In the years of 1494 and 1495 Cristóbal Columbus carried out military campaigns to force the Taínos (the original native inhabitants of the island) to be put under the rule of the Catholic Kings and to serve the Spaniards. The Taínos caught at this time were forced to work in the gold mines and wherever else their labors were needed. During the time of Columbus hey were treated as less than human, as if they were property instead of human beings. Even though Corona had declared in 1501 that the Taínos were free and that should not be mistreated, nobody never listened or obeyed him. The Indians were considered below animals and without souls. The Spanish continued to use and abuse the original inhabitants of the island. Nicholas de Ovando, the abusive governor of the island in 1503, told the queen that if he did not use the Indians to work for them in the mines the island would become depopulated and all the business therein would be lost. Since the Kings were more interested in obtaining gold to fund the expenses in Europe, the abuse of the Indians was made legal by Corona. He continued to give the Indians to the Spaniards to work the mines and the farms, to be slaves. In turn for this legalization the Spaniards only had to teach the Tainos about the
The stone and bronze statue found on the Malecon of Santo Domingo in the Colonial Zone can be seen looming in the horizon at the entrance to the Ozama River. It was designed by Mexican sculptor Antonio Castellanos is almost 15 feet (15 meters) tall. It was donated to the Dominican people by the Mexican government when Lopez Portillo was president of Mexico. It was inaugurated in 1982.
The sculpture rests on the upper deck or the monument (pictured here +click image to enlarge) built of limestone and concrete designed by architect Pedro Ramírez Vásquez. The monument measures another 15 meters tall making the entire structure 30 meters or almost 100 feet tall. The original idea was that the structure would house a cultural center, which never happened. The Marines guard the monument. The view from the top of the structure shows the entrance to Rio Ozama and the caribbean Sea. You can also see much of the Colonial City.
It is located on Paseo President Billini where it changes to Avenida George Washington, next to the Port of Santo Domingo.
Fray Anton de Montesino (1475 - 1540)
Fray Antón Montesino, some references say Montecinos and also Antonio Montesino.
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Monument dedicated to Fray Antón Montesino as seen from Fortaleza San Jose, Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo
Catholic ways. The permission was given the 20 of December of 1503. Thus began the "Sistema de las Encomiendas en la Española (the system of Economics of Spain). This was the start of the true abuse of the Indians.
These Indians who managed to live after serving in the mines or fields for 1 year of forced labor were desperate. Many committed mass suicides. Many of the children died and like wise their mothers. In 1508 when a census of Indians was taken there were only 60.000 left of the original 400.000 that were counted when Columbus came onto the island for the first time only sixteen years before. This hurt the Spanish and their gold mining so they decided to bring in the Indians of the Lucayas Islands to restock their supply of laborers. But in time, because of the cruel treatment and the insatiable thirst for gold of King Fernando, these indigenous peoples also died off.
Then along came the Friars to the settlement.Montecinos who was ordained in 1509, joined the first group of Dominican missionaries in 1510 who were heading to the "New World". This was the state Fray Antón de Montesino found upon his and the Dominican order or Friars arrival on the island La Española. They saw first hand the treatment and the life of shortage and forced work of the Indians. Immediately they started a fight in favor of these victims to give them rights equal to those of the Spaniards.
"I am the voice of Christ who cries out in the desert of this island. This voice says all are in mortal sin and live and die in it, for the cruelty and tyranny you use on these innocent people. Say what right and justice do you keep in such cruel and horrible servitude these Indians?" These words were part of the sermon given by Fray Antón de Montesinos on the first Sunday of Advent, the 30 of November of 1511, in the presence of Sir Diego Columbus in the Iglesia de los Padres Dominicos. It was based on the Gospel of Saint Matthew 3:3. All the top officials and authority figures were present. In a full speech of admonition with all sins described in detail, the titled sermon "Ego Vox Clamantis in deserto", was signed by all the friars of the order. They demanded of the Spaniards to give rights and justice to the Taínos, condemning the oppression against them. The scandal was enormous. All were astonished by the boldness of Fray Antón de Montesinos. (The Sermón de Antonio de Montesinos.)
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Part of the sermon inside the monument dedicated to Fray Antón Montesino.
Fray Pedro de Córdoba, head of the order, promised that Montesinos would make a full retraction in his next sermon, which of course did not happen. When arriving the second Sunday from Advent, the 7 of December, Montesinos continued his attack on these atrocities in yet harsher words. In 1512 he returned to Spain and was sent to court. After great difficulties Montesinos managed to see the King and to explain the situation to him. The King held a town meeting, composed by theologians and jurists, to discuss and make a judgment on the case. Montesinos fought and won. The Government dictated the results in the Laws of Towns, regulating the work of the Indians but still forcing them to work as before. The Spaniards and Montesinos continued to fight because these laws did not resolve the situation. Finally the Government of Cisneros Cardinal created "el Gobierno de los Gerónimos" to mediate between both parties and to create laws in favor of the natives. The laws were not applied and the plans of el Gobierno de los Gerónimos failed.
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Monument dedicated to Fray Antón Montesino
A Reenactment video of the Sermón de Montesinos en La Española video
Montesino died in Venezuela on June 27, 1540 without ever seeing his dream of equality come to pass. He became the author of the first official reclamation of freedom and equality of the people of America. The exact circumstances of the death of Fray Antón Montesino, the Defender of Los Indios, is unknown.
Interesting bits of information:
*The speech of Montecino influenced Bartolomé de Las Casas to get rid of his Native slaves and start fighting for their rights.
*There is a Fray Antón de Montecinos Award from the Alumni Association of the University of Santo Domingo in New York City. This award is given annually to a Dominican professional who lives in the United States. This person must substantially enhance the reputation of the Dominican Republic through their work. The award includes a $5,000 cash prize and a replica of a statue of Montesinos.
*The Friar and martyr returned to Hispaniola and continued to work there and in Puerto Rico. In 1521 he founded, along with other Dominicans, a convent in the town of San Juan Bautista de la Isleta, the basis of the first university in Puerto Rico founded in 1532.
*In 1528, Montesinos went to Venezuela with a mission along with other Dominicans