Xenophobia in Dominican Republic

Interview on the Global African
teleSUR

Bill Fletcher, host of teleSUR’s The Global African, interviews social rights attorney Elizi Danto, scholar of the African diaspora Dr. Msomi Moor, and member on the board of the Institute of Policy Studies, James Early.

Below, we publish the transcript of an interview from The Global African.

BILL FLETCHER, HOST, THE GLOBAL AFRICAN: We’re now joined by three guests. And we have Ezili Danto, who holds a BA from Boston College and a JD from the University of Connecticut School of Law. She’s an award-winning playwright, a performance poet, a political and social commentator, an author, and a well-known human rights attorney. Being from Haiti, she is a catalyst for Haitian activism and human rights. Also joining us is Dr. Msomi Moor, who teaches at the University of the District of Columbia. He is a Howard University-educated scholar of the African Diaspora, and he has been researching black history or teaching in North American and South American historically black colleges and universities for over two decades. Last, but not least, we have James Early. James is an African Caribbean and Latin American histories scholar and member of the board of the Institute for Policy Studies. Thank you all very much for joining us on The Global African.

JAMES EARLY: Thank you.

DR. MSOMI MOOR: Thank you.

EZILI DANTO: Thank you.

FLETCHER: I want to start by looking at the situation in the Dominican Republic and by trying to contextualize it historically. And, Dr. Moore, I actually want to start with you. In terms of understanding white supremacy and race as a whole in the Dominican Republic, what is it that we need to understand about Dominican history in order to understand what we’re seeing now?

MOOR: So the Dominican Republic is a fascinating example of how the casta system worked in the Iberian countries. It’s early. It’s the earliest. And so blacks who were subjected to that casta system–that whole status and privilege based on skin complexion, heritage, is at its most profound, many would say, in the Dominican Republic. It’s definitely at its most intense earlier on. And if you look at the different levels of mixtures, some of them, they’re not permitted to go to school with whites. They have different punishments for touching whites as opposed to touching those who are two or three grades down in the mixtures. And you see it in the religion. You see it in the civil society. And you even see it just in general amongst all Dominicans at that time, if you want to call it a Dominican society. So 17th century and 16th century Dominican history is replete with the leveling off of different complexions, colors. And I think one of the most recognizable in the Dominican Republic features of this system is that good hair, bad hair situation. That’s actually a casta, and it’s called grifo, okay? Grifo means that you are an offspring of some type of African with a native, as it were. And if your hair is a little bit more tightly curled, then you’ll be given this casta name, grifo. And so, from early on you can see just the intensity of the castas system being meted out on the black population and native population of the DR. And it just continues on.

FLETCHER: Ezili, so how did that translate into the contradictions between the DR and Haiti?

DANTO: Haiti was the first nation in the Western Hemisphere to gain its independence, the only enslaved population to get rid of their masters and create an independent country. Haiti is the country that after, let’s say, almost 1,200 years of Arab conquest in the African continent and 300 years of slavery, we became free. And we were the first Africans to go back in so many ways to the African native authentic spirituality, language. And there’s things that we say at the Haitian Lawyers Leadership, because our education is being Europeanized or whitened so that folks don’t recognize themselves in Haitian history. But essentially the three notable ideals of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Haiti’s founder, that we’re always teaching at the Haitian Lawyers Leadership is this, and it’s in contradiction to the whitening of Latin America after the abolishment of slavery in Haiti: we are a country that says all Haitians, no matter what African tribes they came from, and even those who–those Europeans who fought on the side of the liberators of Haiti, all shall be known by the appellation black. The other important thing to remember about Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Haiti’s founding father, is that he was the first to take back the name of the indigenous island and say it’s going to be the island of Haiti, not Hispaniola. We are the liberators of this island, and so Haiti is the name that we’ve taken, we Africans, the Africans who are descendents of the amalgamated tribes that came to Haiti. And then the third, which is critically important, which puts us as permanent war in this hostile American Mediterranean is that Jean-Jacques Dessalines is the first warrior to say–well, not the very first warrior; obviously there were a lot of maroon rebellions in the Western Hemisphere, but the first to say, this will be a black independent country; it will not be a black French or European colony. And to this day, as we fight 11 years of U.S. occupation behind UN guns and NGO humanitarian imperialism, we, the descendents of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, stand and say, we are struggling to get rid of our occupiers so we will be a black, independent nation, something that all the African countries today–well, not all the–are sort of like the Toussaint Louverture paradigm, which is a black ruling on behalf of empire. But that’s not what Haiti stands for. So that is in diametric–is opposed to all of the other Caribbean nations who have some sort of European father or Latin America, who after slavery basically had policies, immigration policies of bringing in Europeans to whiten the nation. And it brings us to the crisis now of the Dominican Republic, which wants to whiten their nation by throwing out the Dominicans, the Haitian Dominicans.

FLETCHER: So that’s what I want to–that’s what I want to ask you about quickly, and then I want to turn to James. The 2013 Dominican Constitutional Court decision, can you explain what that was about and where that came from and what was being laid out?

DANTO: Yes. Historically, Haitians have not been allowed to have citizenship in the Dominican Republic, especially if they’re very dark Haitians, because of all of the things we just talked about and your guest mentioned at the beginning. For–since–well, anyways, my whole entire life, all Haitians who have gone to the Dominican Republic fleeing imperialistic policies of the Cold War or fleeing American unfair trade and bringing in dictatorship and so forth, as we flee, the Dominicans had a law, basically, since 1929. Their law was that if you were born in the Dominican Republic, you were, no matter what the status of your parents, you were–automatically got citizenship, just like in America. But that was not really ever applied to Haitians. So in 2005, there was a case where two children of Haitian immigrants applied–tried to go to school. And this is what you have to understand. When you’re denied citizenship, your children can’t go to school. You can’t be afforded public services, legal status to the courts, all sorts of things, education, schooling, welfare and health. So this–I will just go back to 2005. I won’t go back to 1937 or anything. But in terms of 2005, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights basically said to the Dominican Republic, you need to let these two children–this was a case, one case–you need to let these children go to school and give them the citizenship, because there is a policy in the Dominican Republic not–when someone is born and they’re born of Haitian parents, they’re not given birth certificates. And those that are given birth certificates, if you go to get a passport, sometimes they’ll take those birth certificates from you and so forth. So now, as you know, without birth certificates, without passports, you can’t travel. You can’t even use a cell phone, can’t even buy a cell phone. So that’s what’s going on at the moment. So, in order not to have Haitians have citizenship rights, in order to not–to disregard the ruling of the Inter-American Human Rights Court, which basically says, you know, if they’re born in Dominican Republic, and then–you know, you should give them their birth certificates and their citizenship rights, the Dominican Republic began repealing its laws. In 2010, it amended its constitution to say that if you are–you have citizenship only if you are born of legal parents or if you are born of one Dominican parent. And then, in 2013, that law was extended retroactively to say that all persons born of parents who were in transit are now illegal. So Haitian, Dominicans of Haitian ancestry who came in to the Dominican Republic going back till 1929 are put into the same category, no matter that they’ve been there for 80 years, no matter that they have contributed to the economy for 80 years, they are put into the same category as newly arrived Haitians that are illegal there, in the same category as Haitians that have legal residence in there, in the Dominican Republic, and Dominicans that have Haitian ancestry are–all summarily have to prove that they are citizens, that they’ve got their papers. So they created a two-tier system. The first one was–the deadline for it was finished on February 1, 2015. And that system for regularizing all this category I just told you about was for citizens. So those who said that they were born in the Dominican Republic and had citizenship before the 2010 law amendment, they were supposed to go by February 2015 and bring in their papers. Less than 5,000 people out of hundreds of thousands were given–met that registration requirement. And just recently, on the 17th, there was a different registration requirement for those who are illegal or legal residents, not who are. And from that registration procedure, the Dominican Republic is giving out different figures, mixed figures. They basically said 500,000 people are eligible for this legalizing of their status as illegal immigrants or as legal residents, and that out of this 500,000, they said that only 10,000 registered, only 300 actually got their paperwork. So now we’re in a situation that anyone else out of this group of people of Haitian descent who are living in the Dominican Republic who did not get to register–and I said on both of those two-tier system for regularizing it, a tiny percentage of people actually finished the process of registration, some for various reasons, because they couldn’t get birth certificates, passports, or the employers, who were not paying Haitian workers much and who don’t want to pay taxes, would not give them their working papers. So you have a situation at the moment where there are, let’s say, between 200 and–half a million to a quarter of a million of people who are subject to immediate deportation.

FLETCHER: Thank you. I really appreciate the way you put that all together, because in reading a lot of the mainstream media, it just sometimes is a bit mystifying. James, the politics of this, the Dominican Republic is not known for having had progressive political leadership over the years. And so what’s the politics of this?

EARLY: Well, actually, the politics–just two quick references–go back to the history, one with the castas system. Many people of our complexion who obviously are descendents of enslaved Africans in this part of the world and the Dominican Republic [incompr.] I’m not black; I’m Indian. So this gets to the politics of pigmentocracy and the ideological factor of distancing oneself, which still goes on in the contemporary era. The other issue with regard to the historical evolution of politics is Haiti being the first Republic of enslaved people to break away in 1804, in 1805, Dessalines goes in to the Dominican Republic to break slavery, to break the organizational form of white supremacy, takes land from Euro Latins who were the underpinning of this. So the hatred of these people for their moral perspectives about democracy and the fact that they came from the underclass based on their skin color goes very, very deep. So the contemporary politics not only have to do with the question of 275,000 people, more or less, who did not come forth out of this half a million who are standing in limbo–and one can imagine the trauma of that, being marked as a Jew trying to move in the evening to find groceries and saying, oh, there goes a Jew by physical features; oh, there goes a dark-skinned person by way of physical features. It is just almost unimaginable for us to see that these people are truly in dangerous limbo at this moment. The politics fundamentally, though, have to go beyond the issue of citizenship. Haitians have been exported to the Dominican Republic for the sugar industry, which the United States has implicated in, starting in the 20th century, 1915, 1914, and bringing Trujillo, the massacre of 1937, the cultural question, when dark-skinned people, if they could not pronounce the world “perejil”–”parsley”–because they couldn’t roll the “r”, then they were subject to being massacred. Some people think up to 10,000 people may have been killed during that moment. So even if they were to get citizenship, they’re impoverished. You’ve got Martelly, the president of Haiti, saying, we will welcome our sons and our daughters back. Back to what? To Bill Clinton’s plantation. This is very important for U.S. citizens to recall, that the earthquake industry, the so-called reparation industry, is run by Bill Clinton. Obama has turned that over to him. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. So people are going to be fleeing for economic reasons the same way that people are coming out of South America into Mexico, Mexico now deporting more people than any place in the hemisphere, 90,000 between February and April going back to the South of Mexico. These are economic flights. And so Haiti is caught up both in the issue of having to survive economically, everyday Haitians, as well as the question of deep-seated racism and a whitening of Haiti. So what are the political implications? The CARICOM countries, the new community of Latin American and Caribbean nations, the prime minister of St. Lucia, Gonsalves, has raised hell about this and put this in the context of the regional politics, saying the Dominican Republic cannot advance as a fuller member within that context without addressing this question. We’ve got to put pressure on the other progressives in the region. Brazil, 90 million black people are over 50 percent of that population, the largest population in the hemisphere. We’ve got to get to civil society to petition their government, who is also running the UN military operation in Haiti. We’ve got to talk to Maduro in Venezuela. After all, it’s Haiti who provides men and boats to Bolívar, for the first country to defeat Spain in the hemisphere is Venezuela under Bolívar. It was the Haitians who defeated the French. We’ve got to talk to our Dominican brothers and sisters who are–the Dominicans are the largest Spanish-speaking population in New York City, not Puerto Ricans. Dominicans occupy significant positions in the state legislature. They are already trying to get some declarations passed. We’ve got to organize with them vis-à-vis the U.S. State Department to put some pressure on the Dominican Republic. But ultimately the politics is we’ve got a desperate situation in Haiti that has gone on for hundreds of years, where people flee for economic reasons. And until that is adjusted, even the issue of citizenship, as important as it is as a formal step, does not address the fundamental issue that people have to flee from their natural habitat, if you well, into a foreign place, even when they are citizens and run this risk of discrimination both economically and from the vantage point of racism.

FLETCHER: Dr. Moor, this is a historical question, but it’s something that’s plagued me. Each of you have at one point mentioned the Haitian effort to liberate the Dominican Republic in 1800s. And the Dominican republic defines its independence as independence from Haiti, as opposed to Spain.

MOOR: That’s right.

FLETCHER: The question I had, since that seems to be a major point of reference for reactionaries within the Dominican Republic, why did that fail? Why did the liberation of the D.R. fail?

MOOR: I think what needs to be highlighted in this whole sequence of current events in the DR related to your question is the precedent of pigmentocracy is a great way to say–you know, Brother Early said it. Think about this. If you are darker in the Dominican Republic in the 17th and 16th centuries, you weren’t even allowed to go to school. They put you on a field. And I’m talking about if your son, if you are–I’m going to go through some casta terms here–if you are mulato, your son would have been a terceron. Your grandson would’ve been considered a cuarteron. Okay, we’re going by generations here. So the cuarteron and terceron would have had all types of privileges that their father and grandfather would not have had. In addition to that, if anyone came from somewhere else–you mentioned the individuals who came for sugarcane cultivation. That’s where the whole phenomenon of cocolo comes from in the Dominican Republic is because they were English-speaking blacks who came in and were darker-skinned than the perceived notion of what the people who called themselves indios were. And so they were then relegated to an inferior citizenship in the D.R. The present case, I think, is just an extension of what’s been already going on for centuries. And I mentioned that I think it has been even more intense in the D.R. than it is in other places because of the lack of intensity during slavery. Black people had–if I can say this–and I’m worried about this because of my ancestors, but it wasn’t as intense as it was in Haiti. And so, if you have these individuals who were from the most intensive, from, like, Haitian situation, I think it was three years that you were worked to death once you get off of the boat in Haiti versus somebody who’s rearing cattle, you know, and semi free, or autonomous, almost, in the Dominican Republic, you don’t want that imposed on you. And so what was at play was this European ideal that we don’t want to be black anyways. We want to raise up the pigmentocracy, the castas system. We’re semi-autonomous. We have a much free lifestyle than what they have over there, much more free. And then, in addition to that, you had the multiple incursions of Haitians that were coming over. It wasn’t just in 1805. You know, Boyer came over in 1822. So there’s several incursions from Haiti into the DR. So you have this kind of lurking Haitian menace over here. You have the attempting intense desire to be European. And then you have this centuries-old system of privileges that says if you’re lighter or more European, even, acting, then you’ll be better off in society. So in 1844 they said, yeah, we don’t want to be–I think it was called the Trinitaria is what it was, right, those three individuals in Santo Domingo, the three different parts of what was going on for the revolution. And during that whole period, you would have some Dominicans actually reapplying for slavery. So by the time 1860 comes around–this is where the geopolitical piece comes in–the United States–I think it was 1861–the Queen of England says, we’re going to re-enslave the Dominicans. So it’s like they’ve been–I don’t want to say clueless, but they’ve just been clobbered for the longest time, the Dominican blacks. And it’s still like that today. If you’ve been worn down for that many centuries and everybody’s coming at you from every side, you want to be white, but you’re black, and then other blacks come and want to, you know, put a more intense system on you possibly, you believe, where do you run to? Right?

EARLY: And white privilege, I mean, we have to recall that the economic system that is set up in the Western Hemisphere is set up by European capital and black enslaved labor. So this is–the rationalization of skin color discrimination has to do with superexploitation of material gain. And then the cultural point takes on a life of its own. I am better than you even if I am poorer than you, or even if I’m less educated than you. So when Dessalines goes in to break slavery in the whole of the island, he’s up against Euro Latins in the case of the Spanish and Euro French, as well as any emerging petty bourgeois interest among black people who see, again, more. And then the U.S. comes in with the sugar industry. So this is–and Haiti has suffered–Haiti is also, at the same time, under, what, 150 million francs, I think dropped later to 60 million. So the economic issue is exploiting this and what some would call the cultural or the superstructural issue of identity, superiority, combined with that. And Haiti finds itself in that same situation today, this great history of independence and values beyond the French Revolution. I mean, they were the one who brought égalité and all of that to the highest order. But they paid a heavy price, and are still paying the price, basically a humanitarian colony of the United States of America, again, Bill Clinton’s foundation running all of that, all those millions of dollars that have gone into Haiti. And Haitians are still living in tents and still cooking out on the ground and still fleeing, as are Dominicans, dark-skinned Dominican–I mean, there’s a reason that Dominicans have become the largest Spanish-speaking population in New York City, where historically that has been Puerto Ricans. You look in the Washington metropolitan area in the last decade, you’re seeing more and more people who look like the people on this panel who [incompr.] where are you from? I’m from the DR. You see these salons, these hair salons, Dominican.

MOOR: Oh, yeah.

EARLY: There’s a particularity about treating hair and whatnot. So until we get at the economic situation tied to the formality of the rights and obligations of citizens, we will have a [hollow ground (?)], and where even if a great number of those Dominicans are able to register–and that is a most outstanding question, given that bureaucracy and given the deceitfulness that’s going on, as our sister described, about the registration process, it is still going to be the most vulnerable national population in our hemisphere in terms of where black people are dominant in numbers, which is Haiti and its cultural tie to the Dominican Republic.

FLETCHER: Ezili, what’s been the response of the Haitian government to the crisis in the DR? What can be expected as next steps, if anything?

DANTO: Yeah. I’d also like, if possible, to speak a little bit about the history of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, because I think that one of the reasons that we are constantly in this position of “Haiti invaded the Dominican Republic” is something–it’s a propaganda that keeps a lot of Dominicans from knowing their real history. But let me get to your question first. And I think it’s critically important that I just intervene a little bit with regards to the history, because in the name of Dessalines and the warriors of Haiti, I think it’s important, since, you know, Haitians don’t normally get a platform. We are under occupation. We’ve been under occupation since 2004, when the United States took down Haiti’s democratically elected government. We are struggling to get rid of that occupation. Obama brought a solidified dictatorship with Michel Martelly, who’s ruling without parliament right now. They brought back neo-Duvalier dictatorship, sort of [newer (?)] Duvaliers are back. What do those people stand for? Well, just like Medina in the Dominican Republic, who’s a clientele state of the United States, they represent foreign interests, and they want to use the assets of the nation for foreign corporate interests belonging to the Bushes and the Clintons. And that’s really what they’re doing with respect to what they’re doing with–to take in the various Haitians that are being denationalized. The government has announced that they have put together some processing centers. I know yesterday we got those that have been deported already–the deportations have been going on steadily. Steadily. This is nothing new for us. This is going back for a long, long time. Like, in two thousand and–I don’t know what it was–1995, the Dominican Republic, for various reasons, you know, whenever–in their own politics, if they don’t–you know, they want a particular vote, they’ll just deport. And I think I remember in 1995 they deported, like, 20,000 people.We are the Haitians. We will do what’s necessary. If some of these 300,000 Europeans that are in Haiti right now masturbating on black pain would leave, we could have space for our own brothers and sisters. But let me go back to this history here. I think it’s critically important to understand this. From our perspective, as the descendents of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, when the amalgamated tribes won their independence from the French, the Spanish, and the English, and then the French again, that entire island, the island, Haiti, was freed. During the Haitian revolution, which started in 1791 by Toussaint Louverture came together with the Spanish and fought on behalf of the Spanish, and in 1791, by the Treaty of Basel, B-A-S-E, France ceded the entire island–excuse me. I’m sorry. Spain ceded that eastern part of the island to Spain, right? I’m sorry. Yes. So that whole entire island was French. And when we won our independence in 1804, the entire island was Haiti, and it was liberated. Yes, there was a French general by the name Ferrand, F-E-R-R-A-N-D, who refused to hear his own superiors, Rochambeau [spl?], and give up Santo Domingo. And as your distinguished guest said, in 1805, Dessalines went out there. We did not want slavery. By the time came Boyer came into power, they had reunited that whole entire island. There was no Dominican Republic. There was various factions, /peɪtʃoʊ/, Christophe [spl?], and so forth because colonialism had come in and the mulatto sons of France had conspired to murder Jean-Jacques Dessalines and the dream of the Haitian revolutions. But here is where the situation comes to a head with regards to the eastern side of Haiti. In 1842, we have a big earthquake in the same kind of way that we have a earthquake in January 12, 2010. That earthquake destabilized the whole entire country. And the separatist movement gained momentum. Now, you remember, the whole time–Haiti declares its independence in 1804–all the European powers, because of white supremacy, came together after 1804, and their primary goal, whether it was the United States, France, Canada, all of them, was to figure out how to get rid of the march of the blacks in the world, as Napoleon says. And so France came back. And Boyer, the president of Haiti at that time, agreed in order not to go back into slavery, not to have to constantly be on guard with respect to that, our independence, that he would pay the independence debt. The independence debt was–by 2004 it was estimated at 21 billion. It took Haiti 122 years to pay that, from 19–whatever–25 to 1947, give or take some negotiations there. But essentially, essentially the eastern side of the island did not feel they had to pay that independence debt, because they were not French, they felt they were Spanish citizens, and there was a separatist movement that was going on, had been going on, and they were calling themself Little Spain. At that point in time, that’s when Boyer went and squashed that. They call it we invading. We can’t invade ourself. It was our country. So we can’t invade. And I just want to point out that the borders, even after–so in 1844, doing this–this is what’s happening to us right now, okay? We’re having all these destabilization with Governor Clinton coming in, being the colonial governor of Haiti, and, like I said, masturbating on black pain, and collecting $10 billion, and leaving the people in mud, and taking lands, and having Hillary Clinton’s brother have access to our gold, and so forth. But in that era of 1844, when Duarte in the separatist movement on the east side of the island, with the help of mercenaries from Spain and France and all of the other European tribes, declared that part to be Little Spain, immediately, immediately in 1844, before they even got together to decide what they wanted, the European powers, including the United States, recognized–now, this is 1844. We’re not recognized yet. Haiti is not recognized until 1865. They recognize this as a new island. And Haiti’s dealing with earthquake. It’s dealing with all of these–you know, the independence debt and the dissatisfaction that that brought all over, Haiti because they wanted to get rid of Boyer. It’s like, you know, we’ve already fought a war; we’re not going to pay this debt. So, because of all that chaos and the immediate recognition of this island as Little Haiti–. Now, the borders–this is all Africans living here.

FLETCHER: Ezili, I’m going to have to–I’m going to have to–unfortunately–.

DANTO: Oh. Okay. So the borders were very fluid. It wasn’t–there was not a border with regards to Dominican Republic until 1929, when the United States was occupying both countries. And what they did was take the borders from the 1697 Ryswick Treaty, when two-thirds of the island belonged to Spain and one-third belonged to France, they went back to that. And it was the United States that did that. And we think right now we’re in the position where they’re doing that right now with regards to this denationalization and coming into Haitian territory and putting these processing centers in Haitian territory just like the garment factories to just continue to push Haiti to the sea.

FLETCHER: So a final question to you each. What’s the global reaction right now? In 2013, when the Constitutional Court decision came down, there was a tremendous outpour or uproar. But as of this week, I mean, it’s only this week that I’ve seen any attention in the mainstream media. So how do you all look at the global response, and what, if anything, can be done? Let’s start with you, James.

EARLY: Unfortunately, I think it’s very feeble. As I pointed out, the prime minister of St. Lucia going back well over a year ago now has been on the case about this. So that is a point to rally within the CARICOM countries, of which the Dominican Republic is also a part of the CARICOM economic area that we have to pay attention to. We’ve got groups like Code Pink in the United States who have called for demonstrations in front of the Dominican Embassy. We need to join groups like that and other groups, particularly Haitian-American groups. We need to find out about them, join them, support their efforts. We need to talk to people in the Black Caucus like Maxine Waters and others who have a long history of working in solidarity around Haiti, the Danny Glovers of the world who’ve been evolved around Haiti. We also need to put a lot of pressure on Latin American governments who are involved in the new community of Latin American and Caribbean nations who are upholding reparatory justice emanating from St. Lucia. This is a fundamental question of reparatory justice of Haitians within–in the Dominican Republic. And we have to find, most of all, the groups inside the Dominican Republic who are organizing both as immigrants–there is an immigrant population–but most significantly there is a historical Dominican-Haitian national citizen population. We need to erase our ignorance and find out who they are, be in communication with them, go online, talk to our sister who is on this program and others. So right now it’s feeble because when you juxtapose this up against the other migratory crisis of the world, Africans fleeing from Central Africa all the way up to North Africa, for these very same economic reasons, facing skin color discrimination at the same time, or Syria now having the largest crisis of refugees in the world, these are all citizenship questions. So if we don’t focus in on Haiti because of historic racism, including in the liberal, white Euro-American communities, then we’re going to lose this critical focus of the desperate situation of both Dominican-Haitian citizens, as well as Haitian immigrants. They are desperate. They are fighting back. We need to find out about that and join it.

FLETCHER: Dr. Moor?

MOOR: I’ve seen in countries like Colombia a lot of the black populations who are younger more than anything else responding in a similar way that blacks are in the United States. If you’ll remember, the Black Lives Matter hashtag has popped up recently, I’ve seen, down in the Dominican Republic in regard to this situation. I would say that this is the primal sin of bringing African peoples over to the hemisphere. It’s being played out in our lifetime. And if you consider yourself black or African and you’re proud of that, then this is your issue.

EARLY: Or progressive, no matter what race you are.

MOOR: Absolutely. Add that in as well. And so I feel that it’s really telling to see who this impacts internally, because if you’re going to say that you are for, as we say, you know, progressive issues or humanity, how more inhumane can you be? Right? Haiti’s taken more than any other country, in this hemisphere at least, and especially black folks. You need to get around the situation. You need to get behind this.

FLETCHER: Ezili, you have the last word.

DANTO: I agree there. Ralph Gonsalves at CARICOM has been a great champion of the Haitian struggle for liberation. He’s been there for a long time. But we are living in this hostile American Mediterranean with all of the other 14 Caribbean nations doing similar things to Haitians. We make 60 percent of the population of CARICOM. And because of that, we are the only nation–we are discriminated in by CARICOM. We are the only nation there that has to have passports to visit. So that’s how bad it is for us. So I think that black scholars need to understand what Dr. Henry Clarke said, that we are at the precipice of the greatest holocaust. And it’s happening all over the world. But Haiti is–we see it in Haiti with cholera. We see it with the crisis caravan and the NGO fake–we see it with fake aid, and it’s global. What can be done? We have been running, of course without any support, a boycott Dominican Republic movement for being a rogue nation that has made apartheid legal in the Western Hemisphere, legal, not just by practice, but legal, that has committed civil genocide and that has made countless hundreds of thousands of people of Haitian descent stateless. That boycott continues. We hope that folks will help us. We have the Free Haiti movement. We work with Sonia Pierre’s organization. She was a Haitian human rights activist in the Dominican Republic who passed away, but she spent her entire life working on this birthright crisis and died at the cusp, where it was made retroactive, so even she, who had her citizenship as a black Dominican, as a Dominican, was facing the same thing that all dark-skinned people are facing in the Dominican Republic. So I think I can focus on two things that perhaps gentlemen here might be able to help us with at the Free Haiti movement and the Haitian Lawyers Leadership. When I look at the Dominican Republic, I see a very poor, poor nation that is being similarly destroyed, as Haiti is, by colonialism, and the assets of their country, a rich country, the assets of their country are being used by Barrick Gold, all of these big businesses who need people off particular lands, including Haitians. So they call them–they put them all as Haitian migrants. So we have to look at those economic reasons. We have to look at the gold and the oil that’s on both of those islands and why we are occupied. But Timberland, black men are always wearing these boots. Timberland is in Dominican Republic. This is where they make their product. Major League Baseball has an amazingly, to me, racist apartheid system where they bring in these Dominican boys at 16 years old to play at salaries that’s x, y, and z. All of this, the big business effect, where color determines what you get paid, Haitian, 90 percent of the agricultural workers in the Dominican Republic are Haitian, a great percentage of construction, and the rest doing menial jobs, as everywhere, as domestics and cafeteria workers and hospital workers and so forth. So it’s not that they’re going to get rid of them. Now, remember, even back in 1937, the plantation owners, the American sugar plantation owners [told truly (?)] owned his police, you will not come into our plantation and kill these workers. So those workers were left alone. It’s going to be the same. It’s only going to be those people, those Haitians are in places that the big business doesn’t want, they’re the ones that are going to be afforded or may get killed. So I think we should–it would be great if people would support our boycott movement. If Timberland, where African-American men are wearing these shoes, if they would take a position about this apartheid and denounce it, I think that would really make it very important. If major league baseball were to actually stop their racism in the Dominican Republic that actually really badly affect Haitians also, if these construction companies would–. So my thing is this. And I know this is probably radical.

FLETCHER: This would have to be the final point, Ezili. Sorry.

DANTO: Okay. Alright. So, essentially, in terms of the economic reasons, if both Haiti and people in the Dominican Republic did not have a reason for leaving, if they got a living wage, we wouldn’t have any of these problems. Haitians wouldn’t emigrate anywhere.

FLETCHER: Right. Listen, thank you all very, very much. A very, very, as they say, rich conversation. So thank you all. Ezili, Dr. Moor, James, thank you very much for joining us for The Global African.


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