Diversity Abroad – Blog

Relationship between the Dominican Republic and Haiti

It is my belief that Americans often forget about racism and discrimination around the world. In America we make things black and white and forget about other countries that face racism similar to the US. The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the island of Hispaniola but they hate each other. I would not say everyone hates each other but both government have a history of persecuting each other.

The island of Hispaniola was once called Hayti by Christopher Columbus when he founded it in 1492. The Spanish controlled the Dominican Republic and the French eventually controlled Haiti. “When Haiti freed herself from French control in 1804, she quickly undertook to protect her freedom by overrunning the island’s eastern parts, Santo Domingo. The Haitians saw the island as indivisible. Eventually the Haitians occupied the Dominican Republic for twenty-two years. Jean Pierre Boyer, the Haitian president, sought to secure his control of the Dominican Republic by the destruction of its Hispanic culture. He closed the university and prevented contact between the Dominican Church and the Catholic hierarchy in Europe. He broke up the large estates of the Dominican nation held by the Church. These policies increased anti-Haitian sentiment in the Dominican Republic (www.allempires.com).”

“When Trujillo was elected president he defined the Dominican Republic as a Hispanic nation, Catholic and White, as opposed to Afro-French Haiti which largely practiced “vodou” as a religion. He portrayed Haiti as both a threat and the antithesis of the Dominican Republic. He dreaded the growing influence of Haitian culture in Dominican territory. His fear of Haitian “darkening” of the Dominican population led him to conduct a policy of “Dominicanness” which ultimately led to the murder of more than 25,000 Haitian on the Haitian-Dominican border. After having signed a boundary agreement between the Dominican government and Haiti, Trujillo realizing that the people on the border, Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent, spoke mainly creole and used the Haitian gourde as their currency. He undertook to define Haitians as racially separate from Dominicans. Under Operation Perejil, Trujillo killed thousands of Haitians and dark skinned Dominicans residing on the border zone. These people were asked to pronounce the word “perejil”, believed to be hard for Haitians because of the “r” and the “j”. Everyone who failed at the test was systematically killed (www.allempires.com).”

Since my time here in the Dominican Republic, I have learned about the ongoing violence between the two countries. It is so sad how these two nations share the same island but continue to oppress one another. Although they have different cultures they share an African descendent too. I learned that many Dominicans do not consider themselves black, although most of the ancestors originated from Africa. I have enjoyed learning about the history of both countries.

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus

Hispaniola

Hispaniola