Murder Spurs Reprisals against Haitians in Northern Dominican Republic

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Spain’s Agencia EFE reports that scores of Haitian migrants were driven from their homes in Santiago province by mobs of Dominicans angry over the slaying of a compatriot. The unrest followed Saturday’s murder of Jesus Rivas Polanco, 30, who was stabbed and beaten to death in the community of Canca la Reyna, allegedly by two undocumented Haitian immigrants said to have stolen a motorcycle, cell phone and 8,000 pesos ($220) in cash from the victim. Hundreds of enraged Dominicans went on a rampage against their Haitian neighbors, looting and burning at least nine homes and threatening to lynch any Haitian who crossed their path. The Haitians hid in a gully until Monday, when police and Dominican immigration agents began patrolling Canca la Reyna to put an end to the reprisals. Police also announced they had four Haitians in custody in connection with Rivas’ murder.
One Haitian living in Canca, Lalita Dougla, said that Dominicans armed with clubs and machetes came to her home before dawn Monday to demand that she, her husband, and the couple’s three children leave town. When the family resisted, the vigilantes looted and destroyed the residence. Eladio Jose Paniagua said he and the other Dominicans in Canca “don’t want Haitians” and complained that immigration authorities in Santiago were indifferent to the presence of undocumented migrants. Agreeing with that sentiment was Pedro Morel, who said immigration officials ignored repeated requests to repatriate the undocumented Haitians.
Crimes by Haitians frequently spur indiscriminate violence against migrants, while a March 2007 report by Amnesty International denounced “deeply rooted racial discrimination” against Haitians in the Dominican Republic.

Originally reported at http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=341204&CategoryId=14092

Photo: Haitians in the Dominican Republic by Richard Perry for the New York Times.

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