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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 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 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. 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 inaugurated in 1982.

Stairs inside the Monument dedicated to Frey Anton de Montecinos
Stairs inside the Monument dedicated to Frey Anton de Montecinos

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. That plan is finally being worked on and is being constructed now. 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. 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.

Japanese Immigration Monument

Monumento a la Inmigración Agrícola Japonesa en la República Dominicana. / Monument to the Japanese Agricultural Immigration in the Dominican Republic.

Monumento a la Inmigración Agrícola Japonesa en la República Dominicana. / Monument to the Japanese Agricultural Immigration in the Dominican Republic.
Monumento a la Inmigración Agrícola Japonesa en la República Dominicana. / Monument to the Japanese Agricultural Immigration in the Dominican Republic.

The Japanese Agricultural Immigration Monument symbolizes the arrival of the first families that came to the Dominican Republic from Japan. These persons came to this country at the end of the Second World War because of an immigration agreement between the Dominican Republic and the Japanese Governments. The Japanese immigrants came to the Dominican Republic with the dream of building a new life for themselves and their families through agriculture and working the earth.

Japanese Agricultural Immigration Monument symbolizes the arrival of the first families that came to the Dominican Republic from Japan
Japanese Agricultural Immigration Monument symbolizes the arrival of the first families that came to the Dominican Republic from Japan

The monument, located in the Plaza Inmigración Agrícola Japonesa, is the work of Japanese artist Hokuyu Narahara and the dream of Mr. Toru Takegama who is a representative for the Japanese immigrants.

Japanese Agricultural Immigration Plaza and Monument
Japanese Agricultural Immigration Plaza and Monument

The inscription on the monument reads:

“Hecho histórico del inicio de la inmigración agrícola japonesa en la República Dominicana desde el año 1956, por canje de notas diplomáticas entre los Gobiernos de la República Dominicana y del Japón, deseando la eterna confraternidad entre ambos países.
29 de julio de 2012 Comité Gestor del Monumento a la Inmigración”

Commemorating the Historical start of Japanese agricultural immigration in the Dominican Republic since the year 1956, by an exchange of notes between the Governments of the Dominican Republic and Japan, desiring eternal brotherhood between the two countries.
July 29, 2012, Managing Committee of the Monument to the Immigration.

Fuerte San Jose and the Japanese Agricultural Immigration Monument
Fuerte San Jose and the Japanese Agricultural Immigration Monument

Location:

From Calle El Conde walk towards the sea on Calle 19 de Marzo or Meriño to the Malecon. It is located at the Fuerte San Jose in front of the monument Fray Anton de Montesino. Avenida George Washington (Paseo Presidente Billini – Malecon) and Jose Gabriel Garcia, Ciudad Colonial.

The Mirabal Sisters Home Museum

La Casa Museo Hermanas Mirabal / The Mirabal Sisters House Museum

The Hermanas Mirabal Museum is located in the second home of the Mirabal family in Conuco, Hermanas Mirabal (Salcedo). It is such a beautiful way to remember the 3 sisters who gave their life for the country they loved and the fourth sister who worked to preserve their memories.

The Mirabal Sisters House Museum | Location | Plazoleta Hermanas Mirabal and Ecoparque de la Paz | El Obelisco Macho | The story of the Sisters known as the Mariposas

The Entrance to the Hermanas Mirabal Museo - Mirabal Sisters Museum
The Entrance to the Hermanas Mirabal Museo – Mirabal Sisters Museum
Hermanas Mirabal Museo - Mirabal Sisters Museum Garden
Hermanas Mirabal Museo – Mirabal Sisters Museum Garden
The gardens of the Hermanas Mirabal Museo - Mirabal Sisters Museum
The gardens of the Hermanas Mirabal Museo – Mirabal Sisters Museum

The Mirabal Museum is Dedés way to maintain the memory of her 3 sisters before she passed in 2014. Dedé (Bélgica Adela) Mirabal-Reyes used to greet many of the visitors to the museum personally. She is so missed but her family is carrying on the museum and the tradition. Sharing with the world the wonderful stories of the Mirabal Sisters.

The library of the Hermanas Mirabal Museo - Mirabal Sisters Museum
The library of the Hermanas Mirabal Museo – Mirabal Sisters Museum

The grounds are immaculately kept. I love the butterflies, representing their secret group called
Las Mariposas, displayed throughout the grounds. It is a beautiful garden and so tranquil.

Museums Displays

Here are displays of much of the family’s personal effects. Included in the collection is María Teresa’s embroidery and Patria’s teacup collection. In each of the girls rooms are many of their personal items, handkerchiefs, their sewing machines and each of their favorite dresses. I enjoyed seeing the kitchens they had, both indoor and outdoor with many of the original utensils used during that time.

Hermanas Mirabal Museo - Mirabal Sisters Museum Basketball Team
Hermanas Mirabal Museo – Mirabal Sisters Museum Basketball Team
Hermanas Mirabal Museo - Mirabal Sisters Museum Documents
Hermanas Mirabal Museo – Mirabal Sisters Museum Documents

The most powerful items in the collection are the artifacts of the sisters’ murder: the shoes, handbags, and papers, as well as the long braid of hair which Dedé cut from María Teresa’s head in the morgue. The blood stained handkerchief that came from the murder scene is heartbreaking. When I saw this it brought tears to my eyes as it is a very moving and touching display.

Hermanas Mirabal Museo - Mirabal Sisters Museum  Personal Items
Hermanas Mirabal Museo – Mirabal Sisters Museum Personal Items

Located on the property is also a library, bookstore, and souvenir shop.

Location

The Mirabal Sisters Museum/ Museo de las Hermanas Mirabal
Open for Guided tours Tuesday through Saturday. No pictures are permitted to be taken inside the museum.
Contact: 809- 577-2704
Directions: Km 1, Carretera Salcedo Tenares, Conuco, Hermanas Mirabal (Salcedo), Dominican Republic

Hermanas Mirabal Museo - Mirabal Sisters Museum  The Four Graves
Hermanas Mirabal Museo – Mirabal Sisters Museum The Four Graves

November 25

On November 25, 2000 (the fortieth anniversary of the Mirabal sisters’ assassination) the remains of the sisters were moved to the grave site on the museum grounds. Here the three sisters are buried together along with Manolo, Minerva’s husband. Dedé is buried in the original family vault, where years before the remains of his three sisters and Manolo Tavarez rested, located at Cementerio Viejo, Ojo de Agua.

The United Nations General Assembly designated November 25, the day the sisters were killed, as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The original home of the Hermanas Mirabal-   orchids and the entrance to the gardens as you enter the grounds.
The original home of the Hermanas Mirabal- orchids and the entrance to the gardens as you enter the grounds.
The original home of the Hermanas Mirabal -  The side of the main house where Dede lived
The original home of the Hermanas Mirabal – The side of the main house where Dede lived
The original home of the Hermanas Mirabal -The calm patio at the back of the home.
The original home of the Hermanas Mirabal -The calm patio at the back of the home.

The Original Home

The original Mirabal home is still located close to the museum in Ojo de Auga. Here the surviving sister, DeDé lived until her death on February 1, 2014. The gardens are beautiful and so well kept. It is a working farm where they grow orchids and Cacao.

The original home of the Hermanas Mirabal - The outdoor kitchen
The original home of the Hermanas Mirabal – The outdoor kitchen
The original home of the Hermanas Mirabal - area used for cleaning and processing the raw Cacao
The original home of the Hermanas Mirabal – area used for cleaning and processing the raw Cacao
The original home of the Hermanas Mirabal - The drying area for the cacao
The original home of the Hermanas Mirabal – The drying area for the cacao

Plazoleta Hermanas Mirabal and Ecoparque de la Paz/ Peace Ecopark and Plazoleta Hermanas Mirabal

Plazoleta Hermanas Mirabal located in Ojo de Auga
Plazoleta Hermanas Mirabal located in Ojo de Auga
Plazoleta Hermanas Mirabal - Mirabal Sisters butterfly monument
Plazoleta Hermanas Mirabal – Mirabal Sisters butterfly monument

In the park across the street from the original home in Ojo de Auga, Salcedo, where the sister DeDe lived is a small park called Plazoleta Hermanas Mirabal. Here is a unique monument that represents 3 butterflies. You can also see the chassis of the jeep from which the ladies took their fateful ride. There is damage to both the front and rear of the vehicle because of the staged crash.

Plazoleta Hermanas Mirabal - The chassis of their vehicle
Plazoleta Hermanas Mirabal – The chassis of their vehicle
Plazoleta Hermanas Mirabal - Mirabal Sisters butterfly monument and baseball field
Plazoleta Hermanas Mirabal – Mirabal Sisters butterfly monument and baseball field

The Park Ecoparque de la Paz/ Peace Ecopark dedicated to the Mirabal sisters is a few feet across the street and down the road from the family home. Funding for this beautiful park is provided by the Fundación Hermanas Mirabal. The organization was originally chaired by Bélgica Mirabal (DeDé) now her son Jaime David Mirabal and Minú Tavarez Mirabal oversee the family history. The park has three paths representing the three sisters who died.

Hermanas Mirabal Ecoparque La Paz - Peace Park, Ojo de Auga.
Hermanas Mirabal Ecoparque La Paz – Peace Park, Ojo de Auga.

The park was designed by architects Michelle de la Cruz, Paloma Hernández y Oliver Guillén. It is a beautiful monument to these 3 patriotic ladies and their sister who remembered them with such grace and love. Thank you to the Mirabal family and all who keep these memories so beautifully.

The Obelisco Macho, located on the Malecon is Santo Domingo, was dedicated in 1997 to the Hermanas Mirabal
The Obelisco Macho, located on the Malecon is Santo Domingo, was dedicated in 1997 to the Hermanas Mirabal

El Obelisco Macho del Malecón / The Male Obelisk on the Malecon in Santo Domingo.

The 137 foot tall Obelisk that Trujillo had built was to bring honor and recognition to himself. Now it honors the women he had brutally murdered, the 3 Mirabal Sisters.

The Obelisco Macho, located on the Malecon is Santo Domingo, was dedicated in 1997 to the Hermanas Mirabal "A Song to Liberty." by Elsa Nuñez. to honor the Mirabal sisters.
The Obelisco Macho, located on the Malecon is Santo Domingo, was dedicated in 1997 to the Hermanas Mirabal “A Song to Liberty.” by Elsa Nuñez. to honor the Mirabal sisters.
The Obelisco Macho, located on the Malecon is Santo Domingo, was dedicated in 1997 to the Hermanas Mirabal
The Obelisco Macho, located on the Malecon is Santo Domingo, was dedicated in 1997 to the Hermanas Mirabal

The obelisk was painted with “A Song to Liberty” by Elsa Nuñez. It was converted to honor the Mirabal sisters, painted with the three women Trujillo had murdered. It was unveiled on March 8, 1997 in honor of International Women’s Day.

The Obelisco seen in the distance from the Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo
The Obelisco seen in the distance from the Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo