Tuesday, December 3, 2013

ALARA Statement on Revoked Dominican Citizenship

“El exceso de población de Haití constituye, por tanto, una amenaza creciente para la  República Dominicana.” -- (Joaquín Balaguer, La isla al revés:  Haití y el
destino dominicano)
“The excess of inhabitants from Haiti constitute, therefore, a growing threat for the Dominican Republic.”  -- (Joaquín Balaguer, The Inside Out Island:  Haiti and the Dominican Destiny)

The Afro/Latin American Research Association (ALARA) is fully committed to the promotion of ethnic and racial equality.  To that end, ALARA finds the 30 September 2013 Ruling Sentence 168/13 of the Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic to revoke citizenship from thousands of people of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic to be an aggressive and egregious act of anti-Haitian sentiment, xenophobia, and racism. 

This recent change to national policy and its incumbent ripple effect on this population’s ability to access social services and the public education system are uncomfortably similar to the words written by seven-time Dominican president Joaquín Balaguer in his 1983 anti-Haitian diatribe, “La isla al revés:  Haití y el destino dominicano.”  ALARA considers Balaguer’s book to be a thinly veiled anti-Haitian manifesto intended to rest the Dominican Republic’s social, political, and econonic ills squarely at the feet of Haitians and those of Haitian descent residing near the border between the two countries.

 The ALARA membership considers this sweeping revocation of citizenship by the Dominican Constitutional Court to be a shocking expansion of previous Dominican efforts to “dominicanize” its territory.  Notably, this ruling comes exactly 76 years after the Dominican Republic’s most brutal “dominicanization” undertaking known as “Operación Perejíl.”  In this October 1937 campaign near the Dominican-Haitian border, residents were shown a sprig of parsley and asked to pronounce the herb, which served as a shibboleth to distinguish between Haitians and Dominicans.  Those thought to be Dominicans passed the test and lived.  Those thought to be Haitians failed the test and were killed by armed soldiers. 

 ALARA considers the recent action by the Dominican Constitutional Court to be a dangerous and irresponsible encroachment on human rights, as was the violent massacre of 1937. Thus, ALARA firmly stands with those in the Dominican Republic and the wider international community who seek to end all manners of violence against and marginalization of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent residing in the Dominican Republic. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Saint John The Baptist's Day is near, June 24th. For Afro-Dominicans of la La Vereda, Pueblo Arriba and Fundación de Peravia this is the main celebration of the year. The Confraternity of San John The Baptist, integrated by sisters and brothers of these three communities, dates back to Colonial times when run away enslaved Africans momentarily stopped at the hills of the province of Bani to have a break before heading up to the Sierra of Neyba and Bahoruco mountains. They used to play drums warning other runaway Africans about the distance of the enemy behind them. During leisure time they enjoyed playing, singing and dancing. With the passing of years, some African descendants established there, who gave origin to the actual villages of La Vereda and Fundacion de Peravia. A unique type of music and dance called SARANDUNGA was born together with a ceremonial tradition that mixes Catholic with West African religions, such as, Dominican Vodou, or Veintiuna Division. Nowadays, The Sarandunga is proudly celebrated as a communal fest of identity and resistance during three different days, and at three different communities. They commemorate not only the Saint, Saint John The Baptist, but also  cultural heritage and freedom.
The following pictures of La Sarandunga were taken in La Vereda de Baní, as I witnessed and enjoyed in July, 2012.

Thursday, January 31, 2013