Category Archives: People In History

People in History

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.

Diego Colón (Columbus) 1480 – 1526

Francisco de Bobadilla

Francisco del Rosario Sánchez

Father Bartolomé de Las Casas

Fray Anton de Montesinos

Frey Nicolás Ovando

Las Hermanas Mirables / The Mirabal Sisters (The Hermanas Mirabal Museum, Home, Park and Monuments)

Maria Trinidad Sanchez

Sir Francis Drake (Pirate Drake, Privater Drake)

Pedro Santana

From old HTML non-responsive web site that I have not transferred yet.

Juan Pablo Duarte

Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina

Frey Bartolomé de Las Casas

Frey Father Bartolomé de Las Casas

Father – Frey Bartolomé de Las Casas was so many things to so many people. He was part of the original colonization of Santo Domingo. He fought for human rights in defense of the Indigenous peoples of Hispaniola.

Painting of Frey Bartolomé de Las Casas
Painting of Frey Bartolomé de Las Casas

Books By Las Casas

Frey Bartolomé de Las Casas was a Spanish colonist, a priest, a friar, the founder of a Utopian community and first Bishop of Chiapas. He was a scholar, historian and 16th century human rights advocate. Las Casas has been called the Father of anti-imperialism and anti-racism. Considered by some to be a saint and by others to be a fanatic and close to insanity.

Las Casas to this day is still very much an icon. He is the symbol of justice and the fight for human rights in Latin America. He led the way for many peoples fight for freedom and human rights. So, no matter what people thought of this Dominican monk, he made a great influence in the life and culture of the world.

It is interesting to note his birth and death years. 1484*-1566*. There are many different dates for the time of Las Casas birth and death. Originally it was said he was born 1474 but after some scholars did some studying they discovered he was really born much later in 1484. So now history has change and his official birth date is November 16, 1484. Las Casas died, some reports say on July 17th and others say the 18th, 1566 when he was either 81 or 82 years of age.

The statue honoring Las Casas located in the Plaza Bartolomé de Las Casas in the Ciudad Colonial
The statue honoring Las Casas located in the Plaza Bartolomé de Las Casas in the Ciudad Colonial

Las Casas was born in Spain and studied in the Cathedral school of Sevillana. He came to Hispaniola with the expedition of Nicholas de Ovando in 1502. He participated in some campaigns of conquest on the island and left for Rome in 1507. When he returned was granted an allotment of Indians by Diego Columbus.

Padre las Casas was the first to hold mass for the Indians in the Americas. A sermon of Fray Pedro of Cordova in favor of the Indians helped to unite the fight in the defense of the exploded Taino Indians. He intervened with the head of the Dominican priests to look for the solution to the problem of the indigenous peoples. As of that moment, the young priest became the lawyer of the mistreated Native race. With that aim he traveled to Spain, where he met with King Fernando the Catholic, at the end of 1515. He gained nothing with that interview.

After the Death of King Fernando, Cardinal Cisneros replaced him in the Court. Finally, with Cardinal Cisneros at the head, Bartolomé was able to form a group, administered by Spaniards and helped by monks, to aid the indigenous peoples of the island. Still, the people in charge did not want to give freedom to the Indians.

Las Casas returned to Spain, where meeting with the new Monarch Carlos V, proposed new plans to improve the life of the Indians. One of the proposals of the Father the Houses was the one to replace the indigenous population with black Africans. This proposal was accepted but it did not improve the situation of the Indian. The Indians of Hispaniola disappeared quickly, in spite of the effort of Las Casas to protect them.

When there were very few indigenous Indians left on the island Las Casas went to the newly conquered territories and continued with his defense of the natives. He was against the violent conquest of the territories and always protested against the great slaughtering carried on by the conquerors.

It is also interesting to note that Las Casas, while fighting for the rights of the Natives did not fight for the rights of the African Slaves. He did not want Indian slavery but he still used African slaves. Bartolomé de las Casas eventually came to the realization that all forms of slavery were wrong and inhumane. In The History of the Indies published in 1527 Las Casas is quoted saying “I soon repented and judged myself guilty of ignorance. I came to realize that black slavery was as unjust as Indian slavery…
and I was not sure that my ignorance and good faith would secure me in the eyes of God.”

Las Casas fought in several locations of South and Central America trying to prevent the extermination of the Indians. While in Peru he preached against the violence of Pizarro in the conquest of the Incan Empire. For this reason he was transferred and imprisoned in Santo Domingo in 1533.

Bartolomé continued his fight in 1535 when he was released from prison and continued on to Central America. In Guatemala he made an attempt of pacific conquest.

An interesting quote by Las Casas:
“The reason why the Christians have killed and destroyed such an infinite number of souls is that they have been moved by their wish for gold and their desire to enrich themselves in a very short time”

Las Casas Books

Las Casas fought for the rights of the Indians until his death in July 1566. He wrote several important works about the conquest and Spanish colonization in Las Americas. The books “Apologética” and the “Historia de Las Indias” (History of the Indians”) are the most recognized. In his will he signed over all his writings to the College of San Gregorio.

Some writings of Las Casas
*Apologetic History of the Indies
*History of the Indies
*Spanish Cruelties
*A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies
*Comprobatory Treatise on the Imperial Sovereignty and Universal Jurisdiction which the Kings of Castile Have over these Indies

A list of books by and about Frey Bartolome de las Casas on Amazon

Plaza Bartolomé de Las Casas in the Ciudad Colonial
Plaza Bartolomé de Las Casas in the Ciudad Colonial

For much more on Las Casas please go to

Plaza Frey Bartolomé de Las Casas

There is a small and beautiful plaza in the Colonial Zone honoring Las Casas. It is located on Calle Padre Billini between Hostos and Arz. Meriño.

Parque Plaza History Maria Trinidad Sanchez

Parque – Plaza Maria Trinidad Sánchez And The History Of María

This small triangle-shaped park is dedicated to the great woman patriot Maria Trinidad Sanchez. She is the Aunt of one of the Fathers of the Nation, Francisco del Rosario Sanchez. She represents the best of female leadership at the time. In this tree filled park is a bust of this brave Dominican woman with benches surrounding.

Maria and Concepción Bona created the first Dominican flag.

Parque Maria Trinidad Sánchez under the Flamboyant Tree.
Parque Maria Trinidad Sánchez under the Flamboyant Tree.

Dominican Activist

Maria was a Dominican activist who actively participated in the independence of the Dominican Republic against the Annexation to Spain. She collaborated with Los Trinitarios, who shared the idea of a free and independent republic. On February 27, 1844, at the peak of the battle, she carried gunpowder to make the gun cartridges used that night underneath her skirt.

Maria Sanchéz was very involved in the conspiracy of 1845 against General Pedro Santana who later became president. Maria and the others involved were caught and imprisoned. She was put on trial for conspiracy. When questioned about the location of her nephew, Francisco Sanchez, she refused to tell where he and the other members of the Trinitarios were hiding.

This heroic deed, among others, led to her execution. She was lead out of her prison in Fortaleza Ozama to the Cemetery where she was to be shot. As she passed by the Puerta del Conde (Parque Independencia) she exclaimed: “Dios mío, cúmplase en mí tu voluntad y sálvese la República”/ “My God, let your will be done in me and save the Republic.”

Bust of Maria Trinidad Sánchez in the park named after her.
Bust of Maria Trinidad Sánchez in the park named after her.

First Victim of Political Crimes

Maria was one of the first victims of political crimes in the history of the Republic. She was executed, along with her nephew Andrés Sánchez, because of her actions against the annexation of the country to Spain.

Maria Trinidad Sanchez was shot on February 27, 1845 on the first anniversary of the founding of the Republic. She was executed because of her dedication and love for the country and for her desire for the sovereignty of the Dominican Republic.

Maria Sanchez – Born June 16, 1794 – Died February 27, 1845. Her body is interred in the Panteón Nacional in Colonial Zone.

Plaza - Parque Maria Trinidad Sánchez, Zona Colonial.
Plaza – Parque Maria Trinidad Sánchez, Zona Colonial.


Corners of Luperon, Calle Mercedes and 19 de Marzo. From Calle el Conde turn up (north – away from the sea) on 19 de Marzo, 2 blocks on the left.

Las Hermanas Mirabal – The Mirabal Sisters

Las Hermanas Mirabal/ The Mirabal Sisters

The Hermanas Mirabal are 3 women who followed their convictions with bravery and selflessness to fight for what they believed. Fighting against the Dominican Republic dictators’ rule they felt was wrong. Three of them – Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa – gave their lives for their cause when some henchmen, following the orders of Dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, killed them savagely. The four sisters and the group they were involved in were a threat to this commanding dictator because they were involved with plotting to overthrow Trujillos’ cruel, ruthless and fascist government. The remaining sister, Dedé, preserving their memories until her death in 2014.

Patricia, Maria Teresa and Minerva Mirabal - Original Images Owned by the Mirabal Family
Patricia, Maria Teresa and Minerva Mirabal – Original Images Owned by the Mirabal Family

The story of the Sisters known as the Mariposas | Movimiento 14 de Junio/ The Movement of the Fourteenth of June | Patria Mercedes | Minerva Argentina | Maria Teresa | Dedé (Bélgica) | Video – Documental Las Mariposas: Las Hermanas Mirabal | The International Day Against Violence Towards Women | Hermanas Mirabal Museum, Original Home, Ecoparque de la Paz and The Obelisco (new page)

“What matters is the quality of a person. What someone is inside themselves ” — Maria Teresa Mirabal

Las Hermanas Mirabales / The Mirabal Sisters. Dominican women, daughters and mothers from the town Ojo de Agua in the providence of Salcedo, Dominican Republic (Note – As of Nov. 2007 the province is officially named Hermanas Mirabal). Women who fought to overthrow the dictatorship of President and Dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. Three ladies – Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa – gave their lives for their cause. The remaining sister, Dedé, lovingly preserved their memories until her death in 2014.

Trouble With Trujillo

The families’ first real run-in with Trujillo was at a party to which they were invited. Trujillo had his eye on Minerva so he had the family invited to another party. All but Chea, the mother, went as they were afraid to refuse the “request”. Trujillo was very enamored with Minerva and danced and engaged her in conversation. When she refused his advances the family abruptly left the party. This infuriated Trujillo so he had the father, Don Enrique arrested (no one was permitted to leave a party before Trujillo) and incarcerated in the Fortelaza Ozama in Ciudad Trujillo (Santo Domingo). Minerva and Doña Chea along with Minervas friends Brunilda Soñé, Enma Rodríguez, Violeta Martínez (from Moca) and Violeta Martínez (from San Francisco) were arrested the following day.

Every day Minerva was taken to the Fortaleza Ozama and interrogated by Trujillo’s men. She refused to write a letter of apology to Trujillo. Since the family was well connected, they knew the right people. They got the brother of Trujillo, with whom they were acquainted, to intercede for them and have the family members that were imprisoned released.

They were always in fear of Trujillos’ men and again were arrested a few years later. This constant fear and stress led to Don Enrique, the girls’ father, death on December 14, 1953.

In 1956 their mother, Chea, moved to a new home she had built. She felt too lonely in the old family home after the death of her husband. This home, after the mothers’ death on January 20, 1981, was converted into the Museo de las Hermanas Mirabal / Mirabal Sisters Museum.

The Mirabal girls married went to school, had children, living what appeared to be normal lives. When things just were too much to bear any longer they decided enough was enough. They had a meeting with their friends to find some way to stop Trujillo and his reign of terror over the Dominican people. The group the Mirabal sisters helped form that fought against the Trujillo regimen was known as al Movimiento 14 de Junio/ The Movement of the Fourteenth of June. The sisters were known as Las Mariposas/ The Butterflies.

Original founders and first committee of the Revolutionary Movement 14 of July/ Movimento Revolucionario 14 de Julio
Original founders and first committee of the Revolutionary Movement 14 of July/ Movimento Revolucionario 14 de Julio


Movimiento 14 de Junio/ The Movement of the Fourteenth of June

The young people of the Movimento Revolucionario de 14 de Julio held secret meetings working against the dictator. But, there was a traitor among them. Within a few weeks most all the group of young people, mostly upper middle class, had been arrested and taken into custody. At the end of that month, more than a hundred members of 14 de Julio were caught. Most of them were subject to indescribable torture at the prison “La 40” and a few were killed.

Finally, under pressure from the Catholic Church, Trujillo permitted the women to go free on parole and later some of the mens freedom followed. Many of the important leaders were kept in prison still including Manolo Tavares and Leandro Guzmán, husbands of Maria Teresa and Minerva. The dictator kept the men imprisoned hoping that it would make the ladies shut up and stop their activities, but it did not.

The End of Las Mariposas

On November 25, 1960 Trujillo decided he had enough of the sisters’ trouble making and decided it was time to get rid of them. Trujillo helped to set up a meeting between the sisters and their husbands where they were incarcerated. He sent his men to intercept the three women on their return home from their visit.

The women had an idea that something was up and hired a strong jeep and 37 year old farmer and driver, Rufino de la Cruz, to help ensure their safety to no avail. The sisters’ car was stopped around 7:30PM. They were led into a sugarcane field. Here the sisters and Rufino were mercilessly beaten and strangled to death. Then their car was taken to a mountain known as La Cumbre, between Santiago and Puerto Plata, and thrown off.

Trujillo thought he was finally free of “the problem”. What happened next was just the opposite of what he had hoped. The plan failed. The people of the Dominican Republic, along with the Catholic Church, were outraged. These ladies lives were cut short because of their convictions. Trujillo, with these actions, brought more attention to the rebellion. Instead of eliminating the people working to overthrow his dictatorship this action brought its downfall. This contributed to his assassination on May 30, 1961, only six months later. (more on Trujillo)

A 10 cent Dominican Republic stamp from 1985 to commemorate the death of the Hermanas Mirabal
A 10 cent Dominican Republic stamp from 1985 to commemorate the death of the Hermanas Mirabal


The four Mirabal sisters are the daughters of Enrique Mirabal Fernández and Mercedes “Chea” Reyes Camilo.

Patria Mercedes (the eldest sister, was born on February 27, 1924). She was leaning towards being a nun when she met and married Pedro Gonzalez. They had 4 children.

This butterfly is one of the many located throughout the gardens at the Hermanas Mirabal Museo
This butterfly is one of the many located throughout the gardens at the Hermanas Mirabal Museo

Minerva Argentina (the second sister, was born on March 12, 1926) is the one that initially got involved with the underground movement to overthrow the government. While she was away at school she found that she had friends whose families had been tortured by Trujillos men. With this, her eyes were opened. She was always a bit of a rebel and hated when someone or something was wronged.

Minerva went to University in Santo Domingo (which at that time was called Ciudad Trujillo) and was granted the right to study to become a lawyer. She did complete her studies to become a lawyer, the first woman accepted to study this profession, but she was denied the right to practice law and was never granted her diploma. She had a keen interest in politics which is what led her to meet the leader of the Popular Socialist Party and start her fight for freedom of the country. This was the perfect cause for her. She married Manolo (Manuel Tavarez) who was also anti-Trujillo activist. They had 2 children,

Maria Teresa (Maté) (the youngest sister, was born on October 15,1936) was seeing Leandro Guzmán (they had 1 child) who was also involved in the anti-Trujillo movement. They worked together for the overthrow of Trujillo’s government.

Bélgica "Dedé" Adela Mirabal
Bélgica “Dedé” Adela Mirabal

Dedé, her given name was Bélgica, she was born February 29, 1925 (her birth was filed on March 1st so this is her legal birthday). She is the second oldest of the Mirabal sisters. She is the sister that was not with the rest of the sisters on that tragic day. She was home taking care of all the children for her sisters.

Dedé dedicated her life to preserving her sisters memory. She had 3 sons of her own and she raised her sisters 6 children after their deaths. One of Dedés sons is Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal. He served as the vice-president during Leonel Fernández’s first term as president between the years of 1996 and 2000. Minou Tavárez Mirabal, Minerva’s daughter, grew up to become a congressional representative and vice foreign minister.

Bélgica Adela Mirabal Reyes, the last surviving sister, died at age 88 at 3 PM on February 1, 2014 of pulmonary fibrosis. Her family was at her side.


Video – Documental Las Mariposas: Las Hermanas Mirabal “The death of the Mirabal sisters marked the modern history of the Dominican Republic. In turn, the ideals of those who died have been an example and inspiration to the world.”

*You can watch the video on YouTube here.

The International Day Against Violence Towards Women

The International Day Against Violence Towards Women was accepted on December 1999. At the 54th session of the United Nations General Assembly was adopted Resolution 54/134. This resolution declared November 25th the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. This day was chosen because on November 25th, 1960 is when the three Mirabal sisters, Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa, from the Dominican Republic, were violently assassinated for their political activism. The sisters, known as the “Unforgettable Butterflies,” became a symbol of the crisis of violence against women in Latin America. This date was chosen to commemorate their lives and promote global recognition of gender violence and has been observed in Latin America since the 1980s. “When you mistreat a woman you stop being a man” / “Cuando maltratas a una mujer dejas de ser un hombre”

The complete story of the Mirabal Sisters in Spanish