This essay offers an intellectual history of the armed mobilizations that traversed the highlands and valleys of the Dominican Republic's southern borderlands during the last decades of the nineteenth century, finding at their very heart a spiritually grounded defense of autonomy within an embattled geography of community and freedom. The residents of these highlands and the San Juan Valley mounted repeated guerrilla movements against the island's two capitals in service of defending the whole island's independence; unlike borderlands struggles elsewhere, residents forged these campaigns long before any capital transformations encroached on their own territory. The essay analyzes the spiritual, political, and geographic logic of self-rule that these individuals invoked and also, critically, the gendered cost of violence that these campaigns fostered. The success of these anticolonial struggles highlights the profound fugitive history of the center island, just as it rewrites narratives of exclusivist Dominican nationalism in the present day.
Tonight, it is going to rain
for the beans
that I have planted . . .—Mangulina song, dating from the Six Years' War (1868–74)
In the middle of an afternoon in October 1893, a group of Dominican government allies ambushed General Pablo Ramírez, known to everyone in his community as Pablo Mamá, on a wooded path near his home, firing bullets that had been specifically prepared to defeat his invulnerability to harm. Mamá's undignified death was hardly equal to his stature in the southern borderlands, where he had exerted influence for decades. Simultaneous to his assassination in the center of the island, New York brokers tightened control over the Dominican sugar industry in the east, and rumors multiplied that the Dominican president, General Ulises Heureaux Lebert, planned to bargain away a peninsula to resolve his ballooning debts. A US conglomerate acquired the government's outstanding loans and tightened control over Dominican customs, as the Caribbean nation plunged further into desperate insolvency.1 From early spring into late fall that year, small resistance groups had mobilized in the center-island borderlands, heading south from Monte Cristi into the high mountains of the center of the island and into the arid highlands and isolated valleys of the deep south. Prominent opposition figures arrived from regional exile, as small groups mobilized from the center of the island. Months of the scattered mobilization, a game of mice and cat with capital authorities, culminated not only in Mamá's assassination but in a counterattempt on the Dominican president, in an ambush on a dirt road heading from the Neiba Valley into the southern town of Azua. President Heureaux remained unrepentant, even as he narrowly escaped with his life. He ordered the assassination of another southern borderlands leader, “the witch Minguilán,” with another set of special bullets, these marked with a cross. The conflict between borderlands rebels and the president was personal, political, spiritual, and immediate.2
Political movements like the 1893 campaigns show the nineteenth-century Dominican-Haitian borderlands to have been a refuge and an artery of resistance, in a manner that has often been obscured. Scholars have produced valuable studies about regional transformations here at the turn of the twentieth century.3 Subsequently, the 234-plus-mile Dominican-Haitian border attained a “central, symbolic role”—and a genocidal, concrete one—during the Rafael Trujillo dictatorship (1930–61).4 Seeking to make sense of anti-Haitian discourses and violence in Dominican history, many scholars invoke a paradigmatic border, understood as a physical line of conflict, as the predominant lens through which to examine Dominican-Haitian relations and Dominican nationalism, not only in the twentieth century but also reading backward into the colonial period.5 This gloss of division, however, obscures a long history of fugitivity and a unique tradition of Caribbean anticolonial thought. As in other borderlands in the Americas, residents of these highlands and isolated valleys forged centuries of autonomy and resistance to outside authorities.6 Escapees from slavery formed fugitive highland communities in the center island from the first years of Spanish colonialism. Frustrated Spanish authorities called these refuges manieles, which became the prototypical title in the Americas for communities escaped from slavery.7 As Haiti and the Dominican Republic became independent, however, nineteenth-century organizing in the southern center island changed character, and local politics took on a remarkable form of explicitly outward-looking anticolonialism. Long before cash crop transformations loomed locally, then, rebels launched mobilizations reflecting a keen sensitivity to the fragile and fungible sovereignty of the whole island. Communities and traveling revolutionaries confronted, variously, noisome Dominican and Haitian national leaders, Spanish occupiers (1861–65), and administrations who offered part or all of the island in direct territorial or commercial cession to the United States. Like other Latin American state makers, Dominican politicians were enthralled with development projects; as they sought funding, however, it often seemed that the nation, even the whole island, might pass to foreign hands. Center-island residents waged civil war to defend the whole island in direct response to these threats. A longue durée perspective on this resistance reveals a transcendent concern at the heart of Caribbean statecraft and Caribbean popular politics: independence itself.
At the dawn of the 1890s, President Heureaux marshaled personal prowess, repression, and new sugar money to fend off opposition movements, but crises mounted. Old political parties crumbled in the face of his adept maneuvering and access to new sugar financing, which arrived from agents of the foreign-owned plantations that metastasized east of the capital.8 Elections, already tumultuous and minority affairs, diminished in viability for his opponents. Journalists and lettered intellectuals commented nervously about rapid transformations and mounting foreign domination, fixating on the blackness of migrants from the West Indies to the new sugar zones and—for good measure—the blackness of President Heureaux himself, agent of the very investment that urban commentators had sought for decades.9 Both Heureaux and Haiti's president, General Florvil Hyppolite, meanwhile, looked for popular legitimacy as the crisis of US intervention threatened. Hyppolite embraced an association with the spiritual power of the lwa Ogou Desalin among his northern supporters, even as urban intellectuals published a flood of anti-Vodou missives simultaneously.10 Heureaux—whose urban opponents and detractors insisted on a diminutive nickname, Lilís—likewise instrumentalized his own reputation as “a true believer in the magic arts” in his borderlands campaigns.11 Heureaux traveled constantly, trying to speak to regional governors in person twice a year.12 He resorted to intimidation and assassinations. Outside of small military outposts or provisional alliances with powerful figures like Mamá, however, neither administration had real influence in the borderlands. Revolution posed an immediate threat.
This article looks out from the center island at this moment of confrontation, attending to the lives and philosophies of the foot soldiers of the 1893 movement—if the small groups of rebels could be called that—and the communities that sustained them. In their unequal struggle with outside threats, center-island residents recurred to geographic and spiritual resistance. These residents maintained a sustained dialogue of understanding with the local past, embracing a “recombinant mythology” of highlands resistance, in which the heroism of the territory transcended the feats of any single individual or lifetime.13 In his intransigence and also his reputed invulnerability to bullets, General Pablo Mamá embodied the defiance and strength of the region's residents vis-à-vis powerful politicians and capitalists who derided and threatened them. Mamá's profile—he was probably a prominent cattleman, and he boasted decades of fighting experience—matches that of other regional leaders in the Americas and underscores how these regions should be understood not through a lens of absence of capital city control but through the existence of other sovereignties, on their own terms.14 Mamá represented not only an intercessor against abuse but also the potential of restoration; for residents experiencing hard times, his authority was Manichaean but also very close. As scholars have noted in other contexts, the embodiment of Black autonomy and military accomplishment furthermore served as a critical mobilizing force.15 Residents understood politics as a violent enterprise, and the state had achieved no monopoly on this violence. This philosophy, too, was in keeping with an ontology of power that accepted ambivalence, sacrifice, and the productive potential of conflict alongside reciprocity and other principles.16
The gendering of authority in the southern borderlands, while dominated by men, challenged the norms of an unevenly expanding Dominican state and an urban bourgeois public. Mamá's popular family name—Mom—evoked authority, familial cohesion, and an expectation of a degree of reciprocity through a vocabulary that defied neatly dualistic evocations of gender and public power.17 As Mimi Sheller and others observe, the expansion of the state, as imagined from the lettered city, was a profoundly heteronormative project; the diffuse vocabulary of borderlands power conflicted with urban patriarchal ideals.18 Additional avenues to public authority—seniority, lineage, family connections, public shaming, widowhood, curative skills, ritual prowess, knowledge of territory, access to local foodstuffs, goods from Port-au-Prince, or firearms—were direct reserves of women's influence that complicated and enriched the gendered dynamics of these communities. Yet nineteenth-century borderlands movements came at a great cost, probably especially to women, in ways that scholars are only beginning to approach. As Nicole Guidotti-Hernández observes, hierarchies of incorporation into the state emerge plainly in borderlands conflicts, and violence in turn exacerbates these inequalities in the communities themselves.19 Just as in previous decades, however, residents and other opponents of the state felt that their only recourse to capital city policies was armed opposition; once again, they felt that national independence itself was at stake. “Civil war was the great brutality of . . . the time, [but] it was an indispensable and sublime brutality, saving life and dignity,” one man reflected.20 Others could not remain so sanguine.
War and Transition: The Dominican Southern Highlands, 1860s–1890s
In the late 1880s, when threats of territorial cession seemed critical, Hipólito Aybar left his north coast life as a tailor and musician to join a resistance movement in the center of the island, probably as he had done many times before. Meeting him were men and perhaps a few women who were forming a small group to head south. Some simply slipped into nearby Haitian territory when pursuit became too hot, establishing a “little store” (ventorrillo) in “any Haitian spot.” From these vantage points, and sometimes from Grand Turk and more distant hiding places, they remained in regular contact, returning to center-island struggles regularly. It was a quasi-military, austere, and often-violent existence. Balbina Chávez, who moved around north coast towns into exile as the political situation demanded, bragged of her prowess with a revolver. She reminded her ten children of her skills pridefully, reassuring them that they did not have to lock the door at night: “As long as I am here, do not be the least bit afraid; there is no one who would dare enter this house.”21 In the high mountain passes and craggy terrain of the southern borderlands, these small-scale campaigns left their mark on the landscape. Over decades of repeated resistance movements, the rebel groups built rock trenches to defend highland hideouts. In the Panzo hills (lomas de Panzo), for example, the fighters maintained a permanent refuge. Its natural defenses were “impregnable,” one historian notes, and government forces could never conquer it. From this vantage point, amid freshwater streams, fruit trees, coffee trees, and timber, antigovernment groups fought through the entire center-south.22
In the 1860s and 1870s, a roving, united anticolonial front of Haitian and Dominican resisters mounted tenacious small campaigns in the borderlands and beyond, against Dominican and Haitian presidents, Spanish occupation, and then the threat of US annexation. At the height of the war against the Spanish, covert markets of foodstuffs and munitions from Haiti flourished.23 With no pause, residents retrained their guns to new targets at the close of the decade, in opposition to annexationist national authorities in both capitals. Dominican generals joined Haitian officers to face off against the Haitian president, General Sylvain Salnave, opposing the president's plans to cede a coaling station to the United States. Fighting reached well into the eastern highlands. Generals arrived with their own bands from exile in Saint Thomas or Grand Turk. Some conservative Dominicans fought for the Haitian president, meanwhile, helping his defensive campaign as far as Jacmel.24 The anticolonial rebels were implacable. Opponents of the Dominican president Buenaventura Báez and his annexation schemes mounted campaign after campaign, more than 100 in six years. The period from 1868 to 1874 became known as the Six Years' War. Coalition groups simultaneously fought pro-Salnave groups in the Neiba highlands, as others confronted US annexation supporters further north; these rebels publicized their platform in a newspaper called El Pabellón Dominicano (The Dominican flag) from Haitian soil.25 They pooled their resources and even managed to procure their own 500-ton warship for a time. The resistance contributed to the collapse of US annexation plans in 1870, which had also faltered in the US Senate, and raged against Báez for four more years. Puerto Plata filled with Dominican rebels and Cuban independence activists. Meanwhile, the fighting in the borderlands was, in the assessment of one historian, a “continuous chaos” of constant campaigns.26
The exact profile of the fighters in the southern borderlands in these decades, called cacos by Dominican authorities, is difficult to establish. Aside from the rumored itinerary of prominent liberal generals, details about most of the rebels appear in a perfect absence, in reports of the expulsion of small groups from one town heading on to the next. Battles involved about 100 individuals on each side, sometimes more, often fewer. Many rebels led a peripatetic life and were veterans of earlier anticolonial fights. In Haitian territory, these mobilizations were most common in the north, further from the reach of the capital. Some parts of the north were sharecropping areas; rebels may have been mobilized by larger landlords.27 Michel-Rolph Trouillot observes that the stories, beliefs, and shifting interregional alliances of these rural rebels—cacos, zandolits, estacas, piquets, and others—are difficult to uncover.28 Scholars similarly disagree about the exact profile of gavilleros in the Dominican north in the early twentieth century.29 In the Dominican center-south, rural hierarchies and mobilizations are equally obscure. A whole social world of large cattle-owning families, and their importance in rural politics and regional armed movements, remained outside any archive; prominent individuals from these families likely organized top-down mobilizations similar to those in other Latin American contexts.30 In referring to the southern center-island rebels as cacos or cacoses, Dominican politicians intended to reference the rebels' blackness and lump them with Haitian resistance fighters.31 Then president Báez taunted a group of white women to “put [their] white beauty in front of the gunfire of cacos.”32 Some of these rebels sacrificed greatly for this life of fighting, as their own properties were repeatedly sacked.33 Well into Dominican territory, these communities were oriented toward Haiti, trading cattle, wood, and other goods in return for small manufactures or Mexican or Haitian currency. No one kept records of this exchange, as it was technically illegal. A British geographer made a map of the region, seen in figure 1. “Going to the capital,” a southern politician observed, almost invariably referred to overland travel to Port-au-Prince.34
Scholars divide the center island into four, seven, or even more separate lifeways.35 The northernmost region of the center island, south of Monte Cristi, is known as the Línea Noroeste, or Northwest Line. The inhabitants of this arid and unforgiving landscape were “in a perennial fight with nature,” one contemporary writer observed, “under a blazing hot sun, brambles and cactuses around them everywhere. Thirsty and skinny cattle, and goats, suppl[ied] practically the only means to live.” “The men of the area,” the contemporary went on to note, “are excellent guerrilleros, walking very long distances without getting tired, eating one day, fasting the next, making do with the most scarce and meager food.”36 Enterprising individuals traversing the north sold wood, cattle, and tobacco rolls (andullos) to Haitian buyers.37 Cap-Haïtien was a short sail away; even a secret nighttime trip could be completed before dawn.38
Crossing the high mountains of the Cordillera Central to the south, one reached the central plains (known as the Planicie Central or Llanura Central), a lowland that leads into the San Juan Valley. The valley extends well into the heart of Dominican territory, reaching San Juan de la Maguana, an eight-hour ride away from Haitian territory.39 Heading west in the valley to sell cattle or wood, one might ride through Las Matas de Farfán; traveling south, one reaches El Cercado. Dominican authorities did not even establish an outpost at El Cercado until 1860 or 1861, when they did so precisely to prevent a cross-island political plot.40 Residents were overwhelmingly bilingual, and most of their manufactured goods or currency, if they possessed them, arrived via Haiti, in exchange for small quantities of tobacco, wax, or cotton.41 Most travel was by horseback, and the route south was circuitous. Only a very small part of the broad Yaque del Sur River, with its fast currents, was navigable by flatboat (chata) or canoe.42
The southernmost Dominican center-island region—known as the Sur Profundo, or Deep South—cut a long swath west of Azua toward Haiti, with intermittent settlements, usually near streams, and a long history of highlands fugitive communities. The town of Neiba was a hub of the cattle trade. Neiba was the only town to have a French-language primary school during unification with Haiti; “hundreds” of African American migrants, invited by President Jean-Pierre Boyer, arrived there.43 A visitor in the early 1880s described Neiba as a small, organized town, with a Catholic church—“a very plain and simple wooden structure”—as its highest, and northernmost, point. Only a few people sold small quantities of various goods “from the outside world”; almost all of these came from Port-au-Prince, passing by or through Lac Azuéi.44 A trip from Neiba to Santo Domingo was long, indirect, and arduous. Travel south to the town of Barahona was fairly easy, however, about 50 kilometers on mostly open plains. Azua was twice as far and involved some mountain passes but was similarly navigable.45 Still, droughts, impassable terrain, or untended forest routes made travel difficult. The southern highlands had traditionally sheltered runaways from slavery. Residents in Petit Trou (or Petitrú), later called Enriquillo, served to connect the Baoruco maniel to outside trade.46 The highlands of the San José de Ocoa maniel and San Cristóbal were prone to drought. San José de Ocoa residents were so isolated that transport to Baní or Azua “absorbed most of the profit of the products,” despite the promising production of coffee.47 Outside San Cristóbal were the communities of Samangola and Santa María, the latter a settlement near the infamous Boca Nigua plantation.48 La Vereda (The Pathway) was a small community eight kilometers outside Baní; as a valley settlement, it was known as a “maniel de tránsito.”49
Inklings of commercial transition were apparent by the dawn of the 1890s in both the San Juan Valley and the south. Some men worked as day laborers, cutting and transporting wood for export via Barahona's deep, navigable bay. Merchants in the Dominican capital and other towns usually held the cutting rights.50 Local residents adapted to other pursuits after woodcutting declined, sending foodstuffs and coffee to the capital.51 The rise of sugar production east of Santo Domingo affected the region more dramatically. As men emigrated from the San Juan Valley and the south, they left behind “desolation.”52 The governor of Azua complained bitterly that local lands had been abandoned. Food and even water shortages ensued in town.53 Meanwhile, Azua's own sugar production—one traveler described “controlled prosperity” in the early 1880s—faltered.54 A US industrialist proposed canalizing the Yuma River for sugar production; these and other concessions, though granted by the Dominican administration, fizzled. After the economic crisis of the early 1880s, half of the handful of new mills in Azua simply ceased to function.55 In the north, only a gold mine license in Las Matas de Farfán presaged the arrival of outside investments in those years.56 Many were enduring tough times. Storms devastated crops several times in the 1880s, and 1890 brought a serious drought.57 One writer described the south as “extremely poor [pelado],” where some residents went hungry and wanted even for butter after unusually dry seasons.58 It was difficult for very poor families in and near towns to get meat, sympathetic authorities observed, because butchers did not want to sell one-pound increments.59 Arson against local merchants might have been the hungry, and angry, response.60
A Thing That a Pen Cannot Describe: Violence and Power in the Center Island
In center-island provinces, prominent men like Mamá ruled where very little formal state governed. Whether Mamá was of the same wealthy cattle-ranching family as General Domingo Ramírez—another center-island general, the author of a scheme for reunifying with Haiti in the late 1850s—is unclear, but Mamá's own preeminence in the Neiba Valley emerges distinctly.61 A rough man and a soldier, Mamá, too, had fought against US annexation and domestic opponents in the 1860s and 1870s. He lived in Cambronal—his house, in the hills, was difficult to find for a new visitor. Cambronal, near Neiba, was a wooded area, its dwellings far interspersed. “No energy whatsoever among the people,” one visitor wrote erroneously, ignoring the small plot farms that he described in the same passage.62 Mamá's authority extended over a large part of the Neiba Valley, from the Yaque del Sur River, into Haiti, and northward to Las Matas de Farfán. By the 1880s, a popular poet commented on the fervent allegiance Mamá commanded and how his followers worked diligently for him.63 Mamá held office as the military commander at Neiba, although capital city authorities were wary of him. Officials complained that he showed up every time there was a sentencing in Neiba, although it is unclear whether he meant to intimidate the court officials or simply to assert his influence over community punishment.64 Heureaux tried to execute him “many times” because of his independent control over the region, but Mamá's would-be executioners always returned to explain that the general was immune to bullets.65 Meanwhile, Minguilán, whom Dominican historians remember as a “Haitian witch,” commanded influence in El Limón, near the town of Barahona. His relationship to the administration is not clear, but his influence inspired “great jealousy” among President Heureaux and his supporters.66
Only a few officials governed rural areas. Town councils (ayuntamientos) existed, but enforcing government decrees fell to two local figures, alcaldes pedáneos (local mayors) and inspectors. These men summoned individuals into town for civil or military reviews, announced government edicts, and mitigated disputes.67 Alcaldes pedáneos received no salary and “notoriously” abused their authority, with some demanding “levies, labor, and services (including sexual favors)” from residents in their jurisdiction.68 Conversely, work was dangerous for government appointees as well. Disgruntled residents or traveling malfeasants murdered inspectors, who arrived usually with a few soldiers or sometimes alone, with considerable regularity.69 Beyond these individuals, the governmental presence in these areas was small. Town councils seemed to remain stable from election to election, and sometimes residents of small settlements asked the capital for additional officials.70 Education in the southern center island was “not up to the height of other parts of the republic,” one governor lamented.71 The complaint was common. Closer to the capital, the lack of funding and the poverty of heads of family meant that school texts and supplies were lacking. Fraud and theft of the meager funds available worsened the shortfalls.72 Poets lamented the poor state of formal schools and the perfidy and uselessness of electoral politics.73 Capital city attempts to tax the borderlands cattle trade, enforce the use of passports, and use Mexican coins rather than Haitian gourdes, meanwhile, came to nothing. Officials passed a series of new measures, but residents proceeded to Haiti exactly as before.74
Regional governors' responses to many cases of theft or violence—calling for expulsion or exile of the accused individual—reflect the limited reach of state discipline. Militiamen, which for the whole of the Barahona maritime district would have been comprised of only dozens of individuals, essentially served as police in towns without watchmen.75 Probably fewer than 300 people were jailed in all of the Dominican Republic at any given time. Soldiers' barracks, which were often simple huts, doubled as a jail. Regularly, detained individuals managed to escape, even when held in shackles (grillos), to the consternation of town authorities.76 Others either escaped or were punished quickly without a legal process. If the individual or individual's family were friends with the alcalde pedáneo, the governor might recommend punishment without any further proceedings. “Later I'll come by [in person] to tell you what he's done, as it is a thing that a pen cannot describe,” one governor confided.77 Authorities remanded “vagrants” and other individuals to military regiments as “punishment”; they also seem not to have had trials.78 When a man immediately returned to threaten Barahona residents after serving two years for violent robbery, the district governor ordered him executed one morning by firing squad. “As there are no good jails in the area, and as justice was ineffective, I saw fit to shoot him,” he reported to the capital, perhaps in exasperation.79 Passports were authorities' principal hope for commercial or disciplinary control in the region, but few travelers used them. Often authorities would write to request that a passport, usually an international one, be withheld from or revoked for an accused individual. The writer often urged, however, that any criminal case should proceed quickly, as it was unlikely that an escaping individual would actually have any trouble leaving the region.80
When residents did appeal to authorities, it was usually to seek redress for violence. In farm robberies, revenge attacks, and drunken disputes at dances, both the accused man and intervening bystanders often had a gun, and on roads between towns, the armed ambush was a “criminal custom.”81 One governor complained to the capital that “an excess of savages” abounded and that “the frequent murders that occur in this region have families and the society full of terror [pavor].” The man who prompted the governor's complaint had killed “his girlfriend [mujer], with no motive, only for the pleasure of killing,” the official decried. Such denunciations highlight the infraction most reported for the center-island south: violence directed at women and girls.82 In just over a year of records for the beginning of the 1890s, mothers, fathers, brothers, and uncles denounced assaults against women, rape, the kidnapping of minor girls, and incidents of public abuse.83 An uncle turned in his own nephew for raping multiple girls.84 These men's violent acts quickly spread to affect parents and neighbors, as was the case with a man who gruesomely murdered his partner, stabbing her 20 times before shooting her, as her intestines spilled out. He also attacked her mother and burned two houses before shooting himself, as authorities pursued him.85 An exasperated authority in San Cristóbal wanted to find “some way” to chase off a man who regularly beat his wife “barbarically” and threatened to kill his father-in-law. The frequent scandals undermined his authority, this governor concluded, and the man should be banished “so that I don't find myself in the situation of shooting him myself.”86 Officials wrote of these cases in frustration, perhaps reflecting their lack of power generally. Another authority suggested that an “insufferable . . . libidinous, vile drunk” who regularly beat his wife and could not support his family be impressed into military service.87
In the extraordinarily sparse records, it is difficult to speculate as to why these reports of violence against women emerged as often as they did, or how to analyze the demands for redress within them. Yet their predominance begs for attention and care. It is possible that local governors simply reported cases to the capital as a way to argue larger claims about the ungovernability of the region or that locals hoped the state could help in this realm particularly. Furthermore, anticolonial and antigovernment mobilizations did bring assassinations, guerrilla campaigns, torture, arson, pillaging, hunger, and impunity. When the fighting became particularly intense, conditions became intolerable, forcing families to flee. The antiannexation and anti-Báez fighting in the region was “suffocating . . . a war without barracks,” one historian concludes.88 One general estimated that thousands lost their homes.89 In this dislocation and strife, women paid special costs. Men's discomfort about women's mobility—for example, as traders to Port-au-Prince—may have exacerbated discursive and concrete violence at the hands of men seeking to control women's virtue in these circumstances. Martha Santos's conception of “public patriarchy” is useful for understanding how public, violent acts proliferate in moments of privation and instability.90 Borderlands leaders became famous for killing with impunity. Someone, or a group of people, finally murdered General Justo Carlos de Vargas, known as Solito, after years of abuses in Neiba. He was disdainful of civilians, many remembered. Others felt differently, however, insisting that he restored justice to the community with his spectacular violence. “People say that Solito is bad, Solito is not bad at all,” the refrain of a danceable couplet insisted, “Solito punishes wrongdoers, he leaves good people alone.”91 Years later, General Mamá governed the Neiba Valley with the same violence and moral complexity. In the early 1890s, he received visitors from traveling resistance movements, just as he had in earlier decades.92 So did Barahona women continue to travel to Port-au-Prince, sometimes directly opposing armed movements by reporting to the governor the rebel preparations that they observed there.93
At the beginning of the 1890s, President Hyppolite and President Heureaux looked to the borderlands with concern. After US naval interference helped to install Hyppolite as president in Port-au-Prince, propaganda material circulated in Barahona that Hyppolite might cede or sell Haitian territory. The whole south simmered in low-grade agitation in the early spring of 1890, as a “minicoup” rattled Heureaux loyalists.94 Administrators obliquely referred to the unrest as “the situation,” and tensions, including isolated attacks on inspectors and alcaldes, increased.95 Sensing the critical limits of his influence, Heureaux issued a call for the impressment of soldiers in a number of southern provinces in the early spring of 1891, an edict he later expanded further.96 As the 1892 election season began, local governors had orders to arrest absolutely anyone arriving to center-island communities without a passport, although individuals and small groups of Dominicans and their allies, using only Haitian paperwork, were traversing the region.97 Authorities called the pockets of unrest a “crisis.”98 In the course of his campaign, Heureaux piled new debts on top of old ones and printed money that no one wanted to accept. He killed his own financial agent, who dared to oppose him as a candidate.99 Treaty negotiations, including the possible cession of the Samaná peninsula to the United States in exchange for weapons and support, filled the international press. Unaffiliated New York capitalists were making claims to collect the mushrooming debts, Dominican journalists observed with increasing concern.100 New York capitalists of the newly formed San Domingo Improvement Company bought up Dominican debt, increasing US control over customs. Heureaux immediately borrowed more, increasing the debt to several times the national budget.101 In Haiti, Hyppolite faced his own opponents, and he feared that Haitian political exiles might combine forces with prominent Dominicans abroad.102 Someone in Santiago de los Caballeros even proposed that Haiti and the Dominican Republic be ruled in a federation again, to preserve the island's independence, eliciting an anti-Haitian fury in the Dominican press.103 Hyppolite sent urgent word to his agents in Santo Domingo to telegraph with news of any rebel landing.104 In the center island, people prepared for resistance.
Tonight, It Is Going to Rain Blood
Rebels in 1893 defended old rock trenches in southern highlands, like Lemba's Pass (Puerto de Lemba), rich with fugitive history. For many months, generals loyal to Heureaux had to avoid ambushes in highland areas, and they reported narrow escapes.105 A handful of prominent opponents of the president, permitted to leave the country at the beginning of the year, quickly regrouped in exile. Revolutionary Dominican propaganda soon flooded the docks of San Juan, Puerto Rico.106 Exiles sent information back to the central valley via Puerto Plata through trusted generals. Meanwhile, fugitives milled around Bánica and other towns. In early March, prominent liberal opponents issued a proclamation to the Dominican people denouncing the president's “ambitious and arbitrary” rule, his ruinous loans, and the secretive Samaná dealings.107 Within the week, Dominican authorities responded with a measure banning all communication whatsoever with Haiti, where many of the resistance groups were based. Authorities were to remit anyone suspected of spreading propaganda to higher authorities and to repress the movement with a strong hand.108 Revolutionary material and opponents continued to arrive from Haiti, however. Loyal officials scrutinized travelers and pled for carbine guns as the revolutionaries trickled into Neiba.109 Authorities as far east as Baní were on alert.110 On the north coast, the climate was so tense that the Haitian consul in Monte Cristi asked for safe passage to leave with his family. The governor of Monte Cristi expelled a group of rebels, who only fled slightly southwest into Haitian territory. None of the authorities could stop the small groups or the spread of news.111
President Heureaux himself set out on a pacification tour, hastily borrowing a mount. He toured the southern coast and then quickly boarded a ship for the north. As he docked in Monte Cristi, rebel Dominicans were openly moving through town.112 The president did disembark, however, and proceeded through territory and a political terrain he knew very, very well. He attacked the momentum of opposition by applying a tourniquet to its lifeblood: support in Haiti. Talks between Heureaux and Hyppolite were amicable and productive, resulting in an agreement at the beginning of April to expel the rebels from Haiti, including the capital. Heureaux triumphantly rode through Dajabón. Expulsos simply regrouped in the Neiba Valley, despite the “doubled” Haitian guard nearby, stationed as a show of good faith.113 Prominent opponents trickled in from political exile: Turks and Caicos, Inagua, Curaçao, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Saint Thomas, Jamaica, and towns throughout Haiti. Many of them arrived via the north coast to Cap-Haïtien, just as in moments of previous decades. They signed a manifesto on May 11 reiterating the necessity of toppling Heureaux.114 Meanwhile, political prisoners languished in jail in Baní and the capital, authorities resolving that they should remain shackled and forbidden from communicating with anyone.115 Neiba was suspiciously empty of men when officials came around to take a census.116 As ever, authorities urged vigilance throughout the territory.117
As the president and his small coterie arrived in the southern highlands, rebel groups would have understood the imminent confrontation as a contest of equals as well as spiritual and political prowess. Heureaux's own distinguished anticolonial guerrilla past—his departure from the opposition in the 1860s and 1870s into state power had involved a political parricide of sorts—and his new interest in squashing resistance regularly brought him back to the center island and into physical peril. He was seriously injured nine times, carrying two bullets in him before the end of his life.118 Heureaux, furthermore, was deeply familiar with the borderlands, and he regularly combined visits with cattle purchases. He had warm collaborative rapport with officials in Ouanaminthe and other towns.119 Heureaux met vicious racist aspersion from Dominican elites. Unlike the majority of prominent politicians on Dominican soil, he rose to power from a very poor childhood, and he was the first dark-skinned black man, after a succession of wealthy whites and men of color, ever to lead the republic. Heureaux's provenance—his father was Haitian—and skin color were not just the topic of ridicule but the essence of the argument for many of his urban opponents. In charcoal, someone scrawled graffiti on the side of Heureaux's home during one campaign, declaring, “Down with the black mañé,” a pejorative referencing his Haitian descent and potentially his spiritual capacities.120 Opponents distributed flyers with a sketch of Heureaux hanging from a scaffold, lynched, captioning the image with the threat, “No criminal goes unpunished.”121 In the borderlands, meanwhile, some considered him to be a witch (brujo) who might also have the capacity to shape-shift into any number of animals, even an insect.122
Caco rebels acted within the same landscape. Loyalist opponents from the center island were openly disdainful: “I shot at a black dog [un perro prieto], thinking it was a caco,” one opponent from Cambronal bragged.123 Contemporary Dominican authors tried to rewrite the population of the south center island, erasing black populations totally.124 Elite families in towns embraced segregation—as one author observes, “To marry with a black or a mulato [was] a sin”—and their writing imagined citizenship as only possible within the modern city.125 A wave of urban writers in the 1880s reremembered separation from Haiti in the 1840s as a deeply conflictive, even holy pursuit.126 In response to these political exigencies, rebels reaffirmed political, strategic, and personal connections to Haiti, as they always had, and reasserted the politics of their own communities. Turmoil made their recourse to local authority, and to “the spirit of cimarronaje” generally, more urgent.127 When Barahona singers promised, in the mangulina song quoted in this essay's epigraph, that it would “rain blood” among the crops they had planted, they narrated not just memories of past resistance but also a prognosis for the immediate present and a fundamental faith in their ultimate success.128 Military struggles and displacement were a familiar recourse, offering heroism alongside deprivation, violence, and sacrifice. The perfidy and danger posed by outsiders, not just racist Dominican whites but also foreign capitalists, seeking Dominican land, were also known. If community members recounted any parables about the dynamic of the treachery these outsiders posed, they are lost to written history, but not to the events or logic of the communities' ongoing resistance in repeated conflicts over multiple decades.129
Confronting Heureaux, rebels recurred both to the power of the center-island landscape and to local authority born from a history of struggles. One Dominican historian refers to the medicine used in the center island as “concoctions” (brebajes), although it was this very healing that saved Heureaux as a young soldier, administered by a Haitian curative specialist.130 Residents readily accepted that the spiritual intercession and leadership needed was of the military sort, not necessarily egalitarian but definitely powerful. Mamá's motherhood might evoke an inalienable connection to the land and community, but it was also portable as a narrative, serving as a family bond among the traveling resistance. Alternatively, a number of men had responded to, as either an alias or their given name, the moniker Changó, an invocation of a lwa or orisha of well-respected masculine bravado and warrior prowess as well as an avatar of Saint John the Baptist, the patron saint of the south-central town of Baní.131 One individual who eluded authorities had a promising pseudonym: Mágico.132 Authorities overheard that a political prisoner was wishing for a “container [of gunpowder], of the kind with lightning spirit,” another potential reference to Changó's powers.133 In fighting of earlier decades, caco rebels in Haiti called for intercession:
Residents placed special importance on spiritual-physical immunity in these unequal, ambush-centered struggles. Mamá's claim to invulnerability to bullets represents an assertion that circulated in the center island but also well beyond the island's shores.135 An individual's immunity provided strategic fuel to an unequal resistance: it could be startling, provoking reason enough to make peace, and it could facilitate heroes' tales, of small groups facing off against much larger forces. At any rate, the very few munitions the rebels would have shared between themselves necessitated traps and brilliant strategy and made such protection of the utmost importance.136 When locals killed the tyrannical Solito with prepared bullets, his “amulet pouch” is said to have been shredded.137 Years later, the rebels saved special bullets to defeat Heureaux. They almost certainly understood his meteoric political rise as imbricated within some larger “predatory spiritual transaction” that would require special authority to counteract and made preparations accordingly.138
The meaning of the names for the movement against Heureaux that spring are a mystery, invoking fugitivity, manhood, or a significance not intended to be understood. Fragments of oral history suggest that center-island residents later remembered the 1893 resistance as the “revolution of the Bimbines” or, simply, “when the bimbines [acted],” a potential reference to adolescent boys' penises (bimbín) whose intended significance is not entirely clear; it may have been invoked to mock the participants' lack of hombría (manhood) in their failure to stop the president in direct confrontation, or it may have represented some kind of generational conflict between older veterans and a new resistance. In the absence of documents insisting otherwise, it is not impossible that bimbín was rather biembín, a diffuse term that south center-island residents often used to refer to residents of historic maroon communities in the highlands. By the nineteenth century, center-island individuals also used biembín or biembien sometimes to describe a person of black and indigenous ancestry, sometimes to describe individuals so deeply isolated that they lacked human language or were characterized by magical, monkey-like, or doglike capacities or, in some areas, to refer to spirits of the deceased.139 Another name for the spring effort, “during the quiquises,” also offers a maroon-manhood double entendre. Perhaps a reference to “Qui? Qui?,” a “Who goes there?” of a vigilant highland guard? Perhaps a reference to a rooster, another avenue for referencing the thorny question of contested masculine political reputation? The record is closed.140
At any rate, the failure of the bi(e)mbines that spring did not stop the resistance or Heureaux's repression; recognizing Mamá's prowess, Heureaux targeted spiritual and political leaders of the center island. Sometime over the summer months, the president became convinced that Mamá's influence in the south, and his support for the rebels, was too great. Heureaux told his henchmen (esbirros) that he had a sash (faja) of bullets that had been “fixed” by a Haitian brujo and that these would shoot General Mamá. In October, a group of men killed Mamá, his son, his private secretary, and a fourth man, accused of taking his communications to various places, while others were able to escape to Haiti.141 The local governor who executed Mamá was himself of considerable reputation; his men reported, “he ate bullets.”142 Progovernment officers attacked Minguilán, too. Barahona's governor, J. D. Matos, who was godbrothers with Minguilán, obeyed under extreme duress; his son led the firing squad. The governor never recovered. When the following spring Matos died by suicide, after 12 years in power, everyone theorized that he had been distraught over participating in the execution and had killed himself so that “the president would not again assign him such an undesirable mission.”143 Unmoved, Heureaux also pursued a loyal governor outside the capital whom he suspected of not reporting subversive information. The man fled to San Pedro de Macorís with a small band of supporters. Heureaux intercepted and killed him there, however, and he executed the governor of San Pedro de Macorís for good measure.144
The center-island fighting continued in the form of tiny skirmishes the whole year. That fall, Dominican and Haitian rebels made new pacts to topple both island presidents simultaneously. President Heureaux, infuriated, struck out again on a horseback campaign to the center of the island.145 Not long after the executions of Mamá and Minguilán, he rode through the south with a small escort. He left behind measures for strict vigilance in the capital, where no one was allowed off boats without a review.146 Rebels mounted an ambush on the road from Neiba to Azua; they assassinated General Joaquin Campo, delegate of the governor in Barahona, and only missed the president due to dust and the lack of a clear shot. In immediate reprisal, the president ordered nine to be shot by firing squad and seven more to prison in the capital for their “unimportant roles.” The whole affair kept him out of the capital for nearly two months, and he asked his vice president to announce his victory.147 So ended the rebel movement that year—the president's repression successful. Heureaux soon adopted a new telegraphic code to locate, and persecute, small groups of rebels. He also bought three warships to sail to and squash these movements, offering as justification a timeworn pretext of threats from Haiti.148 Neither government really deigned to clarify their state's intent for the borderlands, meanwhile, and a papal commission convened to decide the boundary later adjourned without judgment.149 In Neiba, someone composed a mournful poem:
Mamá, Minguilán, and the third Barahona official became transformed in their veneration after death into papás, fathers, like Jean-Jacques Dessalines and other heroes of resistance on the island.151
Quiquises Ride Again
A series of resurrections and regenerations occurred in the next years. Heureaux died within six years, felled by assassins; US occupation arrived to Haiti and then the Dominican Republic barely a decade later. Political organizing in the borderlands continued all the while, however, amplifying and enabling the efforts of exiled antigovernment opponents. These figures exercised particular weight in Caribbean national projects. Just as in Cuba's independence struggle, exiles exercised an outsize impact on the fate of Haitian and Dominican administrations through the end of the century.152 Meanwhile, neither nation could harness profit from borderlands trade in the short term. As with other national borders drawn “in the sand,” border towns became commerce points only slowly.153 As in other rural spaces throughout the hemisphere, too, land tenancy was a long, uneven, and often-inconclusive contest in which local mobilization just as much as federal edict shaped short-term outcomes. In the Dominican deep south, as in other regions, longue durée study of these contests makes all these popular political commitments—about local authority, cross-island travel and trade, and a very outward-looking anticolonialism—much clearer.154 New rebels were born. A 1911 movement also involved quiquises as US occupation drew near, and anticolonial resistance was also born again as gavilleros and cacos during the occupation itself, although few remembered that Dominicans were also cacoses.155
Even as the landscape of power in the borderlands was clearly complex, women's lives in the borderlands remain largely unnarrated except in vexed and elliptical references. Passing mentions of Juana Ogando, Heureaux's onetime lover from a prominent cattle-owning family who commanded uniformed soldiers of her own, represent a singular exception.156 Fundamentally, however, decades of fighting in the rural monte or manigua of the center island underwrote a specifically masculine heroic imaginary, which urban observers embraced to expiate their own discomfort with economic transformations, even as they scrubbed women and blackness from their narratives. Writers like cibaeño Pedro Francisco Bonó praised “semibarbarous” rural men who fended off foreign capital's worrisome advance. He, too, imagined domestic violence as solvable only when the community killed the offending man.157 As in other settings, the multidirectional violence of anticolonial and antigovernment campaigns came at great cost: impunity, fear, and the fracturing of communities.158 It is possible that Barahona's residents, in recurring to authorities, sought to redress these ills through outside intercession; it is also possible that authorities pointedly instrumentalized their grievances. We know very little of local strategies, in an archival context in which even rebels' movements themselves are recorded as the barest of euphemisms. One can only speculate, for example, about the functioning of matrifocal households as men migrated and fought. Heureaux described a woman, Roselia Jean Louis, as his “political mother,” even as the generals he fought alongside are the names overwhelmingly recorded.159 So, too, is the sixteenth-century maroon figure Lemba remembered centrally, even as more anonymous misterios, of all genders, also occupy San Juan's peaks.160 Scholars of spiritual authority caution against seeking coherence or dichotomy along gendered lines.161 Contested landscapes like these contain “a perspective of struggle,” Katherine McKittrick argues, replete with “history, selfhood, imagination, and resistance,” but they are difficult to perceive from an outside vantage point.162
The San Juan Valley did transform with sugar cultivation after the turn of the twentieth century, wresting families from their land without obliterating its meaning. The borderlands' “fugitive landscapes” became a government fixation somewhat later than in other national contexts, but twentieth-century Dominican authorities drew on deep reserves of anti-Haitian vocabulary when they initiated rapid and violent projects of exclusion.163 In the interim, however, some of the peripatetic rebellious figures departed. Bimbines veterans like Hipólito Aybar left to fight for Cuban independence (dying, happily, of old age in Havana in 1913).164 Center-island residents retained their spiritual authority and independence, too. As residents of the San Juan Valley confronted accelerating transition, new leaders were born, like Papá Liborio, whose followers once again insisted on collective spiritual law.165 Whereas some saw the land for its potential fecundity, borderlands residents also saw it as a refuge and a source of sovereignty unto itself. They probably retold stories of victory and betrayal; in their repetition, they defied prognoses of relentless transformation, a telos of progressively expanding modernity, narrated from cities and abroad. As Milagros Ricourt observes, it would be an error to consider these philosophies as millenarian. They were a fundament of borderlands political thought, even as nationalists denied or disparaged them, scrubbing leaders' names from the pantheon of national independence.166 Pablo Mamá lived on anyway. In one 1945 novel, he is undefeated, invincible. Writing during the Trujillo dictatorship, the author emphasizes the violence and abusiveness of rural caudillos like Mamá as well as the sterility of the center-island landscape.167 Mamá's powers are not lessened, however, even in this pessimistic account. A spring at Canabá, in Haiti, protects him from bullets and connects him to fugitive struggles of centuries past and future.
I am grateful for the feedback of Neici Zeller, Matthew Casey, Dixa Ramírez, Robin Derby, Crystal Feimster, Adriana Chira, Elena Schneider, Carolyn Roberts, Patrick Barker, Bianca Dang, David Sartorius, Celia Naylor, Marísa Fuentes, Sean Mannion, and the anonymous reviewers for different elements of this piece.
Roorda, Historical Dictionary, xxix.
Robert, La evolución histórica, 132. See also Rodríguez Demorizi, Cancionero de Lilís, 332.
Baud, “Una frontera-refugio”; Derby, “Haitians”; Turits, “World Destroyed”; Adams, “History at the Crossroads.” San Miguel, La guerra silenciosa, describes transitions in the Cibao Valley. Important local histories of the southern center island include Robert, La evolución histórica; Sosa Leyba, Historia emocional; Ramírez Suero, Fundación.
Adams, “History at the Crossroads,” 5. See also Derby, “Haitians”; Turits, “World Destroyed.” Scholars sometimes describe the national boundary as the longest in the Caribbean, but a number of others in the greater Caribbean are roughly equal or longer (e.g., the borders of Belize with its neighbors, about 336 miles).
Among the rich scholarship, see Paulino, Dividing Hispaniola; Fumagalli, On the Edge; Hernández González, La colonización; Suazo Ruiz, La frontera. Outside of these texts, a more perfunctory invocation of the border often jumps from the late colonial period, either to conflicts of the twentieth century or as a synecdoche to analyze the deportation and expulsion crises of the twenty-first.
Hammond, “Slavery, Sovereignty, and Empires,” 282; de la Fuente, Children of Facundo, 75–93.
Highland maroon communities of the Trou d'Eau, Matheux, and Neiba mountains and the Baoruco–Massif de la Selle range formed during the island's long plantation history. By the 1520s, Santo Domingo became one of the first sites of sugar slavery across the Atlantic; immediately in those years, enslaved Africans (and perhaps Ibero-Africans) fled southern plantations into the mountains. In Dominican territory, maniel grew to be a capacious term that included all manner of highland communities on the margins of the law. Belmonte Postigo, “‘No obedecen,’” 795. Authorities struggled to categorize—and govern—the highland montes. During the nadir of slavery in French Saint-Domingue, hundreds found refuge in these mountains in the southern center of the island at any given moment, swelling to as many as 1,200 during anti-French fighting. Nessler, Islandwide Struggle, 144. See also Schwaller, “Contested Conquests”; Rocha, “Maroons in the Montes”; Yingling, “Maroons of Santo Domingo”; Queiroz, “Ao sul”; Ortiz Read, Cimarrón; Deive, Los cimarrones. By the 1810s, it is likely that residents could have descended from the highlands, if they had wanted, without much danger to their personal freedom. But some did not, even after abolition definitively extended to Dominican soil in 1822. Eller, We Dream Together, 36–37. See also Ricourt, Dominican Racial Imaginary, 71–102.
On the sugar revolution in San Pedro de Macorís, see esp. Murphy, Dominican Sugar Plantations; Veeser, World Safe for Capitalism; Mayes, Mulatto Republic.
See Martínez-Vergne, Nation and Citizen; Mayes, Mulatto Republic; Ubiera, “Contrapunteo dominicano.” An excellent overview of the Heureaux regime is available in Sang, Ulises Heureaux.
Largey, Vodou Nation, 62; Péan, L'illusion héroïque, 128, 131. I follow Kate Ramsey in using Vodou to refer to practices as they were described (and proscribed) by authorities but also privileging the umbrella term sèvi lwa (serving the lwa), which, in highlighting praxis rather than categorical definition, better encompasses pluralities in worship and understanding, including practices and deities that are known in Dominican territory as Los Misterios, Maní, or La Viente-Una División; by other names; or with no single title. Ramsey, Spirits and the Law, 6; Ricourt, Dominican Racial Imaginary, 113.
Cassá, Personajes dominicanos, 2:94.
Ramírez Suero, Fundación, 110.
Largey, Vodou Nation, 62. See also Krug, Fugitive Modernities.
De la Fuente, Children of Facundo, 10, 126–28.
Ferrer, Freedom's Mirror, 271–328. See also Krug, Fugitive Modernities. On the contested memory of the Haitian Revolution (a military tradition that Mamá and other residents would have intimately recognized), see Zavitz, “Revolutionary Narrations.”
De la Fuente, Children of Facundo, 20. Analyses of ritual protection objects like pakèt kongo or wanga (elsewhere in the Americas, conjure bags and analogue ritual objects) that some borderlands fighters carried offer an excellent lens into the ambivalence of spiritual power. Pressley-Sanon, Istwa across the Water, 10, 79–82; Young, Rituals of Resistance, 105–45; Christophe, “Rainbow over Water,” 91–92.
Lorelle Semley's discussion of “public motherhood” is generative here. Semley, Mother Is Gold. On the subversion of Western dualisms, see Dayan, “Erzulie.”
Sheller, Citizenship from Below, 7; Martínez-Vergne, Nation and Citizen, 105–25.
Guidotti-Hernández, “Borderlands Scholarship,” 487, 489.
Martínez, Diccionario, 143.
Martínez, 418, 142.
Sosa Leyba, Historia emocional, 108; Robert, La evolución histórica, 105 (quote).
Eller, We Dream Together; Castro Ventura, La Guerra Restauradora; Lespinasse, Price-Mars, and Ferrer Gutiérrez, Haïti; Hernández Flores, Luperón.
Sosa Leyba, Historia emocional, 107. See also Gaillard, Le cacoïsme bourgeois; Robert, La evolución histórica, 94; Adam, Une crise haïtienne.
Cassá, Personajes dominicanos, 1:398, 400, 427.
Some historians argue that Dominican national history begins with the downfall of Báez in this civil war, representing the death of outright annexation plans. Cassá, 1:340 (quote), 401. Sócrates Nolasco called this fighting the “Third War of Independence.” Cassá, 1:379.
Smith, Liberty, 142.
Trouillot, Haiti, 94–95. See also Gaillard, Le cacoïsme bourgeois. In the Dominican context, cacos seems to have been a term to refer to those southern movements that opposed annexationist politics.
González Canalda, Los gavilleros, 14–16. See also San Miguel, La guerra silenciosa.
De la Fuente, Children of Facundo, 86. Ranchers marched on Puerto Plata to reinstate caudillo president Buenaventura Báez immediately after the Restoration War, for example, in a move that must have been understood as profoundly conservative. Martínez, Diccionario, 226. The Ogando family, prominent in the region, has been the subject of nationalist hagiography. Agramonte, El General Timoteo Ogando.
Cassá, Personajes dominicanos, 1:396; Sosa Leyba, Historia emocional, 106.
Cassá, Personajes dominicanos, 1:429.
Letter 55, Santo Domingo, 15 Mar. 1893, Archivo General de la Nación–República Dominicana, Santo Domingo (hereafter cited as AGN-RD), Interior y Policía 425525, p. 33; Martínez, Diccionario, 417.
Baud, “Una frontera-refugio,” 46.
Mejía, De Lilís a Trujillo, 71, quoted in San Miguel, La guerra silenciosa, 48.
The wood trade decreased considerably after the completion of the Puerto Plata–Santiago railroad at the close of the century. San Miguel, Los campesinos, 94–95.
Enrique Henríquez to ministro plenipotenciario of Haiti in Santo Domingo, 2 July 1898, AGN-RD, Relaciones Exteriores (hereafter cited as RREE) 708338, p. 273.
Baud, “Una frontera-refugio,” 41.
Ravelo, Diccionario, 44.
Baud, “Una frontera-refugio,” 42–44.
Sosa Leyba, Historia emocional, 12.
Robert, La evolución histórica, 58.
Wells, “Survey Journey,” 596. Perhaps ventriloquizing his own investment wishes, Wells reports that a man in the valley lamented the isolation: “Here one can grow anything, but we can only give it to our cattle.” Wells, 598.
Abad, Reseña general, 191.
Queiroz, “Ao sul,” 36; Nessler, Islandwide Struggle, 144.
Abad, Reseña general, 40, 194–95.
Ricourt, Dominican Racial Imaginary, 3, 106.
Tejeda Ortíz, “El cimarronaje,” 281.
Lumber was the second largest Dominican export (after tobacco) for a time, although its export declined as groups exhausted trees near navigable rivers. Highland woods—caoba (mahogany), guayacán (lignum vitae), mora (fustic), yaya (lancewood), espinillo (satinwood), and others—were often too far from transportation options; Barahona exported mostly guayacán, which had diminished by the early 1880s. Wells, “Un viaje,” 65–66.
San Miguel, Los campesinos, 76–77.
Baud, “Una frontera-refugio,” 46.
Baud, 46–47; Escolano Giménez, “Los procesos migratorios,” 644.
Wells, “Un viaje,” 64–65.
Sang, Ulises Heureaux, 64, 230–31. The sole mill in Barahona also folded.
Robert, La evolución histórica, 115; J. D. Matos to ministro de interior y policía, Barahona, 25 Jan. 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 142.
Sosa Leyba, Historia emocional, 91.
Report from the Ayuntamiento Constitucional de Victoria, La Victoria, 31 May 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 8, p. 81.
Gerónimo Aquino to governor of Santo Domingo, Sabana Grande de Palenque, 26 Jan. 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 1, p. 91.
Eller, We Dream Together, 57.
Wells, “Survey Journey,” 604.
Sosa Leyba, Historia emocional, 88, 91; Cestero, La sangre, 33. Cestero calls him “un negro sin letras.” Cestero, 33.
Letter 21, Santo Domingo, 3 Mar. 1893, AGN-RD, Interior y Policía 425525, p. 13; J. D. Matos to Pedro Ramírez, Barahona, 2 Apr. 1892, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 206.
Sosa Leyba, Historia emocional, 88.
Robert, La evolución histórica, 127.
J. D. Matos to Barahona comandante de armas, Barahona, 12 June 1894, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 349.
Martínez-Vergne, Nation and Citizen, 35.
J. D. Matos to gefes comunales, cantonales, y de la línea, Barahona, 4 Oct. 1890, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 117; J. D. Matos to procurador fiscal de Barahona, Barahona, 5 Jan. 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 137; Angel María [López?] to governor of Santo Domingo, Bayaguana, 2 Mar. 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 1, p. 34.
J. D. Matos to Ayuntamiento de Enriquillo, Barahona, 14 Dec. 1890, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 131; petition from residents of Boya, Boya, 4 Dec. 1891. AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 1, p. 73.
J. D. Matos to ministro de interior y policía, Barahona, 18 Jan. 1890, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 60.
Eusebio Araujo to Braulio Álvarez, San Cristóbal, 11 July 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 8, p. 88; circular by Tomás D. Morales, Santo Domingo, 4 Dec. 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 5, p. 4.
Rosamantes, Barahona, 29–30.
Robert, La evolución histórica, 111; Balcácer, Lilís, 10.
Matos to ministro de interior y policía, Barahona, 18 Jan. 1890, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 60. Carved from old boundaries of the province of Azua, in 1880 Barahona became a maritime district that governed Neiba, Enriquillo, and other areas. Sosa Leyba, Historia emocional, 17.
Sang, Ulises Heureaux, 101, 274–75; J. D. Matos to procurador fiscal de Barahona, Barahona, 12 Feb. 1893, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 253.
Isidro Pereyra to Braulio Álvarez, San Carlos, 17 Oct. 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 1, p. 26.
Matías Lora to Braulio Álvarez, 14 Oct. 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 1, p. 25.
J. D. Matos to ministro de interior y policía, Barahona, 3 Mar. 1892, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 201.
Barahona authorities issued about 1,000 passports a year in the early 1890s for individual trips, but authorities regularly complained that few people relied on them. A. S. Vicioso to Braulio Álvarez, Santo Domingo, 11 Feb. 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 8, p. 2; Matos to ministro de interior y policía, Barahona, 25 Jan. 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 142; J. D. Matos to ministro de interior y policía, Barahona, 22 Jan. 1894, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 324.
It is possible that incidents involving guns were reported more than those involving machetes. Angel María [López?] to governor of Santo Domingo, Bayaguana, 30 Mar. 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 1, p. 33; Matos to Ramírez, Barahona, 2 Apr. 1892, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 206.
Manuel Mateo to governor of Santo Domingo, San Cristóbal, 2 Mar. 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 1, p. 63.
A. S. Vicioso to Braulio Álvarez, 18 Jan. 1890, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 8, p. 14; Vicioso to Álvarez, Santo Domingo, 11 Feb. 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 8, p. 2; Agapito Moreno to Braulio Álvarez, Mella, 27 Apr. 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 8, p. 60; Manuel Mateo to Braulio Álvarez, San Cristóbal, 29 Apr. 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 1, p. 163; Isidro Pereyra to governor of Santo Domingo, San Carlos, 9 June 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 1, p. 178. Nightly reports from the night watchmen in the capital and nearby towns also reveal frequent scandals provoked by men beating women. Reports of Gefatura del Cuerpo de Santo Domingo, May 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 9.
Pereyra to governor of Santo Domingo, San Carlos, 9 June 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 1, p. 178.
Gerónimo Aquino to governor of Santo Domingo, Sabana Grande de Palenque, 26 May 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 1, p. 142.
Manuel Perello to governor of Santo Domingo, Baní, 16 Dec. 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 1, p. 81.
Juan Bautista de la [document torn] to Braulio Álvarez, 1 Sept. 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 8, p. 131.
Robert, La evolución histórica, 93, 99, 102.
Luperón, Notas autobiográficas, 105.
Santos, Cleansing Honor.
“Dicen que Solito es malo, / Solito no es malo ná, / Solito castiga al malo, al bueno no le hace ná.” Martínez, Diccionario, 504.
Balcácer, Lilís, 23.
Castro Ventura, Andanzas patrióticas, 346–47.
Matos to ministro de interior y policía, Barahona, 18 Jan. 1890, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 60.
At least one alcalde pedáneo was targeted and killed. M. I. Saldaña to Braulio Álvarez, Bayaguana, 24 May 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 1, p. 201. Just a few months later, an inspector from Nigua was killed at his own voluntary collective labor event, a convite, to harvest rice on his property. Apparently, the assailant resented that the inspector was surveilling his meetings with men from the capital. Manuel Mateo to Braulio Álvarez, San Cristóbal, 5 Sept. 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 1, p. 217.
M. Pichardo to governor of Santo Domingo, Santo Domingo, 18 Feb. 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 8, p. 3.
J. D. Matos to Ulises Heureaux, Barahona, 2 May 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 160. Local authorities received instructions to jail all infractors using Haitian passports and to keep careful count of the number of peons in traveling groups as well, given that they were likely to be rebels in disguise. J. D. Matos to gefes comunales de la Línea y Neyba, Barahona, 23 Apr. 1892, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 211.
Manuel Perello to Braulio Álvarez, Baní, 24 June 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 414070, exp. 1, p. 241.
Moya Pons, Dominican Republic, 273.
El Pueblo (La Vega), 10 Sept. 1892.
Martínez, Diccionario, 331; Moya Pons, Dominican Republic, 271.
C. Archin to L. E. Lagarde, 1 Jan. 1892, Archives Nationales d'Haiti, Port-au-Prince (hereafter cited as ANH), Relations Extérieures 1219, pp. 17–19.
Pierre Lafleur, “Haiti et la Dominicanie,” L'Opinion Nationale (Port-au-Prince), 21 May 1892, p. 1. The paper described a veritable onslaught of anti-Haitian invective in Dominican papers after the incident. Pierre Lafleur, “La Presse Dominicaine,” L'Opinion Nationale (Port-au-Prince), 6 Aug. 1892, p. 1.
Edmond Lespinasse to Armand Thoby, ANH, Relations Extérieures 1219, p. 238.
Matos to Ramírez, Barahona, 2 Apr. 1892, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 206.
Circular, 15 Feb. 1893, AGN-RD, RREE 708423, exp. 1; Alejandro [Turull] to ministro de relaciones exteriores, San Juan, 24 Mar. 1893, AGN-RD, RREE 708423, exp. 1.
Letter 8, Santo Domingo, 1 Mar. 1893, AGN-RD, Interior y Policía 425525, p. 5; Cassá and Almonte, Eugenio Deschamps, 403 (quote), 405.
J. D. Matos to gefes de línea de este distrito, Barahona, 18 Mar. 1893, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 257.
Letter 34, Santo Domingo, 10 Mar. 1893, AGN-RD, Interior y Policía 425525, p. 20; J. D. Matos to gefes de la línea, de Neyba, y de Gimaní, Barahona, 29 Mar. 1893, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, pp. 261–64.
Letter 39, Santo Domingo, 13 Mar. 1893, AGN-RD, Interior y Policía 425525, p. 23.
Letter 66, Santo Domingo, 20 Mar. 1893, AGN-RD, Interior y Policía 425525, p. 39; letter 9, Santo Domingo, 1 Mar. 1893, AGN-RD, Interior y Policía 425525, p. 6.
Letter 106, Santo Domingo, 28 Mar. 1893, AGN-RD, Interior y Policía 425525, p. 68.
Letter 127, Santo Domingo, 7 Apr. 1893, AGN-RD, Interior y Policía 425525, p. 85; letter 129, Santo Domingo, 8 Apr. 1893, AGN-RD, Interior y Policía 425525, p. 86. The British consul in Haiti reported a rumor that Heureaux, desperate for funds, demanded an unspecified “indemnity” from the Haitian authorities, but neither administration described the alleged incident publicly. Arthur Tweedy to Earl of Roseberry, 27 Apr. 1893, The National Archives, Kew, Foreign Office 35/164, p. 133.
Martínez, Diccionario, 143.
Letter 264, Santo Domingo, 17 July 1893, AGN-RD, Interior y Policía 425525, pp. 232–33. Political prisoners arrived to the capital in the hold of an appropriately named warship, El Presidente. Letter 10, Santo Domingo, 1 Mar. 1893, AGN-RD, Interior y Policía 425525, p. 7; letter 86, Santo Domingo, 26 Mar. 1893, AGN-RD, Interior y Policía 425525, p. 54.
Paulino Ramos, Censos municipales, 72.
Letter 149, Santo Domingo, 15 Apr. 1893, AGN-RD, Interior y Policía 425525, p. 98.
Sang, Ulises Heureaux, 8.
Balcácer, Lilís, 13, 19, 27, 31.
Mañé might refer to “Haitian” as well as “witch.” Ryan, “Border-Line Anxiety,” 32; Olivier, De nuestro lenguaje, 72.
Cestero, La sangre, 28.
Cestero, 19, 35–36; Cassá, Personajes dominicanos, 2:94. On the significance of animals and shape-shifting, see Derby, “Trujillo”; Derby, “Male Heroism.” Other prominent military men had portentous nicknames; General Ogando was called La Chiva, the female goat. Prestol Castillo, Pablo Mamá, xiv.
Sosa Leyba, Historia emocional, 106.
See, for example, Francisco Gregorio Billini's Baní, o Engracia y Antoñita (1892). Alcántara Almánzar, “Black Images,” 166.
Rosario, La oligarquía, 10. See also Martínez-Vergne, Nation and Citizen, 53.
Mella, Los espejos.
Ricourt, Dominican Racial Imaginary, 95. See also Adams, “History at the Crossroads,” 10.
“Esta noche va a llover / agua colorá, / pa las habichuelas / que tengo sembrá.” Robert, La evolución histórica, 105. The song has no date but is probably from the late 1860s. On music and memory, see Njoroge, Chocolate Surrealism.
On imaginaries of whiteness, see, for example, Gomez, Exchanging Our Country Marks, 199. Some Dominicans of color used white as synonymous with foreigner. Eller, We Dream Together, 35. The record of vocabulary for suspect outsiders—“grands blancs,” “gros souliers,” “blan”—is rich in Haitian scholarship. Trouillot, Haiti, 40, 54.
Cassá, Personajes dominicanos, 2:94.
J. D. Matos to procurador fiscal de Barahona, Barahona, 5 Jan. 1891, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 137; Cassá, Personajes dominicanos, 2:89; Cassá and Almonte, Eugenio Deschamps, 409; Ricourt, Dominican Racial Imaginary, 109. Changó or Shango is sometimes a manifestation of an Ogou known as Achade, who is understood to be a sorcerer, a fortuitous ally in contests of an underdog. Brown, “Systematic Remembering,” 79.
J. D. Matos to the gefes comunales y de la línea de este distrito, Barahona, 25 Mar. 1893, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 259.
Ulises Heureaux to V. P. Wenceslao Figuereo, Azua, 20 Dec. 1893, quoted in Balcácer, Lilís, 49.
“Bon Guié, ban moin Salnave / La Vièrge ban moin Delorme / Cacos vle ouété li (bis) / N'a bay yo cannon / N'a bay yo boulet.” Nicholls, From Dessalines to Duvalier, 284n4. I am translating “Bon Guié” as Bondye rather than Gede.
Bilby, True-Born Maroons, 140; Eller, We Dream Together, 42, 161. Lugarú (or lougawou, loup-garou) and galipotes are creatures known to the island that are said to be immune to bullets; someone with the power to transform into these would be very fearsome. Trujillo Temboury, El habla, 271.
Bilby, True-Born Maroons, 164, 207–9. For an example of a territory becoming synonymous with resistance, see Krug, Fugitive Modernities.
Martínez, Diccionario, 505.
Elizabeth McCalister, quoted in Derby, “Imperial Idols,” 399. See also Martínez, Diccionario, 103.
Martínez, Diccionario, 20, 519. Alternate spellings for biembín include bienbién (plural, bienbienes) and vienvén (plural, vienvenes), references perhaps evoking an individual beckoning another to safety in French: “Viens! Viens!” Pimentel, “Las ciguapas.” Use of biembín extended to the southern coast to Saltrou (today, Bèlans or Belle-Anse) and to Mirebalais, both in Haiti.
Martínez, Diccionario, 519. I am grateful to Neici Zeller, Milagros Ricourt, April Mayes, and Zaida Corniel for discussion of these terms. Other names for the rebellion include cuando los quiquises, cuando los siete meses, cuando la revolución de los pinos, the Bimbines Revolution, the Bimbines Insurrection, and the Bimbines Movement, among other names. Martínez, 519.
Robert, La evolución histórica, 128; letter 440, Santo Domingo, 25 Oct. 1893, AGN-RD, Interior y Policía 425525, pp. 332–33; J. D. Matos to the gefes comunales de este distrito, Barahona, 20 Jan. 1894, AGN-RD, Gobernación 410675, p. 321. One author, perhaps referencing biblical numerology, claims that Mamá was returning from a baptism in Cambronal and that three separate ambushes were set up for his return, each with three gunmen. Mamá was shot at three in the afternoon on a Sunday. Prestol, “Presentación.”
Robert, La evolución histórica, 107.
Robert, 132. Ramírez Suero, Fundación, 112, says Matos shot himself the same night.
Cassá, Personajes dominicanos, 2:105; letter 264, Santo Domingo, 23 May 1893, AGN-RD, Interior y Policía 425525, pp. 170–71.
Letter 499, Santo Domingo, 24 Nov. 1893, AGN-RD, Interior y Policía 425525, pp. 364–68; Sosa Leyba, Historia emocional, 88.
Letter 525, Santo Domingo, 12 Dec. 1893, AGN-RD, Interior y Policía 425525, p. 382.
Balcácer, Lilís, 45, 49, 55, 59.
Cassá, Personajes dominicanos, 2:102; Sang, Ulises Heureaux, 78.
“We do not believe any of it,” one Haitian journalist wrote, about rumors of border conflict, several years later. RP, “Dominicains et Haïtiens,” L'A B C (Port-au-Prince), 3 Apr. 1897, p. 4.
“Ya matán a Joaquín Campos / matán a Pablo Mamá / Matán a Minguillán / Se acabaron los papá.” Sosa Leyba, Historia emocional, 88.
On father as a somewhat portable reference to kinship and also to deference in other contexts, see Sweet, Domingos Álvares, 126.
Smith, Liberty; Muller, Cuban Émigrés.
St. John, Line in the Sand, 4.
Foundational studies include LeGrand, Frontier Expansion; McCreery, Rural Guatemala; Gotkowitz, Revolution for Our Rights.
González Canalda, Línea Noroeste.
Robert, La evolución histórica, 100; Cassá, Personajes dominicanos, 2:89.
Ubiera, “Contrapunteo dominicano,” 72–73.
Guidotti-Hernández, “Borderlands Scholarship,” 489; Schmidt Camacho, “Ciudadana X,” 256.
Rodríguez Demorizi, La muerte de Lilís, 159.
Ricourt, Dominican Racial Imaginary, 115.
McKittrick, Demonic Grounds, 6.
Authorities referred to small farmers as “Haitian invaders” and recast the “generative potency” of the territory as threatening. Quotes from, respectively, Baud, “Una frontera-refugio,” 42; Derby, “Haitians,” 520. See also Turits, “World Destroyed.” On “fugitive landscapes” and other normative cartographic concerns of nineteenth-century administrators throughout Latin America, see Craib, Cartographic Mexico; Appelbaum, Mapping the Country of Regions. On rendering borderlands and coastal blackness as liminal to or excluded from national projects, see Hooker, “Race and the Space of Citizenship”; Leal, Landscapes of Freedom.
Martínez, Diccionario, 49.
Davis, La ruta hacia Liborio; Derby, Dictator's Seduction, 227–56; Lundius and Lundahl, Peasants and Religion.
Ricourt, Dominican Racial Imaginary, 100–101; Ferrer, “Rustic Men.”
Prestol Castillo, Pablo Mamá. Prestol Castillo wrote the novel in the 1940s; it was published posthumously. On Trujillo-era writers' depiction of borderlands leaders as “criminal and aberrant,” see Di Pietro, Las mejores novelas dominicanas, 26.