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 Dia de Independencia Republica Dominicana  

Jim Smith/El Hispano

Philadelphia – An exuberant crowd of Latinos, African-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Polish-Americans, Germans and Italians joined the city’s growing Dominican community on the north side of City Hall, Friday, commemorating the Independence of the Dominican Republic.    

   A brisk breeze rippled the many distinctive four-square red, white and blue flags of the Dominican Republic, as Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez, Councilmen David Oh and Al Taubenberger, Allentown Councilman Julio Guridy and the CEO/President of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, Peter Gonzalez, participated in festive ceremonies that culminated with Mayor Jim Kenney raising the Dominican flag.  

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 “What  you are doing in our community by creating businesses and creating jobs,” said Mr. Kenney, “is making our community safe (and) we are very proud to have you here.”

  “All of our immigrant communities contribute to our society and our city,” added the mayor. “All of the negative stuff you here nationally and in the presidential campaign is a bunch of malarkey. All of our immigrants contribute to us every day. And with the help of City Council we’ll remain a Sanctuary City.”

  “We’re not rounding up anybody,” insisted Mr. Kenney. “It’s never happening. So I’m very proud, making the flag of the Dominican Republic my first flag raising, here in the birthplace of democracy.”

   A central figure in Philadelphia’s Dominican community, Pedro Rodriguez characterized those Dominicans who have made Philadelphia their home as “constituting a growing and emerging force, whether in commerce, culture or politics.”

  “We have developed a foothold in this city, and we want to contribute to the betterment of all our communities,” said Mr. Rodriguez, a radio commentator and former city commissioner. “We want to share our country’s values and heritage with this multicultural city that Philadelphia is becoming. We want to work side-by-side with all of the communities of this city to make Philadelphia the best, most inclusive city in the United States.”

 After lauding the “commitment, the passion, and the experience” of the region’s Dominican community, Mr. Rodriguez added, “today marks the beginning of a partnership – not only with the city of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – but with all of our brothers and sisters form over the world who have made Philadelphia their home.”

   “And believe me, when Dominicans get engaged, things change.  Just look at baseball.  We’re going after ice hockey next,” asserted Mr. Rodriguez to much laughter.

   Unlike most nations in the Americas, the Dominican Republic fought two wars of Independence, initially from Spain and then Haiti. Juan Pablo Duarte organized a group of rebels called the “La Trinitaria” to fight the the Haitians. After a long struggle on the Caribbean island where Columbus first set foot, the Dominican Republic declared its independence on Feb 27th, 1844.

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