The Stateless of the Dominican Republic: The Story of Juliana Deguis

Haitian workers are transported to the Dominican Republic. (CC BY 2.0)

Haitian workers are transported to the Dominican Republic. (CC BY 2.0)

This post was written by Nicki Fleischner and originally published on NACLA, a Global Voices partner. An edited version appears below.

In September 2013 the Dominican Republic’s Supreme Court passed a ruling that effectively rendered stateless some 200,000 Dominicans with Haitian roots. In “La Sentencia” (find the soundcloud below), Radio Ambulante explores the story of just one of the multitude affected by the ruling, a Dominican-born woman named Juliana Deguis who’s experience reflects the vulnerable situation of individuals of Haitian descent and the extensive challenges of their daily life.

Following the 2013 Dominican Supreme Court ruling, NACLA investigated how the decision fits into a larger picture of antihaitianismo or Anti-Black, Anti-Haitian sentiment, that not only has “deep roots in the Dominican Republic,” but has also been fueled by neoliberalism in recent decades. Historically, Dominican nationalism has relied on a categorical rejection of the country’s African roots in favor of their white, Hispanic-colonial ones; a distinction enforced by Dominican politicians and elites. Such construction of national identity has translated to anti-immigration stances in modern Dominican society: In 2001 the expulsion of Dominicans of Haitian descent reached such an extreme that the United Nations Human Rights Commission equated it to racial profiling.

Racist ideology has been exacerbated by economic and political disparities between the two countries. In 1987, Michael S. Hooper, an advocate for Haitian refugees, wrote a piece for NACLA that examined the severe socioeconomic problems in the country and how it spurred immigration to the Dominican Republic. Such economic disparities and immigration waves have generated a highly tense border between the two countries.

For more information on relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, read Todd Miller’s piece for NACLA regarding the increased militarization of the Haiti-Dominican border.


  • Jean Claude

    I’m sure if we came in with bags of money they would have very different opinions about us. Their nationalism is based on money, whoever has it goes to the top.

    • There are about 800,000 Haitians living in the Dominican Republic. Did all of them went in with bags of money? How about the women in labor that cross the border to give birth in Dominican hospitals for free?

      You are so full of garbage. Inform yourself. Fix your country and stop worrying about ours. If you don’t want your people to suffer while living in other country, fix yours so that they don’t have to live. Otherwise, shut up.

      • mixXedguy

        wow bido. as a dominican with haitian blood ( a grandmother). i find your comments to be ignorant and not factual at all. and it is quite sad when THE WORLD has history books that say the same thing yet we still try to believe what we want. Dominicans are illegally living or unwanted in PR, NY, FL, and spain.. we are the darkest outside honduras and resemble most african americans except for our 10% white… yet when we are shunned upon we dont like it and swear we are “spanish”, but haitians, who because the majority come in a SLIGHTLY darker shade , we spite them? thats just crazy… if USA did that to all the domincans then we would be just as screwed.

        jean claude- haitians are the same way but worse. haitians steal and destroy their own nation. if the haitians (in haiti) stop preying on their own people , allowed dual citizenship, and use their money appropriately then they could still be saved in a proper way.

        • “Ignorant and not factual”? Which part? I said 800,000 Haitians live in the DR; according to this article there are over a million, so if you want to blame it for undercounting go ahead. According to this other article the Dominican government spends RD$ 5,200 million taking care of Haitian women who cross the border in labor to use our hospitals. Is that a lie too?
          If you going to accuse me of being “ignorant” and “not factual”, can you at least tell me what did I wrote that merits that accusation? Instead you are talking nonsense about what we do in the USA or Spain, which I didn’t say anything about in my response to Ms. Claude. So if you want to have a conversation, address my points instead of arguing about things that I haven’t said.
          I’m an immigrant too; I’ve lived in Puerto Rico and now live in the USA and I don’t know which Dominicans you’re talking about but I’ve never heard or anyone saying that we are “Spaniards”; I’ve always identified myself as “Dominican” and still do. I was never “shunned upon” by anyone in Puerto Rico or in the USA as I’ve never done something to deserve that. Yes, there are ignorant and bigots everywhere and I’ve run into a few of them, but I’ve never accused Puerto Ricans or Americans of being racist toward me.
          And tell me something: if we “spite” Haitians because they are “darker” (your words, not mine), why do we let more than a million of them live among us? Why do we allow them in our schools, hospitals and soup kitchen? Why don’t you go to a public hospital or a ‘comedor económico’ at lunch time and see Dominicans and Haitians eating side by side? Why don’t you go to a university and see bright Haitians students realizing their dreams? Do you call that “spite”?
          I’d tell you the same thing that I told Ms. Claude: inform yourself, stop being an ignorant and then talk.

          • mixXedguy

            if you read what i wrote , i wrote condemning claudes opinion as well. and because 800K of people who WERE LEGAL in the country are now considered ILLEGAL by an ILLEGAL 1932 retroactive ban somehow, doesnt mean you’ve accepting.. we’re not HOUSING anyone, they are domincans and live there all their lives, just like when trijullo brought the jews and asians over. la mayoria de la gente d color tiene sangre africana. its a joke to make that statement. and FOR THE RECORD i claim your COMMENT was ignorant.

            “Ginetta Candelario devoted a whole chapter in her book “Black Behind the Ears” about how an Indio Hispanic identity was developed in the DR to offset the obvious fact that most Dominicans have visible African ancestry, and that not insignificant numbers aren’t that indistinguishable from your typical Haitian. And she isn’t the only Dominican intellectual either as indeed Torres-Saillant and Moya Pons have said the same thing.

            So yes Haiti’s supposedly blackness has EVERY thing to do with ideologies of identity in the DR, just as the notion in Panama was that the blacks were the West Indians (even though the Afrocolonials were more numerous and arguably more influential in determining the Panamanian character). ” – exerpt from gaye’s interview circa 2011.

            dominican legitamately dislike hiaitans because over 30% of us will look like them and we dont want to seem “black/african”.

            2nd. just google puerto rico xenophobia or youtube it. and you will see the dislike of DR from PR.. where they kill us because 80-85% are DARKER and show more AFRICAN feautres than your avg puerto rican, cuban, and we are the darkest outside haiti and panama “latin americans”. I am well verse as i am mixed in both cultures and also married to a fair skin dominican who has a different mentality of things in which we argue about as well. maybe you are a fair skinned dominican from santiago or something but facts are facts. and if we were so nice to haitians then the entire UN would not have have stepped it when we started stripping “african looking people” (mainly haitians) of citizenship from some illegal law from 1932 or so, almost a century ago. I spoke on both sides and also condemn the haitians for their own prejudices and corruption as well which i have seen. it isnt a one side issue.

            and if you cant google and look up PR xenophobia twds us quisqeyanos then ill shoot links over when i have time. a little hosptialization and inflated numbers in articles do not make the trift between the two better. especially when we took in haitians to work and decide when we dont want them to strip them of nationality. haiti is as fault too dont get me wrong. but to try and throw everyone of a certian shade back or those with haitian ancestry even though trijullo grandmother was haitian is kind of crazy you know? thats why i state the comment is ignorant b/c in actuality we suffer too in america and pr, but not a single one of us would go back to DR to “work” after experiencing work opportunity that isnt present in our own. if we were all to go back now, we would all suffer in DR and you cant live how u live outside DR in DR unless you are already rich or unless you are a “white dominican with american mindset”.

          • If you wanted to condemn her opinion, then reply to her comment you lazy bum. You obviously are lacking in the critical thinking department so I’m not going to waste my time with your nonsense. I hope you do well working in McDonalds because that’s all the work you’re going to get…

          • mixXedguy

            I CONDEMED YOURS “AS WELL” idiota. si no puede leer ni entender no lo conteste idiota. por que you sound stupid. and if you cant tell by my picture, i am an audio engineer. nice try pendejo but you need mcdonalds WAY more than i do. dsifruta tu vida llena de ignorancia.

          • Edgar Senior

            You said that dominican legitamately dislike hiaitans because over 30% of us will look like them and we dont want to seem “black/african”.

            Tell me why that situation does not happen to the Cocolos of San Pedro and African American of Samana?

          • mixXedguy

            seriously edgar? the 4000 black samana that were brought under haitian rule that now live in enclave? and many speak only english? out of a population of 12 MILLION. and if you follow history trujillo forced them into those enclaves and also made them incorporate spanish w/o a choice. AND samanans arent considered DOMINICAN. buscalo. se refieran como “la samana de las americas o algo asi..

            “Samaná is considered one of the most beautiful areas of the Dominican Republic, yet remains one of the least known by Dominican natives in general and foreign visitors in particular.” ( – our OWN people in our country BARELY knows it exists, t know it even exist and had been tried to be sold to US many times. – and last i check they had to sign a treaty with US for them to allow their preservation. (i may not be fully right). but if you are honest, you dont call them dominicans. no one does.

            and the cocolos rely on self-improving bateyes b/c they get racism. and if im not mistaken they are on the furthest part near the waters isolated from main sociedad.

            and simply put, for the fact that we refer to them any different than dominican. as they are, shows that they arent automatically integrated in my opinion. when i see chino en la calle de san jose selling fake watches, i see a dominican. but a person of too dark a color, is seen as possibly haitian first, , again even though more than 30% of us will have dark skin.

          • Edgar Senior

            Did yo write Big Fat Liar?

            1-The descendant of those 4000 are well integrated to the society , all of them speak Spanish,many of then live outside Samana and they are considered Dominicans by everybody.

            -One of those descendant is a lawyer member of constitutional court of DR, his name is Milton Ray.

            – Many of then are engineer, attorney, doctor, dentist and other prestigious professions.

            -Doctor Charles Dunlop descendant of African American from Samana was the personal physician past President Balaguer, one that always been accused of being racist by people like you.

            2- The Cocolo left bateyes and the cane fields many decades ago, they are very well integrated to the society, most of them live in the downtown San Pedro,Romana and Consuelo.

            – Did you Know that coloco second generation in DR Heriberto Pieter was the first Dominican oncologist and there is a hospital with his name.

            -Did you know that most of the Dominicans Major League baseball player like Sammy Sosa are Cocolo descendant and their are treated like heroes in DR

            -Did you Know that many of those descendant are right now very prestigious professionals of different career.

            -(In both cases of the Samanians and Cocolos if you search more you will find thousands of example like those.)

            3- In DR if someone call you chino, moreno, blanquito is not necessarily have a racist connotation or that you are not considered Dominican , is just a physical appearance that make people to do it that way.

            My conclusion is that you don’t have idea of what you are talking about and you are only replying the racist propaganda and to measure the discrimination ans racism in Dominican Republic by American standard is totally wrong.

        • JulioJorgeVersion37

          The US does it to all Haitians who have committed felonies and were born in the Bahamas. How come those are not “stateless”???

          • mixXedguy

            the US deports FELONS. just like EVERY COUNTRY. do get DEPORTED you go to where you WERE BORN. so black haitians, black dominicans, ;; and no you are only partially correct, the Bahamian govt deports ALL (not just haitians) those who are under 18. Over 18 you can apply for citizenship, by proving you were born there. –La Republica unfornately, passed a law in 2012/3 to TAKE BACK residency/citzenship all the way to 1939. hay una gran differencia entre esos dos. stripping haitianos AND domincano negros, que nacieron alla y hablan el idioma y siguen la cultura… of their citzenship… DEFINITELY not the same.

          • JulioJorgeVersion37

            HAITIANS BORN IN THE BAHAMAS ARE DEPORTED FROM THE US TO HAITI. Those people only speak english, have never set foot in Haiti and probably are more culturally attached to the Bahamas than to Haiti. How are those different from the ones in the DR???

          • Lucas Adams

            Lo que dice Josuep Richardeaux Taveraux no es lo que ha dicho el loco de Lucas todo el tiempo? Jejejeje

          • Lucas Adams

            Frase célebre: “¿Qué sentido tiene que se inicien deportaciones de extranjeros si el Gobierno no organiza el mercado laboral?.
            NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, no la dijo Lucas Adams… Fue nada más y nada menos que Josue Richardeaux Taveraux.

          • Lucas Adams

            Y, para finiquitar!!!!! “El secretario general de la Fuerza Nacional Progresista (FNP) explicó que a esa situación se añade que el Estado desde el año 2007, por lo menos en el ámbito de la construcción, está estimulando a través de la norma 7-2007, el hecho de que le reconoce como gasto en la Dirección General de Impuestos Internos (DGII) a los constructores la contratación de mano de obra extranjera ilegal totalmente irregular e indocumentada.EFE”.

          • JulioJorgeVersion37

            Y entonces Uncle Fester???

          • Lucas Adams

            Ustedes me tildan de pro haitiano por decir eso que acaba de pronunciar un insigne “patriota”!! Siempre le he dicho que el principal problemas es de nuestra hipocresía y la ineptitud de nuestros funcionarios!! Siempre he dicho que nuestros empresarios y el estado son los principales culpables del problema haitiano!! Que es lo que acaba de decir el insigne “patriota” Tavareaux!!

          • JulioJorgeVersion37

            Los empresarios y el estado no constituyen el 93% de la sociedad dominicana. Si todos fueran empresarios o funcionarios no hubiese pobreza en el país.

          • Lucas Adams

            Usted tiene toda la razón, pero hay un problema creado por esos dos sectores, que dicho sea de paso pagamos todos. Y se puede resolver mientras a esos dos sectores no se le castigue?

          • Lucas Adams

            No es por alabarlo, pero esa es una de sus defensas y/o respuestas más pobres!

          • JulioJorgeVersion37

            Uncle Fester, usted quiere cantarsela y llorarla al mismo tiempo.


            Ya le dije que su amigo William Charpentier de la famosa mesa andaba con esta cantaleta. Y entonces???

          • Lucas Adams

            La cantaleta del Secretario General de la FNP? Es la misma? Lo que dice el Secre de la FNP es lo mismo que dice Jean Boline (como usted cariñosamente le llama). Qué astros de movieron para que esas dos parcelas coincidan? Jejeje!

          • JulioJorgeVersion37

            El punto original que usted hizo fue que no se haría nada y según el medio informativo del haitianofismo se esta haciendo lo que dijo su amigo William Charpentier. Entonces Uncle Fester??? En que se puede creer??? En lo que dice UNA persona o en hechos concretos???

          • Edgar Senior

            Lucas hay ahi un tal MixxedGuy que dice que los descendientes de libertos afroamericanso de Samana no son considerados dominicanos por el resto de la poblacion, que no hablan español y que no han podido salir de Samana hacia el resto del pais a desarrollarse. Que me dices de eso?

          • Lucas Adams

            No lo he leído, no lo conozco, pero es un rotundo disparate!!

          • Edgar Senior

            Lo mismo dice de los cocolos del este!

          • mixXedguy

            i am not aware of that., i can show the news articles where i got my info. maybe you are correct. last i check.. “illegal haitians” are being sent back, but that is just to get a passport and THEIR children and those over 18 are BAHAMIANS. you can look it up. it is not a “retoactive, enforce a law that will strip people of their cedulas and nationality of 80+ years”.
            2nd) those people arent haitian. they were born in DR, follow DR customs, dont care for haiti. speak spanish etc. the only reaosn they get hate is becuase they “look african”. and thats crap because then almost all white dominicans arent dominican. because no japense. chinese, jew EVER came to DR ebefore trujillo’s blanqueamiento open door policy.
            3) its crazy b/c DR brought those haitians in, with an opportunity for work those braceros were here legally.
            4) yes ALL illegals must go. including haitians AND THOSE WHITES and others included. but the fact is, youll hear something like “haitians” are doing this and that, when in fact, the haitians do all the labor , no dominican want to do.

            the whole point of culture and country is having people come and integrate into society man. theres a difference between being illegal, and being a part of society since 1929.

          • JulioJorgeVersion37


            In the Bahamas THERE ARE NO WHITES and they still deport them. The lie spread by organizations with a vested interest of living off the haitian problem has been proven wrong by a country where black discrimination has no place. The fact that they are being deported eventhough they were born in the Bahamas, only speak English and have never set foot in Haiti does not deter the legal reality that they are “illegal haitians ” just as you mentioned before.

    • Edgar Senior

      Of course! In the same way the USA and European countries are open to rich people!

  • Jean Claude

    Why is our government so inept!? The Dominican government is basically giving away immigration documents to those that present valid ID, yet our government can’t even handle that, after two extensions on the DR immigration law our government is still incapable of providing identification to our people. I would ask for another extension but I’m sure our government wont get anything accomplished!

  • […] Imagine being born in a country and then being told you have no rights as a citizen; that you're not wanted there. That is exactly what has been happening, for quite some time now, to Dominicans of Haitian descent. […]

  • Jaime Andres Pretell

    If this is so. why aren’t the Cocolos and Americanos de Samana being deported? It is definitely Xenophobia/Ethnocentrism against Haitians, but not rascism.

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