PORT-AU-PRINCE – A group of 30 Haitian intellectuals and public figures has written an open letter to the President of The Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernandes, asking him to address the problem of attacks against Haitians in his country.
The authors of the letter who include former Haitian Prime Minister Rosny Smarth and the former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Guy Alexandre, say they are concerned about a “campaign of hatred in the media orchestrated” by public figures seen as allies of the President.
There have been several attacks against Haitians in the Dominican Republic over the course of the year.
In May, tensions flared between the two neighbors after a Haitian was beheaded in the Santo Domingo slum of Buenos Aires, allegedly in revenge for another murder. The killing sparked angry demonstrations in Port-au-Prince and Haitian officials accused Dominican police of not doing enough to prevent the man’s death.
In a recent incident, four Haitians suspected of cutting down trees to make charcoal were murdered and a fifth man wounded by gunmen near the border town of Jimani on October 23.
In a nearby settlement on Lake Azuei, constructed for Haitians deported from the Dominican Republic, a man in his fifties said he had no desire to return to the country in which he’d spent most of life, as he feared he’d be killed.
Haitian journalist Herold Jean-Francois, one of the authors of the letter to President Fernandes says he’s glad to see the letter, published Tuesday, has already generated significant coverage in the Dominican press.
Dominican officials estimate around one million Haitians live in the country, many of them working in low wage jobs in agriculture and construction.