SANTIAGO, Dominican Republic – Residents of the northern Dominican town of Manga Larga went on a rampage against Haitians after a local man was slain by an undocumented migrant from the neighboring country.
The mob burned a motorcycle and forced dozens of Haitians out of their homes before police arrived and used tear gas to disburse the Dominicans.
Members of the crowd demanded that immigration authorities expel undocumented Haitian migrants, whom they blame for most of the robberies and assaults in Manga Larga.
The unrest was spurred by the death of Jorge Rivas Guzman, allegedly at the hands of a Haitian man known only as “Piti,” described by locals as the scourge of the town.
Julio Rivas, the victim’s brother, said Piti broke into Jorge’s home in the wee hours of Wednesday to rob him and killed him with a machete when the homeowner resisted.
Residents chased the alleged killer, but he managed to elude them by slipping into a nearby chicken-processing plant.
In a related development, Dominican immigration officials said Wednesday that they and their counterparts across the border were investigating a ring thought to be selling phony visas and migration documents to Haitians.
The probe was launched after Dominican troops and immigration inspectors on Tuesday intercepted 60 undocumented Haitians at various points along the northern border.
A source in the immigration agency said that many of the Haitians told authorities they paid from $150 to $200 for phony Dominican visas and immigration documents.
One of the migrants reported having borrowed the money for the forged papers after being told there were “many opportunities” in the northern Dominican city of Santiago, while several said they were afraid of being harmed by creditors if they returned to Haiti unable to repay their loans.
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