SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – A 3-year-old boy of Haitian descent was killed when a group of Dominican men burned down four family homes in revenge for an alleged assault, authorities said Tuesday.
The attack occurred Sunday night in a sugarcane workers' camp, or batey, near southwestern city of Barahona.
The U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo on Tuesday condemned the attack as "extrajudicial" violence that "contradicts the rule of law and threatens the most fundamental principles of democratic governance."
Dominican police identified the boy as Obenson Pie. French-derived Haitian names are often mangled in the Spanish-speaking country: Pie, which is Spanish for "foot," is often substituted for the common Haitian surname Pierre. A common Haitian first name is "Robinson."
Some witnesses told police that the child's father had assaulted a 42-year-old Dominican man named Victor Matos. Other witnesses told police that Matos was injured in a brawl involving several men including the father.
Police are looking for the five men.
Haitians frequently cross into the neighboring country to find work; many have been there for generations. Their presence is resented by some Dominicans who can be incited by historical grievances.