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#168: Galvan novel : Wucker adds


In your review of Manuel de Jesus Galvan's book you so rightly point out the 
irony of Galvan's attributing the Taino cacique Enriquillo's thinking and 
strategic skills to his Spanish education. Therein lie the roots of many 
Dominican attitudes toward Haiti and Africa. The novel played a huge role in 
portraying the Taino Indian in Dominican history as someone who could pick up 
European traditions and values --and by doing so serve as the perfect 
counterpoint to Africa and Haiti.   The book is seen in the DR as a classic 
of Dominican literature not so much for its literary value but instead for 
its ideas and role in creating the myth of Dominicanness --"lo dominicano".  
By romanticizing Enriquillo, the novel also plays a role in "atonement" for 
the European crimes against the Tainos.

By attributing their dark skin to Indians and not to Africans, Dominicans can 
perpetuate the myth that it was Haiti that was touched by Africa and not the 
DR.  This has been part of the official description of Dominicanness. I go 
into this theme in depth in Chapter 3 of Why the Cocks Fight but am visiting 
my parents in Milwaukee right now so don't have it handy to pass along at the 

It's only been very recently that there has been a movement to celebrate 
African roots and acknowledge that the glorification of the Taino Indians has 
been distorted for other ends.