On Haiti-Dominican Republic Border, Remembering a Long-Forgotten Massacre

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Above: Dajabon in the Dominican Republic (Photo: Border of Lights)

By the Caribbean Journal staff

It was 1937 when between 10,000 and 20,000 Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent were massacred by the Dominican Republic’s army and conscripted civilians.

Now, 75 years later, an initiative called Border of Lights will mark the 75th anniversary of the “Parsley Massacre” with a three-day event starting at the Dajabon Bridge on the border.

“Many Dominicans in the diaspora and in the country have been waiting for an opportunity to acknowledge a shameful event in our past, the 1937 massacre of thousands of Haitians, ordered by the dictator Trujillo, and carried out by Dominicans,” said author Julia Alvarez, who will be on hand this Thursday for the ceremonies. “We feel compelled to do what our governments and our treaties, our accords and our conferences have not done: to express our sorrow for this shameful crime.”

The project, which has the support of a number of figures including Alvarez and Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat, will include an art installation in Dajabon, a series of teach-ins and a day to clean and beautify a park in Ouanaminthe, Haiti.

“Border of Lights supports and encourages strengthening a new understanding of border,” said Father Regino Martinez, director of Solidaridad Fronteriza in Dajabon. “Not one that is expressed with confrontation or isolation, but rather side-by-side, so they may culturally enrich each community of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.”

Martinez will lead a vigil Oct. 4 on the border.

“We look to the future and our shared hopes for this whole island and small planet,” Alvarez said. “We would also like to celebrate our many collaborations, our brotherhood and sisterhood.”

Border of Lights began its efforts to mark the anniversary with a commemorative event in New York Aug. 27.

“These events seek not only to remember the victims of the massacre, but also shine a light on ongoing injustices faced by those of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic,” said Cynthia Carrion, one of the organizers of the event.

 

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