Today, January 26, 2016, the Dominican Republic celebrates the 203rd birthday of Juan Pablo Duarte, the founding father of the Dominican independence!
Duarte was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in 1813 and died in Caracas, Venezuela in 1876. His remains are kept at The Altar of the Homeland (Altar de la Patria), a marble mausoleum in Santo Domingo.
Duarte is known for founding the secret pro-independence societies of “La Trinitaria”, “La Filantrópica” and “La Dramática”, which helped to develop nationalist and independent thinking in Dominican society. This movement eventually led to the Dominican Republic’s declaration of Independence on February 27th, 1844, following a period of Haitian rule since 1822. Following Independence, Duarte was exiled, and was only allowed to return to the country in 1864 during the Dominican War of Restoration against Spain, which lasted until 1865. Following the end of the war, he was sent on a diplomatic mission abroad and later died in 1876.
Juan Pablo Duarte is recognized as being one of the most important figures in Dominican Republic history, known for his visionary thinking and his endless struggle to promote democracy, liberalism and patriotism.
There are several monuments commemorating Duarte both in the Dominican Republic and abroad: The highest mountain in the Caribbean, located in the Dominican Republic, is called “Pico Duarte” and has a statue built in his honor at its peak; there is also the “Plaza Duarte”, also known as Park Duarte (Parque Duarte) located in the Colonial Zone in Santo Domingo. This area has existed since 1800, but it was not until 1891 that it was inaugurated as Plaza Duarte. There is also Duarte Square in the Avenue of the Americas and Canal Street in Manhattan, NY which was built in 1978, donated by the Dominican Republic in conmemoration of Duarte’s 165th birth anniversary, and is one of the six monuments dedicated to Latin American leaders in that area.