The Parsley Massacre [also referred to as El Corte (the cutting) by Dominicans and as Kouto-a (the knife) by Haitians] was a government-sponsored genocide in October 1937, at the direct order of Dominican President Rafael Trujillo who ordered the execution of the Haitian population living in the borderlands with Haiti. The violence resulted in the killing of 20,000 ethnic Haitian civilians during approximately five days.
Origin of the name 
The popular name for the massacre came from the shibboleth that the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo had his soldiers apply to determine whether or not those living on the border were native Dominicans or immigrant Haitians. Dominican soldiers would hold up a sprig of parsley to someone and ask "What is this?"; how the person would pronounce the Spanish word for parsley (perejil) would determine his/her fate. French and Haitian Creole pronounce the r as a uvular approximant; thus, their speakers can have great difficulties with the alveolar tap or trill of Spanish. The Dominicans realized that a Haitian would have difficulty pronouncing perejil, so if the person could pronounce perejil with a trill, the person was considered to be Dominican and allowed to live, but if the person pronounced perejil without the trill, the person was considered to be Haitian and executed.
Though this term was used frequently in the English-speaking media during the Commemoration of 75 years after the events (October 2012), most scholars recognize that this is a misnomer, as research by Lauren Derby has shown that this explanation is based more on myth than what personal accounts reveal.
Trujillo, a proponent of antihaitianismo (i.e., anti-Haitian bias), had made his intentions for the Haitian community clear in a short speech given at a dance held in his honor on 2 October 1937 in Dajabón, stating:
For some months, I have traveled and traversed the border in every sense of the word. I have seen, investigated, and inquired about the needs of the population. To the Dominicans who were complaining of the depredations by Haitians living among them, thefts of cattle, provisions, fruits, etc., and were thus prevented from enjoying in peace the products of their labor, I have responded, ‘I will fix this.’ And we have already begun to remedy the situation. Three hundred Haitians are now dead in Bánica. This remedy will continue.
Trujillo’s actions were reportedly in response to information regarding Haitians stealing cattle and crops from Dominican residents of the borderlands; therefore, the annihilation of an estimated 20,000 living within the Dominican border was clearly a direct order of Trujillo. For approximately five days, from 2 October 1937 to 8 October 1937, Haitians were killed with guns, machetes, clubs and knives by Dominican troops, some while trying to flee to Haiti by crossing the Artibonite River, which has often been the site of bloody conflict between the two nations. Of the tens of thousands of ethnic Haitians who were killed, a majority were born in the Dominican Republic and belonged to well-established Haitian communities within the borderlands, thus making them citizens.
Contributing factors 
The Dominican Republic, the former Spanish colony of Santo Domingo, is the eastern portion of the island of Hispaniola and occupies two-thirds of the land while having just five-million inhabitants. In contrast, Haiti, the former French colony of Saint Domingue, residing on the western portion of the island, occupies the remaining one-third of the landmass, and is very heavily settled with an estimated “500 persons per square mile.” This has resulted in many Haitians being forced to settle lands that were “too mountainous, too eroded or too dry for rewarding farm production”. However, instead of staying on lands incapable of supporting them, many Haitians began to migrate onto Dominican soil where land hunger was low. While Haitians benefited by gaining farm land, Dominicans in the borderlands subsisted mostly on agriculture, and benefited from the ease of exchange of goods with Haitian markets. Due to inadequate roadways connecting the borderlands to major cities, “communication with Dominican markets was so limited that the small commercial surplus of the frontier slowly moved toward Haiti”.
This posed a possible threat to Trujillo’s regime, because of long-standing border disputes between the two nations: if large numbers of Haitian immigrants began to occupy the less densely populated Dominican borderlands, the Haitian government could have made a case for claiming part of the Dominican Republic's land. Additionally, loose borders allowed contraband to pass freely and without taxes between nations, thus depriving the Dominican Republic of tariff revenue. Furthermore, the Dominican government saw the loose borderlands as a liability—in terms of the formation of revolutionary groups which could flee across the border with ease, while at the same time amassing both weapons and followers.
Despite attempts to blame Dominican civilians, it has been confirmed by U.S. sources that "bullets from Krag rifles were found in Haitian bodies, and only Dominican soldiers had access to this type of rifle". Therefore, the Haitian Massacre, which is still referred to as el corte (the cutting) by Dominicans and as kouto-a (the knife) by Haitians, was "a calculated action on the part of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo to homogenize the furthest stretches of the country in order to bring the region into the social, political and economic fold", and rid his republic of Haitians.
Thereafter, Trujillo began to develop the borderlands to link them more closely with urban areas. These areas were modernized with the addition of modern hospitals, schools, political headquarters, military barracks and housing projects, as well as a highway to connect the borderlands to major cities. Additionally, after 1937, quotas restricted the number of Haitians permitted to enter the Dominican Republic, and a strict and often discriminatory border policy was enacted; Haitians continued to be deported and killed in southern frontier regions, while refugees died of exposure, malaria and influenza.
In the end, American President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Haitian President Sténio Vincent sought reparations of $750,000, of which $525,000 (US$ 8,384,201.39 in 2013 dollars) was paid; of this 30 dollars per victim, only 2 cents were given to survivors, due to corruption in the Haitian bureaucracy.
In popular culture 
- Edwidge Danticat's novel The Farming of Bones chronicles the Haitians' escape from the Dominican Republic, following the massacre and the spread of antihaitianismo. Edwidge Danticat's short story "Nineteen Thirty-Seven," from Krik? Krak! also refers to the "Massacre River," as a site dividing Haiti from the Dominican Republic and where the protagonist's grandmother is killed.
- Rita Dove drew inspiration from the massacre for her poem "Parsley".
- The massacre, along with many other incidents of the Trujillo era, is discussed in the book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Dominican-American author Junot Díaz.
- A fictional Haitian woman named Chucha is discussed as having escaped from this massacre in the book How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez.
- In the novel Massacre River, Haitian author René Philoctète tells the story of the massacre through his narrative of a Dominican man trying to save his Haitian wife.
- The massacre is a focus of Jacques Stephen Alexis' 1955 novel General Sun, My Brother.
- The Parsley massacre is chronicled in the novel El masacre se pasa a pié (The massacre crossed on foot) by Dominican author Freddy Prestol Castillo.
See also 
- Dollar Diplomacy
- History of Haiti
- History of the Dominican Republic
- List of massacres in the Dominican Republic
- United States occupation of Haiti
- United States occupation of the Dominican Republic
- Wucker, Michele. "The River Massacre: The Real and Imagined Borders of Hispaniola". Windows on Haiti. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-12-16.
- pg 78 - Robert Pack (Editor), Jay Parini (Editor). Introspections (when ed.). PUB. p. 2222. ISBN B0006P7UY8 Check
On October 2, 1937, Trujillo had ordered 20,000 Haitian cane workers executed because they could not roll the "R" in perejil the Spanish word for parsley.
- Alan Cambeira. Quisqueya la bella (October 1996 ed.). M.E. Sharpe. p. 286. ISBN 1-56324-936-7.
pg 182anyone of African descent found incapable of pronouncing correctly, that is, to the complete satisfaction of the sadistic examiners, became a condemned individual. This holocaust is recorded as having a death toll reaching thirty thousand innocent souls, Haitians as well as Dominicans.
- McLaughlin, John J. (September 2006). "The shadow of Trujillo.". VIEWPOINT - racism fuels political violence in Dominican Republic. National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 2007-12-22.
- Turtis, Richard Lee (2002). "A World Destroyed, A Nation Imposed: The 1937 Haitian Massacre in the Dominican Republic". Hispanic American Historical Review 82 (3): 589–635 [p. 613].
- Turtis, 590.
- Derby, Lauren (1994). "Haitians, Magic, and Money: Raza and Society in the Haitian-Dominican Borderlands, 1900 to 1937". Comparative Studies in Society and History 36 (3): 508. doi:10.1017/S0010417500019216. Derby continues to explain: 'This point is important because, by the Dominican constitution, all those bor on Dominican soil are Dominican. If this population was primarily migrants, then they were Haitians, thus making it easier to justify their slaughter. However, our findings indicate that they were legally Dominicans, even if culturally defined as Haitians since they were of Haitian origin.' Derby, 508.
- Augelli, John P. (1980). "Nationalization of Dominican Borderlands". Geographical Review 70 (1): 21.
- Augelli, 21.
- Augelli, 24.
- Turtis, 600.
- Peguero, Valentina (2004). The Militarization of Culture in the Dominican Republic: From the Captains General to General Trujillo. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. p. 114. ISBN 0803204345.
- Turtis, 623.
- Roorda, Eric Paul (1998). The Dictator Next Door: The Good Neighbor Policy and the Trujillo Regime in the Dominican Republic, 1930–1945. Durham: Duke University Press. p. 132. ISBN 082232234X.
- p.41 - Madison Smartt Bell. A Hidden Haitian World, Volume 55, Number 12 (July 17th, 2008 ed.). New York Review of Books. pp. 4039 words.
- Danticat, Edwidge. Krik? Krak!, New York: Soho Press, 1995. Print.
- Rita Dove, “Parsley” from Museum (Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1983).