Ramfis Trujillo

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For his nephew, 2016 candidate for President of the Dominican Republic, see Ramfis Domínguez-Trujillo.
Ramfis Trujillo (mid-1950s)

General Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Martínez (5 June 1929 – 27 December 1969 in Madrid, Spain), better known as Ramfis Trujillo, was the son of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina (some historians, like Jesús Galíndez, claim that he adopted him, and that Ramfis was María Martínez’s son from her previous marriage). Like his close friend (and for a time brother-in-law) Porfirio Rubirosa, he was regarded by most as a reckless and spoiled playboy, though he is also remembered for his ruthlessness and cruelty. He took control of the Dominican Republic on 30 May 1961, after his father was assassinated.

Early life[edit]

Though Ramfis’s paternity was legitimately recognized by his father, it was rumored at the time that La Españolita ("the little Spaniard"), as María de los Ángeles Martínez Alba was affectionately called before she met Trujillo (because both of her parents were from Spain[1]) conceived Ramfis with a Cuban man named Rafael Dominici, who then disappeared (some say killed). The story goes that Dominici was María Martínez’s lover before she met Trujillo, thus explaining why Ramfis’ physical features are more Caucasian than Trujillo’s who was of part African descent from his grandmother’s side. Some others say that the Cuban man was her first husband.

Jesús Galíndez in his famous book La Era de Trujillo testifies to the following:

"Ramfis", Rafael L. Trujillo Molina, Jr., the oldest son of Trujillo, was born in 1929 when his mother was married to a Cuban, who rejected him as his son. Subsequently, Trujillo recognized him as his own. While still an illegitimate child by an adulterous union and with his father still married to his second wife, (...). In 1935 Trujillo married the mother of "Ramfis", Maria Martinez Alba, and (he) became legitimized."

Ramfis Bridge, named in honor of not yet 5-year-old Ramfis Trujillo.

By the age 14, his father had made him a colonel, with equivalent pay and privileges. Some say he received this appointment aged just four and that he had become a brigadier general by the age of nine.[2]

In the early 1950s, he married his first wife, Octavia Ricart, they had six children.

In the mid-1950s, he was sent to study at the U.S. Army's Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. While there, and with Rubirosa as his liaison, Ramfis skipped class and took off for Hollywood, eventually embarking on an affair with actress Kim Novak. Ramfis became notorious for buying luxury cars, mink coats, and jewelry for beautiful girls during his stay. Ramfis's flashy gift-giving made the national news and members of the United States Congress were openly questioned by the press about what real use was being made of foreign aid given to the Dominican Republic. At one point a bumper sticker began appearing on the cars of girls in Los Angeles that read: "THIS CAR WAS NOT A GIFT FROM RAMFIS TRUJILLO".[citation needed][weasel words]

Since his attendance at the military school was erratic at best, he was denied his diploma after completion. This fact greatly infuriated, and at the same time, humiliated his father.

When he returned home, his wife Octavia filed for divorce. His unruly behavior, including gang rapes of young women and frivolously ordering murders, forced his father to send him to a sanatorium in Belgium. Ramfis apparently suffered from psychological problems, possibly the result of the pressure that his father constantly placed on him, as he intended to remake his son into an image of himself. Dominican historian Bernardo Vega has documented Ramfis's history of mental hospital stays, and Robert Crassweller also wrote about it in his Trujillo's biography. Ramfis received electroshock treatments in Belgium as early as 1958; there were also stays in mental hospitals after that.

Not long after all this, he moved to Paris to resume his socialite lifestyle. Many of these actions have most historians convinced that Ramfis never wanted to be a ruler like his father and that he just wanted to live the carefree and bon vivant life of a playboy, shunning any sort of responsibility. Lita Milan (née Iris Lia Menshell) became his second official wife during these years. She was an American of Hungarian immigrant parents, who had a short but relatively successful film career in Hollywood, most notably in The Left Handed Gun, opposite Paul Newman. Because of her black hair and dark good looks, Lita was often cast as Latino and Native American girls. They had two children.

Influential years[edit]

On 30 May 1961, his father was assassinated in a plot to end the 31-year-long dictatorial regime. He quickly returned to the country and with the help of Johnny Abbes García, the ruthless intelligence chief, brutally repressed any elements believed to be connected with his father's death, murdering many of the suspects himself. However, soon afterward, he and puppet president Joaquín Balaguer took some steps to open up the regime. Ramfis eased his father's harsh censorship of the press, and also granted some civil liberties. While these were rejected as insufficient by a people who had memories only of the Trujillo era and the decades of poverty and instability which had preceded it (for example: 1902–1905 bankruptcy, 1911 Civil War, 1914 political deadlock and threat of U.S. invasion, 1916–1922 U.S. occupation).[3] even these meager reforms were opposed by the hardliners gathered around Ramfis' uncles.[3]

Both internal and external pressures forced him into exile late in 1961, when he fled back to France, along with all of the surviving Trujillos, aboard the famed yacht Angelita (still sailing today as the cruise ship Sea Cloud), with his father's casket, which was allegedly lined with $4 million in cash, jewels and important papers.

In 1962, he settled down in Spain where he was protected by Generalisimo Francisco Franco. There he continued with his jet-set lifestyle, which included flying planes as a hobby (also one of the passions of Rubirosa).

He died on 27 December 1969, in Spain, from pneumonia, in a hospital after being severely injured in a car accident, a fate similar to Rubirosa's, 11 days earlier in the outskirts of Madrid. The person in the car he hit, Teresa Bertrán de Lis, the Duchess-consort of Alburquerque, died instantly.[2] Trujillo was initially buried in Madrid's Almudena cemetery, but his remains were subsequently moved to the El Pardo cemetery to accompany his father's remains.[4] Trujillo was driving at the time of the accident a Ferrari 330GT sports car (s/n 9151), a blue 2-door purchased in 1966. The car has sat unrestored in Spain since 1969 and finally was offered for sale in early 2013 for £50,000.[5]

Ramfis Trujillo's children and grandchildren are still alive, some of them living in Spain.


  1. ^ Edwin Rafael Espinal Hernández (21 February 2009). "Descendencias Presidenciales: Trujillo". Santo Domingo: Instituto Dominicano de Genealogía. Archived from the original on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Junot Diaz. The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Riverhead Books, New York (2007). p. 99. ISBN 978-1-59448-958-7. 
  3. ^ a b Dominican Republic
  4. ^ Castellanos, Eddy (11 April 2008). "Solitaria, en cementerio poco importante, está la tumba de Trujillo" (in Spanish). Almomento.net. Archived from the original on 14 November 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "330GT Registry". 31 March 2013. Retrieved 31 March 2013. 

References and external links[edit]