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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 http://www.lascasas.org

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 Pellerano Castro – Parque Rosado

Parque Alfredo Pellerano Castro – Parque Rosado

Arturo Bautista Pellerano CastroPoet Julia de Burgos

The relaxing parque Pellerano Castro also known as Parque Rosado
The relaxing parque Pellerano Castro also known as Parque Rosado

Located in a quiet part of Ciudad Colonial is the nice little Plaza Parque Pellerano Castro. It is also known by the locals as Parque Rosado / Pink Park and Parquecito De Los Poetas / Poets Park. Whatever you call it, this out of the way park is a nice place to rest relax.

Nice private benches for relaxing at Parque Rosado
Nice private benches for relaxing at Parque Rosado

The park had a make-over in the 1990s and was remodeled by the architect Manuel S. Gautier. Parque Rosdao /Pink Park, named such because it is painted a soft pink color, is a perfect place to rest in peace and quiet. There are many benches located under beautiful shade trees with hanging creepers giving this park a unique feeling. The other edges of the park have banana, avocado and mango trees. You can also see some chickens running around from time to time. If you’re lucky you may get to meet some of the local dogs who make this park their home.

The local dogs visiting the place where the bust of Pellerano Castro once stood in the park that is his namesake.
The local dogs visiting the place where the bust of Pellerano Castro once stood in the park that is his namesake.

Arturo Bautista Pellerano Castro

This quiet park is named after the poet Arturo Bautista Pellerano Castro, who was also known by the pseudonym of Byron, born in Curazao March 13, 1865 and died in Santo Domingo May 5, 1916. There once was a bust of the poet located in the park. There is a stand where the poets bust was once located with a plaque that commemorates the poet and has a few of his quotes.

The bust of Poet Julia de Burgos in Parque Rosado.
The bust of Poet Julia de Burgos in Parque Rosado.

Poet Julia de Burgos

(February 17, 1914 – July 6, 1953 (she died of pneumonia in Harlem at the age of 39))

The newest addition to the park is a bust of Julia de Burgos, created by sculpture René Alejandro Guzmán, and inaugurated February 6, 2014.

A close-up of the bust of Poet Julia de Burgos in Parque Rosado
A close-up of the bust of Poet Julia de Burgos in Parque Rosado

Burgos, a playwright, poet, journalist and activist, is considered to be the most outstanding Puerto Rican poet of the twentieth century. She hung in the circles of intellectuals like Juan Bosch and Dominican politician Juan Isidro Jiménez Grullón, who became an inspiration of many of her best poems. She was a fighter against political injustice. In 1944 she wrote two poems for the centenary of the country: “A la Ciudad Primada de Santo Domingo” and “Hymn to the Blood of Trujillo”.

More of the story of Julia de Burgos.

Plaza Pellerano Castro under the soft lights at 5AM.
Plaza Pellerano Castro under the soft lights at 5AM.

Location: Walking from the eastern end of the Conde turn right towards the sea (north) on Calle Isabel la Católica or Calle Las Damas. Walk to the end of either of these streets and you will run into the park. Located at the intersections of Calles José Gabriel García, Arzobispo Meriño, Isabel La Católica in the Colonial Zone.

Then & Now – Alcazar de Colon

Then & Now – Alcazar de Colón

The Alcazar de Colón, the Puerta de San Diego and Plaza España are all part of the historical colonial city. The Columbus Palace was in ruins until it was painstakingly renovated and opened to the public in 1957.

Alcazar de Colon y Puerta de San Diego - 1944
Alcazar de Colon y Puerta de San Diego – 1944

Then (above) – The Alcazar de Colón, Puerta de San Diego and Plaza España in 1944 before the Alcazar was renovated. Plaza España had more green areas at this time. The city at this time in the past was called Ciudad Trujillo. – National Geographic Magazine March 1944.

Now (below) – A Panoramic view of the Alcazar de Colon, Puerta de San Diego and Plaza España in the present time – August 2014.

Alcazar de Colon y Puerta de San Diego 8-2014
Alcazar de Colon y Puerta de San Diego 8-2014


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