During a conversation at Columbia University in New York, President Luis Abinader of the Dominican Republic faced an uncomfortable moment when a student confronted him about racism, homophobia, transphobia, and colorism in the country. The student, Lizzy George-Griffin, asked about his plans to address these issues.
Abinader initially denied there was a race problem in the Dominican Republic, emphasizing that 85% of the population is of mixed race. The student disagreed, insisting that there is indeed a race problem in the country. The president responded, “Well, that is your opinion.”
The moderator intervened, reminding everyone that the exchange should be respectful. Abinader then explained that in any society, there might be isolated problems, but he believed it was not a widespread issue in the Dominican Republic due to its mixed-race population. He also pointed out that many maternity hospitals in the country are occupied by Haitian women, emphasizing that the Dominican Republic is not a wealthy nation.
The student mentioned Haitian men being forcibly removed and injured, to which the president responded, “That is your opinion, but it is not the real problem we have in the Dominican Republic.”
The exchange ended with the student turning her back on the president while he was still speaking to her, and leaving the room.