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Grant number like: HR-50048-04

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Edward Paulino
CUNY Research Foundation, John Jay College (New York, NY 10019-1007)

Faculty Research Awards
Research Programs

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2004 – 8/31/2005

Forgotten Crimes Against Humanity: The 1937 Haitian Massacre and Its Legacy

My project focuses on the long-forgotten 1937 Massacre of Haitians in the Dominican Republic. The mass slaughter of an estimated 15,000-20,000 innocent Haitian men, women, and children along the Dominican-Haitian border was ordered by the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. Thousands of Haitians were rounded up and killed by machete-wielding Dominican soldiers. Others escaped into Haiti becoming refugees. President Franklin Roosevelt was briefed in detail about the massacre but refused to condemn Trujillo for the sake of maintaining hemispheric solidarity in the face of Nazi aggression in Europe. For the last sixty-six years this atrocity has been forgotten by many, particularly Americans, who are at the forefront of publicizing the virtues of preventing and exposing genocides. My research project aims to resurrect this event to a wider audience by re-contextualizing it within the discourse of genocide and historical memory. First I plan to conduct archival research in Washington, DC, the Dominican Republic and Haiti to gain a clearer picture of how the Dominican, Haitian, and American governments viewed the Massacre and the subsequent transformation of the border. Second, since the majority of the traditional historiography on the massacre lacks personal testimonies from Haitian survivors and Dominican perpetrators, I aim to travel to the Dominican-Haitian border and conduct video interviews with the remaining elderly people who witnessed this event. The video interviews will fill a historical lacuna that for too long has existed in the narrative of the massacre. Third, to understand the legacy of the 1937 Haitian massacre on the island, I also plan to interview ordinary Dominicans and Haitians (including historians on both sides of the island) to examine how and why this event of ethnic cleansing is remembered by both groups.