March 3, 2013

"Christopher Columbus reached the island of Hispaniola on his first voyage, in December 1492."

"On Columbus second voyage in 1493 the colony and Santo Domingo became the new capital, and remains the oldest continuously inhabited European city in the Americas."
Hundreds of thousands Tainos living on the island were enslaved to work in gold mines. As a consequence of oppression, forced labor, hunger, disease, and mass killings, by 1535, only 60,000 were still alive. In 1501, the Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand I and Isabella, first granted permission to the colonists of the Caribbean to import African slaves, which began arriving to the island in 1503. These African importees have had the most dominant racial influence, and their rich and ancient culture has had an influence second only to that of Europe on the political and cultural character of the modern Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic is today's "History of" country. (In the "History of" project, we're going through the 206 countries of the world in alphabetical order and reading their "History of" page in Wikipedia.)

18 comments:

edutcher said...

It's never been a fun place.

Coketown said...

It's never been a fun place.

Senator Menendez begs to differ.

edutcher said...

I'm sure his epidemiologist begs to differ.

traditionalguy said...

So why didn't Ferdinand and Isabella start a Spanish baseball team? They would have beaten the English and gotten several Saints to boot out of the ancestors of the 564 major league players who have come from The Dominican.

Lem said...

I was born there.

Ann Althouse said...

So Lem, tell us what it's really like!

ironrailsironweights said...

Surprisingly, snow is not entirely unknown in the Dominican Republic. From time to time there is a bit of wet snow on the 10,000-foot summit of Pico Duarte.

Peter

ironrailsironweights said...

About ten years ago, a problem with the electrical distribution system meant that the power company would have to shut off service in part of upper Manhattan for several hours in order to avoid a systemwide blackout. The control room operators, who had only seconds to make a decision as to what area would lose power, initially were going to black out Harlem but then realized that riots might result. The operators then decided to black out Washington Heights, which is just to the north of Harlem. What they figured is that the mostly Dominican residents of that neighborhood would be used to dealing with blackouts on account of the uncertain power supplies in their home country.

Washington Heights ended up losing power for several hours. There were no riots.

Peter

Lem said...

So Lem, tell us what it's really like!

I love the place... but that has probably more to do with the kingship one has to his/her native land... I believe those feelings are common to most people.

I went back in 2010 for a couple of weeks... I believe I even commented here from there.

I felt right at home... an indescribable feeling of belonging... people made more sense and the food the air and water just tasted better... the chance to speak w a Dominican accent and not stand out was more enjoyable than I expected.

I wanted to stay, but my mother talked me out of it... and a good thing she did.

The standard of living there is not for those of us that have become accustomed to the standard here... their way of doing things, their ethos is just alien to us here... I would have a hard time there.

Other than that... their tourism has flourished... aided by changes in certain laws my Senator Bob Menendez seems to be well acquainted with.

David said...

That entire Wikipedia article and nothing about baseball, which may be one of the few good things the island got from the Europeans and their descendants.

I have been to the Dominican Republic twice. No way I will ever go to Haiti.

The DR is a beautiful place. The newest shiniest structure in almost every town I saw was the baseball complex. The Dominicans are killer good at baseball.

I wonder how much the average person knows about their own history. And of those who know, I wonder how much they care. Talk about people with a historical grievance!

Michael said...

On Google Earth you can discern the border between the DR and Haiti, the latter a deforested wasteland, the former lush and green. I really like Santo Domingo and find the people absolutely great, my favorites in the Caribbean. There are some upscale resorts but I prefer the capital and its energy. Always bring baseballs to give to the boys. And gloves if you have them.

chickelit said...

I used to be partial to Macanudo cigars which were made in the Dominican Republic.

Lem said...

Baseball inclined Dominican kids start trying to hit various pitched things. From bottle caps, rubber doll heads, caribbean almonds to socks stuffed with newspaper.

I believe a greater ability of sorts is developed from hitting and fielding the disparate "balls". So that by the time they start playing real ball the body has developed a superior eye hand coordination.

Its a theory.

Lem said...

If its round, chances are it has been pitched and hit in the Dominican Republic.

Erika said...

My friend is an Italian New Yorker married to a Dominican New Yorker and their children are the most stunningly beautiful {other than my own} I have ever seen. Really, it's ridiculous.

As promised, I am here to encourage you all to read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This is How You Lose Her by the Dominican-American writer Junot Diaz. Knowing very little about quote the DR unquote, I can't speak for how accurate or honest or meaningful his voice might be to those from or close to that culture, but they are beautiful, painful, arresting books.

Erika said...

(Oh! And they just might be available on Amazon via the Althouse portal! Which I used this evening to order my daughter the last book in the Warrior Cats series, which is not available in the library yet and she can't wait!)

ChrisRet said...

Visited for a week. I was surprised that for a coffee-growing nation, they didn't have a really great coffee culture. Their local coffees are bland. And they didn't really do a coffee hour.

Mitch H. said...

So, sugar cultivation came pretty late to the Spanish two-thirds of Hispaniola. It wasn't because they couldn't grow sugar there - apparently the Dominican Republic became a big player in the sugar market in the Gilded Age - and I can only conclude that it was the result of Spanish colonial misrule. But was this late introduction of sugarcane cultivation a cultural benefit? The Dominican Republic as a result had a much more diversified economy, and today enjoys a GDP ratio of 8 to 1 with her neighbor Haiti. A neighbor, mind you, who ruled Santo Domingo as a subject satrapy for two decades in the early Nineteenth Century.

Huh, apparently the fact of Taino extermination I "knew" was not actually fact. DNA analysis has made hash of a lot of extermination narratives recently, hasn't it?