It’s time for me to put on my serious face. I love travel, and I love how fun travel can be, and I love making clients feel like they’ve taken their dream trip. I love everything about our industry, and I love how travel can save the world! But I think as travelers we forget how much power we actually wield on the international stage.
Now is the time to use that power for good.
In case you’re not familiar about what’s going on in the Dominican Republic, let me update you: the Dominican Republic has revoked the citizenship of an estimated 290,000 people descended from undocumented immigrants, going all the way back to 1929! You can gain your citizenship back by “substantially proving” that both your parents were born in the Dominican Republic, otherwise you’ll face deportation to Haiti, most likely starting in August.
Let’s put that into perspective. My great-grandparents immigrated here around 1929. So everyone from my grandfather down his family line to me could be deported if we were of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic. Even if I had never been to Haiti or don’t speak French. Absurd, right?
If the Dominican Republic’s policies sound vaguely familiar, that’s because a step like this has historically led to genocide. Single out a group of people you declare “others” and strip them of their rights. In 2015 the world has been through enough genocide to see the warning signs, and this is a glaring one!
Now, how to use your power, travelers? It’s very simple, possibly the easiest thing you’ll ever do: don’t travel to the Dominican Republic. I told you it was easy! You might be saying, “But it’s beautiful!” There are loads of beautiful places in the Caribbean (see my Twitter for ideas). You don’t have to swear off the Dominican Republic forever, just until the government changes their racist policies.
The people of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic need you to help them by boycotting travel to the Dominican Republic. And it’s something you can do. I know most human rights violations seem impossibly far away and difficult to help, but this one is different! You, fellow travelers, have all the power this time. You CAN make a difference, and by boycotting travel to the Dominican Republic you WILL make a difference. Just don’t wait until the Dominican Republic changes its official status from “deport Haitians” to “put Haitians in camps” before you decide to help.