Time for justice for Haitians in Dominican

By Gerald V. Paul

Eyes is joining Haitian Foreign Minister Duly Brutus and the Consul General of Haiti Dr. Eric Pierre in calling on Dominican officials “to respect the fundamental rights of every Haitian in the Dominican Republic.”

Stop this inhumanity to man, in the name of God!

Stop this evil as we denounce the Dominican government for its “Negrophobia.”

Haiti and the Dominican Republic have long had a working relationship with movement of people doing business.

Let me remind you of the 2005 Inter-American Court of Human Rights denouncement of the Dominican government for denying birth certificates to two young Dominican girls of Haitian descent, in contravention of the American Convention on Human Rights.

“The crimes have been unpunished and I think the perpetuators must be brought to justice,” Pierre said. “This makes the struggle of Toussaint Louverture more relevant today.”

Human rights groups warn tens of thousands of individuals born in the Dominican Republic, mostly of Haitian heritage, are at risk of expulsion. Lord, have mercy.

Picture this, Eyesers: On Feb.11, the corpse of a Haitian man was found hanging from a tree – hands and feet bound – in a park in Santiago. The day before the body was found, a group of Dominican nationalists gathered in Santiago calling for the deportation of Haitian immigrants. A high level of impunity exists.

The young man was identified as Henry Claude Jean (better known as Tulile) who worked shining shoes. Santiago police declared on social media that they “rejected racism as a motive”, suggesting he was killed by fellow Haitians over a lottery ticket.

But the victim’s family and rights activists in Haiti and elsewhere rejected the robbery claim, arguing the recent spike in “anti-Haitianism” is the result of long-standing hostility towards and mistreatment of Haitians in Dominican society.

Enter a concerned and passionate Pierre in an interview with Eyes last Thursday.

He concurs painfully that for generations Haitians have worked in the Dominican Republic doing low-skilled, back-breaking work, often coming under harassment if not outright attack as occurred in the so-called Parsley Massacre of 1937 when thousands of Haitians were killed under orders of dictator Rafael Trujillo.

This was in light of a commemoration 212 years ago of the legacy of Toussaint L’Ouverture (Louverture), leader of the Haitian Independence Movement during the French Revolution. He emancipated the slaves and negotiated for the French colony of Hispanola, Saint Domingue (later Haiti).

On Thursday, Pierre said it was touching to see members of the community from all age groups enjoying the presentation from artists including COBA and Jaffa. Robert Morin, a historian and author from Montreal, did an excellent presentation. His book, Citadel, is translated into English.

Pierre was planning to talk about the life of Toussaint as a military leader, a diplomat and statesman. Bur he decided to speak on his legacy.

Toussaint made giant steps towards freeing slaves and abolishing slavery around the world but his work is not complete, he said. We still have a lot of inspiration on one hand but on the other we are facing some of the same challenges involving sugar cane.

He was cautious in his analysis, not wanting to blame the citizens of the Dominican Republic for negative treatment of the Haitians. But he is concerned about increased violence and xenophobia.

It’s the exploitation of the Haitians that pains him, like those laboring in agriculture. The bitter-sweet of the sugar cane is the root of Haiti’s vulnerable poor’s need to be treated with respect and justice.

“That makes the commemoration of the life and the achievement of Toussaint as very important today as it gives a platform and an opportunity to reflect and take action as we do the right thing today,” Pierre said.

From the milk of human kindness in our heart of hearts, let’s do the right thing!

Gerald V. Paul
Gerald V. Paul