Ethnic Cleansing in the Caribbean

For more than a century, the government of the Dominican Republic has promoted a policy of state-sponsored racial discrimination against citizens of Haitian descent. Now it is trying to strip them of their nationality.

SANTO DOMINGO – I am a native-born citizen of the Dominican Republic. I grew up, went to school, started a family, and raised my children on Dominican soil. This is the only place I have ever called home. Yet, after more than 45 years in this country, my nationality –along with that of thousands of other Dominicans – is being called into question.

Like many Dominicans, I am of Haitian ancestry. My family came to the Dominican Republic from neighboring Haiti to find work. Their journey was not uncommon, nor was it discouraged. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians came to work in this country with the express permission of the Dominican government.

But Dominicans like me have always paid a price for our ancestry. For more than a century, the government has promoted a policy of state-sponsored racial discrimination. We have been used as scapegoats to shift the focus away from the country’s economic and political problems.

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