For more than a century, the government of the Dominican Republic has promoted a policy of state-sponsored racial discrimination against citizens of Haitian descent. Now it is trying to strip them of their nationality.
This article was written in 2008.
Solange Pierre (1963 – December 4, 2011), known as Sonia Pierre, was a human rights advocate in the Dominican Republic who worked to end antihaitianismo, which is discrimination against individuals from Haiti or Dominicans of Haitian origin. For this work, she won the 2006 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.Pierre was born in Villa Altagracia, San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic, in 1963 to parents of Haitian descent. One of twelve children, she was raised in a migrant worker camp called a batey, where many of the Dominican Republic’s people of Haitian descent live. Her birth certificate lists her name as Solain Pie, which Pierre “says is the result of an error by a government clerk.” Her nationality was disputed by some on the grounds that her birth certificate is forged, the residence status of her Haitian parents and the lack of evidenciary documentation from Haiti.At the age of 14, she organized a five-day protest by sugar cane workers on one of the country’s bateyes, which lead to her being arrested. However, the protest attracted enough public attention that the workers’ demands—namely, to have their living quarters painted and be given better tools and pay raises—were met