[Blackstudies-l] The Forgotten Parsley Massacre Still Plagues Dominican-Haitian Relations

Maria Lima lima at geneseo.edu
Mon Oct 23 08:53:08 EDT 2017

lisaparavisini posted: " This months marks the 80th anniversary of the
massacre of Haitians in the Dominican Republic, also known as the Parsley
Massacre, under the dictator Rafael Trujillo. A conversation with Marlon
Bishop for NPR. Click here to access the audio of the 1-hou"
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<http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/> The Forgotten Parsley
Massacre Still Plagues Dominican-Haitian Relations
lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>

[image: Masacre.jpg]

This months marks the 80th anniversary of the massacre of Haitians in the
Dominican Republic, also known as the Parsley Massacre, under the dictator
Rafael Trujillo. A conversation with Marlon Bishop for NPR. Click here
to access the audio of the 1-hour podcast.


We have a story now of a forgotten battle from 80 years ago, a massacre
resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of Haitians living in the
Dominican Republic in 1937. The two nations share an island in the
Caribbean. Then-Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered soldiers to kill
Haitians indiscriminately and then worked to keep it a secret. Marlon
Bishop from the NPR program Latino USA visited both countries, where the
aftershocks from this tragedy are still being felt.

MARLON BISHOP: On October 5, 1937, 10-year-old Francisco Pierre - who today
is 90 - was sitting in his patio in the Dominican Republic, not far from
the border with Haiti, when a man passed by his house.

FRANCISCO PIERRE: (Through interpreter) He yelled out to us, go across to
Haiti right now because they are killing people in the village.

BISHOP: They were killing Haitian people and Dominicans of Haitian descent
like Francisco. So he and his grandmother loaded up their donkey and began
to flee towards the Haitian border. Eventually, they made it to the river
that divides the two countries. On the other side, several Haitians were
yelling at them to cross quickly.

PIERRE: (Through interpreter) They said come, come, come, come. The guards
are coming. And if they catch you, they will kill you. But we stood there,
immobile. And before we knew it, the Haitians crossed over and grabbed our
donkeys and grabbed ahold of our hands and pulled us across.

BISHOP: Francisco barely escaped, but others weren't so lucky. Over the
course of about a week, Dominican soldiers executed thousands of Haitians
by machete. Estimates of the dead range from a few thousand to 30,000. The
man behind the massacre...


GILLES LAGIN: From the ancient Spanish fortress, built more than 400 years
ago, comes the car of Rafael Trujillo Molina, the strongman of the republic.

BISHOP: Rafael Trujillo ran a police state in the DR for 31 years. He was a
total narcissist who renamed the capital city after himself and forced
merengue orchestras to compose songs in his honor.


BISHOP: He was also said to be obsessed with whitening the country and
allegedly powdered his face to have a more Spanish appearance. And
according to historians, he was fixated on the idea of controlling the
border, which people more or less crossed freely at the time. After the
massacre, Trujillo denied his government had anything to do with it,
claiming that it was just local Dominican farmers rising up against Haitian
cattle thieves. Edward Paulino, a historian who studies the border, says
that Trujillo proceeded to launch a campaign against Haitians in the
Dominican press, painting them as invaders and criminals.

EDWARD PAULINO: Trujillo capitalized on this historically but diffuse
notion of Haiti as the outsider, as the enemy. And he uses the massacre to
crystallize this official doctrine that Hatians are our eternal enemies.

BISHOP: It wasn't until after Trujillo's death over 20 years later that
researchers began to put the pieces together of what really happened. While
the massacre is acknowledged in the DR today, Paulino says the country
hasn't really reckoned with this piece of its history.

PAULINO: The state has never apologized. It has never officially come out
and engaged.

BISHOP: He says there's no monument, no museum, no national day of

PAULINO: And I think you have to talk. There has to be a catharsis.

BISHOP: But not everyone on the island agrees.

How many books have you written, by the way?

BERNARDO VEGA: About 52 - something like that.

BISHOP: Just a few.

Like Bernardo Vega, one of the country's top historians and a former
ambassador to the US.

VEGA: So we are very upset at the fact that, time and time again, this
issue of a massacre is brought up when it was something that the Dominican
people, as a society, were never involved in. I don't think that bringing
this up again and again helps Dominican-Haitian relations. Trujillo did so
many bad things. Why should we be responsible for it?

BISHOP: Another reason that the massacre isn't talked about much today in
the Dominican Republic may be that the anti-Haitianism that Trujillo
promoted - this idea that Dominicans and Haitians are eternal enemies -
that idea still has a foothold. But these days, it's colored by another
source of tension. High immigration from Haiti in recent years has sparked
new waves of anti-Haitian feeling. Driving through Santo Domingo one day, I
found a striking example of that feeling, a billboard suggesting that the
country build a wall on the Dominican-Haitian border to help keep
immigrants out.

PELEGRIN CASTILLO: (Foreign language spoken).

BISHOP: That billboard belongs to Pelegrin Castillo, a right-wing
politician. And he jokes that maybe Donald Trump got the idea for his wall
from him. He says he's been asking for it since the '90s.

CASTILLO: (Speaking foreign language).

BISHOP: He says that building a physical wall is a way to avoid something
worse in the future - a, quote, "wall of hate and blood." It's an ominous
suggestion that the mutual dislike between the countries might lead to
violence in the future. But that's only one narrative, says historian
Edward Paulino.

PAULINO: That this one lie and, you know, and one story and one narrative -
and that said, Dominicans and Haitians have never gotten along. The
Dominicans hate Haitians. Well, if you go to the border, it's not just
about wars and massacres, but it's also about these two peoples coming
together and sometimes making one people.

BISHOP: And that, he believes, is exactly why Dominicans have to talk about
Trujillo's massacre - to take a good look at Trujillo's story, that
Haitians and Dominicans are enemies, and leave it in the past where it
belongs. For NPR News, I'm Marlon Bishop.

SINGH: That story is an excerpt from an hour-long episode of NPR's Latino
USA. The full story is available at npr.org.
*lisaparavisini <http://repeatingislands.com/author/lisaparavisini/>* |
October 22, 2017 at 11:26 pm | Categories: News
<http://repeatingislands.com/category/news/> | URL: http://wp.me/psnTa-yjj

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