By Melany Cabrera, North Houston Early College High School
Seven weeks have passed since I started working as an intern for the Recovering the U.S Hispanic Literary Heritage Program and Arte Público Press. I can safely and surely say that I will leave with newfound knowledge and experience. Although my internship was virtual, I did not think it was any less rigorous. I took it as a serious job and dedicated my time to doing research that will assuredly cause impact by bringing the literature of disenfranchised Hispanic/Latino authors to mass audiences.
At the beginning of my research agenda I had some troubles, but as I asked Dr. Carolina Villarroel and Dr. Lorena Gauthereau questions to clear my doubts; my troubles slowly began to cease. I wanted to be careful with how I input and handled data in the data spreadsheet I was assigned. I was also wary of the information I found online since I did not want to input false information. So, to avoid any mishaps I was careful from where and how I obtained data. When I obtained information about a person I would cross check the information with another source to be sure. If I was not sure of the information that I found, then I did not input it in the spreadsheet. Many times, the information was not directly given so I had to use context clues.
Through this research process I was able to get a sense of how journalists, writers, poets, and people from other professions were treated in the past centuries and compare it to the present. Not only was this internship a great opportunity to expand my knowledge but also to strengthen my research skills and work ethic.
While researching, I came across the writer Jesús Galíndez Suárez. I immediately became intrigued with his story when I read that he mysteriously disappeared. Galíndez Suárez was born in 1915 in Amurrio, Spain. Early in his life he was a part of the Basque Nationalist Party and a loyalist in the Spanish Civil War. He then moved to the Dominican Republic for 6 years. As he began to investigate Rafael Trujillo, a Dominican dictator–who was infamously known for being corrupt and brutal–and his government, he uncovered secrets and fled to New York in 1946 for his safety as he felt threatened. In New York he pursued a doctorate in Political Science and worked at Columbia University. Galíndez Súarez continued his investigation on Trujillo and soon published his findings in the Hemisphere’s best-known and widely circulated journals. For this reason, he became a target and enemy of Trujillo’s state. In 1956, he published his book titled The Era of Trujillo, a case study of the Spanish-American dictatorship. In the same year, just as negotiations for its publication in English had begun, Galíndez Súarez disappeared on the night of March 12.
Published investigations indicated Galíndez Súarez was drugged by Dominican agents and smuggled out of the United States illegally by a light plane piloted by also kidnapped Gerald Murphy, who also disappeared. It was in Dominican Republic where both Galíndez Súarez and Gerald Murphy were seemingly murdered: Suárez for being outspoken with regard to Rafel Trujillo’s dictatorship and Gerald Murphy for being a witness. To cover the apparent murder of Murphy, Trujillo’s men also murdered Murphy’s friend and fellow pilot, Octavio de la Maza Vásquez. The Military Intelligence Service of the Dominican Republic forged de la Maza Vásquez’s suicide note; the note insinuated that he had killed Murphy and himself to end their love affair. For some in the U.S Senate, their deaths or disappearances were clear indicators that the US government should withdraw their support of Trujillo. Trujillo’s image was further tarnished by the negative media coverage he received as the main suspect and cause of the three lost lives. Trujillo attempted to clear or lighten his image by offering large bribes to influential U.S citizens and spreading propaganda. Some may say Galíndez Súarez caused more impact when he disappeared then when he was alive, nonetheless he certainly caused an influential uproar.
I can say that Galíndez Súarez was incredibly brave for voicing out what many others surely wanted to reveal. Since the moment he began his investigation, he knowingly became a target. I can confidently say that there were many journalists and writers like Galíndez Súarez. They were conscious of the many risks their actions could have but continued in hopes of achieving reform. In current society, it is not as taboo or risky to reveal secrets or uncover what many want to keep in the shadows, especially elites, but there are still consequences. Bribery happens more often than death threats to prevent instigators from releasing information to the public but of course this depends on a country’s level of scrutiny. The more scrutiny a country has, the more secrets it covers, and the higher risks whistleblowers have vice versa.
To end this blog, I would like to thank my two supervisors who provided me with the resources to allow my research agenda. I was able to expand my skill set and get a better understanding on how databases aid research. I will take everything I learned from this internship to my next. My path towards my ideal career began with this internship and will continue moving forward until I become the successful woman I expect myself to become.
Caudillos: Dictators in Spanish America. (1995). United Kingdom: University of Oklahoma Press.
Hall, M. R. (2000). Sugar and power in the Dominican Republic : Eisenhower, Kennedy, and the Trujillos. United Kingdom: Greenwood Press.
“Jesús Galíndez Suárez.” EcuRed. https://www.ecured.cu/. Accessed 24 Aug. 2020.
Melany Cabrera is a 2020 Bank of America Summer Intern at the University of Houston’s Arte Público Press/Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage. She is a rising senior at North Houston Early College High School (NHECHS). She is interested in becoming a lawyer to help underrepresented communities. She applied to this internship to gain work experience for her future career path.
The Bank of America internship program is a partnership between SERJobs and Bank of America to provide summer work experience for young professionals aged 16-24 who live in Houston. Arte Público Press is among several of the nonprofit organizations that have hosted summer interns.