Death By A Thousand Cuts

Juan Mejita Botero and Jake Kheel

USA 2016, 1h 13min

The Dominican Republic and Haiti may inhabit the very same island, but there are grave differences between the two nations. Not least the fact that the Dominican Republic boasts a vastly better economy, with a BNP allegedly ten times higher than that of Haiti – itself the poorest country of the Americas.

The documentary Death by a Thousand Cuts is screened at the Oslo documentary festival Human Rights Human Wrongs this month and is based on a murder connected to the illegal coal production between the two nations. In Haiti, the use of coal, still a widespread and sought after energy source, has caused massive deforestation. This has led to many Haitians extracting coal from forests on the Dominican side of the border, which the Dominican authorities are finding hard to control. They are also no able to legally prosecute the statutory and border transgressors when they are back in their own country. And thus continues a very little a very unsustainable exploitation of the island’s natural resources, with the danger that the deforestation will spread to the Dominical Republic – despite the country, unlike Haiti, has led an active policy to protect their natural areas.

The film makers use the murder to paint a wider picture of the rather tense relationship between these two countries.

Prejudice and hate. The victim in the film’s murder case was a Dominican ‘park ranger’, in charge of stopping these types of illegal activities. In 2012, Melaneo, as he was called, was found dead in the woods near the Haitian border, killed by multiple stab wounds.

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