“We used pesi, perejil, parsley, the damp summer morningness of it, the mingled sprigs, bristly and coarse, gentle and docile all at once, tasteless and bitter when chewed, a sweetened wind inside the mouth, the leaves a different taste than the stalk, all this we savored for our food, our teas, our baths, to cleanse our insides as well as our outsides of old aches and griefs, to shed a passing year’s dust as a new one dawned, to wash an infant’s hair for the first time and — along with boiled orange leaves — a corpse’s remains one final time.”
While genocides and massacres are always horrifying in their enormity and chilling in their details, there is one thing that stands out about the Parsley Massacre.
At the time it occurred, there was no longstanding anti-Haitian sentiment in the Dominican Republic. Memories of the hostilities from the previous century undoubtedly lingered, but they were largely dormant. There was a relative peace.
“What makes the 1937 Haitian Massacre different from other genocidal massacres is as written in [Robin L. H. Derby’s] Estudios del terror y los terrores de la historia, is that an ideology of hate demonizing Haiti and Haitians as state doctrine appeared after the mass murder violence not before,” reads a page on the Border of Lights website.
“Usually, campaigns of genocidal violence proceeds an ideological state rhetoric dehumanizing the targeted group that eventually concludes in mass murder. In the Dominican case, the opposite is true. Months before the massacre Dominican-Haitian relations were at an all-time friendly high.”
If there was no significant antihaitianismo prior to Trujillo, then part of his brutal legacy is its longevity. Since 2013, tens of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent have been deported or fled the country after a federal court stripped citizenry from anyone of Haitian ancestry born in the country after 1929.
At the time of the court ruling, there were an estimated 210,000 Haitian Dominicans who effectively became people without a country.
This first appeared in WarIsBoring here.