Black History: Special Delivery!!
Florinda Soriano Munoz (1921 – 1974) “Mama Tingo”, was a farmers rights activist in the Hato Viejo region of the Dominican Republic. Her efforts aided over 300 families in reclaiming farmland confiscated illegally by a wealthy landowner. Friends gave her the name “Mama Tingo” because of her motherly tendencies. She was born into a farming family. Her mother’s name was Bonificacia Munoz, and her father’s name was Eusebio Aquio Soriano. She became an orphan at the age of 5 and was raised by her grandmother. She had no formal education and lived in poverty. In 1951, she married a man named Felipe, who was a farmer. The couple had one son, Domingo. Mama Tingo began to advocate for farmers and their families in the Hato Viejo region who were losing farming land held for generations in their families. The land was being confiscated illegally by a wealthy landowner, Pablo Diaz Hernandez. Hernandez often used violent tactics against farmers.
Her outspoken advocacy garnered the support of many farmers who came to view her as a revolutionary. She joined the Federation of Christian Agriculture (Liga Agraria Cristiana) after the land seizures began in 1974 and quickly became its leader. She led the federation in holding protest rallies which the government deemed illegal. Threatened by Mama Tingo and the federation’s activism, the Dominican Republic mounted efforts to discredit her, labeling her a radical. She was also looked down upon for being poor, dark-skinned, and uneducated.
Undeterred, she continued leading the protests. Mama Tingo was finally granted a hearing to address her complaints on November 1, 1974. The day of the hearing, she was notified that her pig had gotten out. She went back to her farm to try and retrieve them. She was unaware that Pablo Diaz Hernandez had hired Ernesto Diaz to kill her. A fight ensued between them. Soriano attempted to fight off Diaz with a machete. However, she died after being shot by Diaz. She was 52 years old at the time of her death.
Her supporters were outraged by her death. To address the community outcry after her death, the Dominican government returned the lands Pablo Diaz Hernandez had illegally confiscated to more than 300 farming families. Mama Tingo’s activism has been memorialized by a statue dedicated in her honor in Santo Domingo in the city of Monte Plata. Check out this video for more information about Mama Tingo.