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Monday, 27 October 2014

Dominican Republic

The first time that Christopher Columbus saw part of the present Dominican Republic was on January 4, 1493 when he saw a headland that he named Monte Cristi ("Mountain of Christ"). That mountain is called now El Morro and is near the city of Monte Cristi.

When Christopher Columbus defied the commonsense of the day and sailed west instead of east to find India, he gave as one reason for doing so to take the gospel to the heathen. Clergymen accompanied him in his voyages and the first of many churches was erected at La Isabela in present day Dominican Republic in 1494.

Christopher Columbus' brother, Bartholomew, founded the city of Santo Domingo, the oldest permanent European city in the Americas in 1496.

The Dominican Republic occupies 64 per cent of the Caribbean island of Hispaniol, Haiti the other 36 per cent.

Spain quickly seized control of the island, bringing with them infectious diseases to which the native Taino people had no resistance.

Within ten years, more than 90 per cent of the native population had died and the Spanish began to import slaves from Africa.

The first university in the New World, the Universidad Santo Tomás de Aquino, was established in 1538 in what is now the Dominican Republic.

In the Dominican Republic a drink called “kill-devil” or “rumbullion” was made by the natives by the distillation from sugar cane. 16th century Colonists only drink the rough spirits (which they referred to by its shortened name “rum”) in the absence of anything better.

The Dominican Republic gained independence from Haiti on February 27, 1844. Its first Constitution was modeled after the United States Constitution.

The Dominican Republic flag was adopted on November 6, 1863. The blue on the flag stands for liberty, the white for salvation, and the red for the blood of heroes.  In the center is a shield, which contains a Bible with a small cross above it flanked by three spears. The Bible is said to be opened to the Gospel of John, chapter 8, verse 32, which reads "Y la verdad os hará libres" ("And the truth shall make you free"). The Dominican Republic is the only country to have a Bible on its national flag.

In 1869, Republican President Ulysses S. Grant tried to annex the Dominican Republic to use it as a safe haven for blacks fleeing persecution. Although the Caribbean country agreed to the annexation treaty, it ultimately failed to pass the Senate.

The first public performance of the Dominican National Anthem, "Himno Nacional,"  took place on August 17, 1883. Its music was composed by José Rufino Reyes Siancas and its lyrics were authored by Emilio Prud'Homme .Though the music was an instant success, several objections were made to the lyrics for having various historical inaccuracies. In 1897, Prud'homme submitted revised lyrics which stand to this day.

By Cheposo -Wikipedia Commons

The Dominican Republic offered to take 100,000 Jews in 1938. Only 645 made it. Everyone was given eighty acres of land, ten cows, a mule and horse.

In 1959 a group of Dominican exiles departed from Cuba and landed in the Dominican Republic with the intent of overthrowing the totalitarian government of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina. Save for four of them, all are killed and/or executed.

Civil war broke out in the Dominican Republic on April 24, 1965 when Colonel Francisco Caamaño, overthrew the triumvirate that was in power.

US soldiers push a child underneath a Jeep to protect him during a firefight in Santo Domingo 

The war was ended by U.S. military occupation and was followed by the authoritarian rule of Joaquín Balaguer, 1966–1978. 

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