What would Betances say?

Tordok

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Oct 6, 2003
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Hi all,
Things have changed quite a bit since the mid and late 1800?s but I?m interested in the opinions that DR1 History buffs have regarding the historical significance and relevance of Dr. Ram?n Emeterio Betances.

He was the one with the idea of a formal alliance among the free creole nations of the Greater Antilles (Cuba, both nations of Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico). We now still see that PR has noticeable economic development but lacks sovereignty because it never won independence; Cuba gained its independence, was able to flourish for a while but because of excesses of the conservatives then fell to be ruled by an undemocratic leftist regime; Haiti was first (after the US) in gaining its freedom from foreign masters in the Americas, but has been dead last in economic development for a very long time; and then we have the DR, which in theory is free and democratic and growing economically but again slowed by the same inefficiencies of 2 centuries ago: political opportunism, corruption, favoritism, and anti-business legal framework. We are again with the opportunity to lead, and again seem to be failing ourselves and our sister nations.

We tend to focus on the bad guys of the XIXth century: B?ez, Santana, Lil?s, easily identifiable conservative/despotic predecessors of Trujillo and Balaguer of the XXth century. But have a lower level of collective awareness of the progressive and heroic element of that era. Men like Luper?n and Meri?o, Hostos, Betances, Mart?. These guys thought rationally and regionally. They had a concept of empowerment for the people of the Antilles; abolition of slavery, end to colonial rule, secular education for the masses, free and representative electoral systems, judiciary independence, formal development of entrepreneurship and economic development, etc.. And rather than focus on petty issues like many of us seem to do these days; Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Haitians should be helping each other out. All these nations have had socio-political cross-pollination for centuries, and best exemplified, in my opinion by Betances. He was a true ?hermano? to the peoples of all these islands and nations.

The frequently forgotten Dr. Betances was many things: a scientist, a humanist, a politician, a diplomat, a thinker, an orator, a writer, an abolitionist, a revolutionary, a businessman, etc. Betances? biography is quite impressive and many of us forget that people like him did exist back then. I strongly recommended to read these articles before entering the discussion:

Ramón Emeterio Betances - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Wikipedia article seems to have been written by a freemason, but if you disregard this bias it does make good summary of the man?s imprint in Caribbean life.

Pasi?n dominicana del Doctor Betances
Betances is a leading figure in PR and Cuba. But the French investigator that gave this talk in PR about Betances? , highlights the man?s relevance as a Dominican.Too bad it is in Spanish only.

Regards,

Tordok
 

A.Hidalgo

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Apr 28, 2006
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Truly inspiring history of a great man. A kind of Renaissance man. I specially admire his passion for liberation not only in his birthplace but of other countries. The fact that he was an ambassador for the Dominican Republic and Cuba is a testament to that ideal.

What would Betances say to the present reality of the Greater Antilles.....pero que paso aqui!!!!! what happened here.:surprised:disappoin
 

bilijou

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Jun 13, 2006
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Amazing bio. I had heard of him before, but never knew he acted as Ambassador of the DR.

This notion of hispanic unification dreamt by Bolivar for South America and Betances (+others) for the Greater Antilles died before the begining of last century... nevertheless, I love the movement around this time led by people like Betances, Eugenio Maria de Hostos, Maximo Gomez, Pedro Francisco Bono...
 

Tordok

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Oct 6, 2003
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There really should be a movie about this guy....there are elements of political intrigue, perilous escapes and travels, social and racial tensions in the Caribbean, the high-life of XIXth century Paris, and of course, an exemplary representative of what our Antillean peoples can produce. The man was a true patriot who transcended nationalities and fought with elegance and bravery against tyrants and cowards everywhere he saw them.

I ask about him because I find no equivalent in today's Latin Caribbean, there is no Justice/Freedom fighter whom raises the aspirational bar for the people, instead of lowering the bar like Ch?vez does with his vulgar populism. All other national "leaders" in the area- including Leonel- are plain bureocratic administrators that the powerful economic interests rotate with others so that we can all pretend to live in democratic societies. Where are the transformative leaders of the 21st Century Caribbean?? Why is the model of mano-dura like seen with Lil?s, Fidel, or Balaguer, the one model that people think is "the only one that works around here". Where are the progressives? Are there any progressives left in the regional public arena.

- Tordok
 

A.Hidalgo

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Apr 28, 2006
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I can think of one...Rub?n Berr?os of Puerto Rico. Probably unknown to many here. Individuals with progressive ideas are usually not found in your local morning news programs. Unfortunately the mainstream media pretty much has a blackout on them. You have to do your own historical research to know about their existence.:disappoin
 

El sabelot?

*** Sin Bin ***
Jan 7, 2008
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I can think of one...Rub?n Berr?os of Puerto Rico. Probably unknown to many here. Individuals with progressive ideas are usually not found in your local morning news programs. Unfortunately the mainstream media pretty much has a blackout on them. You have to do your own historical research to know about their existence.:disappoin

I've been listening to Berr?os since I was a young kid; he's more in line with Isa Conde. Betances was more than just politics-as-usual - a true progressive, as Tordok indicated.
 

margaret

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Aug 9, 2006
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I ask about him because I find no equivalent in today's Latin Caribbean, there is no Justice/Freedom fighter whom raises the aspirational bar for the people, instead of lowering the bar like Ch?vez does with his vulgar populism. All other national "leaders" in the area- including Leonel- are plain bureocratic administrators that the powerful economic interests rotate with others so that we can all pretend to live in democratic societies. Where are the transformative leaders of the 21st Century Caribbean?? Why is the model of mano-dura like seen with Lil?s, Fidel, or Balaguer, the one model that people think is "the only one that works around here". Where are the progressives? Are there any progressives left in the regional public arena.
Could it be possible that the people who would have become today's transformative leaders all emigrated? Seriously, I can't help but wonder if the braindrain had an impact on social process in some parts of the world including the Caribbean.
Finance & Development, June 1999 - How Extensive Is the Brain Drain?

Who would imagine that today one woman from the island of Hispaniola would be Commander-in-Chief of Canada's mission in Afghanistan!:cheeky:

Governor General of Canada

Sssshhhh.. no heckling from the peanut gallery! ;)
 

A.Hidalgo

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Apr 28, 2006
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No peanut gallery here, but any leader that's labeled progressive which goes hand in hand with being nationalistic either stays or goes back to their country of birth. As for the Governor General of Canada, Haiti should be very proud that one of its daughters has captured that position in Canada.


we are going off topic and my apologies to Tordok
 

margaret

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Aug 9, 2006
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No peanut gallery here, but any leader that's labeled progressive which goes hand in hand with being nationalistic either stays or goes back to their country of birth. As for the Governor General of Canada, Haiti should be very proud that one of its daughters has captured that position in Canada.


we are going off topic and my apologies to Tordok

But Betances did not confine himself to the country of his birth, he was recognized for his work against cholera in France, represented Cuba, organized support for Cuban independence, represented the Dominican Republic, and had this vision of an Antillean Federation that included non-Latin countries. Seems to me, he wasn't just a nationalist who had to stay or go back to Puerto Rico. That's what was so remarkable about him.

Thank you Tordok for the introduction to Betances -- food for thought!

Perhaps the next leader will appear, Harvard or Yale educated...
 

Tordok

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Oct 6, 2003
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I can think of one...Rub?n Berr?os of Puerto Rico. Probably unknown to many here. Individuals with progressive ideas are usually not found in your local morning news programs. Unfortunately the mainstream media pretty much has a blackout on them. You have to do your own historical research to know about their existence.:disappoin

Thank you Hidalgo for reminding me of Berrios. I agree that Rub?n qualifies as one of the progressives of our era. Even in the most adverse of political envirnoments, i.e., the great majority of Puertoricans outright reject independence, however Mr. Berrios with his eloquence and sensitivity has earned the respect and affection of his people by being elected several times to the Senate, even if he has been denied the governorship of the island. His moral stance at a high personal stake in Vieques, shows that true leaders do put their money where their mouth is.

Sabelot?, I find that Isa Conde, an avowed communist, and Berrios, a social-democrat, do differ substantially in their political views and approach to governance.

saludos,

- Tordok
 
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Tordok

Bronze
Oct 6, 2003
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But Betances did not confine himself to the country of his birth, he was recognized for his work against cholera in France, represented Cuba, organized support for Cuban independence, represented the Dominican Republic, and had this vision of an Antillean Federation that included non-Latin countries. Seems to me, he wasn't just a nationalist who had to stay or go back to Puerto Rico. That's what was so remarkable about him.

Thank you Tordok for the introduction to Betances -- food for thought!

Perhaps the next leader will appear, Harvard or Yale educated...

Margaret,
you do bring a very valid point, and that is that there can be a role for individuals from the diaspora to contribute in the national development projects back in the homelands. That's exactly what Betnaces did. He worked for several worthy causes regardless of his physical presence elsewhere. The brain-drain issue is a fact of globalization, and many of those of us who are away from the homeland tend to remain backstage rather than get involved in the public arena of the region, where "dirty politics" and a propaganda system that ridicules and squashes dissent is the norm.

best,
-Tordok
 

A.Hidalgo

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Apr 28, 2006
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But Betances did not confine himself to the country of his birth, he was recognized for his work against cholera in France, represented Cuba, organized support for Cuban independence, represented the Dominican Republic, and had this vision of an Antillean Federation that included non-Latin countries. Seems to me, he wasn't just a nationalist who had to stay or go back to Puerto Rico. That's what was so remarkable about him.

Thank you Tordok for the introduction to Betances -- food for thought!

Perhaps the next leader will appear, Harvard or Yale educated...


I agree that he was not just a Puerto Rican nationalist but a nationalist nonetheless, for the union of the Greater Antilles. My point is that the "braindrain emigration" does not apply in his case because he returned to his birthplace and applied his brain to the fullest back home like all true nationalist.
 

El sabelot?

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Jan 7, 2008
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Thank you Hidalgo for reminding me of Berrios. I agree that Rub?n qualifies as one of the progressives of our era. Even in the most adverse of political envirnoments, i.e., the great majority of Puertoricans outright reject independence, however Mr. Berrios with his eloquence and sensitivity has earned the respect and affection of his people by being elected several times to the Senate, even if he has been denied the governorship of the island. His moral stance at a high personal stake in Vieques, shows that true leaders do put their money where their mouth is.

Sabelot?, I find that Isa Conde, an avowed communist, and Berrios, a social-democrat, do differ substantially in their political views and approach to governance.

saludos,

- Tordok

True. I was thinking more in the context of who/what they represent.