Sen. Ted Cruz is an elitist Cuban-American, representative of Cuban plantation owners who imported and exploited African slaves for generations. A lesson plan from PBS’ Black in Latin America feature shows that by persecuting Haitians the Dominican Republic is simply following Cuba’s tradition of persecuting dark-skinned workers once the workers have been exploited to breaking point. This is the Cuban history:
When revolution broke out in the French colony of Saint Domingue (later known as Haiti), sugar production there came to a virtual halt. This caused a sudden demand for sugar. Cuban plantation owners quickly stepped in to fill the gap created by neighboring Haiti, placing Cubans in a position to profit immensely. By the mid-1800’s, Cuba replaced Haiti as the world’s leading producer of sugar, making Cuban plantation owners very wealthy. Sugar is a very labor intensive and the increased pressure to fill market demand for this lucrative crop resulted in a high death rate among slaves. Plantation owners responded to the labor shortage by purchasing more slaves thereby reinvigorating the Transatlantic slave trade even after the British sought to curtail it.
Many whites in Cuba feared that blacks there would rise up against whites and take over the island just as in Haiti during its slave insurrection and then successful revolution. White plantation owners feared both loss of privilege, property, economic gain as well as violence from blacks who might seek to avenge their enslavement and inhumane treatment. Not unique to Cuba, this was a common fear among the ruling establishment in many colonial societies.
In the Dominican Republic, dark-skinned Haitians have also been exploited and have similarly been forced into slave-like work and living conditions:
Large-scale sugar production began in the Dominican Republic in the 1870s. In many ways, little about the process has changed since then: The sugar cane still grows tall, wild, and sweet, and Haitian laborers – poor, desperate, and hungry – still work day in, day out, to cut it.
The Haitian workers, then as now, typically live in bateyes – company towns located within the sugar plantations. Some have electricity. Most lack running water. There are no phones, no playgrounds, and no mattresses on many of the rickety beds. The workers earn, typically, the equivalent of $2.50 a day, out of which they often must pay a percentage for company social security and pension funds – money, they say, they never see again.