The Dominican Genocide Of 1935

The Dominican Genocide Of 1935

According to the opinions of a number of historians, in all the human history, one of the greatest challenges of the modern world even with all the progress that occurred in the 20th century, in politics, economics and society is the violence that was witnessed in the 100 years after the 1900s. One of the accomplished writers in the issue is Niall Ferguson who has come up with numerous articles and texts trying to elucidate the real causes of the horrific violence of the twentieth century. According to the author, there are three main roots of this violence. The first being ethnic conflict, and particularly the dissimilarity between the heterogeneity of numerous ethnic groups in many places and the idea of a nation. The second root to violence as cited by Ferguson is volatility in the economy, the last being the withdrawal of empires.

This theory can fit with and hold up in a lot of the violence witnessed in this period, in a number of countries, and in other cases, it cannot. The question this paper tackles surrounds the degree to which Ferguson’s theory fits with the violence that occurred in the Dominican Republic in the 1930s. Generally, the paper will explore the massacre that occurred in this republic, in reference to the root, causes Ferguson points. The question of the paper, therefore, is how well and why the massacre of the Haitians in 1935 in the Dominican Republic either fits or does not fit with the larger pattern identified by Ferguson.

With the sugar estates and plantations increasingly requiring more workers for seasonal jobs, many migrant workers from Haiti began to settle permanently in the Dominican Republic. General Trujillo during the mid 1930s introduced a policy that was referred to as the Dominicanization of the frontier. This policy sought to change the names of places found along the border to Spanish from French, imposing quotas and outlawing voodoo on the larger percentage of the population made up of the foreign workers. The general ordered the army massacre of more than 25, 000 unarmed citizens of Haiti living on the border between Dominican and Haiti. He justified the attack as a reprisal for the supposed support by Haitians of the Dominican exiles plotting to overthrow his rule (Wucker, 2000). This paper concludes that the events that surrounded this massacre are similar or fit with the argument Ferguson made that such violence results from ethnic conflicts, economic volatility and withdrawal of empires.

This conclusion can be supported by a number of arguments made by several authors, like Michele Wucker in her book why the cocks fight. She uses the cocks as symbols for the two nations that have been on a stand of for centuries. The two countries are located on the Caribbean island called Hispaniola, and they are extremely distinct from each other. The Dominican Republic, for instance, is mixed- race and it speaks Spanish, while the Haitian population speaks French and is mostly composed of Francophone and black individuals. The author of this book mainly emphasizes on the argument of Ferguson of conflicts that result from ethnicity and differences in ethnic cultures. Among other crucial issues, the author addresses are the roles the geography of the region plays, in addition to the European settlement, the sugar industry and the slave revolts, in furthering the differences. The author’s treatment of the racism of the Dominican republic that exists and that existed in the 1930’s towards the Haitians is particularly interesting highlighting the ambivalence and nuance that exists between the two nations, as a result, of their different ethnicities. The conclusion we made earlier that the massacre in the Dominican republic had its roots in ethnicity conflicts is further supported by Wucker when she implies that the root of the conflict is an issue that is politically sensitive of immigration to the Dominican republic of the Haitians, and when she argues that the differences in race between the two groups increase the problem (Wucker, 2000).

The issue of economic volatility can be well analyzed using Ferguson’s work The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West that explores why most republics engaged in violence during and before the twentieth century. The issue of economic volatility was also present in the Dominican Republic whereby Haitians fled their country for more job opportunities in the Dominican Republic. Just as the same as the massacre of the Armenians living in the Ottoman state, the Haitians were massacred in the Dominican Republic. According to the author, the Armenians were massacred, as they were the minority group who were usually viewed as direct threats to the native populations also fighting for their survival (Ferguson, 2007). This was the case in the Dominican Republic where the large ethnic populations targeted the minority ethnic groups, the Haitians, fighting for the same job opportunities and survival.

Withdrawal of empires is also another cause of the violence that occurred in the 1930s. Both of these populations were under colonists for a long period, and the departure of the colonists left the two populations fighting for resources, wealth and land. Some of the conflicts have their bases here, and they later joined up with other forces to lead to eruption of violence in 1935, and the recurrent conflicts that define these two populations. This paper was supposed to discuss whether the theories Ferguson made of war resulting from ethnicity, economic volatility and empire withdrawal fit with the 1935 massacre of the Haitians in the Dominican Republic. The paper concluded that the massacre did fit with the root causes of violence proposed by Ferguson.


Ferguson, N. (2007). The war of the world: twentieth- century conflict and the descent of the west. New York: Penguin Press.

Wucker, M. (2000). Why the cocks fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the struggle for Hispaniola. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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