January 26: Dominicans honor National Hero Juan Pablo Duarte
Santo Domingo.– Today January 26, a holiday in the Dominican Republic, marks the birthday of Juan Pablo Duarte, founding father of the Dominican nation.
During his early years Duarte studied in Spain (1828-1833). Upon his return to his homeland, he found that young Dominicans were resentful of Haitian rule. In response to this unrest, he and several other patriots organized a secret society, La Trinitaria, to work toward independence and to stimulate liberalism.
His first attempt to oust the Haitians in 1843 collapsed, and he fled the country; but his followers succeeded in overthrowing the Haitians the next year. In February 1844 Duarte returned, and the Dominican Republic proclaimed its independence.
It was not Duarte’s followers, however, who ultimately triumphed, but a local caudillo (military dictator), Pedro Santana. The defeated Duarte was exiled and took up residence in Caracas. He left Caracas for the Dominican Republic only once, during the War of Restoration (1864) against Spain, after which he was sent on a diplomatic mission for one year. Juan Pablo Duarte died in 1876.
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