PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — About 10,000 people marched in Haiti’s capital Wednesday to protest what they say is chronic mistreatment of their countrymen in the neighboring Dominican Republic, where many Haitians have long lived in the shadows.
The demonstration was mostly peaceful, with young and old protesters waving Haitian flags and demanding that Dominicans respect the human rights of Haitians. It was organized by an association of lawyers and civil society groups.
When the crowd got to the Dominican consulate, one man managed to climb up on the roof and rip down a Dominican flag. The flag was doused with fuel and burned by the cheering crowd. Some protesters briefly chased a woman they believed to be Dominican.
There were no reports of arrests by the Haitian National Police. Some of the officers monitoring the protest also held Haitian flags.
The march came about two weeks after a shoe shiner of Haitian descent was found hanging from a tree in a square in the Dominican city of Santiago. Haitians believe Henry Claude Jean was the victim of racist violence, but Dominican investigators say it appeared he was killed by other Haitians.
No one knows exactly how many Haitian migrants live in the Dominican Republic, but the United Nations has estimated there may be as many as 500,000. The two countries share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola and a porous border.
Comparatively much wealthier than its neighbor, the Dominican Republic has long been a magnet for low-wage workers from Haiti but it has been seeking to limit unregulated, cross-border traffic in recent years.
In 2013, the Dominican Supreme Court ruled that people born in the country to non-citizens were not automatically entitled to citizenship. It was a retroactive ruling that went back to 1929 and left many people who had thought of themselves as Dominican in legal limbo.
Amid international pressure, the Dominican government decided that people affected by the ruling could apply for citizenship after they obtained birth certificates by a Feb. 1 deadline.