Junot Díaz, the MacArthur “genius grant”-winning Dominican American author of “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” has long been vocal in his criticism of the Dominican government for its treatment of Haitian migrants and undocumented Dominican citizens.
For this offense, the Dominican consul in New York has labeled Díaz “anti-Dominican” and stripped the Pulitzer-winning author of an Order of Merit medal the government awarded him in 2009.
This summer, critics accused the Dominican Republic government of attempting to orchestrate mass deportations of undocumented Haitian immigrants, stemming from a 2013 Dominican Supreme Court ruling that called into question the citizenship of some 300,000 residents of the country. The decision upheld the possibility that even Dominican citizens with Haitian ancestry could possibly have their citizenship called into question and be forced to reapply for citizenship or permanent residency.
It was derided as racist and nationalistic, given that it would have left many Dominicans of Haitian descent stateless. In June, the head of the Dominican immigration agency told The Post that undocumented individuals in the country’s migrant communities would be “repatriated.” The country has a history of such roundups and in 1999, Díaz and Haitian American writer Edwidge Danticat co-wrote an op-ed for the New York Times calling on Americans to “protest the deportations, as well as the racially tinged political rhetoric that has given too many Dominicans the false perception that all their problems will disappear if only the Haitians will go away.”
In 2013, Díaz, Danticat, Julia Alvarez and Mark Kurlansky penned a piece for the Los Angeles Times on the issue. “Isn’t it time that the world tells the Dominican government that stripping people of their rights based on their ethnic background, setting up part of the citizenry for abuse and establishing an apartheid state is unacceptable?,” they asked.
Last week, Díaz and Danticat reportedly met with members of Congress, still asking the U.S. government to take action on the same issue.
“We emphatically declare that the Dominican Republic has acted with transparency before the world in the implementation of these immigration measures,” the consul general of the Dominican Republic, Eduardo Selman, said Thursday in a statement released to the media. “There have been no cases of violation of human rights nor of statelessness among the Haitians or any other foreigners, contrary to what is said by the writer Junot Díaz, who has demonstrated himself to be anti-Dominican.”