DAJABON, Dominican Republic – One man was injured by pellets during violent protests mounted by Haitian migrants in the northwestern Dominican Republic after authorities destroyed fruits and vegetables they were growing on protected land.
The Haitians burned tires and blocked the highway that connects Dajabon province with the southwestern part of the country.
The Environment Ministry’s top official in Dajabon, Ana Carrasco, told the press that this is the fourth time the Haitians have been removed from that protected area.
She said that many Haitians have occupied land in the country to grow crops, “destroying woodlands indiscriminately.”
Timon Claude Salcime, spokesman for the demonstrators, said that in his country they have no land to till and for that reason have crossed into Dominican territory, where they have occupied “abandoned” terrain to grow crops so they can make a living.
An official in the Dominican army’s Cesfront border-security corps told Efe that the protesters set upon the soldiers with machetes and stones, so the military had to respond “prudently.”
Dominican officials estimate that around 1 million Haitians live in the country, most of them illegal immigrants who work in agriculture and construction.
The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, with Haiti in the western portion. Though both countries are poor, Haiti is destitute, and Haitians cross the border to do work that many Dominicans will not do, such as harvesting sugar cane.
Haitians have been the target of mob violence numerous times in recent years, and the Dominican government has been widely criticized for its treatment of the migrants. EFE