This research trip was “inspired” by the 2013 Dominican Constitutional Court ruling in favor of a previous sentence involving the de-citizenship of all those born to foreign parents who have resided “irregularly” in the country, which is emblematic of what some criticize as the Dominican intellectual elite’s obsession with erecting an imagined racialized border with Haiti, especially during the Trujillato.
In my research, I trace four different aspects of this imagined enemy—particularly the Haitian immigrant and their descendants–as an enemy coming from a very sophisticated and sometimes hateful discourse that has shaped the everyday ethics of the Dominican public, often generating an exclusionary social hypocrisy. Firstly, I put together the history of violence in the Trujillato shown at the Museo Memorial de la Resistencia Dominicana with traces of anti-Haitianism; secondly, I analyze the media focus on the 1937 genocide called “Masacre del Perejjil,” a massive killing of peasants in the north border; thirdly, I examine Joaquin Balaguer’s La isla al reves (The Island the Other Way Around) which very well exposes the Trujillo-Balaguer’s hispanophile ideology, and which I call Modernismo Criminal; and lastly, I conduct street interviews on exclusion and violence patterns at the present time that are linked to that discourse.
Below is an excerpt of some conclusions I reached on the street interviews, which greatly exemplify how this hate discourse affects numerous lives in different ways, children in particular. I informally talked to 12 street children, who were between 12 and 18 years of age. I asked some brief standardized questions, getting the following shockingly similar characteristics:
The majority of them work as shoe-shiners;
All of them were not literate or have never attended school;
All of them have some Haitian relative;
The majority of them have Haitian parents;
All of them have been detained by the Policia Turistica at least 10 times;
None of them have a Dominican ID even though all of them are Dominican.
These kids are a disturbing example of what the agambenian sacer looks like in the Dominican Republic: abandoned bodies in the sense they are beyond the protection of the State, outside of what the law considers its subjects. The first alarming fact is how easy they could be jailed. As a matter of fact, the picture I uploaded here was taken when Joel (15) was detained just because he was speaking to me, it did not matter that I said to Policia Turistica that it was okay, we were having a conversation, they just took him away. Policia Turistica has two detention centers in the Zona Colonial where they jail these kids for between eight to 12 hours, or until a colonel comes, hits or shouts at them, and finally releases them.
Posted by Marcelo Carosi – PhD Candidate at the NYU Department of Spanish