Buenaventura Báez

Ramón Buenaventura Báez Méndez (July 14, 1812 – March 14, 1884), was a Dominican politician and military figure. He was president of the Dominican Republic for five nonconsecutive terms. His rule was characterized by being corrupt and governing for the benefit of his personal fortune.

Buenaventura Báez
Buenaventura Baéz.gif
President of the Dominican Republic
In office
May 29, 1849 – February 15, 1853
Preceded byManuel Jiménes
Succeeded byPedro Santana
In office
October 8, 1856 – June 13, 1858
Vice PresidentDomingo Daniel Pichardo Pró
Preceded byManuel de Regla Mota
Succeeded byJosé Desiderio Valverde
In office
December 8, 1865 – May 29, 1866
Vice PresidentFrancisco Antonio Gómez y Báez
Preceded byPedro Guillermo
Succeeded byTriumvirate of 1866
In office
May 2, 1868 – January 2, 1874
Vice PresidentManuel Altagracia Cáceres (1868-1871)
Juan Isidro Ortea y Kennedy (1871-1874)
Preceded byManuel Altagracia Cáceres
Succeeded byIgnacio María González
In office
December 26, 1876 – March 2, 1878
Vice PresidentVacant
Preceded byMarcos Antonio Cabral
Succeeded byIgnacio María González
4th Vice President of the Dominican Republic
In office
6 October 1856 – 8 October 1856[1]
Preceded byAntonio Abad Alfau Bustamante
Succeeded byDomingo Daniel Pichardo Pró
Personal details
Ramón Buenaventura Báez Méndez

(1812-07-14)July 14, 1812
Barahona, Captaincy General of Santo Domingo
DiedMarch 14, 1884(1884-03-14) (aged 71)
Hormigueros, Puerto Rico
Political partyRed Party
RelationsMarcos Antonio Cabral (son-in-law)
Virgins of Galindo (nieces-in-law)
Antonio Sánchez-Valverde (grandfather)
Ana Valverde (second cousin-once removed)
José Desiderio Valverde (third cousin)
Children9 (possibly more)

Genealogical studies have identified Buenaventura Báez as one of the fathers of the modern Dominican oligarchy, with many of his descendants dominating the political and economic life of the Dominican Republic today.

He fathered several children, nine of which he recognized, while some were born in the Dominican Republic, others were born in Puerto Rico and France.

Early years and familyEdit

Báez was born in Rincón (now Cabral) in the Captaincy General of Santo Domingo, he was raised in his father's hometown Azua. Báez was the son of Pablo Altagracia Báez and Teresa de Jesús Méndez.

His father Pablo, a wealthy merchant from Azua, was left in an orphanage when he was born, as he was the result of an extra marital affair between Josefa Morales de Firpo (a married Spanish woman)[note 1] and priest and author, Father Antonio Sánchez-Valverde. Pablo was raised by a French silversmith (a factor that generated a deep francophilia in both Pablo and Buenaventura) known as Monsieur Capellier, and became a wealthy businessman, slaveholder and politician. Teresa de Jesús Méndez was a mixed-race former slave from Rincón. She was born to a slave and a master, and was sold to Pablo Altagracia Báez, who freed her to take her as his mistress when his wife María Quezada told him to do so when realized that she was infertile herself; Pablo and Teresa had 7 children.

Báez was light-haired and blue-eyed like his father but had curly hair and was somewhat swarthy, earning the nickname of Jabao. Cultured and good-looking, Báez was very popular among women, especially because of his gallantry. Due to his family's fortune he was able to study in Europe, particularly France. In the European continent he learned various languages including English and French. When his father died in 1841, Báez, aged 29, inherited a large fortune that he used assiduously in politics, becoming elected in 1843 deputy to the Haitian Constituent Assembly.

Political careerEdit

Portrait of Báez in 1854

From 1843 Báez served as deputy of Azua to the ruling Haitian government. This post was gained in part because of his role in the revolution that overthrew President Jean-Pierre Boyer from power. As a deputy, Báez led a faction of Dominicans that tried to remove the anti-white bias in the Haitian Constitution, but failed.[2]

Báez was, at first, completely and totally against any move to leave the union with Haiti. Then, on 15 December 1843 Báez, as leader of the Dominican legislative faction, proposed to French consul Auguste Levasseur to establish a French protectorate in the Spanish-speaking side of the island with a governor appointed by Paris, in exchange for guns and warships to compel or fight Port-au-Prince for a retreat. Consul Levasseur was very well disposed and constantly exchanged correspondence between Paris and the conspirators.

When the independence revolution started, he opposed the Trinitarians and imprisoned some of them, tried futilely to prevent the publication of a copy of the Act of Independence in January 1844 in Azua, and in February did not allow the flag of the newly Dominican state to be raised in the city plaza; in part, he was very pessimistic due to the numerical superiority of Haitians and thought that a rebellion against Port-au-Prince with no foreign support was futile. He changed his mind once he saw the popular fervor and decided that the time had come to part ways with Port-au-Prince.

In 1844, Báez helped to lead a successful rebellion against Haiti, which established the independence of the Dominican Republic. He went to Europe in 1846 to convince France to establish a protectorate over the Dominican Republic, but the French refused. As president for the first time, from 1849 until 1853, he attempted to convince the United States to take over the country. He was president again from 1856 until 1857, when he was deposed in a coup.

Báez next supported the idea of having the Dominican Republic be taken over by Spain. He went into exile in Spain and led a luxurious life there. The Spanish agreed to occupy the Dominican Republic in 1861, but by 1865 they had abandoned it (see Dominican Restoration War). Báez then returned to the Dominican Republic and became president again until he was deposed in another coup in May 1866. He then served his longest term as president, from 1868 until 1874, during which time he again attempted to have the United States annex the Dominican Republic.[3][4] This time he was almost successful, as he convinced American President Ulysses S. Grant to send warships to the Dominican Republic, and drew up an annexation treaty which reached the United States Senate floor.[5] The treaty, however, was not ratified in the US Senate, as there was widespread opposition to absorbing a nation with so many black and mixed race inhabitants.[4] The treaty became an embarrassment for Grant.[6][7][8]

In 1869, Báez negotiated for a loan with Edward Hartmont, a British financier. The loan was agreed under exorbitant sums under the country, Hartmont promised £420,000 but only under harsh conditions. To receive the loan, the Dominican state had to pay a £100,000 commission on their customs receipts. Besides this, the nation's coal mines and forests were to be mortgaged. However, Báez only managed to receive £56,000, of which some ended up in his and his supporter's own pockets, the remaining was used to crush his opponents.[9]

Exile and deathEdit

Báez became President again from 1876 until 1878, when he was deposed in a final coup and sent into exile to Puerto Rico, at the time a Spanish colony, where he lived his final days. He is buried in the Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor.


Genealogical studies have identified President Báez, and President Espaillat as well, as the most recent common ancestors for most of the Dominican oligarchy, since their offspring managed to establish bonds with the most rich and powerful families from Santiago, and thus, from the country.[10]

  • Ramón Buenaventura Báez Méndez (1812–1884)
    • Manuel Báez Batista (1839–?)
    • Teodoro Osvaldo Buenaventura Báez Machado (1857–?)
      • José Ramón Báez López-Penha (1909–1995)
      • Buenaventura Báez López-Penha (1907-?)
        • Marcos Antonio Báez Cocco
        • Ana Josefina Báez Cocco (b. 1948)
          • Monika De Marchena Báez
            • Juan Rafael Vargas De Marchena
          • Patricia De Marchena Báez
          • Freddy De Marchena Báez (b. 1980)
            • Freddy Alejandro De Marchena Grullón (b. 2008)
          • Jimena De Marchena Báez
        • Soraya Báez Cocco
          • Jesus Báez
        • Alejandro Buenaventura Báez Cocco
    • Altagracia Amelia Báez Andújar (†1879)
      • José María Cabral y Báez (1864–1937)
        • Amelia María Cabral Bermúdez (1899–1996)
          • Juan Bautista Vicini Cabral (1924–2015)
            • Felipe Augusto Antonio Vicini Lluberes (b. 1960)
            • Amelia Stella María Vicini Lluberes (b. 1974)
            • Juan Bautista Vicini Lluberes (b. 1975)
          • Laura Amelia Vicini Cabral de Barletta (1925–2006)
          • José María Vicini Cabral (1926–2007)
            • José Leopoldo Vicini Pérez
            • Marco Vicini Pérez
          • Felipe Vicini Cabral (1936–1997)
        • Auristela Cabral Bermúdez (1901–1988)
          • Donald Joseph Reid Cabral (1923–2006)
          • William John Reid Cabral (1925–2010)
            • Patricia Reid Baquero (b. 1953)
              • Isabela Egan Reid de Pittaluga
              • Meghan Egan Reid
          • Robert Reid Cabral (1929–1961)
        • José María Cabral Bermúdez (1902–1984)
          • María Josefina Cabral Vega
          • José María Cabral Vega
            • Amalia Josefina Gabriela Cabral Lluberes (b. 1963)
            • Claudia Cabral Lluberes (b. 1964)
              • Ana Amelia Batlle Cabral
              • Laura Emilia Batlle Cabral
            • José María Cabral Lluberes (b. 1967)
          • Petrica Cabral Vega (b. 1938)
            • María Amalia León Cabral (b. 1960)
            • Lidia Josefina León Cabral (b. 1962)
            • José Eduardo León Cabral (1963–1975)
          • Marco Buenaventura Cabral Vega
        • Marco Antonio Cabral Bermúdez (1906–1973)
        • Josefina Eugenia Cabral Bermúdez (1910–1994)
          • Pedro Ramón Espaillat Cabral
          • Alejandro Augusto Espaillat Cabral
            • Alejandro José Espaillat Imbert
            • Pedro José Espaillat Vélez
            • Carlos José Espaillat Vélez
          • Fineta Rosario Espaillat Cabral
        • Pedro Pablo Cabral Bermúdez (1916–1988)
          • Lucía Amelia Cabral Arzeno de Herrera
          • José María Cabral Arzeno (b. 1959)
          • Luis José Cabral Arzeno
          • Lucía Amelia Cabral Arzeno
          • Virginia Cabral Arzeno
      • Ramona Antonio Cabral y Báez
        • Eduardo Sánchez Cabral
      • Buenaventura Cabral y Báez
        • Carmen Amelia Mercedes Cabral Machado
        • Carlos Alberto Cabral Machado
        • Pablo Buenaventura Cabral Machado
      • Mario Fermín Cabral y Báez (1877–1961)
    • Ramón Báez Machado (1858–1929)


  1. ^ Sources give the surname of Pablo's mother's husband as Firpo. At that time (circa 1770), the Firpo family was comprised by the children of Italian immigrant Gaetano Firpo: Rosa Firpo, who lived in Santiago with her husband the Canarian immigrant Domingo Sánchez Moreno (second-great-grandfather of President Ulises Espaillat); Cayetano Firpo, a seargeant who lived in Azua with his wife Josefa Morales; and Mateo Firpo (died 1788), who lived in Santo Domingo with his wife Isabel Magallanes. All the children of Gaetano married in the 1760s. Given that the only man in Azua bearing the surname Firpo was Cayetano, Pablo's mother was Josefa Morales.


  1. ^ Vicepresidentes de la RD que han alcanzado la presidencia
  2. ^ Núñez, Manuel (2001). El ocaso de la nación dominicana (in Spanish). Editorial Letra Gráfica.
  3. ^ "Dominican Annexation; The London Times on the Question--The Results Favorable to all Concerned". The New York Times. December 1, 1869.
  4. ^ a b Maass, Richard W. (2020). The Picky Eagle: How Democracy and Xenophobia Limited U.S. Territorial Expansion. Cornell University Press. pp. 167–172. ISBN 978-1-5017-4875-2.
  5. ^ "Washington; Our Navy in Dominican Waters Dominican Annexation and Haytian Interference Completeness of the Administration's Response to Senate Resolution for Information. The Secretary of the Navy to Rear-Admiral Poor, at Key West". The New York Times. February 13, 1871.
  6. ^ Hidalgo, Dennis (1997). "Charles Sumner and the Annexation of the Dominican Republic". Itinerario. 21 (2): 51–66. doi:10.1017/S0165115312000034. S2CID 162876421.
  7. ^ "San Domingo: Debate in the United States Senate on the resolutions of Hon. O. P. Morton, authorizing the appointment of a commission to examine into and report upon the condition of the island". African American Perspectives, Pamphlets from the Daniel A.P. Murray Collection 1818 - 1907. Library of Congress.
  8. ^ Edward P. Crapol (2000). James G. Blaine. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-0-8420-2605-5.
  9. ^ Lundahl, Mats; Vedovato, Claudio (1989-09-01). "The state and economic development in Haiti and the Dominican Republic". Scandinavian Economic History Review. 37 (3): 39–59. doi:10.1080/03585522.1989.10408154. ISSN 0358-5522.
  10. ^ Espinal, Edwin (25 April 2013). "Camateta: la esclava de la oligarquía dominicana" (in Spanish). Hoy. Retrieved 22 July 2016.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by President of the Dominican Republic
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Antonio Abad Alfau Bustamante
Vice President of the Dominican Republic
Succeeded by
Domingo Daniel Pichardo Pró
Preceded by President of the Dominican Republic
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the Dominican Republic
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Junta of Generals
President of the Dominican Republic
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of the Dominican Republic
Succeeded by
Council of Secretaries of State