Some of the basic, condensed history of the people that made Dominican Republic. The good and the bad. All had a hand in making our island in the Caribbean what it has become today. The Tainos called the island Quisqueya. It has also been called, Hispanola, Las Americas, La Primera, Greater Antilles, and of course as we know it now, República Dominicana/ Dominican Republic. Read on to learn about the discoverers and founders of this beautiful land.
Pedro Santana (June 29, 1801 – June 16, 1864), who also held the Spanish noble name Marquess de las Carreras, was president of The Dominican Republic. His presidency had 3 terms lasting from 1844 to 1848, from 1853 to 1856, and again from 1858 to 1861. He also held the post of Governor and Captain General of the territory until 1862. General Santana was a key figure in driving the Haitians out of the country after their 22 years occupation of the Dominican Republic (Haitian occupation February 9, 1822 to 27 February 27, 1844).
Pedro Santana y Familias was a strong military leader and dictator during his reign. He wanted Spain to annex República Dominicana, which the Trinitarians did not like. He fought, arrested and killed anyone that stood in his way. Those who fought alongside him to give the country independence from Haiti now were his enemies.
Santana was the person who had exiled Juan Pablo Duarte. He also exiled and arrested the members of La Trinitaria. He had María Trinidad Sánchez (the sister of Francisco del Rosario Sánchez), the co-creator of the Dominican flag along with Concepción Bona, captured. Santana had Maria tortured relentlessly trying to get information about the conspirators and La Trinitaria who were against him. She gave up no information and she was put to death one year after the proclamation of Independence (February 27, 1845). She was the first female martyr of the Dominican Republic.
Dead Under Mysterious Circumstances
General Pedro Santana died in Santo Domingo on July 16, 1864 while the Guerra de la Restauración / Restoration War was happening. He was called to the capital to face charges. The day after his arrival he was found dead under mysterious circumstances.
Pedro Santana y Familias, El Primero Marqués De Las Carreras, was buried in the Fortaleza Ozama next to the Torre del Homenaje. In 1978 the remains of General Pedro Santana were moved to the Panteón Nacional. The Congress of the Dominican Republic awarded him the title of “Libertador de la Nación” / “Liberator of the Nation” on July 18, 1849 for his victory in the Batalla de las Carreras.
Casa De Pedro Santana
The home of General Pedro Santana is located on Calle Hostos on the corer of Luperon is the Colonial Zone. This is the seventeenth-century building where the General died mysteriously.
The 450 square meter building is made from stone and brick masonry. Its attractive architectural style includes arcaded galleries with double arches and stone columns and a beautiful interior patio. It was completely restored in 1990 by the Oficina del Patrimonio Cultural.
The building is the home of the Casa de Italia. Here one can take a course in the Italian language and also see many different art exhibitions and other cultural events.
Calle Hostos and Luperon near the Ruins of the Hospital San Nicolás de Bari, Ciudad Colonial.
One of the Padres de la Patria / Founding Fathers
Born March 9, 1817 and died July 4, 1861
Francisco Sanchez was one of the three founding fathers of The Dominican Republic. He, including Juan Pablo Duarte, Ramón Matías Mella, are the Padres de la Patria / Founding Fathers. He is also considered by many to be the strongest of them all. Giving his life in martyrdom for his dream of a free country and for the men who fought with him.
Sanchez was the son of Narciso Sánchez and Olaya Del Rosario. He was born in San Juan de la Maguana. At the time of his birth his parents were not married. His father, Narcisco, came to Dominican Republic from Spain. All that is known of his mother is that she was “a person of color”, maybe African descent, according to the baptismal records. He taught himself Latin and French, studied philosophy and also studied with Father Gaspar Hernandez, a priest who was anti-Haitian.
During Sanchez time studying under the priest, along with many other young people, Sanchez met Juan Pablo Duarte. In 1838 he joined the Trinitarios to fight against the Haitian occupation. He was known for his hard work, determination and honesty. Because of his leadership abilities (when Duarte was later exiled to Venezuela) Sanchez took over leadership of this group. While leading the Trinitarios he always kept in touch with Duarte. Duarte had complete confidence in Sanchez.
El Manifiesto de Independencia
Sanchez helped write El Manifiesto de Independencia/ The Manifesto of Independence. On January 16, 1844 Mella sent the document to Tomás Bobadilla for corrections and additions. The group met on January 24, 1844 at night to make the final decisions about the manifesto. At this time Sanchez was promoted from the Commander of Arms to the rank of colonel (soon after he was succeeded). Attending this meeting was Francisco del Rosario Sanchez, Ramón Matías Mella, Vicente Celestino Duarte (the brother of Juan Pablo Duarte), the brothers Puello y Los de la Concha Jacinto and Tomás, Juan Alejandro Acosta Cabral, Pimentel, Manzueta, Adón and others. At the bidding of his friends and colleagues, Sanchez agreed to be the head of the Junta de Gobierno when he was only 27 years old. This group led by Francisco del Rosario Sánchez, met at the Puerta del Conde (known at this time as the Baluarte de San Genaro) and on this day, February 27, 1844, the Haitians were expelled from the country and the new Dominican Republic was founded. The new flag was raised with the logo ¡Dios, Patria y Libertad! / God, Patriotism and Liberty!
After independence was claimed Tomás Sánchez Bobadilla was named President. Duarte, who was in exile, was permitted to return home. He was met at the Puerto del Ozama by Sánchez y Mella who were so excited to see their friend again they jumped aboard the boat to greet their friend and leader of the revolution. Duarte joined the Junta de Gobierno as General de Brigada/ Brigadier General.
This new government was not long lasting (only about 6 months) as there was another revolt. Duarte who was elected president in Cibao confronted Pedro Santana who was the elected president of Santo Domingo. Duarte lost the fight and on August 22, 1844 Santana exiled all these men who were the founders of independence. Duarte was banished soon after.
On September 1848, when Santana was out of power, the new President, Manuel Jimenez, granted a general amnesty to these exiled men. First to Duarte, then to Mella and Sanchez, finally the rest of the group followed. After almost 4 years in exile Sanchez returned to the country on September 8.
When Sanchez returned he held many important positions during the governments of Jiménez, Santana y Buenaventura Báez. He was a self-taught lawyer, even teaching himself Latin and French. He was appointed to many important positions in the government. Sanchez was the prosecutor appointed to the Tribunal de Apelación de Santo Domingo/ Court of Appeals of Santo Domingo (one of his first cases was against Antonio Duvergé and Pedro Santana in which Duverge was acquitted). He was also Defensor Público/ Public Defender and a Suprema Corte de Justicia/ Supreme Court Justice. Sanchez once again had to leave the country in April 1855, returning in August 1856.
Santana again was president. He wanted annexation of Spain for the country. Sanchez rebelled against this and he was placed in prison August 1859. He was banished from the country for the third time a month later and moved to Saint Thomas.
Sanchez wanted to continue the fight for the independence of his beloved country even though he felt completely betrayed. He ended up going to Haiti with the help of the Haitian president Geffard. Geffard, under pressure from Spain, finally gave in and these Dominicans in exile had to leave his country. Soon after Geffard learned the real facts about why these men were banished and he again permitted Sanchez, along with the others, safe return to Haitian territory and offered to help the cause.
On January 20, 1861 Sanchez publishes his manifesto stating “But if the evil seek pretexts to sully my conduct, we respond with a charge saying loudly, but without boasting, that I am the Dominican flag.” “Mas, si la maledicencia buscare pretextos para mancillar mi conducta, responderéis a cualquier cargo diciendo en alta voz, aunque sin jactancia, que yo soy la bandera dominicana”.
Two days later the Junta Revolucionaria/ Revolutionary Board created the Revolución de la Regeneración Dominicana/ The Regeneration of the Dominican Revolution.
Sentenced To Death
Sanchez had returned too late. President Santana had already proclaimed Annexation to Spain on March 18 (the Spaniards were finally kicked out in 1865). On May 2, Sanchez started his invasion on the Dominican territory. Betrayed and ambushed he and his colleagues were taken prisoner and tried in an illegal court approved by Santana. Sanchez and his colleagues were sentenced to death. At the trial Sanchez asked for leniency for all his colleagues and took responsibility for all the groups’ actions.
Sanchez was shot dead on July 4, 1861 at four in the afternoon in the cemetery of San Juan de la Maguana. The two-time founder and hero of the Republic became immortal. He gave his life, a martyr, for liberty and freedom of the country.
Sanchez became the most important person of the revolt after Duarte left the Dominican Republic in exile to hide in Venezuela. He became the leader of the revolt and is considered by many to be the real patriot of the three founding fathers. He was one of the greatest heroes and men of action in the country along with Duarte, Mella, Cabral, Pimentel, Manzueta, Adón and others. During his public life he was honest, incorruptible and without blemish. He was said to have been bold, brash and also naive.
Because of their love of the country now known as República Dominicana, Duarte, Mella and Sanchez, known as the Fathers of the Country/ Padres de la Patria made this country free. Because of their blood, sweat and tears we became a free nation. They were the leaders of the people in their fight for freedom.
Hymn To Francisco del Rosario Sánchez
This hymn to Sanchez is said to be one of the most moving hymns of the Dominican Republic.
(This is a video on YouTube a school class singing the Himno.) Himno a Francisco del Rosario Sánchez
Written by: Ramón Emilio Jiménez
Music by: José de Jesús Ravelo
Sánchez glorioso, varón ilustre,
que no supiste jamás hollar,
los sacros fueron del patriotismo,
que levantaron el patrio lar.
Tú que juraste morir de hambre,
antes que siervo comer un pan,
y lo cumpliste cuando tu cuerpo,
de muerte herido cayó en San Juan.
Tú que en los labios siempre tuviste,
fiero anatema para el Traidor,
que malograra La Patria hermosa,
por la que dieras vida y honor.
Derecho tienes a que elevemos,
en tu memoria cantos de amor,
ningún soldado fue más glorioso,
nadie ha luchado con más valor.
Cuando miramos llenos de orgullo,
la patria enseña, con qué fruición,
pensamos todos que representa,
la parte roja tu corazón.
Some other interesting facts:
*Altar de la Patria in Independencia Park is a national pantheon dedicated to the nation’s heroes buried here. Juan Pablo Duarte, Francisco del Rosario Sanchez y Ramon Matias Mella are all buried here.
Fray Antón de Montesino (1475 – 1540), the Defender of Los Indios.
Fray Antón de Montesino is best known for his historic defense of the Taino Indians and other Indigenous persons of the islands of the Carribean and around the world. He courageously spoke against the abuses done to the native peoples of the island in a famous sermon made in 1511. He was one of the first persons to speak out for defending human rights starting the fight around the world.
(some references say Montecinos and also Antonio Montesino.)
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 they 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 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. in 1503 Nicholas de Ovando, the abusive governor of the island, 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 permit the Indians to be slaves for the Spaniards and to work the mines and the farms. In turn for this legalization, the Spaniards were ordered to teach the Tainos about the 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.
The Natives who managed to live after serving as slaves in the mines or fields under forced labor were desperate and lost hope. Many committed mass suicides. Many died from disease and starvation. In 1508 when a census of Indians was taken. It found that there were only 60,000 of the original 400,000 left of the natives that were counted when Columbus came onto the island for the first time only sixteen years before. The loss of the labor force hurt the Spanish and their gold mining. It was decided to bring in the Indians of the Lucayas Islands to restock their supply of laborers. In time, because of the Spaniard’s cruel treatment of the indigenous peoples and King Fernando’s insatiable thirst for gold, these indigenous peoples also died off.
The Friars arrival to the settlement started a change. 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. The Friars saw first hand the horrific treatment, the life of shortage and the forced labor of the Indians. Immediately the friars started to fight in favor of these victims to give the indigenous people 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 December 21, 1511, the 4th Sunday of Advent, in the presence of Sir Diego Columbus in the Iglesia de los Padres Dominicos. The sermon 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.)
Fray Pedro de Córdoba, head of the order, promised that Montesinos would make a full retraction in his next sermon. Of course, that did not happen. The next sermon Montesinos continued his attack on these atrocities in even harsher words.
Return To Spain
In 1512 Montecino returned to Spain and was sent to court. After great difficulties, Montesinos managed to see the King and was able to explain the terrible situation. 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 yet still forcing them to work as before. The Spaniards and Montesinos continued to fight because these laws did nothing to 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 created but never applied. The plans of el Gobierno de los Gerónimos / Government of the Jerónimos failed.
Montesino died in Venezuela on June 27, 1540. He never saw 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.
A Reenactment video of the Sermón de Montesinos en La Española video.
*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
The Plaza and Monument Frey Antón de Montecinos
The stone and bronze statue found on the Malecon of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The monument is near the harbor on the far end of the Colonial Zone. It can be seen looming in the horizon at the entrance to the Ozama River along the Caribbean Sea.
The statue was designed by Mexican sculptor Antonio Castellanos. It is almost 15 feet (4.57 meters) tall. The statue was gifted to the Dominican people by the Mexican government when Lopez Portillo was president of Mexico. The monument to Frey Antón de Montecinos was originally inaugurated in 1982.
The sculpture of Montecinos rests on the upper deck of the building built of limestone and concrete. It was designed by architect Pedro Ramírez Vásquez. The monument, including the height or the statue, measures 30 meters or almost 100 feet tall.
The original plan was for the structure to house a cultural center and this has finally been accomplished. The newly renovated Plaza Fray Anton de Montesinos was inaugurated June 26, 2019) is open to the public.
The Plaza has 5 different meeting rooms with air conditioning. The viewing space at the top of the monument is called Terraza de los Taínos where visitors can see the spectacular view of the surrounding area. The entrances have access ramps for people with disabilities. The marble stairs and floors have all been repaired and polished. There is lighting all surrounding the building.
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.
Playa Placer de los Estudios
There is a small beach beside the monument of Montecinos. The original name of this beach is Playa Placer de los Estudios. The locals call it Playa Placer or Playita Montecinos.
Part of Playa Placer is very shaded with large palms and there are also many noni trees. You can usually see baseball players practicing their running in the sand or people exercising or walking their dogs.
The beach area runs from the port of Santo Domingo to the coral cliffs that line the Malecon. There is a lot of runoff from the city of garbage and sewage. When there is any storm or hard rain it washes the trash down from the Rio Ozama and it accumulates here. It is so sad to see. It is not advisable to swim on this beach.
The monument honoring Montecino is located on Paseo President Billini where it changes to Avenida George Washington, better known as The Malecon, next to the Port of Santo Domingo on the Caribbean Sea at the mouth of Rio Ozama. Sometimes crossing the Malecon can be dangerous. Facing Montecion walk left along the Malecon and there is a pedestrian bridge at the port that crosses this busy road.
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