The 16th of August is an exceptional day for residents of the Dominican Republic, and it is often called Dia de la Restauracion (Restoration day). It is considered by most residents to be their second Independence Day. It is a holiday from work and also a time to celebrate with family and friends their beautiful country and all the struggles they went through to become independent.
The history of this second independence begins back in March of 1861 when then-President Pedro Santana handed control of his government over to Spain. Although many in the country disagreed with him, he felt the proclamation was necessary because the Republic was being threatened by Haitian invasion from the outside and internal gang wars from within. Caught between the two warring factions, the President found the country ungovernable, so he called on the resources of the Spanish government to restore order to the Republic, and the Spaniards required his resignation before they would assist. Unfortunately, the President’s resignation was met with stiff resistance by the people, notably when the Spaniards announced their intention to reintroduce slavery to the island.
A group of patriots led by Gregorio Luperón and Santiago Rodríguez staged a coup against the Spaniards in Santo Domingo, the capital, in August of 1863. They also planted the Dominican flag on the hill of Capotillo in an act known as the Grito de Capotillo. These two actions marked the beginning of the War of Restoration and had the full support of the indigenous people. Although it took more than a few months, the last Spanish were expelled from the country, and the Dominican Republic achieved its second day of Independence.
Wednesday, August 16th these brave and momentous acts are celebrated in the Dominican Republic with processions and parades every year. The “Día de la Restauración,” their celebration of democracy, usually begins with a Presidential speech including both the country’s performance throughout the year and also highlighting the hopeful progress of the year to come. In the Dominican Republic, August 16th is a day of grand celebrations and even small family gatherings. Although it is not as elaborate as Mardi Gras celebrations, costumed people are still part of the festivities and the parades that take place throughout the island. Laughter and joy are contagious and the costumes worn are everything from the homemade to the most magnificent. Traditional male folk dancers and beautiful girls in stunning costume dress celebrate in the streets throughout the day, and the parades are fun for every one of all ages.