By Thomas Zajac
“One Island, Two Worlds” describes the experience shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti, both located on the one island in the Caribbean that is shared by two nations. Recently, the Dominican government has ruled to take citizenship away from all children of Haitian immigrants born after 1929. It is also the phrase that introduces the film Cristo Rey (2013), which recently made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The film is set in present-day Cristo Rey – a fictional slum in the Dominican Republic that is ruled by a gang leader. The main character, Janvier, is of both Haitian and Dominican descent (James Saintil, the actor who portrays him, is a Haitian who currently lives in the Dominican). In order to make money that he can send back to his mother in Haiti, he becomes a bodyguard for the gang leader’s daughter. He later falls in love with this girl in what is a classic element of cinema: a retelling of Romeo and Juliet.
Facts are not the main preoccupation with most historical films. Instead, they bring significant issues to our attention. These films motivate audiences to learn more about the issues portrayed on screen. This was particularly the case at TIFF, as Ron Deibert, a professor from the Munk School of Global Affairs, interviewed the cast about their experiences and the film’s political undertones after its screening.
Many of the current problems between Haiti and the Dominican Republic are based on the fact that millions of Haitians are currently living in the Dominican. Even though some of them were born in the DR, the police and the general public still mistreat them. They have been accused spreading cholera, taking jobs, and increasing crime. Cristo Rey is not the first film to deal with the issues experienced by Haitian migrants living in the Dominican Republic. The Price of Sugar (2007) is a documentary that shows how Haitian immigrants are exploited for the production of sugar. These films also speak to a recent policy by the Dominican government to crack down on Haitian immigrants, many of whom emigrated from Haiti because of continuing political instability and high unemployment.
Stories of immigration — and the issues that arise from it — are ones that many North American audiences can relate to. Yet the Dominican Republic and Haiti have a history of tension that existed long before the earthquake. The island of Hispanola was one of the first colonies of the Spanish Empire. It was later ceded to France during the French Revolutionary Wars 1795. During this period Toussaint L’Overture led a slave revolt, which led to the formation of Haiti (to date this is the only successful slave revolt). France still controlled the Spanish-inhabited portion of the island after Napoleon Bonaparte imprisoned Toussaint in France.
After Napoleon’s defeat in Europe in the early 1800s, the island returned to Spanish control, but Haitian forces succesfully attacked and controlled the territory, not for the first time. The Haitians imposed a heavy tax on the Dominican and nationalized most private property, both of which led to economic decline. The Dominicans rebelled against this Haitian government, and the legacy of animosity between these two countries grew.
This animosity reappeared in the worst way in 1937 when thousands of Haitians living on the Dominican side of the border were massacred by the Dominican army. Part of the anti-Haitian rhetoric is rooted in the propaganda of the Trujillo government, which was responsible for the massacre. A good book on this particular era is The Dictator’s Seduction: Politics and the Popular Imagination in the Era of Trujillo (2009) by historian Lauren Derby.
The tension between both countries serves as one example of how many conflicts across the globe today have their roots in the conquests of colonial empires (whether it is Spanish, British, French, or otherwise). Since then, people have had to learn how to cope with the national identities and borders that were laid out for them by their colonial masters. Yet people today are not without agency and blame rests only partly on past aggressors. History provides us with lessons, but it should not be used to place blame on any one group.
Thomas Zajac is an Ontario Certified Teacher and currently a Masters candidate in the Department of History in York University.
In the present day conflict, which is leading to war and deprivation, there is no sign of conflict resolution. Perhaps lawmakers from both colonial countries should meet, or the UN to arbitrate for a resolution; at the very least peace keepers should be organized to protect lives.
My first visit to the Isle of Hispanola was August of this year. It just so happen to be a surprise honeymoon for my new bride. Wr are both African-Americans and I consider myself to be a student of history, thou I must admit I didn’t know much about the Islands history until we returned home. My wife is of a lighter complexion and was often mistaken for Dominican and I am darker and was mistaken for Haitian. I speak French and Spanish. One comment was “how did he get a white..” in Spanish. Let us just say it will be our last trip to the D.R. In this country when it comes to racism we sometimes say Willie Lynch still lives well it seems in the Dominican Republic Rafael Trujillo still lives.
I worked in Haiti and go to Dominican Republic often to relax. My observation between Haitian and Dominicans when it come to bigotry I category in poverty level. When I am around more influential people there are no problem. When I near the poverty area in Haitian and Dominican I hear the complaint.What happen in 1930’s is history move on educate yourself keep progressing. Ignorance and poverty go together with crime when you are making money who cares everyone see green. People do not care if you Haitian, Dominican , Cuban , Puerto Rican, Jamaican or whatever. I am Black American my people face overwhelming odds in a country constitution counted us as SLAVES. White Americans pulled together with us and warred. In a country where 8 percent of the population were African decent we warred along sides whites.Some whites still despises blacks but black people are strong built we chase money and education. I must add my faith in Christ is my foundation. I want people to see Christ in me but sometime they only see success.
The Domincan government is just creating more hate with this, next thing you know, centuries from now, Dominican republic will be needing a hand from us and we’ll just repeat the same thing they did and it will be just this whole systematic of hate going back and forth, Dominican republic need to stop while they’re ahead before this gets too ugly
I will NEVER understand why haitians don’t want to make THEIR country better… They just abandon ship and cross over WITHOUT documentation as if this is their backyard and they don’t need any paperwork smh
80% of haitians live abroad, what does that tell you? You all want the DR to carry with your problems! Why don’t you all abroad get together and try to help out YOUR country? I see, it’s easier to just dump the problem on the DR right? RIGHT?!
Not to mention that EVERY OTHER COUNTRY is deporting their illegal immigrants but want the DR to carry with the illegal haitians even though nobody says “here DR, here’s some money to alliviate the load the illegal haitians are dumping on you” but NOOOO we’re suppose to just fuse the island into one nation right? RIGHT?! Gtfoh
The I must say that although some Dominicans can be racist most of us are not. Most dominican households employ Hatians and treat them as part of the family. Yes some may say that racism is still alive in Dominican Republic because they want illegal immigrants to get out of their country; however all other countries in the world deport illegal immigrants that enter their country especially the United States and as for racism it is still present in modern days United States. The U.S does not only discriminate against the Blacks but they also discriminate against any other culture except for their own or our we hiding the fact that discrimination goes on everyday against Hispanics, Asians, Muslims and many more. In my opinion saying that the Dominican Republic is getting rid of the Hatians because of Nationality and race is an ignorant and hypocritical thought. It is not the fault of the Dominican Republic that the illegal immigrants that enter their country are Hatians.
To understand a topic you should both sides of the story.
While I agree that Haitians living in the DR should have the same rights as anyone
I acknowledge that DR can not sustain 10 million immigrants from Haiti many women cross the border from Haiti to DR just to give birth and Dominican Hospitals do not turn them away.
It’s sad because many nations are quick to judge the DR but what are they doing to help Haiti?
I firmly believe that a country that is 30% below the poverty(Dominican Republic) line can not sustain a country that is 80% (Haiti) below the poverty line.
Poverty needs real solutions and real reform.
Ironically DR does help Haiti and I do admit that there are struggles and there is a lack of acceptance from both countries.
Immigration is not the same as tourism because usually tourist come spend some time and money (hopefully) then leave both countries.
DR has 1 to 2 million Haitian Immigrants and Descendants, Give me a break
There are cultural differences and differences within the people this is true
But that is neither here nor there
I am convinced that if we lived in a borderless world people would still segregate themselves
I pray for Haiti and it’s people and the DR as well but once again don’t expect DR to just fix and provide for it’s neighbor when there are issues and problems in the DR as well
Not because it shouldn’t but because it can’t economically
Further more Caricom and other caribbean countries wanting to penalize and punish the DR even though an immigration reform did go through… Questions
Where were these countries when the earthquake hit Haiti?
Where were these countries during the worst of the cholera epidemic taking place in Haiti? What are these countries doing for Haiti now?
It’s very easy to gang up against another country and it’s people when it benefits you,
There is shadeism, colorism, and racism everywhere and all over the caribbean
But what is being done to tackle the real issues in Haiti…
The fact that there was a cholera epidemic brought by the U.N. and they are not being held accountable
The fact of wide spread deforestation caused by over population and need for charcoal
The fact that 4.5 years after the earthquake people are unfortunately still living in deplorable tent camps
What are the NGO’s doing besides getting money from donor countries
What are real solutions to the problems in DR and Haiti and the island of Hispaniola in general
According to many in order for Dominicans to embrace themselves and their Black lineage they have to embrace Haiti as well
They are two different people wether you want to accept it or not
The island does not belong to Haiti
Haitians should fight for rights against the U.S government against NGO’s against the UN who introduced cholera into the area and against the French who made them pay 150 million francs to be recognized as an independent country
Your idea for the DR is to Haitionize the island in order for us to really embrace who we are… with your over population technique
How many Haitian immigrants do you think the DR can actually support, there is poverty on both sides and the DR government has responsibility towards Dominicans first and foremost
Forget race I admit there are issues with Black identity in the DR but that also occurs in the African Diaspora in general you have skin bleachers in Jamaica and the light skin versus dark skin debate amongst African American
Nothing is said or done no one protest when the U.S coast guards sends back Haitians trying to get to Florida nothing is said or done when Brazil, Peru, and the Bahamas deport Haitians but if we enforce rules to protect the border and control the illegal immigration that DR can not sustain or handle we are xenophobic and racist
If there are illegal Dominicans in the US
Do you think the US would think twice about deporting them
Why doesn’t the US simply just open the border to all Latin American Countries or all countries in general
There is a reason borders exist and that is to differentiate one country from another
Dominican Republic does not have an obligation to Haiti
Haiti’s government should have an obligation to provide and help there own citizens first and foremost
So many comments on this issue but none one actually knows or acknowledges what is truly going on
These two countries have had tensions for years and in the end DR has respected Haiti’s space while Haiti never has, never will respect DR
Why is that fair ??????
They would like to unify but is that fair to DR can DR have a say in this before the international community is ready to jump down their throat.
Other countries deport Haitians all the time, the US coast guards sends them back before they are able to reach the US mainland while they are more permissive of Cubans reaching Florida the same route???
Also the US deports illegals Haitians because they were caught commenting minor crimes, knowing they are sending them back to Haiti where there are economic issues, environmental/deforestation issues and rampant poverty, knowing there is a cholera outbreak.
When U.S. deports Haitians to Haiti, they are sent to Haitian jails despite not committing a crime on Haitian Soil.
None of these articles state the truth
Dominican Republic is a good country with good people wether you believe it or not,
You are trying to ruin it’s image when it comes to Haiti but what obligation does the DR have towards Haiti.
Why make the DR repair the situations Haitians are facing, when DR is a poor country itself.
That’s what people forget.
too much words.
if you are born in the D.R nationality was conferred to you. Just like in the U.S. It i not based on a “blood principle”. WHY TRY TO ALTER THE CONSTITUTION JUST TO EFFECTIVELY DENY CITIZENSHIP TO THOUSANDS OF DOMINICANS OF HAITIAN DESCENT.
These Dominican Haitians have not lived in Haiti, they are proud to be Dominican. many do not speak either French or Haitian Creole.
How would dominicans like it if the US constitution disenfranchised all American born Dominicans?
Solutions: Penalize & fine harshly Dominican families and employers ( sugar cane, construction and others) that rely on illegal Haitian workers.
Deport illegal Haitians that are within the D.R.
Treat Haitians even illegal with respect.
Accept the fact that most of you are Black and become proud of it.
Ivan Galvis Next time at least TRY to understand what you’re talking about BEFORE you type! AT LEAST do a simple google search, read our consitution before you make such asenine comments!
Citizenship in the DR is granted by a mixture of jus sanguinis AND jus solis which means that being born in this country alone does NOT grant you citizenship status and it has always been that way! For you to be dominican you have to either have at least one of your parents be dominican OR being born in dominican soil IF your parents are here LEGALLY which means that if you are the offspring of UNDOCUMENTED immigrants you don’t get to have citizenship…. OUR LAWS, respect them or GTFO!!!
“How would dominicans like it if the US constitution disenfranchised all American born Dominicans?” OUR CONSTITUTION HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE SAME! That is not the case with the US… The United States is a country MADE OF immigrants, that is NOT the case with the Dominican Republic… Stop making ridiculous comparisons to try to make your point be valid…
AGAIN, READ OUR LAWS, RESPECT THEM OR GTFO!!!
“Accept the fact that most of you are Black and become proud of it.” AND WTF does the fact that we’re black have to do with ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION? Have a seat already, you sound DUMB AF!!!! smh
Torombola, an ignorant person is one who assaults others verbally and can not engage in polite disagreement.
A lot of the disenfranchised Haitians have had a Dominican parent and many were there since the early 1900’s. If you know Dominican history you would see that the Haitian Dominican border question was settled under auspices of the US in the 1920’s.
It settled the dispute once for all. It meant that a lot of Haitian Dominican populations, and especially Haitians were all of a sudden integrated into the Dominican territory.
In regards to the fact that the Dominican Republic is not a nation of immigrants, then you must read your own history. By the way asenine is not a word, may be in your ghetto it may be. (Asinine, correct spelling.)
The original inhabitants of the Dominican Republic were Tainos (Arawaks). By 1517 only 14,000 were survivors. The Spanish (immigrant invaders) brought in African slaves ( not indigenous to D.R)
The island only had up to 140,000 inhabitans in the early 1800’s and many of them had arrived from Las Islas Canarias (Spain). Former African American slaves were sent to the area of Samana after 1865. French emigres from Haiti ran towards Santo Domingo and settled there after 1804. Eventually many left afterwards but some stayed.
The first recorded mention of a Chinese presence in the Dominican Republic was in 1864 during the Dominican Restoration War, with references to a man named “Pancho el Chino,” who fought in the War. There are also reports that a businessman named Gregorio Riva brought a handful of Chinese laborers over from Cuba to make bricks and quicklime in the Cibao region. This group of Chinese immigrants eventually built warehouses in Samaná, Yuna and Moca. By 1870 the Chinese migrants had built the cemetery in Moca. By 1878 the presence of Chinese-Dominicans in Puerto Plata had increased thanks to the work of General Segundo Imbert, who was Governor of Puerto Plata.
Although almost all migrants were assimilated into Dominican society (often with surprising speed and thoroughness), immigration had a pervasive influence on the ethnic and the racial configurations of the country. Within a generation or two, most immigrants were considered Dominican even though the family might well continue to maintain contact with relatives in the country of origin. Both the elite and the middle segments of society recruited new members with each economic expansion. The main impetus to immigration was the rise of sugar production in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. Nonetheless, some groups had earlier antecedents, while others arrived as late as the 1970s.
Nineteenth-century immigrants came from a number of places. Roughly 5,000 to 10,000 North American freedmen, principally Methodists, came in response to an offer of free land made during the period of Haitian domination (1822-44). Most, however, were city dwellers, and they quickly returned to the United States. A few small settlements remained around Santiago, Puerto Plata, and Samaná. They eventually were assimilated, although English was still widely used in the region of Samaná. Sephardic Jews arrived from Curaçao in the late eighteenth century and, in greater numbers, following independence from Haiti in 1844. They were assimilated rapidly; both their economic assets and their white ancestry made them desirable additions from the point of view of the Dominican criollos. Canary Islanders arrived during the late colonial period as well, in response to the improved economic conditions of the 1880s. Spaniards settled during the period of renewed Spanish occupation (1861-65); many Spanish soldiers stayed after the War of Restoration. Germans established themselves–principally in Puerto Plata–primarily in the tobacco trade.
Many Arab Dominicans, mainly from Syria arrived in the late 1800’s , early 1900’s and all the way to the 60”s.
The D.R is a country of immigrants!
In regards to the Constitution it was changed in 1929 to specifically address the issue
of nationality being granted on blood and soil. so you are right, but in the initial constitution it did not provide for those requisites.
DUMB MF !!!! IF YOU GUYS HAD ANY RACIAL PRIDE IN BEING BLACK YOUR HATE TOWARDS THE HAITIAN DOMINICAN WITHIN YOU WOULD DISSAPEAR.
DID YOU KNOW BALAGUER HAD HAITIAN BLOOD AND TRUJILLO HAD A HAITIAN GRANDMOTHER? you guys have a lot of self loathing.
In regards, to immigrants please read and enlighten yourself DUMB AF!!!
The expansion of the sugar industry in the late nineteenth century drew migrants from every social stratum. Cubans and Puerto Ricans, who began arriving in the 1870s, aided in the evolution of the sugar industry as well as in the country’s intellectual development. In addition, significant numbers of laborers came from the British, the Dutch, and the Danish islands of the Caribbean. They also worked in railroad construction and on the docks. Initial reaction to their presence was negative, but their educational background (which was superior to that of most of the rural populace), their ability to speak English (which gave them an advantage in dealing with North American plantation owners), and their industriousness eventually won them a measure of acceptance. They founded Protestant churches, Masonic lodges, mutual aid societies, and a variety of other cultural organizations. Their descendants enjoyed a considerable measure of upward mobility through education and religion. They were well represented in the technical trades (especially those associated with the sugar industry) and on professional baseball teams.
Arabs–Lebanese and lesser numbers of Palestinians and Syrians–first arrived in the late nineteenth century, and they prospered. Their assimilation was slower, however, and many still maintained contacts with relatives in the Middle East. Italians also arrived during this period and were assimilated rapidly, as did a few immigrants from diverse South American countries. A few Chinese came from other Caribbean islands and established a reputation for diligence and industriousness. More followed with the United States occupation of the island (1916-24). They began as cooks and domestic servants; a number of their descendants were restaurateurs and hotel owners.
The most recent trickle of immigrants entered the country from the 1930s to the 1980s. Many founded agricultural colonies that suffered a high rate of attrition. Among the groups were German Jews (1930s), Japanese (after World War II), and Hungarians and Spaniards (both in the 1950s). More Chinese came from Taiwan and Hong Kong in the 1970s; by the 1980s, they were the second fastest growing immigrant group (Haitians being the first). Many had sufficient capital to set up manufacturing firms in the country’s industrial free zones.
THIS WAS FOR TOROMBOLA, mi amigo cocolo haitiano dominicano viviendo en el ghetto del Bronx.
“an ignorant person is one who assaults others verbally and can not engage in polite disagreement.” CRY ME A FREAKING RIVER!!! You can call me ignorant all you want! As long as you don’t speak with facts you can’t complain about a damn thing!!! RESEARCH WHAT YOU TALK ABOUT BEFORE YOU DO AND YOU WON’T HAVE THIS PROBLEM AGAIN!!!
“A lot of the disenfranchised Haitians have had a Dominican parent and many were there since the early 1900’s.” PROVE IT! Where is their documentation? WHERE?! How many times have you been here to corroborate all the crap you spew? Let me guess, you read it online? LOL
“By the way asenine is not a word, may be in your ghetto it may be. (Asinine, correct spelling.)” HHAHAHAHAHA That’s cute! I focus on facts and you focused on grammar? Really? How many languages do you speak? Because I am thinking and typing in three languages as we speak and can type up to 40 words a minute so I am pretty sure a type is bound to happen so…. lol
“The original inhabitants of the Dominican Republic were Tainos (Arawaks). By 1517 only 14,000 were survivors. The Spanish (immigrant invaders) brought in African slaves ( not indigenous to D.R)” AWWW You know how to google! Good for you! IF you bothered to understand what you read you would KNOW that before 1844 THERE WAS NO SUCH THING AS THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC!!! What you are talking about is the ISLAND of HISPANIOLA which wasn’t a country yet! How stupid can you be? HAHAHA It’s so cute when you try to sound like you know what you’re talking about LOL
The Dominican Republic IS NOT a nation of immigrants. You don’t seem to understand what a melting pot is…The fact that a small percentage of the population came from elsewhere does NOT make us a nation of immigrants. The fact that we have SOME immigrants that have settled here doesn’t make it a nation of immigrants just like living moving to China doesn’t make you chinese! The USA is part of a MINORITY of countries that grant citizenship by jus solis, MOST of the world grants citizenship by BLOOD, not because the US does things one way it means that the rest of the world has to do the same… Like I’ve said, OUR COUNTRY, OUR LAWS, IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT GTFO!!!
“Many Arab Dominicans, mainly from Syria arrived in the late 1800’s , early 1900’s and all the way to the 60”s” RIGHT and in what percentage? Do you even THINK about the things you type BEFORE you type them? O.o
“The D.R is a country of immigrants!” OHHH BECAUSE YOU SAY SO RIGHT? I get it! My mistake LOL
“In regards to the Constitution it was changed in 1929 to specifically address the issue
of nationality being granted on blood and soil. so you are right, but in the initial constitution it did not provide for those requisites.” FIRST TRY TO UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE READING BEFORE YOU TYPE!!! Our constitution has been VERY clear about who is dominican and who is not since its inception! What was ADDED, NOT CHANGED, was the clarification of the definition of the term “IN TRANSIT” since the article says that people IN TRANSIT in the country are NOT dominicans. In transit means that you are just passing by, not staying to live here…. In transit are those coming as tourists, the diplomatic personnel AND now it was added the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS!!!
AGAIN, UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE READING BEFORE YOU TYPE!!!
“DUMB MF !!!! IF YOU GUYS HAD ANY RACIAL PRIDE IN BEING BLACK YOUR HATE TOWARDS THE HAITIAN DOMINICAN WITHIN YOU WOULD DISSAPEAR.” RIIIIIIGHT because the issue is race and not the fact that ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS are sucking up MOST of our resources!!! RIGHT?! How stupid can you be?! I bet you have NEVER in your life even been to this country, everything you think you know you’ve read online from propaganda sites and you have the NERVE to pretend you know what you’re talking about? Why don’t you ask yourself WHO is paying for all those haitian ladies that come here SOLELY to give birth? Who is paying for the schools, hospitals, public services etc? Haiti doesn’t even want to provide documentation to its citizens so that they can come here legally and you have THE NERVE to pretend this is about race? Why don’t you check the stats on how many europeans, latin americans and asians that are DEPORTED from here EVERY YEAR? Ohhh I get it, the FACTS don’t fit your ludicrous logic right? Let’s just ignore them right? lol
“DID YOU KNOW BALAGUER HAD HAITIAN BLOOD AND TRUJILLO HAD A HAITIAN GRANDMOTHER? you guys have a lot of self loathing.” EVERYBODY knows that!!! SO?! WTF does that have to do with anything? Why are haitians living here LEGALLY are never harrassed? I have plenty of friends going to school and working JUST LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE and guess what? They never have any problems so I guess they must look white to us right? LOL You idiots need to get a clue! ESPECIALLY those that live in the US where they deport illegals by the millions YET ya’ll want us to just assimilate our illegal immigrants right? Even though NONE OF YOU will volunteer to pay for it lol Ya’ll are hilarious! lol
ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE! NOTHING! No matter how much you want to base your propaganda on race, ANYONE that has been here at least once, can see what’s going on… I suggest you come here and see things for what they really are instead of basing your opinions on ONLINE propaganda lol
“The most recent trickle of immigrants entered the country from the 1930s to the 1980s. Many founded agricultural colonies that suffered a high rate of attrition. Among the groups were German Jews (1930s), Japanese (after World War II), and Hungarians and Spaniards (both in the 1950s). More Chinese came from Taiwan and Hong Kong in the 1970s; by the 1980s, they were the second fastest growing immigrant group (Haitians being the first). Many had sufficient capital to set up manufacturing firms in the country’s industrial free zones.”
AND GUESS WHAT? NONE OF THEM ARE HERE ILLEGALLY!!!! Ask any Chinese or Arab for their papers and they will show them to you! Did you know that the percentage of denial of dominican visas to haitian citizens is CLOSE TO ZERO?! With very few exceptions NO haitian is denied a visa to enter the Dominican Republic LEGALLY…. Why won’t they do it? Why don’t they get documentation even from their own country? Do you think that ANY country in the world is going to allow you into their nations with no documentation? And those that say that were born here, WHERE IS YOUR DOCUMENTATION? Most of those cases of haitians claiming to be born here from legal resident parents used FAKE documentation and that’s a FACT!!! Go to the archives of the JCE , read it and weep! LOL
Also, you need to ONCE AND FOR ALL, understand our laws… THOSE IN TRANSIT HAVE NEVER, EVER EVER BEEN DOMINICAN!!! Read the damn constitution already smh