BY Albor Ruiz
Sonia Pierre, tireless fighter for the human rights of Dominicans of Haitian descent, will be buried today at Lechería, the humble migrant camp near Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic where she was born.
Pierre was only 48 when she suffered a fatal heart attack on Sunday, but her brave struggle for human rights could fill volumes.
“People are devastated, in shock, Sonia was one of a kind, it’s hard to believe she won’t be with us any more,” said Batala Aristide from Santo Domingo, a Brooklyn-born 18-year old who for two months has stayed at Pierre’s home while learning Spanish. “I was at the funeral home earlier today and it was crowded with all kinds of people painfully paying their respects.”
Pierre felt very early the pain of racial discrimination. She was arrested for the first time at 13 for organizing a march of Dominicans of Haitian descent for the rights of cane cutters.
She was threatened with deportation despite having been born in the Dominican Republic. From that moment on she dedicated her life to fight for the birthrights of her fellow Dominicans of Haitian descent.
“Today [Sunday\], the Dominican Republic lost a great hero,” said Councilman Ydanis Rodríguez (D-Washington Heights).
“Moving from humble origins to running the Movement for Dominican Women of Haitian Descent [MUDHA\],” Rodríguez added, “Sonia’s name became synonymous with progressive political change in the Dominican Republic, and so it’s difficult to overstate the impact she had on the lives of over 650,000 Dominicans of Haitian origin.”