Group Title: Papá Liborio el santo vivo de Maguana.
Title: Papá Liborio
Full Citation
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 Material Information
Title: Papá Liborio el santo vivo de Maguana
Alternate Title: Santo vivo de Maguana
Physical Description: 1 videocassette (56'16") : sd., col. with b&w ; 1/2 in.
Language: Spanish
Creator: Davis, Martha Ellen ( Director )
Fernández, Miguel ( Producer )
Guzmán, Arturo ( Editor )
Segura, Manuel ( Narrator )
Dominican Republic -- Secretaría de Estado de Cultura
Publisher: Secretaría de Estado de Cultura, República Dominicana
Place of Publication: República Dominicana
Publication Date: [2003]
Subject: Messianism -- Dominican Republic -- San Juan de la Maguana   ( lcsh )
Cults -- Dominican Republic -- San Juan de la Maguana   ( lcsh )
Religion and sociology -- Dominican Republic -- San Juan de la Maguana   ( lcsh )
Religious life and customs -- Dominican Republic   ( lcsh )
Film country -- Dominican Republic
Genre: federal government publication   ( marcgt )
video recording   ( marcgt )
Summary: Olivorio Mateo (Papá Liborio) was the greatest messianic leader of the Dominican Republic. He arose in the interior southwest of the Dominican Republic as a traditional healer and advocate of the marginalized peasantry during the period of transition from precapitalistic to capitalistic society. The revival of Liborismo through the Movement of Palma Sola (1962-62) and the continued devotion to Liborio as an incarnation of Jesus Christ are documented. Includes oral historias and extensive examples of the music associated with Liborismo (salves, palos, comarca).
Creation/Production Credits: Directora, Martha Ellen Davis ; productor, Miguel Fernández ; editora, Arturo Guzman ; narrador, Manuel Segura.
System Details: VHS.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00087400
Volume ID: VID00002
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002899028
oclc - 52280989
notis - APD0609


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The Living Saint of Maguana
(Dominican Republic)

Director: Martha Ellen Davis

0:00:000 D. JOSE MATEO: Liborio was Christ's Chosen One to speak through.
Everything Liborio said was the word of Christ.


[sung] ...I am calling him...


[sung] I am calling him [the Holy Spirit]
... in the spirit of this drum.
That's the real 1n inh
Long live God!
I am calling him...

0:00:41 NARRATOR: In La Maguana, we were impressed by this beautiful folk-
religious ritual and the fervor of its devotees.

0:01:05 It was a devotion to the Holy Spirit. And we were enticed by its drumming to
delve into the past to better understand this Afro-Dominican religious
brotherhood of the Holy Spirit,...


...the largest in the country, in existence since colonial times.


0:01:30 [D. Andres Medina continues singing]:
... Oh, when a brotherhood member dies,...
My God, save me from evil...

0:01:38 NARRATOR: The Chiefdom of Maguana also fascinated Father Las Casas in the
earliest colonial times because of its natural beauty and also as the political and
religious axis of the island of Quisqueya.

We discovered that Anacaona, Princess of Boechio and Queen of Maguana,
presided over ceremonies and ritual games remembered to this day in the so-
called "Corral of the Indians,...


NARRATOR:...while her husband, Chief Caonabo, raised his spear against the
Spanish Conquest.

0:02:08 [D.Andres Medina continues singing] And that's the real ir n/ih1

0:02:20 NARRADOR: Chief Enriquillo, in 1519, also fought against Spanish
oppression with runaway Taino natives and African blacks as warriors.
And in 1540, Sebastian Lemba lead fugitive slaves in a rebellion for freedom,
strengthened by the devotion in their African hearts.
So we learned that Maguana was a land of great natural beauty, spirituality, and
rebellion since the time of the Tainos.

0:02:52 JAN LUNDIUS: Masters and slaves lived together and mixed very early.

SUBTITLE: Dr. Jan Lundius, Swedish scholar
Author of Peasants and Religion

Peasants from Andalusia and slaves from West Africa quickly joined the Taino
Indians. And over time, a very unique culture developed here.
There were also centers of resistance here in the San Juan Valley. The slaves
escaped from the big plantations around Santo Domingo, Azua, and Port-au-
Prince in what today is Haiti, fled toward this valley, to the "maroon"
communities of escaped slaves, called "manieles," where they could live as free

0:03:37 [D.Lorenzo de la Rosa sings a Salve de la Virgen]:
From Heaven to Earth
a host of angels descends,
i ith Christ in the middle,
singing "Glory!"

NARRATOR: The belief in the divine has sustained the dwellers of the San Juan
Valley from generation to generation, through hurricanes, droughts, and the so-
called Three Signs of the coming of a messiah to this place: Halley's Comet of
1910, the San Bruno earthquake of 1911, and a civil war in 1912.

[D. Lorenzo continues singing]:

We give thanks
to the Virgin Mary,
which she receives

ii ith great joy.
And Hail, Mary, conceived i iunt sin. Amen.

0:4:09 NARRATOR: According to mythology, Saint John the Baptist appeared in the
so-called "Aguita," the spring in El Naranjal in the hills of La Maguana...

[MAP of the north-central part of the Province of San Juan] the king of the Indian spirits that inhabit these sacred waters.
So it is not surprising that in this sanctified land of Indian deities, the Holy Spirit,
and Saint John the Baptist, a spiritual leader might arise, as he did at the
beginning of the 20th century. He was both religious and rebellious, considered
by his followers to be an incarnation Saint John the Baptist and Caonabo. His
name was was Olivorio Mateo Ledesma-affectionately called "Papa Liborio."

0:05:00 SUBTITLE: Don Jose Mateo Heredia,
great nephew of Liborio
and administrator of "La Agilita" spring

DON JOSE MATEO: Christ asked Saint Anthony to descend to Earth to identify
a man who he could speak through. Saint Anthony travelled the world over and
returned to say, "I can't find anybody; I've travelled the world over." Christ said,
"Look for him in the Center of the World; that's where he is."
We think he chose Liborio.


When Liborio was travelling about,
always hungry and very cold,
[he said] "Don 'tyou mess ii ilh me;
I'll leave that to the Jews!" [i.e., the heretics]

0:05:20 LUSITANIA MARTINEZ: "Liborism" has three aspects, although linked in a
single characteristic:

SUBTITLE: Prof Lusitania Martinez
Author, Palma Sola: opresion y esperanza
[Palma Sola: Oppression and Hope]

It has an aspect of social protest; it has an aspect of the recovery of cultural
identity; and it has the unique aspect of being a messianic movement. Each of
these aspects is channeled through religion. Religion is what allows the
achievement of their revolutionary objectives, although the people were unaware
of their truly revolutionary nature.


When Liborio was travelling about,
always hungry and very cold,
[he said] "Don 'tyou mess ni iih me;
I'll leave that to the Jews! [i.e., the heretics]

0:06:27 NARRATOR: He was a miraculous and charismatic healer, and the most
important messianic leader in Dominican history.

LUSITANIA MARTINEZ: A messianic movement has three typical
characteristics, although it may also have others which vary from movement to
movement and place to place. But there are three features present in any
messianic movement: Its followers are a group of dissatisfied people, rural or
urban. In this case they were obviously rural. It is also characterized by their
awaiting a millennium, by hoping for a different world in which all human beings
will enjoy equality without privilege. And the third characteristic is that it is
directed by one or more messiahs. In the case of the "Liborist" messianism of the
beginning of the 20th century, we know that there was just one messiah or
religious leader of the movement, Liborio Mateo Ledesma.

0:07:34 NARRATOR: During this period of social unrest, "Liborism" coincided with
movements of the "Gavilleros" in the East, Desiderio Arias in the North,...

SUBTITLE: Desiderio Arias

...and Charlemagne Peralte of the guerillas called "Los Cacos" in Haiti.

SUBTITLE: Charlemagne Peralte

All four were movements of resistance against the power of the wealthy in
detriment of the poor, dispossessed of their lands.

0:07:58 NARRATOR: In the Southwest, the resistance took on a spiritual tone:
"Liborism" fused the native Taino, the Spanish, and the African heritage into a
single belief system, which welcomed all human beings. It promised the return to
an idyllic past of equality, peace, and brotherly love.

LUSITANIA MARTINEZ: They wanted to return to a so-called "natural state," a
state that supposedly occurred before humans organized themselves into society.
It is a state of innocence, there is no private property, all people are equals, there
is no malice...

0:08:42 NARRATOR: The erudite of the time wrote publications to discredit the man
now called Maestro or even Santo or Dios Liborio -maestro, saint, or god--
because they saw him as a threat to their interests...

SUBTITLE: E. O. Garrido Puello

SUBTITLE: Don Wenceslao Ramirez,
the caudillo [biggest landholder and leader]
of the San Juan Valley, with his sons

...and did not acknowledge his mystical dimension and apparent divine light.

0:08:57 NARRATOR: This is the testimony of the illiterate followers of Liborio, whose
voices have never been heard until now.

DON ANDRES MEDINA: What Liborio preached on this earth was the word of

SUBTITLE: Don Andres Medina
Liborist "missionary" and drummer

It was Christ himself who woke up Liborio and placed the light of enlightenment
in him so that he could forsee everything that was going to happen in the world.
This means that Liborio was really Christ himself. He never said anything that
didn't really come true, for he spoke the word of God. And because of his
enlightenment, the whole town emptied out and went to see him. If he tried to
send them away, they still stayed by him because everybody loves a person who
is truly good. They said, "Oh, no, we can't abandon Liborio!" Because
everybody loves a good person.

0:10:00 DON ANTONIO MATEO: People started to gather here in San Juan....

SUBTITLE: Don Antonio Mateo

... They were saying that there was a god up in La Maguana who cured people.
He never did evil nor made accusations against anybody. What he did do were a
lot of miracles.

0:10:18 DON HERMELIO LUCIANO ENCARNACION: For me, Liborio was a

SUBTITLE: Don Hermelio Luciano Encarnacion
Protestant Liborist

...with the highest wisdom, but we can't say whether celestial or human. Only
God knows whether his wisdom came from Jehovah or was human.

0:10:46 NARRATOR: Some writers of today at last give Liborists a voice and thus do
justice to Liborio.

LEOPOLDO FIGUEREO: Liborio Mateo Ledesma is the main folk hero of the
twentieth-century Dominican Republic....

SUBTITLE: Dr. Leopoldo Figuereo
Author, De Liborio a Palma Sola [From Liborio to Palma Sola]

...Why? First, because during his years as a healer, he voluntarily served
thousands and thousands of people from the entire country. Second, because he
was a permanent opponent of the injustices of the generals of the San Juan
Valley, who exploited the forests to get rich. You all see them today in San Juan
with fortunes from the natural resources of San Juan, because they did whatever
they wanted. Liborio confronted the first Italian family to come here, in 1911,
who took the land from the peasants. Liborio confronted those people. That's
why they will always hate him. Liborio protested against the Convention of
1907; he was the first Dominican to protest. And Liborio confronted the
American Occupation in 1916. He opposed disarming the peasants, he opposed
the rape of the women. But those who want to discredit him say that not only was
he crazy; they accuse him of promoting free love! Yet some of the men who
accused him were studs who had up to 80 kids. They thought they should have as
many women as they had horses!

0:12:36 Da. REINA ALEJANDRO singing: "...and were the nation a thousand times
enslaved, a thousand times it should also be fee!" [end of the Dominican
national anthem]

0:12:48 NARRATOR: In the 21st century, Liborio's memory is still honored and his
power venerated as a Living Saint, to whom many miracles are attributed.

0:13:05 NARRATOR: Our visit to the so-called "Calvary," where Liborio was born,
showed us the people's profound love for their "saint."

0:13:14 Da. REINA ALEJANDRO: "In the name of the Father, of the Son, and the Holy

SUBTITLE: Doha Reina Alejandro
Caretaker of the "Calvary of Liborio" [where Liborio was born]

... Olivorio Mateo, receive these sheep who come in pilgrimage and are going to
the spring to be baptized. May they be blessed by Liborio, the Holy Spirit, Father
St. John the Baptist, and Queen Anacaona. Holy Mother, cover them with your
cloak, Omnipotent God, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy
Spirit. Amen.

0:14:02 NARRATOR: Olivorio Mateo was an unknown peasant laborer until the time of
a terrible storm, when he became lost and was given up for dead.

DON JOSE MATEO: "They" came and grabbed him and took him up that
mountain, to a place called Macutico. They kept him there for three days, while
the people down here were searching for him. After three days they took him

back down the same mountain. And when he turned up again, he said to the
people, "Dar! You all were looking for me and I was watching you all!"

0:14:49 Da. VENTURA AGRAMONTE: When Liborio came back,...

LETRERO: Doha Ventura Agramonte

... people said, "Don't you know that Liborio was lost for three days? And when
he showed up and was taken home, he had gone crazy? Because he said he was
preaching the Word of God?"

015:08 DON MARCOS MATEO: Liborio disappeared, that is, he got lost....

LETRERO: Don Marcos Mateo

...And the people said, "Liborio's lost, Liborio's lost! He's died and been eaten
by the dogs!" But, no, he was alive! And after seven days he returned to his
family. "Liborio's come back, Liborio's back!" But he was speaking of strange
things. So the people said, "He came back all right, but he's gone crazy." But, no,
he wasn't crazy; he was predicting things that are happening today!

0:15:58 NARRATOR: He returned with a divine gift of clairvoyance and powers of
healing the sick and poor.

DON ANDRES MATEO: When he was up in Macutico, they put a half-moon
shaped thing in his hand. And they told him: "Liborio, with this you can destroy
the world, and then you can create it again. You don't have to do anything you
don't want to do. But you have to suffer like Christ; you have to be crucified like
him. And all of this he accepted. Well, when he returned home and started
preaching -because he used to be a very ignorant man, so shy he hardly talked to
people... So when he returned talking a lot and preaching, people said,
"Liborio's gone crazy!" But when they saw the miracles that he was doing, they
said, "No, he has great powers."

0:15:58 Da. CARMELA MATEO: The first miracle that my father was going to do -let
me tell you about it:...

LETRERO: Doha Carmela Mateo
Daughter of Liborio

...When my father was lost, he was lost for eight days; nobody knew where he
was. And during those eight days, my grandmother died, the mother of my
mother, who was named Tomasina Valdez. She had just died when Liborio
returned. When they said, "Liborio's back!" -in the middle of the wake-
"Liborio's back, Liborio's back!," from inside the bedroom, my mother, weeping

for her mother, said, "Oh, please make some sugar water for him. He's been lost
eight days without a bite of food." They made it and gave it to him behind the
house, and he drank it up. He said, "This tastes like mana from Heaven!"
Then he went in the house. He stood in the doorway of my grandmother's house
where she had just died, and said, "Carlitos Mateo" to an uncle of his- "Have
a respectable girl stand at the head of Tomasina, and place a pitcher of water
under the bed." And he left for the cemetery.
When he returned, he returned with a host of angels and the soul of my
grandmother. They made a buzzing sound, like when there are two or three
beehives together.
And when he came in, he asked, "Carlitos, did you do what I asked you to do?"
Carlitos said that, no, he hadn't done a thing. Liborio replied, "I was going to
revive Tomasina to live many more years! That was to be my first miracle in the
world! But because you didn't do what I asked, she's left again with her soul."
And the host of angels left with her. My mother says that tears ran down her dead
mother's face. That was the first miracle that my father was going to do: revive
my grandmother!
And you know all that that man did later on, all of his miracles: Cripples came to
him; they were carried in. And he made them stand. They ran out of there and
could walk for the rest of their lives. They took him a lot of blind people. He
sprayed their eyes with a mouthful of rum and suddenly they could see!

0:19:25 Don FELIX CAAMANO: The Maestro had a big water jug and a pitcher, and
gourd scoop on a stick. The Maestro dipped out the "tirindanga," which is what
he used to heal his people. And he said, "Get going, you're cured; get going,
you're cured!"
In those days there were no roads in the country; there weren't any highways. To
get up to the Maestro, you had to go on paths. But hundreds and hundreds of sick
people from everywhere went to see the Maestro. Why did they go see Maestro
Liborio? Because Maestro Liborio was doing good works. There was a doctor
here, Doctor Alejandro Cabral, who complained because he was losing patients;
there were a lot of complaints.

0:20:18 DON JOSE MATEO: He warned his apostols that they dare not take a cent from
the people he healed. Because there is no charge for God's work; that is done out
of love. And whosoever dared charge a cent for anything was selling the Word of
God. He forbade that. Because God is love. Everything to do with God is love,
never self-interest.

0:21:01 DON ANDRES MEDINA: God punishes because of self-interest. God is
unhappy with what is happening in the world: the fact that a few people have a
lot, and a lot of people have nothing, and those who have a lot don't want to
share with those who have nothing. So when you see that something happens-a
mudslide or something like that-it is prophetic. Because He who made the
world is not happy with it because of the lack of consciousness he sees in it.
Look, some people have days when they must go without a piece of bread to feed
their children. While others have so much bread stored up that it rots; yet they

won't give some to a poor person who needs it. These are things that-apart from
the religious aspect-must be addressed by those who hold the power of the
world in their fist. We all must look out for the needs of the weakest, so that God
may take pity on us today and always. Because if we don't, it's no use singing
and it's no use praying, unless we fulfill this obligation.

0:22:14 [Doha Reina Alejandro sings:]
Olivorio-d, Olivorio-d,
These are the Salves
that are going to heal us.

We sing to all the saints,
and the Virgin of High Grace;
may she envelop us in her cloak,
so that she may heal us.

Olivorio-d, Olivorio-d,
These are the Salves
that are going to heal us.

0:22:35 NARRATOR: He healed with his hands. He never charged a cent. He dispatched
the patient, cured, saying: "Out with evil [illness], and in with good [wellbeing]!"

[Unintel.] of the altar,
[Unintel.] of the altar;
Mary was conceived
11 illtht original sin.

Long live God, and away in ith evil!
Long live God, and away in ith evil!
Up i ith the Liborists, walking in procession!
Up i ith the Liborists, walking in procession!
Up i1 ith St. John the Baptist! Liborio came / ith him.
Up i1 ith St. John the Baptist! Liborio came / ith him.

Liborio came i/ ith him!
Liborio came i/ ith him!

Liborio was raised in the hills; he who avoids fights is no coward.
Liborio was raised in the hills; he who avoids fights is no coward.
Liborio ate heart ofpalm, but he robbed no one.
Liborio ate heart ofpalm, but he robbed no one.

He robbed no one!
He robbed no one!

Tell Mary to come, I'm waiting for her here.

Tell Mary to come, I'm waitingfor her here.
Beneath this little tree, I'm getting wet all alone.
Beneath this little tree, I'm getting wet all alone.

I'm getting wet all alone!
I'm getting wet all alone!

Long live God, and away i ith evil!
Long live God, and away i/ ith evil!

Long live the Catholic rule of Liborio Mateo!

... Oh, how many captive souls have been buried!
Oh, how many women have died in childbirth!
The Son of God suffered, his feet and hands nailed
until he died on the Cross!

Requiem inpacem. Amen.

Oh, flowers white and crimson,
give alms to the souls,
give alms to the souls,
with pain they implore.

0:26:01 NARRATOR: Like Christ and the martyrs of ancient Rome, Liborio was brutally
killed and exhibited, dragged like a hunting trophy through the streets of San

... so that mass may be said
for those crying out [from Purgatory]

Oh, flowers white and crimson,
give alms to the souls,
give alms to the souls,
with pain they implore.

0:26:04 NARRATOR: At the end of the 19th century, life had changed abruptly for the
peasants of the San Juan Valley.

JAN LUNDIUS: Before this time, the land had had no value. Everybody had
communal lands. Cattle wandered freely from one place to another; and they
were sent to market in Port-au-Prince. But then the businessmen here wanted to
survey the land. Because if they surved the land, it would acquire value, and then
they could buy it. Buying the land meant that they could fence in the cattle and
also raise agricultural products that could be sold in the South, in Azua and

Barahona, where, during that period, big sugar plantations were being developed
by the Americans.
The dictator at that time, "Lilis" Heureaux, build a lot of public works here in the
Dominican Republic, for example railroads and wharfs. And to pay for those
projects, he went into debt to France and the United States.
So the United States, which was interested in controlling the Caribbean during
that period, bought the debts. They placed customs houses in Santo Domingo,
San Pedro de Macoris, and Puerto Plata, and the closed the entire border with

0:27:49 D. FELIX CAAMANO: The customs houses in the country were occupied by the
Americans; they were the ones who collected the duties....

SUBTITLE: Don Felix Caamafio

... At that time, Liborio and his people did their trading in Haiti, such as through
a Haitian named Jean Desamor (?), who was a friend of Liborio. Everything that
Liborio's people bought was from the Haitians and they sold their cattle to the
At that time, the city of San Juan was just 1,800 homes, not like it is now. The
bulk of the people lived in the country, raising animals, raising cows. They sold
the cattle directly to Haiti; my father himself sold a lot of cattle.

0:28:34 D. PEDRITO DE LOS SANTOS: Liborio's people sent for me....

LETRERO: Don Pedrito de los Santos
Last living friend of Liborio

...Liborio said to me, "I can't find anybody willing and able to join me." I said,
"I'll join you, because I'm a mountain man who knows these hills." So he was
interested in my joining him. And we were together a long time. He would say to
me: "Build me a hut, for me to take shelter..." and I would do it.

0:29:30 NARRATOR: Then came the unfortunate American Occupation of 1916 which
supported the businessmen and large landholders.

D. FELIX CAAMANO: There was a problem with the government so we had to
fight in this region--the war of 1912. This is how Liborio got the weapons with
which he armed himself. But he didn't fight at that time against the government
in power; rather, he stored his weapons. Then, when the American Occupation
came in, Maestro Liborio used them against the Americans who occupied the

0:30:12 NARRATOR: Liborio and his followers rebelled against this other brutal offense
against the peasantry.

D. FELIX CAAMANO: General Victoriano Alcantara of El Batey gave Maestro
Liborio a purebred grey horse on a visit that the Maestro made to El Batey. In
return, the Maestro prepared a spiritual protection for General Alcantara--who
was nicknamed "General Gran Baye"--so he wouldn't die in battle. Then General
Wenceslao Ramirez and General Victoriano Alcantara ("Gran Baye") confronted
each other in battle in Banica.
When Maestro Liborio was on his way there, he was met by a bunch of
[Ramirez's] women who tried to trick him with poisoned rum. Maestro Liborio
was frightened and he said three times: "Get back, get back, get back! I'm the
Maestro! Be careful with that rum!" And he knocked it out of the hands of all
those women!
So the Maestro continued alive and kicking. Listen to what Maestro Liborio sang
to the Ramirezes when they did what they did. It goes like this:
"E-e-e, e-e-e, e-e-e, e-e-e;
Once I used to be
the sweet grass at your house.
Now I'm bitter crabgrass
because I have fallen into disgrace ".

"Get back, get back, get back!
I'm the Maestro, dammit!"

0:31:46 NARRATOR: This is the place where Liborio was entrenched during his final


SUBTITLE: Don Fidel Contreras
Liborist "maroon" (hermit)

[SONG]: I'm alone here in the mountains,
I have no companion;
and I'm not lookingfor one,
because I don't want any.

I wouldn't want one out of obligation,
but I would out of love;
because I believe for sure
I'm here because of the Divine Redeemer.

0:32:28 NARRATOR: Let's hear about the Hell Hole.

D. FELIX CAAMANO: I spoke once with a solder who had been sent by the
government of the American Occupation in the Dominican Republic to find out
everything that Maestro Liborio did. What did he tell me? That they made a map
with the route to locate Maestro Liborio in the Hell Hole, where they finally
killed him up there, on July 22th in 1922 [actually June 27th].

0:33:15 D. MARCOS MATEO: When they were walking along that hill, the rural mayor
told me that Liborio supposedly turned around and said to his sons, "Eleuterio
and Cecilio, come here. When I leave, which one of you is coming with me?"
"Oh, Papa, both of us."
Liborio says to Cecilio: "No, you're not coming with me, not you. The one who's
coming with me is Eleuterio."
Then they started to eat, but Liborio wouldn't eat anything. His men said,
"What's the matter, Maestro? Why are we eating and you don't want to eat. Eat
up, so we can get going right away!"
He said: "No, you all go ahead and eat; I'm not here anymore" --because he
forsaw his death, you know.
And when he said that, a man --I think it was the mayor-said, "Fire on him!
Now's the time to get him. Didn't you hear him say that he's not here any
more?" So they opened fire! Bang-bang-bang-bang-bang! People started running
around all over! Eleuterio went in one direction and Cecilio went in another -the
son Liborio said wasn't going with him.
Liborio was far ahead, but they shot down his son Eleuterio. And when they shot
him, they heard him ask, "Papa, are you going to leave me behind?" Liborio
looked back. When he saw his son on the ground, he turned around. He pulled
out a little revolver he carried and started shooting at the government. But those
soldiers were sharp shooters; they shot at him like they were hunting game.
But the bullets didn't enter him; they singed his chest but not a one entered his

0:35:38 NARRATOR: Was Liborio a rebel --or a healer? Or all of this and more? -- a
healer, a defender of justice, and a messiah, who, from those proud hills,
promised liberation for us all?

D. MANUEL FIGUEREO: What we call "Liborio's Woods" is over there in La
Sabrosa. Many men have tried to cut it down but they have not been able to.
Some cut themselves, others get sick, another might get a cramp, and another
might whack himself with his machete. Then somebody else gets the idea of
cutting it down, and the same thing happens. He gets a fever, his hand starts
trembling, he cuts himself with his axe, or he falls down drunk, etc. In
conclusion, nobody knows why it can't be cut down.

Oh, Maestro Liborio, you are so mysterious and we believe in your word, even if
we didn't know you before now. But the old people said that you were a good
man. For us, you are a good man. We have come here following somebody's
directions; and, thank God, you helped us find the place. We want you to light
the way for us, and defend us from all evil, so the force of evil can't act against
us. Protect all our children and everyone worthy of protection. In the name of the
Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

0:37:20 NARRADOR: Here in La Agiita, a legendary spring of holy waters, Liborio has
come to occupy a place more important than that of St. John the Baptist or the
Indian spirits. When we visit here, we feel like we are in the most vibrant and
mystical heart of this country.

D. ERNESTO MANUEL JIMENEZ: We hope that Liborio Mateo and all the
sacred forces we are appealing to in all directions,...

SUBTITLE: Don Ernesto Manuel Jimenez
Liborist "missionary"

...listen to us and open the way so that these children of God may receive grace
and blessings and the light of enlightenment, and each and every day make
process on their journey. Wherever they may be, may the spirit of Liborio Mateo
and may the patron, St. John the Baptist, envelop them with grace, protect them,
and bestow upon them liberation, peace, tranquility, and happiness, and every
day may they have greater success in their journey of life. And may God bless

D. CIRILO DE LA ROSA CUEVAS "HERNANDEZ" [in trance]: There are
many who got their wisdom from the Water of Liborio Mateo....

SUBTITLE: Don Cirilo de la Rosa Cuevas "Hernandez"
Liborist "missionary"

... There are many who cure illnesses with the Water of Liborio Mateo. There are
many who exorcise spirits with the Water of Liborio Mateo. But if the Water of
Liborio Mateo did not exist, no one would exorcise spirits, no one would cure
illnesses, no one would do any good works in this land. So let's everybody give
thanks to whom? To Liborio Mateo! To Liborio-
[Public]: Mateo!
Long live Liborio Mateo! And long live us all!
Welcome, everyone, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
May you all receive the blessings of Liborio, the Holy Spirit, St. John the Baptist,
and the blessed Three Kings who travel throughout heavens and earth and wipe
out all the evil on earth. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

0:39:45 NARRATOR: The contradictions between Liborio as miraculous healer and
Liborio as social leader is still seriously debated.

D. FELIX CAAMAN O: Maestro Liborio was born in 1876 on the 19th of April.
That is why every 19th of April, in La Maguana, they celebrate the Day of the
Maestro, the fiesta for Maestro Liborio Mateo.

D. JOSE MATEO: The first question that I want to ask the public is: Is it true
that Liborio was really killed? If someone is killed and the next day he is not in
his tomb, what does that mean? Is there anybody who believes that they really

killed him? It seems that Liborio's case was just like Christ's. Liborio is not
known as a prophet because his work was not done during the time of Christ. But
if it had been during the time of Christ, Liborio would have been one of the
greatest prophets of all time.

Da. VENTURA AGRAMONTE: Liborio is not dead! Liborio was sactified by
Jesus Christ and He has kept him alive!

D. ANTONIO MATEO: Carmito Ramirez was a surveyed. [son of General
Wenceslao Ramirez, greatest landholder of the San Juan Valley] And around
about the 1940s, a man had inherited some land here in Higtierito, Maguana
Arriba [upper Maguana]-Encamaci6n, the father of Bienvenido. And Carmito
came up to measure the land in order to buy it.
In Maguana Arriba a lot of people get together because we have always played
dominoes there. That day there were forty or fifty men gathered, and Carmito
was there with them with his surveying equipment, waiting for the man.
And he said to one of them, "Come over here, sir; I want to tell you something."
I was there listening. He said, "Look, you all are Liborists by family tradition.
Well, you are right to believe in Liborio because Liborio is alive!"
They asked, "Why do you say he is alive?"
"Because when they killed Liborio in the Hell Hole, as they called the place, and
they brought him down from the mountain wrapped in palm bark, since I was a
friend of his who visited him here in La Maguana, I put a handkerchief over his
face [so the dirt wouldn't touch his face].
And I swear that around midnight or two in the morning, Liborio called me to
return my handkerchief!"

D. MARCOS MATEO: I give this testimony about Liborio: The other day, about
three months ago, I'm here at home and a woman comes to the door. "Is this the
place Marcos Mateo lives?" I answer her, "Yes, ma'am, he lives here." "Where is
he?" I say, "Marcos isn't here." But when she says, "Well, tell Marcos..." I say
to the woman, "You're talking to Marcos; I'm Marcos!"
She says, "I must tell Marcos that Liborio sends him the message that he is still
alive!" And the answer that I gave her was: "Well, tell Liborio that I am waiting
for him!"

0:44:15 NARRATOR: At the same time, the rituals of folk religion in the San Juan
Valley still commemorate Liborio despite the continued persecusion and injustice
against him and his noble messianic cause.

SUNG CHORUS: [peasant Liborists of the Palma Sola Movement from Media
Luna, Carrera de Yeguas, Las Matas de Farfan]
[Salve to Liborio the Salve Regina]

Hail, holy Queen
Queen and Mother

Mother of Mercy! Our life, our sweetness
and our hope! Hail, holy Queen!
To thee do we cry, poor banished
children of Eve, to thee do we sent up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley,
this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us....


In the rural community of Palma Sola or "Lone Palm" near Las Matas de Farfan
during another chaotic period following the assassination of Trujillo, the Liborist
cult is reborn in 1961, lead by the "Mellizos de Palma Sola" the Twins of Lone

CHORUS CONTINUES: unto us the blessed fruit of they womb Jesus;
O clement...


Liborists invoke their Living Saint to continue combating the social exclusion of
the peasantry and to create a Christian utopian community.

...Pray for us,...
That we may be made ii i tihiy of the promises of Christ.

Receive this Salve l i/th great rejoicing.
Hail, holy Queen! Long live Mary!
Sing to Mary, i iithuIt pain nor pity.
May your verses say: "Hail, holy Queen!"
May Christ be i/ i/h us,
to delight in your kingdom,
the Kingdom of Heaven,
of Joseph and Mary.
So hail Mary, in grace conceived,
Conceived in grace, Mary of grace.
We give thee thanks, and we hail thee, Mary.
May she receive this I i/th great rejoicing.

Three times:
When Liborio was traveling around,
always hungry and very cold,
[he said:] "Don 'tyou mess 1/ ilh me;
I'll leave that to the Jews. [i.e., the heretics]

And Hail, Mary, full of grace,
Conceived i lt'ut sin. Amen.

0:47:40 D. LEON VENTURA:
I am a Liborist since before I was born, since I was in my mother's womb....

SUBTITLE: Don Le6n Ventura,
"El Mellizo de Palma Sola" (The Twin ofPalma Sola)

... And my family and I were made to suffer very much for that. But when I
returned from solitary confinement, I came back strengthened in Mary, Christ, and
Liborio. And every day I am stronger than before, although I lost all my family,
and I don't mind dying myself!
This persecution can only be resolved by men. Why can it be resolved only by
men? Because men of means could facilitate their money so industries and
businesses give people work.
And if they don't do this, one way or another we are all going to fail-all the men
and all the women.
But-I can't do anything about it, and neither can you. This is the responsibility
of the men of means, the governments, the industrial leaders, ...

[hymn from the modern Catholic mass]
I will praise, I will praise,
I will praise my Lord...

The surviving leader of the Palma Sola Massacre of 1962, who, like a good
Christian, has pardoned his persecutors, speaks to us today with the voice of

Liborio was sent to this land by the Eternal Father on high, to get us to carry out
his plan and his work and for us to realize that we are all children of Adam and
Eve. Therefore, we should all be brothers and sisters, as we were as followers of
Liborio and as we were in Palma Sola.

Today the State has stopped harassing the Liborists and has come accept and
respect them for their extraordinary power of survival over the years as an
authentically Dominican religion, a defender of the poor of yesterday and today.

SUBTITLE: Tony Raful, Dominican Secretary of Culture (2000-2004)


In this era of liberation through works and words, the authorities have changed.
Now there is mutual respect in the entire world, and our work [as Liborists] is
recognized worldwide.

Today we can say that the confrontational division between the institutional
Church and popular religion is no longer present, because a receptiveness and
openness has developed on the part of the pro-Hispanic institutional Catholic
Church toward folk religion, in this case, toward the Liborists in the southwestern
region, particularly the Province of San Juan.
So this way the conflict is mitigated and a messianic response is postponed. But if
cultural oppression occurs again, with confrontation between the two types of
religion and other factors that we do not have in mind at present, there might be a
third messianic response.
So we cannot say that the last chapter of Liborist messianism has been the chapter
ofPalma Sola. Messianism is sneaky and can continue on subliminally; and at any
time it can explode again.

Here in Dominican land, I say,
we will triumph i/ ith the help of God.
St. John andLiborio
will help us win.

SUBTITLE: Don Americo Ramirez Valdez

The children ofLiborio,
11 ith his help, will never lose.
For he is Jesus Christ himself,
who came to save the world.

They say that Martina is a witch,
and Liborio is a sneaky snake.
At the Second Coming ofLiborio,
we don't know how many followers there will be.

God will give us a hand
and St. John is going to help.
The children of Jesus Christ
will liberate us.

0:52:51 NARRATOR:
Is this Living Saint, admired and venerated by thousands of Dominicans, a
legend? Or are we standing before the conscience of our long-abused nation?


"Bring him [the deceased] water!"
Long live God, long live Mary and Eternal Glory.
[From the rosary for the dead:]
For the soul of the deceased I shall pray...

For rich and poor, large and small, Divine Justice offers our Papa Liborio, who
says, "Out with evil, and in with good!"

0:53:43 CREDITS

[SONG] D. Andres Medina:
They say that Liborio has died;
Liborio has not died at all...

To the memory of Don Pedrito de los Santos, the last friend of Liborio Mateo,
who died as we were filming this documentary at the age of 102.

Ministry of Culture, Dominican Republic
Tony Raful, Minister of Culture, 2000-2004

Lusitania Martinez, Project Coordinator

Director Martha Ellen Davis
Producer Miguel Fernmndez "Kadafi"
Editor Arturo Guzman
Script Pericles Mejia
Narrator Manuel Segura
Videographer Miguel Fernandez "Kadafi"
Slide photography Martha Ellen Davis
Lights Arturo Guzman
Sound Anderson Ascona, Rocio Calder6n, Arturo Guzman
Gaffer Arturo Guzman
Camera Assistant Ariel Mota
Grip Tony Perez
Production Assistant Rocio Calder6n


To all the Liborists and others who so kindly offered their hospitality, knowledge,
and memories which made this documentary possible.

Special thanks to:
Museum of Dominican Man
Academy of Sciences of the Dominican Republic
National Archives of the Dominican Republic
National Library of the Dominican Republic
Vivian Nufiez Musa, Patricia Angeles, Ismael Pefia
Manuel Figuereo
Clemen Aurora Mateo "Compafia"
Victor Perez

UNESCO, United Nations
Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

0:55:08 [Epilogue]


That's it! I'm stopping it here!
Long live Christ!
Long live Papa Liborio!
And long live all the powers of the Holy Spirit!

[coming out of trance]
Thanks for everything.

[He explains:]
This may seem a little crazy, but it's harmless. It's just so we will love each other
as brothers and sisters, that's all.
And, as I said a while ago, whoever can give a piece of bread to someone who has
none, give it to him! And if we don't, nothing else matters and we'll all be sorry.
It's that simple: Give to him who has nothing!

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