Dominican Diaspora Stand in solidarity With Haitian Migrants Amid Rising Tensions

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By The Dawn News / March 16, 2018

A group of Dominicans demand that Haitians leave their territory | Photo Credit: CNN

As the tensions mount against Haitians in Pedernales, a border town in Dominican Republic, the country’s diaspora has come in solidarity with the Haitian migrants. The city of Pedernales in the Dominican Republic became home to another episode of the centuries old tensions between the Dominican Republic and its neighboring country Haiti with the murder of the farmers Julio Reyes Pérez and Neida Urbáez,.

After the confirmation that this crime was committed by Haitian migrant laborers, local Dominican residents of Pedernales organized and demanded the immediate departure of Haitian residents stating that they “will walk the neighborhoods to expel the Haitians from Pedernales. The authorities already know what may happen”.

Videos that show vehicles equipped with loudspeakers driving through the streets while warning Haitian inhabitants that their “time -to leave the district- expires tomorrow at 10 am”, have been circulated on social media networks. They also informed about the suspension of the binational market that is celebrated on Mondays and Fridays, and ask the neighbors to light candles in the front of their houses.

Read More: The Dominican Republic and Haiti: A Shared Legacy of Conditions

The Interior and Police Minister, Carlos Amarante Baret, announced that the National Police has reinforced the security in Pedernales with more anti riot officers in response the ultimatum given by the residents of the district to Haitian citizens.

As a result, severe incidents broke out between Dominicans and Haitians that resulted in the closure of the binational market and the militarization of the city, to maintain order, according to the government of Mayor Luis Manuel Feliz Matos.

Various organizations of Dominican diaspora released a statement in solidarity in which they warned about the anti-migrant rhetoric that the dominant sectors construct as a veil to cover cases of corruption and the great basic needs of the people that undermine the rights of the weakest.

The statement by  In solidarity – En solidaridad, We Are All Dominican / Todxs Somos Dominicanxs, Comuna Caribe and others, and endorsed by ALBA Movimientos- Articulacion Continental reads:

“We, the undersigned, the majority of us Dominicans living abroad, represented by lawyers, nurses, activists, academics, authors, journalists, students and citizens of various nationalities are deeply alarmed by the reports from Pedernales, Dominican Republic, where an unknown group has been riding around communities threatening Haitian migrants that they have 24 hours to leave their homes or they would be violently expelled. We condemn the ongoing racist and xenophobic threats against our Haitian brothers and sisters. We also condemn the politicians and elites who generate anti-immigrant fervor among Dominican society in order to distract from their own corruption and failure to address the basic needs and protect the rights of the country’s most vulnerable people.

As immigrants and the children of immigrants in the United States, we know all too well that corrupt and incompetent politicians and elites use anti-immigrant rhetoric to distract from their own predatory behavior. We also know that this hateful rhetoric leads directly to the type of threats and violence we are seeing in Pedernales, putting countless families at risk.

We stand with our Haitian brothers and sisters and their Dominican-born children, who are no different from the two million Dominicans who emigrated from the Dominican Republic in search of a better life for their families.”

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