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Haiti and the Dominican Republic – A Conflict Captured on | Shadow and Act


“Cutting sugar cane. You’re going to cut sugar cane. I’d rather much you cut sugar cane here at home. But they don’t want you to stay here. They sold you like an animal.”

A woman pining for a lover sold into the Dominican bateyes (sugar cane plantations). I was young and couldn’t grasp the depth of her lyrics but the melancholy in her voice conveyed pain. Decades later, that song is more relevant than ever.

By now you’ve heard of the conflict between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It’s complicated, steeped in a tense and at times bloody history, but it’s not new. There are several films that can assist in getting some understanding of the current situation. Movies that dissect 1) the issue, 2) its origins, and 3) the events that triggered this latest spate of deportations.

1. The Issue: “The Price of Sugar”; “Birthright Crisis”; “Purgatorio”

In a briefing on Capitol Hill in 2011, human rights laureate, the late Sonia Pierre, recalled the case of a 9 year old girl who was kidnapped from tourist destination Boca Chica in the Dominican Republic. The 9 year old was raped and murdered by a 53 year old man. Her blood soaked clothing was retrieved from the murderer’s home. Her younger brother witnessed the horror and at 5 years old, was able to identify the murderer. Her mother was unable to secure her birth certificate. A judge ruled that since there was no birth certificate, the victim did not exist. Her murderer went free. via | Shadow and Act

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