The Parque Colon and The Basilica Catedral Santa Maria de la Encarnacion, Santo Domingo. Dominican Republic December 2007.
The cathedral was built between 1521 and 1540 with Vatican money and intended to be a centre of the Catholic religion in the West Indies. In the process of attempting to convert the indigenous Taino population and the imported African slaves to Catholicism the Spanish Cofradias found that the Africans had begun to associate their own deities with various saints and were practising their beliefs and rituals under the guise of the European religion. This was the beginning of the syncretic religion of Voodoo.
In front of the cathedral is the Parque Colon, an pleasant open space with a statue of Columbus in the centre, staring out to the horizon with an indigenous Taino maiden clinging to the pedestal below and reaching up in adoration. On the afternoon I was in the square, I sat with my wife and son and watched as graduates of the traffic division of the Santo Domingo police force posed to have their picture taken for official class portraits.