Land of the Dead

I’ve written often about the difficulties of pinpointing exactly who is Latino and who is not. You’ll remember some of the familiar arguments (eg, Costa Ricans are Hispanic, Spaniards are not, Mexicans are Hispanic… unless they’re Chicanos who reject the label… wait…). In sum, it’s a messy process with no clear delineations.

In my most recent post, I mentioned that Sammy Sosa is Latino. Sosa is from the Dominican Republic, which is the only nation that shares a border with Haiti, one of several countries in the Caribbean that are not considered Hispanic.

When one thinks about it, this is rather arbitrary. Perhaps it is because Haiti has a French, rather than Spanish, cultural tradition. Or maybe there’s a racial element there.

In any case, the country’s non-Hispanic status was irrelevant to the cataclysmic earthquake that killed an estimated 100,000 people this week. Even before the disaster, the nation was the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. At this point, Haiti is so desperately miserable that one wonders if it would just be easier and more humane to ship the survivors to other countries and abandon that part of the island.

You don’t need me to urge you to donate to relief efforts. You will if you can or want to. Here are links to a few sites where you can make donations. Let’s hope that someday the country – indeed, no country – is so synonymous with human suffering.


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January 2010
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