Haiti-Dominican Republic: Members of LASA and Transnational Hispaniola speak out against cross-border violence

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Members of the Haiti-Dominican Republic Section of the Latin American Studies Association and of the Transnational Hispaniola intellectual collective  have sent out a press release addressing the recent hanging of Haitian national Claude Jean Harri (also known as Tulile) and its implications for Haitian-Dominican relations. [I reproduce it in its entirety; at the moment, I have no links to provide to the published piece. Many thanks to Sophie Maríñez for bringing this item to our attention.]

On February 4, Claude Jean Harri, “Henry” or “Tulile,” was found dead and hanging from a tree in Ercilia Pepín Park in Santiago, Dominican Republic. Tulile was a young Haitian man who worked shining shoes in the park to support his wife and two children. Initially, rumors circulated that a Dominican, motivated by a heightened sense of patriotism, killed Tulile and lynched him, perhaps, as part of a broader, anti-Haitian campaign. The night before, also in Santiago, members of the Independent Patriotic Movement burned a Haitian flag in León Park. The Dominican authorities, within 24 hours of his death, suggested that Tulile’s case was the consequence of a theft. At the time of this writing, police have interviewed several suspects in Tulile’s death, including two people who were with Tulile at an establishment the night he was killed.

Although there is presently no evidence that an anti-Haitian conspiracy resulted in Tulile’s death and hanging, it is clear that the Dominican state and some sectors of society have become hostile to Haitian residents and Dominicans of Haitian ancestry in recent months. In October 2013 the Constitutional Tribunal sentence 168 retroactively stripped the nationality of hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian ancestry. Subsequent efforts to normalize the status of those denied citizenship have met with limited success. In some instances, the process, aggravated by repatriations of Haitians suspected of not having their documents in order despite the fact that this should not have happened while a national regularization plan for immigrants with irregular status is in process, has only accentuated the layers of discrimination confronting those rendered non-recognized citizens. A neo-nationalist group threatened four Dominican journalists with death, claiming they were “sell-outs” for their insightful coverage about the dire human rights situation in the country. Finally, a recent Gallup Poll taken in the Dominican Republic indicates that 89% of Dominicans want the government to prohibit Haitian migration to the country; another 72% blame Haitians for social problems in their neighborhoods.  All this occurs while Haitians make important contributions to the Dominican economy.

We, members of the Haiti-DR Section of the Latin American Studies Association and of the intellectual collective, Transnational Hispaniola (representing U.S., Dominican-, and Haitian-born scholars and activists) urge President Danilo Medina, the rest of the Dominican political establishment, and Haitian authorities to enact measures to diffuse heightened tensions. Specifically, we applaud the attention given to Tulile’s case and insist upon publication of results from a full investigation into the circumstances of his death. We call upon President Medina to decry expressions targeting Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent as hate speech.  We demand protection for journalists who advocate for migrants’ rights and those of their descendants born in the Dominican Republic. Finally, we implore President Medina to implement clear migratory policies and rules that protect the rights of Haitian workers and regulate their labor conditions in the DR.

April J. Mayes (Associate Professor of History) Co-Chair, Haiti-DR Section, Latin American Studies Association; Co-Founder, Transnational Hispaniola Collective

Kiran Jayaram, Ph.D., Co-Chair, Haiti-DR Section, Latin American Studies Association; Co-Founder, Transnational Hispaniola Collective

Also see related articles here: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/12/dominican-republic-lynching-haiti-fears-human-rights, http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2015/02/14/384344141/haitians-lynching-renews-protests-against-dominican-citizenship-law (photo above from this article) and http://www.dominicantoday.com/dr/local/2015/2/11/54191/Haitians-apparent-lynching-could-further-distance-Hispaniola-nations

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