Edwidge Danticat on Mass Deportation of Haitian Families

A transcript of Amy Goodman and Juan González's interview with Edwidge Dandicat, over at truth-out:

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the significance of what’s happening right now in the Dominican Republic, the other half of the island, Hispaniola, from where you were born, in Haiti.

EDWIDGE DANTICAT: Well, I think this—we’ve often had deportations from the Dominican Republic to Haiti, but this is the first time that they will be done with a law behind them that actually, since the law—this constitutional court decided to strip citizenship from that large number of people, has really made life much harder for Dominicans of Haitian descent, but also migrants who are on the island. So, this law not only now gives the Dominican government the power to deport mass amounts of people, but also creates an environment, a civil environment, that’s really hard for people, because, you know, others might feel now that we’ve had an increase of violence against Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent, because it seems like a state-sponsored open season on people who are not only—who are considered Haitians by the way they look, primarily, or by their Haitian-sounding name.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And most people here in the United States are not aware of this long, troubled history between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, occupying the same island. There are ultranationalists and conservatives among the Dominican Republic who still—who talk about, hearken back to what they claim was the Haitian occupation of their country, and they see a line running through historically on this issue. Could you fill us in on some of that history that’s led to what we are facing today?

EDWIDGE DANTICAT: Well, Hispaniola is shared by—the island—by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. And we share a history of colonialism and occupations, and at some point it was split between the French and the Spanish. And after the Haitian independence, there was a shift, where Haiti—and there was a—the whole island was under one rule, post-independence. And then, Dominican Republic, in 1822, there was a separation. But there are all these historical scars, where, you know, we, on the Haitian side, remember the massacre of Haitian cane workers in 1937. And then these things are brought up. But there’s also, for Americans, a common occupation of both Haiti and the Dominican Republic at the turn of the century, and both sides of the island have been marred, really, by the corporate—this other kind of occupation of the sugar industry that goes back to the beginning of the 20th century.

More here.