Dominican Republic: Valuing Haitian Labor Over Lives

Ever since European haphazard “discovery” of the Americas, violence has been an integral part in the construction of identity in colonial lands. Indigenous and African peoples enslaved, murdered and abused for the greed of nations still profiting since colonization ad nauseum. This same abject subjugation thrives among Afrodescendants to discriminate against one another.

On September 23, the Constitutional Court in the Dominican Republic issued a ruling that targeted and retroactively revoked the Dominican nationality of descendants of Haitians born in the Dominican Republic since 1929, rendering them stateless. Some never have stepped foot in Haiti and may not even speak the language. The Dominican Constitution recognizes, in principle, that ‘all persons born in the territory of the Dominican Republic’ are Dominican citizens but the September ruling denies this birthright on the grounds that children of undocumented Haitians are ‘in transit,’ which normally applies only to tourists or visiting diplomats, those remaining in the country for 10 days or less. How does this apply to generations of Dominicans of Haitian-descent?

Those in power constructed this powder keg environment but will never be affected by its explosion. It is the people simply trying their best to live and survive whom suffer the most and unfortunately this scapegoating, xenophopia and anti-haitianism isn’t new. It’s been ingrained from even before Trujillo-era politics and massacre, to the most recent decades and codified in policy. No documents and proof of citizenship, means no hope to millions of Haitians and Dominico-Haitians. The 2004 Migration Law 285-04 revoked birthright (jus soli) for Dominicans of Haitian decent, 2007’s Circular 017, prohibited civil registry officers from giving anyone with “suspect” documents copies of their birth certificate, 2008’s Resolucion 12-2007 restricted access to personal identity documents and authorized civil registry officials to suspend state identification documents if they are “irregular,” 2010’s New Constitution of the Republic denied citizenship to children of nonresidents and 2013’s ruling has already brought the death of one Haitian man and the expulsion of over 200 Haitians after they turned to the police for protection for fear of targeted violence. They tragically ran straight to the aggressors.

Read more about anti-haitianism in the Dominican Republic on Black Culture