[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

#3320: Dominican Peace March Crosses Through Haiti (fwd)


WIRE:04/21/2000 09:50:00 ET
  Dominican Peace March Crosses Through Haiti                           

 FONDS PARISIEN, Haiti (Reuters) - A group of Dominicans  walked    
toward the Haitian capital Friday on the eighth day of a  235-mile march
to promote peace between the two nations sharing  the island of       
Hispaniola."We are bringing a message of brotherhood and solidarity to 
Haiti in the hopes of finding peaceful solutions to the problems 
between us," Rafael Guillen, 30, told Reuters.The Spanish-speaking
Dominican Republic and French- and  Creole-speaking Haiti have long been
at odds.  Animosity between the two countries exploded after         
Haiti's  19th century occupation of the Dominican Republic and peaked
in  1937 with the massacre of as many as 30,000 Haitians ordered by 
Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo.The peace marchers left the Dominican
capital of Santo  Domingo on April 13. Setting out each morning        
at 5 a.m. in  T-shirts marked "Dominican and Haiti, Brother nations,"
and  other similar slogans they have walked an average of 25 miles a 
day on aching feet  and under the hot Caribbean sun.Their goal is to
reach the Haitian capital Saturday with their message of peace. On each
side of the border, people  joined in to walk with them for different
parts of their journey.  "When we crossed the border we received a big
surprise both the Haitians receiving us and we in the group began to
cry.  It was very moving," Guillen said.  The five men and one woman --
Bonny Guillen, Francisco  Nolasco, Julio Peguero, Carmen Cortes,     
Hector Rodriguez --  professionals ranging in age from 28 to 55 said
they wanted to  unite the two nations and encourage better treatment of
Haitians  in the  Dominican Republic. "We are tired, but we are
determined to keep walking till  Saturday," Guillen said.  Last week
some 700 Haitians were deported by the Dominican  Republic and dumped at
the Haitian border, according to the  Haitian Office of National      
Migration. The two countries only established normal diplomatic    
relations in the last four years. But the raids and deportations  each
year of tens of thousands ofHaitians have never ceased.  Our march has
raised a lot of people's awareness. A lot of  people along the way said
they supported us. We hope that this  will help improve the situation of
 Haitians in the Dominican  Republic and the overall relationship
between the two  countries," Guillen said.Haitians regularly pour into
the Dominican Republic illegally, where the annual per capita income is
five times the  $400 the average Haitian makes. Just as regularly, the
Dominican  Republic deports Haitians.  Haitians provide the Dominican
Republic with badly  needed  cheap labor for sugar cane and coffee  
plantations and rice  fields. More recently, Haitians have become a
dominant force in  the construction and road building sector as well.  
The International Organization of Migration estimates that  as many as
12,000 Haitians cross the border illegally every  year. No exact figures
exist of the number of Haitians living in  the Dominican Republic,     
but estimated range as high as one  million.  Children born to Haitian
migrants in the Dominican Republic  are not given legal status.