Trujillo Antes De Dios Analysis

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Trujillo Antes De Dios
Author’s Note: From 1930 to 1961, the Dominican Republic suffered under the regime of Rafael Trujillo, arguably the harshest US-backed dictator Latin America ever saw. As a military dictator, Trujillo was known for his violence, obsession with order, and racism to the extremes of genocide, instilling fear in the hearts of all his subjects. This story reflects two typical days in the subject’s life. At his request, the subject’s name has been changed.

Rafael Ocaña wakes, as he always does, at dawn. He climbs carefully from his bed, desperate not to disturb his baby sister, sleeping only inches away from him. Trails his feet along the concrete floors, careful not to drag hard enough to tear skin, and stumbles blindly
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He only has one uniform—white button-down, blue shorts, white socks, black shoes, navy tie—and they’re the nicest clothes he owns, kept shiny and clean because they can’t afford another. With small, deft fingers, Rafa ties the tie and then braves a look in the mirror.
He allows himself a once over each day, after he’s fully cleaned and dressed. The skin of his ears is peeling with sun exposure, the type of skin that’s a couple shades too dark to ever socially advance. Nunca será un dominicano verdadero. There are deep purple smudges under his eyes, and he’s not tall enough or heavy enough, not compared to some of the other boys at school. The richer boys.
His father’s looming figure joins him in the mirror, a silent reminder that Rafa has work to do. Rafa glances once more, swipes a hand over his hair, and follows his father out of the bathroom.
At the kitchen table, his mother eats in silence, but when Rafa enters the room, she brightens, standing to kiss him on the forehead and hand him a Styrofoam cup of rice and beans. “Buen día, mijo. Show those gringos what you are made of,” she whispers, aware that the baby is still sleeping a few feet
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If they pretend, the loudest sounds are the baby’s breathing from the other room—she’s got a cold—and the clink of forks against plates. If they don’t pretend, they can hear the whimpers and screams of men being beaten within inches of their lives in the police station next door. They always pretend.
Finally, Papá sets his fork to the side. “Cómo fue escuela?”
“Muy bien. I made the highest grade on the history report. And my teacher thinks I’m smart. Ella me quiere más que nadie. ¿Qué has oído de mis primos?”
Rafa has three cousins who have disappeared since he was born. One was sent away to boarding school, but they have not seen him since. One forgot to mention Trujillo in a speech on el Día de la Independencia. One was found listening to a Radio Havana.
Suddenly, Papá is very interested in the label of his beer and Mamá is eating ever-so-slightly less daintily than before. Papá grunts a nonsensical response and the family lapses back into silence. Rafa misses his cousins. But he knows that his family’s safety relies on Trujillo, not a couple of cousins who made bad

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