November 29, 2022

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Tens of thousands were killed for one word

Parsley Massacre in XX. One of the bloodiest dictatorships of the 20th century was held in 1937.

Christopher Columbus named the island Hispaniola in 1492, which today is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. After the extermination of the indigenous population, the ethnic composition of the island changed completely, and although French and Haitian Creole are used in Haiti, Spanish is the official language in Dominica.

Rafael Trujillo The Dominican dictator (leader of Dominica from 1930 until his assassination in 1961) viewed Haitians as a genetically and culturally inferior people and saw migration from extremely backward Haiti as an obstacle to the Dominican country’s social and economic development. In a public speech on October 2, 1937, Trujillo said he was solving the “problem”: “We have already begun to correct the situation: three hundred Haitians have now died in Paniga. The treatment will continue,” he was quoted as saying. Mú

In practice, he ordered his army to kill all Haitians living in the northwestern border region of the Dominican Republic and in the neighboring Chibao region. Between October 2 and October 8, hundreds of Dominican soldiers converged on the area.

Harlingue / Roger-Violet / Roger-Violet / AFP RAFAEL LEONIDAS TRUJILLO Y MOLINA


They placed parsley in front of the victim and forced him to say his name. How the man pronounced the Spanish word for parsley (perezil) also determined his fate: in French and Haitian Creole, the letters “r” and “j” are pronounced completely differently than in Spanish.

So if the word parsley was pronounced in Spanish, they were considered Dominicans and allowed to live, but if it was French or Creole, they were considered Haitians and executed.

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A brutal massacre ensued, with members of the armed forces killing every Haitian they encountered with guns, machetes, shovels, knives and bayonets. According to reports, the children were not spared during the gruesome executions and their murdered bodies were dumped on top of the mother’s corpse. According to some sources, around 20-30,000 people were killed or forced to flee to Haiti. In panic, many people lost their lives trying to cross the Dajabón River that separates the two countries.

Two cents compensation

Stenio Vincent, the president of Haiti initially forbade the truth about the assassination to be made public in his country, because behind the scenes the Haitian government had close economic ties to the Trujillo government (it received financial support). Protests erupted, eventually forcing the president to demand an international investigation after a failed coup attempt.

America and Franklin D. Roosevelt At the intervention of the president, he asked for 750,000 dollars in compensation, of which the Dominican government paid 525,000, which is about 30 dollars per victim. However, because of the deep-seated corruption in the Haitian bureaucracy, survivors received an average of only two cents per person. After the treaty was signed in Washington on January 31, 1938, Trujillo said the treaty created new laws prohibiting migration between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

About 50,000 people were killed during genocides carried out by Trujillo’s dictatorship to unify the nation. The bloody dictator was finally assassinated on May 30, 1961.