Who profits from the forced emigrations?
by David Holmes Morris
August 28, 2015
The ruling by the Dominican Constitutional Tribunal of September, 2013, which formalized the long-standing informal practice of denying citizenship to Haitian migrants and their descendants, and a new wave of nationalist attacks on the streets against Haitians, have affected the lives of thousands of people in monstrous ways. They have brought up again the question of Dominican anti-Haitianism as the primary force behind the deportations. But the usual explanation of widespread racism and xenophobia among the Dominican people rings hollow and seems inadequate. Other recent developments suggest more specific causes.
There are clearly economic reasons for anti-Haitianism and a new project for industrial development along the Haitian-Dominican border, first made public at the same time as the court ruling, may provide clues to similar economic reasons both for the ruling and for the current resurgence of anti-Haitianism. The histories and the present interests of the prime movers behind the project and their connections with the court that made the ruling hint at behind-the-scenes manipulation.
For years there have been plans in Hispaniola and in this country to diversify the economy of the island, where the sugar industry was the dominant force for many years, by finding other uses for the abundant cheap labor that has made fortunes for sugar barons. Jean-Claude Duvalier, at the urging of his US and Haitian advisers, envisioned turning Haiti into the “Taiwan of the Caribbean.” Haitian workers would be moved from the Dominican cane fields to sweatshops, where they would assemble textiles, electronic devices and baseballs, destined mostly, like the sugar, for US markets. Read the rest of this entry »