1937 Haitian Massacre

After recognizing that his negotiations for a fixed border did not translate to an actual sealed border and the Haitian migration into the Dominican Republic continued, in October of 1937, President Trujillo responded to this state weakness by ordering the murder of all Haitians in the Dominican Republic sparing only those in the sugar plantations (Sagas 1995); the attacks mainly concentrated on the borderlands however. Between a few thousand and 35,000 Haitians were killed in a few days, using machetes and clubs “so as to give the impression that it was the uncoordinated action of Dominican farmers who had decided to settle old scores.”(Sagas 1994, 1995). A 1952, agreement between the Dominican Republic and with the Haitian government settled the incident; the price for Dominican Republic’s actions an indemnity fee of $750,000. In exchange, Trujillo gained a signed agreement regarding the importation of Haitian workers to Dominican sugar plantations and the more secure border he desired. (Sagas 1995).

Violence Today

Since the 1937 Massacre, no other organized act of violence has occurred. However, there have been many cited incidents of mob violence and lynchings against Haitians believed to have committed crimes. These actions have ranged from burning of down of Haitian homes and even a beheading.  More often than not, the Dominican government has ignored calls for investigations, and have gone as far as blaming Haitians for fomenting violence. (Vilardo 2008, WorldFocus 2009)

According to Roger Leduc: “A confluence of factors — a rapid succession of executions in the last few months, arrogance and defiance from Dominican government officials, institutions and citizenry vis-a-vis the plight of Haitian workers, the shameful indifference of the Haitian government, and the relatively superior economic and military position of the Dominican Republic — has created a pre-genocidal atmosphere that raises the specter of the 1937 mass murder of tens of thousands of Haitian immigrants.” (World Focus 2009)

The increased deportations of Haitians from the Dominican Republic should ease the racial tensions of Dominicans against Haitians and should decrease the instances of hate crime.

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