Haiti: protests over lynching in Dominican Republic

Dozens of Haitian activists held a sit-in in front of the Dominican embassy in Pétionville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince, on the morning of May 8 to protest the lynching of Haitian national Carlos Nérilus in Santo Domingo on May 2. The activists denounced both the failure of Dominican authorities to protect Haitian nationals and what they called the “laissez-faire” policy of the Haitian government; they demanded the immediate recall of Fritz Cinéas, Haiti’s ambassador in Santo Domingo.

The sit-in was organized by the Support Group for the Repatriated and Refugees (GARR), the Platform of Haitian Organizations for the Defense of Human Rights (POHDH) and the National Coordinating Committee of Nongovernmental Actors (CONANE). A Dominican embassy official, Pastor Vásquez, met with a delegation of five activists accompanied by journalists; Ambassador Rubén Silié was away from the embassy.

Two more groups of protesters, mostly students, arrived later in the morning, bringing the crowd to a total of about 150. The newcomers tore down the sign in front of the embassy and wrote “Dominican criminals, Dominican murderers” on the walls. The Associated Press wire service reported that they also threw rocks and broke a window. The youths then proceeded to the nearby Dominican consulate, where police agents prevented them from tearing down the Dominican flag; later they paralyzed traffic in Pétionville.

Meanwhile, the human rights groups led a peaceful march to Haitian prime minister Michèle Pierre-Louis’ office, where they tried to deliver a document. In contrast to the Dominican embassy, the prime minister’s office wouldn’t receive a delegation of activists if journalists were included. The protesters refused to accept the condition and marched on to the National Palace to deliver a message to President René Préval. (AlterPresse, May 8; Chicago Tribune, May 8 from AP; GARR press release, May 4)

Nérilus was murdered on 12th Street in Santo Domingo’s Buenos Aires neighborhood on the afternoon of May 2. A man reportedly tortured Nérilus and then cut off his head with an axe while an angry crowd looked on; some people filmed the incident with their cellphones. There is no evidence that the local police attempted to intervene. The killing was said to be in revenge for the decapitation of a Dominican business owner, Pascual de León Lara, allegedly by a Haitian, the day before in another Santo Domingo neighborhood, but it not clear whether Nérilus and his killer had a direct connection to De León Lara’s murder. Dominican authorities later arrested a suspect, Confesor Reyes, and on May 8 a Santo Domingo Province judge, Elizabeth Esperanza Rodríguez Espinal, ordered a three-month detention of Reyes while the case is being investigated. According to one report, Reyes has also been identified as Rusbert de León Lara, Pascual de León Lara’s brother. (Radio Kiskeya, May 3; Listín Diario, May 4, 5; Chicago Tribune, May 8 from AP)

In other news, after months of delays the Haitian Senate voted unanimously on May 5 to approve a measure raising the minimum wage to 200 gourdes a day (about $4.96) from its current rate of 70 gourdes. The Chamber of Deputies approved the measure earlier in the year. To become law, the raise still needs to be approved by President Préval and published in the official gazette, Le Moniteur. Business owners strongly opposed the new minimum wage, and it is not clear what measures are planned to enforce it. (AlterPresse, May 6)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, May 10

See our last posts on Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

  1. Unfair Judgement
    It is very clear that the international community is very quick to judge the dominicans as racists towards the haitians. They use cases like this to prove their point, which is a big mistake. Do not twist things around to prove a point because then your point will be worthless. This case was a simple case of personal revenge. The haitian DECAPITATED a dominican business owner in demand for wages, the brother of the dominican business owner then decapitated the haitian national. This wouldn’t have happened if haitians weren’t so violent and kept quiet in their community. They use machetes and have a profound hatred towards their benefactors, the dominicans. If they don’t like the way they are treated then they should just go back the way they came, but they shouldn’t go around using their machetes to solve personal issues, because it will not be tolerated.

    This article is incendiary and is not based on actual facts, please find another cause because the haitians come to DR looking for a better life, no one forces them to come or to work. Most haitians are very grateful for what they have here and for nothing in the world they would go back to Haiti, where the politicians are the most corrupt in the world and do not help their own people, to the extreme that any international aid received goes straight to their pockets.

    With all the aid Haiti receives from all countries in the world it should be a rich country or a at least they should not go hungry. If you go to the bi-lateral market on the border of DR and Haiti (Jimaní, Elias Piña, Dajabón, Pedernales) you will find cheap brand name apparel (clothes, shoes, accessories), cheap Carolina rice, all types of expensive liquors and perfumes, etc.

    How does that get to the market? ask the corrupt politicians, don’t ask us, we just go on market days and take advantage of the cheap prices and even buy in bulk or wholesale to sell in stores in Santo Domingo.

    That is the reality of the haitian people, they are a victim of their own culture, their upbringing, and their corrupt politicians, not a victim of the dominicans.

    PS: Most haitians live in peace in their community, they work for their wages and when they can they travel to Haiti to visit family and bring goodies to them, such as mattresses, appliances and toys, all is not violence as the press wants to portrait, so please don’t believe everything you read.

    1. Unconsciously Racist…:(
      Unfortunately you open your statement by demanding that the media not portray Dominicans as racist yet your very comment is laced with racism. Being Dominican myself, and being aware of the complexities that have existed between both countries throughout history, I would not be quick to judge Haitians the way you have (machete carrying, parasites of the Dominican state, corrupt government). By broadening our perspective we can see that the SAME judgements you carry towards Haitians in DR are the SAME ones that the US has held about Dominicans, and any other ‘immigrant of color’.

      I agree that this particular case should not be used as a representation of overall relationships between Haitians in DR and Dominicans. Yet, I do not think that the article did this. It was clearly illustrating one aspect of a number of human rights violations that take place against Haitians in DR.