Felicia Persaud, CEO of Hard Beat Communications in New York and an expert on Caribbean affairs, noted that the Parsley Massacre was perhaps of the 20th century’s least-remembered acts of genocide “and it’s truly amazing that people remember the slaughter of Jews by Adolf Hitler but not so much, the murder of some 20,000 by Trujillo.”
There also appears to be a “schism” between the large Dominican and Haitian communities in New York City.
“I have not seen much collaboration between the two sides at all,” Persaud stated.
“Haitians live in their own communities, like Brooklyn, while nationals of the Dominican Republic live in Upper Manhattan, and the void between them is stark.”
She added: “Whether this is a direct [consequence] of the Parsley Massacre or not, I’m not sure. What I do know is that there is some level of discrimination that exists in the way Haitians are treated in the [company towns] of the Dominican Republic and in the way that descendants of Haitians are treated in the DR. There is racial prejudice towards Haitians in the DR and their Dominican-born children are refused citizenship because they are considered ‘in transit’ and are as such left stateless.”
Yet, others express hope for the future.
“For all of the tragedy and horrible things that happened, it’s been great to see people in the Dominican Republic say that these people are our neighbors, our brothers and sisters,” Cynthia Carrion, one of the organizers of Border of Lights, told reporters.
“We hope to change from a border of tension to a border of light, a place of peace.”
“None of our governments have paused for a moment of silence in 75 years to say that this was a sad and painful chapter in our history,” said Edwidge Danticat, a prominent Haitian author.
“And we have to learn from it in our daily dealings as a state and as part of a total island.”
“It’s important to reflect on both sides of the border what this history means in terms of our dealings from now on, how we see each other as island neighbors, consumers and producers, and, in some cases, as binational family members and generally as human beings.”
Indeed, as Persaud herself points out, Dominicans were the first to offer their help with the devastating earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010.
By: Palash Ghosh