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Open letter to congresswoman Sheila Cherfilus-Mccormick regarding racism against Haitians

Congresswoman Sheila Cherfilus-Mccormick
represents Florida's 20th District, after
winning a special election in 2022.

Dominican-American businessman Edward Cruz, who has lived in South Florida for nearly 30 years, wrote an open letter to Congresswoman Sheila Cherfilus-Mccormick, a member of the Democratic Party who represents Florida's 20th District, after the federal representative accused the Dominican people of being "racist" for their deportation policy of Haitian immigrants living illegally in the Dominican Republic.

Below is the full text of the letter that Cruz wrote to Congresswoman Cherfilus-Mccormick.

November 24, 2022

Honorable Sheila Cherfilus-Mccormick
Representative for Florida's District 20
2365 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC, 20515-0920

Dear Congresswoman,

My name is Edward Cruz and I am a Dominican-American citizen who has been living in South Florida for almost 30 years. I am also a veteran of the United States Navy.

I write to you in response to a tweet you published on November 22nd about the Dominican Republic, its President, and its people, and to remind you that "GRATITUDE IS THE HEART'S MEMORY". In fact, in your tweet, you mentioned something about "history". So, I ask you to please allow me to talk with you about "history" as well.

  • January 1801: Toussaint Louveture

  • February 1805: Jean Jacques Dessalines

  • February 1822: Juan Pedro Boyer (who occupied Dominican Republic for 22 years)

  • March 1844: Charles Herard

  • March 1849: Faustino Soulouque

  • November 1855: Faustino Soulouque

  • January 2011: Joseph Martelly

Edward Cruz
The dates mentioned above represent the multiple times that Haiti -as a sovereign nation invaded the Dominican Republic. Notice, however, I did not include the many occasions when gangs and individuals have criminally ransacked our land.

The fact is there is a long history of Haitian invaders killing women and children as they destroy and literally disappear complete Dominican towns in their path. Despite these facts, the Dominican Republic, acting always as a good Samaritan and Christian neighbor, for years has chosen to turn the other cheek repeatedly, answering with kindness.

It would be a mistake to generalize. However, the truth is that ill actions and statements are often pronounced by representatives of the Haitian’s Government itself. I recognize as well that there are thousands of Haitian nationals who do recognize -and thankfully- appreciate the many good deeds the people of Dominican Republic continue to provide to aid Haiti through our close entangled history.

I have many questions for you, honorable congresswoman… For instance, how can you talk about "ethnic cleansing" in a country of 11 million souls with a demographic composition of more than 80% of black, mulatos, morenos, mestizos skin colors?

How can you talk about racism o mistreatment towards Haitians, when 40% of the national health budget -in a poor country such as the Dominican Republic- is used to cover free medical services to undocumented Haitians who entered illegally to Dominican soil?

How can you pretend to defame our country based on racism when seven of every 10 maternity beds are occupied by Haitian mothers? Currently, many Dominican women are sometimes obligated to wait before being able to give birth, because there are no available beds in our public hospital.

Out of the seven Haitian invasions mentioned at the beginning of my letter, only the last one (that began in January 2011), took place without violence. The first six Haitian occupations left hundreds of thousands of Dominicans and Spaniards dead. Yet, the same these have been methodically and systematically full of ill will towards a country that has done nothing but help.

I say we talk about HEART, as per your comment suggesting Dominicans are racists and do not want anything to do with their neighboring country, which is undoubtedly the poorest nation of the entire hemisphere. Here I will only mention some recent events:

  • In 2010, the Dominican Republic offered (before being asked) to establish refugees camps in their territory to help the victims of the January 12 earthquake. At the same time, thousands of Dominican volunteers went to Haiti to help finding survivors and to aid with the reconstruction process, while donating hundreds of thousands of dollars in goods and services.

  • More than 30,000 Haitian nationals were moved to Dominican Republic to receive medical attention in our hospitals, as well as hundreds of thousands were transferred while the country reconstruction was finish (many of whom never returned to Haiti).

  • In 2021, the Dominican Republic once again stepped up to the plate to assist Haiti after the earthquake that shook the island in August of that year.

  • The Dominican Government has donated universities and hospitals to promote education and health services to the Haitian people.

  • Furthermore, in the middle of the world crisis, while having our own precarious situation with the pandemic, the Dominican Government donated 100 thousand vaccine doses to Haiti to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

To keep this in perspective, there are some important facts to mention:

  • The population of the United States (a developed country with ample resources) is nearing about 332 million habitants. Of these, some 47 million are immigrant (14%); 22 million of the total migrant population belongs to a same nationality; about 12 million (3.6% of total population) are believed to undocumented from different backgrounds.

  • The Dominican Republic population (currently a developing country with a long way to go) is short of 11 million habitants. Of these, about 800,000 are legal immigrants and, from these, 680,000 are from Haiti. The undocumented population of the Dominican Republic is estimated at 1.4 million (12.7%).

Are you able to grasp the contrast yet?

  • While most illegal immigrants in the United States pay their taxes, which help to alleviate the expenses incurred by the government on their behalf, Haitian nationals who live in the Dominican Republic do not pay any type of taxes for income generated while in the country.

  • The country that you pretend to accuse of racism has enacted laws that protect immigrants and has prohibited massive deportations.

Haiti has been a country embodied by political, health, social and economic instability; it is a Failed State, and has starred many social implosions, being the latest the one occurred because of the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, last July.

The Dominican Republic is the ONLY country that has really understood the reality lived by the Haitian people, because we are the most affected by such reality. No one has been more supportive of Haiti than the Dominican Republic. In recent years, no other nation has lobbied on behalf of Haiti than the Dominican Republic. Thus, honorable congresswoman Cherfilus-Mccormick, please allow me to propose a few suggestions:

  • Read some Caribbean history to learn about the Haitian-Dominican relationship. It would be a mistake on your part to only read what you conveniently want to read.

  • Please learn to be a little more responsible and avoid using the "race card" as an argument point. The subject of Haiti has many shades, way more important and relevant than race. In the world of international relations, not all countries buy-in the easy “race Kool-Aid”. We strongly believe that you were elected to find solutions to any problem that you may encounter, and not to play the "victim card" at the first sign of opportunity. We know you are better qualified than that!

  • In a more objective way, try to analyze the reality lived by both our countries, since it is unfair from your part to pretend that a developing country as the Dominican Republic assumes the responsibility of the poorest country of the Americas, while the world powers (such as the United States) just sit back and simple talk, talk, talk, without offering real solutions. Haiti’s problem demands a real and responsible approach in a short and long term in a systematic way.

  • I propose that, instead of criticizing the Dominican Republic, you use your time in Congress to suggest a plan of action that will really help Haiti, because it desperately needs it.

  • I propose that you use your recent elected position to establish a channel of communication with the Haitian authorities and foment cooperation ties between Haiti and the United States Government, as well as France, Canada, and any other international partner with real resources to help.

  • I propose you look for an opportunity in international forums like the United Nations, the Organization of American States, or any other entity of international relevance to lobby on behalf of Haiti, as hard as Dominican President Luis Abinader has done since he became to power in 2020, without being Haitian and despite being labeled as a racist by people like you.

  • I propose you use your time to become globally aware to create a joint action plan to look for a real solution to the Haiti debacle once and for all, and leave the populist actions like your tweet for other less relevant moments of historic importance for the Haitian like the ones they are currently living.

  • I propose you look for more allies for the cause, (God knows it is needed) and avoid distancing those that despite being mistreated by you and the likes, are the ones that had extended the hands the most.

If you can listen to at least one of our proposals I presented, I can guarantee that you will accomplish something positive for both Haiti and the Dominican Republic. At the same time, I assure you that Dominican President Luis Abinader, as well as millions of Dominicans will continue working on behalf of real solutions for the people of Haiti.

In retrospect, not all favors are done to be thanked for, but if we were to be ungrateful; at least, let it be in the most elegant way that exists: with our silence.


Edward E. Cruz
A Dominican-American Voter
Miami, Florida

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