Every year most households participate in spring cleaning, getting rid of the trash and making sure everything is spotless and to their liking. Well the Dominican Republic decided it was time to get rid of the Haitians and do some ‘spring cleaning’ of its own. In September of 2013, the highest court of the Dominican Republic ruled that persons born after 1929 with at least one Dominican parent were granted citizenship.
The whole act of cleansing did not surprise me. The Dominican Republic takes pride in its ability to be a major tourist attraction, but I guess now they can no longer function with the growing numbers of Haitian ‘immigrants’ therefore decided to dispose and deport them back to Haiti. While hearing this story my mind raised many questions. Why now? How are they defining cleansing? Who is an immigrant? None of this really made sense to me. The Dominican Republic and Haiti are so close to each other, why implement this now? The definition of an ethnic cleanse is the forced removal of an ethnic group from a specific area by a more powerful group in order to obtain a homogenous population . Usually for historical event, this cleansing leads to the deaths of many. Something else that struck my attention is the deportation of those who were born in the DR before 1929 and those born to parents of Haitian decent had to be deported even thought that is their birth place.
This all should sound very familiar. The 1838-39’s Trail of Tears, the mass forced migration of the Cherrokee Native Americans as part of the Indian Removal Act lead by Andrew Jackson, who said there was an “Indian Problem”. Ultimately thousands of Native Americans died on the journey. The 1994 Rwandan Genocide is very similar to what the Dominican Republic is doing. Rwanda’s great ethnic battle between the Hutu and Tutsi and the battle for control. Now Genocide is very different from cleansing but one thing makes these synonymous, the way in which one ethnic group sees fit that another ethnic group is not worthy or entitled to the land in which they live on and even born on; and in some cases ethnic cleansing can can cause a genocide.
Now lets compare the two events.
In Rwanda the Tutsi thought that they should be in control because they had more european features known to be from Ethiopian decent which were the chosen people of God, this idea was also reaffirmed by the German and Belgium rulers. The Tutsi began to kill Hutus and in retaliation vis versa. There where identification cards which classified each person into a group, Hutu or Tutsi. These classifications were not always based on factual heritage but often times off of aesthetics. One with a large nose bridge may be considered Hutu verses someone with a small bridge who would be classified as Tutsi. The media coverage on this issue was very controlled and most information was not known to the public until after the horrific tragedy.
Dominican Republic also has government issued identification cards which tell if a person if Haitian or Dominican. Many “immigrants” that had at least one Dominican parent and born after 1929 were still denied citizenship simply because of their skin tone, name, or Haitian features. Many Haitians born in the DR have never stepped foot on Haitian soil and fear the unknown. The mainstream news has not covered this topic intensely but keeping all information very light and contained.
What are we being protected from? In most cases when the media does not cover an issue the government is trying to spare us something, but what do these events contain that they feel we need to be unaware of? Every day on the news a new story about a shooting, killing, robbery, and arrest; war, global affairs, and presidential candidates. Why not the mass removal and deportation of Haitians? Who decides that this issue is not important enough to focus on? So now I ask you, have you heard about the Haitian deportation and ethnic cleansing? What do you want to know? and How do you feel about the lack of information presented on such serious issue?