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The “Cristobal Carbine”

By Jean Huon

Rafael Trujillo, president-dictator of Santo Domingo, “benefactor of the country” as he liked to call himself, had set up a national arms industry in the late 1940s. Its factory of San Cristobal was placed under the authority of Alexander Kovàcs, a Hungarian citizen. But the specific Dominican weapon of this time was the “Cristobal Carbine.”

History of La Armeria

The San Cristobal factory was the result of favourable circumstances and the result of the ambition of the leader of Santo Domingo.

During his reign (1930-1961), the General displayed various immigration policies and foreign relations. He described himself from the start as a nationalist and implemented a right-wing policy. He ignored the killing of Haitian workers in Santo Domingo in 1937.

He perceived political changes in the various Latin American countries where instability prevailed. His own country was quiet, under police control. He wished to build a modern army and also to become a commercial platform for small arms and military equipment.

He wished to develop a Latin American arms industry, with Santo Domingo being the leader.

Starting in 1938, in order to submit to President Roosevelt’s wishes presented at the Evian Conference, Trujillo allowed many political refugees to enter his country, such as Jews of Central Europe fleeing the Nazi crackdown. One year later, the Dominican Republic greeted Spanish Republicans who chose to leave Spain when Franco came to power. Later, other refugees landed in large numbers.

But integration was selective, and only women 30 years old and younger and men no more than 35 years old were to be accepted. Santo Domingo needed workers and intelligent professionals.

At this time, the country could only propose sugar for sale, which was not enough for its development and the glory of its leader.
Power needs a strong army, but in 1937 the Dominican Forces amounted to only:

3,081 men in the Army, with 2,715 rifles, 45 machineguns, 1 mortar, 19 guns, 1 tank, 50 trucks and 23 motorcycles;
10 aircraft and 31 men in the Air Force;
100 sailors with 8 small boats; and
627 policemen.
But quickly Trujillo increased manpower and bought new guns. In...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N3 (March 2018)
and was posted online on February 9, 2018

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