One of the most dramatic and bloody Haitian invasions was headed by Jean Jacques Dessalines in 1805. How destructive this was for Dominicans is well known. This is a focus on the Dominican victims that were black and mixed race or, as they are called by some, “Afro-Dominicans” or in part or full descendants of black Africans. To have African blood had no effect in saving them from the Haitian wrath. Jean Jacques Dessalines, himself born in Africa, and the rest of the Haitian military generals and troops killed many black and mixed race Dominicans, torture them, made them suffer and punish them in the worst manner.
Due to consequence, it’s obvious that if these horrible things didn’t happen to these people, many more hundreds of thousands of modern Dominicans would be their direct descendants.
Map of the Haitian Invasion in 1805
Jean-Price Mars Describes the Horrible Haitian Invasion of 1805
The most admired and respected Haitian historian of the XX century was Jean-Price Mars. In his two volume book “La République D’Haïti et la République Dominicaine” (also translated to Spanish) describes this horrible and bloody Haitian invasion of 1805 (or as its known among Haitian historians and at the time by the Haitian army “The Campaign of the East”). He says the following among a very long chapter about this event.
Black and Mixed Race Dominicans were Killed by Dessalines
During the unfortunate Haitian invasion of 1805, white Dominicans were not the only massacred. The Haitian historian Jean-Price Mars recognized that the victims included blacks and mixed race too. What fault the black and mixed race Dominicans had that they were treated with a much favorable treatment than the French treated their fellow people of color or the English their slaves? What fault the “Afro-Dominicans” had that slaves were a small minority of the population and, as a consequence, most Dominican whites, mixed and blacks were free? What fault did they have of not suffering from racial resentments towards white Dominican because these never mistreated them to the degree blacks and the mixed race tended to be mistreated in the Americas? None of that mattered to Dessalines. Death to all whether they were “Afro-Dominicans” or blacks just as the Haitians. Death and suffering to all Dominicans.
Dessalines was Proud of Making Dominicans Suffer and Killing Them
One of the most hurtful parts for us Dominicans is what appears in the next words. It could be thought that someone couldn’t be this cruel, this inhumaine, this evil. Not happy with killing Dominicans all over the Cibao Valley and in the Northwest along with destroying all the towns, but included massacring even the countryside people. This “man” didn’t know limits to his cruelty and more so to the Dominican people that has never done any harm to him. Much worse than the horrible acts, the suffering and the killings of our people; upon reaching Haiti he boasted with pride of the suffering, the pain and the deaths he forced upon the Dominicans regardless of race, colors, sex and social class.
Gaspar Arredondo Pichardo: He Mentions that Blacks and Mixed Race were Killed
Gaspar Arredondo Pichardo witnessed the events in Santiago de los Caballeros. After experiencing this bloody and evil odessey, he decides to abandon the land in which he was born and settled in the neighboring island of Cuba. The specific Cuban town where he settled was Camagüey (then called Puerto Príncipe). He left Hispaniola on April 28, 1805 through the port in Puerto Plata. It was the last last place that he stepped on Dominican soil.
He explains, without hidding anything of what he witnessed, that the cruelty of the Haitians didn’t exempt Dominicans of color.
The Haitians didn’t Allow Black and Mixed Race Dominicans to Leave the Island
Black and mixed race Dominicans were not allowed by the Haitians to leave the island when they wanted to. Anyone could think that at the very least black Dominicans, who were as Afro as the Haitians, would receive a level of respect and admiration from the Haitians, even if it was due to their color only. Having African blood running through their veins and a very dark skin color meant nothing to the Haitians.
The Fury of the Haitian Troops as they Invaded a Town to Commit Massacre
The following is explained based on what he witnessed when the Haitian troops invaded Santiago with the sole intention to kill all Dominicans.
The case of Fernando Pimentel, A Mixed Race Person
The mixed race Fernando Pimentel was one to be mentioned by name in his writings. The Haitians killed him by the main entrance to the Main Church of Santiago (today the Santiago Apóstol Cathedral).
What the Haitians did in the Main Church of Santiago (Now Santiago Apóstol Cathedral)
Arredondo describes what occured in the Main Church of Santiago. In that time all Dominican churches were Catholic. Within the masses searching for help in the house of God were many blacks and mixed race. All were massacred inside the church by the Haitians.
The cathedral that stands in its place is from the final decades of the XIX century. The Santiago Apóstol Church that was there before this one was built was destroyed by an earthquake in that same century. At the beginning of the XIX century was the Main Church (all churches there from the founding of Santiago officially were named after Santiago Apóstol or Saint James The Apostle). That was the one that was there during the Haitian invasion of 1805. After the Haitians killed everyone inside the church, itself was destroyed as they intentionally created a fire that included the corpse of the Dominicans killed, and the priest, as part of its fuel. To have African blood didn’t save their lives by the Haitians, who themselves were of African ancestry.
Santiago People of Color were Among the to be Killed by the Haitians
Santiago was one of the whitests towns on Hispaniola. That didn’t mean there were no blacks and mixed race Dominicans sharing the joys and sadness of the other santiagueros. Nowhere in this section of the report people’s color is mentioned. However, everything changes with the arrival of the mixed race Campos Tavàrez, who at this time was a general in the Haitian army. The Haitians forced the Dominicans to stand with their backs facing the Yaque del Norte River (the main river that passes through Santiago), they were condomned to death when suddenly arrived this general. It’s at this moment that we realize that the group of Dominicans about to be killed in the worst manner by the Haitians, included many Dominicans of color. Once again, having African blood and in part descend from Africans was not enough motives for the Haitians to exclude them from the massacre about to occur.
The Sad Case of the Black Julián de Medina and His Family (The Moca Massacre was known by Two of His Granddaughters)
The black and mixed race Dominicans that suffered, that were tortured and killed in the most inhumaine manner by the Haitians were not a few. Here is the case of the black Julián de Medina and his wife. They were of the Santiago natives taken as prisoners by the Haitians and then forced to march to Cap Haitien (Dominicans then called it El Guarico) without shoes, with a strong tropical sun and without hats that would alleviate a little their heat. Dust everywhere, generalized hunger, unbereable biting of mosquitos, psychological tortures by the Haitian army and, as if this wasn’t enough, all the women and young girls were raped on the banks of the Esperanza River (close to the town of Mao).
Today, the Moca Massacre is known in detail because of two of his granddaughters, Maria and Nicolasa. They were the only survivors of the massacre that included all the women and their children in the Moca church and another 40 children that had been butchered to death and their remains were found in a room of the same church. These two girls were saved from the Moca Massacre by mere chance. They were in the church and when the Haitians started to kill them all, the lifeless and bloody body of their aunt fell on top of them. The blood coming out of their aunt’s body covered them and they pretended to be dead. Truly a horrific scene. To be in part descendants of Africans was of little importance to the invading Haitians.
To conclude, what has been cited is a very small amount of the unfortunate events that Dominicans of all types had to live at the hands of the Haitians, but in particular those of black and mixed race Dominicans. In the same manner suffered other Dominicans for whom their horrible encounters were never recorded on paper; white, black and mixed race Dominicans all over the current Dominican Republic. These are our ancestors. They suffered the worst of the treatments. That the sufferings and injustices lived by the people from whom we descend as Dominicans should never be forgotten. Through the establishment and defense of our country, we are honoring the language, the traditions and the beliefs of these unfortunate people destroyed in their own land by an invading army. The greatest respect to their memory is respecting the existence of our country, our identity and the defense of our beloved Dominican Republic for as long that is necessary and through all the mediums possible
We finish citing this part found at the foot of Gaspar Arredondo Pichardo eyewitness account and was written by Eugenio Deschamps.