A sad fact of the human condition is that xenophobia is a universal phenomenon. From the United States and beyond, immigrants have had to overcome numerous racial and legal obstacles in order to be considered citizens. To make matters worse, this also occurs in nations that are racially diverse.
The Dominican government recently upheld a law that strips Haitian-Dominicans of their citizenship. The law is highly controversial; an editorial written by none other than singer Rita Indiana was published yesterday by El País.
The editorial starts by mocking Pat Robertson’s claim that the 2010 earthquake was the result of a pact with the devil in Haiti. Indiana continues by sharply criticizing the law, the government, and society at large for allowing this to happen.
The editorial is at times angry, sarcastic, and sad, portraying a faint optimism that this too shall pass. As the editorial already notes, the reasons for such a law are based on demagoguery and an ugly sense of superiority for a people who share so much in common. Haitians have begun to protest and the law has made the rounds in American media as well.
The personal effects of such a law are almost impossible to quantify. Many fled a fundamentally broken nation. What makes this even more outrageous is that the law applies retroactively; that means that Dominicans of Haitian descent who are already citizens will have their statuses revoked, even though they’ve lived in the country for decades.
Many Haitians—and so far Rita Indiana—have spoken up. What remains is how the Dominican government will proceed. Will it listen to reason or will it choose short-term political goals over a truly content society?
We can only wait and hope.