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Story Publication logo September 27, 2023

Policies and Politics Behind Today’s Haiti-Dominican Republic Relations

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In recent years, a new group of Haitians have arrived in the DR from Haiti’s middle- to upper-income...

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Multiple Authors

The border wall under construction between Haiti and the Dominican Republic at Elias Piña in January 2023. Image by Marvens Compère/The Haitian Times.

Key moments since the early 1900s that influenced actions and reactions in both countries

Haiti and the Dominican Republic have a perplexing relationship built over many tension-filled years that has resulted in ruthless massacres, repatriations and battles, even though both nations rely on each other for trade, labor and cultural exchanges. Here are some of the key moments that stirred the numerous conflicts in the modern era — from the U.S. occupations of both Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the 1910s to today’s controversial canal construction.

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U.S. Occupies Haiti

The United States occupies Haiti after successive presidential assassinations and uprisings, ostensibly to protect American interests.


U.S. Occupies The Dominican Republic

The United States occupies the Dominican Republic, “organizing and fostering” the migration of Haitian farm workers into the Dominican Republic through a contracting system.

Oct. 2, 1937 - Oct. 8, 1937

The Parsley Massacre / La Masacre del Perejil

Rafael Trujillo orders the killing of Black people near the border over allegations of Blacks stealing. An estimated 17,000 to 35,000 people are killed, including Haitians and Dominicans.


Dominicans Fall Into Civil War

President-dictator Rafaël Trujillo is assassinated on May 30, 1961. By April 1965 two powerful factions had emerged, the Loyalists and the Constitutionalists, that led to a civil war. Dominicans begin moving to the United States en masse during this period because of the ensuing turmoil.

Apr. 1965 - Sept. 1966

U.S. Invades Dominican Republic Again

The U.S. invades the Dominican Republic, saying it is concerned the Dominican war might prompt a communist takeover of the region.

Jan. 1980

The Dominican Republic Changes Birth Registration Rules

The Dominican Republic stops registering the birth of children born on its soil on the basis that their parents are considered persons in transit.

Jan. 01, 1984

Caribbean Basin Initiative

The Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) trade program is activated. The Dominican Republic would later take full advantage of it to develop its land. Haiti failed to do so, crippled by political instability and socio-economic chaos.

Feb. 07, 1986

President Jean-Claude Duvalier Overthrown

President Jean-Claude Duvalier is overthrown, ending a 29-year dictatorship in Haiti that included his father, François Duvalier.

Jun. 13, 1991

President Joaquín Balaguer Orders Repatriation Of Foreigners

President Joaquín Balaguer orders the repatriation of foreigners under age 16 and over age 60 working in sugarcane plantations. About 6,000 Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian origin were deported, and tens of thousands of others fled.


The Dominican Republic Joins The CARICOM Economic Partnership Agreement

The Dominican Republic joined the CARICOM Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). This trade agreement provided free-duty trade on selected goods. Through different trade agreements and investments, the Dominican Republic continues an upward economic trajectory.

Jan. 12, 2010

2010 Haiti Earthquake

A 7.0 magnitude earthquake flattens Haiti’s capital, killing at least 200,000 people. With no homes or job prospects, an estimated 200,000 Haitians move to the Dominican Republic in the months that follow, according to the UN. About 50,000 settle in Santiago alone.


Dominican Republic Law Strips Thousands of Haitians of Citizenship

The Dominican Republic Constitutional Court issues judgment 168/13, stating that only persons born in the Dominican Republic to Dominican parents or legal residents are considered citizens. The judgment is applied retroactively to all persons born between 1929 and 2010, impacting Haitian newcomers and hundreds of thousands born in the Dominican Republic of Haitian parents. Groups such as the Organization of American States (OAS) denounce the law for “denationalizing” Haitians on the basis of discrimination.


Dominican Republic Law Requires That Haitians Register To Reclaim Legal Status

Law 169-14 passes, requiring those born to undocumented foreign parents to register through a multi-step process in order to be eligible to obtain a residence permit, then claim citizenship. That too was criticized as unduly burdensome and expired, leaving thousands unable to claim Dominican citizenship, according to Amnesty International.

Feb. 20, 2022

Dominican President Luis Abinader Begins Construction On Wall

Dominican President Luis Abinader starts building a wall between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Mar. 25, 2023

Call To ‘Pacify’ Haiti

Dominican President Luis Abinader says the only way to stop Haiti’s free fall is to “pacify” his neighbor.

Apr. 13, 2023

Dominican Republic Bans 39 Haitian Personalities

The Dominican Republic bans 39 Haitian entertainers, politicians, a top human rights advocate, business heads and others of prominence from entering its country.

Sept. 15, 2023

Dominican Republic Closes Border, Stops Issuing Visas

The Dominican Republic closed the entire border with Haiti as tensions rose over a disputed irrigation canal Haitians are building. Abinader later said the Haitian government asked him to close the border because it cannot maintain control of movement across the frontier.


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Migration and Refugees

Migration and Refugees
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Racial Justice

Racial Justice




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