Local August 16, 2022 | 8:02 am

159 years of the Restoration

Santiago, DR
Today is Independence Restoration Day, commemorating the war that began on August 16, 1863, and ended on July 15, 1865, in which Dominicans fought to break the Spanish annexation, an objective they achieved.

Even though many territories were destroyed and agricultural lands were affected, the country was proud of having managed to make the Spaniards abandon the nation, which in the following years was politically unstable.

The Restoration War occurred in the context of annexing the Dominican Republic to Spain. This decision was made in March 1861 by the pro-independence general Pedro Santana and was caused by the political, economic, and social contradictions that the Quisqueyanos of the time had with the Spanish government, according to Dominican historian Edwin Espinal.

“The Restoration War was an anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist reaction, in addition to being a war of national liberation,” said the historian consulted.

Historian Roberto Cassá, in his book “Personajes Dominicanos, Tomo I,” explains that Pedro Santana had favored annexation to the United States in the understanding that the power would give a better future to the Dominican Republic. “Spain was interested in expanding its colonial power, so the possession of Santo Domingo came to be seen as a means of consolidating its dominion over Cuba and Puerto Rico, which explains why Santana’s offers were well received in the ruling circles of Madrid,” Cassá relates.

“The population showed an attitude of expectation of what the Spanish regime could bring. A majority national conscience had not yet taken hold that would favor the existence of an independent state. Many people considered that the external domination would bring the prosperity that the Dominican governments had been unable to achieve,” Cassá quotes.

The event had restoration heroes who battled in different geographical, historical, and temporal spaces. Some did so at the time it began in the Northwest Line, and, in addition, they did not have preponderant roles when the Restoration Government was installed at the end of the conflict.

Among the participants were Lucas Evangelista De Peña, Benito Monción, Santiago Rodríguez, Pedro Antonio Pimentel, José Antonio Salcedo, Máximo Grullón, José María Cabral, and Gregorio Luperón, who became prominent after the Battle of Santiago, on September 6, 1863, when he was appointed to lead the army to stop the advance of the Spanish troops under the command of General Pedro Santana.

The caudillo was trying to reach the Cibao from the eastern region to put an end to the government that had been installed in the heart of the city.

The conflict was a great defeat for Spain in the economic sphere and the war supplies used.

Additionally, they lost a great number of men who were part of the Spanish army and were defeated by the guerrilla system implemented by the Dominicans, which they did not know and is known as “guerrilla warfare.”

The national protagonists generally did not battle in a frontal manner but attacked Spanish colonies that were passing through roads and took advantage of these moments to implement guerrilla warfare.

In the book “Homage to Mella,” published by the Dominican Academy of History, there is an instructive for guerrilla warfare, dated January 26, 1864, a few months after the beginning of the epic. The text is quite brief (only two pages), but in it, nine recommendations are made to the Dominican combatants, where, in summary, they are explained what things they should do to dominate the combats and put the enemy at a disadvantage.

The first of these recommendations says: “In the present struggle and the military operations undertaken, it is necessary to use the greatest prudence, always observing with the greatest caution and astuteness so as not to be surprised, thus equaling the superiority of the enemy in numbers, discipline and resources.” In the text written by Matías Ramón Mella and signed by the vice president of the Provisional Restoration Government, Benigno Filomeno de Rojas, there are several recommendations for victory.

Guerrilla Manual
Recommendation number 5: “We must never let ourselves be surprised, and surprise them whenever possible and even if it is only one man.” While number 6 explains: “Do not let them sleep neither day nor night so that the diseases make more havoc in them than our weapons. This service should be done only by small groups of our men, and the rest should rest and sleep.” On March 3, 1865, the queen annulled the annexation, and on July 15, the Spanish troops left the country.

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