The Hispaniola island is undergoing a turmoil that is threatening to remove thousands of Haitians from the Dominican Republic. Racism, economic conditions, a cruel environment and the complex relationship between two poor nations condemned to share an island, are adding a new migratory crisis to the many already in place in several parts of the world.
This is the last chapter to a complex story that started in 2013 when the Dominican Constitutional Court denied Dominican nationality to all children of undocumented foreigners born after 1929. The denationalization of hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent caused a righteous indignation that led to a Regularization Plan whose inscription deadline ended last week. The 288,466 people who applied have now 45 days to provide documentation allowing them to stay. From what we have seen so far, the paperwork is complex and seems designed more to reject people than to welcome them.
The deportations, which started already, contrast with the spirit of solidarity with which Haitian refugees were received in the DR after the 2010 earthquake. This increased the significant Haitian presence in the Dominican economy with their contribution to the workforce, but also deepened the racial prejudice against Haitians. There is a sector of Dominican society that, in spite of the dark-skinned majority, feel more European, which translates into a racist stance towards their neighbors.
This crisis could have been avoided if the many promises of international help after the earthquake had materialized. Non-compliance, corruption and bad management made possible that Haiti could not even recover its electricity, drinking water and basic sanitary services.
The economic impact of the international aid to Haiti would have benefited everyone in the island, thanks to the interdependence of sharing the same land surrounded by sea, and it would have alleviated the migratory flux. However, once again economic difficulties bring out the worst in human beings: resentment towards immigrants and racism.