Western Hemisphere Essay
Paper type: Essay
Words: 859, Paragraphs: 12, Pages: 4
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In the novel, Michele Wucker shows lots of events from the history of the island. She starts from the conquest of the Taino Indians to the colonial skirmishes between the French and Spanish for possession of the island. After that the author goes to the United States occupation of Haiti in 1915 and to the invasion of the US of the Dominican Republic in 1965. Throughout this panoramic history Michele Wucker inserts lively portraits of Haitians and Dominicans struggling in Hispaniola and abroad: she shows displaced peasants on the outskirts of Santo Domingo and immigrants who came to look for a happier life in New York.
The author reports on the struggles between Dominicans and Haitians and depicts the events which happened around 60 years ago when the Dominican dictator Trujillo ordered 30,000 Haitians to be killed. The author also describes Vodou rituals in Dominican sugarcane fields where Haitians were working like slaves. She does her best to show the fights between the nations and also devote lots of attention to policies of the United States towards every nation.
Michele Wucker finds it very important to analyze the often contradictory policies of the United States towards each other nations inhabiting Hispaniola which continue to influence the density of two important countries and of tens of thousands of Haitians and Dominicans living in the United States. The policy of the United States towards the discussed nations should be trying to settle the conflicts between them and overcoming contradictions but never putting more oil into the fire of their conflict.
It’s a very interesting approach how Michele Wucker moves from one strongman and atrocity to another, e. g. conquering Spaniards complain about the noisiness of natives when they are punished by being roasted alive; Trujillo massacres at least 15,000 Haitians residing from the Dominican Republic in 1937; and the Duvaliers arrogantly loot their own country which is the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. One of the major themes of the novel is the role of racism in the island’s history and its influence on the life of the nations inhabiting the island. Haiti came to be dominated by light-skin elite and a series of Dominican leaders, especially Trujillo, who sympathized with Nazi race ideology demonized Haitians and dark-skinned Dominicans.
As we all know, the problem of racism has always been very important in history and was the reason of lots of fights, so there is no wonder it was also the reason of different conflicts in Hispaniola. Another important theme covered in the novel is the theme of migration. Michele Wucker interviews a cutter who originally came from Haiti to the Dominican Republic to work and who has lived on a plantation for almost the entire life and finds out about the unbearable conditions in which he was working and about all the tortures and sufferings which he had to go though all the time while he was working in the plantation.
Lots of people like him had to work like slaves in the plantations for pennies an hour and the Dominican Government was literally purchasing thousands of workers each year from the Haitian Government through annual contracts. Those people had no rights and they had to work day and night in the plantations. Migration was playing an important role beyond the island, too and the million Haitian immigrants in Miami and New York were a major influence in forcing Clinton Administration to restore Jean-Bertrand Aristide to the power in 1994.
Returning to the fight which goes on between fighting cocks and which is the main theme of the novel, we have to mention that the leaders, like the Duvaliers and Balaguer who were staging bloody fights in the arenas, while the players on the sidelines- the armed forces, the bourgeoisie- were wagering on the outcome. Michele Wucker even enlisted St. Augustine who was watching cockfight which he happened to see and wrote of the deformity of a blooded, defeated cock that ‘by that very deformity was the more perfect beauty of the contest in evidence’.
It is also important to analyze the final scene in the novel which takes place during the carnival on the outskirts of the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo, where Haitian immigrants reside. The scene shows Haitians and Dominicans dancing together during the carnival and this scene means that there are lots of situations in which even those people who were fighting with each other can find a way to understand each other and be friends and forget about the previous fights.
According to the words of Michele Wucker, ‘During the carnival, the festival that flaunts limits and rules and real conflicts disappear as Dominicans and Haitians celebrate their differences and their common roots’. This means that no matter what the color of skin of people inhabiting the Hispaniola island is, what history the nations inhabiting it have, they still have to overcome all the distinctions and do their best to live in peace. As long as people realize that it’s much better to live in peace and that distinctions between nations should never result in conflicts, they can always hope for a happy future.