By honoring Juan Pablo Duarte’s birthday (January 26, 1813), the Mayor’s Office of Special Events recognized the growing importance of New York City’s Dominican community.
Juan Pablo Duarte, father of Dominican independence, embodied great hopes for freedom, national development, and liberal democracy. Unlike other Latin American struggles for independence against European powers, Duarte and his compatriots fought to free the eastern Spanish-speaking part of Hispaniola from Haitian domination.
A European-educated son of middle-class merchants, Duarte and several other patriots organized a secret society, La Trinitaria, which in 1844 succeeded in separating the Dominican Republic from Haiti. However, Duarte and his followers, who were inspired by liberal political ideals, lost power to a caudillo (military dictator). Tragically, Duarte spent the rest of his life in Venezuela, exiled from the country he had led to independence. Nevertheless, Dominicans take great pride in Duarte as Padre de la Patria (Father of the Country) and in his courage and intellectual gifts.
Rafael Esparra, a Puerto Rican native, spent four years as Mayor Koch's Special Adviser for Hispanic Affairs, was Deputy Fire Commissioner for Program Development, and ran for Congress (but lost) in Brooklyn's 11th District.
The Bronx-born multi-talented World War II veteran, Edward I. Koch began his political career as a Democratic congressman representing Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. A reformer, Koch gained public notice when he challenged a powerful local political machine. He was elected mayor in 1977.
With New York City's treasury nearly empty, Koch restored the city's credit through a series of budget-cutting measures, enabling the city to enter the bond market and raise capital funds. As a result, the city's annual budget doubled, and approximately $19 billion was spent on capital projects in the 1980s.
Vowing to be the first four-term mayor, Koch sought re-election in 1989. Confronted with a series of corruption scandals, he faced heated criticism for his combative dealings with other public officials and the press. Koch lost the Democratic primary to then-Manhattan borough president David Dinkins.
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