February 27, 1844. A group of revolutionaries fired some shots and seized the fortress of Puerta del Conde in Santo Domingo, and began the Dominican War of Independence. Three educated and "enlightened" Dominicans named Juan Pablo Duarte, Ramón Matías Mella and Francisco del Rosario Sánchez founded a resistance organization in 1838, and named the organization La Trinitaria due to their decision to divide it into three smaller cells, each of which would operate with almost no knowledge of what the other cells were doing. In this highly secretive way, La Trinitaria set about gathering support from the general populace, even managing to covertly convert two regiments of the Haitian army.
The Dominican Republic had been de facto autonomous in the early 1800s, with the Spanish occupied by Napoleon's invasion and the Haitians to the west fighting off their French colonizers. Heavily influenced and encouraged by Haiti, which had achieved independence in 1804, Dominicans declared independence as the Republic of Spanish Haiti in 1821. Being less-wealthy and in the numeric minority, they came under the control of Haiti and entered into formal union with its neighbor in 1822. Soon it became clear that the western half of the island was where the political power lay, and the crippling debts imposed on Haiti by the French and other powers had a profoundly negative effect on the island's economy as a whole.
Finally, on February 27, 1844, the Dominicans had enough . La Trinitaria received a tip that the Haitian government had been made aware of their activities. Seizing the moment, they gathered roughly 100 men and stormed Puerta del Conde, forcing the Haitian army out of Santo Domingo. Sánchez fired a cannon shot from the fort and raised the blue, red, and white flag of the Dominican Republic, which still flies over the country today. The Haitians pillaged the countryside as they retreated West, and fighting continued throughout the spring.
Over the next few years and even into the next decade, both nations were periodically at war, each invading the other in response to previous invasions. The storming of the Puerta del Conde, however,represented a turning point in the history of a nation that had long been subjugated, first to the Spanish and then to its Haitian neighbors.
To this day, it is clear that Dominicans and Haitians are not each other’s best friends, although no Dominican construction works, road works, or even sugar cane cutting would probably advance without the hard labor of their neighbors, who in turn take advantage of the health and other benefits that the eastern side of the island is offering.