Sentilia Igsema (2nd R, seated), born in 1930 in the Dominican Republic to Haitian immigrants, poses with four generations of her family outside their home in Batey La Higuera, in the eastern Seibo province, October 7, 2013. REUTERS/Ricardo Rojas
Haitian Dominicans (1844- ) are people in the Dominican Republic (DR) with roots in Haiti. In round numbers, 800,000 were born in Haiti, 200,000 were born in the DR. They make up about 7% of the country. Most came fleeing violence or seeking work. Many work as maids, field workers, construction workers and so on – work that most Dominicans do not want to do.
Ethnic cleansing: The DR government says it will start kicking them out in August 2015. It has been doing this all along on a small scale, but it seems set to do it on a much larger scale: it is building detention centres and rounding up buses.
Not all one million will be affected: just those who are undocumented – between 250,000 to 500,000.
Being undocumented in the DR does not necessarily mean you snuck into the country. For example:
- Some do not have enough money to get the right papers.
- Some were born at home and do not have a birth certificate.
- Some were brought in by the government to cut sugar cane and were never given the right papers.
Being undocumented means you cannot get a mobile phone, get married, get good health care or get a good education. Many live in constant fear.
It gets worse.
In 2013, the highest court in the land ruled, in effect, that to be a citizen it is no longer enough to be born in the DR. If you were born after 1929, you must have at least one parent with Dominican blood.
Haitian Dominicans who were once citizens no longer are – like those pictured above.
That makes 100,000 or more native-born Haitian Dominicans not just undocumented but stateless – citizens of neither the DR, where they were born, nor Haiti nor anywhere else.
Hitler did that to the Jews. It is against international law.
Dominican American writer Junot Diaz noted:
“The last time something like this happened was Nazi Germany, and yet people are like, shrugging about it.”
Mario Vargas Llosa drew the same comparison.
Antihaitianismo: Just as Nazi Germany was built on anti-Semitism and the US was built on anti-Black racism, so the DR was built on anti-Haitian racism. Haitians are the Despised Other, the national scapegoats.
In 1937 it led to the Parsley Massacre, ordered by Trujillo to “whiten” the country. Between 18,000 and 35,000 Haitian men, women and children were cut to pieces with machetes.
Haiti is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake: 70,000 still live in tents. Some Haitian Dominicans no longer have family in Haiti. Some do not even speak Haitian Creole – like those pictured above.
About 15,000 have aleady fled the DR for Haiti. Others have gone into hiding. Violence against Haitian Dominicans is growing. One man has even been lynched.
The US is not an innocent bystander: it own men patrol the border between Haiti and the DR.
Of those running for US president, only Martin O’Malley, so far as I know, has condemned what the DR is doing. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio strongly condemned it. President Obama remains silent.
Thanks to Mary Burrell for suggesting this post.
– Abagond, 2015.
Sources: Economist, Democracy Now, Miami Herald, Fusion, Truth Out, Wikipedia. The Independent, PBS, Vice News.