The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

The Dominican Republic’s Shameful Wall

Mar 28, 2022

Translated from Combat Ouvrier (Workers’ Combat), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active on the Caribbean islands Guadeloupe and Martinique, issue 1281, March 12, 2022.

On February 20, President Luis Abinader of the Dominican Republic launched the construction of a 100-mile concrete border wall separating the country from Haiti. He said this project aims to “control illegal immigration.” The wall was planned with Haiti’s president Jovenel Moïse half a year before his assassination.

In Haiti the conditions faced by workers, small farmers, and poor people in general get harder day by day. Their neighborhoods have no public services, no water or electricity, and housing isn’t clean or decent. Public health and education are in tatters. Gangs control working class areas. In the factories, wages are between five and six dollars a day. Workers work themselves to the bone so their families can survive.

Given these miserable living conditions, thousands migrate in search of a better life. Around four years ago nearly 500,000 Haitians lived in the Dominican Republic’s capital.

Today the Dominican government disparages this migration, but it was one of the foundations on which the Dominican bourgeoisie built its fortune.

From the start of the 1900s through the fall of Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1986, the Dominican government bought Haitian sugar cane cutters, called “braceros,” from the Haitian authorities and rented them out to sugar refineries. In the 1980s, more than two million dollars were still allocated for bringing in immigrants under the pretext of “administrative recruitment costs.” Meanwhile Dominican construction companies hired more and more Haitian migrants, paying the lowest wages.

This exploitation of labor is inseparable from racism. Xenophobia against Haitian migrants has even taken the form of mass lynchings. Along these lines, in October 1937, Dominican President Rafael Trujillo organized the massacre of 12,000 Haitians at the border. During the 2000s, the method of deportation changed, but the Dominican bourgeoisie’s contempt remained. Immigration policy hardened with waves of expulsions last decade, and temporary border closings.

The construction of the wall is a consequence of the rise of nationalism throughout the world, which itself is related to the deepening international economic crisis. The Dominican government defends the interests of the bourgeoisie. To hold power, it panders to racist and xenophobic feelings.