Dominican Republic commemorates arrival of Spanish refugees

July 2, 2010

The first group of Spanish refugees arrives in the DR. Photo courtesy of Público.

Seventy years ago, Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, the ruthless dictator of the Dominican Republic, welcomed the first group of Spanish Republican refugees, initiating one of the most contradictory and tragic episodes of the postwar Spanish diaspora–an event on whose  commemoration in the DR Público reports today. Trujillo’s generosity toward the thousands of Spaniards fleeing Franco and a war-torn Europe had little to do with political solidarity: he was bent on improving his international standing and thought the Spaniards could help him “whiten” the island’s population. Trujillo didn’t hesitate, however, to silence any sign of political criticism among the newcomers. Among others, his regime assassinated José Almoina and Jesús de Galíndez, a brilliant Basque intellectual whom Trujillo had kidnapped in New York, brought to the island, and killed. (The episode is the basis for Manuel Vázquez Montalbán’s novel Galíndez.) More here