Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012
On Feb. 9, 1822, Gen. Boyer, commander-in-chief of Haiti, invades Santo Domingo, the capital the Dominican Republic, where President José Núñez de Cáceres essentially hands over the keys to the city. Haiti’s occupation of the Dominican Republic (DR) lasts 22 years. Only months earlier on Dec. 9, 1821, the DR declares independence from Spain, intending to seek admittance to the young nation of Gran Colombia in South America. France had made earlier attempts to unify the island of Hispaniola shared by Haiti and the DR as a French colony. Haiti too, after gaining independence from France in 1804, tries to unify the island to repel any future European invasion. The 1822 unity lasts until 1844 when President Boyer of Haiti falls and the DR regains its independence. A boundary agreement is finally signed in 1936 splitting the island between the two nations.
Tensions between the two nations has been long-lasting and continues until today particularly over migrant labor issues, with Haitians providing most of the cheap labor in the more developed Dominican Republic. However, there was a considerable thaw after the Haiti earthquake in January 2010 when, in a gesture of good will, the Dominican Republic was the first country to offer aid to Haiti in the form of food, water, and mobile health clinics. The DR also opened its border to help some Haitians escape the devastation.