A Brief Overview of the Dominican Republic



  • The nation’s official flag was adopted on November 6 1844.
  • It features blue in the top left and bottom right corners, which is symbolic of liberty.
  • Red fills the remaining corners and is symbolic of fire and the blood shed in the struggle for independence.
    • These colors are said to be from the Haitian and French flags, though they have different meanings.
  • The national coat of arms in the middle of the cross has several aspects, many of them relating to God.coatofarmsdominicanrepublicflag
    • In the center of the symbol is a bible with a golden cross hovering above it.
    • Above the shield of the Dominican flag in which the bible rests is a ribbon with the motto “Dios, Patrio, Libertad” which translates to “God, Fatherland, Liberty.”
    • The emblem also features olive and palm branches. Generally, the palm branch is associated with Christianity while the olive branch is a symbol of peace.
  • Without the emblem, the flag is flown by private citizens. The Dominican government adds the coat in accordance with the presidential decree of 1913



  • The Dominican Republic was first discovered by Christopher Columbus on his voyage in 1492 and was originally named La Española. Columbus’ son, Diego, was the colony’s first viceroy.
  • Established in 1496, the capital, Santo Domingo, is Europe’s oldest settlement in the Western Hemisphere.
  • The colony was first under Spanish rule, then given to the French in 1795. From the French, Haitians led by Toussaint L’Ouverture claimed the colony in 1801.
  • The colony became a republic in 1808 after the people revolted, but Spain soon regained power in 1814.
  • In 1821 the people took back power from the Spanish, but the next year the land was taken over by the Haitians. In 1844 the Haitians were overthrown and the Dominican Republic was established, but continued attacks by the Haitians made the leader, Pedro Santana, turn the country into a province of
  • Spain from 1861 to 1865.
  • In 1870 the president, Buenaventura Báez, tried to have the country annexed to the U.S. to solve its economic problems, but the U.S. refused to sign the treaty.
  • The country remained in a state of disorder until the dictatorship of Ulíses Heureaux in 1916. When chaos resumed, the U.S. sent a troop of marines who stayed until 1924.
  • The marines trained Sgt. Rafáel Leonides Trujillo Molina, who eventually began a 31 year dictatorship that started in 1930 and ended with his assassination in 1961.
  • The next year, Juan Bosch, a member of the leftist Dominican Revolutionary party, became the first democratically elected leader in four decades.


  • The official language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish.
    • Dominicans tend to use certain words dating back to the Spanish occupation of the Dominican Republic rather than adapting to modern Spanish.
  • Due to the country’s history with Haitians, Haitian creole is also spoken.
    • The speakers of Haitian creole are primarily of Haitian descent and they make up 160,000 of the country’s inhabitants. The language has been influenced by French, Spanish, and West African languages.
  • Southwestern Creole English is by 22,000 people and the language has West African and English influences.
  • Samaná English, which is similar to Creole English, is spoken by 8,000 people in the northeast.
  • English is spoken minimally and can generally only be heard in tourist areas.
  • Finally, due to an influx of refugees during the Chinese Revolution, 25,000 of the country’s inhabitants speak Chinese.



  • The most followed Religion in the Dominican Republic is Roman Catholicism, with 90% of the population claiming to be practicing Roman Catholics.
  • This is due to the country being formerly under Spanish rule as Spaniards were very strict followers of the religion and forced Roman Catholicism on the residents of all the territories it claimed.
  • Dominican Catholicism― a blend of Roman Catholicism and Santeria, which is influenced heavily by African traditions― is also very prominent.
  • Religions outside of the realm of Catholicism are present as well, including:
    • Protestantism
    • Seventh Day Adventistism
    • Baptist
    • Mormonism
    • Judaism

Music & Dance


  • Merengue is the most popular form of music and dance in the Dominican Republic. Merengue is famous for its 2/2 beat pattern  and 2/4 time which makes for great dancing music.
  • The three instruments used to create the iconic Merengue sound are the melodeon (an accordion-like instrument), güira (a grater-looking instrument that is scraped), and the tambora (double-headed drum).
  • There are several theories as to the origin of the merengue dance but the most widely accepted is that it was developed by slaves who were chained at the ankles and were therefore forced to dragged one foot to the beat of the drum. Another story, which is particularly popular on the island says that slaves witnessed their masters dancing in their homes and began to mimic them when holding their own festivities. It is said that they added the upbeat drum rhythm because the original European dance was perceived as boring.
  • Particularly popular in the more rural regions of the Dominican Republic, is Bachata . This is music with a more melancholy beat and 4/4 time, and it talks mostly about life in the country and relationships between men and women.



  • Santo Domingo is at the center of the Dominican art scene as it is home to the Museum of  Modern Art and Museo Bellapart, two beautiful art museums in the heart of the city that display 20th century and contemporary artwork of both Dominican artists and other artists who worked on the island.  
  • Celeste Woss y Gil and Yoryi Morel are historically two of the island’s most well-known artists who were primarily acclaimed for their portraits of women and the development of the modernist school of Dominican painting, respectively. The Dominican Republic has a lengthy history in the fine arts that stretches back to when the country gained its independence in the 1800s. Upon gaining independence the national art scene emerged, making paintings and drawings centered around newfound independence and the overall beauty of the island landscape very commonplace.
  • Outside of museums, Dominican art can be appreciated by taking a simple stroll through El Conde in Santo Domingo, a street teeming with tourists and eager merchant artists. Dominican art is typically associated with bright, vibrant colors that reflect the colorful personality of the island and it’s people.

Festivals & Games

  • 4e4124e4128a45bc8c9b9da7b6234d52   Carnival Cimarrón is a festival in which townspeople adorned with demon masks descend on the city from the lagoon and castigate passers-by with whips. Carnival is one of the most colorful and lively traditions of the Dominican Republic. It is celebrated in all regions of the country, where costumes and masks with different meanings are used. On February 27, coinciding with National Independence parades take place in the major cities of the country, drawing out huge and eager crowds of excited locals.
  • Every year, in July, Santo Domingo dances to the rhythm of merengue. The capital of the Dominican Republic celebrates the merengue festival for one whole week during which the city is filled with music, dance, markets and food stalls.
  • Three Kings’ Day, a holiday celebrated in other Caribbean countries as well, is the major gift-giving holiday in the Dominican Republic surpassing Christmas in that arena.
  • The game of dominoes can be enjoyed by players of all ages but is quite favored, particularly amongst Dominican men and is one that is enjoyed frequently throughout the Caribbean.


  • Dominican cuisine takes its influences primarily from Spanish, indigenous Taíno, and African cuisine. Dominican cuisine also resembles that of neighboring countries like Cuba and Puerto Rico.
  • Staple foods in the Dominican diet include rice, corn, meat, seafood, beans, plantains, cassava, and yuca. A few signature dishes include tostones, bollitos de yuca o plátano maduro (yuca or  plantain fritter balls stuffed with cheese), chapea (a stew of red or white beans with sausage, mashed squash, and ripe plantains), arañitas (shredded yuca fritters mixed with eggs, sugar, and anise seeds).
  • Arroz con leche (rice pudding), and crème caramel (flan), are two desserts that belong not only to the Dominican Republic, but to several other caribbean islands as well.
  • The typical Dominican breakfast consists of mangú (boiled and mashed green plantains), fried eggs, fried salami, fried cheese, and sometimes avocado. Los Tres Golpes, owhich translates to “The Three Hits”, is the name given to the dish in reference to mangú with the three fried sides.
  • As it is in Spain, lunch in the Dominican Republic is both the largest and most important meal of the day. A traditional lunch, called La Bandera meaning “The Flag”, consists of rice, red beans, and meat (beef, chicken, pork, or fish) and sometimes an accompanying salad.

The End of the Flint Water Crisis is Near

An agreement between Flint residents and the state of Michigan has been reached regarding the persisting issue of the Flint Water crisis. The issue is to be presented to U.S. District Judge David Lawson who is expected to agree to its terms and oversee its enforcement.

The agreement will require Michigan to give 87 million dollars to the city of Flint so that it may repair 18,000 damaged pipelines by January 1, 2020. It will not require Flint to offer door-to-door water delivery service as many requested, but the free water and filters currently being provided to residents will continue to be a service so long as demand is high.

This agreement has made the best of a bad situation. It was made through the process of mediation between the state of Michigan and those who brought a suit against Michigan, which I find especially nice because it means that the two parties took time out to plan an agreement they each felt was fair. It’s also fortunate that this horrible situation is ending peacefully, since Flint residents have suffered and fought for three years.

Though I’ve only read an abridged version of the agreement, I feel that the deal is almost perfect. The only downside I can find is that it doesn’t seem that Flint is required to fix all of the damaged pipelines because the agreement only mentioned 18,000, indicating to me that there are more.

However, there is a lot of good, including the fact that Medicaid expansion for Flint residents will continue through March 2020 and will cover pregnant women and children under 21 for up to 400% of their poverty level. Additionally, after pipelines that provide water to homes are fixed, the homeowners will receive a year’s supply of water filters for free.

Social Media and Journalism

Tuesday, I along with some fellow Harbinger staffers, went on a downtown adventure to attend the school board’s bi-annual Student Social Media  Journalism Forum. The panelists included The Harbinger‘s very own Neyda Borges as well as esteemed broadcast journalists Ari Odzer and Patricia Hurtado de Mendoza, student journalist Marcus Frias, and communications expert Matthew Beatty. The superintendent, Alberto Carvalho, also dropped by to share some inspiring words in defense of journalism and the work that young journalists like us do. The panelists used their own experiences to give insightful answers to questions we all may have had, and since the forum is about social media, we took to social media to share them. Here are the tweets of my favorite pearls of wisdom from that day:

These inspiring words on the role of journalism made me appreciate the field more and strive to be better in every aspect of it.

The speakers also told us the importance of social media, how it is shaping journalism, and how to use it responsibly.

As student journalists it can sometimes feel like doors are closed because of how young we are, but Marcus advised us not to give up. Having faced age discrimination before he knew how hard it could be, but he also knew how rewarding it was when you worked hard and were finally seen as a capable journalist despite your youth.

Ari told us several times of how hard it can be to detach yourself from an emotional situation and get the job done, especially when it comes to interviewing people.

This piece of advice by Matthew appealed to me not only as a journalist, but as an aspiring fiction author as well.

Finally, these may not be pearls of wisdom, but I just loved to see professional journalists enjoying our work.


Don’t forget to read The Harbinger’s coverage of the event!

“Sesame Street” Introduces Julia, its First Puppet with Autism

After 46 seasons, Sesame Street is finally introducing an autistic character for its 47th. The puppet, named Julia, has appeared in Street books and the app, but she will not make her television debut until this April.

Julia is part of the “Sesame Street and Autism: See Amazing in All Children”campaign by Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit education organization backing Street. The organization paired with experts in the autism community to make Julia a truly accurate portrayal of  a child on the autism spectrum and to lessen the stigma of autism seen in children and adults.

Recently, the media has been trying to portray diverse characters from all walks of life, especially in children’s programs. This is wonderful because it helps children learn from a young age how to be accepting of people who are different from them, and it can teach their parents as well.

Not only that, but when kids see themselves represented in their favorite movies, shows, and books it helps them accept themselves, especially if they are somewhat different and don’t necessarily fit in with other children. So, Julia coming to Sesame Street, during Autism Awareness Month no less, is one of the best things that can happen.

According to Autism Speaks, a 2015 government study says that 1 in 45 American children between the ages of 3 and 17 are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Since Sesame Street  is one of those shows that everyone grows up on, no doubt there are plenty of autistic children who watch the show now; with Julia, they’ll finally see themselves represented.

And those children who aren’t autistic that watch the show will be introduced to a new character with a disorder that one of their friends or future friends may have. Having been introduced to the kind of behavior a child with autism exhibits, they’ll likely have no problem accepting autistic children; as opposed to the stigma there is about them today.

Hopefully, Julia will help us stop thinking of autism as something so bad that it’s an insult, and instead show us that there is amazing in all children.

More Babies are being Born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

The number of babies being born that suffer from withdrawal of opiates, a condition called neonatal abstinence syndrome, is increasing.

Babies born with the condition scream out in pain, are irritable and uncomfortable, have difficulty sleeping, and suffer from vomiting and diarrhea. Other more serious side effects include problems with growth and development as well as seizures.

Coupled with the increasing frequency of neonatal abstinence syndrome is a growing divide in the number of babies born with the condition as well as complications of births involving maternal opioid use between rural and urban women.

Rural women are giving birth to more babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome than urban women and they are experiencing more compilations, prompting some to call for better and more accessible methods of treatment for addicts in rural areas.

As I was researching the topic I thought that mothers who were addicts should be prevented from having children, and then I realized that that solution was not an option. No institution can force a woman not to have a baby if she chooses to (rightfully so), and there’s nothing that can be done to take the baby out of a dangerous environment until after it’s born.

then realized the only solution would be to rehabilitate addicts to prevent their babies from having neonatal abstinence syndrome or any other birth defect. If the treatment is made accessible it is likely that many women will opt to take it, because if they really do want to keep their children they would do everything in their power to make sure that they were healthy and safe.


The Great Barrier Reef is Still in Trouble

For the second year in a row the Great Barrier Reef has experienced widespread bleaching. This marks the first time that the reef has not had several years to recover from bleaching events. Though not all of the affected corals will perish, the bleaching is still alarming.

This bleaching is a direct effect of global warming and it’s not confined to the Great Barrier Reef. If corals die, other species will lose their habitats and food sources and it’ll cause a chain reaction that will destroy one of the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems.

This is why it worries me that we have leaders that don’t believe in climate change. The Trump administration wouldn’t be able to make any laws regarding the Great Barrier Reef, but they probably won’t use their power to make changes in the U.S. either.

Trump has already called climate change a hoax, threatened to pull out of the Paris Agreement, and appointed Scott Pruitt, who denies climate change, as head of the EPA.

During the Trump administration we may see an exponential increase in environmental degradation, at least in the U.S., which adds to my alarm that we are already using Earth’s resources faster than they can replenish.


Outcast Child

The Glass Pavilion

O child, you were born so blessed.

You were so loved, because you were so beautiful.

Shaped in God’s own hand and knit together in your mother’s womb.

You were perfect.

O but child, life isn’t perfect.

Oh no, life doesn’t care about your beauty, your blessings.

Sweet child, you had better learn that life isn’t here to be your friend.

You are no one’s pride and joy

You aren’t the apple of anyone’s eye

You are not the one and only or the first love.

You are simply the extra, the burden.

You can be taken care of and handled, sure,

But child, you can’t pull on anyone’s heart string.

Know that you are the outcast child.

Understand that you are deprived, and you will be until you can fend for yourself.

But, honey, perfection never did last anywhere.

It ain’t your fault.

You can only be who you…

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March is Women’s History Month, a celebratory month I had only been made aware existed this year. I think this is due to the fact that women’s issues have been at the forefront of our nation’s discussions recently with the election and the Women’s March, and now that I’m older I’m able to see that more clearly.

So, because of the fact that it is Women’s History Month, I’d like to send a message to women everywhere about how amazing they are.

Dear Phenomenal Women,

You have faced adversity in every stage of your life and come out stronger each time. You are diamonds— forged in pressure and fire and you shine in the midst of ghastly chaos. Since the dawn of time you have been put down and labeled as lesser, but you refuse to accept such a role and instead rise like the phoenix in a blaze of glory. In the past you fought: you fought to be educated; you fought to vote; you fought for employment; you fought for fundamental liberties; and still today you fight for these things. You are warriors, fighting a never ending battle for independence and equality against adversaries intent on keeping you submissive. But submissive is something you never were. Never did you lay down and let your rights be stripped from you. Never have you sat idly by or remained silent in the face of injustice. Never have you been lesser than a man or any other being. For this you are phenomenal and an inspiration to the next generation of warriors. And for this I thank you.

Ensuring Sustainable Futures: What is Being Done Around the World to Protect the Environment

By Sabine Joseph

In recent years, advancements in science have shown that the world is facing serious environmental issues. Evidence of global warming, habitat loss, and species extinction aid the argument for the need for environmental laws essential to reversing their effects.

Between November and December of 2015, environmental issues were brought to the forefront of international debate with the Paris Climate Conference. The purpose of the conference was to discuss what was to be done about environmental issues on a global scale and to come to an agreement on how countries should take responsibility for and attempt to rehabilitate the environment.

While the conference had many other goals, one of the main ones was to halt global warming by “Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels,” according to Article 2 of the Agreement.

All countries that came to the Paris Agreement each had to come up with a plan on how to achieve this by 2030, most of which involve reducing carbon emissions by switching to clean energy to varying extents.

The U.S. is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, after China, and proposed a plan to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by 26 to 28 percent, compared to 2005 levels, by 2025 by switching to cleaner energy sources. However, recent political events in the U.S. may change this plan.

Now that Trump has been inaugurated as President of the United States, people are anticipating what he will do about the environmental issues that affect the country. He has already stated that he plans to drop out of the Paris Agreement, which the House is currently divided on, and to increase the use of coal-power.

His statements raised some concern in the international community, sparking a document to be drafted at the 2016 Marrakech Climate Conference calling on all nations to honor their agreement, but in the end it was decided that the plans of the Paris Agreement are greater than one country and will not be halted by one country’s failure to meet their agreement.

“I think what we have seen in recent months and, in fact, in recent years is a recognized inevitability of the transition to a low-carbon economy. And so the international community – the international business community, the international policy community – is moving forward and will continue to move forward,” said John Morton, director of energy and climate change for the National Security Council, at a State Department briefing.

In addition, to potentially backing out of the Paris Agreement, Trump has called the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a “disgrace” and vowed to dismantle it through defunding. He initially planned to do so by appointing Myron Ebell as the head of the EPA, however the fact that the position was given to Scott Pruitt instead has not changed his stance on the issue.

Climate change and threats to the purity of air and water are not the only hazards the environment is facing. Extinction is a natural process that has been in effect since the beginning of life on Earth, but it has been increasing at an alarming rate, largely due to human activities. In China, the trade of ivory and shark fins have caused massive declines in the populations of elephants and sharks, and recently the Chinese have been  making strides to reverse this.

On January 6, Air China announced a ban on the transportation of shark fins. As the national carrier for one of the world’s leading shark fin markets, many see this as a leap in preventing the consumption of shark fin and therefore in restoring shark populations to their natural levels.

“It’s a bold move, and . . . is likely to have a huge and lasting impact on shark populations and marine ecosystems worldwide,” said Alex Hofford, an activist with the WildAid conservation group, in an interview with The Washington Post.

Many other Chinese airlines and numerous container shipping containers have vowed to place a ban on shark fins. Additionally, the Chinese government placed a ban on shark fin soup, an Asian delicacy that is the premier reason for the shark fin trade, at state functions in 2012 and several restaurants followed the example by taking the dish off of their menus.

While there are still a large  number of restaurants that serve the dish, the increase in awareness of the negative effects the demand for the soup has on the shark population has made many Chinese citizens boycott the dish.

“The more people learn about the consequences of eating shark fin soup, the less they want to participate in the trade,” said Peter Knights, WildAid’s Executive Director.

In another attempt to put an end to the Chinese pursuit of endangered species for commercial use, the Chinese government will also be banning the trade of ivory.

Although the hunting of elephants for their tusks was already illegal and all legal ivory came from elephants that died of natural causes, the fact that ivory trade was legal allowed for a lot of black market ivory trade to take place. Oftentimes poachers sold their illegal goods and claimed them to be perfectly legitimate when questioned.

As with the shark fins, increased awareness has turned off Chinese citizens from purchasing ivory goods. Now that China is cracking down on the ivory trade, there is hope that elephant populations will rise and that the Chinese will stop coveting products made from endangered species.

“There have just been a lot of really encouraging signs in the past couple of months of China’s will to change this worrying trend of consuming endangered wildlife. And so they should be given a lot of credit,” says Steve Blake, the chief representative of WildAid in China.

SeaWorld in San Diego announced that it is changing  its orca shows. The San Diego park will be making the change by this summer while the Orlando and San Antonio parks will follow suit by 2019.

The parks will no longer put on theatrical shows with their orcas and will instead introduce an educational experience that demonstrates the way orcas behave in the wild. However, despite the claim that the exhibit is no longer theatrical, the orcas will still receive instructional cues from their trainers.

“You will still see a whale leaping out of the water. We want to be able to demonstrate behaviors people would see in the wild with the killer whales and their abilities as a top predator in the sea,” said Al Garver, former orca trainer for SeaWorld and the vice president of zoological operations, to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The park is taking these measures due to fervent protest and a decline in ticket sales thought to be caused by the 2013 documentary “Blackfish,” which followed the life of Tilikum, the SeaWorld orca that killed one of his trainers in 2010.

The documentary condemns the captivity of orcas on the premise that it makes them more aggressive and the director, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, has expressed that she believes SeaWorld’s new approach does not change anything.

“The trainers aren’t safe, and the whales aren’t happy,” Cowperthwaite said in an interview with CBS. “They’re still just doing manic circles around concrete swimming pools.”

Though President Trump is opposed to taking measures to prevent further environmental degradation, it seems that the rest of the world is willing to take steps to better the environment.

And while these changes may not solve the issue of environmental degradation right away, they are taking a step to creating a global environment capable of sustaining life far into the future.

Everything You Need to Ace the FSA Writing Exam

The Harbinger

By Sabine Joseph

So, the FSA is around the corner and you need some last minute tips to guarantee that you dominate the exam. Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s start with the things you need to do that don’t involve cracking open a book and cramming it’s contents into your head. Arguably the two most important things to do before the exam are to get a good night’s sleep and have a nutritious breakfast.

Though you may think that staying up late will guarantee you a passing score, it actually does the opposite. Past a certain time, your brain can no longer comprehend and memorize information, so trying to force it to do so is a moot effort.

Additionally, no matter how much you memorized the night before, it is useless if you’re too tired to focus and do your best on the test.

Breakfast is another…

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