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7 - A geography of living flesh: bearing the unbearable

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 July 2017

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Summary

Sergio Reyes, Cuentos y leyendas de la frontera (1996), La Fiesta de los Reyes y otros cuentos de la frontera (2004) and ‘La Vigía: destellos del “Sol Naciente” en la frontera’ (2009), Kenzaburo Oe, Sayonara, watashi no yon yo! (2005), Anthony Lespès, Les semences de la colère (1949), Jesús María Ramírez, Mis 43 años en La Descubierta (2000), Luis Vencedor Bello Mancebo, Memorias de Pedernales: Vencedor Bello y Alcoa Exploration Co (2013), Bernard Diederich, Seeds of Fiction: Graham Greene Adventures in Haiti and Central America 1954–1983 (2012), Graham Greene, The Comedians (1966)

Rueda's Bienvenida y la noche, as we have seen, ends with Trujillo departing from the city of Montecristi in 1929 after delivering a threatening speech (p. 154). On 2 October 1937, after he had ruled the country for seven years, Trujillo addressed the inhabitants of the Montecristi province again in order to make very clear his intention to eradicate, once and for all, the Haitian presence from the Dominican borderland. After accusing the Haitians of stealing from the Dominicans he promised his compatriots that he would ‘solve the problem. Indeed,’ he said, ‘we have already begun. Around three hundred Haitians were killed in Bánica. The solution must continue.’ Trujillo's solution was to forcibly include the unruly and disorderly raya into his geography of management by turning it into the dominated ‘Dominicanized’ and modernized frontier. This not only caused the death of thousands of people but also impacted on the lives of the rayanos who continued to live on the borderland and had to pay the price of modernization, and transformed the lives of the settlers of the agricultural colonies which were established on both sides of the border in the aftermath of the massacre.

The human and environmental costs of post-1937 modernization are brought to the fore by some of the texts included in this chapter. Others reveal the incongruities which emerge when both the Dominicanized borderland, which up to that point existed only at the level of discourse, and the model agricultural colonies as they were planned and envisaged ‘on paper’ – what Lefebvre would call ‘conceived’ or even ‘representational’ spaces – are approached from the perspective of those for whom they were places in which they had to live and develop practices of daily life informed by mechanisms of survival and resistance against abusive governments often supported by exploitative foreign interests.

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Publisher: Liverpool University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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