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.