Haitian and Dominican community leaders came together at the State House on Tuesday to denounce what they described as the unhumanitarian deportation from the Dominican Republican of people of Haitian descent. Despite the unity on display, however, community and political leaders differed over whether to call for people in the United States to boycott travel to the Dominican Republican to exert economic pressure on the government to reconsider its policy.
Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry, a Dorchester Democrat of Haitian descent, brought together a coalition of people and groups to call on the Dominican government to reconsider its positions and to urge the U.S. State Department to intervene. While Forry and former state lawmaker Marie St. Fleur called for the travel boycott, Cambridge Vice Mayor Dennis Benzan said a boycott would only hurt poor Dominicans who work in cane fields and resorts on the island. Instead, he called on people to contact their elected officials and for the United States to first exhaust diplomatic options.
U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, a Cambridge Democrat, said he's "not there yet" on calling for a boycott, but said he won't hesitate to recommend "other levers" if diplomacy fails. "My hope is the Dominican government comes to its senses," Capuano said.