Haitians in the Dominican Republic

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Haitians in the Dominican Republic and Dominicans of Haitian descent
Haitianos en la República Dominicana y dominicanos de ascendencia haitiana
Sonia Pierre with Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama 2010-03-10 (cropped).jpg
Total population
458,233 [7] 
Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic
(5% of the Dominican population)

104,531 [7] 
Haitians born in the Dominican Republic to Haitian parents
(1% of the Dominican population)

105,381 [8] 
Dominicans born to both a Haitian and a Dominican parent
(1% of the Dominican population)
Regions with significant populations
The borderland, the North-Western Cibao valley, and the Southeastern (including Santo Domingo) Region[9]
Mother tongue: Haitian Creole (96.3%), Spanish (1.7%), French (1.5%)[10]
Speak Spanish: 73.8%[10]
Roman Catholicism, Evangelicalism, Adventism, African traditional religions, None[11]
Related ethnic groups
Haitians, Haitian Americans, Haitian Brazilian, Haitian Canadian, Haitian Chilean, Haitian Cuban, Cocolo

Haitians in the Dominican Republic consist of migrants from Haiti and their descendants living and working in the Dominican Republic. Since the early 20th century, Haitians have made up the largest immigrant population in the Dominican Republic.


After the Dominican War of Independence ended, Haitian immigration to the Dominican Republic was focalized in the border area; this immigration was encouraged by the Haitian government and consisted of lackland peasants who crossed the border to the Dominican Republic because of the land scarcity in Haiti; in 1874 Haiti’s military occupied La Miel valley and Rancho Mateo. In 1899 the Haitian government claimed the center-west and the south-west of the Dominican Republic, including western Lake Enriquillo, as it estimated that Haitians had become the majority in that area.[12]

However, the arrival of Haitians to the rest of the country began after the United States occupied both Haiti and the Dominican Republic around 1916, when US-owned sugar companies imported, annually, thousands of Haitian workers to cut costs.[13]

The 1935 census revealed that several border towns were of Haitian majority; between 1920 and 1935 the Haitian population in the Dominican Republic doubled. In 1936, Haiti received several of these villages located in La Miel valley after a revision of the borderline. Between 1935 and 1937 the dictator Rafael L. Trujillo imposed restrictions on foreign labor and ordered the deportation of Haitians in the border area, but these measures failed due to a corruption scheme involving Dominican military men, civil authorities, and US-owned sugar companies, in the trafficking of undocumented Haitian immigrants. After April 1937, Cuba began the deportation of thousands of Haitians; this led to the arrival of unemployed Haitians en masse to the Dominican Republic. In August 1937, amid a tour to border towns, Trujillo received complaints of looting, pillaging and cattle raiding, and people insinuated that he had no control over the Haitians. Drunk at a soirée, Trujillo decided that every Haitian should be annihilated. Lt. Adolf 'Boy' Frappier, a German adviser to President Trujillo, advised him to use the shibboleth perejil (Spanish for "parsley") to identify Haitians by their accent, because the "r" in perejil was difficult for Haitians to pronounce it properly. Thousands died along the borderland, the Northwest Line and the Cibao, and thousands more fled to Haiti; Haitians that were working for the American sugar companies, or living in the East of the country, were not harmed.[14][15][16][17]

As a result of the slaughter, the Dominican Republic paid to Haiti an indemnity of US$ 525,000 (equivalent to $8.64 million in 2015). The genocide sought to be justified on the pretext of fearing infiltration, but was actually also a retaliation, commented on both in national currencies, as well as having been informed by the Military Intelligence Service (the dreaded SIM), that the Haitian government was cooperating with a plan that sought to overthrow Dominican exiles.

After the events of 1937, Haitian migration to the Dominican Republic halted, until in 1952 Trujillo and the Haitian dictator Paul Eugène Magloire agreed on the annual shipment of thousands of Haitian laborers to work in American-owned and Dominican-owned sugar plantations, paying the Dominican government a price per head to its Haitian counterpart.[18]

In the 1960s, after the fall of the dictatorship of Trujillo, Haitian immigration boomed: according to Joaquín Balaguer, 30,000 Haitians crossed the border between 1960 and 1965.[18] During the administrations of Joaquín Balaguer, Antonio Guzmán and Salvador Jorge Blanco, in Dominican Republic, and the Duvaliers, in Haiti, the influx of Haitian labourers was continuous and was increasing. Every year contracts were signed between both countries for the importation of over ten thousand Haitians as temporary workers (although they were rarely returned to their country) in exchange for the payment of millions of dollars.

After the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, the number of Haitians doubled to 2 million, most of whom illegally crossed after the border opened for international aid. Human Rights Watch estimated that 70,000 documented Haitian immigrants and 1,930,000 undocumented immigrants were living in Dominican Republic.

Economic and social issues

A sugar factory in Consuelo

Many Haitians migrate to the Dominican Republic primarily to escape the poverty in Haiti. Haiti is much poorer than the Dominican Republic. In 2003, 80% of all Haitians were poor (54% in extreme poverty) and 47.1% were illiterate. The country of nine million people has a fast-growing population, but over two thirds of the jobs are not in formal work places. Haiti’s GDP per capita was $ 1,300 in 2008, or less than one-sixth of that in the Dominican Republic.[19] As a result, hundreds of thousands of Haitians have migrated to the Dominican Republic, with some estimates of 800,000 Haitians in the country,[20] while others believe they are more than a million. Many Haitian migrants or their descendants work in low-paid and unskilled jobs in building construction, household cleaning, and in plantations.[21]

Boys from a batey in the Province of San Pedro de Macorís

Children of illegal Haitian immigrants are at risk of statelessness (becoming stateless), since the Haitian government denies basic services such as documentation to their poorest citizens. By Haitian law, children with at least one Haitian parent are automatically eligible for Haitian nationality, regardless of place of birth; however, Haitian authorities often deny them these services. As a result, the Dominican Republic has subsidized for decades the health care and education of Haitian citizens born in the Dominican Republic[citation needed]; especially after the 2010 earthquake after which the Dominican Republic relaxed border controls in order to allow care and health services to injured Haitians in Dominican hospitals.[citation needed]

Some[quantify] Haitian women, often arriving with several health problems, cross the border to Dominican soil during their last weeks of pregnancy to obtain necessary medical care for childbirth, since Dominican public hospitals cannot deny medical services based on nationality or legal status. Statistics from a hospital[which?] in Santo Domingo report that over 22% of births are to Haitian mothers.[citation needed]

A border watch tower to control illegal immigration from Haiti, located in the Cordillera Central, Dominican Republic

In 2005 Dominican President Leonel Fernández criticized that collective expulsions of Haitians were "improper and inhumane". After a delegation from the United Nations issued a preliminary report stating that it found a profound problem of racism and discrimination against people of Haitian origin, the Chancellor Dominican Carlos Morales Troncoso gave a formal statement saying "Our border with Haiti has its problems, this is our reality, and this must be understood. It’s important not to confuse national sovereignty with indifference, and not to confuse security with xenophobia"[22]


File:One Too Many; 50+ Haitian Workers In Transit.jpg
Haitian workers being transported in Macao, Punta Cana
File:People of Haitian origin in the Dominican Republic.png
Percentage of the people of Haitian origin among the population for each province in the Dominican Republic; Pedernales has the highest proportion, 30%, and San Cristóbal the lowest, 2%. Nationwide, they are 7% of the population.[23]
Place of birth of the Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic. The majority is originally from Ouest (24%) and Nord (19%). Just 0.2% of the Haitian immigrants in the D.R. are from Nippes.[23]

Almost 75% of the Haitians living in the Dominican Republic have been residing in the country for less than 10 years.[24] Almost 70% of Haitian workers earns less than 10,000 Dominican pesos (DOP) per month; about 7% earned more than 20,000 DOP per month.[25] Those who lives in urban areas earn up to 70% more than those who lives in rural areas.[26] The average median income is of 10,262 DOP per month; in comparison, an average Dominican earns 12,441 DOP and an average non-Haitian immigrant earns 39,318 DOP per month.[27] Just 10% of Haitians send remittances to Haiti, with 5.4% sending with a frequency of once per quarter or higher.[28]

The 1920 Census registered 28,258 Haitians;[29] the 1935 Census registered 52,657 Haitians.[30] The Haitian population decreased to 18,772 in the 1950 Census,[30] as a result of the cession of Dominican territory to Haiti in 1936, and the 1937 Parsley Massacre as well.[30]

In 2012, there were 458,233 Haitian immigrants living in the Dominican Republic, 65.4% of them were males and 76.1% between 18 and 39 years old.[31] Also, they represent 81.1 percent of the population in the tourist area of Punta Cana, almost all of them working for the hotels.[32]

Haitians in the Dominican Republic by censuses
  • 1920: 28.258[18][33][34] — 3,1% of the total population
  • 1935: 52.657[18][34][30]— 3,6% of the total population
  • 1950: 18.772[34][30] — 0,9% of the total population
  • 1960: 29.350[34] — 1,0% of the total population
  • 1970: 97.142[35] — 2,4% of the total population
  • 1980: 113.150 (excludes urban areas)[18]4,3% of the rural population
  • 1981: N.A.
  • 1991: 245.000 (of Haitian origin)[36]3,4% of the total population
  • 1993: N.A.
  • 2002: N.A.
  • 2010: N.A.
  • 2012: 668.145 (of Haitian origin)[23]7,1% of the total population

*Immigrant censuses are italicized

See also


  1. Cypher, Luke. Haitian Sensations: Behind the rise of the Haitian-Dominican player, ESPN The Magazine. Published March 10, 2009 By Luke Cyphers | ESPN The Magazine. Retrieved October 16, 2013.
  2. Guillermina Santos (4 December 2011). "La sorpresiva muerte de Sonia Pierre enluta comunidad haitiana" (in Spanish). El Día. Retrieved 3 May 2014. Sonia Pierre, hija de inmigrantes haitianos, nació en la República Dominicana y se crió en el batey Lechería de Villa Altagracia. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Dan Connolly; Jeff Zrebiec (15 January 2010). "Haiti quake hits home for O's Pie". Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2014. Pie said he was born in the Dominican Republic, but his mother, Hidalia Dofen, and his father, Alme Pie, were both born and raised in Haiti. The couple moved to the Dominican Republic before Pie was born, "for a better life."<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "La sentencia no afectaría a Peña Gómez" (in Spanish). El Caribe. Retrieved 3 May 2014. A prueba en contrario, Peña Gómez era hijo de María Marcelino, dominicana, y Oguís Vicent, haitiano ilegal. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Guégan et al. 2002, pp. 60, 168.
  6. "Ancestros, descendientes y parientes colaterales de Joaquín Balaguer". Cápsulas Genealógicas (in Spanish). Hoy. 16 September 2006. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 Viviano de León (2 May 2013). "Determinan que en RD residen 524 mil 632 inmigrantes de los que el 87.3% son haitianos" (in Spanish). Santo Domingo: Listín Diario. Retrieved 3 May 2014. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Primera Encuesta Nacional de Inmigrantes (ENI-2012)
  9. ENI-2012 P. 75
  10. 10.0 10.1 ENI-2012 P. 163
  11. ENI-2012 P. 129
  12. Páez Piantini, William (2006). "La frontera domínico-haitiana: perspectiva histórica y presente". Boletín del Archivo General de la Nación (in Spanish). Archivo General de la Nación: 39, 41–42. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Haitian Sugar-cane Cutters in the Dominican Republic. 1989. p. 7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Alcántara, Yvonne (10 October 2014). "Matanza de haitianos del 37, un "zapatazo" de Trujillo" (in Spanish). Diario Libre. Retrieved 20 June 2015. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Moya Pons, Frank (2010). Historia de la República Dominicana (Volumen 2). Doce Calles. pp. 454–455, 479. ISBN 9788400092405.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. Castillo Pantaleón, Juan Miguel (March 2012). La nacionalidad dominicana. Santo Domingo: Editora Nacional. pp. 482–484. ISBN 978-9945-469-97-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Sommer, Doris (1983). One master for another. University Press of America. p. 196. Se dice que una de las órdenes impartidas por el militar Frappier, de origen alemán, era la siguiente: pasar por las armas a toda aquella persona que no pronunciara perfectamente la palabra "perejil".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 Pierre Charles, Gérard (July 1988). Capital transnacional y trabajo en el Caribe (in Spanish). México: Plaza y Valdés. pp. 211–212, 215. ISBN 968-856-161-4. Retrieved 27 June 2015. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. "CIA - The World Factbook - Haiti
  20. Dominican Republic: Deport Thy (Darker-Skinned) Neighbour
  21. ["Migration in the Caribbean: Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Beyond"]
  22. Dominican Republic: Gov't Turns Deaf Ear to UN Experts on Racism
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 "Primera Encuesta Nacional de Inmigrantes (ENI-2012)" (in Spanish). Santo Domingo: Instituto Nacional de Estadística (former 'Oficina Nacional de Estadística') & United Nations Population Fund. 2012.
  24. ENI-2012 P. 174, 183
  25. ENI-2012 P. 251
  26. ENI-2012 P. 254
  27. ENI-2012 P. 253
  28. ENI-2012 P. 259
  29. Historia, Metodología y organización de censos en Rep. Dom.
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 30.4 Flady Cordero (30 July 2013). "La desregulación de la inmigración es el negocio del siglo". Hora Cero (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2014. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. García, Samantha (11 September 2013). "La presencia de inmigrantes haitianos en República Dominicana" (in Spanish). Santo Domingo: Observatorio Político Dominicano. Archived from the original on 14 May 2014. Retrieved 14 May 2014. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  32. "Peligrosos enclaves haitianos en el Este". Listín Diario (in Spanish). 30 November 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2014. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. Historia, Metodología y organización de censos en Rep. Dom.
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 34.3 Corten, André (1976). Azúcar y política en la República Dominicana. Taller. p. 18. Los censos dominicanos estiman el número de haitianos en 28.258 en 1920, en 52.657 en 1935, en 18.772 en 1950 y en 29.350 en 1960.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. Acosta, Mercedes (1973). Imperialismo y clases sociales en el Caribe. Cuenca Ediciones. p. 229.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  36. Wooding, Bridget; Moseley-Williams, Richard (2004). Needed But Unwanted: Haitian Immigrants and Their Descendants in the Dominican Republic. London: Catholic Institute of International Relations. p. 33. ISBN 1-85287-303-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>