Numerous recent incidents have fanned the flames of animosity between neighbors Haiti and the Dominican Republic, threatening to further distance the two nations.

CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti — From a baby hanging on the back of a moving vehicle to rounds of mass repatriation, incidents involving Dominicans and Haitians tend to draw reams of comments online. The contentious exchanges cross age, education, professional and class among vociferous proponents of each nation. One of the most high profile Twitter tiffs is the one between Dominican President Luis Abinader and former Haitian Foreign Minister Claude Joseph. 

The feuds stem primarily from some Dominicans not wanting Haitians in their country, according to scholars and a former Haitian consul to the Dominican Republic. So while most Dominicans and Haitians get along ordinarily, the most vocal of critics share a desire to control the Haitian migration for historical and identity reasons.

“They think it’s a danger for Dominicanism — danger for their country,” said Edwin Paraison, the former consul and current executive director of Zile Foundation that advocates for friendship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. “They believe that if all those people [Haitians] would get a legal status and decide to vote for someone of their same origin, they [Dominicans] might lose control of their country.” 

To give more sense of what draws people to click and criticize either Haitians, Dominicans or both, here are 10 incidents in recent history that drew much backlash.

June 2023 – Haitian child hangs off deportation truck in DR

Video online shows an infant, believed to be Haitian, hanging onto the back door of a moving truck in Santo Domingo during a mass repatriation. A woman is seen holding the child from inside the vehicle, while an immigration officer does the same from outside the truck. 

The baby was left with a bruise, from his forehead to the corner of his left eye. The immigration officer shown has since been fired, according to CNN.

April 2023 – DR bans 39 Haitian public figures

Dominican President Luis Abinader bars 39 Haitian entertainers, politicians, entrepreneurs and other public figures from entering Dominican soil because of their alleged criminal activities. Some on the list ridiculed it. Rapper and former Senator Antonio “Don Kato” Cheramy called Abinader a sou moun, Creole for having some nerve.

March-April 2023 – Abinader said DR can only help Haiti so much, needs to be “pacified”

Abinader said the international community cannot ask his country to do more to help Haiti, as he called for international intervention of Haiti during a closed meeting with U.S. State Department officials. According to his spokesperson, Abinader also said there is no Dominican solution to the socio-political crisis in Haiti.

The  month prior, Abinader had said during the Ibero-American Summit held in his country that “pacifying” Haiti is the only recourse left for the international community. He did not elaborate, but the comment drew furor from some who took his words to mean he wants Haiti taken over.

Screenshot of Twitter user identified only as Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who believes “pacifying Haiti” means re-colonizing it.

February 2023 – Ex-president calls Haiti a jungle, says that Haitians fuel DR economy

Former Dominican President Hipólito Mejia calls Haiti a “jungle” when asked about the country’s socio-political crisis. Mejia also told Hoy Mismo that without Haitians, there would not be any construction, tobacco, tomato or banana harvests in the Dominican Republic, according to Dominican Today. Still, the jungle comment overshadowed the positive contributions he mentioned.

Screenshot of comments from Dominican Today reacting to Hipólito Mejia’s quote about Haiti.

January 2023 – DR suspends export of eggs to Haiti for 15 days

The Dominican Republic suspends the export of eggs to Haiti for 15 days, saying it needed the food staple to meet demand on its side and keep prices from rising during the global shortage.

Both countries are each other’s biggest trading partner. Dominican Republic exports to Haiti amounted to an estimated US$1.02 billion in 2022, according to the United Nations Comtrade Database. Haiti’s exports to the DR was about US$4.2 million in 2021, according to the Observatory of Economics Complexity (OEC).

November 2022 – Mass repatriation of Haitians, US warning, birth outside hospital

The Support Group for Returnees and Refugees (GARR) releases a report saying more than 140,000 Haitians were repatriated from the Dominican Republic to Haiti in 2022. The mass expulsions prompt the U.S. State Department to issue a warning to Black Americans about Dominican migration officers targeting dark-skinned people to send to Haiti. 
The same month, a Haitian woman gives birth outside the Guardia del Hospital de Jimani after being ejected from the facility in a crackdown on Haitians seeking healthcare.

Video of a Haitian woman giving birth outside of the Guardia del Hospital de Jimani in the Dominican Republic in November 2022.

October 2022 – Dominican police curses Haiti, shreds an stomps on its flag

Viral video shows a Dominican police officer slicing a Haitian flag and cursing the country, saying the flag doesn’t belong in the Dominican Republic.

September 2022 – Joseph versus Abinader

Abinader bans former Haitian Prime Minister Claude Joseph, alongside 12 alleged gang leaders he called a “menace,” from entering the Dominican Republic to protect the country’s interests and institutions. Joseph had previously said Abinader was using Haiti to gain votes, according to DW

After the ban was issued, Joseph tweeted: “It is not a sanction. It’s an honor. I received it in the name of Father Dessalines, Toussaint and Christophe.”

August-September 2020 – Haitians accused of killing Dominican lawyer

Two Haitian immigrants are accused of killing a Dominican lawyer, Gómez Gil, in Valverde, a northwestern province, then fleeing. Gil’s death sparked a protest in which demonstrators demanded authorities stop the influx of Haitians.

February 2020 – Dominicans begin building wall

The Dominican Republic starts to build a wall on the border with Haiti to prevent what it called illegal migration, drug trafficking and other crimes. Some called the move anti-Haitian. Others, including some Haitians, said the Dominican Republic has the right to build a wall to protect its land. 

This article was supported by the Pulitzer Center as part of The Haitian Times’ Distant Neighbors  series.

Email me at onz@haitiantimes.com
Onz Chery is a Haiti correspondent for The Haitian Times. Chery started his journalism career as a City College of New York student with The Campus. He later wrote for First Touch, local soccer leagues in New York and Elite Sports New York before joining The Haitian Times in 2019.

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1 Comment

  1. As a Haitian, I fully understand DR and Dominicans reaction to Haiti. It is a natural reaction to protect their country and their racial make-up.
    My anger and frustration are with Haiti’s political class. Nothing will change until nationalist Haitians take up arms, remove the entire political class, and install a nationalist/progressist government. Haiti is the problem, not DR.

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