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Dominican Republic Travel, A Yes or No?

When you really think about it, every country has a reason not to visit it. Whether it is public unrest, political turmoil and oppression, the threat of kidnapping or worse—no country on this planet is without it’s particular set of problems which may turn potential visitors away.

But since 2013, the thought of traveling to the Dominican Republic, has become a personal issue for many U.S. based travelers of color, especially here in New York, where the cultural and political are never far apart. Ever since the Dominican government announced that they would strip citizen away from over 200,000 Dominican citizens who met a particular criteria. Namely, if they were Haitian. Says the Huffington Post:

The decision applies to those born after 1929 – a category that overwhelmingly includes descendants of Haitians brought in to work on farms. It appears to affect even their grandchildren, said Wade McMullen, a New York-based attorney at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights.

A U.N.-backed study released this year estimated that there are nearly 210,000 Dominican-born people of Haitian descent and roughly another 34,000 born to parents of another nationality.

After this announcement was made, and the Dominican government was largely criticized by the rest of the world including the United States for a ruling that seemed to violate the human rights for a vast part of it’s population and was discriminatory based on race. After staunchly defending the ruling, the Dominican government finally unveiled a path to citizenship or legally recognized status for the tons of people who literally had no official identity. This was in May of 2014 – an eight month window for any chance of documentation as the deadline to apply for citizenship expired on February 2nd of this year. According to reports, it’s estimated that less than 5,500 of the 110,000 people who could qualify had applied leaving a huge class of people with no citizenship anywhere.

Here on Parlour we’ve addressed the idea of ethical travel and boycotting certain countries based on both personal and political beliefs as a way to show your solidarity with a people or cause but the Dominican Republic’s recent actions bring up a set of layered issue for many people of color both here and abroad. When you combine heated topics like race, xenophobia, identity, forced immigration/deportation, class and assimilation, people from Black nations around the world are touched as many can relate.

So what does this have to do with where you are spending your winter escape? For some, everything. Since the 2013 ruling, a large number of my friends have publicly vowed not to spend their dollars in the Dominican Republic by visiting, including some who themselves are Dominican. This was unsurprising as I live in New York which is home to a huge Dominican, Haitian, Afro-Latino and overall Caribbean population where these events hit a personal note for many. Organizations such as the National Bar Association and there were calls for a Caribbean boycott of Dominican products much like the boycotts of South Africa in the eighties and nineties. The reasons why and exceptions vary, but they all seem to agree on the fact that by targeting ancestrally Haitian people, these actions are steeped in racism and they can’t support it. On the flip side, there a plenty of people in my immediate community who personally “have no (personal) dog in this fight” and are about that beach life thanks to our close proximity to the island and it being largely inexpensive to travel to.

Since 2013 we’ve remained largely objective as our readership largely extends beyond the part of the world and whether it’s a travel deal to the island or a review of one of it’s exclusive resorts, we stand firm in our mission to offer all of the world to you. But as this drama continues to unfold, we want to know: is travel to the Dominican Republic in your plans regardless or are you rethinking or plainly saying no to that side of Hispanola? Will a boycott of travel even make a difference? Speak your mind in the comments below. As always, #travelfly ladies.

Last 5 posts by Shannon Washington