The so it became a greater struggle to maintain

island of Hispaniola is divided into two independent nations, that are today
known as the larger Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic and the smaller French-speaking
Haiti. Hispaniola
is the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas, founded
by Christopher Columbus on his voyage in 1492().
Although both nations lie side by side, due to historical circumstances, they
are worlds apart. The division between these nations do not only exist on a
physical scale but also on a mental one. For centuries Haiti and the Dominican
Republic have experienced cultural, social, and economic strains, resulting in everlasting
hostility and tension between the people of these two nations. The war between
Haiti and the Dominican Republic resulted from a wide range of historical
contributors, produced immense cultural conflicts, and initiated overlying
disparities between the two nations throughout time.

First, the
conflict between these two nations started during colonial times and still affects
them today. Throughout the island’s history, the western Haiti has tried
multiple times to take over the Dominican Republic’s land on the eastern side
of the island. The division of Hispaniola mostly started because of Europe’s
struggle for control of the New World throughout the 17th century,
which caused France and Spain to begin fighting for control of the island. The
entire island was once entirely under Spanish rule until 1697, in which the
Spanish handed over the western third of the island to France (). This area called “Saint-Domingue” became the
wealthiest French colony. Thousands of slaves were brought there to produce
sugar, coffee, coco, cotton, and other goods ().

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Then in
1791, there was a slave rebellion (). It started
in the upper half of Saint Domingue and soon spread to the whole island. The
French Revolution was also occurring at that time, so it became a greater
struggle to maintain the slaves. The Haitian Revolution was a revolution within


a revolution with France
being unstable. Afterwards, slavery was abolished, and the western side gained
independence on January 1, 1804 ().
Saint-Domingue was then renamed Haiti. The Dominican Republic also received their
independence from Spain on December 1, 1821. However, before gaining its independence,
Napoleon (a French man) took power in Spain, named his brother king in 1808,
and tried to impose his beliefs, rules, and power into the Caribbean; adding
onto the list of reasons why the two nations dislike each other.

            Continuing forward, even the agriculture on opposite
sides of the island were different. The area that was used and good for
agriculture in Haiti was small, as most of Haiti’s land is mountainous compared
to that of the Dominican Republic side. The land has much more limestone
terrain, with soil that is thinner and less fertile. Its capacity for recovery
was also low.

Even though the Haitian side
of the island was environmentally worse, it developed a rich agricultural
economy even before the Dominican side did. It became France’s most valuable
colony overseas since it produced one of the most profitable crops–sugar. However,
on the Dominican Republic side, Spain began to neglect Hispaniola because Spain
itself was also in an economic decline. They thought Santo Domingo, which was a
small colony, did not have a great supportive impact for the economy of Spain. Unlike
the other European colonies who contained many people from the homelands, not
many Spaniards came to the Caribbean. It was mostly left to the overseers and
the slave labor forces. This is another reason why Spain was not as concerned
about its colony. Even though, by the end of the eighteenth century, economic situations
were improving, the people of Santo Domingo still did not get the same level of
prosperity that Saint-Domingue had. This also contributed to the separate paths
of the two countries.


due to Santo Domingo not having as much success as Saint-Domingue did at the
time, they did not need as much slaves as Saint-Domingue did. The Spanish also allowed

slave to purchase his and his
family’s freedom for a relatively small amount, which caused there to be a
higher number of freedmen in the Spanish colony. By the eighteenth century,
freedmen made up most of the population of Santo Domingo. Since France had the funds
and manpower, they enjoyed an economic boom. This would not last long without
the financial support of the French. After Haiti’s independence in 1804, its time
of wealth came at the cost of its own

environment. They sold off
trees to make ends meet and this eroded their soil. Many of the nations that traded
with Haiti were now afraid of this new nation; especially America. They were
scared that their own slaves would now try to revolt, and they did not want
that since they still needed the labor force. New laws were passed in America
and trade with Haiti was stopped. No one was allowed to trade with Haiti or any
of its citizens. This crippled the Haitian economy. The freed slaves thought
they would be prosperous and a better nation, but the results were the

due to importing so much slaves, had a much greater population than
its neighbor did during those times, and even today still does, but Haiti also
does not have as much area as the Dominican Republic. As a result, Haiti, with
a larger population and smaller area, has double the Dominican Republic’s
population density with less land mass and less fertile soil to use for
economic development (). This eventually
contributed to harming the Haitian economy while the Dominican economy remained

            Furthermore, the different political and social
conditions in both countries would create vastly different economies, which in
turn shaped race relations (). The result was
that the free European and the enslaved African populations remained separate
in Saint-Domingue but mixed


in Santo Domingo(). At the beginning of Haitian independence, their
people were trapped and fighting for limited territory, so the conflicts
between Haiti and the Dominican Republic became

frequent in the 19th century.
The French started invading Santo Domingo believing they could unify all of Hispaniola
into one combined nation. They succeeded, and the eastern part of the island
remained under Haitian control for twenty-two years.

In the
years under Haitian occupation, the Dominican Republic witnessed a steady
economic decline and growing resentment towards Haiti among Dominicans (). Also, the agricultural aspects in the former
Spanish colony started to become like the agriculture in Haiti, which at that
time, sadly, had little to no agricultural production for distribution. The Haitian
forces lived off the land in Santo Domingo, taking or confiscating anything
they needed to
perform their duties or to fill their stomachs. Dominicans saw this as tribute
demanded by petty conquerors, who were seen as thieves ().

            Continuing, racial dislikes affected both sides. Black
Haitian troops reacted with resentment against the lighter-skinned Dominicans,
while Dominicans came to associate the Haitians’ dark skin with the oppression
and the abuses of occupation (). Religious and
cultural life also suffered under Haitian rule. The Haitians, who associated
the Roman Catholic Church with the French colonists who had exploited and
abused them before independence, confiscated all church property in the east,
deported all foreign clergy, and severed the ties of the remaining clergy to
the Vatican (). For Dominicans, who were great
believers of the Roman Catholic church, the actions of Haiti were insulting and
hateful. In addition, upper class Haitians



considered French culture
superior to Spanish culture, while Haitians soldiers and others from the lower
class simply disregarded Hispanic values and customs ().

due to the Haitian government’s negligence, heavy military disputes, and
economic crisis, they became even more unpopular in the east, so the Dominican
people decided to overthrow the Haitian government. Following, the Dominican
then fought “The Dominican Independence War” which gave the Dominican Republic independence
from Haiti on February 27, 1844. And, after multiple attempts over the years a boundary
agreement was finally signed between the two nations in 1936, establishing a definitive
border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. After so many years of uncertainty
over the borders, the people who lived in the border regions, and who were now randomly
assigned a new country, were not about to move. Creole speakers did not stop
speaking their language, even though the land they lived on now happened to be
Dominican. This caused so much tension between the two
nations because change is not so easy for everyone. There were so much disputes
that there was even a time when the split between the two countries was drawn
with blood. This was known as the 1937 Parsley Massacre.

Parsley Massacre is usually regarded as a turning point in Haitian-Dominican
relations. The slaughter, carried out by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo,
who was
obsessed with “whitening” the predominantly mixed-race island, targeted
Haitians along with Dominicans who looked ‘dark’ enough to be Haitian along border
areas. These people were asked to pronounce the word “perejil”
(parsley), believed to be hard for Haitians because of the “r” and
the “j”. Everyone who failed the test were killed. The number of dead
is still unknown, though it is now calculated between 20,000 and 30,000. This
massacre is a very dark spot in Dominican history against the Haitians, but
Dominican people did not participate in Trujillo’s massacre


of the Haitians. Many
Haitians were saved by good-hearted Dominicans who could not accept the
killings that were done. The best example of this fact is the Dominican
politician, Jose Maria

PeZa Gomez, who is believed
to be of Haitian descent, and who escaped the massacre because a White
Dominican family adopted him. Despite his color he was very popular among
Dominican voters.

forward, after everything that Haiti had been through it became one of the
poorest countries in the Western world. Its poverty has created constant
frictions between itself and the Dominican Republic due to Haiti now having to
depend on the Dominican Republic for jobs. The Haitians illegal immigration activity
caused many Dominicans to see them as annoyances. Due to this, the Dominicans
started exploiting thousands of Haitians and denying them even basic rights
like paying them properly for their services. Now, at that time the
Dominicans saw themselves as “higher” than the Haitians, unlike in their past
in which the Haitians were the dominants. Haitians now felt like they were once
again being treated like slaves and not equals. The police
had engaged in indiscriminate round-ups of Haitians, even those born in the Dominican
Republic. Thousands of Haitians left or had been forced to leave. In fact, on September
2013 the Constitutional Tribunal of the Dominican Republic stripped citizenship
from descendants of people who were deemed to have been in the Dominican
Republic illegally. This left more than an estimated 200,000 people stateless
by removing their citizenship, refusing to issue them birth certificates and
identity documents, thus denationalizing them and creating what has been
justifiably termed the “Western Hemisphere’s worst refugee crisis.”() This is also why there is still tension between the
two, even till today.

factor that contributes to the conflicts between both countries is language.


Spanish is the Dominican
Republic’s official language. Spanish, just so happens to be the world’s second
most widely spoken language, including over half of the Americas. Meanwhile,

ninety-percent of Haitians
speak Haitian Creole, which most of the outside world would not speak, so this
kind of leaves Haiti isolated in comparison to the Dominican Republic.

             In conclusion though
Haiti and the Dominican Republic may share one island, their histories unfolded
quite differently. In the past, Haiti was the wealthy colony, and Santo Domingo
was unstable, but through time that situation was reversed. Through the course
of history, the Dominican Republic’s economy began to grow while Haiti’s
economy began to decline.  The
differences in languages, values, and history between the two nations are so
vast that they add up to a clash of cultures. Haiti inspires fear and dislike
among many Dominicans. Meanwhile, the Haitians see the Dominican as their
abusers, like they were turning back into slaves without any rights. The culture
clashes, huge immigration problems, racism and genocide are all factors that
caused such discord between the nations. It is a fact that the present-day
division of the island of Hispaniola is a consequence of both nations past that
led to the two rival colonies, and it is due to that past that impacts both
nations mindset today.