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The day Trujillo was killed


That Tuesday on May 30th before 10 pm, shots in the distance alerted attendants to a bingo close to what is today the Center for Heroes, something was going on. In a discreet way, as was customary in Trujillo’s time, everyone picked up their things and went home.

Meanwhile, a group of young medical students were clearing their minds walking down the seafront. Government cars speeding and an ambulance behind called their attention. To satisfy their curiosity they decided to see what happened. Once reached the center for heroes, they see that the “accident” was far and they turned around and left the place because it was late.

The rumor spread fast like wildfire, the assassination of General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo was whispered at midnight in every house. Those who knew him closely did not believe what they heard. “The boss” traveled to San Cristobal on Wednesday or Thursday ... never on Tuesday. On his last day of life, nothing unusual happened: he woke at five in the morning and early in the morning he was informed about the main details of the political and social events in the Caribbean region and the country.

It is likely that while the General was making his usual morning walk, the Task Force of Conspirators (movement that sought to execute Trujillo) was secretly planning what would be its third attempt to intercept the car where the dictator traveled. There was no doubt that it would be on May 31st, because it was the information provided by Amado Garcia, a Lieutenant member of the Generalissimo Assistant Corps and one of the informants of the Conspirators.

The plans was changed during an inspection to San Isidro Air Base, Trujillo decided to go to San Cristobal that same Tuesday. Miguel Angel Baez, being at Presidential Palace, learns by chance and informs Antonio de la Maza.

This fact surprised the Task Force as three of its members were outside the capital, and Lieutenant Amado Garcia had taken the day off. Antonio de la Maza alerted the rest to quickly organize and launch the execution.

Nothing was as planned, all details carefully prepared in advance like members and time had become a wave of actions and responses on the fly. Maybe that was the secret to successfully complete the task.

About seven in the evening, seven members of the Task Force residing in the capital knew they should congregate in the avenue leading to San Cristobal. Antonio de la Maza, Salvador Estrella Sadhalá, Antonio Imbert Barrera, Amado García Guerrero, Huáscar Tejeda Roberto Pastoriza Neret andPedro Livio Cedeño were the ones who changed the political history of Dominican Republic, mainly because of fate rather than for the plan.

On the night of May 30th, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo did what he used to do: he visited his mother, went for a walk at the George Washington Avenue and also visited his daughter Angelita before traveling to San Cristobal.

The ambush was very close to a famous restaurant called El Pony, and unfortunately for the tyrannicides, General Arturo Espaillat was in place at that moment and once the gunshots were heard he inspected the area and immediately alerted authorities about what happened. In addition, Zacharias de la Cruz, Trujillo’s driver had managed to escape and confirmed the chief death.

An abandoned car and a gun were enough evidence to identify those who had perpetrated the murder. On the morning of May 31st, radio stations played merengue, people were staring into space, perhaps some felt sorrow and others sighed deep inside with some joy, but not even a word of it.

The official announcement was made in the afternoon. It was the end of an era.

Years later, Joaquín Balaguer who assumed power after Trujillo would embody in some of his memories that the afternoon of May 30th, an enigmatic expression of deep concern and a mixture of uncertainty and nostalgia could be noticed in the face of Generalissimo. This made him think about the fragility of human nature. Perhaps, it is true after all that “there is no heart deceiving its owner.”

TEXT: Geizel Torres; IMAGES: Fuente externa