The Dominican Republic Ministry of Culture is defending its decision to allow a local group to dress in Klu Klux Klan costumes as part of its annual Carnival parade in the capital city of Santo Domingo on Sunday.
“Every group is free to choose their themes, whether using elements of the Dominican identity or universal culture in their costumes,” the ministry tweeted.
Another tweet noted that the Dominican Republic is a “free country” where people are at liberty “to express their creativity.”
The ministry added the group participated in the "historical category," which “focuses on themes like independence, slavery, racism, etc.”
Use of controversial costumes were actually intended as criticism of the United States’ white supremacist organization that has often used racially motivated violence, the ministry continued.
“The reality is that the troupe, with such action, disapproved of the unseemly practices of the Ku Klux Klan,” the statement read, noting that the ministry never intended for people to think that it actually supported or promoted the values of the KKK.
“Based on the truth of what happened, the Ministry of Culture reiterates its commitment to our identity and democratic values that underpin our daily life, as a democratic state,” the statement continued.
Yet the island country is no stranger to homegrown racial tension. Its recent nationality policy change, for example, drew headlines across the world.
A court ruling issued last year required the elimination of birthright citizenship to be applied retroactively, jeopardizing the legal status of thousands of black, Haitian-born naturalized citizens as well as immigrants and their Dominican-born children.