Haitians in Santo Domingo : Needed not Wanted
March 1, 2007 Commentary Archives
While the Caribbean people at home and abroad are either excited or concerned
about what's going on in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). In the extended
Caribbean family, the least fortunate among us: Haitian
people in Santo Domingo
live an existence comparable to South Africa's apartheid system.
They're needed for the cane fields, but not
wanted. Though the constitution of the
Dominican Republic guarantees the right to citizenship for anyone born
country's borders. Haitians born in Santo Domingo are not afforded a birth certificate.
The history of Haitians in Santo Domingo is replete with
institutionalized hate and
violence against them.
The Island of Hispaniola
Once the Haitians left the elite European class would set about channeling their
The history of mankind is replete with instances of nationalistic fervor fed by
institutionalized bigotry and racism. The history of Hispaniola, the island shared by Haiti and Santo Domingo, is such a place.
During the French occupation of Santo Domingo the white elite emphasize they Hispanic-Catholic culture. This turned to an emphasis on racial difference
during the Haitian occupation. From 1822 to1844 Haitians occupied Santo Domingo, and as is the case of
any occupying army the Dominican elite was displaced by people they considered beneath them.
contempt for their former occupiers into stirring up nationalist fervor in the Dominican
people, fortified with a repugnant dose of ant-Haitian rhetoric. Referred to as
Antihaitianismo In Santo DomingoThe elite started their campaign to reduce the Haitian to inferiority status by
reclassifying all Dominicans as "indio." Suggesting that they were
descendants of Amerindians who once lived throughout the Caribbean. While
Haitians were Black slaves. At every turn this new nationalism was constantly reinforced
with a heavy dose of "Antihaitianismo." In other words this new
nationalism, for all intent of purpose was anti-Haitian. But the worse was yet
to come for Haitians in Santo Domingo.
You can easily see the anti-Haitian in this Spanish term, which would come to
represent an institutionalize subjugation of Haitians in Santo Domingo by
the elite. They sought to put the greatest possible distance between themselves and the Haitians,
through racial divisions.
Trujillo's Santo Domingo
Antihaitianismo in 1937 under dictator Rafael Trujillo, appeared in
literature by some of the noted authors of the era. Authors
like Joaquin Balaguer President and apologist for Trujillo's policies, would
passionately spread the Trujillo anti-Haitian campaign.
Antihaitianismo was now the policy of the Santo Dominican government. It even
found it's way into the judicial system. For the thirty-one years of Trujillo's dictatorship this anti-Haitian was ever
present. One of the many pieces of Literature circulated, admonished Dominicans to look for Haitian influences.
Rumors of Haitians plans to take over Santo Domingo again, were also circulated.This Antihaitianismo can be found in history books in schools. Best selling
authors the likes of Joaquin Balaguer president and Trujillo point
man. The Dominican Republic under Trujillo spewed much of these modern day lies
and distortions, to demonize and reduce the Haitian to a subhuman level.
In 1937 Trujillo's men would force, 30,000 Haitian to the cliffs at gunpoint
forcing them over the edge into the sea. It was also rumored that
Trujillo had a Haitian lineage, an accusation he denied.
Santo Domingo Today
Rafael Trujillo has been long gone, but to this day Haitians born in Santo
Domingo still live in a different existence. They're citizens of nowhere.
There're some 650,000 Haitians born in Santo Domingo that aren't afforded the
rights of other Dominicans, not even a basic right of a birth certificate,
schooling, or marriage. All the basic rights Dominicans take for granted are
denied the Haitian.
Last year the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered the Dominican
government to issue birth certificates to Haitians born in the country. It has
yet to happen.
Haitians born in Santo Domingo are denied the right of citizenship by a
discriminatory registration system that is in violation of the Dominican
Republic's constitution, which guarantees citizenship to those born within its borders.
For children of Haitians born in Santo Domingo accesses to schooling and health
care are denied or at best, restricted.
Fighting for Dominican Haitians
The Movement of Dominican Women of Haitian Decent (MUDHA). An organization
fighting for the rights of Haitians in the Dominican Republic. Directed by Dominican born Haitian, Sonia Pierre.
Back in 2006 Pierre received the
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, for
protecting the rights of Haitian immigrants and their decedents, and the empowerment of Haitians to fight discrimination.
A footnote: Some of the Dominicans I spoke to implied a fear of the Haitian practice of Voodoo as a major contention between Dominicans and Haitians in Santo Domingo.
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