Haiti Has Never Occupied the Dominican Republic: A Response to Listin Diario
Our article Haiti Never Occupied the Dominican Republic: Time to put the Myth Aside elicited numerous praises and criticisms. One member of the Dominican Academy of History wrote a response which was published in the Listin Diario, a leading newspaper of the Dominican Republic. Entitled “Yes, Haiti did Occupy Santo Domingo in 1822” the article presents information that the author claims to be “objective” and in line with school book teachings. Our analysis of that information will show it to be anything but objective.
The article began its rebuttal by appealing to the court of public opinion and stated,“The whole world knows that from 1822-1844, the Dominican people were subjects of the Haitian government...” It is delusional to think that people throughout the world know the history of the Dominican Republic and of Haiti. Popular beliefs on the island about history only reflect the material taught in school curriculum. That material is not necessarily true and can be questioned through critical analysis and not through national or international polls. The term “subjects of the Haitian government” in the author's quote is misleading. The more objective statement is that from 1822-1844, the island was unified as one country.
That reunification resulted from a popular uprising against Jose Nunez de Caceres who attempted to have the eastern side of the island join Simon Bolivar's Gran Columbia and enforce slavery on some of its residents. There were many positions taken by Caceres that irked the majority “non-white” population. Unlike the Spaniards who had left the island following the Treaty of Basel, the “non-white” population was less free to leave for fear of second class citizenship or of enslavement elsewhere in the Americas. Now threatened even at home, they opposed Caceres vehemently and left a plethora of documents to show their opposition. Among the people who opposed Caceres and who wrote to Boyer requesting unification with his government were the leaders of Montecristi, Santiago, San Felipe, La Vega, Saint Jean, Neybe, Azua, Samana. Caceres himself bowed to this public pressure and wrote to Boyer, one month before Boyer's arrival to say that he would turn over the city of Santo Domingo. With no shots fired and with broad public support, Caceres signed the documents giving administrative control of Santo Domingo to Boyer.
The author of the Listin Diario article's claim that only a few “isolated individuals” supported unification of the island is a misrepresentation of events. Indeed, the only individual who seems to have been isolated is Jose Nunez de Caceres. Boyer ruled with an assortment of regional leaders already present on the eastern side. In fact, the lack of troops from the western side of the island later facilitated the separation of the territory into two separate nations when the broad consensus for unification dissolved. The historical data does not support an invasion nor an occupation of Santo Domingo. It does support that the island was united as one colony and then one country before evolving into two separate nations.
Considering that the Dominican Republic came into existence in 1844, the title of our earlier article is factually correct. Haiti never occupied the Dominican Republic as it never had administrative control of the Dominican Republic from the point of its emergence as a separate nation in 1844. This is not to say that Haiti did not attempt to suppress the forces which sought to divide it. From 1844 to 1856, Haiti fought to maintain its territorial integrity as defined by its constitution. The newspaper article's description of these efforts as invasions disregards the fact that a country can take military action against internal factions that seek to fracture it. Such actions do not constitute invasion nor occupation. Today, neither the Dominican Republic nor Haiti would passively allow any faction of their territory to become independent.
The article criticized our essay for mentioning the 1795 Treaty of Basel while disregarding the 1814 Treaty of Paris. The Treaty of Basel was central to our analysis while the Treaty of Paris was not. The Treaty of Basel is important because it explains the exodus of Spanish forces from the island in 1795 resulting in the island being ruled by a series of French officials. The treaty also explains why Spain did not view Dessalines as having encroached on its territory in 1805 when Dessalines attempted to remove the last vestige of French forces under General Ferrand's command on the island.
The Treaty of Paris of 1814 occurred 10 years after the leaders of the Haitian Revolution declared the island independent of foreign domination. In this treaty, a conglomerate of European powers including England, Russia, Portugal and later Spain forced France to only keep territories that it had controlled prior to 1790. The eighth article of that treaty stripped France of its right, as recognized by its rivals, to ownership of the eastern side of the island. In reality, the world's map of 1790 could not be recreated by anybody's pen. This back to the future treaty was handicapped from the start. It could not return to France the Louisiana Territories nor the western side of the island because these areas were under new leadership. The Treaty of Paris was devoid of local participants, and however powerful the European powers were, they could not negate the impact of the Haitian Revolution on the map of the Americas.
The absurdity of this treaty becomes more evident if one were to imagine that 10 years after American Independence, England could sign a treaty not involving the US and expect that treaty to result in the newly independent US becoming once again its colony. The Treaty of Paris did not have its intended effect in the Americas. It confirmed Haiti's pre-occupation with European recolonization, and made the US suspicious of European intentions in the Americas. The Treaty helped in the development of a counter policy called the Monroe Doctrine, designed to keep Europeans out of the region.
The historical evidence supports the relevance of the Treaty of Basel and not that of the Treaty of Paris. Analysis of the evidence allows one to understand how the Haitian Revolution and the Treaty of Basel led to the eastern and western side of the island becoming one colony which declared independence in 1804. Nonetheless, after 1804, no single leader effectively ruled the island as one nation until 1822, when a broadly supported movement called for reunification of the eastern and western sides under Boyer's rule. This reunification reflected collaboration and did not constitute occupation nor invasion.
Balcacer, Juan Daniel. Haiti si ocupo Santo Domingo en 1822. Listin Diario. December 27, 2013
Bookmanlit, Haiti Never Occupied the Dominican Republic: Time to put the Myth Aside. October 2013.
Derby, Lauren. Haitians, Magic, and Money: Raza and Society in the Haitian-Dominican Borderlands, 1900 to 1937. Comparative Studies in Society and History. Vol. 36, No. 3 (Jul. 1994) pp. 488-526. Cambridge University Press.
Gilles, Yvrose. Bicentennial: Haiti’s Gift to the World. Davie, Florida. Bookmanlit, 2004
Louis Joseph Janvier. Les Constitutions D’Haiti 1801-1885. C. Marpon et E. Flammarion. Paris, 1886
Pons, Frank Moya. The Dominican Republic: A National History. Third Edition. Princeton, New Jersey. Markus Wiener Publishers Princeton, 2010.
Price-Mars, Jean. La Republique D’Haiti e La Republique Dominicaine, Tome I. Port-au-Prince Haiti, 1953
Price-Mars, Jean. La Republique D’Haiti e La Republique Dominicaine, Tome II. Port-au-Prince Haiti, 1953
Treaty of Paris of 1814 http://napoleononline.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Treaty-of-Paris-1814.pdf