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Haitians in the Dominican Republic

Haitians in the Dominican Republic
Total population
Total population of Haitian ancestry
800,000~ (2008)[1]
Residents of the Dominican Republic born in Haiti
458,233 (2013)[2]
(5% of the Dominican population)
Dominicans born to both a Haitian and a Dominican parent
105,381 (2012)[3]
(1% of the Dominican population)
Haitians born in the Dominican Republic to Haitian parents

104,531 (2013)[2]
(1% of the Dominican population)
Regions with significant populations
The borderland, the North-Western Cibao valley, and the Southeastern (including Santo Domingo) region[4]
First language: Haitian Creole (96.3%), Spanish (1.7%), French (1.5%)[5]
Speak Spanish: 73.8%[5]
Roman Catholicism, Evangelicalism, Adventism, African traditional religions, Other[6]

Haitians in the Dominican Republic (Dominico-Haitians) are citizens of ethnic Haitian descent. They may be Dominican citizens, Haitian citizens or non-citizen immigrants. 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 peasants who crossed the border to the Dominican Republic because of the land scarcity in Haiti; in 1874 the Haitian 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.[7]

A sugar factory in Consuelo

However, the arrival of Haitians to the rest of the country began after the United States occupation of Haiti and the Dominican Republic around 1916, when US-owned sugar companies imported, annually, thousands of Haitian workers to cut costs.[8]

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. Lieutenant 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 properly. Thousands died along the borderland, the Northwest Line and the Cibao, and thousands more fled to Haiti. In 1975, Joaquín Balaguer, the Dominican Republic's interim Foreign Minister at the time of the massacre, put the number of dead at 17,000. Other estimates compiled by the Dominican historian Bernardo Vega went as high as 35,000.[9] Haitians that were working for the American sugar companies, or living in the East of the country, were not harmed.[10][11][12][13]

As a result of the slaughter, the Dominican Republic paid to Haiti an indemnity of US$ 525,000 (equivalent to $9.15 million in 2018). 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 president 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.[14]

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.[14] 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.

Economic and social issues

Haitian women in calle del sol Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Many Haitians migrate to the Dominican Republic primarily to escape the poverty in Haiti. 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.[15] As a result, hundreds of thousands of Haitians have migrated to the Dominican Republic, with some estimates of 800,000 Haitians in the country,[16] 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.[17]

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"[18]

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.

Before 2010, the Constitution of the Dominican Republic generally granted citizenship to anyone born in the country, except children of diplomats and persons "in transit".[19] The 2010 constitution was amended to define all undocumented residents as "in transit".[19] On September 23, 2013, the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court issued a ruling that retroactively applied this definition to 1929,[20] the year Haiti and the Dominican Republic formalized the border.[21] The decision stripped Dominican citizenship from about 210,000 people who were born in the Dominican Republic after 1929 but are descended from undocumented immigrants from Haiti.[21] Many of the Dominican Republic-born do not have Haitian citizenship and have never been to Haiti;[22] the decision rendered them at least temporarily stateless.[19][20][23] Some Haitians began leaving voluntarily or in response to ethnic violence.[24][25][26] The government set a deadline of June 17, 2015[27][28] for affected people to leave the Dominican Republic, as nighttime "bandits" threatened Haitians with violence and deportation;[29] by August 2015 "hundreds" had been deported.[30]


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.[31]
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.[31]

Almost 75% of the Haitians living in the Dominican Republic have been residing in the country for less than 10 years.[32] 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.[33] Those who live in urban areas earn up to 70% more than those in rural areas.[34] The average median income is 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.[35] Just 10% of Haitians send remittances to Haiti, with 5.4% sending with a frequency of once per quarter or higher.[36]

The 1920 Census registered 28,258 Haitians;[37] the 1935 Census registered 52,657 Haitians.[38] The Haitian population decreased to 18,772 in the 1950 Census,[38] as a result of the cession of Dominican territory to Haiti in 1936, and the 1937 Parsley Massacre as well.[38]

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.[39] Also, they represent 81.1 percent of the fixed population in the tourist area of Punta Cana (excluding the floating population, mainly Dominicans and overseas foreigners), almost all of them working for the hotels.[40]

According to the Ministry of Health, as of 2018, 24% of neonates in the Dominican Republic are born to a Haitian mother.[41]

Haitians in the Dominican Republic by censuses

  • 1920: 28.258[14][37][42] — 3.1% of the total population
  • 1935: 52.657[14][42][38]— 3.6% of the total population
  • 1950: 18.772[42][38] — 0.9% of the total population
  • 1960: 29.350[42] — 1.0% of the total population
  • 1970: 97.142[43] — 2.4% of the total population
  • 1980: 113.150 (excludes urban areas)[14]4.3% of the rural population
  • 1981: Not applicable
  • 1991: 245.000 (of Haitian origin)[44]3.4% of the total population
  • 1993: Not applicable
  • 2002: Not applicable
  • 2005: 196.837[45] — 2.35% of the total population
  • 2010: 311.969[45] — 3.30% of the total population
  • 2012: 668.145 (of Haitian origin)[31]7.1% of the total population
  • 2017: 751.080 (of Haitian origin)[46]7.4% of the total population
*Immigrant censuses are italicized



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

According to the president of the Confederation of Professional Baseball of the Caribbean (CBPC), Juan Francisco Puello Herrera,[47] The inability to obtain identification documents, often result in some of these athletes not being signed by professional teams.[47] Many players have come from the bateyes of the provinces of San Pedro de Macoris, La Romana, Haina, Nizao, Boca Chica and Barahona.[48] Often times, their origins are kept hidden for either fear of discrimination[47][48] or to alter birth records to appear younger, which is a common practice in general in the Dominican Republic.[48] Some choose to not even keep the surname of origin, in order to not to be so easily recognized.[47]


According to Junior Paez and Ramón Ceballos, the administrative and eligibility directors of the Dominican Basketball Federation (FEDOMBAL), there is no record of participation of Dominican basketball players of Haitian descent.[47]

Notable Haitian Dominicans

Political figures


See also


  1. ^ Pina, Diógenes. "DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Deport Thy (Darker-Skinned) Neighbour". Inter Press Service (IPS). Archived from the original on March 12, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-14.
  2. ^ a b 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.
  3. ^ Primera Encuesta Nacional de Inmigrantes (ENI-2012)
  4. ^ ENI-2012 P. 75
  5. ^ a b ENI-2012 P. 163
  6. ^ ENI-2012 P. 129
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Fontus, Maryse (1989). Haitian Sugar-cane Cutters in the Dominican Republic. p. 7. ISBN 9780929692357.
  9. ^ Wucker, Michele (2014-04-08). Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola. ISBN 9781466867888.
  10. ^ Alcántara, Yvonne (10 October 2014). "Matanza de haitianos del 37, un "zapatazo" de Trujillo" (in Spanish). Diario Libre. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  11. ^ Moya Pons, Frank (2010). Historia de la República Dominicana (Volumen 2). Doce Calles. pp. 454–455, 479. ISBN 9788400092405.
  12. ^ Castillo Pantaleón, Juan Miguel (March 2012). La nacionalidad dominicana. Santo Domingo: Editora Nacional. pp. 482–484. ISBN 978-9945-469-97-4.
  13. ^ 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".
  14. ^ a b c d e 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.
  15. ^ "The World Factbook — Central Intelligence Agency".
  16. ^ "DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Deport Thy (Darker-Skinned) Neighbour". Inter Press Service.
  17. ^ ["Migration in the Caribbean: Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Beyond"]
  18. ^ "DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Gov't Turns Deaf Ear to UN Experts on Racism". Inter Press Service News Agency.
  19. ^ a b c Semple, Kirk (17 October 2013). "Dominican Court's Ruling on Citizenship Stirs Emotions in New York". The New York Times.
  20. ^ a b Archibold, Randal C. (24 October 2013). "Dominicans of Haitian Descent Cast Into Legal Limbo by Court". The New York Times.
  21. ^ a b Rojas, Ricardo (12 October 2013). "Dominican court ruling renders hundreds of thousands stateless". Reuters.
  22. ^ "Haitians Face Deportation From Dominican Republic As Deadline Nears". NPR. 17 June 2015.
  23. ^ "DR Court Strips Citizenship from Dominican-born Haitians".
  24. ^ Ahmed, Azam (12 December 2015). "Forced to Flee Dominican Republic for Haiti, Migrants Land in Limbo". The New York Times.
  25. ^ Fendt, Lindsay (12 May 2016). "'I came here with nothing': life in limbo for unwilling migrants on Haiti's border". The Guardian.
  26. ^ "Many Haitians Leave Dominican Republic After Court Decision". NPR. 28 November 2013.
  27. ^ "Dominican Republic agrees to OAS migration inquiry". BBC News. 2 July 2015.
  28. ^ Katz, Jonathan M. (13 January 2016). "In Exile". The New York Times.
  29. ^ Granitz, Peter (20 June 2015). "Citing Abuse, Haitian Immigrants Flee Dominican Republic". NPR.
  30. ^ Granitz, Peter (31 August 2015). "Tensions Rise At Border As Dominican Republic Begins Deporting Haitians". NPR.
  31. ^ a b c "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.
  32. ^ ENI-2012 P. 174, 183
  33. ^ ENI-2012 P. 251
  34. ^ ENI-2012 P. 254
  35. ^ ENI-2012 P. 253
  36. ^ ENI-2012 P. 259
  37. ^ a b Historia, Metodología y organización de censos en Rep. Dom.
  38. ^ a b c d e 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.
  39. ^ 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.
  40. ^ "Peligrosos enclaves haitianos en el Este". Listín Diario (in Spanish). 30 November 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  41. ^ Pichardo, Carolina (29 January 2019). "24% de partos en RD son de madres haitianas, según ministro de Salud" (in Spanish). Santo Domingo: Listín Diario. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  42. ^ a b c d 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.
  43. ^ Acosta, Mercedes (1973). Imperialismo y clases sociales en el Caribe. Cuenca Ediciones. p. 229.
  44. ^ 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.
  45. ^ a b "Migración, Fecundidad y Mortalidad". IX Censo Nacional de Población y Vivienda 2010 (in Spanish). Santo Domingo: Oficina Nacional de Estadística. VI: 234, 265, 272. 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  46. ^ "2ª Encuesta Nacional de Inmigrantes (ENI-2017)" (in Spanish). Santo Domingo: Oficina Nacional de Estadística. April 2018. ISBN 978-9945-8888-0-5.
  47. ^ a b c d e Ferreras, Alonso, ed. (20 July 2015). "Los atletas dominicanos de ascendencia haitiana". Hoy. Retrieved 25 May 2017. (in Spanish)
  48. ^ a b c Herrera-Miniño, Fabio R., ed. (26 March 2010). "Haití al Clásico Mundial de Béisbol". Hoy. Retrieved 24 May 2017. (in Spanish)
  49. ^ Matibag, Eugenio (16 May 2003). Haitian-Dominican Counterpoint. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-312-29432-8. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  50. ^ Minority Rights Group (1995). No longer invisible: Afro-Latin Americans today. Minority Rights Publications. p. 113. ISBN 978-1-873194-80-5. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
  51. ^ "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.
  52. ^ Dominguez Cruz, Franklin, ed. (29 January 2006). "Santiago Rodríguez: El patriota ignorado". Diario Digital. Retrieved 21 July 2014. (in Spanish)
  53. ^ Salamador, Victor, ed. (1990). "José Francisco Peña Gómez: sus orígenes, su biografía, su personalidad, su pensamiento". p. 36. Retrieved 8 June 2016. (in Spanish)
  54. ^ 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.
  55. ^ 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.
  56. ^ ""I love the Haitian side of my family..."". Instagram. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  57. ^ Cruz, Héctor J. "Miniaturas del béisbol: Más de Haitianos". Listin Diario. Retrieved 25 May 2017. (in Spanish)
  58. ^ Herrera-Miniño, Fabio R., ed. (26 March 2010). "Haití al Clásico Mundial de Béisbol". Hoy. Retrieved 24 May 2017. (in Spanish)

Further reading

  • Michele Wucker (2000). Why The Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians And The Struggle For Hispaniola. Hill and Wang. ISBN 978-0809097135.

External links