Today in Latin America, Haiti’s invasion of the Dominican Republic

haiti-dom-republicHaiti, and in general the island of Hispaniola, have over 500 years of stories to tell. One of them centers around Haiti’s invasion today in 1822 (187 years ago) of its neighbor, the Dominican Republic. An invasion that lasted over 20 years.

Of course, Haiti composed the only successful slave revolt in the history of the world in 1803, founding the second republic in the Western Hemisphere, decades before the rest of Spanish mainland “Latin America.” On the other side of Haiti lied Santo Domingo, still occupied by the Spanish. Until November 30, 1821, when Jose Nunez de Caceres declared Dominican independence and sought admission into Gran Colombia. Yet, before it could be assimilated, Haiti, led by president Jean Pierre Boyer, invaded the rest of the land, unifying for the first time the entire island.

It had only been independent for a short-while before Haiti tried to usurp the rest of the land of Hispaniola. It was a free country trying, like many in South America, to break the bonds of Spanish imperialism. According to Emilio Rodriguez Demorizi,

Although, since that time, the entire island had been governed by the same laws, the conquered territory was the object of diverse executive dispositions and legislative actions, representative of the character of the Haitian domination. Boyer had achieved the political unity his predecessors dreamed of thanks to his strength and astuteness but took the route opposite to that of the realization of social unity and indivisibility, which Nunez de Caceres had indicated to him were impossible in his prophetic speech made when handing him the symbolic keys to the city.”

The subjugation to Haiti’s rule lasted, not without interference for nearly sixteen years before resistance began to rise in the former Santo Domingo. In 1938, La Trinitaria was formed by Juan Pablo Durate and others to overthrow Haiti to preserve the Spanish-speaking half of the island. The organization allied in 1843 with Haitian dispositions that overthrew president Boyer, an event that triggered revolution. On February 27, 1844, Durate, with the help of Pedro Santana, declared the Dominican Republic’s independence from Haiti (165 years ago this month).

The “Passage from the Proclamation to the Dominicans,” states, on March 10, 1844.

Do not listen to those who cowardly think to intimidate you, spreading alarming rumors about the coming Haitian invasion, to reduce you to total extermination, whose enterprise the entire world would judge by comparing it with the spirit of civilization that reigns everywhere and the generosity with which we have conducted ourselves. Even if it were so, we would resist them strongly, our bodies serving as bulwarks to those who dare invade our territory, make war on us and strip us of our rights. They would die with honor and glory those whose destiny had been determined by fate, and the rest of us would be assured of a country that we did not have before, to be able one day to sing hymns to liberty and to the Dominican Republic. Long live religion. Long live the Country. Long live liberty.”

By the end, however, in 1844, the Dominicans, taking advantage of the death of Jean Pierre Boyer, regained their freedom and drew up their first constitution on November 6 of the same year, although Article 210 of the constitution gave Pedro Santana, a wealthy cattle-rancher, the role of dictator until the “war” ended. He would kick Juan Pablo Durate out of the country first. Haiti kept trying to recapture Santo Domingo, but to no avail (the last attempt was in 1855). Issues of inequality between the two countries holds true to this day.

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~ by Daniel on February 9, 2009.

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