Tag Archives: indigenous

Montecino The Man And Monument

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.

Fray Antón de Montesino Monument
Fray Antón de Montesino Monument

Fray Antón de Montesino | Montecinos Sermon | The Plaza and Monument Frey Antón de Montecinos | Playa Placer | Location

Fray Antón de Montesino

(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 Monument of Fray Antón de Montesino
The Monument of Fray Antón de Montesino

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.

Fray Antón de Montesino spoke out for the rights of the natives
Fray Antón de Montesino spoke out for the rights of the natives

Friars Arrival

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.

A quote from Montesino speach displayed inside the monument
A quote from Montesino speach displayed inside the monument

Montecinos Sermon

“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. 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. On the second Sunday from Advent, the 7th of December, Montesinos continued his attack on these atrocities in even harsher words.

Montesino spoke out for human rights
Montesino spoke out for human rights

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 monument
Montesino monument

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.


A video of the sermon the Fray gave in Santo Domingo December 21, 1511/ Sermón de Fray Antonio Montesinos predicado en la Isla La Española el 21 de diciembre de 1511.

View of the Montecino Monument in the distance
View of the Montecino Monument in the distance

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

Monument dedicated to Frey Anton de Montecinos
Monument dedicated to Frey Anton de Montecinos

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 newly renovated Plaza Fray Anton de Montesinos (6-2019)
The newly renovated Plaza Fray Anton de Montesinos (6-2019)

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 new Plaza Fray Antonio de Montesino
The new Plaza Fray Antonio de Montesino (6-2019)

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.

The old Stairs inside the Monument dedicated to Frey Anton de Montecinos before the renovation
The old Stairs inside the Monument dedicated to Frey Anton de Montecinos before the renovation
Playa Placer de los Estudios. The locals call it Playa Placer or Playita Montecinos.
Playa Placer de los Estudios. The locals call it Playa Placer or Playita Montecinos.

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.

Playa Placer de los Estudios. The locals call it Playa Placer or Playita Montecinos.
Playa Placer de los Estudios. The locals call it Playa Placer or Playita Montecinos.

Location

View from Fuerte San Jose  Monument dedicated to Frey Anton de Montecinos
View from Fuerte San Jose Monument dedicated to Frey Anton de Montecinos

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.

Dominican Towns & Taino Words

Dominican Towns & Taino Words

Taino Language Used Today | Funny Names Of Dominican Towns Translated

Many words that originated from the Native Taino Indian Tribes are still used today. These Taino words are still in use in Dominican Republic and throughout the World.

Have you ever wondered what the names of different towns and barrios around the Dominican Republic mean? Check it out, some can be quite funny.

Taino Language Used Today

The Taino Indians were some of the original inhabitants of the island of Hispaniola. When the Spanish arrived they adopted many of the indigenous peoples’ words into their own vocabulary. Many of these words are still used throughout the world today. Just think, you may have been speaking the Taino language and you didn’t even know it.

Taino art found in the Caribbean Sea
Taino art found in the Caribbean Sea

Arepa – corn tortilla or type of cornmeal bread or cake (Arepa recipe)
Barbacoa – a platform held aloft on legs. Used for many things but widely known to be a barbecue when it was used for cooking
Bohío – straw hut
Borinquen – land of the valiant, the Taino name for Puerto Rico
Boricua – people from Borinquen (Puerto Rico)
Hamaca – hammock
Huracán – hurricane
Cana – type of palm
Caiman – type of crocodile
Cacata – tarantula
Carey – sea turtle or tortoise
Cayo – small barren island
Cazabe – Cassaba bread (more info on cassava and yuca)
Chin – a small amount
Chinchilin – blackbird
Cibao – land within mountains
Cojoba – loose tobacco
Cocuyo – firefly or lightning bug (in Dominican legend cocuyos are known as Nimitas)
Fututo – horn made with a snail or conch shell
Guacara – a cave
Guaraguao – a kind of hawk that eats small animals
Guano – type of palm
Guay – expression of pain (in Dominican Spanish they say “Guay mi Mai”)
Higuaca – type of parrot
Hupia or Juipa – a spirit or ghost of the night
Iguana – big lizard
Jaiba – small crab

A cute little Jaiba Crab
A cute little Jaiba Crab

Lambi – conch meat
Licei – brave and daring (the name of the baseball team)
Mabi – very popular fermented beverage
Macana – a policeman’s stick (known as a Garrote in Spanish)
Macuto – a basket woven with palm or cane leaves
Manati – the sacred marine animal (more information of the Sirens)
Maní – peanuts
Maraca – musical instrument
Nagua (a city in DR) – breechcloth
Quisqueya – also spelled Kiskeya (it is the name given to this island by the natives) – mother of all lands
Sabana – large valley or plain
Sapo – type of frog
Tabacu’ – Tobacco
Tureyro – sky
Yarey – type of palm

Funny Names Of Dominican Towns Translated

Names of places and towns/ barrios, cities/ cuidads, and streets/ calles in Dominican Republic and their English translations.

Many times when you try to translate a word from any language to your own the idea is lost in the translation. Some words can end up to be quite funny when you use the literal English translations. Hope you get a little laugh as I did. Maybe when you come to visit you might want to pass through the towns named “The pool of flies” or “hanging dogs”.

Ahorca los Perros – Hanging Dogs
Bajos de Haina – Haina Downs
Bocacanasta – Basket Mouth
Castañuelas – Little Castanet Town
Castillo – Castle Town
Correa y Cidrón – Belt and Big Sider
Dajabón – Give Soap
El Aguacate Adentro – The Inside Avocado
El Cachón de la Rubia – The Blondie’s Big Crab
El Hoyo de Chulín – Little Gigolo’s hole
El Peñón – The Big Rock
Elias Piña – Elias Pineapple
Enriquillo – Little Henry
Esperanza – Hope City
Francisco Villaespesa – Frank Thick Village
Jacinto de la Concha – Jason of the Shell Street
Jobo Bonito – Cute Plum
Juana Saltitopa – Jane Jump and Touch Street
La Cañada del Diablo – The Devil’s Ravine
La Descubierta – The Discovered One
La Otra Banda – The Other Side
La Piscina de Moca – The Pool of Fly
Los Guandulitos – Little Slackers
Las Matas de Farfán – Pharpham’s Trees
Los Mameyes – The Orange Colors
Los Pepines – The Pickles
Los Tres Brazos – The Three Arms
Los Tres Ojos – The Three Eyes
Luis Cambiaso – Louis Big Change
Mano Guayabo – Guava Hand
Mata Barraco – Kill Pork
Matahambre – Kill Hunger
Monte Plata – Silver Mount
Mono Mojao – Wet Monkey
Padre Las Casas – Father the Houses
Sabana de la Mar – Sea Plain

Fishermen at Sabana de la Mar
Fishermen at Sabana de la Mar

Sabana Larga – Long Plain
Sabana Perdida – Lost Plain
Sabana Yegua – Mare Plain
Tamboril – Little Drums
Valverde – Green to Go
Villas Agrícolas – Farming Village
Villa Altagracia – High Thanks Village
Villa Consuelo – Consolation Village
Villa Faro – Lighthouse Village
Villa Francisca – Frances Village
Villa Juana – Jane Village

Creatures Of Dominican Republic 1 – Nocturnal

Some of the Nocturnal Creatures of the Dominican Republic.

Creatures of the night that are usually only seen after dark.

Hispaniolan Hutia/ Capromyidae | Agouta or Juron/ Hispaniolan Solenodon | Cacata/ Tarantula

The Hispaniolan Hutia (Capromyidae)

The cute little endangered Hispaniolan Hutia (Capromyidae)
The cute little endangered Hispaniolan Hutia (Capromyidae)

This furry small mammal creature looks like a mix between a large guinea pig and a small groundhog, with some rat-like looks thrown in for good measure. They are only found on the islands of the Caribbean where they are, for the most part, the last indigenous living land mammal. Their walk is more or a waddle. When they are frightened this slow waddle can change into a fast high hop. Using this hop or their good climbing skills is how they escape their predators. The Hutia have an almost naked tail that is a little scaly. They do have claws. Mainly vegetarian, they live on roots and fruits which they eat when they come out of their burrows, hollow trees, or nesting boxes where they live, after dark. The small creature closely resembles the rabbit having the same nesting and eating habits.

The Hutia is becoming increasingly rare. They have been hunted and have not been able to repopulate as fast as they are being taken. Also with their habitat slowly diminishing they are slowly disappearing from existence. These cute fuzzy creatures have been hunted since the Taino days. Their meat was considered quite tasty by the indigenous peoples and also by Columbus and his European gang. The Hutai does well in captivity and hopefully, soon the Dominican people will start raising/farming them as a food crop. Let’s hope that we humans can protect these little furry island mammals and once again see the Hispaniolan Hutia romping and bouncing freely through the Dominican landscape.


Interesting BBC video produced as a visual anthropology experience, and part of the project The Last Survivors “Saving the Hutia and the Solenodon”.

Agouta / Hispaniolan solenodon also known as Juron or Solenodonte in Dominican Republic

Solenodon found in Dominican Republic
Solenodon found in Dominican Republic

This furry rabbit sized creature is from the genus Dasyprocta and can be found throughout the American tropics. The species found in Dominican Republic and Haiti is the Solenodon paradoxus.

This insect-eating mammal is quite similar to a mole as it feeds and moves around mostly in the darkness and at night. It has a long body, with a small or sometimes non-existent tail, and small ears. This burrowing animal weighs about 25 to 35 ounces at adulthood. Its long narrow feet have some very sharp claws. The teeth of this wiry, dark brown mammal are its most unique part. The teeth can inject venom into whatever it bites. This venom is injected through some small grooves that run down their small sharp teeth. They are the only mammals with this ability.

The Agouta is an ancient creature that survived the end of the dinosaur age. It also was one of the very few mammals that were able to live through the colonization of the islands. At one time they were about the only predators on the island. This indigenous creatures reproduction cycle is very slow. They are only able to get pregnant 1 or 2 times a year, making only a few babies in their litter each time. They are born in burrows and can remain with their mothers for several months, which is quite a long time as compared to other insect-eating creatures.

The Hispaniola or Haitian Solenodons’ numbers are dwindling rapidly. The colonizers of this island and the non-indigenous predators that include dogs and cats found this small insectivore to be quite tasty. Now with the massive deforestation happening here, especially in the east part of the island, the solenodons numbers are rapidly dwindling. This along with their inability to reproduce rapidly has made this species almost extinct placing it at #6 on the endangered species list (3/08).

The YouTube video above has information about the Hutia and the Solenodon – The Last Survivors

solenodon found in the town of Barahona, Dominican Republic
solenodon found in the town of Barahona, Dominican Republic
solenodon found in the town of Barahona, Dominican Republic
solenodon found in the town of Barahona, Dominican Republic

Pictures taken in the town of Barahona, Dominican Republic. They caught the solenodon and released it later. They said it had a very bad smell and was very mean and aggressive.

*As of April , 2008 the Dominican Zoo, Parque Zoológico Nacional Arq. Manuel Valverde Podestá República Dominicana in Santo Domingo has their first solenodon to show to the public. It was found in the El Sibao region of República Dominicana. This is one of the few in the world on display as it is so rare.

More about the Hispaniolan solenodon
The EDGE of Existence program aims to conserve the world’s most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species by implementing the research and conservation actions needed to secure their future. Check their web site to see what you can do to help. There is also more information on many endangered species of wonderful creatures of the world.

Cacata/ Tarantula

cacata - tarantula found in dominican republic
cacata – tarantula found in dominican republic

The Dominican Republic does have its share of spiders, scorpions, ticks, mites, centipedes and other nasty, ugly yet amazing creatures. They are not readily seen, especially in the cities, but in the country they can be plentiful. They are nocturnal and are rarely seen in the daylight.

I never really worried about them. They are not very aggressive. They can be frightening and they do like to crawl into houses at night. This can be a bit startling waking and seeing one of these creatures sitting on your pillow beside your head or rolling over on one in your sleep. The cacatas I saw were more anorexic than this picture but I was told by a friend that he saw one that was so huge, it was the size of a kitten, running around in a warehouse. I try and remember to check the inside of my shoes before putting them on when I am in the country.

When attacking a Cacata beware, they are crafty creatures. They jump and can play dead. When they do walk on your flesh they seem to almost stick to it. Many Dominicans that I have met think that if they do get bit by one of these hairy spiders they will surely die.

Read more about these arachnids at, Invertebrates III: Introduction to Arthropods; Arachnids. It has much information and creepy pictures of these creatures that nightmares are made of.

Continue learning about The Creatures of Dominican Republic – Page 2