By Max A. Joseph Jr.
It is a known fact that anti-Haitianismo, whose main purpose is the obliteration of Haitian influence in the Dominican Republic, has been the official policy of that country since its inception on February 27,1844. This absurd philosophy stems from the notion that the DR’s “European heritage” must be protected by any means from the horde of dark-skinned Africans (read Haitians) living on the western side of the island of Hispaniola, which both nations share, albeit unequally as a result of colonialism and present-day neo-colonialism. So pervasive is the philosophy that none other than the Roman Catholic Cardinal Nicolá de Jesús López Rodriguez, who currently holds the title of “Primate of the Americas,” is a fanatical believer. His public declarations on the issue usually leave many Catholics befuddled. Out of this bizarre situation, recurring tragedies, as you might expect, have become a mainstay in the relations between the two countries.
The 1937 massacre of approximately 30,000 Haitians, who found themselves on the wrong side of the border following the 1929 Borno-Velasquez pact, notwithstanding, systemic violence against Haitians in the DR have continued unabated and taken a new sense of urgency for the Dominicans. The deafening silence of the United Nations in the face of these ongoing atrocities committed against a member of its community of nations is certainly a primary factor in the arrogance of the Dominicans. Interestingly enough, the perpetrators are playing victims and persisting in believing that a global conspiracy to unite the island under Haitian domination exists and must be fought without ambiguity. This neoDuartiano-induced paranoia is promoting hatred and threatening the stability of the whole Caribbean region, while no one seems to care.
As a columnist and concerned Haitian, I have over the years written a few articles on the state of the thorny relationship existing between Haiti and the DR, and have tried to be as objective as my knowledge of the subject allows. I know that any of my arguments would not be valid without the counterarguments of the other side. The anticipated counterarguments from the other side however have not only overlooked the relevant subject-matter but came in the form of demonizing or lecturing Haitians on their presumed failings that the international community has been propagating as the “factual” reasons behind Haiti’s torments.
In fairness, the comments that I received from many Dominican readers, some of them preposterous and vitriolic, never rose to the level of counterarguments. They were emotional reactions of seemingly misguided Dominican patriots that refuse to accept the notion that the future of both nations is forever intertwined by fate and geography, not by a desire of some Haitians to become Dominicans, as one commentator boldly asserted. “You killed off your colonizers we partnered with ours. No country in the western hemisphere has practiced more racial killings and executions than Haiti. Have you read your history” argued another commentator.
Well, these comments only validate my argument that anti-Haitianismo is indeed the raison d’être of the Dominicans. This vicious philosophy undoubtedly represents a clear and actual danger to our existence as a nation. It is a threat that we simply cannot afford to ignore. The last time a nation (Germany) became so obsessed with a particular ethnic group (the Jews) it ultimately committed an atrocity (the Holocaust) of biblical proportion. As was the case with the Jews in the mid-20th century Europe, no one would come to our rescue until the stated objective of the neo-Duartianos is almost completed.
Like any other nation on earth, the DR has the right to protect its cultural identity and decide who is actually a Dominican. However the hundreds of thousands of stateless descendants of the unfortunate Haitians who were victimized by an arbitrary act of neo-colonialism in 1929 must be allowed to claim citizenship in the DR, if they so choose. Their ethnicity may be Haitian but they are not Haitian citizens, as the neo-Duartianos maintain, because they share little in common with their ethnic kinfolk on the western side of the border, besides the color of their skin. From a legal viewpoint, they can claim Haitian nationality but should not be forced to relinquish a birthright that the Dominicans are now claiming never existed in the first place, which is inconsistent with the historical facts.
Are the Dominicans trying to establish their credential as a rightful member of the Caucasian-dominated international elite or engaging in retributive justice on behalf of the colonizers that we (Haitians) supposedly killed off? We all know that the ethnic makeup of the DR (85 percent of Dominicans are of African ancestry) disqualifies it from being a member of the ruling international elite. However, its embrace of neo-colonialism and retributive justice against Haitians would certainly earn it some kudos among the group.
The keepers of peace and security in this world should know the institutionalized anti-Haitianismo which has become embedded in the Dominican psyche will inevitably produce an outcome that benefits no one. In this interdependent world, racial and cultural homogeneity is a thing of the past that has been steadily replaced by ethnic and racial diversity which, in itself, negates the validity of the neo-Duartiano philosophy. The Haitian protectorate over the DR (1822-44), which forms the basis of the neo-Duartianos’ irrational philosophy, was a justifiable reaction to colonialism not a desire to subjugate our neighbor. Apparently, it created a misunderstanding that subsists to this day.