Dominican Republic: The Unsung Haitian Hero!

Unsung Hero: a person who makes a substantive yet unrecognized contribution; one whose bravery is unknown or unacknowledged.

Although history recognizes Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant as heroes of the United States Civil War, but it is the military strategist John Boyd who reigns the unsung hero of the historical feat. We also recognize Martin Luther King Jr. as the star of the Civil Rights Movement, but we must be fair in distinguishing the unaccredited voices who fought for the cause, such as: Bayard Rustin, Pauli Murray, and Ella Baker.

When we separate the “fake news” from the facts, there is clarity. When dividing the corporately biased and consciously constructed inaccurate information from the humane actions of a brotherly country, we realize that in the difficult social and economic situations in Haiti, the Dominican Republic remains reliable.

Truth must confront the fake news and distorted information that tries to affect the image of the Dominican Republic. It is irrational to paint the Dominican Republic as a country solely bound by racists, being as that Dominican and Haitian citizens coexist on the streets of Dominican Republic. It is irrational that the United Nations has called on the Dominican Republic for the discrimination suffered by Haitian-descending Dominicans, failing to recognize that they were the country that most contributed to Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010. While the inert promises of neighboring countries around the world remained idle promises the Dominican people gave shelter to thousands of homeless Haitians.

While foreign organizations criticized the authorities in the Dominican Republic for allegedly violating the rights of Haitian citizens during deportations, the just and dignified treatment provided by the government of President Danilo Medina to the illegal immigrants of the neighboring island goes unrecognized. It only takes a 5 km (about 3 miles) walk in any direction, in any city, at any given time of the day, to see hundreds of Haitians working to support their family in a country that has received them.

It is merely fake news to say that hundreds of Haitians are abused daily in raids to be deported, when thousands of pregnant Haitian women are guided through the border to receive the appropriate medical assistance to deliver their children, from Dominican hospitals and professionals, free of charge. From the goodness in the Dominican government this willingness, to cover hundreds of millions of dollars a year, prevails.

The Dominican Republic, like every sovereign country, has the right to regulate its borders. It is not a crime, it is a duty. But even so, being the small country that it is, there is no persecution of illegal immigrants, no mistreatment of foreigners, and under no circumstance is there discrimination against the less fortunate. On my last visit to the country, I had the pleasure of meeting Mati Pierre, a fruit salesman on the streets of Santo Domingo, the nation’s capital. We spoke about his experience in the Dominican Republic as a Haitian, “Dominicana como si fuera mi país, Presidente muy bueno, yo doy de come a mi familia aquí. Todo hablan mentira de aquí, país bueno con nosotros”  “[I care for] Dominican [Republic] as if it were my country, [with the] very good President [that leads], I [am able to] give my family [food] to eat. Everyone speaks lies from [about the Dominican Republic] here, [they are a] good country with [to] us [Haitians].

Certainly, immigration is a difficulty for a small country like the Dominican Republic, there are definitely rules and regulations, but to accuse the nation of racism and discrimination is simply deceitful. When writing the story of Haiti, there will be many meritorious heroes that fought for the country, but only one Unsung Hero: the Dominican Republic.

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