Trujillo great?

There is a tendency amongst autocrats and dictators to name things after themselves. I suppose it can’t help but boost your ego to have cities, mountains, flowers and even the days of the week reflecting your personal glory.

To really appreciate the extent of dictator megalomania you could visit Stalingrad (mercifully permitted to assume the more sensible name of Volgograd in 1961). Or you could celebrate New Year in the month of Turkmenbashi (named after Turkmenistan’s Saparmurat Niyazov). Or perhaps enjoy the scent of Kimilsungia and Kimjongilia orchids (named after North Korea’s dyanamic father and son dictator duo Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-Il).

But few dictators enjoyed renaming things quite as much as General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina of the Dominican Republic. Trujillo was the leader of this Caribbean state for over 30 years, in which time he renamed the capital Ciudad Trujillo, the country’s highest mountain became Pico Trujillo and the province of San Cristobal became Trujillo.

This wasn’t the end of Trujillo’s megalomania – vehicle license plates bore the slogan İViva Trujillo! and a massive electric sign was erected above the capital so that the motto ‘Dios y Trujillo’ could be seen night and day. The religious theme was continued by a requirement for churches to post the slogan ‘Dios en cielo, Trujillo en tierra’ – God in Heaven, Trujillo on Earth.

God wasn’t with Trujillo on 30 May 1962 when his car was ambushed outside his eponymous capital. His driver reported a heroic if bombastic end for the dictator – he got out of the car to fire back at his attackers and was quickly riddled with bullets and killed. His remains were not welcome in the country he had dominated for so long. He was first interred in the Cimetière du Père Lachaise in Paris, France, and was subsequently moved to the El Pardo cemetery near Madrid, Spain.

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