Megan Jeannette-Meyers

An Iowa State University professor has organized what’s being called a global virtual vigil will be held Saturday night to remember a decades-old massacre on a Caribbean island.

Megan Jeanette Myers, an ISU professor of Spanish Studies, says as many as 20,000 Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent were killed in the brutal attack in 1937, which was ordered by a Dominican dictator.

“He made it look like an uprising of Dominican peasants as opposed to a state-ordered massacre,” Myers says. “It’s even been referred to by some historians as an ethnic genocide. Because of that, he ordered all of his men to use machetes and for that very reason, it’s also known as El Corte or, ‘The Cutting.'”

The island that’s home to both Haiti and the Dominican Republic is located between Cuba and Puerto Rico. In marking the 80th anniversary of the massacre, Myers and her students will hold a vigil in Ames from 6 to 8 p.m. tomorrow, but anyone can join virtually. The vigil will remember the lives lost and recognize ongoing efforts to repair the relationship between the two countries.

Myers is co-founder of Border of Lights, an organization that provides support to border communities and commemorates the lives lost in the massacre. “We invite scholars and activists and artists to respond to individuals who use the #BOL17, or #BorderofLights17, asking questions about the history of the Dominican Republic and Haiti and about the massacre in particular.”

Myers says Border of Lights is working with the directors of the documentary, “Hasta la Raiz”, which means “To the Root,” to host a screening of the film at I-S-U next spring. It tells the story of how three Dominican women, all of Haitian descent, confront anti-Haitian immigration policies in the Dominican Republic.

(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)