured is unimaginable, brutal, and gut wrenching to the point that the reader is relieved when he is finally and me rcifully killed. The torture is so horrific that the Vargas Llosa had to minimize it so as not to shock the reader into incredulity. He explains in an interview that: Lo pasŽ muy mal, fueron muy dif’ciles de escr ibir, pero no pod’a soslayarlos. He tenido incluso que suavizar el material con el que co ntaba, porque la desmesura de la violencia lo hacia inveros’mil. La represi—n y la tortura de la Era Trujillo llegaron a unos extremos de vŽrtigo, que no son cre’bles: un caso t’pico de c—mo la real idad supera a la ficci—n ("Cuando Vargas Llosa mat— al chivo [sic]") 29 Requena was not the only person murdered by Trujillo's men outside of the Dominican Republic. Howard Wiarda documented, "The long tentacles of the Trujillo regime covered most of Cent ral America, the Caribbean, and the United States and reached out to include Domini can exiles, other Latin Amer ican, opponents, and United States citizens. Mauricio Baez, a pr ominent Dominican labor leader who was forced into exile, disappeared' in Havana in 1950. Andres Requena, novelist and editor of an anti-Trujillo newspaper, was sh ot in New York in 1951. Eduardo Col—n y Piris, a Puerto Rican youth who has spoken disrespectfully of Trujillo while touring the Dominican Republic, vanished and was never heard from again. Charles R. Barnes, and Episcopalian clergyman, was found dead in the Dominican Republic after smuggling accounts of the 1937 Haitian massacre out of the country Jesœs de Gal’ndez disappeared from New York in 1956 an d the suicide of a pilot who worked for Trujillo" (58). 136

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Rewriting this part of history pr oved to be challenging for the au thor. In interview with Tulio Demicheli Vargas Llosa states th at this book, "es uno de los que m‡ s me ha costado escribir en mi vida [. .]". Writing to Correct a Wrong: AndrŽs Requena AndrŽs Requena differs from the previous Dominican authors analyzed in this study, in that he is not well known in his own country. Requena wrote three novels; Los enemigos de la tierra (1936), Camino de fuego (1941) and Cementerio sin cruces He also authored: Romancero heroico del general’simo (1937), a book of essays titled Un palad’n de la democracia: el general’simo Trujillo Molina (1938), and a book of poetry titled Romance de Puerto Trujillo (1940). Requena was not an author by profession. At the time of his death, the New York Times notes that he had been working as a tailor ("50 Attend Funeral of Trujillo Enemy"). Like many Dominicans, Requena had been a supporter of Trujillo and had held several political positions within his regime. After his appointment to the Dominican embassy in Chile, Requena became disenfranchised with the Trujillo regime. He resigned his post and fled to Cuba and then to the United States. In 1944, he joined the U.S. Army and served for two years. It is during this time that he becomes a U.S. citizen. Like JosŽ Mart’, who founded the newspaper title Patria (1892), Requena also founded the newspaper title Patria (1946) in New York City. Both newspapers advocated freedom for the founders' respective ho meland: the first Cuba's independence from Spain, the latter the Dominican Republic's freedom from tyranny. Requena's Patria is harshly critical of Trujillo and serves as a pr elude to the novel Cementerio sin cruces (1949) published in Mexico just 3 years after the newspaper's f ounding. The novel offers an inside view into 137

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Trujillo's regime and is a harsh critique of Trujillo. This criticism would lead to his death on the October 2, 1952 in New York City. 30 Very little has been published about Requena. Furthermore, some of what has been published contains erroneous information. For exam ple in the introduction to the 2001 edition of Cementerio sin cruces Di—genes CŽspedes writes that Requena was killed in March of 1952 (11). Official reports indicate that he was murdered in October. Furthermore, Requena was born in 1908, not 1922 as CŽspedes mentions (12). He is not alone in his c onfusion. Bernardo Vega in Almoina, Gal’ndez (2001) mentions that Requena was kille d, "en septiembre de 1952" (62-3). It is worth noting that Requena is absent from Joaqu’n Balaguer's Historia de la literatura dominicana published in 1955 while Trujillo was aliv e. However, Requena does appear in Balaguer's memoir titled Memorias de un cortesano (1988) and published more than 20 years after the death of the tyrant. The author desc ribes Requena as a "novelis ta y pol’tico" (445). He also lists the titles of Requena's works and th e date, but not the cause, of his untimely death (445). Prior to the 2001 edition of Cementerio sin cruces published by the Comisi—n Permanente de la Feria del Libro in Santo Domingo, th e novel was not easily found in the Dominican Republic. CŽspedes explains "[h]oy entregamos a los lectores quienes duele nuestra literatura, esta obra que s—lo figura de nombre en las hist orias literarias, sin que el grueso de los dominicanos y dominicanas la haya n le’do" (15). The lit erary critic Giovanni Di Pietro mentions that it took him some time to find a copy of the 1949 edition of Cementerio sin cruces published in Mexico. In an essay dated 1999 he expl ains, "[t]odav’a hoy, despuŽs de 35 a–os del 30 The author was shot to death at 10 p.m. in the doorway of an apartment building in lower Manhattlan. 138

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ajusticiamiento del tirano, parece que se la consid era para as’ decirlo una novela non grata'" (161). Dictators and Cowards According to Di Pietro, the 1949 edition include s a "Nota del autor" which is absent from the 2001 edition published in Santo Domingo. 31 He quotes Requena who explains his reasons for writing the novel. He tells his reader that wi thin him, "late el coraz—n de un hombre que se equivoc— y que despuŽs, con el sacrifico del ex ilio, trat— desesperadamente de enmendar su error" (166). Requena feels that his support of Trujillo was a mistake and Cementerio sin cruces is his way of absolving the guilt he feels for ha ving support the tyrant. He further believes that continued support of the tyrant would be cowardly and explains to reader: Mas pienso que, equivocarse con la excusa de tal inexperiencia, puede acaso ser perdonable, pero continuar apoyando a tal s‡trap a, cuando se conocen sus reales haza–as', y los a–os y la raz—n nos hacen imperativo de un examen de conciencia, es algo que no tiene nombre por lo cobarde y servil. (167) He describes Trujillo's supporters as cowards, describing one of Trujillo's generals as, "tan cobarde como corpulento [. .]" (191). In a ddition to the author's note, Requena mentions cowardice in the dedication of Cementerio sin cruces where he writes: A la juventud que en el interi or del pa’s despert— la conciencia popular con sus actos de heroico civismo en 1946-19477, y que hoy, con desacostumbrado valor y antes que claudicar se gana la vida vendiendo carb—n y ,<>, frente a la aterrada admiraci—n de una sociedad acobardada . (180) 32 The author dedicates the book to Dominicans, who much like himself, are brave enough to stand up to the dictator. Vargas Llos a also mentions cowardice in an interview with the Spanish newspaper, El Pa’s When asked if people suffering from tyranny are, in some way, responsible 31 As of the time of this writing, I have been unable to obtain a copy of the 1949 edition. 32 Camino de fuego and Cementerio sin cruces were published together in the same edition. The first page of Cementerio sin cruces is page 173. 139

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for their situation he responds "Creo que s’. Con escasas excepciones hay siempre una responsabilidad en los pueblos que por ingenuidad, confusi—n y a veces cobard’a, aceptan las dictaduras" ("Desarrollo integr o del foro con Vargas Llosa".) In other words, Dominican's acceptance of Trujillo whether through action or inact ion, to a certain extent, allows them to be held responsible for his regime. This idea comple tely overlooks the fact that Trujillo was in power with the support of the Unite d States. As Requena explains: Y lo peor de todo era que sus labios ten’an que permanecer cerrados porque protestar era considerado como un acto de violencia contra los intereses forasteros, de los cuales la tiran’a era armado vigilante que defend’a a sa ngre y fuego de las pretensiones de los exasperados esclavos nativos. (224) Furthermore, many Dominicans be lieved that removing Trujillo from power would result in another U.S. invasion. 33 Requena's willingness to speak out against the dictator, knowing it may cost him his life, reveals both his bravery and his unwillingness to show support, by any means, for Trujillo. Unable to accept the conditions under which Dominicans are living a nd feeling guilty for his participation in Trujillo's regime Requena in Cementerio sin cruces provides testimony in hopes that will precipitate cha nge. He notes in the text: Ahora, sin embargo, la fortaleza era el mejo r s’mbolo de la forma terrible en que se ejecutaban las persecuciones pol’ticas. Detr‡s de sus gruesos barrotes, y frente al mar Caribe sobre cuyas olas creci — la ni–ez del continente nuevo, sufr’an hombres y mujeres indignidades en que a veces la muerte mism a era deseada como una liberaci—n. Y lo mejor ser’a ir a ver y a o’r las quejas de esas gentes, por cuya suer te parece que el mundo est‡ ciego y sordo! (309) This need to expose the truth behind the Trujillo regime was more important to him than his own life. Requena was undoubtedly aware that Cementerio sin cruces could cost him his life and that Trujillo was unlikely to forgive such an act of defiance, especially from someone who had 33 History would prove Dominicans correct. In 1965, the United States, fearful of another Cuba, invaded the country and placed Trujillo's figurehead president Balaguer in power. (Skidmore and Smith) 140

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previously supported his regime. He also knew of Trujillo's ability and wi llingness to kill in the United States. In the same novel that cost him his life, he mentions the murder of Sergio Bencosme by Trujillo's men in New York City ( 221). He also notes "[e]n otras ocasiones, la mano del tirano persigui— sin piedad a exilados en diversas partes del mundo, asesinando a sus enemigos [. .]" (222). In the final pages of the narrative a government official warns a family leaving the country. He tells them ". .Y, sin rodeos, les advirti— que, donde quiera que se encontrase, deb’an abstenerse de hablar mal del gobierno, porque el brazo de Trujillo tenia medios para llegar a todas partes' ." (378) Although Requena understands the danger he is placing himself in, he believes that "alguien deb’a arriesgarse para tratar de cambiar el curso siniestro de la suerte dominicana [. .]" ( 319). In addition to pl acing himself in danger Requena's family was also placed in jeopardy. He explains, "A las familias de los lideres en el exilio se les maltrataba si sal’an a la calle, y bis bienes eran confiscados y campos y fincas incendiadas y destruidas" (356). Requena's Cry for Help: Cementerio sin cruces Cementerio sin cruces recreates a recently lived ev ent and describes horrors and humiliations suffered by Dominicans during the firs t 19 years of Trujillo's dictatorship. He dedicates the novel to Dominicans who have lost their lives fighting against the dictator. The narrative consists of two parts, with only a few months separating the each. The first part begins with the funeral Rafael Moreno, a poet, who after being falsely accused of insulting an Archbishop, was shot to death by Trujillo's henchmen. Requena describes Moreno's death, "Le dieron como cinco balazos, a quemarropa, mientr as el pobre muchacho iba paseando con un libro debajo del brazo ." (194). The violent death st ands in stark contrast to Moreno's personality. The description of his death also illustrates the complete absen ce of a judicial system and the spineless methods used by Trujillo's police force. 141

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In response to the unjust and cowardly killing of the poet, Dominicans are defiant. Usually people did not attend the funerals of Trujillo's victims for fear of being associated with anyone who was an enemy of Trujillo. As the narrator explains, "En tales casos, lo mejor era no hablar mucho del asunto, y evitar que le vieran a uno cerca del velorio" (182). However, many Dominicans bravely and disobedien tly attended the poet's funeral. One the first page of the narrative Requena writes, "Frente a la casa de madera del ancho y descuidado Callej—n Ozama, se iban congregando visitantes en nœmero desaco stumbrado para la modestia de quien hab’a sido muerto a tiros hac’a poco m‡s de cuatro horas" (181). Attendance of the wake was a rebellious act. He explains "[a]quello era ya un abierta ma nifestaci—n contra el gobi erno [. .] porque era una osad’a muy grande el manifestar cualquie r sentimiento de piedad hacia alguna de sus v’ctimas" (194-5). Requena, in beginning the no vel with an open act of defiance against the government, illustrates that the dictator does no t have total control and that Dominicans are willing to defy him. Additio nally, the printing press owned by Moreno's godfather is also falsely accused of printing anti-Truji llo propaganda. Th e text mentions: [e]l servicio secreto sabe que en este aparato est‡n saca ndo propaganda contra el gobierno, y especialmente insultos contra el mismo presid ente y su familia. Es inœtil que siga negando, porque todos ustedes est‡n embarrados .(249) Trujillo's lack of control is seen in his regime's inability to stop the anonymous letters criticizing the Archbishop from reaching him and in its inabil ity to stop anti-Trujillo pamphlets from being printed and distributed throughout th e capital. Trujillo inability to control Dominicans is also evidenced by "las declaraciones de los lideres en el exilio pasaban de boca en boca por todo el pa’s, y el gobierno nada pod’a hacer para callar a la gente" (340). While Dominicans attendance of the wake wa s courageous, Requena also describes how even brave Dominicans can be intimidated. He desc ribes, "[. .] dos comp a–eros llamados JosŽ Robles y Pepe Lira, ambos ya muy entrados en a –os, entraron al ventorillo. Ven’an p‡lidos y 142

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nerviosos. A JosŽ Robles que no era hombre cobarde, le temblaba la voz [. .]" (232). The idea is repeated again in his description of Migue l Perdomo, who "no era hom bre cobarde, pero se daba cuenta de que al correr de las horas se iba asustando como pocas veces hab’a sentido temor en su vida" (245). Even the dictator's brother Sat‡n is afraid of his brother (261). Fear on a national level can be seen in the treatment of Mo reno's family, who is also affected by the false accusation. His godfather sees a sharp drop in cust omers at his printing business. The narrator describes: M‡s tarde, la misma viuda Moreno le aconsej— que se abstuviera por un tiempo de visitarla, pues tem’a que ello pudiese perj udicarle. Pronto don Pedro se dio cuenta de que afectaba al negocio de su imprenta tal actitud suya, cuando viejos clientes le conf esaron que era debido al rumor de que Žl estaba ayudando a la madre de alguien que hab’a sido asesinado por el gobierno, el que ellos le retiraran trabajos que ya hab’an sido or denados. Porque nadie quer’a ga narse, ni indirectamente, la mala voluntad del dictador ayudando a una persona que osaba no tener en cuenta su enemistad. (197) Requena later describes that th e fear of associatio n with anti-Trujillistas the is known to Dominicans as "la lepra' (230). However, cowardice is not limited to the victims of Trujillo's regime and even the dictator is ashamed of his cowardice. Requena mentions after beating "un viejo indefenso" the dictator "se avergonz— de su cobard’a, especialmente cuando estaba en v’speras de recibir una medalla de oro que le de signaba como el <> ." (289). While perhaps not evident in Cementerio sin cruces Requena had some talent as a writer. Manuel Rueda observes that Requena: [. .] quiso ser escritor y casi lo logra. Ta lento y condiciones para la tarea no le faltaron, pero s’ preparaci—n, pudiendo decirse (si es pos ible establecer tales diferencias) que fue m‡s novelista que escritor. (132) By all accounts his best work was his first novel Los enemigos de la Tierra which tells the story of a peasant who moves to the city. Luis Alberto S‡nchez notes that: 143

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AndrŽs Requena, sobresale entre todos lo s contempor‡neos de su patria. Tanto en Los enemigos de la Tierra como en Cibao (que le’ el manuscrito, hacia 1942) Requena se muestra como un vigoroso narrador . (246) In contrast with Los enemigos de la Tierra published while Requena living in the Dominican Republic and still a supporter of Trujillo, Cementerio sin cruces was written with the sole intention exposing the abuses of the regime a nd ousting Trujillo from power. Carlos Pacheco observes: Se escribe para derrocar al ti rano, para despertar, acrecenta r y galvanizar una fuerza de oposici—n contra Žl. La novela es concebid a y utilizada como un arma pol’tica e ideol—gica y su autor resulta obviamente afectado por la violencia repr esiva del rŽgimen. (56) S‡nchez notes the text is a "[t]remendo alegato, disfrazado de novela" (432). However, Requena's talent and narrative ab ility, evident in his first novel, is absent from Cementerio sin cruces leaving his ideology exposed as seen in the following quote. Estos son pueblos pobres, y la pol’tica de aque l gran pa’s est‡ regida por hombres que est‡n sentados en tronos de oro, de petr—l eo y de acero. Nuestras naciones tienen que comenzar por respetarse ellas mismas, como, en cierto sentido, MŽxi co y la Argentina, para ser respetadas. Aqu’ tiene n voz principal los inversioni stas de los ingenios, y s—lo exigen que haya un hombre fuerte que les ga rantice s u dinero. No importa que sea u n asesino o un malhechor. La democracia la vi ve el hombre humilde del pueblo yanqui, que est‡ de nuestra parte, pero ellos no llegan a ministros de Estado Por eso es que NorteamŽrica no comprende por quŽ desconf’an ta nto de ella en dens os sectores de la AmŽrica nuestra, y siempre ser‡ as’, mientras que sus diplom‡ticos tratan de vender por el mundo la palabra democracia con el charla tanismo e insinceridad con que van sus vendedores ambulantes de casa en casa ofr eciendo utensilios de cocina. (366) Missing is the disfrazado' part mentioned by S‡nchez. In other words, the disguise needed for it to succeed as art, in this cas e a novel, is absent. Jorge Castellanos and Miguel A. Mart’nez explain: Al novelista panfletario lo mueve un prop—sito ex tra-literario: m‡s que artista se considera un combatiente, cuya obra no tiene finalidad estŽtica, sino que es un instrumento de lucha contra la tiran’a. [. .] El producto fi nal se parece m‡s a un libelo inflamado que una novela. (80) 144

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SanchŽz also notes the pamphlet quality present in the text and observes, "Amarga y fuerte, la obra de Requena tiene m‡s de panfleto que de nove la, pese a que su maestr’a en el gŽnero no permite ninguna flaqueza en el relato" (433). Re quena's strong dislike of Trujillo results in a narrative that is more propaganda than political novel. Blotner notes that the political novel "has described and interpreted human experience selectively taking the facts of existence and imposing order and form upon them in an esthetic pattern to make them meaningful" (1). The difference between literature and propaganda is the author's ability combine ideology with form. Cementerio sin cruces is missing form. Additionally, acco rding to Manuel Rueda, what is missing from Cementerio sin cruces is "la matizaci—n psicol—gica, la profundizaci—n de las ideas y la mano del escritor avezado que conoce el secr eto de las palabras y que hace que cualquier otro elemento quede supeditado a ellas" (132). When ideology becomes more important than form, literature becomes propaganda. As Raymond Gonz‡les explains, "The successful political novelist is the one who selects the appropriate style to express the content in as close a balance between form and theme as he can achieve" (110 ). Requena's inability to provide form is evidenced in the following quote that reads more like a description: Cuando se propalaba que a alguna familia le hab’a ca’do la lepra, era porque se estaba en pœblica desgracia gubernamental, y si miembros del ejŽrc ito interven’an al hacer un registro, entonces tal desgracia era total y si gnificaba abierta persecu ci—n por estar bajo la terrible sospecha de algœn crimen pol’tico. Las v’ctimas quedaban en tal caso, desamparadas de toda ayuda de familiares y amigos. Los mismos abogados no se atrev’an a inquirir siquiera por su suerte en form a tŽcnicamente judicial, porque con roda probabilidad el jurista intruso ir’a a hacerle compa–’a a la c‡rcel o a la tumba. Si la acci—n de la llamada justicia trujillista se tomaba entonces tiempo en materializar su persecuci—n en nombre de la ley, o por voluntad directa del tirano, l a lepra manten’a constantemente el aislamiento sobre la v’ctim a. En calles y plazas le era negado el saludo por los amigos m‡s ’ntimos, y su casa o negoc io, no eran visitados por cliente o persona alguna, temeroso de contagiarse en la desgracia sin remedio. (198) 145

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Ultimately Cementerio sin cruces fails to achieve this balance between form and ideology and according to Fernando Valerio Holgu’n many Dominicans consider it, "una novela fallida" (Presencia de Trujillo 161). Cementerio sin cruces : Providing testimony Despite its narrative shortcomings as a nove l, the text does succeed as a fictional testimonial. Di Pietro explains that the narrative is a: [. .] testimonio de la lucha antitrujillista. Porque, para decir verdad, la presente novela no posee casi nada que la recomendar’a en tŽrminos estrictamente novel’sticos, pues la trama, los personajes, las situac iones, el mismo texto, etc., se quedan todos cortos al respecto [. .] Donde la novela funciona, es en su denuncia de lo que Requena quer’a denunciar con ella, o sea, la dictadur a de Trujillo. (162-4) Furthermore, Requena's shortcomings in narrativ e ability do not negate it s content or message. As Carlos Esteban Deive notes, "Requena no es un narrador de altos vuelos, pero escribe bien y, sobre todo, importa a los lectores domi nicanos por lo que cuenta" (10). Cementerio sin cruces is much more than a simple cri ticism of Trujillo; it is a call for justice as seen in the dedication of the text. The author dedicates his work "[a] los miles de dominicanos asesinados por Trujillo, y cuyas muer tes tiene que ser cobradas, inexorablemente". Requena differs from the other Dominican author s previously studied in that the he wrote Cementerio sin cruces from a position of exile, although selfimposed, and his audience was not Dominican. Ana Gallego Ciu–as notes that the narrative was a "texto si n destino" since books criticizing Trujillo were banned from the country (45). However, Estrella Betances de Pujadas maintains that the ban did not prevent Dominicans from reading the novel as Dominicans traveling outside of the country would read the text (66). Requ ena had little need to expose Dominicans to a reality they we re experiencing and knew all too well. Thus, the novel written for non-Dominicans or Dominicans liv ing in exile, was a plea to th e international community for help. However, it is not a plea for himself; he was safely in the Unite d States and had already 146

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obtained U.S. citizenship. Requena's concern was for Dominicans still living in the country under conditions he believes: [. .] no tienen antecedentes en la revoluc iones criollas este largo e interminable sufrimiento de un pueblo en cuya opresi—n se han empleado los œltimos mŽtodos de aniquilamiento y opresi—n que las m‡s diab —licas tiran’as han podido inventar para perpetrarse en el poder a trav Žs de los tiempos. (310) Requena's cry for help, poorly disguised as novel, would go unanswered until 1961 when a group of men who like Requena had been suppor ters of Trujillo, assassinate him. Pablo Neruda in an introducti on to La tragedia dominicana (1946), which like Cementerio sin cruces was during the Trujillo era and seeks to e xpose the horrors of the regime, writes: Todos o casi todos protegen hechos como la siniestra pandilla nazi argentina, la servidumbre de Bolivia entregada a algunos a udaces aventureros fascistas, y cuando se habla de atacar las cuevas de la tiran’a, todo se vuelve hip— crita sustentaci—n de principios que no vienen a cuento, todo se vuelve papeleo y excusas, y el rostro completo de la libertad americana continœa atravesado por esta s siniestras cicatrices. Nadie interviene. Los abrazos continœan, y las conde coraciones del muladar se oste ntan en el banquete de las naciones libres. Mientras ta nto los muertos, los martiri zados, los encarcelados, los desterrados de la Repœblica Dominicana hacen pr eguntas mortales a toda nuestra AmŽrica, y estas preguntas deben, alguna vez, ser contestadas. (vi-vii) Cementerio sin cruces highlights the hypocrisy Neruda men tions and makes it difficult to use ignorance as an excuse for inaction. An Outsider Looks In: Mario Vargas Llosa Like Requena, Vargas Llosa does not write fiction merely to en tertain the reader. He has repeatedly mentioned that literature should se rve another purpos e and believes: el efecto pol’tico m‡s visible de la literatura es el desper tar en nosotros una conciencia respecto de las deficiencias del mundo que nos rodea para satisfacer nuestras expectativas, nuestras ambiciones, nuestros deseos, y eso es pol’tico, esa es una manera de formar ciudadanos alertas y cr’ticos sobre lo que oc urre en rededor. (Literatura y pol’tica 53) Vargas Llosa also thinks ". la literatura es un manera de s uperar a los Trujillo, al horror." ( Cuando Vargas Llosa mat— al chivo [sic]"). In 1975 Vargas Llosa spent 8 months in the 147

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Dominican Republic. It is during this time that he got the idea for La Fiesta del Chivo 34 The novel, consisting of severa l interlocking stories, is largely told in the third person and from three main points of view; Urania Cabral's, Trujillo 's and the seven men who killed Trujillo. It examines the thoughts and lives of important politicians revealing their insecu rities and fears: Trujillo, the figure head presid ent Joaqu’n Balaguer, intelligen ce chief Johnny Abbes Garc’a, and each of Trujillo's killers. The narrative struct ure is complex prompting readers to often ask Vargas Llosa who is the tœ' th e narrators refer to in the text, as it is not immediately obvious. He explains it is the narrators speaking to him or herself using the pronoun "tœ" (Literatura y pol’tica 92). In other words, the reader experiences the narrator speaking to him or herself. Adding the complexity, the novel has many narrativ e voices and different narrators sometimes describe the same event. The polyphonic narrat ive challenges the monologic power of Trujillo's regime and it is in this way that the narrative is subversive of power. A dding to the complexity, the chapters are not in chronol ogical order and the na rrative moves back and forth in time. The commercial success of La Fiesta del Chivo in the Dominican Republic reveals that Dominicans are interested in r eading about the era of Trujil lo. The Dominican editorial company Editora Taller underestimated interest in the subject. The first edition of 2,000 rapidly sold out and a second edition of 20,000 was printed. The book sold quickly 12,000 copies, a "rŽcord nacional" (Manuel JimŽnez). Despite its commercial success, Dominican reaction to La Fiesta del Chivo has been mixed. Susan Nesmith notes that Antonio De la Maza's relatives were unhappy with how he was represented in the novel, believing that it would confuse younger generations who didn't live through the system that asphyxiated us.' In an effort to counter 34 The novel was adapted into a theatre production in 2004. It was also made into a movie in 2005. Luis Llosa, Mario Vargas Llosa's cousin, directed the film. 148

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Vargas Llosa's representation, the family pl aced an advertisement in the newspaper Hoy Bernardo Vega in an interview w ith Nesmith explains that: The families are not happy with the book because he treats them as humans who get drunk and cheat on their wives and ha ve human weaknesses, rather than as the heroes we read about in history books. The families of the conspirators were not the only upset Dominicans. Ram—n Font Bernard, director of the Dominican Nati onal Archive where Vargas Llosa did extensive research for the novel, describes it as a: "pa quete de chismograf’a y alcantari lla de inmundicias" (Juan Jesœs Azn‡rez ). Furthermore, when Vargas Llosa visited the Dominican Republic to promote his book he was: protegido por un cuerpo de segur idad privado, y dotaciones po liciales se estacionaron en los accesos del hotel o los lugares visitados. El temor a una agresi—n no es gratuito [. .] se dispuso la contracci—n de matones para darle tal paliz a para que no pudiera volver a escribir jam‡s'. (Azn‡rez) Carlos Francisco Elias, a literary critic, in an interview explains the negative reaction Dominicans had to the La Fiesta del Chivo "The iron curtain that we have covered ourselves with for decades has been broken" (Nesmith). Nesmith also notes "[t]his book has left many in this Caribbean nation of 8 million people feeling a little exposed, a little embarrassed." Some of the embarrassment comes from the questions La Fiesta del Chivo has generated. Azn‡rez writes: JosŽ Israel Cuello, La obra est‡ siendo le ’da masivamente por los j—venes, generando en ellos preguntas a sus padres, a sus abuelos o a sus bisabuelos; entre el las: D—nde estabas tœ?' La mayor’a estaban con el dŽspota, con el due–o absoluto del Estado quien, de grado o fuerza, comprometi— a toda una generaci—n. By providing the reader access to the char acter's thoughts, La Fiesta del Chivo attempts to answer the question, "D—nde estabas tœ?". To th is end, Vargas Llosa does not place the Trujillo era in context with other world leaders and events. Valerio Holgu’n observes: 149

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En esta novela, la dictadura de Trujillo queda totalmente ex cluida del contexto de las dictaduras latinoamericanas y del rol hegem—ni co de los Estados Unidos en cuanto a la creaci—n y sostenimiento de dichas dictaduras. (Presencia de Trujillo 212) In other words, the novel looks inward at the psychological aspects of tyranny, not outward toward the external factors, such as U. S. imperialism, that facilitated it. Re-imagining the Dominican Republic during the era of Trujillo Few dictators have ruled as ha rshly as Trujillo. According to Franklin Knight, "Trujillo completely dominated the state in every wa y, providing a modicum of social and economic reforms at the expense of human and political ri ghts" (224). The jour nalist Herbert Matthews makes a similar observation. He writes in The New York Times : Every individual, including those in the famil y, is subject to the Generalissimo's every whim. He can and does make and break men overnight, whether they are foreign ministers, army generals or hotel chefs. no one can deny that he has rule with a thoroughness unsurpassed by any other totalitarian regime. ("Dominicans Thrive at Cost of Liberty" ) The effect of living under such oppression is narrated in Cementerio sin cruces where Requena repeatedly compares the country to a prison. He describes Sant o Domingo as, "una larga madeja de celdas de un inmensa prisi—n, la que no se sabe donde comenzaba ni donde iba a terminar. ." (234). He also describes his c ountry as a "pa’s amado pero ahora convertido en una enorme prisi—n colectiva" (379). The Dominican Republic is also often compared to a concentration camp. The text states that dictat orship has converted the country into an, ". enorme campo de concentraci—n" (320). It later re iterates, "campo de concentraci—n en que Žl tiene convertida la repœblica" (353). Requena is not the only one to ma ke this observation. Pericles Franco Ornes, a well-known anti-Trujillista also makes the same comparison in his work titled La tragedia dominicana (1946), published while Trujillo was in pow er. Franco Ornes states, "La Repœblica Dominicana es una inmensa c‡rcel, un vasto campo de concentraci—n" (13). The title Cementerio sin cruces appears several times in the narrativ e. Requena writes that, "todas las 150

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ciudades dominicanas, eran un largo, ancho y desola do cementerio sin cruces. ." (308). This comparison is also made by Jesœs de Gal’ndez who in his doctoral dissertation titled La era de Trujillo (1956) describes, "En apariencia ese orde n es perfecto; pero es el orden de los cementerios" (298). Considering the oppression Dominicans were living under, it is not surprising that Cementerio sin cruces portrays a country that is, to a cert ain extent, hopeless. The feeling of resignation is evident in Requena's portrayal of Ram—n Espinosa who works in a print shop. He writes: Para Ram—n Espinosa aquel era otro d’a m‡s en su dura lucha por la vida. Se levantaba bajo el mon—tono fatalismo que era comœn en los trabajadores del pa’s. Como todos los dem‡s, Žl tenia la impresi—n de que rodaba en un c’rculo vicioso, del cual era imposible fugarse. (223) Understandably, the narrator note s that Dominicans were "aterra do por veinte a–os de feroz tiran’a" (182). During that ti me they lived in what the na rrator describes as a "podrido ambiente" (199). He also informs the reader that the years under Trujillo's rule have been "a–os terribles" (198). Adding to the sense of hopeless ness, Dominicans have come to the realization, "al pasar los a–os Trujillo parec’a estar dispuest o a seguir, a sangre y fuego, con las riendas del poder entre sus garras" (200-1). Dominicans are not only oppresse d in Cementerio sin cruces ; they are also, for the most part, poor. As Requena writes, "La vida cotidiana no es realme nte un lecho de rosas para el noventa y nueve por ciento de los habitantes de la ahora infortunada Repœblica Dominicana" (221). Food is scarce and people do not have mo ney for clothes. As the narrator describes, "Aquella vida miserable no parec’a tener fin. La ropa convertida en harapos y la comida escasa; la atenci—n mŽdica deb’an pedirla como limosna, si no ten’an para el mŽdico, que acaso estaba 151

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tan necesitado como ellos mismos ." (224). While people were strugglin g to buy food, Trujillo's wealth was growing. Osgood Hardy explains: Trujillo's enterprises and taxes helped drive up living costs, while th e general’simo's [sic] personal monopolies including salt, tobacco, em ploye [sic] insurance, rice, and peanut oil, the last two prime necessities in the life of the common people enable him to enjoy an enormous income. (414) Cementerio sin cruces documents how Trujillo became wea lthy at the expense of Dominicans mentioning, "Impuestos sobre el arroz y otros gra nos necesarios s—lo alcanzaban para hacer una comida escasa" (341). Additionally, jobs were scarce. The narrator explains the difficulty Miguel Perdomo, one of the charact ers had in finding employment, "[. .] para cada trabajo que encontr— con que en la capita l hab’a por lo menos dos hombres listos a desempe–arlo" (245). While the situation was bad for everyone, women su ffered the most. The narrator notes, "para la mujer y sobre todo para la mujer pobre la exis tencia es un verdadero infierno" (257). In addition to political oppression, women also face d machismo. Requena describes that women, "[s]i obtienen empleo, tienen que encara el prob lema del due–o mismo del trabajo, que se cree con derecho, casi siempre, a poder dormir con ella s, por el solo hecho de dejarlas ganarse unos cincuenta centavos diarios en su negocio" (257). Women in rural areas also faced an additional threat, the dictator's brother Sat‡n who, "gozab a lo que casi equival’a a un derecho pernada sobre la aterrada poblaci—n fe menina ." (260). In addition to poverty and oppression, Reque na describes the cruelty inflicted on Dominicans suspected of being against the governm ent. Several of the characters are falsely accused of printing anti-Trujillo pamphlets. The narrator describe s the almost inhuman condition in which these political prisoners were kept. He descri bes, "Ni s‡banas ni almohadas se conoc’an en las celdas en donde encerraban a los enemigos pol’ticos del rŽgimen" (307). 152

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Additionally, Trujillo's direct involvement in th e torture of prisoners is described. Requena writes, Yo creo que nos han roto todos los huesos del cuerpo. Al pobre Pepe Lira casi lo mataron a palos Trujillo viene para ac‡, ahora mismo. ƒl fue quien nos interrog— ayer Y les pegaron delante de Žl mismo? -Cuando trajeron a Arroyito, Žl le rompi— casi todos los dientes, peg‡ndole con una pistola. (274) At a later point a prisoner says, "Trujillo no pudo interrogarnos, cuando vino, porque est‡bamos medio muertos, de tantos golpes ." (275). Even more painful than the torture is the feeling of despair experienced by the former print shop wo rkers who are now prisoners. Requena writes that they felt, "totalmente desamparados, sin tener a quien recurrir. No pod’an invocar la majestad de la justicia criolla y menos aun las leye s internacionales [. .] Porque la ferocidad de Trujillo estaba por encima de toda esa hueca palabrer’a. ." (281). The Dominican Republic portrayed by Requena is a country that is poor, oppressed, fearful, and hopeless. Interes tingly Dominicans are both submissi ve and subversive. Requena writes that years of harsh political rule have c onverted "a nuestro pueblo trabajador en un reba–o de gente sumisa." (353). However, Dominicans in Cementerio sin cruces are also subversive as seen in their willingness to attend Moreno's wake. Furthermore, the narrator also explains, "la gente se escond’a para no tene r que doblegarse ante Žl, en un saludo ceremonioso y cortesano, que era obligatorio y cuya desobedi encia costaba golpes y c‡rcel" (304). He also states that, "El pueblo est‡ listo para secundar la revoluci—n, y s—lo un milagro ha de salvar al gobierno ahora" (321). However, like Trujillo's assassins, w ho expected the revoluti on to occur immediately 153

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upon Trujillo's death, Requena underestimates the Tr ujillo regime. The re volution he mentions would take years to occur. In contrast with Cementerio sin cruces where the reader learns how average Dominicans viewed their country, La Fiesta del Chivo allows the reader to see the Dominican Republic through the eyes of Trujillo. Whereas Cementerio sin cruces portrays a poor country, Trujillo in La Fiesta del Chivo believes that he has converted the count ry into "un pa’s moderno y pr—spero" (105). He also resentful because Dominicans ungr ateful and not apprecia tive of all he has done, citing as en example "la d—cil Lina Lovat—n [. .] a la a que sacrific— tambiŽn por este pa’s malagradecido" (157). He also believes that Balaguer is ungratef ul. He tells him: [n]o me diga que no sabe c—mo se consigue la paz. Con cu‡nto sacrificio y cu‡nta sangre. Agradezca que yo le permita mirar al otro la do dedicarse a lo bueno, mientras yo, Abbes, el teniente Pe–a Rivera y otro s ten’amos tranquilo al pa’s para que usted escribiera sus poemas y sus discursos. Estoy seguro que su aguda inteligencia me entiende de sobra. (304) In an internal dialogue, Trujillo desc ribes the Dominican Republic as a: [n]aci—n de malagradecidos, cobardes y traidores. Porque para sacarlo del atraso, el caos, la ignorancia y la barbarie, se hab’a tenido de sangre muchas veces. Se lo agradecer’an en el futuro estos pendejos? (97) At another point talking to himself he says th at it is a, "pa’s ingr ato, gente sin honor" (510). Trujillo sees himself as the count ry's savior and believes that w ithout him, the country would be, "el paisito africano que era cuando me lo echŽ al hombro" (154). This way of thinking is common among dictators. George Blanks ten explains, "[i]n his own view, the caudillo is an indispensable man. He normally feels that he is the only figure on the national seen who can save the country'" (500). This can also lead to the sense loneliness expressed by Trujillo in La Fiesta del Chivo He thinks to himself that if he ha d someone he could trust, "No se hubiera sentido tan solo, a veces, a la hora de tomar algunas decisiones" (97). This loneliness also contributes to his feeling of "desmoralizaci—n" (98). 154

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Trujillo in La Fiesta del Chivo clearly is unwilling to entertain the thought of leaving power. Upon hearing that his wife, fearful that his regime may end unexpectedly, has put money in a Swiss bank account, he thinks to himself: A la Prestante Dama tendr’a que re–irla es ta tarde y recordarle que Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Mollina no era Batista, ni el cerdo de PŽrez JimŽnez, ni el cucufato de Rojas Pinilla, ni siquiera el engominado general Per—n. ƒl no iba a pasar sus œltimos a–os como estadista jubilado en el extranjero. Vivir’a hast a el œltimo minuto en este pa’s que gracias Žl dej— de ser una tribu, una horda, una caricat ura, y se convirti— en Repœblica. (158) This refusal to leave power under any circumstance is also expressed in Cementerio sin cruces and is one of the reasons why Dominicans felt ho peless. Requena describes "al pasar los a–os Trujillo parec’a estar dispuest o a seguir, a sangre y fuego, con las riendas del poder entre sus garras" (200-1). Despite years of tyrannical rule Franco Ornes maintains, "A pesar del terror y de la demagogia trujillista, el pueblo no est‡ postrado ni se ha deja do enga–ar por el rŽgimen tir‡nico" (39). The defiance displayed by Domi nicans in Cementerio sin cruces and mentioned by Ornes is not evident in La Fiesta del Chivo Valerio Holgu’n notes th e absence and writes: Asimismo, no aparecen en ninguna parte de la novela referencias a los movimientos pol’ticos, focos de resistencia, invasiones, apresamientos, torturas, desapariciones y asesinatos de muchos dominicanos. A lo sumo, parecer’a que el complot de los que mataron a Trujillo se debe a œnica y exclus ivamente' a razones personales. (157) The role of women during the era of Trujillo It is well documented that Trujillo used sex as an instrument of power to humiliate and degrade his collaborators, sometimes openly sleepi ng with their wives. Cementerio sin cruces tells the story of a college profe ssor who was forced to tolerate que el dictador se acostara con su mujer mientras Žl tenia que quedarse haciŽndol e compa–’a a los oficiales que esperaban a la puerta. (204). He describes, "Su caso era tan triste que hasta los mismo compa–eros se compadec’an de la vergonzante posici—n en que el hambre sexual del tirano le puso" (204). After 155

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Trujillo slept with his wife the husband experiences "una sensaci—n de vaci—, de humillaci—n y de vergŸenza" (207). The wife returns after sp ending the night with Trujillo "p‡lida y como enferma" (209). In his memoir, Joaqu’n Balaguer describes the extent of humiliation suffered by Dominicans. He writes: Pero nadie que no haya vivido en el pa’s durante la Era de Trujillo', puede medir en su exacta dimensi—n lo que signific— moralmente para los dominicanos aquel periodo de nuestra historia. El hombre, en esa Žpoca, se rebajo hasta el punt o de convertirse en un t’tere. El sentimiento de la dignidad ciudadana desa pareci— totalmente. (103) In addition to being a means to humiliate, Trujillo also used sex to gain power. As Howard Wiarda explains, "There is, in f act, little doubt that Trujillo was driven by the urge to dominate. He uses money, wealth, people, even sex to th at end" (39). Crassweller also notes that: In the attitudes and usages which he brought to sex, however, Trujillo was entirely masculine. His huge enjoyment of it and the heroic scale on which he practiced it were quite remarkable. But there was another side, and this, while it certainly cannot be identified as the usual feminine attitude to ward sex, nevertheless is probably encountered more frequently among women than men. It is the use of sex for other purposes than sex itself, the use of it as a lever. In Trujillo's case it was employed at times as an instrument of power. (79-80) 35 Additionally Lauren Derby also obs erves in The Dictator's Seduction "Trujillo's power was based as much on the consumptions of wo men through sexual conquest as it was on the domination of enemies of state" ( 1113). Vargas Llosa notes that Trujillo's use of sex as a method for staying in power is not common to all dictatorships. He explains: ƒse es un aspecto [austeridad en materia sexual] de la dictadura latinoamericana que no se da mucho en las dictaduras, diga-mos [sic], m‡ s elaboradas. La de Hitler, por ejemplo, la del propio Mussolini, a pesar de ser italia no, no vinieron acompa–adas de es desborde frenŽtico de la sexualidad que pasa a se r un ingrediente fundamental del sistema autoritario. Eso ha ocurrido en todas las dictaduras latinoamericanas, con algunas pocas excepciones. Pero en la de Tr ujillo, s’; all’ el sexo pas— a ser un ingrediente fundamental de lo que es el sistema autoritario, de cont rol, de humillaci—n, de castigo. (Felipe Gonz‡lez 21) 35 Despite the sexist ideology, Crassweller's text is an important study of this dictator. 156

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Trujillo used sexual conquest to enhance his macho stature and his appetite for sex was well known. Requena, in Cementerio sin cruces describes the "desenfrenada hambre sexual del tirano" (202). This placed pare nts of attractive girls in a difficult situation. Derby also observes the same and writes that, "parents went to great lengths to prevent th eir daughters from being noticed by the dictator, since refu sing his attentions carried a high price and could even cost a girl's father his job" (1114). Protecting daughters from Trujillo was difficult as Ram—n Alberto Ferreras writes: Para una familia con hijas atractivas la altern ativa era intentar recluirlas, cosa dif’cil de llevar a la pr‡ctica en un territo rio reducido, o tratar de abando nar el lugar y establecerse en otra parte, lo que tambiŽn envolv’a anunciarl es. La œltima soluci—n era la de amoldarse al sistema, como hizo la mayor’a. (170) However, not all families attempted to protect their daughters from Trujillo. Valerio Holgu’n notes that, "El vasallaje de todos los dominicanos se maniFiesta principalmente a travŽs de la sexualidad: padres que le entregan a Trujillo sus esposas e hijas" (Presencia de Trujillo en la narrativa contempor‡nea 155). Ferreras also tells the story of a mother who "so–aba con que una de sus hermosas hijas fueran amante o que rida de Trujillo" (Trujillo y sus mujeres 107). Vargas Llosa also mentions that "[. .]muchos ciudadanos le llev aban a sus hijas y no era para conseguir favores, sino porque lo ten’an por un se midi—s'".(Xavier Moret) Other Dominicans, hoping to impress Trujillo, presente d him with girls, in essence prostituting them Crassweller writes, "His friends and those who sought to adva nce in his favor by this means, were always proposing females for his many beds." (79). Bala guer also explains that Trujillo was a "hombre de aparatosa vida sexual, a quien la adulaci—n o el interŽs ofrec’ an diariamente las mas variadas bellezas nœbiles [sic], en bandeja de plata, (198) The problem was that the older Trujillo got, the younger he liked the girls. Crassweller explains: 157

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Only in his final years did his taste turn strongly to very young women. Those he selected came sometimes from a relatively hi gh social level and sometimes from modest backgrounds. They were almost always virgins. (79) If the girl was resistan t, Cementerio sin cruces notes that "se presionaba a la muchacha para hacerla caer en las org’as se xuales de Trujillo" (247). Cementerio sin cruces tells the story of Mar’a del Carm en, who agrees to sleep with the dictator in exchange for her fa ther's and boyfriend's release from prison. She also negotiates with Trujillo to have her family leave the count ry. He agrees on the condition that she stay behind. The actual encounter betw een Trujillo and Mar’a del Ca rmen is not narrated. Upon hearing the news of her sacrifice, "Algunos baja ban la cabeza, avergonzados como si en vez de Mar’a del Carmen vieran en su puesto a hijas o hermanas que antes que sufrieron igual deshonor" (388). According to the narrativ e Mar’a del Carmen's sacrifice: [e]ra como un s’mbolo de la dolorosa humillaci—n del pa’s, que ten’a que seguir tolerando el oprobio de una tiran’a en la cual el cr imen estaba primero que la ley, y bayonetas y ametralladoras impon’an la voluntad absoluta de un asqueroso se–or de horca y chuchillo. (388) However, for Mar’a del Carmen the sacrifice of her body, "aquello que llamar’an deshonor de su cuerpo, era un precio peque–o, peque–’simo, compar ado con lo que obtuvo en cambio ." (381). Women in Cementerio sin cruces are stronger than men. Whil e Trujillo is beating an elderly man in the presence of other male prisone rs, Palmira, the only female prisoner is the only one who dares to come to the victim's rescue. The text states that Trujillo "en pocos se encontr— peg‡ndole as’ a un viejo indefenso, frente a una muje r que desafiaba su c—lera para atender a su v’ctima" (289). Afterward, she te lls the dictator, "Si no lo llev an pronto al hospital se muere aqu’ mismo ." (289). Trujillo responds by ordering medical care for the victim. (289). The power of women during the trujillato is also seen in the dictato r's wife, do–a Mar’a, who in many 158

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ways is similar to the tyrant. The text notes "la llamada <> ejerc’a un poder omnipotente, que ella gozaba con la siniestra impudicia del marido mismo" (191). She is described as "crue l e implacable como el marido mism o" (216). Also like Trujillo, she is "casi analfabeta" (218). Do–a Mar’a is not only openly de fiant of the dictator but she dominates him. Clearly not intimated by him, sh e publicly calls him "Chap ita" (215) in front of his advisors. Furthermore, the narrative explains that: Trujillo se prometi— a si mismo que lo prim ero que har’a, como saludo, ser’a mandarla [his wife] al infierno, para que los hombre que esta ban escuchando se dieran cuenta de que Žl era quien realmente llevaba los pantalones en la familia, en el patriarcal sentido criollo. (215) She would later, "llenarlo de insu ltos sin que el dicta dor tuviese tiempo de meter la cuna de una sola palabra entre el atropello de frases soeces que le dirig’a. ." (215). As in Cementerio sin cruces La Fiesta del Chivo also tells the story of a girl who sacrifices her body to Trujillo, only in this story the girl does not do so willingly; it is her father who sacrifices her. The novel begins and ends with Urania Cabral. Her story is interwoven with story of the dictator's assassins and Trujillo's final day. After ye ars in exile in the United States, Urania, a 49 year old Harvard gr aduate and attorney at the Worl d Bank, returns to the Dominican Republic in 1996 to visit her ailing father. Her father, Senator Agustin, had once belonged to Trujillo's inner circle. In 1961, he is inexpli cably expelled from Trujillo's inner circle. According to Urania's aunt the Senator's fall from grace, "Era lo m‡s grave que hab’a ocurrido en la familia, m‡s todav’a que el accidente en que muri— tu mam‡" (260). It had also left the Senator, "<>" (285). An article in the The New York Times helps to explain the Senator's dispair. It states, "A major fall from grace meant complete retirement from public life and real difficulty in ga ining any sort of living" ("Truj illo Wielded Absolute rule; Ran country as a Baronial Fief"). 159

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