Juan Pablo Duarte y Sus Amigos Más Cercanos

06:47



Juan Pablo Duarte y Díez, de familia sevillana y con primos en Curação. Dentro del grupo de sus amigos más cercanos: David Levy León, la familia Jessurún, la familia Curiel. ¿Qué tienen en común todos esos amigos con el padre de la patria de la Républica Dominicana? Esa pregunta se la dejo para los doctores de la historia.


BANI'S MATRIARCHS: GENETIC RESULTS

15:06

Ya hemos publicado los resultados para el reciente estudio genético de las Matriarcas de Baní. Para leer el estudio completo (disponible por el momento en inglés), haga click aqui.

Si encuentras este estudio interesante o tienes parientes con raíces banilejas, dejanos saber en los comentarios.

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We have published the results for our recent genetic study of Bani's Matriarchs. To read the complete study click here. (You will be automatically redirected to Academia.edu)

Did you find this study helpful? Do your parents or grandparents have roots in Bani? Let us know in the comment section below! 


DAY 13 LAST DAY DISCOVERING THE HIDDEN IDENTITY OF THE BANILEJOS

09:47



This morning I woke up at 6:30 in order to observe and record how the fowl is slaughtered in Baní. I was able to interview three owners of different shops. As I walked through the mercado (outdoor marketplace), I noticed over 5 butcher shops. Apparently, this is a huge business in Baní. I asked the owners why they slaughter the chicken by slicing the neck. One of them told me that it is done that way in order to remove all of the blood and so that the meat is not spoiled by striking. He said that the process is fast and effective. In the following video, one can witness the process of cleaning the chicken. I was amazed that 5 people could fit in such a small room. The smell was horrendous, water on the floor, and blood everywhere; my kind of place!

video

One of the owners told me that all of the butcher shops in the country work with the same method. I have not been to all of the shops in the country, but I have been to enough of them in the Capital to know that this is possibly true. So, there is a hazaqah (legal presumption) that all of the fowl in the Baní is slaughtered according to the laws of shehitah (ritual slaughter). It is possible that Matanzas was where the first settlers ritually slaughtered there animals, as Mr. Valera affirmed, and that the Banilejos spread this custom throughout the various rural towns, and finally to the center of the city. 

Today, I am returning to the Capital. I bid my farewells to the Banilejos. One of my subjects gave me a huge lead in the Capital. She asserts that there is a large Banilejo community in the Capital and that I could obtain the remaining 7 DNA samples needed. I hope to obtain access and entry at the Buen Maestro Catholic Church, where many Banilejos attend. 

Farewell Baní.

Hasta la vista!


DAY 12 DISCOVERING THE HIDDEN ROOTS OF THE BANILEJOS

17:09



After last night's interview on "Wiso de Noche," channel 3, local Baní cable tv, I decided to walk around the town and ask random people to participate in my investigation. Within 30 minutes, I obtained 3 DNA samples from key founding-families. I felt like a business man implementing the win-lose, think big, and impulse factor. If you are into sales, you'll know exactly what these strategies entail. It was funny because the first person that I interviewed did not want to participate. After I explained the benefits of the study, she agreed and spoke away. I noticed how she became very comfortable with the interview and finally with collecting her two saliva samples. In the end, she recommended other people that I should interview. When I asked Ms. Pimentel Melo about cousins marrying in the family, she agreed that it was normal to do so. In fact, on both sides of her families, the parents married either 1st or 2nd generation cousins. She also confirmed the separation of meat and dairy pots. Moreover, she laughed when I asked about the counting of the stars and the superstition that comes with it. I sensed that she felt embarrassed about subscribing to that belief. 
Next, I had a wonderful setamí (parve) two-hour lunch. I was given the pleasure of signing and playing the guitar for my host. I laughed because I had realized that she had researched my name on google and discovered my entire curriculum and more. Since now she knows that I am a Jew and a Torah scholar, she felt comfortable telling me about her reciting of the Shemá. I was aghast! "Really? You say the Shemá?", I asked. She belongs to a neo-Catecumenal movement within the Catholic Church. She expressed that they are criticized by many because of the their Judaizing tendencies. This explained a lot. Next, she showed me her Shemá plaque. I wonder if this movement is a new method of appealing to those parishioners with Jewish ancestry. Food for thought!
At that point, I felt comfortable to share some of the Iberian Jewish customs that the Banilejos practice without knowledge of their origin. She was amazed when I explained the superstition of not pointing at the stars. I had to give her a historical lesson about the forced conversions in 1391 in Spain, then the Inquisition and Expulsion decree. Her eyes lit up when I showed her Lucien Wolf's book on the "Calendar of Inquisition Trial of the Canary Islands." 

Following suite, I went around town, trying to obtain 8 DNA samples and genealogies. I was unsuccessful. Apparently, people were focused on minding their own business. Then, I decided to go to Matanzas. One of the subjects had a contact there and tried to connect me with him. It was a failure. However, I got on the bus, without knowledge of where I was headed. When the subject called me to confirm my location, she told me that I had gone too far and that I needed to go to a medical plaza. When I told the bus driver, he laughed! I walked about 10 minutes towards the center of Matanzas. As I walked, I noticed that the people were more homogeneous, i.e. Andalusian phenotypes. Most people have dark hair and light brown or blue/green eyes. Their noses are thin and their body structure are also thin. I approached the medical plaza and looked for Dr. Carvajal. After introducing myself and presenting my identification, she called a local patient and introduced me. She told me that it was crucial for me to have the identification, since many thugs continuously researching on ways to steal from people. 

I approached Mrs. Báez' home and introduced myself. She was curious about my research and was cooperative. I kept thinking to myself what Dr. Wuaku taught us about obtaining access and entry. In this case I was able to obtain access and entry through Dr. Carvajal. I learned an interesting word that the people in Matanzas use to describe traditions and superstitions, namely "cabbaláh" and "cabuloso" to describe a person that adheres to those traditions. This is clear evidence of Hebraisms in the jargon of the people. After taking Mrs. Báez' saliva samples, I went my way and asked if she knew anyone else that could participate. She told me to go from door to door. I did just that! Next, I interviewed a young college student. She was at home with her parents and grandparents. When I presented myself, she agreed to participate. It was quick. She is from the Rosario and Melo family. She had a keen interest in knowing about her genetic cousins. By that time, it was almost time to catch the last bus back to Baní (7pm). As I waited for the bus, I spoke with a young woman by the name of Yaindy Elizabeth. She did not disclose her surnames because she did not want to participated. I kept trying to convince her, but she didn't seem to show interest. When I began showing her pictures of the U.S. and sharing about my music career, she began opening up. Unfortunately, the bus came and I had to leave.

Tomorrow I must leave Baní and I have still 8 kits. I am considering using these kits on women with known Sepharadi ancestry in the Miami area, so that I may compare their lineages with those from Baní. Let's see what happens.


This is a liquor store in Matanzas. The owners are from the Lara family ;) They must be my cousins!

To be continued...

DAY 11 DISCOVERING THE HIDDEN ROOTS OF THE BANILEJOS

14:03

This week. I will be focusing on obtaining 10 more saliva samples from the remaining founding families needed, namely: Herrera, Melo, Sánchez, Bernal, Soto, Carvajal, Pérez, Olivas, Aybar, Rodríguez, Enríquez, Gutierrez, León, Araújo, and Cabral. In addition to this, I will be interviewing Mr. Valera and Mr. Agramonte, Baní's historians. I hope to receive key information in uncovering the lost identity of the Banilejos.

This afternoon I visited Mr. Valera's home once again. It is always a pleasure to speak to him and listen to what he has to say. The following is a transcription of the interview:

Yehonatán: When did the first colonizers arrived to Baní?

Mr. Valera: The first colonizers arrived circa 1510. They were Spaniards from Andalusia.

Yehonatán: Did they have any special characteristics to them?

Mr. Valera: In the rural areas of Baní, the people have a particular physiognomy. We have noticed that the people from El Llano, Bocacansta, and Sombrero have similar phenotype. However, the people from Cañafistol are very different; they usually have hawk-type noses, and upper lips, like your own. My grandfather also had his lips like yours. That is an indication of Andalusian origin.

Yehonatán: Why are the physiognomies different between these two regions?

Mr. Valera: I presume that the people from Cañafistol came at a later date, whereas those from the other rural towns came from the Canary Islands.

Yehonatán: Who were the first settlers that arrived to Baní in the 16th century?

Mr. Valera: They were connected to the Colón family and the Kings of Spain. Some of the first families to arrive were the Guerrero and Báez. The Guerrero were Andalusians and the Báez were first on the Iberian peninsula, then migrated to Hispaniola via Canary Islands. However, Báez is not a last name. It was originally a Jewish name, being "Weiss", which latter became Báez.

Yehonatán: So this name was Jewish from Germany and was latinized into Báez?

Mr. Valera: Correct! The Báez family is the root of all families in Baní.

Yehonatán: When did the Canary Islanders begin to arrive?

Mr. Valera: They arrived in 1718.

Yehonatán: Which are the founding families that arrived from the Canary Islands?

Mr. Valera: Suazo, and others that have disappeared. Let me see if I remember them. Montanel, Arrocha, and Niebla. The Niebla's came from Laguna.

Yehonatán: Did the first settlers migrate as single men or with families?

Mr. Valera: No! They came with their families. We don't see any single men in the records.

Yehonatán: Is is possible that some of them were "New Christians" or so-called "Marranos?"

Mr. Valera: We here affirm that. We have a tradition the Caraballo were connected to the Guerrero family. It is said that there is a mountain here called "Caraballo Hill," where the coffee is planted. Caraballo comes from Carvalho, a Portuguese surname. They were from the Canary Islands, and were possibly Jews. We here have a tradition in Baní that we descend from Jews and that our entrepreneurial spirit comes from our background. It is also said that the wells that were dug was due to the Jews, and not Billini, who came later.

Yehonatán: Why is Matanzas called by that name?

Mr. Valera: It is called Matanzas (slaughters) because that is where the animals were sacrificed and meat was sold. Also, the skin was used to make shoes.

Yehonatán: Which of those Andalusian or Islander families practiced endogamy?

Mr. Valera: All of them!

Yehonatán: All of them?

Mr. Valera: All of them! Baní is the town with the most extensive and exact ecclesiastical records in the country, because we are all cousins.

Yehonatán: That means that my study will demonstrate a high level of endogamy in Baní.

Mr. Valera: Yes, of course!

Yehonatán: How many matriarchs do you think we have in Baní?

Mr. Valera: There are many. It is was common that a man would marry the sister of his deceased wife and for an uncle to marry his niece. This information shocks people when I tell them, producing certain aversion to it, but that is the reality.

Yehonatán: Do you know of any records in Baní that may indicate the presence of Jews, such as Inquisition records?

Mr. Valera: I saw a baptismal record in 1697 where it mentions Don Juan Ortiz, the principal officer of the Inquisition, being the godfather of the child. Therefore, the Inquisition's presence was here.

Yehonatán: Which families in Baní came from Portugal?

Mr. Valera: The Caraballo's, the Bentacourt's, the Decena's, and the Araújo's.

Yehonatán: Do you know of any customs that the Banilejos have that may be of Jewish origin?

Mr. Valera: In the Juzgado de Paz archives, it mentions that the midwives would circumcise the male children. This is mentioned there because of the cases where a child may be at risk of death and the ritual to be performed may be dangerous to the child.

Yehonatán: There is a tradition here of sweeping trash from the front door towards the middle. This has been identified in the Inquisition records as a Judaizing custom from Iberia. Do you know of any indications of a mezuzáh here?

Mr. Valera: I have seen in the rural areas of Baní where people still have a triangle-shaped figure on their doorposts, which is like what the Jews use. All of the rural towns of Baní where built first.

                                                                     END

It is evident from Mr. Valera's account, that there was a strong Jewish prescence, enough to catch the eye of the Inquisition. I told him after the interview that I have been able to identify many customs of the Banilejos as Jewish customs from Iberia; he had no idea! I caught his attention and then he started to ask about specific traditions. He applauded me for my work and invited me to come again before leaving to the States. I told him that thanks to his work on genealogy (which I found at the FIU library), I was able to do my research and confirm my hypothesis.

On my way back to the hotel, I received a message from one of the subjects, inviting me to a tv interview tonight on a local channel, so that I can present my work. I hope to gather the remaining DNA samples and interviews needed through this advertisement.

DAY 10 DISCOVERING THE HIDDEN ROOTS OF THE BANILEJOS

20:27

I rented a car Saturday night in order to drive to Baní this entire week. I had to drive there Sunday morning in order to be presented to the congregation at the Santa Cruz Church on the northern edge of Baní. The people welcomed me with warmth and a loud applause because of my contribution to their history. It was Mother's Day and the mass was unusually long. Therefore, many people left early. When I noticed that many were leaving, I walked towards the entrance and waited for people to approach me. To my dismay, only 5 people demonstrated interest. After analyzing the pre-screening form, only 2 women were eligible for the study.

Today, June 1st, I drove to Baní from Santo Domingo (about 45km) and began taking DNA samples. I drove around the city, from house to house to collect saliva samples. I realized that I had overbooked myself for the day. I had missed one appointment by 30 minutes because I got lost trying to find one of the subject's home. I think that the best method will be to call all of the subjects and summon them for a collective test. My only worries about this is that I do not have a team assisting me and some people may commit mistakes with the DNA kit. 

After taking the three samples, I then drove about 10 km northwest of Baní to a rural urbanization called Arroyo La Angostura. I had to ask the people at least three times for the name, since it was difficult to memorize. I had not heard of this place before. As I drove away from the city of Baní, the scenery changed. It seemed as if I were in a desert. The terrain was arid, and the background was mountainous. I noticed that once upon a time, there were many riverbeds that are now dried up. In fact, there was no rain this May season. 

When arrived at Angostura, Vicky, my contact there, presented me to her family. She briefly presented me as an investigator from the USA, with interest in certain families with Spanish ancestry and their customs. I then continued by explaining the nature of my research. The entire family paid attention to every detail. 

Next, I interviewed Mrs. Pimentel Alcántara, (Vicky's mother). She demonstrated a clear knowledge of family traditions. One tradition that stood out was the use of burial shrouds. They would have a prepared white sheet to wrap the dead family member. She also mentioned that marriages with cousins was normal.

Finally, I interviewed Mrs. Rivera Lara. She had a recent lung operation. I was not sure if I should interview her or not. To my surprise, she consented to the interview despite her condition. I soon found out that Mrs. Rivera Lara was the daughter of two 1st-generation cousins. Her knowledge of family traditions were very clear in her mind. Unfortunately, she apologized for having forgotten the names of her grandparents. When I asked her why her family washed their hands upon leaving the cemetery, she said, because it was bad not to do so. She also added that even though she learned not to eat outside of her home, she would do it because of the extreme poverty. She was very honest. What startled me a bit was that her family killed the chicken by striking it with a stick on its back.


So far, I have discovered three ways that people kill chicken: striking the back with a stick or with one's hands, twisting the neck, or slicing the neck with a sharp knife. 

I wonder if having the tradition of proper shehitah (Jewish butchering) will be the most conclusive proof of Jewish ancestry.

To be continued...

DAY 9 DISCOVERING THE HIDDEN ROOTS OF THE BANILEJOS

19:48

I woke up early this morning to meet  Padre Germán at the Parroquia de Santa Cruz. I had been trying to reach him for the past 2 weeks, without success. I finally met him. When I reached the door, I shouted, "hello!" Suddenly a tall Haitian man said, "yes! Come in!" He then pointed to his left where the priest was sitting. Apparently he was the security. Padre Germán stood up and greeted me with warmth and a smile. He was dressed with a white shirt and with his preaching bands. He then asked me, "how can I help you?" I introduced myself and my project. He then started telling me about key people in Baní that could help me. He mentioned a Dagoberto Tejada, who is a fountain of knowledge on the Banilejos and has an office at the Centro cultural. He also mentioned Alexis Agramonte, who gave a speech last night about the history of the Banilejos. Finally, he also mentioned that I should speak with Mr. Manuel Valera. I told him that I already had spoken with him. He then told me that Baní is a special city because it is the third most important city of the Dominican Republic. He was proud to mention that the colonialists that founded Baní bought the lands, and that the inhabitants of Baní are a product of that truth. At this point, I was not sure that he was going to give me access and entry to obtaining 10 more women to interview from his community. He then added, "what can I do for you?" I told him that I needed a formal presentation before his community after a mass, in order to acquire 10 more women to interview. He agreed to do this introduction this upcoming Sunday at 8:30 am. He told me to arrive earlier so that he would know exactly what he is going to say. Padre Germán was happy that I am performing this kind of research. He said, "excelente trabajo!" Then I thanked him for his help and went my way, as he blessed me for the day.

Next, I met Mrs. Lara Díaz, who happens to be the secretary of Dra. Pimentel Mejía. After explaining what the investigation entailed, she agreed to participate and signed the consent form. She then noticed that it was in English and said, "how am I to understand this?" I assured her that everything that I explained was perfectly translated. Now I know for the next time that I will have to translate the consent forms. So, we began with the genealogy. She knew up to her great-grandmother. She made a quick phone call to confirm more of her grandparents. I began asking the usual questions about marriage arrangements in the family; she did not express anything out of the ordinary. Her family is interesting in that they were nominal Catholics and years later, some of them became evangelical Christians. I noticed that she did not have knowledge of many customs of her family. This has to be due to her age (34).  I infer that there is a generation gap of knowledge between those that are younger than 50 years old. The younger generation has lost awareness of superstitions and traditions. However, Mrs. Lara Díaz did have knowledge of the weekend preparations in her family. She added that she still keeps this tradition. Her family accustoms to clean the house every Friday and wears the best clothing for Saturday and Sunday. She did mention that her mother would not cook on Saturday, but that she would buy the food. I had a particular interest of the ethical behavior of the family and especially the custom of the men wearing hats the entire time. She also added that the women would cover their hair with scarves. When I asked her if she knew about the Inquisition or having Jewish ancestry, she denied having that knowledge, but heard that there were Spanish ancestors along the maternal lineage. After the interview, she was curious about my questions. I shared some of the meanings and origins of the superstitions. She was amazed that these practices could be so old. She wondered if I was religious. When I told her that I was a Jew, she was amazed and I showed her my kippá (under my hat). She then proceeded to ask me a plethora of questions. I told her that it would take me at least a month to explain our tradition and way of life. She did not even know what or who are Jews.