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ÂBA FIL, 2020

Cast sugar hands, granulated sugar, plywood, paint. 24” x 24” x 27”

To participate in the work to address batey abuses in the Dominican Republic, visit:

Âba Fil: Haitian-Creole term meaning "under the wire." The clandestine passage from the Haitian-Dominican border where Haitians are rounded up by Bascones to Bateyes.

Arawak | Taino: Arawak, American Indians of the Greater Antilles and South America. The Taino, an Arawak subgroup, was the first native peoples encountered by Christopher Columbus on Hispaniola. Through violence, brutality, and oppression (including enslavement), the Spanish committed genocide of these groups. One of many crimes committed by the Spanish was the severing of hands and feet from the body.

Bascones: Human smugglers who work on the Dominican-Haitian border and sometimes work as labor brokers. Haitians with documentation and identity cards are stripped of them. They are stateless, illegal, and subject to arrest in the Dominican Republic except on the plantations. The Dominican government is complicit in human trafficking.

Batey: The settlements and/or communities that developed around the sugar industry. Bateyes are a state within a state: the company is the police and government. They exercise absolute authority over the lives who live there.

Centrales Azucareras: "Corporación Dominicana de Centrales Azucareras." Trujillo's centralization of the Dominican sugar industry. ​

DR-CAFTA: Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement. The Dominican sugar industry has a preferential trade deal with the U.S. The U.S imports more sugar from the Dominican Republic than from any other country. 

Familia Vicini: There are five large sugar companies in the Dominican Republic. The Vincini family is one of the wealthiest. Their business interests extend beyond sugar to include banking, property, and the media. The second Vicini to run the family sugar business was the president of the Dominican Republic Juan Batista in the 1920s.

Hermanos Fanjul: a vast sugar and real estate conglomerate in the United States and the Dominican Republic.

Reinado de Castilla: ​Spanish Crown. The Iberian Kingdom exercised colonial domination over the Caribbean island of "Hispaniola." Given the Caribbean region's long history of forced immigration and slavery, abuse and violence within labor and industry persist today.


Trujillo, Partido Dominicano: the de facto political party in the Dominican Republic during the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, who ruled the country from 1930 to 1961. During this period, Trujillo developed "racialization campaigns" against Haitians to motivate hatred and justify violence nationwide. 


ÂBA FI. Es Lo Que Tenemos solo exhibition, The Herbert. F Johnson Museum, 2021

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