Dominican Republic: Haitians flee violence

Hundreds of Haitian immigrants fled the Dominican Republic from Nov. 23 to Nov. 25 following reports that mobs were killing Haitians in revenge for the murder of a Dominican couple; one or two men, reportedly Haitians, raped and murdered 63-year-old Luja Díaz Encarnación in the course of a robbery on Nov. 22 and killed her 70-year-old husband, José Méndez, in Neyba, the capital of the southwestern Dominican province of Baoruco. According to the Haitian nonprofit Support Group for the Repatriated and Refugees (GARR), 347 Haitian citizens were repatriated in just two days, Nov. 23 and Nov. 24, at the southern border crossing between the Dominican city of Jimaní and the Haitian town of Malpasse; the refugees included 107 children. The fleeing immigrants told GARR that four Haitians had been killed with machetes and their bodies had been burned. 

The Haitian government put the total number of refugees for the week at 464, including 133 children. On Nov. 29 Haitian interior minister David Bazile announced that only one Haitian had been killed and that the flow of Haitians across the border had ended as of Nov. 28. “We’re not at war with the Dominican Republic,” he said. Dominican authorities denied reports that the police had deported Haitian immigrants who sought protection from the mobs. (AlterPresse, Haiti, Nov. 25; Noticias SIN, Dominican Republic, Nov. 25; Adital, Brazil, Nov. 27; El Nacional, Venezuela, Nov. 29, from AP; 7 Días, Dominican Republic, Nov. 29 from Le Nouvelliste, Haiti)

The violence in Neyba added to tensions among Haitian immigrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent following a Sept. 23 ruling by the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Tribunal (TC) that denied citizenship to people born in the country to undocumented immigrant parents. The Haitian government has protested the decision, and on Nov. 27 the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), an organization of 15 Caribbean countries that includes Haiti, expressed its disapproval of the anti-immigrant ruling by suspending the process of admitting the Dominican Republic to the group. Just hours later the Dominican Republic announced it was suspending participation in talks Venezuela was mediating between the Haitian and Dominican governments on the issue. (Aporrea, Venezuela, Nov. 27, from TeleSUR)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, December 1.