Anti-Haitianismo

Image Courtey of MakingWaves.com

Image courtesy of MakingWaves.com

October marks the 76th anniversary of the Haitian Massacre, in which more than 20,000 Haitians were killed near the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina, ordered the national army to kill anyone that could not pronounce the letter “r” in the word “perejil” (parsley). Creole speakers were known to have trouble pronouncing this sound. As a result of this test, the massacre is sometimes referred to as the Parsley Massacre. Many of the Haitians killed were actually Haitian-Dominicans, Dominican citizens that lived in well-established Haitian communities in the Dominican Republic.

Dictator Rafael Trujillo Photo Courtesy of LatinAmericanStudies.org

Dictator Rafael Trujillo
Photo Courtesy of LatinAmericanStudies.org

Trujillo, son of a Dominican man of Spanish descent and a mother of Haitian ancestry, was born in San Cristobal in the Dominican Republic in 1891. At the age of 28, he joined the national army during the U.S. occupation of the Dominican Republic from 1916-1924. In a number of years, he was able to move up the ranks and became the country’s army chief of staff. The U.S. helped place and keep Trujillo in power from 1930 until he became unpopular with the U.S. government and was assassinated 1961 with the help of the CIA.

During his reign of terror, Trujillo institutionalized anti-Haitianismo in the Dominican Republic. Anti-Haitianismo, or anti-Haitian bias, created a hierarchy based on race and nationality, denied AfroDominican heritage and continues to this day.  State-sanctioned discrimination normalizes racist policies, such as requiring Dominicans of Haitian descent to prove that they can work in the country legally. Laws like this further marginalize Haitians in the Dominican Republic, who already face inadequate access to jobs and healthcare.

75th Anniversary Haitian Massacre Vigil. Photo courtesy of BordersofLight.org

75th Anniversary Haitian Massacre Vigil.
Photo courtesy of BordersofLight.org

Organizations like Borders of Lights and the Bono Center are bringing awareness to the long history of anti-Haitianismo in the Dominican Republic. Last year, Borders of Light held a 3-day event at the Haiti-Domincan Republic border, which included a candlelight vigil remembering the victims of the Haitian Massacre. While much remains to be done, both organizations are committed to working with Haitian migrants and others of African descent in the Dominican Republic to secure human rights protections and push for meaningful institutional change.

by Miosotis Perez

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7 Comments

  1. Omar Alejandro

     /  September 18, 2013

    I am a Dominican, and I don’t hate Haitians, I have helped a lot of them here on Dominican Republic, all of them illegals and that is why is more complicated for them to live here, and that is a situation that affect not just to the Haitians, every emigrant without legal documents and very poor will have a difficult life everywhere they go, not just here in this country.
    There is a lot of blood in the history of this island, and it’s good to see how you manage to declare how the DICTATOR Rafael Leonidas Trujillo killed a lot of Haitians, but if you allow me I recommend you to write about him and also write about how many DOMINICANS he tortured and killed too, and also not ignore how many Dominicans were killed by Haitians. You should write the history from the beginning with details, make it fair, and don’t ignore the Dominican massacre by the General Henri Christophe on April 28 of 1805 (Trujillo was not born yet), Christophe beheaded 40 children in the inside of a Church and left their bodies abound the altar.

    “Suele ser tan ingenuo el incrédulo absoluto como el que todo lo cree; pertenecen en el fondo a una misma categoría psicológica.” Rodolfo Walsh.

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    • Progressive Pupil

       /  September 27, 2013

      Hello Omar,

      Thank you so much for your comment. We greatly appreciate your critical engagement with the content on our blog. Our post by no means meant to suggest that all Dominicans hate Haitians. Instead, we wanted to highlight a historical event (the Parsley Massacre) which continues to affect relations on the island. The limited blog format does not allow us to give a complete history of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and things were admittedly left out. You are right to remind us that Trujillo’s brutality extended beyond Haitians and Haitian descendants. He terrorized countless people. You are also right to remind us that conflicts between the two nations pre-date Trujillo. Haiti occupied Dominican territory in the mid 1800s, and Henri Christophe, a general for Haitian forces but originally from Grenada, is believed to be responsible for leading a massacre in the Dominican Republic. History has wounded both sides, but we hope that continued dialogue can help heal these scars.

      Yours in solidarity,

      -The Progressive Pupil Team

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  2. Lise White

     /  September 24, 2013

    I found this post very educational and capturing. The post highlighted a piece of history that I myself did not know of. It has broadened my understanding of the Haitian history and the difficulties present for Haitians today.

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  3. Anti-Haitianism didn’t start with Trujillo, its roots go back as far as colonialism. Trujillo’s mentality was a product of a sentiment that had existed for centuries by then.

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  4. Shanita

     /  September 27, 2013

    Thank you so much for this. I know too many people of Dominican descent who don’t know their history. Knowledge is power.

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  5. Matthew Duprey

     /  October 10, 2013

    Like Lise, I found this post educational and captivating because I was also unaware of this event and the broader conflict previously. It reminds me of the situation in Rwanda whereby Belgian colonizers promoted one ethnic group over another and the tensions built up and eventually caused a horrible genocide. I think the article did a good job of describing how the conflict lingers today and detailing the work the organizations are doing to help the situation. It might be helpful to include how people can support Borders of Light or the Bono Center and a description of some major initiatives they have planned.

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  6. Anthony

     /  October 14, 2013

    Matthew my friend I believe you have hit the nail right on.
    There are two big details I picked up on from the original blog, that you just drove home for me.
    First detail was, “Trujillo, son of a Dominican man of Spanish descent and a mother of Haitian ancestry.” He must have not known his history or his mother’s origin to be driven so far as to want to destroy part of his own heritage, or he was manipulated to act in such a manner against his roots.
    The second detail is a bit long but it is crucial. “At the age of 28, he joined the national army during the U.S. occupation of the Dominican Republic from 1916-1924. In a number of years, he was able to move up the ranks and became the country’s army chief of staff. -The U.S. helped place and keep Trujillo in power from 1930 until he became unpopular with the U.S. government- and was assassinated 1961 with the help of the CIA.” There is no possible way he would have been so successful and so quick without help, from something greater than himself.
    Finally the third detail, not from the original blog but from Matthew, read—“It reminds me of the situation in Rwanda whereby Belgian colonizers promoted one ethnic group over another and the tensions built up and eventually caused a horrible genocide.” I agree we are being manipulated to hate one another and it is without a doubt because together, we, Haitians and Dominicans are a threat.
    All together these three details have lead me to believe a greater power/group of greats is/are against us uniting as one island, one people. We, Haitians and Dominican have allowed the colonizers’ mindset to become our own, like inception they planted the seed of HATE and SEPARATION against our original seed of UNITY. They have killed our mother Hispaniola using our own hands and brute force. They kill our brothers and sisters everyday forcing their blood our mother’s. I hope we haven’t too quickly forgotten, “Unity is power” still and forever will be, power! Lets stand and not be the puppets anymore, pull your own strings if you’ve become too attached but UNITE and spare your brothers blood. Little Haiti and Dominican Republic two sons out womb of a young mother, BLOOD is thicker than WATER and UNITY still wields POWER. We can be great, if we allow the past, the truth, teach us to grow beyond our differences for a better, more beautiful, and peaceful tomorrow. Knowledge is power learn something new plant a positive probable seed for our possible nation.

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