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Human Rights Watch has stated in their reports that the perceived difference between Haitians and Dominicans can be based on colonial times from linguistic, cultural, and racial differences, where Creoles or Haitians were thought to be descendants of Black Africans while Dominicans were descendants of Spaniards mixed with the indigenous Tainos.1 As of 2014, it remains an issue in the Dominican Republic.
Background. Antihaitianismo can be traced back to a policy of racial segregation instituted by the Spaniards in the colony of Captaincy General of Santo Domingo (present day Dominican Republic).2 Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the island was split into absolutist chiefdoms, three where modern-day Santo Domingo now exists, and two where modern-day Haiti now exists (albeit also including some territory which is current part of Santo Domingo). Carib people from islands further south were often at war with the Taíno people. Columbus reached the island in 1492 (slaves imported from Africa arrived from 1503 onwards—many natives were also soon enslaved), and within a few decades the Spanish controlled most of the island. During the 1600s, however, the French also began maneuvering for control, and in 1697 acquired the western portion (now part of Haiti—whereas the Spanish portion encompassed the modern Dominican Republic). During the 1790s and early 1800s, the French and Spanish battled back and forth across the island; by 1809 the Haitian Revolution had resulted in the overthrow of both French and Spanish control. The Spanish briefly retook the eastern portion that same year, but in 1821 lost control again in another rebellion. Shortly afterwards, Haitian forces again briefly controlled the entire island, from 1822 to 1844. After several tumultuous decades, the Spanish briefly acquired nominal control of the Dominican Republic in the 1860s, setting of another war. By the late 1800s, over three hundred years of European control was ended; the modern history of east Hispaniola (Haiti) and west Hispaniola (D.R.) had begun.
Antihaitianismo was strongly institutionalized during the regime of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. This policy became part of the Dominican school curriculum, which Trujillo relied "on the schools and the media to disseminate these ideas" Native Dominicans were taught that they were "white," and were to be proud of being descendants of the Spanish conquistadores.3 On the other hand Haitians, who share the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, were to be viewed under this racial policy as "merely" descendants of African slaves.21
Border disputes under Trujillo culminated in the order to massacre Haitians ( claims range "from several hundred to 26,000"4 or even "recorded as having a death toll reaching 30,000"5) in October 1937, an ethnic cleansing event subsequently named the Parsley Massacre. During later diplomacy, Trujillo agreed to pay hundreds of thousands in reparations,4 but somewhat less was actually delivered. Due to corrupt Haitian bureaucrats, exceedingly little6 reached the families of the dead.
Trujillo's policies served to perpetuate antihaitianismo within the Dominican Republic and consequently a number of Dominicans still share this view of racial policy and history.4 In the 1996 Dominican presidential election, Joaquín Balaguer (historical leader of the populist Right and former right-hand of dictator Trujillo) united in a "National Patriotic Front" with PLD candidate Leonel Fernández in order to prevent Peña Gómez from becoming President. Peña Gómez's alleged Haitian ancestry was regarded as a significant reason for the alliance against him.78
- "Illegal People". Human Rights Watch. 2001. Retrieved 2007-08-19.
- Sagás, Ernesto. "A Case of Mistaken Identity: Antihaitianismo in Dominican Culture". Webster University. Retrieved 2007-08-19.
- "Country profile: Dominican Republic". BBC News. 2007-07-13. Archived from the original on 25 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-19.
- Sagás, Ernesto (1994-10-14). "An apparent contradiction? Popular perceptions of Haiti and the foreign policy of the Dominican Republic". Sixth Annual Conference of the Haitian Studies Association. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-19.
- Cambeira, Alan. Quisqueya la bella (October 1996 ed.). M.E. Sharpe. p. 182. ISBN 1-56324-936-7. 286 pages total.
- Bell, Madison Smartt (July 17, 2008). A Hidden Haitian World 55 (12). New York Review of Books. p. 41.
- Rohter, Larry (1996-07-01). "Dominican Republic Holds Runoff, Capping Fierce Race". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
- James Ferguson, Two Caudillos
- Sonia Pierre’s struggle for justice — article in The Socialist Worker
- The Double-Edged Sword of Racism and Sexism — article about black women in the Dominican Republic
- Ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of Yean and Bosico v. Dominican Republic