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Dominicans in Connecticut celebrate 179 years of independence

General view of the National Congress during the accountability speech of President Luis Abinader on National Independence Day in Santo Domingo, on February 27, 2023.
Erika Santelices/AFP
General view of the National Congress during the accountability speech of President Luis Abinader on National Independence Day in Santo Domingo on Feb. 27, 2023.

Members of the Dominican community gathered in Hartford over the weekend to celebrate 179 years of independence.

Amiltore Perez, a representative of the Dominican Republic Consulate in Connecticut, says almost 200 Dominicans gathered at the state Capitol for a flag raising after an awards ceremony honoring community members at Hartford City Hall.

Cirilo Bonilla, one of the founders of Club Juan Pablo Duarte, said that since 1995 the Dominican community has come together to bring its patriotism to Connecticut and is proud to be part of the annual event.

"My great-grandparents were patriots. They died in the restoration war. My great uncles died in the war, too,” Bonilla said. “Democracy, living free and the importance of the homeland are in my blood. That is why I work hard, so that we are united here in this country.”

Between 2010 and 2020, over 400,000 Dominicans had migrated to the United States, according to a study from the City University of New York. This makes Dominicans the fifth-largest Hispanic/Latin American group in the country, after Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Salvadorans and Cubans.

Eligio Jaquez, the consul general of the Dominican Republic in New York, estimated late last year that 45,000 documented Dominicans call Connecticut home. The majority of them reside in Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven.

Perez said most Dominican immigrants have an entrepreneurial mentality, contributing to the state's economy and workforce.

“They own bodegas, grocery stores, auto repair shops. Dominicans are very versatile,” Perez said.

The event ended at the Hartford Public Library on Park Street, featuring food and cultural dances including the famous merengue ripiao.

Club Juan Pablo Duarte and the Comite Efemerides Patrias organized the event.

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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