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Commentary: Time for cool heads on both sides of the Haitian-Dominican fence

By Jean H Charles

I have personally experienced the anti-Haitian hysteria in Dominican Republic. I was there recently at the University of Santo Domingo as part of a group to present a lecture on Haiti’s founding founder, Jean Jacques Dessalines, for the Haitian-Dominican Diaspora. We were prevented from speaking by a group of vociferous ultranationalist Dominicans who felt offended that Haitians could dare speak about Jean Jacques Dessalines on Dominican soil.

National flags of the countries have been burned on both sides of the frontier. On the Haitian side in retribution for a Haitian immigrant who had been hanged on a tree with both feet tied. On the Dominican side by Dominicans who pretend that a secret plan to merge Haiti with the Dominican Republic is being plotted by a long international hand.

There is no such plan, either on the national or on the international level, there is though the will on the international side to see Haiti follow the lead of the Dominican Republic towards the modernization of its institutions and its infrastructure so its citizens would cease to be internal as well as international nomads.

Singapore in South East Asia has served as a model for neighborhood countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, to become more hospitable to their own people. It has been the hope that Haiti would, instead of blaming the Dominican Republic for all its woes, would build a government and a civil society responsive to the lowest strata of their society by bringing them into the middle class mainstream.

I have in this column presented my opinion about the Haitian-Dominican conflict; I have said that Haiti and the Dominican Republic are the parts of the same island that must agree between them to propel their wings in tandem so the bird will fly to its zenith.

It has been instead a cat and dog fight that started at the beginning of the Haitian revolution, with Jean Pierre Boyer, the third president of Haiti, who was inimical to both Haiti and to the Dominican side; he is remembered mostly on the Dominican side as one of their worst nightmare. He closed the university and used it as a military barracks; he exacted from the Dominicans the heaviest load of the payment of the national debt contracted with France for the recognition of Haiti independence.

Jean Price Mars, the Haitian guru who tried to set Haitian heading in the right direction, taught us in his book Haiti and the Dominican Republic that Haiti has spent most of its time fearing the Dominicans were too weak nationally that they would sell their land rights, opening up a second front to render Haiti vulnerable for its independence.

Yet Haiti has been too concerned with internal political fights to create a true nation and, as such, its vulnerability was more of its own making than coming from outside. A true nation as set by the Renan rule would:

• create a strong army that teaches a sense of appurtenance amongst all the segments of the society,

• prevent the internal process of rendering the fragile part of the population nomads with weak institutions and weak infrastructure

• and last but not least set in orbit the divine destiny of the people of that part of the globe.

Haiti has failed those three rules; one of its governments has made the cardinal mistake of destroying its army that could have been recycled into a true national army. The republic of Port-au-Prince absorbs before and above all after the earthquake 90 percent of the country’s resources, leaving the rest of the population in a perpetual search for a better sky at home and abroad, principally in the Dominican Republic. Haiti continues to fail its manifest destiny of a redemptory nation, the harbinger of human rights at home and abroad.

With more than a million Haitian immigrants in the Dominican republic, with the largest portion of its student population registering in and graduating from Dominican universities, with a significant portion of its food security coming from the Dominican Republic, Haiti finds itself in a posturing position in pretending that it can attack the Dominican Republic materially or symbolically.

Paradoxically, the Dominican Republic, in spite of its superiority in warfare and in economic standing, its leverage in attacking Haiti is inconsequential. The Haitian market is too important for its economy to lose even one week of that portion of international sales, in addition the large Haitian immigrant population will not side with the Dominican in massacring the Haitian people.

One must add the international cloud of fostering peace and harmony amongst nations will stand on the side of poor Haiti, once more a victim of international discrimination and malfeasance. For all these reasons, cooler heads must prevail to remind both nations that living in peace and in harmony with each other is the surest path for the true development of the island.

It is true the Dominican Republic is opting to ignore Haiti and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to embrace Cuba and Puerto Rico in a troika where the Iberian heritage would confront the African colonial heritage.

But both Haiti and the Dominican Republic will go into elections soon, and Danilo Medina and Joseph Michel Martelly will soon surrender their seat of power. Both nations have the opportunity to start de novo in their bilateral relationships. It has been so far a fake one, with Haiti pretending to be the victim, yet not taking care of the business of running a country truly hospitable to its entire people.

The Dominican government is faking lending a hand while it uses and abuses foreign manpower, as well as using Haiti as a dumping ground for its surplus agricultural products along with its industrial production, condemning Haiti into perpetual economic dependence.

The international institutions such as the United Nations and the OAS have contributed to killing the Haitian economy by imposing an embargo against Haiti from 1991 to 1994, the genesis of the implantation of the Dominican economic domination upon Haiti. While the Dominican Republic entered into Haiti commercially by a small door during the embargo, it entered by a big door after the 2010 earthquake.

Can both nations live in peace and in harmony? Yes, it is possible. Canada and the United States do – they share a contiguous border. The European community does – it has eliminated the frontiers from one nation to another through the Schengen Agreement, letting people of the European continent engage in commerce freely with one and another for the benefit collectively and individually of each nation.

The Dominican migrants who came to New York City decades ago have found a hospitable setting; from delivery boys, they have graduated today into supermarket owners. Providing the same hospitality to the Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic can only enrich the Dominican Republic.

On the other side, the moving country in that political imbroglio must be Haiti. It must cease its victimization process and engage in true nation building. The Haitian government, after a long delay caused by legislative marooning, has just named Dr Daniel Supplice, a scholar, as its ambassador to the Dominican Republic. His language cannot be the usual rhetorical one that hides the truth while fostering confusion and procrastination in the search for sustainable solutions.

The Dominican Republic has sent to Haiti a real scholar and economist in the person of its ambassador, Mr Ruben Silie Valdez, who is familiar with the importance of Haiti for the Dominican Republic. In a recent conference at the University of Santo Domingo, he provided the pertinent information that Haiti has invested to the tune of one billion dollars in the Dominican Republic. There is a deficit of $300 million in foreign exchange, with Haiti occupying the third place after the United States and South Korea as business partners sending only $11 million of goods to the DR.

Can these two diplomats cool down the burning fire between Haiti and the Dominican Republic? It might depend on help from the two governments and the people of the two nations. The issue of fundamentalism or extremism is not confined to the Dominican Republic, Anti Haitianism/AH, ISIS, Boko Haram, KKK are all symptoms of deranged people in a society searching for answers to unemployment and to the lack of self-realization. They must be contained if violent with a strong arm or, better, with reasoned persuasion because after all they are human beings.

Haiti after Martelly will have to put its house in order and start the true process of nation building. I have seen the opposition group, it inspires no confidence either in its leadership or in its cohorts of unemployed partisans who burn public vehicles, deface private buildings with dirty slogans, and burn tires, causing the cancer level to increase several inches within the Haitian population.

Like Diogenes, I have a lamp well lighted at midday searching for a Haitian candidate for the mandate of 2016- 2021 with the guts to bring Haiti back into the path of nation building interrupted on October 17, 1806. He will ensure that the Haitian citizens are no longer nomads in their own country and abroad by investing in elaborate infrastructure and sane institutions and making sure that no group, in particular rural Haiti, is left behind.

On the Dominican side, Fidel Santana of the Frente Amplio movement fits the bill for an excellent presidential candidate who will calm down the hysterical atmosphere between the two nations. May he win the next presidential election in the Dominican Republic and may God save Haiti and the Dominican Republic, two nations that share the same island in the Caribbean Sea; they are condemned to sink or swim together! We are experiencing today the Calvary of Good Friday during Lent, but have no fear; Easter is always in the horizon!

Source: Caribeban news Now

March 6, 2015

Category: DR News |

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Last updated January 21, 2018 at 12:31 AM
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