Friday, December 23, 2022
Josue Azor age 36 is confident that the Dominican Republic police kept him for hours because of his dark skin because his Haitian passport was valid and his visas were current.
The teenage photographer was detained during a surge of expulsions of Haitian migrants by the Santo Domingo administration, with black individuals allegedly being singled out for special treatment—a claim that the Dominican Republic has denied.
The Caribbean island of Hispaniola is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. But there are significant differences between their economies and lifestyles.
Haitian nationals seeking a better life are drawn to the economically prosperous Dominican Republic.
The escalating political unrest and instability that make living in Haiti more difficult only serve to increase the migration movement.
Josue Azor, though, was on the road for business—he was collaborating with friends from the Dominican Republic on a stop-motion movie. When he was arrested by authorities, he had just arrived at Las Terrenas, a picturesque tourist spot on the northeastern coast of the Dominican Republic.
He shared, “from the edge of town to the police station, the police were picking up young men at random, targeting them for the color of their skin.”
“It was like a hunt for Haitians,” he added.
Azor said that the police “were humiliating people” when they locked him up with a dozen other Haitians in a detention cell without checking his identification documents or allowing him to make a phone call.
He was there for several hours before being given the opportunity to demonstrate his regular status upon the arrival of Dominican Republic activists that a friend of his had phoned.
The flow of migrants to the Dominican Republic has increased as criminal gangs progressively take over neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. This has forced Santo Domingo to tighten its immigration regulations and even construct a wall along nearly half of the shared border.
According to the Support Group for Returnees and Refugees, the Dominican Republic’s government deported more than 56,300 Haitians from September to November alone, a significant increase from the 15,530 during the same time in 2021. (GARR).
The Haitian group has condemned the “hatred” and “racial discrimination” that it claims are at the root of the phenomenon.
Both in Santo Domingo and Port-au-Prince, advocacy groups for migrants claim that some expulsions have taken place during unauthorized border crossings, frequently at night, and occasionally involving unaccompanied youngsters.
Not just NGOs are making criticisms. Given the severe humanitarian catastrophe engulfing Haiti, the UN urged nations to avoid forcefully returning its citizens in November.
And in late November, the US State Department issued a warning to nationals considering trips to the Dominican Republic, saying some travelers had complained of being delayed or detained because of the color of their skin.
A Country Security Report noted, “there is evidence of racial prejudice and discrimination against persons of dark complexion, Haitians, or those perceived to be Haitian.”
The study was criticized by Dominican authorities for its “ambiguous” language and for offering no evidence of any deliberate plan to violate the rights of migrants.
The police and administration of the Dominican Republic declined to comment when AFP inquired about the new reports of racially motivated expulsions.
“the sacrifice made by the Dominican Republic with the excess of irregular immigrants exceeds its possibilities of assimilation,” Dominican President Luis Abinader declared in the first few days of December.
He urged more foreign aid to Haiti.
The tiny but fervent ultra-nationalist movement in the Dominican Republic, which insists on its unique Latino identity, seems to mimic the country’s purported institutional racism.
This group frequently expresses its animosity towards the black community, which includes Dominicans who were born into slavery during the ancient Spanish colonial rule as well as migrants from Haiti.
According to Edwin Paraison, executive director of the binational friendship organization the Zile Foundation, “On TikTok, you can see black-skinned Dominicans describing humiliating situations they have been subjected to in their own country.”
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Friday, December 23, 2022