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Dominican Republic - Boca de Nigua sugar mill

The Boca de Nigua sugar mill, with a cane grinder pulled by horses, is located in a community of the Nigua municipality, which has the same name as the sugar mill. The mill is mentioned in the list of sugar mills and cane grinders published by the chronicler Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo in his 1546 Historia general y natural de Indias. The work mentions Francisco de Tostado, a Public Notary, as the owner of the place. Tostado arrived in the island with governor Nicolás de Ovando in 1502.

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The importance of Nigua, formerly called Partido de los Ingenios de Nigua, is confirmed by Oviedo himself when he writes that the first person to make sugar was Gonzalo de Celosa, on the banks of the Nigua River around 1505-1506. For this, he brought masters from the Canary Islands.

Boca de Nigua was built in the 16th century and rebuilt later on, reaching full splendor in the 18th century. At that time its owner was the Marqués de Aranda, a Spanish nobleman. The manager at that time was Juan Bautista Oyarzábal.

The boiler house is a classic model from the 17th century, according to engravings of the time published in 1798, when Santo Domingo was earmarked the place to construct the model.

And this is where the most important struggle for resistance by the enslaved Africans in the Spanish portion of the island took place. On October 30, 1796, over 200 slaves rebelled, forcing the whites to flee killing their cattle. The slaves even took over the buildings in the sugar mill and founded a people´s government headed by slave woman Ana María, who was crowned queen.

The area has witnessed many acts of resistance by Africans against the regime of servitude. Darío Solano, an Africanist from Nigua, states that besides the Boca de Nigua uprising: “Nigua had already witnessed the first black rebellion in the New World, in December 1521, led and carried out by members of the Wolof ethnic group from Senegambia,” and in 1801, Toussaint L’Ouverture, leader of the revolution in Saint Domingue, held a meeting in Boca de Nigua with the purpose of negotiating the formal handing over of the territory to France and holding peaceful talks with the Spanish authorities.

From the very beginning the Boca de Nigua rebellion aimed at abolishing slavery on the Spanish part of the island and setting up a people’s government with the ethnic diversity of the island.

The Boca de Nigua rebellion was put down by means of horrible methods and the punishment imposed on the leaders filled the city with terror. Francisco Sopo, Antonio, Ana María, Tomás Aguirre, Pedro Congo, Papapier, Cristóbal Cesar and Petito Juan were sentenced to be hanged. Their heads were cut off, their bodies were dismembered and the parts nailed in the most public places, on the four corners of the capital city.

Other participants in the rebellion were sentenced to 20, 15 and 10 years imprisonment. Their feet were chained to their necks and they were beaten daily in the pillory.

This rebellion had an impact on the entire island, mainly on many estates in the south. In reference to the rebellion of Boca de Nigua, José Ocariz states “…the rebels created an incipient army, with artillery soldiers, infantry units made up of guards and squads… and a unit of cavalry dragons … a plot aimed at results similar to those of Haiti (Deive, La rebelión de los esclavos de Boca de Nigua. Escuela de Estudios Hispano-Americanos. Separata del Tomo XXVII. Anuario de Estudios Americanos. 1970, Sevilla).

The facilities of this sugar mill were restored in 1976 by engineer Ramón Báez López-Penha. An outstanding work was done in the boiler house, half of it was restored and consolidated and the other half was fully rebuilt. This was one of the most attractive restoration in the country.

Source: Multimedia "Sites of Memory of the Slave Route in the Latin Caribbean"

Accessibility: It is located 26.6 kilometers from Santo Domingo. The fastest route is to take the 6 de Noviembre highway (approximately 50 minutes). To the east, the Agua Dulce stream and the sections Ingenio Nuevo y Sainaguá; to the north, Arroyo Seco and the Hatillo section, and to the South, the Caribbean Sea.
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Other data of interest

Dominican Republic

Historical name

Partidos de los Ingenios de Nigua (Administrative area of Nigua sugar mills)

Founding Date

Built in the 16th century and later rebuilt in the 18th century.


Ingenio Boca de Nigua, San Cristóbal, República Dominicana / Boca de Nigua sugar mill, San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic , PC: 91000 .


Agro-industrial complex


Route Workplace Settlement Site of Rebellion

Access level


Current Use

Tourism, forms part of the Route of the First Colonial Sugar Mills of America

Original use

Sugar mill. Hacienda.

Property kind


Expressions of intangible heritage associated

Nigua Municipality has the highest concentration of cults and permanent venerations to religious entities of the Catholic saints who have been turned into the Dominican voodoo pantheon.

At present the Boca de Nigua sugar mill is a place for the annual late October celebrations of the Festival del Cimarronaje (Maroon Festival), an activity that enhances the monument and has triggered a new attitude towards slavery as the identity of the black slaves who worked in sugar production has been dignified. In the words of Darío Solano: “The Maroon Festival in honor of the 1796 rebellion does not belong only to Santo Domingo. It embraces the Americas and Africa, Europe, the whole territory, the origin of the slave owner, and the entrails of the land of origin: its protagonists were sentenced to serve time in the prisons of Cartagena de Indias, Havana, Veracruz and Panama. Those prison cells heard the symbolic sounds of what was a cry of powerlessness. Today they are overwhelmed with the gods and warriors spirits who had wanted peace and liberation for enslaved America.”