Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ethnic Cleansing on Hispaniola

When I hear the term ethnic cleansing, I don't think of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. I think of the war in Balkans due to the collapse of Jugoslavia, I think of the genocides in Rwanda, Somalia, Armenia, Cambodia or even, Nazi Germany (way too many off the top of my head). But when I think of the Dominican Replublic, I think of baseball and some of my favorite players, like Pedro Martinez and David Ortiz among many others. Very cheerful and pleasant people! They are not only great athletes, but great citizens of the world and men of character.

But not too long ago, in October 1937, Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered the murder of all the Hatians living in the Dominican Republic. In a five day period, anywhere from 17,000 to 35,000 Hatians were massacred mostly via machete. This event has come to be known as the Parsley Massacre.

Apparently, ethnic hatred is between the two groups of countrymen is common. Dominicans and Haitians share the same island, Hispaniola, but ethnic hatred between the groups is prevalent today.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Spain during WW II

I find it amazing everytime I see a film based in Europe during the mid-20th Century ... how incredibly unstable the place was. It reminds me of the Middle East today with the fanaticism more on political ideaology and less on religion. In watching Pan's Labyrinth today, I had to do some quick research to remember how Spain fit in since the film was based during 1944.

The Spanish Civil War ended in 1939 and things were still chaotic in Spain during World War II. Franco was still president and had taken side with the Axis early in the war sending troups to fight the Soviets at one point. Hitler offerred Franco membership in the Axis. He asked for food, military equipment, Gibraltar and French Northern Africa in exchange. He, of course, was turned probably due to the fact that he really didn't have a lot to offer in exchange for this. Later, in the war, Spain did offer sanctuary to Jews fleeing Nazi occupation, particular those from Vichy France. After WWII, Spain was orginally barred from entering the UN due to their intial support of the Axis. They went through years of isolation after that.

Pan's Labrynth was a phenomenal film but is quite graphic. It showed the leftist rebels being to tortured by the Franco loyalists. A great film to see how a child might deal with such a world. Might be what kids in Iraq might be going through now.