by Cosme E. Perez
August 16th, 2012 marks the One Hundred Forty Ninth (149th) anniversary of the Proclamation for the Restoration of Independence for the Dominican Republic. The newly elected President, Mr. Danilo Medina Sanchez, Engineer, will also be sworn in to begin his four year long term.
The news media around the world will be covering those events by, perhaps, mentioning three different names for the island where the Dominican Republic occupies two thirds of its territory and sharing it with Haiti, which occupies the rest one third on the western part of the island. The three different names use to identify the island are: Haiti, Hispaniola (or La Española) and, Santo Domingo (or San Domingo).
The reason for this uncertainty about the name
of the island, lies on the fact that little or no attention has been paid to
the ideas and project of nation left as legacy by Juan Pablo Duarte, Father of
the Country, beginning with the oath sworn by the Trinitarians in 1838,
followed by his draft of the National Constitution in 1844; and ending with his
last message in 1861, in which he uses the new national identity for the
people. His message was the first spark that lit the fire torch for
the restoration of the republic and its independence from Spain on August 16,
1863 and reads:
-“Quisqueyans the hour has just come to end centuries of ransacking abuses; for the one who denies God and one’s country, with the blanket of death in shame should be covered. No more cross than the one on the Quisqueyan banner, that gives honor and pleasure to carry; but for the one who prefers the Hispanic, draping the casket it should be wore in the grave.”
The above message from Duarte inspired the National Anthem, too! This hymn was ordered first by President Ulises Francisco Espaillat in 1876 and then written by Emilio Prud’homme in 1882. That song, which music was composed by Jose Reyes in 1883, was the one who accompanied the remains of Juan Pablo Duarte when they were brought to the country from Caracas in 1884.
But, the word “Quisqueya” was a phantom (and still is) for the confused historians and the enemies of Duarte’s ideas, yet, the solutions for many errors and missing links to complete all the elements for the independence of the country, are hidden inside and around that term.
Let’s go back to the news media and the names they will utilize to name the island: Haiti, Hispaniola and Santo Domingo. Out of those three names only Santo Domingo should be the legal one and this is why:
First: Haiti claims that the name of the island is “Haiti” in her constitution, but even when Haiti had governed the whole island from 1822 through 1844, she never owned the complete island; therefore, Haiti had no legal rights to change the name of island, without the expressed consent of the other community sharing it.
Second: Dominican Republic claims that the name of the island is “Santo Domingo” in her constitution since 1844, maintaining the official name given by Spain in 1506, because the Spanish community holding that part of the island didn’t wanted to change their regional identity derived from the name of the island; thus, they fought against the Haitian occupation since 1838 until they achieved the separation in 1844, declaring the new republic as a Dominican Republic, in relation to the island, rejecting the idea of being a Haitian Republic. “Dominican Republic” means a republic in the island of Santo Domingo.
Third: The USA uses “Hispaniola” as the name of the island, because of that disagreement between the two countries sharing the island. “Hispaniola” or “La Española” is not acceptable by either Haiti or Dominican Republic for two obvious reasons: 1) Haitians had no Hispanic background or culture; 2) The people in the Dominican Republic are proud of their regional identity (Even though it is used as national identity by error), that relates to the name of the island of Santo Domingo; and if the name was Hispaniola (or La Española), then the title for the country would change to that of “Hispanic Republic” (or República Española), creating more confusion than ever. Besides that, Spain did not accept the name proposed by Christopher Columbus when he baptized the island as “La Española” in 1492, mainly because the natives of that island identified themselves as Spaniards (Españoles). The reasons for the rejection by Spain are explained in the book “Quisqueya, un país en el mundo”.
The USA knows that Dominican Republic is not a name, but merely the title that identifies the nation as derived from the name of the island (a country in the island of Santo Domingo). The 2010 US Census gave the so-called “Dominican” community the reason why and was never understood by our community. Similarly, United States is not the name of a country, but the title. Countries with that title have a proper name, i.e., Mexico and America.
The independence of 1844 is based on the Trinitarian Oath, basically, claimed that the name of the island was Santo Domingo and not Haiti; henceforth, the republic should be a Dominican one and not a Haitian one; and so, should also be Haiti. The Trinitarian Oath has been misinterpreted by many followers, maliciously manipulated by individuals opposing to the ideas of Juan Pablo Duarte, and, never thoroughly analyzed.
Indeed ours is a Dominican republic and the
Dominican identity is derived from the name of the island; but, that identity
should not be the national one. There are many types of identities an
individual has the right to claim, but the national identity must be unique and
different from the rest. Dominican is an identity that can and may be
claimed by other communities in the world, including the nation that shares the
island with us, Haiti. If and when Haiti agrees (and must) that the name
of the island is Santo Domingo (Saint Domingue in Patuá), she too, may legally
claim the commonly shared Dominican identity. If Dominica became a
republic, she may as well use Dominican Republic as her title.
Juan Pablo Duarte came back to the country in March of 1864 and his physical presence gave enthusiasm and motive for the people to support the already divided and almost defeated Restoration Army and generals. He came with a project to complete his initial plan for the nation: to give a proper name to the country: Dominican Republic of Quisqueya. Historians know what happened then, but forgot to analyze the historical facts surrounding his life between 1861 and 1876. He died in Caracas, Venezuela on July 15, 1876. Historians and lawmakers cannot explain why the National Anthem was written, naming the nation Quisqueya and giving to her people the national identity of Quisqueyan.
Some historians had said that the name of
Quisqueya never existed and insisting that keeping the term as part of our
identity is sending us back to pre-Colombian times; when the truth is that
forcing the people to believe that their national identity is that of Dominican
is indeed erroneous and misleading. We cannot make Haiti into accepting
that the name of the island is Santo Domingo, until we legally
(Constitutionally) name our nation Dominican Republic of Quisqueya; so they
have the option to use or not to use the same title: Dominican Republic of
On September 17, 1887, eleven years after the declaration of independence of the United States, the first Constitution was created. The lawmaker then found out that they had no national identity or a national, proper name for the country. United States was not a name. On June 21, 1888, the constitution was ratified and the name of the country was inserted: America.
The same thing happened in our history: Dominican Republic is not a name. Juan Pablo Duarte came up with the proper name for the nation, Quisqueya in 1861, with the proper and unique national identity of Quisqueyan for her people… but, it has not yet been inserted in our constitution.
Danilo Medina gave his word to the country that he will do what has never been done from the Presidency. There is a great opportunity for him to open an investigation about the national identity. The true will come out and it will be the best honor to the name and memory of Juan Pablo Duarte.
Contact the author at: Cosmeperez45@hotmail.com