• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

CounterPunch needs you. piggybank-icon You need us. The cost of keeping the site alive and running is growing fast, as more and more readers visit. We want you to stick around, but it eats up bandwidth and costs us a bundle. Help us reach our modest goal (we are half way there!) so we can keep CounterPunch going. Donate today!
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Why is the Dominican Republic Deporting Its Haitian Residents?

shutterstock_67499824

They called it the Parsley Massacre.

Directed by the ruthless Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, soldiers rounded up thousands of people along the Dominican Republic’s borderlands with Haiti, demanding that they identify a sprig of parsley. The story goes that when French- and Creole-speaking Haitians failed to mimic the Spanish pronunciation, perejil, they were murdered. Estimates of the number killed range as high as 20,000 to 30,000.

The 1937 massacre is a haunting flashpoint in a long tradition of anti-Haitian politics — anti-haitanismo — on the eastern half of the island shared by the two countries. Now there’s a different kind of test for Dominicans of Haitian descent. And the price for failure is deportation.

It began in 2013, when a Dominican court ruling stripped up to 200,000 Haitian immigrants and their descendants of their Dominican citizenship — a stunning and unprecedented reversal of the country’s normal rules allowing birthright citizenship. Thousands of Dominicans were put at risk of being deported to Haiti, where many also lack citizenship.

The Dominican legislature followed the ruling with the Naturalization Law, or Law 169-14. In theory, the law is supposed to help disenfranchised Dominicans reclaim their citizenship, but it puts the burden of proof on the victims to provide records of their births — or even their parents’ births — in the Dominican Republic.

Yet many of these births were never registered, in many cases because Dominican officials deliberately denied records to people of Haitian descent. There’s hardly any official reporting on how many Haitians have been successful at obtaining Dominican citizenship, though not even 7,000 were able to apply before the window closed last June. The rest must now register as foreigners in their country. Meanwhile, anti-Haitian lawmakers like Vinicio Castillo Semán are fighting for legislation to deny nationality to all children born to Haitian parents in the Dominican Republic.

Dominican President Danilo Medina has claimed that mass deportations aren’t going to happen, and even issued a moratorium on expulsions through June 2015. Since then, though, some 14,000 people have been officially deported, alongside 70,000 others who’ve left “voluntarily.” Even during the moratorium, there were reports of summary removals of people based solely on their appearance.

Stripping away anyone’s citizenship is a violation of international human rights law. Indeed, the crackdown has been condemned by many NGOs, such as the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights and Amnesty International.

Yet the international community has largely shrugged — as have regional organizations in the Americas. The U.S.-dominated Organization of American States, for example, sent a delegation to Santo Domingo for just two days last July. It’s unlikely to take further action, despite appeals from Haiti for international support.

It shouldn’t be forgotten that the Dominican Republic carried out its xenophobic, nationalistic programs under Trujillo with the firm backing of the United States, which valued the dictator as an anti-communist ally. Today, that partnership continues in the form of a security partnership. The U.S. has sent the Dominican Republic some $96 million in military assistance since 2000, along with U.S. military personnel and Border Patrol agents to police the Haitian border. A border-control system called CESFRONT, installed in 2006 with U.S. financial aid, has been keeping a tighter grip on Haitian migration — often by racial profiling.

But that hasn’t stopped the economic incentive that’s driven Haitians to seek land and work in the Dominican Republic for the better part of the last century. Indeed, some 90 percent of foreign-born migrant workers in the country are Haitians, who often fill crucial — if uncoveted — positions in the Dominican labor force. These workers helped the Dominican Republic’s GDP grow an average of 5.4 percent each year between 1992 and 2014, even as inequality has boomed and the number of poor people has doubled since 2000.

Given the U.S. government’s undeniable role in Dominican politics, there should be more aggressive steps to withhold funding and condemn these human right violations. If Washington stands by, it will be complicit in the abuse — just as it was during the Cold War.

More than 80 years since Trujillo’s mass slaughter, Dominicans of Haitian descent remain economically disadvantaged and mired in a time-capsule of repressive politics. It’s time to let go of Trujillo’s legacy and embrace a more prosperous partnership between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, one that can be better remembered than the Parsley Massacre.

This article originally appeared in Foreign Policy in Focus.

More articles by:

Javiera Alarcon received her MA in International Relations & Comparative Politics with a specialization in Latin American politics from the University of Maryland, College Park. She was a Fellow with the New Economy Maryland program in 2015 at the Institute for Policy Studies and can be found on Twitter at @Javiera_Alarcon.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

May 23, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Belligerence of Empire
Ralph Nader
What and Who Gave Us Trump?
Ramzy Baroud
Madonna’s Fake Revolution: Eurovision, Cultural Hegemony and Resistance
Tom Engelhardt
Living in a Nation of Political Narcissists
Binoy Kampmark
Challenging Orthodoxies: Alabama’s Anti-Abortion Law
Thomas Klikauer
Why Reactionaries Won in Australia
John Steppling
A New Volkisch Mythos
Cathy Breen
So Many Wars: Remembering Friends in Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Kurdistan and Turkey 
Chuck Collins
Ending the Generational Abuse of Student Debt
Robert J. Burrowes
Understanding NATO, Ending War
Nyla Ali Khan
Dilution of “Kashmiriyat” and Regional Nationalism
May 22, 2019
T.J. Coles
Vicious Cycle: The Pentagon Creates Tech Giants and Then Buys their Services
Thomas Knapp
A US War on Iran Would be Evil, Stupid, and Self-Damaging
Johnny Hazard
Down in Juárez
Mark Ashwill
Albright & Powell to Speak at Major International Education Conference: What Were They Thinking?
Binoy Kampmark
The Victory of Small Visions: Morrison Retains Power in Australia
Laura Flanders
Can It Happen Here?
Dean Baker
The Money in the Trump/Kushner Middle East Peace Plan
Manuel Perez-Rocha – Jen Moore
How Mining Companies Use Excessive Legal Powers to Gamble with Latin American Lives
George Ochenski
Playing Politics With Coal Plants
Ted Rall
Why Joe Biden is the Least Electable Democrat
May 21, 2019
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Locked in a Cold War Time Warp
Roger Harris
Venezuela: Amnesty International in Service of Empire
Patrick Cockburn
Trump is Making the Same Mistakes in the Middle East the US Always Makes
Robert Hunziker
Custer’s Last Stand Meets Global Warming
Lance Olsen
Renewable Energy: the Switch From Drill, Baby, Drill to Mine, Baby, Mine
Dean Baker
Ady Barkan, the Fed and the Liberal Funder Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
Maduro Gives Trump a Lesson in Ethics and Morality
Jan Oberg
Trump’s Iran Trap
David D’Amato
What is Anarchism?
Nicky Reid
Trump’s War In Venezuela Could Be Che’s Revenge
Elliot Sperber
Springtime in New York
May 20, 2019
Richard Greeman
The Yellow Vests of France: Six Months of Struggle
Manuel García, Jr.
Abortion: White Panic Over Demographic Dilution?
Robert Fisk
From the Middle East to Northern Ireland, Western States are All Too Happy to Avoid Culpability for War Crimes
Tom Clifford
From the Gulf of Tonkin to the Persian Gulf
Chandra Muzaffar
Targeting Iran
Valerie Reynoso
The Violent History of the Venezuelan Opposition
Howard Lisnoff
They’re Just About Ready to Destroy Roe v. Wade
Eileen Appelbaum
Private Equity is a Driving Force Behind Devious Surprise Billings
Binoy Kampmark
Bob Hawke: Misunderstood in Memoriam
J.P. Linstroth
End of an era for ETA?: May Basque Peace Continue
Weekend Edition
May 17, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Trump and the Middle East: a Long Record of Personal Failure
Joan Roelofs
“Get Your Endangered Species Off My Bombing Range!”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Slouching Towards Tehran
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail