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The Legend “El Tapado”

El Tapado

Legends are part of our oral traditions, who we are. Santo Domingo, as the fi rst city of the New World, has several stories that revolve around the Colonial City. One of them tells about the man “El Tapado”.

A mysterious character who hid his face from people and was known so much that a street, 19 de Marzo, one of the old town’s arteries, carries his nickname.

The origin goes back to the arrival of the Spanish, Luis Franco de Acevedo, to the island. Captain of Cavalry Regiment, who was in charge of care and protection of Baní’s coasts, headed an active and profitable contraband network that dealt with the French vassals from Haiti. As a result of these illicit activities, José de Olaeta was ordered to seize him, to confiscate his property, among which were found a multitude of pieces of gold thread clothing, and to drive him by force to the city of Santo Domingo to serve sentence.

Lucky for him and the rest of his accomplices, he was absolved of guilt in May, 1723. However, the following year he has to resolve a claim dispute for a loan payment delay to a French citizen. Four years later, in 1728, the governor and President of the Court in Santo Domingo, Francisco de la Rocha Ferrer, requests his imprisonment for being considered "an illegal trade offender", that is, for fraud.

In view of the fact that Franco de Acevedo didn’t stop committing the same crimes without completing a formal sentence in jail, a holistic view as "El Tapado was created towards him", which began to strengthen as a truth among the collective imagination.

Owner of a colonial villa, named Samangola, and husband of Antonia Guridi Coronado, daughter of Mr. Antonio de Guridi Echeandía and Mrs. Leonor de Alarcón Coronado, he lived there along with his family in the former residence of the dean Duque de Ribera. However, at night, Franco de Acevedo walked down the streets of the Colonial City to commit crimes or outrages that kept the neighbors in distress.

The masked man was never seen at daytime, because he preferred to walk the uninhabited streets and to aimlessly wander through them, night after night. A man who, according to the elderly people, tried to escape from himself due to the terrible crimes he had committed.

An image of a covered up face to hide its deformity as result of the punishments he suffered during his multiple arrests and to which multiple atrocities were associated. Perhaps, some of them came from the most absurd popular fantasy.

TEXT: Elena Crespo IMAGES: Archivo