– Haitian Ethnic Cleansing
In my last column we looked at the 200 year history of tension between the neighboring nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Now I’d like to look at the clear and present issue, the harsh new restriction enacted by the Dominican government retroactively evicting Haitians living and working in the Dominican Republic from as far back as 1929.
To avoid this expulsion, starting in June Haitian Dominicans were required to present registration papers, the high price of which most could not afford. Though the Dominican government says there will be no mass deportations, individuals claim that they have been swept up and thrown across the border to a country they do not know. Also, harassment and threats have forced over forty thousand Dominicans of Haitian descent to self deport.
Near the Haitian border, there is a village of tents made of sticks and old clothes that has become a catchment area for the newly deported. They’re not wanted in the land they call home, and at the time of this writing the Haitian government had allegedly made only two visits to assist with food and water in the four months of the camp’s existence.
We live in America, and contrary to what the right wing racial majority would have us believe, this is a country made up of immigrants. Imagine learning that your grandfather came from Germany or Barbados without papers in 1945, so now your newly retired mother is being deported. Imagine knowing that you’d given all your efforts to this country all your life, only to learn you would be thrown out because of the color of your skin or the birthplace of your ancestors.
What has incensed so many about this, what makes it seems so barbaric, is not the repatriation of undocumented immigrants. It is the callousness with which a young boy has been hanged, families have been ripped apart, and people who were invited to a country to help build it with their blood and sweat, have been literally discarded like inconsequential trash. That is the humanitarian catastrophe that the Dominican Republic has wrought, that is the true international disgrace.
Calibe Thompson is the Executive Producer of the “Taste the Islands” cooking series, now airing nationwide on public television stations and Create TV (www.createtv.com for details). Learn more about her at www.calibe.net.