Cultura y conciencia

Some Notes on the 1937 Massacre

OpinionNelson SantanaComment
Graphic:  MANIEL 

Graphic: MANIEL 

By Quisqueya Lora Hugi
December 13, 2017 Leer en español

On the 80th anniversary of the horrendous Trujillo crime known as the 1937 massacre, we publish the following text, which resulted from the reflections that were carried out from September 28 to October 27 in the Dominican Republic as part of the commemoration of the 80th anniversary  of the 1937 massacre: Rebuilding the memory organized by the Juan Bosch Foundation.

This is what I took from the first day of the seminar on the 1937 Massacre:

  • The killing was not just of Haitians, it was of Dominicans, Haitians and Dominicans/Haitians. Most of the victims were born in Dominican territory and by constitutional right they were Dominican. In other words, to state that the killings were of Haitians only is incorrect. 
  • The use of the word parsley is more anecdotal as opposed to having substantive significance, it was not a method applied in an extensive way, and in fact, many of the dead were born in Dominican territory and they could pronounce the word properly.
  • The killing has more to do with Dominicans as opposed to Haitians, as it meant to send a message to intimidate on behalf of the dictatorship aimed at the general population, but more specifically aimed at those residing in the border. The massacre destroyed a hybrid world of fluid relations between Haitians and Dominicans.
  • The transnational nature of the border society was incompatible with the national project that Trujillo was trying to establish or build or construct. In the end, it was the pending project of the Dominican elites, which sought to construct a “white,” Hispanic and Catholic nation. 
Event flyer. 

Event flyer. 

The transnational nature of the border society was incompatible with the national project that Trujillo headed.
  • The border area was historically a space of rebellion and conspiracy, it is not a coincidence that it was there that Trujillo killed the last caudillos, both Desiderio Arias and Enríque Blanco.
  • The poor Haitian response has to do with Trujillo’s control over Haiti’s president Stenio Vincent. In fact, the regime sought to ensure that Haitian governments could control the presence of opponents in their territory, a common occurrence until 1937.  
  • The dictatorship had to make great diplomatic efforts to handle the issue, but it is important to remember that by that time in the United States, to mention the most influential power in the American context, the KKK was lynching African Americans. In addition, fascism was on the rise in the world, so the slaughter connects with a global logic. In other words, the international pressure was poor and Trujillo was able to get by simply with compensation, which the Haitian State embarrassedly accepted.


Quisqueya Lora Hugi is a historian. 

Related articles: 

Carta abierta a la casta dominicana del más polarizado nacionalismo

«PEREJIL» 80 años después…

Un trabajo acerca de las rebeliones anti-esclavistas en Santo Domingo