Dubian Ade

Dominican Haitians Face Ethnic Clensing and Mass Deportation

Dubian Ade
Dominican Haitians Face Ethnic Clensing and Mass Deportation

By Dubian Ade

You are an undocumented Haitian who has lived in the Dominican Republic for generations. Your family has made a home here, your children born onto this soil. You moved here for work; in fact you were recruited here by the Dominican government under its bilateral agreements of 1959 and 1966. You and your relatives have worked on Dominican plantations cutting sugar cane for more that thirty years.

June 17th was the deadline declared by Dominican government for you to register for a two-year visa. After this date you face mass deportation.

The lines stretch around the corners of buildings with people who had camped outside of the registering offices since 3 AM in the morning. People are confused and pleading. Some whisper the need for special documentation from Haiti. You have no documentation from Haiti. You have no connection to Haiti as you have lived in the Dominican Republic for most of your life. You have no place to go back to in Haiti. You and your children will most likely be homeless.

You know that anti-blackness is not new in DR. In the 1930s Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo enforced the ethnic cleansing of more than 20,000 black Haitians in what came to be called the parsley massacre. Black Dominicans who could not pronounce the Spanish word "perejil" were identified as Haitian and murdered.

Colorism among light-skinned Dominicans and self-hatred run deep like the wounds of the colonial period. Over 80% of Dominicans have African ancestry, yet only 5% identify as Black or Afro-Latino/ a. Dominican nationalism prides itself on its Spanish-European heritage.     
You have seen many black Dominicans bleach their skin.

You stand in line awaiting the chance to be registered. Two women are having a conversation behind you, one wielding her fists in the air. She speaks of Henry Claude Jean, a Haitian-Dominican who this past February was found hanging in a public square in Santiago. He was killed by a Dominican lynch mob. 

There is talk of other killings: of anti-immigrant mobs dragging Haitians out of there homes and killing them across the country. But, because no one can come up with their birth certificates, in the eyes of the Dominican government these victims have never existed.
In 2013 the Dominican Supreme Court ruled that Haitian immigrants and native Haitian Dominicans born as far back as 1929 would be striped of their Dominican citizenship. 1929! Your two children, who were born on Dominican soil are now without a country.    

It has been hours and the line is still not moving. It is almost sunset. This is supposed to be the last day for registration. If you do not get documentation today you could be ejected from the country as early as tomorrow. They say that mass deportation does not begin until August. 40,000 Haitians have already fled DR. There is talk that Haiti won't be able to house all of the deportees.

There is an infinite number of people ahead of you. Their shadows swallow the ground in which you stand.