A Snapshot of Statelessness in the Western Hemisphere: Denationalization in Modern Day Dominican Republic

  • Javiela Evangelista


In 2013, the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Tribunal ruling 168/13 retroactively revoked the citizenship of over 200,000 Dominican nationals of Haitian descent, thus creating the fifth largest stateless population in the world and the largest in the Western Hemisphere today (IACHR 2015). The ruling simply made legal the longstanding, racialized and clandestine practice of converting Haitian descendant Dominican citizens into foreigners. The ruling, as well as the laws that precede it, demonstrate how anti-blackness and racialization are processes through which citizenship is measured and mobilized to reorder society and formalize hierarchies. Dominicans of Haitian descent who are stateless are habitually denied the right to vote, work, register marriage, own or inherit property, receive government health and educational benefits, or travel. This essay serves as a corrective to omissions and common misrepresentations of denationalization in the Dominican Republic as a highly underreported topic in mainstream global media. It also makes an argument for the multiplicative nature of denationalization, based on historical continuities, as documented in testimonials of Dominican women of Haitian descent impacted by statelessness in the Dominican Republic. NOTE: to protect participants who are impacted by denationalization, pseudonyms are used.