Division between Dominican Republic and Haiti

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There is an artificial line that separates Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The two countries used to be one during the Spanish rule in 1822 to 1844. In 1937, there was a turning point in their relation, the Parsley Massacre. During that time the Dominican Republic was ruled by a dictator Rafael Trujillo. He slaughtered and targeted Haitians along with the Dominicans who were black like the Haitians (Howard, 2011). He feared the Haitian people due to the increasing population of the blacks in the Dominican Republic. The policy of “Dominicans” led to the death of over 25,000 Haitians on the border. People were tested if they could pronounce the word “perejil” which was believed to be hard for any Haitians to pronounce because of the r and j. Anyone who failed the test was killed (Castor & Garafola, 2014).

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This rivalry is traced back to the colonial period. After signing the treaty of Ryswick (1697), the two colonies encountered different paths in economic development, which influenced the development of the two countries. The French developed St. Domingue to be the most productive region in the colony of the hemisphere. By the 18th century, their sugar production had surpassed that of all the English colonies (Castor & Garafola, 2014). The French saw an opportunity from the growing market for sugar; therefore, maximizing their profits through importation of slaves. However, the Spanish did nothing to develop economically. The colonist ware not motivated by the plan of supplying sugar. As they were not wealthy, they were unable to import slaves in large numbers, and they developed subsistence agriculture (Turits, 2012).

The rivalry between Haiti and the Dominican Republic was amplified mainly by the difference in racial makeup. During that time the demographic population of the St Domingo had increased with a large number of blacks and a small number of mullatos, contrary to the Santo Domingo where the majority were mullatos from the intermarriages between the Spaniards and the blacks (Turits, 2012).

During the Parsley Massacre, the Dominican Republic civilians also were indulged in increasing the rivalry between the two countries. They helped the local authorities to locate Haitians where they had escaped. Others were recruited to join the army, away that was used to kill many of the Haitians (Howard, 2011). The societies would be much different if there were no African influence on the region. Mostly the rivalry was brought about by the racial differences, and this led the separation of the two countries. If there were no slaves introduced in the area, there would be no intermarriages, and the issue of racial differences would not have risen.

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  1. Castor, S. & Garafola, L. (2014). The American Occupation of Haiti (1915-34) and the Dominican Republic (1916-24). The Massachusetts Review, 15(1/2), 253-275.
  2. Howard, D. (2011). Coloring the nation: Race and ethnicity in the Dominican Republic. Signal Books.
  3. Turits, L. (2012). A world destroyed, a nation imposed: The 1937 Haitian massacre in the Dominican Republic. Hispanic American Historical Review, 82(3), 589-635.
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