Duarte Day takes place on January 26 to commemorate the birth anniversary of the writer, political activist, and nationalist politician Juan Pablo Duarte. It is a nationally revered holiday in the Dominican Republic, observed in the honor of Duarte, who was one of the founding fathers of the country. A mass gathers at the Santa Barbara Church in Santo Domingo to honor Duarte’s baptism, and the common folks come out in droves to fly the flag of the country.
History of Duarte Day
The 17th and 18th centuries saw the unprecedented rise of the Spanish Empire in the world. Nearly half of Latin America fell to the Spaniards. Among these countries was the Dominican Republic, the homeland of Juan Pablo Duarte. Duarte was born to a humble middle-class family in a decade of intense political turmoil. He spent his childhood learning the rhythms of the revolution from the locals of his city. When he came of age, his family pooled resources and sent him overseas for studies. After completing his education in 1833, Duarte came back to his homeland and started raising questions about the unjust rule of the Spanish Empire. The struggle for independence in the Dominican Republic began in the early 1800s when the Spanish Colony was in the early stages of steep decline — the advantage of which was quickly taken by the Dominican nationalists.
When tales of Duarte’s resistance caught the ear of the officials, Duarte was exiled to Spain. Humiliated and betrayed by his countrymen, Duarte quickly set up a base in a foreign land and started writing scripture that tied the history and strife of the Dominicans, and his aspirations of a liberated country with its own constitution. His primary inspiration came from the study of the French and German revolutions. Duarte never picked a weapon. Instead, he inspired legions of Dominicans to fight for their rights and personal liberties. Duarte conversed in utopian socialism and channeled the newly-tasted sense of freedom in New York and Mexico in his correspondence.
Duarte spent much of his life in foreign lands and led the successful coup that trampled the foundations of the mighty Spanish Empire. On his birthday, Dominicans gather around and celebrate the memory of Duarte, who is referred to as the Father of the Nation.
Duarte Day timeline
Juan Pablo Duarte is born to a Spanish family in Santo Domingo.
The Duarte family sends Juan Pablo overseas for education.
Duarte establishes a secret patriotic society called La Trinitaria to criticize and undermine the Haitian occupation.
Spanish Queen Isabella II awards Duarte with the hereditary title of Marquess of Las Carreras.
Duarte Day FAQs
Who exiled Juan Pablo Duarte?
When Duarte’s political writings became a point of contention in the country, General Pedro Santana exiled him to Spain.
Why did Juan Pablo Duarte oppose the Haitian liberation?
Duarte disagreed with the pro-annexation movements in the country as they were imperialist and betrayed the idea of Caribbean unity in the wake of the Western assault.
Who were the founding fathers of the Dominican Republic?
Francisco del Rosario Sánchez, Matías Ramón Mella, and Juan Pablo Duarte are considered to be the founding fathers of the Dominican Republic.
How to Observe Duarte Day
Raise the Dominican Republic flag
On the birth anniversary of one of the Dominican Republic’s founding father, raise the flag, plan a trip, and show some love to his homeland. The Dominican Republic is a beautiful remote island south of Cuba. It has beautiful beaches, stunning wildlife, and numerous tourist attractions.
Prepare a Caribbean feast
A Caribbean food platter includes the most appetizing selection of food items that are both healthy and delicious. Duarte Day calls for a day of relaxation and reflection, with a belly filled with delicious Caribbean food such as Baigan Choka and multiple servings of La Bandera.
Read about it
The Dominican Republic's history is a largely unexplored and underappreciated area of the Caribbean story. Surely, it doesn’t have larger-than-life kings and epic battles, but it does have the perseverance of public intellectuals like Juan Pablo Duarte, who took their country to freedom with their pen.
5 Lesser Known Facts About The Exiled Hero Duarte
A name with the highest honors
The highest mountain in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte, is named after Juan Pablo Duarte.
A global icon
Statues and commemoration stones for Duarte can be seen in places like New York and London.
The secret societies
Duarte commanded several secret societies, including the one which led the successful coup against the Haitian government in 1844.
A tireless champion
Duarte spent years planning the revolution from a distance, sometimes going days without sleeping and eating.
His only regret
Duarte’s sole regret was dying in exile.
Why Duarte Day is Important
He inspired millions
Duarte’s writings have withstood the test of time and continue to inspire new generations. His work is used by present-day scholars who wish to learn about the struggles of the bygone era. Apart from political writing, his notable contributions to algebra, number theory, and mathematical analysis have been presented in universities across the world.
He led with hope
While the rest of the cadre weaponized pessimistic scenarios and do-or-die speeches, Duarte led with hope and promised a better life for every man, woman, and child of the Dominican Republic. His years in exile solidified his belief that a better life is possible for his people.
He never sought personal fame
Duarte worked in the shadows his entire adult life. Although he was presented with many chances to build a new life for himself away from the strife of his homeland, he never gave in. Instead, he put pen to paper and toiled tirelessly to educate his countrymen with lessons of personal freedom and progressive values. Duarte’s successful attempt at a coup organized the people of the Dominican Republic in a way nothing else could.
Duarte Day dates