Thursday, March 30, 2006

Feast of the Goat

On April 10, 2006, The Feast of the Goat finally opens in the Dominican Republic. For those that don't know, The Feast of the Goat is a novel written by Mario Vargas Llosa. Mr. Llosa is a prolific writer from Peru, who was even a candidate for President. This novel is about the the dictatorship of Trujillo, who ruled the Dominican Republic with an iron fist from 1930 until his assassination in 1961.

The movie was shot in English and stars Isabella Rosselini. Dominican Today has a review of the movie, click here. Look for the movie if it comes to your town, or better yet, you can pick up the book.

Here are some other interesting articles relating to the DR:
President of the DR has successful trip to England
New flights to Santo Domingo from Puerto Rico
DR's most wanted fugitive is caught
First Dominican-born man appointed judge in Florida
Sexual Freedom removed from civil statute in DR
Caribbean Electronic Music Festival/Dominican Republic

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

That sexual freedom article:

"…But back to the homophobia. What’s really puzzling to me is that the Attorney General (Rodolfo Espiñeira) also said: "I believe we still aren't sufficiently civilized for legislation of that nature.”

In case you’re saying to yourself “surely this gringa has misinterpreted”… he actually said: "Creo que todavía no estamos tan civilizados para una legislación de esta naturaleza". See for yourself (if you read español)."

Good grief, as if the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing (yes, yes, a lot of us are right handed). But it does show that the DR is no different than other places. I guess it makes sex a little bit more naughty, eh Catholic boy?

Nena said...

My best friend (who passed away in 1990)very young, handsome, sexy str8 man who was the dictator's Trujillo's nephew was the best friend I ever had. We met when I was in undergrad college, Hunter college through a mutual girlfriend(yes I first had a big crush on his sexy handsome self)but soon became the BEST OF FRIENDS. The stories, pictures and money(DR MONEY SAID "PESO PARA SU VOTA"-DOLLAR FOR YOUR VOTE, that he showed me was sooooo interesting. There was very lil the family was allowed to leave the DR with when they fled to Puerto Rico and florida when Trujillo was overthrown.
I've looked for his mother a few times while on vacation in Sto Domingo but no luck (not sure if she's still living).
I miss my best friend Ralphie "alex" so so much!

Anonymous said...

According to the book, the family DID get to take money out of the country after Trujillo was killed.
All told the figure was around 54 million dollars. And that was in 1961/62.

Nena said...

well, my best friend's mother(who was the not a Trujillo)worked two jobs all her life, raised her sons...cleaning offices,two of the sons were dade country police officers/detectives. That part of the family worked hard and long and lived modestly in the USA.

Anonymous said...

this is the stuff i like to see anthony. keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Vargas Llosa's novel makes for excellent reading. It's about a Dominican woman who wants to find out something that happened to her in her childhood during the Trujillo era. As you read, you get totally involved in its plot and want to find out more and more about who did what to whom! I hope the translated English version and movie are as good as the original.
From Puerto Rico,
Rafael

Anonymous said...

GLAD TO SEE YOU'RE BACK AT SOME GREAT BLOGING.. THIS IS SUCH A GREAT READ WHEN YOU LEAVE THE CAT IN THE BAG[SMILE]

John K said...

I haven't read this particular Vargas Llosa novel, but some of his others are excellent (like The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter. One thing I always recall when I hear his name is that when he ran for the presidency of Peru, against Alberto Fujimori, who eventually won, he was the right-wing candidate, and made a number of extremely racist comments about the indigenous people of that country. Alberto Manguel even wrote a brilliant essay that contrasts the profound empathy and ambivalence of Vargas Llosa's work, which is one of its greatest achievements, with the overtly racist cast of his mind as a public politician. It's ironic, then, that he wrote a novel about Trujillo. On a different point, is the actor who's playing Trujillo of mixed race? Wasn't this one of the other ironies of Trujillo? He had African ancestry but wore face powder to lighten his skin and presided over the slaughter of the Haitians and dark-skinned Dominicans in 1937...the effects of his ideology, whose origins lie in the colonial period, continue to resonate there today, don't they?

Anonymous said...

Actually, the novel is not about Trujillo per se. The protagonist's and Trujillo's paths happen to cross at some time during the novel. And yes, it was said that Trujillo came from Haitian ancestry. This led him to use powder to make himself look of a lighter skin tone. The slaughter of over 3,000 Haitians at the Rio Masacre which divides the two countries was also an intent to separate himself from this rumor.
From Puerto Rico,
Rafael

John K said...

Anthony, thanks for posting on this movie. Rafael, thanks for the clarification. I was going off the original post and review with regard to Trujillo. Actually, between 20,000 and 35,000 Haitians and dark-skinned Dominicans are believed to have been slaughtered by Trujillo in 1937. The Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat wrote an excellent book about this, called The Farming of Bones. BTW, did you see the film version of Julia Álvarez's novel, In the Time of Butterflies, about the Mirabal sisters? I still haven't seen it but intend to.

Nena said...

That movie was very good. Wish my best friend was still alive to give me some of his personal insight on his family.
The movie was so sad but very strong in content.

Anonymous said...

The movie version of the book TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES starred and, I believe, was produced by Selma Hayek. It was alright but not great. The book, as is most times the case, was much better. I had a problem with the "white" actors protraying the sisters. In actuallity, the sisters were mulatto's. Aristocratic yes, but of mixed blood.

Monaga said...

Some really great comments. As always, thanks to John and Rafael for enlightening me to things I didn't know.

Anonymous said...

This is a great topic. Can anyone enlighten me on the role the US played when Johnson sent in the Marines back in the '60s?

Living in Canada at the time, I remember vague references in the news about the 'imperialistic" US marines landing in Santo Domingo after Trujillo was assasinated on the steps of some building.

What I'm particularly interested in is how the Dominicans accepted the "occupation," and what they think now.

Last summer, I asked a new Dominican friend about what his countrymen thought about Trujillo. Aside from saying he was a "bad" man, he didn't want to elaborate. Is there still some fear or other-caused reluctance about this subject for the the Dominicans who still reside there?

George

Anonymous said...

Trujillo was intercepted and killed on the road to San Cristobal where he had a villa not on the steps of some building.

Anonymous said...

About the American intervention in Santo Domingo, it goes something like this:
1. Trujillo is killed in May 1961.
2. Juan Bosch is elected president in Decmber 1962.
3. Juan Bosch is taken out of power by a military coup in 1963. He leaves in exile to Puerto Rico.
4. A triumvirate takes power in the Dominican Republic, but soon they are at each other's throats and civil war ensues.
5. John Kennedy is killed in November 1964.
6. Johnson, "avoiding a 2nd Cuba" sends troops to stop the fighting in Santo Domingo and "protect US citizens" in 1965.
7. Sponsored by the US, there are elections held in DR. Bosch and Joaquin Balaguer (who was Trujillo's right-hand man)are the candidates for presidency. Balaguer wins with 57% of the vote in 1966.
8. Most Dominicans of that era hate the US for having invaded their country and will never forgive them.
Of course, there is much more to it than that, but it would be too long to write here. And yes, some older Dominicans are still reluctant about critizicing any present government too loudly for fear of some type of retribution.
From Puerto Rico,
Rafael
From Puerto Rico,
Rafael

John K said...

Thanks for the breakdown, Rafael!

I actually wrote a little about the invasion last summer after I got back from DR. A number of Dominicans protested the US invasion, which was the second time the US had invaded the country. These Dominican patriots were led by Col. Francisco Caamaño Deñó, who was a leader of the Constitutionalistas, the anti-Trujillo forces. They ousted the pro-Balaguer Triumvirate that had overthrown Balaguer, and then held off the rest of the Dominican military until the US (aided by Brazil) invaded. He then subsequently and briefly became the president before yielding to the head of the Chamber of Deputies; Caamaño's goal was to restore Bosch to the presidency he'd legitimately won in 1963.

Caamaño's office was on El Conde, which was the center of the "Constitutional Sector," if you can believe that! But eventually the US ousted the Constitutionalistas, seized control all of Santo Domingo, and forced UN and OAS-approved elections (sound familiar?), which led to (right-wing) Joaquin Balaguer's election. (Balaguer, by the way, had been a functionary of Trujillo AND the choice of the Triumvirate who overthrew Trujillo.)

Caamaño eventually went into exile in Britain but was later captured and murdered when he attempted a coup in 1973. If you walk down Av. Bolívar in Gazcue, you can actually see a mural of Che Guevara and Caamaño on the side of one of the buildings. I had seen his face on something else in the DR, and took a picture of it, but then I had to figure out who he was. He's one of the major heroes of the Dominican left.

John K said...

Oops, that should say, the pro-Balaguer Triumvirate that had overthrown TRUJILLO's government!

Here's a question: are there any recent Dominican novels that deal directly with the overthrow of Trujillo and the immediate aftermath?