Ethnic Cleansing In The Dominican Republic
If you lived in Boston, Massachusetts in the 90s you would remember the popular radio talk show host, David Brodnoy. He was extremely popular and even was syndicated even though he was admittedly gay.
While a student at UMass Boston, I listened regularly while driving to his talk show. One day he made a reference to Trinidad and Tobago, and from that day on my perception of him was totally changed. He was an intellectual, in fact he even thought classes in one of the local universities, maybe Boston College. He focused on a variety of local and international topics. Usually he presented a balanced argument to support his opinions, at least to me he was always rational and interesting way to spend my time in the car.
That was until the day he called Trinidad and Tobago as a “hell hole”.
At the time my response was "how in the hell could he say something like that?' It’s funny, I cannot remember the context of the topic that was being discussed but I do remember that whatever it was it did not warrant that description. Today, after moving back to Trinidad and living here for a few years; I still don’t agree with him. By the way, he died of HIV Aids a few years ago; may his departed soul rest in peace.
Although Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean share the challenges of crime, it is only Haiti, because of history and natural disasters, comes even close to Mr. Brodnoy’s “hell hole” label.
Haiti is in the Caribbean news again, now with a man made disaster. The Dominican Republic has essentially declared all Haitians born after 1929 as illegal aliens. Over 200,000 Haitians are to be repatriated back to Haiti.
The government of the Dominican Republic has stubbornly refused to listen to moderators presenting a case that the country belongs to Dominicans and the Haitians are unwanted. Ethnic cleansing at it worse, a microscopic example, although not as deadly as what Hitler attempted in Nazi Germany.
What is the position of the Caribbean neighbors? Of course, many are against such a move, the PM of St. Vincent, Gonzales is leading the charge for the Caribbean community to do something fast. The PM of Haiti is pursuing diplomatic strategies to resolve the situation; he is concerned about the 2 billion dollars in annual trade.
Meanwhile the only regional organization, CARICOM, headed by the PM of Trinidad and Tobago, met recently and decided to take a cautious measured approach The organization’s position as expressed by Mrs. Bissassar was;
“If we want to put pressure on the Dominican Republic, it is not necessary that we shoot all our guns on the same day…”
.This is an urgent situation, the St. Vincent PM is right, now is the time for action; not talk. The Haitian PM is taking the cautious measured approach while his people suffer and his concern is he trade opportunities Haiti will lose. What yardstick is he using to measure human suffering? This Caribbean News article documents their positions.
The leaders of CARICOM are preparing for a long protracted war with the Dominican Republic being careful not to shoot “all our guns on the same day”.
The day that was published two Dominicans were murdered and 5 Haitian-Dominican were killed by a mob prompting 700 Haitian-Dominicans to flee their homes.
That is David Brodnoy’s “hell hole” in the Caribbean.
Unless our leaders take drastic action soon, this can escalate to an unprecedented scale of human suffering in the Caribbean. This is not about money, no amount of trade should take precedence over the lives of an estimated 200,000 people. Trade always benefit two parties, there are other countries that will trade with Haiti especially given the present situation.
The government and people of the Dominican Republic do have the right to protect their country from an invasion of illegal immigrants. No one can argue that point but to intentionally target every Haitian since 1929 is taking it a bit too far. It is nationalistic but it reeks of racism and blatant discrimination.
For that reason alone, CARICOM should take swifter more decisive actions.
What can they do?
They can start by Imposing trade sanctions, launching a regional campaign to identify illegal Dominican in every country in the Caribbean and repatriate them, restrict travel to and from the Dominican Republic. In affect conduct a regional isolation campaign to bring them to the negotiating table and stop waiting on their “good faith”.
The time for lip service has gone. Now is the time to act.