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.