Immigration and Racism on the Island of Hispaniola
Pt. 1: Implications of a Lynching
Written by: David Adams | Edited by: Noelle Evans
On February 11th, 2015 the body of Henry Jean Claude – known as Tulile – was found hanged by a noose in a public park in Santiago, Dominican Republic (D.R.). A Haitian national and a shoe-shiner, he was allegedly murdered during a robbery. Within 24 hours after Jean Claude’s body was found, Dominican police ruled out racist motivations for his murder, sounding an alarm for international human rights advocates such as Amnesty International, the R. F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. GARR, a Haitian NGO that supports refugees and repatriated persons, point to the injustice as another "heinous incident to be added to the list of Haitian victims of repeated barbarism in the Dominican Republic."
A week earlier the deadline expired for Dominicans born to undocumented Haitian immigrants to register for migrant permits. This deadline is tied to a landmark ruling by the Constitutional Court last May that revoked the right to citizenship for children born in Dominican Republic to Haitian parents, typically migrants "in transit." With that decision, tens to hundreds of thousands of Haitian-Dominicans have been rendered stateless, even if they had never lived outside of the D.R.
Haitian migrants have been subject to abuse, exploitation, and murder since Haiti’s independence in 1804. In the Caribbean community and beyond, they have often arrived in new countries only to be greeted with distrust, rejection, and precariousness.
In the month following the death of Tulile, Dominican authorities have publicly sought both Spanish and Haitian assistance in the investigation. On February 12th, the police announced that they suspected two other Haitian men seen with Tulile in the betting parlor the night of his death. Suspicion of Haitians is a modus operandi of the Dominican government, a modality that both bleeds into and reflects public sentiment. The act of lynching a Haitian in the D.R. is a political act, with political ramifications. Political and social reality for Haitians in the country, legally or not, is largely both violent and silent.