This famous quote was uttered by Cordell Hull
, United States Secretary of State
from 1933-1944. Hull was referring to Dominican Republic
dictator Rafael Molino Trujillo
. Hull was also a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
in 1945 for his work in originating the United Nations
The quotation is in line with the United States' foreign policy during the Cold War. Trujillo -- and many other Banana Republic dictators -- was oppressive, brutal, corrupt and greedy. The people they ruled generally lived wretched lives in abject poverty -- while the dictator, his family, and cronies had wealth beyond reason. But as long as US business interests were untouched and communism kept at bay, the US placed little pressure on these tyrants to reform. Often these regimes received economic and military aid from the US.
Many would say that,"He may be a son-of-a-bitch, but he is our son-of-a-bitch," is still a major consideration behind US foreign policy decisions.
adamk points out, correctly, that the origin of this quotation may be considered murky. Some would attribute it to FDR and the subject Anastasio Somoza of Nicaragua. Others would have Trujillo as the subject, but JFK as the author.
Two Trujillo biographies, Robert Crassweller's Trujillo: The Life and Times of a Caribbean Dictator
(1966) and Bernard Diederich's The Death of the Goat
(1978), mention the remark. Both attribute it to Cordell Hull.