By Roy Lie Atjam
Dominicans in the Netherlands celebrated their country’s 179th anniversary of Independence in The Hague on 23 February 2023. It has been a festive evening with many colours, happy faces and a vibrant atmosphere.
The host of the soiree H.E. Mr Juan Bautista Duran, Ambassador of the Dominican Republic in the Netherlands warmly welcomed his guests, among them fellow ambassadors from Argentina, Aruba, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, El Salvador, Ecuador, Israel, Nicaragua, Panama, St. Martin, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Yemen—further representatives of International organisations, friends of the Dominican Republic and diaspora members.
After the national anthem, H.E. Mr. Juan Bautista Duran delivered a meaningful and concise discourse. He went to say “Today, February 23, four days shy of the 179th anniversary of our independence, on behalf of President Luis Abinader, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Roberto Alvarez Gil and the Dominican people, I have the honor of sharing with you the joy of celebrating the birth of our country and paying homage to our heroes, fathers of the homeland: Juan Pablo Duarte, Francisco del Rosario Sanchez and Matias Ramon Mella.
Likewise, to the men and women who called themselves the Trinitarians, who sacrificed their lives, put their families at risk as well as their wealth and livelihoods, they gave sweat and blood so that today we can be the Dominican Republic: a free, independent and sovereign nation.
As representative, both of the State and of the Dominican people to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, we assume that the commitment to maintain the legacy of our heroes is a process of permanent construction, which we must carry out every day, with our behaviour, actions, values, so that every effort made, no matter how small, makes a difference.”
“Talking about the Dominican Republic today, means highlighting the achievements of the current government, headed by our President Luis Abinader Corona, together with the efforts of a committed team of professional advisors and technicians in all areas, who combine patriotic duty, dignity, solidarity and an example that emphasises the importance of the national welfare of the country, above personal interest.” said the ambassador.
“Such achievements as the promotion of an ethical, transparent and proactive international policy, based on the projection of our national interests.
Likewise, the increase in our exports and foreign direct investment, the increase in reciprocal cooperation between countries and the protection of our environment, have been key in the creation and strengthening of a profitable and sustainable economic model. The strengthening of our Tourism sector, one of the main axes of our economy, achieving a growth of more than 10% of tourists by air and 20% by cruise ships in 2022, closing the year with an average of 8 million tourists.”
Then, Ambassador Duran expressed the following about the history of Dutch and Dominican Republic’s relations:
“Relations between the Dominican Republic and the Kingdom of the Netherlands date back more than 500 years, shortly after the arrival of Europeans to the island and long before the consolidation of the territory and the nation as an independent state.
The first Dutch merchants made incursions into the Caribbean in the early 16th century, specialising in maritime trade operations with tropical products, increasing trade between the two countries.
After independence, on January 24, 1856, the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation was signed and in 1858 the Netherlands established its first commercial representation in the Dominican Republic.
In 2001 the Netherlands established its Embassy in Santo Domingo and in 2005 the Dominican Republic established its diplomatic representation in The Hague, administrative capital of the Netherlands.
Another factor that unites us with the Kingdom of the Netherlands is the relationship that we also have for more than 5 centuries with the Dutch Caribbean. In addition to the extensive trade relations that have been sustained over the years, there is a significant diaspora both in the islands and on the mainland. The bilateral relations between our countries manifest historical ties of solidarity and friendship, which aim to promote and deepen cooperation, based on the principles of equality, respect and reciprocity around sovereignty, and mutual benefit.”
After ambassador speech, the second part of the program was a presentation by Mr Rafael Espinal on the history of the Dominican music and the rhythms of the güira and the tambora. Further, features of the Carnaval Dominicano, Carnival sketches, people wearing colourful costumes that symbolize Dominican religious and traditional carnaval characters such as Diablo Cojuelo, dancers and songs. The group in charge of the artistic presentation was Ritmo Dominicano.
During the artist performances Ambassador Bautista Duran illuminated the evening with his rendition of “My Way” and other songs.
A Dominican buffet was prepared by Restaurant Casa del Mofongo. Among the specialities presented were quipes, empanaditas of both chicken and beef, as well as Dominican sushi with ripe plantain.
Also present was Barceló Rum with a generous sampling of excellent Dominican rums and cigars.
Congratulations Dominican Republic !