Haiti has been under United Nations occupation for over a decade, with the presence of foreign soldiers now a largely normalized affair in the impoverished Caribbean country. Nonetheless, the recent arrival of Dominican soldiers tasked with protecting a humanitarian convoy is being heavily criticized by Haiti's ruling elite.
The presence of Dominican soldiers along with the convoy of 500 trucks sent by the country meant that the vehicles avoided being ambushed while traveling around Haiti, as has been the case with other aid convoys.
Carlos Veloso, head of the World Food Programme, went as far as complaining that attacks on convoys had slowed the arrival of aid in southern Haiti, potentially forcing the United Nations to rely on helicopters to deliver assistance, a transportation method which would deplete the organization's resources.
As more time passes and isolated groups of people grow more desperate for food, the prospect that aid convoys will be attacked looks only likely to increase, with food rioters setting up barricades and demanding passage fees. Haiti does not have an army, and its police officers may themselves be caught in the act of rioting for food as they starve along with their neighbors.
None of that matters to the Haitian elite, however, since they put their false pride above the starvation and suffering of their own people. Several members of Haiti's Congress, upon learning that Dominican soldiers were protecting the 500 truck aid convoy, demanded that the soldiers leave within 24 hours.
Although the Dominican Republic never invaded Haiti, there has been bad blood between the two countries stretching all the way back to the 1805, when Haitians committed a massacre in a church. The animosity reached its peak in 1937, when the US-backed Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered the death of 20,000 Haitians on the Dominican side of the border.
Since the 1937 massacre, Haitians have moved in large numbers to the Dominican Republic under migrant guest worker visas to work the sugarcane fields. In 2013, the top constitutional tribunal in the Dominican Republic ruled that those born to migrant guest workers were "in transit" and thus not entitled to Dominican citizenship, angering many in Haiti who now refuse to recognize the children of their compatriots as Haitians, claiming that they are victims of statelessness.
Although the Dominican Congress passed a law in 2014 establishing a quick path to citizenship for those affected by the Constitutional Tribunal's 2013 decision, The Haitian government, in retaliation, placed a ban on the import of a large number of Dominican products and produce. Some in Haiti see the Dominican aid convoy as nothing more than a conspiracy to break the import ban, flooding Haiti with Dominican products, and with Dominican soldiers serving as corporate enforcers.
|Doesn't want Dominican soldiers in his country.|
Haitian Senator Jean Rénel Sénatus, apparently unaware that United Nations troops are occupying his country, complained that the "dignity and pride" of Haiti were under threat, as the country was moving towards "an occupation."
In 2006, United Nations troops were unloading thousands of rounds per day in Cite Soleil, pacifying opposition by supporters of ousted former President Bertrand Aristide, and since then UN troops have spread cholera with impunity while leaving behind large numbers of pregnant women whose "children of the occupation" will never meet their fathers or receive financial support. Yet the arrival of a few dozen Dominican soldiers meant to distribute food is what threatens the "dignity and pride" of a once-great people, according to the Haitian elite.
Although it is "wealthy" Dominicans that often stand accused in the international arena of being unable to let go of the past and of holding animosity towards their "darker," poorer neighbor, it is often the case that light-skin members of the Haitian elite are just as unable to let go of the past, expressing open animosity to anything Dominican even if it means letting their "darker" compatriots go hungry.