On September 23, 2013, the Constitutional Court in the Dominican Republic issued a ruling that effectively targeted and revoked the Dominican nationality of descendants of Haitian immigrant workers born in the Dominican Republic since 1929 on the ground that these workers were “in transit”.
While the legal basis for this judgment has been debunked, it remains procedurally beyond appeal. This ruling affects about 350.000 persons, stripping them of their civic rights like the right to vote and the right to education, and puts them at risk to be deported.
Protests decrying the underlying racism and unfairness of this ruling have been increasing internationally, in the Dominican Republic and in Haiti. However, most of these protests are framed in confusing nationalist rhetoric and fail to unmask the underlying interests at work:
1- For over a hundred years, the ruling classes on both sides of the island have colluded to profit from the super exploitation of politically repressed cheap Haitian immigrant labor through legal and illicit trafficking and apartheid-like policies.
2- Poorer economic and decaying sociopolitical conditions prevailing in Haiti have fueled the constant migration of destitute workers toward the Dominican Republic to replenish the reservoir of unemployed labor in those jobs where extremely low wage scales have been set to keep them relegated to “illegal Haitian” laborers, a condition reinforced by this court ruling.
3- Even though the “legal Dominican” sector of the workforce is itself faced with high unemployment and severe hardship, ideological campaigns have been waged by the reactionary ruling classes to keep this apartheid-like two wage scale system to convince “legal Dominican” workers that certain jobs are not fit for them, that they are only fit for lower paid “dark-skinned illegal Haitians” who, furthermore, are scapegoated by politicians for the plight of Dominican workers, to deflect protests against neo-liberal austerity measures.
4- This apartheid system is the cesspool fueled by nationalist propaganda to stoke “anti-haitianismo” and maintain this highly profitable state of affairs for the ruling classes. It is estimated that “illegal Haitian” workers generate about 30% of the production in the Dominican economy while they only constitute about 10% of the population. Through systematic and generalized ideological campaigns in the state, the media, the education system (…), “legal Dominican” workers are led to believe in their social privilege, their social status, which isolates them from this higher level of exploitation and repression reserved for inferior dark-skinned “illegal Haitians.”
5- This divide and conquer collusion between the ruling classes on both sides of the island has also been exacerbated by US imperialist policies of occupation and pillage that have taken advantage of cheap labor in “bateyes” and sweatshops, and the political division of the working class.
6- The ruling classes in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic have shown over and over again that they care much more for their profits than for their “nation.” These are the same “nationalists” who repeatedly sell out their nation, sign “Free Trade” agreements and mortgage their country’s economy to the IMF, the IDB, USAID and the World Bank. These are the same “nationalists” who readily welcome foreign intervention to protect their interests.
The challenge we face today is to debunk this nationalist problematic. The issue of immigrant labor, from a progressive working class point of view cannot be a matter of national sovereignty. National sovereignty in this context is nothing but ruling class propaganda to divide and conquer to protect capitalist interests by pitting workers against each other.
As workers, we must demand justice and equality for all of us, or become victims in the race to the bottom, in the downward spiral of competing in the “Free Market” against the most exploited and the most abused. In the age of capitalist globalization, capital knows no borders. Dominican and Haitian capitalists invest on both sides of the island. We too, as workers, Dominincan, Haitian or workers of any national origin, must reject the artificial borders of nationality that have been placed on us to perpetuate our exploitation.
That is why, based on the same convictions that drive our demand for amnesty, legalization of status and the end to the persecution of all undocumented immigrants here in the United States, we also raise the same demands with regards to immigrants and migrant workers of Haitian origin in the Dominican Republic. We must raise the same demands in defense of immigrant workers rights all over the world.
The challenge we all share is to debunk entrenched anti-Haitian racism as it persists today in the Dominican Republic, through the united struggle for our common rights and working class interests. That is why, as workers, we must embrace the commonality of our condition: a common exploiter, a global imperialist system; a common quest, a world free from exploitation.
Legalization of Status for All Undocumented Workers!
Dominican and Haitian Workers Unite to Fight for your Rights!
Workers of the World, Unite!