The Masacre River separates the Dominican Republic and Haiti at Dajabon and Ouanaminthe. The river is one of the filthiest, most polluted rivers on earth. Out of necessity, many Haitians bathe, wash their clothes and drink from this river.
The river takes its name from a massacre that occured during fighting between the French and the Spanish hundreds of years ago. But if hadn’t already had that morbid name, it could’ve earned it more recently.
The Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo passionately hated Haitians. In 1937, angered by allegations of crimes by Haitians against Dominican farmers, Trujillo acted on his hatred. He evidently formulated his plan in Dajabon, and beginning on October 2, he ordered the Dominican military to murder every Haitian they could find. In order to make it appear that the murders were the work of local farmers, and not of the military, he ordered that they be carried out with machetes, rather than guns. To be able to distinguish between Haitians and dark-skinned Domincans, the Dominican soldiers would show their intended victim a sprig of parsley and ask what it is. The Spanish word for parsley is perejil. Those who answered with the French or Kreyol word, or who didn’t pronounce the Spanish word properly, were murdered.
Over a five day period, 20,000 to 30,000 Haitian men, women and children were slaughtered, in what came to be called the Parsley Massacre.
Eventually Trujillo’s crime was made known, and the U.S. forced him to agree to pay reparations of $30 per victim. Of this paltry sum, only about two cents ever made it to the families of the victims, the rest having been stolen by the corrupt Haitian bureaucracy.
Yet another tragic episode in the sad history of Haiti.