Ramón E. Betances, Puerto Rico and Haiti


After brief periods of exile in St. Thomas, Venezuela and New York, Ramón Emeterio Betances moved to Jacmel, Haiti, where he spent the next five years (1870-1875).  As a doctor, political mediator and eventually a delegate in the Cuban Republican Party, he was able to befriend a wide array of politicians, intellectuals and common folk. The Betances’ family had a long political history with Haiti, centered on the defense of Dominican nationalism and sovereignty. Betances’ grandfather participated in the 1844 “Trinitaria Movement” ousting then-president Boyer and ending the Haitian occupation of the Dominican Republic. Twenty years later Ramón E. Betances, worked in a political coalition with Haiti during the Restoration War of the 1860’s.  Haiti played a key supportive role in the effort to prevent Spain from “restoring” the Dominican Republic to colonial status, and it was during this juncture that Betances emerged as a key conciliatory figure between the anti-colonial movements on the island of Hispaniola and those in Cuba and Puerto Rico. For Betances, republicanism was was linked to abolitionism and the glorification of Haitian leaders such as Toussaint L’Ouverture.  In 1869, Betances translated U.S. abolitionist Wendell Phillips’ essay “Toussaint L’Ouverture” into Spanish and published it in the form of a political pamphlet entitled Toussaint L’Ouverture: Discurso de Wendell Phillips. Traducido del inglés por un Puerto-riqueño. Around the same time he wrote an essay entitled A Cuba Libre: Ensayo sobre Alejandro Petión, which he published in New York.

Jossiano Arroyo, “Revolution in the Caribbean: Betances, Haiti and the Antillean Confederation,” La Habana Elegante (Summer 2011)

Image: Antonio Martorell, Betances, 1970. Source: Sam L. Slick Collection of Latin American Posters, University of New Mexico Digital Collections.

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  1. Posted June 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Ramón E. Betances, Puerto Rico and Haiti: http://t.co/UtOlZA2A

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