Tag Archives: Dominican Republic

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.

Tsunami – Maremoto

Tsunami / Maremoto / Tidal Wave

Tsunami (tsoo-NAH-mee) is Japanese for “great harbor wave.” This wave can speed across the ocean at 500 miles (805 kilometers) an hour. When viewed in the deep waters the waves are only a few feet high. But watch out when the waves come close to shore and the more shallow waters. These little waves swell with energy and grow in height. Usually a second wave follows the first in about 15 minutes followed by others. These can last up to 2 hours or more.
There are Tsunamis in Dominican Republic. Many have been recorded in history.

Tsunami / Maremoto
Significant Tsunamis in DR | Districto Nacional Flood Zone | Official Warnings and Alerts | Warning Signs | Survival | Links to Tsunami Related Web Sites

A view of the Caribbean Sea and Santo Domingo in the distance.
A view of the Caribbean Sea and Santo Domingo in the distance.

Significant Tsunamis in DR

There have been 10 significant documented tsunamis in the Caribbean since 1492. Not only can an earthquake cause a tsunami but also landslides and volcanic eruptions can trigger a giant wave.

Tsunamis in DR:

*October 11, 1918 – Small tsunami on the coast of Punta Cana killing a person.

*August 4th, 1946. This destructive tsunami was triggered by a magnitude 8.1 earthquake in the Dominican Republic. It killed about 1,800 people in the Caribbean. The natural phenomenon had waves over 10 meters high causing extensive damage to the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic, according to contemporary reports in some low places the sea came up to 1500 meters inland. Reports say that the town of Matanzas was destroyed and an estimated 500 deaths occurred in that town alone. They say that one could walk underneath the pier in Puerta Plata, in the northern part of Republica Dominicana, because the retreat of the sea was so great. Read an account of the August 4th disaster.

We had a real tsunami warning after the 7. Earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010. It was declared for Cuba, Bahamas and the Dominican Republic. Witnesses claimed that in the Dominican town of Pedernales the sea moved away. Shortly after the alert was made it was withdrawn.

Dominican Republic has set up mock tsunami drills in different areas throughout the country. These drills were executed very well. There are warning plans in place since an approaching tsunami cannot be felt as an earthquake can. A tsunami can sneak up on a person. The Caribbean Tsunami Information Center (CTIC) has been set up for this purpose.

Districto Nacional Flood Zone

The flood zone in the event of a tsunami can be from two kilometers from the coast or 20 meters high. An example of how far the flood Zone is in the National District, Santo Domingo that would be from the Avenida George Washington covering much of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, Gascue and the Colonial Zone.

Official Warnings and Alerts

The warnings and alerts and what each of the different warnings mean:

*Warning: Earthquake occurred. Tsunami may have been generated. Arrival times 2 hours
*Watch: Earthquake occurred. Potential resultant tsunami not measured. Arrival times 3 to 5 hours
*Info Bulletin: Earthquake occurred but not sufficient to generate a damaging tsunami
*Info Message: Earthquake occurred but not magnitude too weak to generate tsunami.

See a Map of the Caribbean with respect to the Tsunamis in the Caribbean area. Tsunami Messages for All Regions in the past 30 days. Tsunami Warning Center – Caribbean Sea.

Warning Signs

Tsunami and Tidal Wave warning signs and evacuation routes signs.
Evacuation sign in case of tsunami “tsunami” / Señal ante alerta de tsunami.

Zona de Tsunami - Tsunami Area sign
Zona de Tsunami – Tsunami Area sign
Tsunami Warning Sign - Entrando Zona De Peligro -  Entering a Dangerous Area
Tsunami Warning Sign – Entrando Zona De Peligro – Entering a Dangerous Area
Tsunami Warning Sign - Zona De Riesgo De Tsunami. En Caso De Terremoto, Vaya A Suelo Alta O Tierra Adentro - Tsunami Risk Zone. In Case of Earthquake, Go To High Ground Or Inland
Tsunami Warning Sign – Zona De Riesgo De Tsunami. En Caso De Terremoto, Vaya A Suelo Alta O Tierra Adentro – Tsunami Risk Zone. In Case of Earthquake, Go To High Ground Or Inland


The best way to survive a Tsunami is to pay attention to the warnings put out by the government.
*Abandoning your belongings and home and get to high ground FAST.
*If getting away is not an option go to a tall building, climb a tree, do whatever you can to get high.
*If all else fails find something that floats and hold on for dear life.
*Stay wherever you found refuge and wait to be sure the tsunami is really over.

*The Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Tsunami and other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (ICG/CARIBE EWS) was established in 2005 as a subsidiary body of the IOC-UNESCO with the purpose of providing efficient assistance on tsunami risk reduction to Member States in the Caribbean region after the lessons learnt from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The newly established Caribbean Tsunami Information Center (CTIC). The IOC Tsunami Programme (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Tsunami Programme) http://www.ioc-tsunami.org/ is part of UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization)

*Oficina Nacional de Meteorologia (ONAMET) in Dominican Republic

*An excellent brochure put out by The United States Geological Survey (USGS) “Surviving a Tsunami – Lessons From Chile, Hawaii, and Japan.” Actions that saved lives, and actions that cost lives, as recounted by eyewitnesses to the tsunami from the largest earthquake ever measured, the magnitude 9.5 earthquake in Chile on May 22, 1960.

*Tsunami: The Great Waves (Documents in English and French)

*The Tsunami story from NOAA

*Account of the 1942 Quake and tsunami in Dominican Republic (in Spanish) “Domingo 4 de Agosto del 1946 a las 12:55 p.m

*National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA Tsunami Information

*United States Search and Rescue Task Force. Tsunamis

*Tsunami – Tidal Wave – Santo Domingo Danger Areas (English and Spanish).

*Caribbean Tsunami Information Center CTIC and the Tsunamis and Warnings – A System for the Caribbean

Then & Now – Colmado Los Muchachos

Then & Now – Colmado Los Muchachos

A Colmado is a local convenience type store that sells just about everything one might need in small or large portions and is also a place for people to hang out, share the news and even have a drink or snack.

Colmado Piloña located in the Colonial Zone in 1941
Colmado Piloña in 1941 (Imágenes de Nuestra Historia R.D).

Colmado Piloña in years gone by and Colmado Los Muchachos now. The Colmado is located on the corner of Arzobispo Nouel and Calle Sanchez, Ciudad Trujillo, República Dominicana.

Top – Colmado Piloña in 1941

Bottom – Colmado Los Muchachos, Ciudad Colonial, Santo Domingo September 9, 2014

Colmado Los Muchachos, Ciudad Colonial, Santo Domingo September 9, 2014
Colmado Los Muchachos, Ciudad Colonial, Santo Domingo September 9, 2014