Above Photo: Haitians wait to cross the border between Dominican Republic and Haiti in Dajabon, Dominican Republic, November 19, 2021. AP / Matias Delacroix.
On Tuesday, November 29, hundreds of Haitians protested in Port-au-Prince against the mass deportations of Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent from the Dominican Republic. The protest was called by the Haiti chapter of the Assembly of Caribbean People (ACP).
The protesters gathered in front of the embassy of the Dominican Republic in Port-au-Prince and demanded that Dominican authorities end the indiscriminate deportations and the inhumane treatment of Haitians on the other side of the border. They condemned the harassment meted out to their compatriots by the Dominican immigration authorities and security forces as racist and discriminatory in nature.
Economist Camille Chalmers, leader of ACP Haiti and spokesperson of the Rasin Kan Pep La party, read a statement by the ACP denouncing the systematic repression of Haitians in the Dominican Republic and their mass deportation ordered by the Dominican President Luis Abinader.
Chalmers blamed President Abinader for the violence perpetrated by the Dominican military against Haitians, and pointed out that such actions are reminiscent of the policies of dictator Rafael Trujillo against poor people on both sides of the border.
Furthermore, Chalmers called upon the Dominican government to use dialogue based on respect to find solutions to the migration crisis. He emphasized that racism, discrimination, xenophobia, and hatred towards Haitians will never be able to solve any problem that the people of the Dominican Republic are facing.
He demanded that the Dominican authorities respect international conventions and the principles of respect for human rights promoted by the Dominican Constitution. “The practice of mass deportations does not respect the principles of coexistence and good neighborliness between the two countries and peoples,” he added.
The protest in Port-au-Prince came after similar protests over the weekend in the border city of Ouanaminthe, organized by the Platform of Civil Society Organizations. On November 21, demonstrators held a massive rally in that city and closed the checkpoint to the Dominican border city of Dajabon, preventing the movement of traffic and halting commercial activity through the border. The de facto government of Haiti, led by Prime Minister Ariel Henry, deployed the Haitian National Police and held emergency meetings with civil society leaders to unblock the border. The blockade was lifted on Saturday, November 26, but the people of Ouanaminthe remain in the streets, in solidarity with their compatriots in the Dominican Republic.
Over the last few months, Dominican authorities have stepped up deportations of Haitians and Dominican-Haitians. In the last three months alone, an estimated 50,000 Haitians have been deported, according to data from the Support Group for Refugees and Returnees, as well as statements of the general coordinator of the National Migration Office of Haiti, Jean Negot Bonheur Delva. According to UNICEF, there are at least 1,800 children of Haitian origin among the deported.
The Dominican police and military are carrying out violence against Haitians, including racial profiling, arbitrary arrests, brutal beatings, and inhumane treatment, often in collusion with mobs and paramilitaries. The Abinader government is justifying such actions with a xenophobic discourse, calling Haitians a “national security threat” and accusing them of carrying out a “low intensity civil war” in the country. Although Abinader had run on a progressive platform and appointed human rights defenders in ministries, he has continued with the staple anti-Haiti racism that has existed in the Dominican Republic since the time of the Trujillo dictatorship.