By Calibe Thompson
I think we’re all repulsed by the Dominican Republic’s leaders right now. They’ve made the decision to deport possibly hundreds of thousands of Haitians who have lived in their country from as far back as 1929, including those who were born there. These Haitian families, many of whom have likely worked in jobs most Dominicans would never want, were given a June 16 deadline to produce national registration papers or get kicked out. Many know no other language and no other home.
The actions of the Dominican Republic are heavily race driven and have been condemned by international governments and human rights organizations. But if you’re a regular reader, you know I always want to understand the other side. So I started digging and found that this contention goes back over 2 centuries. The island of Hispaniola is shared by the nations of Haiti on the west and the Dominican Republic on the east.
Apparently after Haiti won their independence from France in 1805, they determined that they would end slavery across the entire island, and turned to oppressing the Dominicans, who had been slave owners. Church and government lands were seized, universities were closed, and the white elite were forced into second class citizenry, but I could find no evidence of bloodshed. Of course this still led to resentment by the Dominicans and the desire for “forceful separation from Haiti with no compromises.”
Haitians were forced back to Haiti, where cultural tendencies led to massive population growth and governmental power struggles, while Dominicans were able to regroup and build a stronger society. But Haitians have been migrating back to seek a better life for generations.
Fast forward to 1937, Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo launched a vicious attack, “cleansing” the Dominican Republic by violent slaughter, of Haitians or anyone dark enough to be linked to them. The 2013 decision of the country’s courts to evict these Haitians reeks of the same bigoted animus. While there is an understandable drain on the Dominican Republic’s resources, this new ethnic cleansing activity implies that there are other, more unscrupulous motives at play.
Calibe Thompson is the Executive Producer of Blondie Ras Productions, Inc., a South Florida-based video production company that creates Caribbean-inspired lifestyle content. Productions has created nationally, internationally and regionally distributed programs. including Taste the Islands with Chef Irie, The Caribbean Diaspora Weekly and Miami Fitness TV.