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Dominican Government Faces Global Outrage As Videos Emerge

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The videos, some of them posted on You Tube, others trending on numerous social media sites are disgustingly "sickening" and bring back awful memories of Hitler's persecution of the Jews during world war II, according those who have watched them.

"I couldn't believe how disgusting and uncivilized those people are until I watched those videos," was the way, John Edmond, a protester at a Boston rally for Dominicans of Haitian descent, put it the other day.

"Those images made me sick."

In one of the videos -- shot with a cell phone -- an angry, machete-wielding mob numbering about three dozen could be seen hunting for Dominicans of Haitian descent or anyone Black in the eastern part of the island. The hunt, which began in Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital, quickly spread to other cities with sizeable Haitian population, including Santiago.

Escorted by both police and uniformed soldiers, the mob could be seen dragging, beating and spitting on a captured woman while police and soldiers looked on.

In another clip, a young guy could be seen lying on the ground in obvious pain, surrounded and taunted by a heavily armed mob. He was repeatedly burned with his own cigarette lighter, while someone reached out, grabbed part of his hair, braided in dreadlock, and clipped it.

"This is the most crucial evidence that the Dominican Republic's campaign against its own people under the guise of immigration enforcement has nothing to do with immigration," said Pena Santiago, a leading human right activist, as he pointed to the disturbing silence of Dominican police and soldiers who stood passively by and did nothing.

"It is aimed at ridding the country of its black population by exiling them to Haiti, which is predominantly and overwhelmingly black."

The videos have punched several contradictory holes in Dominican officials' testimony before a panel of Organization of American States (OAS) as well as other official statements saying all of the migrants, including Black Dominicans of Haitian descent who have crossed the border recently have done so "voluntarily."

"How can it be 'voluntary' when you have a armed mob, including police and soldiers, beating, dragging and burning people alive?" asked Santiago.

Of particular concerns, human rights organizations say, are the fate of thousands of Black Dominicans who have ended up in a country they know little or nothing about. In fact, Dominican authorities have made no distinction between Haitian migrants and Black Dominicans, often lumping the two groups together in an attempt to confuse the public.

"The Dominican government likes to present this conflict as one involving Haitian migrants. This is misleading," wrote Raul A. Reyes, an attorney and columnist.

He noted that the "people affected by the government's plans are not only Haitian immigrants but also Dominicans of Haitian descent. "

"These are people who may have never been to Haiti. They speak Spanish (French and Creole are spoken in Haiti) yet the Dominican Republic is on the verge of deporting them anyway," he said, adding: " Imagine how shocking it would be if the U.S. announced that second- and third-generation American Latinos had to go back to their grandparents' home countries -- within weeks. That is basically what is happening in the Dominican Republic."

His characterization mirrors the case of Francisco Tito, who was born to third generation immigrants brought in by the Dominican government under what historian say were shady deals with successive Haitian dictators to work the sprawling sugar cane fields.

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Mithout Gomez is a veteran journalist who's covered local, national and international issues.

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