Nicolás de Ovando Statue at Spain Plaza in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

From the Royal Houses Museum and Sundial Plaza, take a few steps north until you reach Plaza de España. Spain Plaza is a large unshaded square. In the center is this statue of Nicolás de Ovando. He was a great yet controversial leader. In 1501, Ovando was appointed as Governor of the Indies by the Catholic Monarchs in Spain. Shortly after he arrived in 1502, he moved the struggling Spanish settlement from the east bank of the Ozama River to the current location of the Colonial City. He implemented governmental and military discipline. He commissioned a development boom of buildings, infrastructure and institutions. In short, Ovando created Santo Domingo into the pride of Spain in the New World. Yet the growth came at a huge cost. He was brutal to the Taíno people. Ovando enslaved them to work mines, executed rebellious chieftains and their tribes while causing others to suffer famine. The Spanish also unknowingly imported diseases. These had a devastating impact on the indigenous population. From 1496 until the end of Ovando’s administration in 1509, the Taíno population was reduced 90%.

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Plaza de España, Calle La Atarazana, Santo Domingo 10212, Dominican Republic

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