Monday, March 31, 2014

Build it and they will come

They are "redoing"the Zona Colonial, which is an UNESCO World Heritage site. There were the usual foul ups which we expect here, things that make life interesting. Archaelogists complained  that some of the excavations to bury the electric lines and repair the streets were damaging the footings of the precious 16th Century buildings. Bloggers with cameras reported that workers on the public gate to the Parque Independencia were, in fact, Haitian.  And then geologists observed that the black mold which had covered the old stones had not been treated or removed and would therefore seep right through the new plaster work in a couple of years.

I saw the new plaster work the other day. A bit of black mold could improve it, give it that Colonial look.

The new highway from the all inclusive resorts in Punta Cana has been completed so that bus loads of tourists can come and visit easily in one day. It is supposedly only two hours one way. And they do want the Zona, with all the trinket shops, art shops, little restaurants, and historic sites to be ready. They have already done a wonderful job in getting the garbage picked up on schedule.

Pretty soon, there will be a lot more buildings opening up for sale.

And pretty soon New Yorkers will be here.

I know it. I am a New Yorker myself.

When I first moved to Asheville, North Carolina, in 1990, I could have dropped into a coma in the middle of main street on Friday at 5 PM and no one would have found me until Monday. But, I said, ::Beware, Asheville, the New Yorkers will be here.

Now, the downtown condos start around $300,000 and there is a street fair almost every weekend in the summer.

For me, Asheville was over run by just the same sort of NY style commercialism that overtook.. well.. New York.. Gone is the Greenwich Village of my youth. Gone the Times Square. Gone the street people. Gone the Jane Jacobs ideal of a city on the stoops.

And they are not in Asheville either.

But here.. well, not in the Zona because that is already too pricey.. but HERE in Gazcue.. there is still a neighborhood.  Huge old trees whose roots have cracked the sidewalks, primary schools whose noise fills the streets, delis and colomados who deliver everything. And the thrashing Caribbean Sea as a daily meditation spot.

Heaven?

Only if you are died in the wool urban. If your deepest criminal streak is jaywalking.. if your favoirte pastime is people watching... if you do mind gas fumes, truck horns and chaos.. soot.. and here. piles of garbage.. and street dogs.. and young boys posing as shoe shiners.. asking for money..

and Hookers.. let us not forget the Ladies of the Night.

For myself, I kinda like the Red Light Districts.. but it is not for everyone

And tell any Dominican abroad that you live in Gazcue and he will say, ah Rica.. because we also have some of the finest old house, best apartments, and Trees... Ah the Trees..


I walk to the market, and the grocerty boy with the cart follows me home, stopping on the way as I pick up fruit from the fruit seller, flowers from the flower lady, ripe avocados from Christina. When I lived on the third floor, he walked up with the groceries.

You bet I tip large.

So yes, you can live here.. just like in old New York.

Yes you can live on a generous Social Security check.

Two bedroom condos in Gazcue start at about $75000. Every once an a while there is a full elegant house in the 400k and up region.  Maintenance costs start around $50 a month. There are no taxes for property under $150lk

Many of the older apartments have small rooms for live in maids, called "cuartos de servicos":, large enough for a single bed, with its own toilet and shower.

No Medicare, though.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Disinformation?

With the circulation of the petition for the Lawyer's Guild to cancel their scheduled trip to the Dominican Republic,  I begin to wonder if Haitians and their supporters are not falling victim to a deliberate disinformation campaign because, really, there is nothing that would please many in the  DR more than for all of you "Haitian sympathizers" than  to simply stay away from here.

 Certainly I have been invited to leave more than once.

And to keep on talking about the TC court decision and the sugar cane workers as if this were a new issue - as if it had not been litigated already in the InterAmerican Court for 10 years, as if it were not - in the end - clearly a matter of national sovereignty-- and as if every constitution since 1929 had not had the category "in transit" in it. (and the answer to that query is that being illegal for 80 years does not make you legal)

Perhaps it is the first time that some are hearing about the "in transit" clause. Perhaps some do not know about Sonia Pierre or the film "The Price of Sugar" and how Father Hartley was expelled and the Vincini family tried to have the film banned from being shown in the US. But lots of us do.

So why is there this uproar now? Why is there no talk about the opportunity? Doesn't anyone speak Spanish? Aren't any of the NGOs sending out announcements? WHY NOT?

Keeping you focused on the injustice of the "in transit clause", and mourning the dead of the 1937 massacre, , will keep you from examining the Actual decree of the President which deals primarily with the 53,000 with questionable cedulas (13,000 of Haitian descent) and  with the bulk of the 435,000 HAITIANS - and other illegal immigrants - who live here.

As well, of course, with all those who, over the years, have been thwarted in getting their papers. Estimates are that 15% of Dominicans - of complete Dominican descent - do not have papers, primarily because of the poverty of their parents.

The decree sets out the how they go about getting their papers.

 But no one seems to be reading the decree. No one seems to be translating it into Kreyole. (or even English - which is odd -- it is almost as if the DR does not object to this publicity) 

Everyone just seems to be saying how bad things are for the Haitians here - how racist and xenophobic it is, how hard life is for them.... And so, perhaps, they will just self deport. That will certainly easy the growing tensions here. That is, of course, the fondest dream of the Dominicans nationalists. For many, there are simply far too many Haitians here already. 

Even the Human Rights Delegation of the InterAmerican Court came here and then issued a report saying the TC ruling was unjust. Now be clear.. this has zero impact. Zero. The DR has been in that Court on this issue for years (google is your friend). They will pay the fine. They will then tighten their constitution and immigration requirements again -- as they just did. If one reades the TC decision - which few have done, I am sure (as it is 150 pages long and in Spanish, after all! as one Haitian official complained), you will note that the case is already well prepared for presentation at an international level.

It is the right of any sovereign country to determine its own rules on citizenship.  Can anyone disagree with that?

Now Haitians here have a 15 month window in which to attempt to become legal. So their supporters, instead of studying and translating the decree into easy to understand Spanish and Kreyole, coming to the DR with volunteers to help register the Haitians who are eligible, are calling for a total boycott of the Dominican Republic.

This certainly helps someone's agenda but it is not that of the vulnerable Haitian diaspora on the ground here.


 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Amnesty for illegal residents of the Dominican Republic

This was my post this morning to the Corbett List - the Haitian English list serv - in response to a poster....


M. St Louis - you may prefer to simply dismiss me as a "Dominican apologist" rather than 
address any of the issues in my posts. Just as many prefer to rail against the Tribunal 
Court decision and the rights of a sovereign country to determine its own citizenship requirements.
That is your prerogative.  And I am just as reviled on the Dominican forums for being a Haitian 
apologist. So perhaps that means that I am doing something right.

 For the record, I have been a freelance journalist here, focused, in part on Haitian issues.http://www.ipsnews.net/author/elizabeth-eames-roebling/ and the leading voice on DR1.com on Haiti. I make an effort to see both sides of the story. 

The recent decision has nothing to do with the current administration of Haiti,, nor with trade but with the ongoing cases against the DR in the InterAmerican Court and the revision of their constitution from jus solis to jus sanguinis. So do not blame Martelly. It is the massive influx of Haitian immigrants which has pushed this issue.

Of course, none of the trade issues helped - certainly not the way that Haiti conducted itself over the chicken and egg boycott - based on erroneous information. But the issue of illegal immigration and the children of illegal immigrants in the DR is long standing.

Many have read the TC decision. Many have commented. Few have reported that the census of the 
cedulas has been done and about 54,000 have found to be questionable. Among these were Americans
French, Germans, and Chinese, and  13,000, were Haitian.

The President has announced a plan for the regularization of all those foreigners who are in the country illegally. This has received almost no coverage except to say that it is complicated. Yes, it is. There are categories for those who entered legally, for those who entered illegally, for those who were born here. All have different requirements to obtain their papers. Here is the decree http://es.scribd.com/doc/188044925/DECRETO-327-13

Those who were born here are to be given special assistance. 

The Haitian consulates here - for the very first time - are now issuing birth certificates. Not in Santo Domingo but at least in Santiago, Higuey, and Dajabon, so that those who are here without any papers whatsoever can at least start the process.

This is an amnesty on all illegal foreigners- for those who entered illegally and those whose parents never had proper papers (who themselves were deemed "in transit" as was defended by the Dominican government in InterAmerican Court as far back as 2004). This is an opportunity for all Haitians now in the Dominican Republic to regularize their status here, if they meet certain criteria.It also applies to the many foreign tourists who entered legally but overstayed their 30 day visa.

Now it will be up to you, you Haitians of education, to decode the citizenship requirements for the Dominican Republic. I, for one, am simply tired of hearing rerun of the Parsley Massacre of 1937 while 435,000 Haitians lose an opportunity to get papers here and send home remittances.  

As far as I have seen, all that the Haitian diaspora.. and the NGOs here (and the international press, really) have done is to decry the decision as racist and xenophobic. 

Basta Ya. 

Haitians are the only ones here who are allowed work visas from the Dominican Republic for $300 a year. 
For this, they must return to Port au Prince every year and have it renewed. This makes them permanently in transit.  Fair?

To work here, other foreigners must go through a far more lengthy process, with apostilled birth certificates costing $300, apostilled police records costing the same, a Dominican guarantor, proof of income or financial stability, and medical checks. This gives temporary residence which must be renewed in two years, with fees attached mounting to $500. Then comes permanent residency which must be renewed every ten years, with fees attached. 

Haitians who are here are free to go through the same process and get their cedulas, if they are able.

The recent census reported that there are about 450,000 Haitians here. I doubt that many of them are legal - in that they have Haitian passports and Dominican visas.or registered cedulas as foreigners. 

They will now have 15 months, til Feb 2015, to regularize their status. They will have to show that they have links to the Dominican society - that they studied here, or a lease on an apartment, or have employment here, or have a child, or live with a Dominican,  or a bank account, or furniture, or a combination of the above. 

The ruling is complicated because it gives a lot of options -- don't have this? Ok,, how about a letter from the Neighborhood Association? A letter from the Church?  They have to show that they are literate in Spanish. (OK.. this is going to be hard since a lot of them may not be literate in any language).  

I have not yet heard reports on how it is going since only the sugar companies and some of the resorts in Punta Cana have complied - registering about 900 Haitians and other foreigners. No mention in the press about how these companies had been in defiance of the law up to now but merely a brazen admission that these people "would now be paid more".  It is illegal here in the Dominican Republic to hire undocumented workers but it is known that even the government does it.

I will be interested to learn, as I intend to do shortly, if any of the groups that are working with the Haitian diaspora here are intending to help them get their papers. Or whether, as I sadly suspect, the plan is to spend the next 15 months reliving the Parsley Massacre. 

As far as I can see, the literate Haitian diaspora has done nothing to help the Haitians here. I have seen only protest marches and petitions to overturn a Supreme Court ruling, accusations of racism, and exaggerations. As in for example, one or two pieces about "forced" migrations from the incident in Neyba, which was one of mob violence from which 200 Haitians sought police protection and an escort from the border. One hopes that this scene is not repeated in other border regions.

It would be useful to see a summary translation of the decree start coming out on FaceBook in Kreyole. There is a large and literate Haitian population here- university students, for example- who could do much to assist those who are not so fortunate, if they were encouraged to do so. It would be such a welcome change to see Haitians helping the Haitians here take advantage of this opportunity, instead of simply accusing the Dominican Republic of xenophobia and racism. 

What I fear is that that population here - the educated Haitians, the University students, for example, who may in fact be eligible for permanent papers here under this amnesty, will do nothing, as the leaders are simply decrying the court decision. Many of the leaders are in NGOs who get funding for decrying, after all. And instead of helping the construction workers, for instance, they will just continue their studies. Then the window will close.  And deportations will start in earnest.  

And whose fault will that be?

      

 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Behind the "deportations"

Musings from an armchair journalist.. stuck in the Capital.. longing for a field assignment......

Neiba is small city, perhaps 50,000 inhabitants, located in a valley between two mountain ranges and several rivers and an overflowing brackish below sea level level which is home to one of the world's endangered species, the American crocodile. The crocodile has more international supporters than the farmers of Neiba, who rely primarily on the traditional crops of coffee and plantains and whose land is being eroded by the mysterious rise of the waters of the lake.

The only advantage that Neiba has over other small towns is that it is one of the few places where grapes can be grown. Grapes, along with apples, used to be imported only at Christmas and have come to mean luxury, Christmas all year, to the Dominican people. Now, there are local, rather than just imported grapes for consumption. There is even a small local wine industry.

Neiba is also home to many Haitian immigrants as are all the mountains of the southwest. Where there is a coffee harvest, there are always Haitians who come to work to pick the beans, just as they go to the cities to build skyscrapers. And the mountain ranges are so vast, and so very inhospitable for those who do not know how to live without electricity and water, that those who do not know how to do so have not usually bothered these Haitians. No one goes to hunt them down and deport them, no one arrests them while they were working. The Haitians have simply been left in peace.

But things have tipped now on the balance of how many Haitians are in the Dominican Repubic. There are never figures on how many illegals are here. Even though their skin hue may be exactly the same, as it is in many areas such as Samana and the south, Dominicans and Haitians swear that can always tell one another apart, even just by the walk, or perhaps the dress, or some instinct. 

The balance tipped. The fire ignited. And the pot boiled over in Neiba when someone killed a seventy year old local Dominican couple, coffee growers, at their home. Killed them by machete, which is known as a Haitian weapon because Dominicans use guns. Guns are the weapon of choice here in the Dominican Republic. It is against the law to carry a concealed weapon, so it is common to see a man riding on his motor cycle with a pistol in his belt. It is to be assumed that most home owners have a gun in their homes. 

Just as it is  assumed that anyone who is killed with a machete (hacked to death would be phrase used whether or not that was true) was killed by a Haitian. So, when that older couple was killed, a younger Haitian, probably a Haitian who worked for them, who may or may not have had anything to do with killing, was knifed to death by a Dominican mob. Knives are a weapon without nationality. At first the reports were that he was lynched. But lynching is not Dominican style public justice, it is Haitian style. 

Over 200 Haitians in the town, with or without proper passports or visas,sought refuge from mob violence in the police station.  A few days later they were escorted to the Haitian border, about an hour away, and returned to their homeland.  Now the police have the name of the actual murdered and have asked the Haitian authorities that he be extradited to face trial and justice here in the Dominican Republic, which will most likely be a very safe option for him as there is no death penalty here, and he has taken away the source of livelihood for these 200 people and their families and most of the other Haitians in Neiba and his life will be in danger in Haiti.

When I lived in Las Terrenas, a popular Frenchman was macheted to death by his former young Haitian lover whom he had dropped and left with nothing. The lover came back with a friend, killed the Frenchman, and stole his high end motorcycle. The local police started questioning the local Haitians to find out where the Haitian had gone. The rule, which I was told, was that if you are seen talking with the Dominican police after a crime here, your family in Haiti will be killed. There are very few Haitians in the Dominican prison system. These particular Haitians were found. The family of the Haitian who was seen talking to the police in Las Terrenas were all killed.

But there were 200 Haitians who were voluntarily in police custody in Neiba and only killer. 
 
"

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pro Haitian, Pro Dominican

Last week someone on one of the Haiti list servs called me an apologist for Trujillo, the Dominican dictator who murdered some 40,000 Haitians. This was in marked contrast to the ususal rants against me on the Dominican list servs where I am regularly invited to move to Haiti. So I am clearly doing something right in my ability to irritate all and everyone.

The Dominican Constitutional Court just handed down a decision which has sparked protests at Dominican Embassies all over the world and garnered protest letters from the Haitian government and the United Nations among others.

I seem to be alone in not being concerned about the outcome for the 700,000 persons who are potentially affected by the decision. Perhaps because I have read the decision which it seems to me most of the people who are writing about in the press have not. Perhaps because I have been aware that there has been a problem with this issue for a long time. that the children of illegal immigrants here are NOT entitled to Haitian citizenship, and NOT entitiled to Domnican Citizenship and that the problem was only going to grow.

It is, of course, somehow, so much easier to be on Haiti's side on everything. Because they are just the underdog in everything. And I usually am. Not this time.

It is not the fault of the Dominican Republic that the majority of the illegal immigrant who come here.. some say a million to date.. but who can tell?.... have no papers whatsoever. Nor is it the Dominican Republic's fault that they come.

Yes, it is the fault of the Dominican Republic that the gates at the border are wide open twice a week for market, with no papers checked,. because they want the trade. But the border is long and porous. And there will always be economic refugees from a poor country to a wealthier one. And since the earthquake, it has been from a much poorer country to a wealthier one.

But the DR is not a wealthy country. It still hovers just above poverty. One cannot drink the tap water. Schools are only for four hours a day. Unemployment is massive. Salaries are low. Visas to other countries are heavily restricted.

It is in no position to accept waves of unskilled, uneducated, undocumented workers.Without documents, there is no way to even begin the path to citizenship. So rather than protesting at the Dominican Embassies, would it not perhaps be more useful for some of the Haitian diaspora groups to volunteer in Haiti as census takers and help get everyone their birth certificates or identity cards?

The DR is taken to the InterAmerican Court of Human Rights, the Hague of the hemisphere.. and subjected to the scrutiny of the world for its treatment of the Haitians. Everyone screams at them "racist" "xenaphobe" . After the last decision in 2004, the DR changed its constition to jus sanguinis from jus solis, and made it even more clear what it meant by persons "in transit".. i.e. "illegal". More outcrys.

Yes, well. I know Haitians who work for half of what Domnicans work for. That is true. Is that racist? is that xenophobic?  or is that just taking advantage of illegal migrant laborers?  Dominican workers are upset about that. That is capitalism.. That is exploitation.

There is also an elimentt here that says  "you have a problem, blame the Haitians"

 But Haiti is the DR's second largest trading partner, accounting for one fourth of her trade. And this is an island. No way out. Sharks all around. Cuba on one side, US Coast Guard on the other. So these two nations, who have been doing a live rendition of a Russian novel for 500 years, are going to have to work it out.

The Haitians who are not here seem to think that the Dominicans all hate them. But the Haitians who are here mostly want to stay, not because they love it here but because there is work here.

The ruling of the Constitutional Court directed the Electoral Council to make a list of all those whom they thought might have Dominican identity papers which are in question and then it directed the Executive Branch to come up with a solution to the issue, on how to regularize the status of these persons. Both were directed to complete this within a year.

But there are lots of folks, I guess, who get paid for screaming at Embassies. Or perhaps that is all they know how to do.



Saturday, March 9, 2013

new home

I signed a five year lease on an apartment which is unfurnished.

This is to be my first home in nine years.

And, my first home ever in which I will not have to store any of the family's stuff.

My mother, Betty Waldo Parish

had a fine collection of art both her own and other from other artists which my nephew and now.. welll. me again because i confess that after i had given away every bit that she left in my care to the Asheville Art Museum ten years ago.... I missed having her art around.

So I bought a piece.

anyway.. my nephew, also cursed with the child of an artist custodian curse.. will never be free of his fathers work since it is of metal and for sale with a lot of zeros.. but the man seems to like the biz

My brother;s son Matthew did a great job with his fathers work.

Now if all of you bought a piece as well.

It would make my mother's ghost happy.

Happy Women's Day

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Escape from the Coast

This is from a letter that I wrote to my dearest French Friends in Las terreanas.. after I had to be evacuated in an ambulance with an upright seat.. since I had a blood clot in the leg which was moving.

//////////

 have tried to call you a couple of times but no answer on either phone. I hope that you are well.. And that you have forgiven me for my outbursts.

It just broke my heart.. to see the fire coral from the reef in Haiti where I used to swim three hours a day.. the reef that drew me back here.. cut up and for sale in Las Terrenas.  It was right off the coast at Amani y les Bains near St Marc. Hait's beaches are so much more beautiful as the sea is flat and Carribbean Blue. 

The store in the paseo, which i love, told me the coral was from Haiti. I said that the red coral has been internationally protected for years.. it is on the endangered species list. Alan Baskin helped the government of Haiti declare the entire reef protected. Spear fishing was banned there in 1979 

The manager, who is charming,  sighed.. and said.. the people want it.

The little hotel where I stayed was completely full. They have upgraded.. the lights in the garden .. so that I can no longer see the stars at night.  Then they keep taking the seaweed away from the base of the palm trees on Punto Poppy and the trees keep falling in. I keep waiting for the internation residents to speak out but it has been happening more and more over the last five years. I think that maybe it is just like lobsters.. that you are in the water and it is getting hotter but you do not notice. Anyway.. my heart was broken.

And then the medicine that I have been taking makes me allergic to the sun.. I just walked around the corner for cigs without sunscreen on and was burning up already inside. I was in the hospital once with this already.... aarrgh.. Anyway.. it takes a long time to land from a manic episode.. which was back in June.. the first one of this series,.. when I had to run from my apartment. Clearly.. LT is a dangerous place for me.

The work with the Haitians continues. We managed to extracate four Haitians from prison in Dajabon and let them return to the Capiral. My friend Edward Paraiston, who is the former minister of the Diaspora, is going to set up a meeting with the haitian embassy here to see how we can bring down the cost of the paper work. IT is about the cost of a month;s living expenses.. which is clearly too much for the Hjaitian ex pat community here to pay.

I hope Iko will not completely forget me. I know it was the best thing for her but I do miss her terribly. It is for the best since if one cannot take care of oneself one cannot take care of a dog. Also I am having to look for a new apartment.. the landlady says she wants to sell. I have found a place in the same builiddng on the ground floor and Maria is helping me with the lease papers. They want a fiador which is absurb since I simply do not know a Dominican who could gurantee five years of rent. It is a bigger apartment and is the first one on the ground floor.. it has a little door to the outside in case I want to set up being a Tarot Card reader...

anyway.. just wanted to write

i will come back and viisit when I can find an escort. Do not think that I should come back alone

thank you from the bottem of my heart for all the care you have taken of me over the years

god will reward you.//

because there is not enough tea in china with which to drink to your health

hugs and love 

lizi

Sunday, January 20, 2013

how am i related to the roebling?

i was married in Emily's wedding mantilla out of the house of the widow of her son

she.. Emilty.. was my maternal great aunt Helens mother in law

i took the name legally in north carolina a number of years ago

since Auntie Helen told me to carry on the Roebling name

and I thought that Emily and Washington and great uncle john would be proud of me

Great uncle john raised his three sons in Asheville, NC.. where i ended up living for 20 years

i did not even know that they had been there til i was packing the books to leave and found that one of them said that they are in asheville.. where there is a roebling road

i am pretty sure that they never made it to


san domingue

legalize hemp production..

 have used marijuan as a medicine since i was twenty ... which is now a great deal longer than i care to remember. The diagnosis, made when i wa thirty,, after spending fotty days in the British Prison System. .. for shooting my mouth off about the war in ireland. Damn, there she goes .. shooting her mouth off again. Is bipolar. To which a psychiatrist once commented when i met him at a party.. was "congratulations"// When I told my mother that it ran in the top ten percent of the population in brains and creativity.. she said  |well, maybe it does come from our side of the family after all.

the psychiatric establishment here in the Domican Repulic has already stated that they wish marijuana to be included in their repetore. It was growing here during the Spanish Royal Realm.. as well.. you can see the gold leave medicine cabinet in the museao de casa reales.. the drawer that says cannibis satvia./ 

Now we have grass arriving through haiti supposedly but is suspect rather it is from Cali. Our grass in Grenada in 197? aarrived in rolled up newspaper on the federal boat from Jamaica. twice here i have smoked ganga that must have been laced with some psychodylic.. the bales are packed by machine.. this is not coming from either haiti or jamaica....... look to cali

haitians of course know it and smoke it and have no problem with it whatsoever. with my team, i can smoke in front of them .. as i do tobacco. which i also do but which is an addiction, which marijuana does not produce

another advantage is the pot smokers and cocaine users simply do not HANG.. we are the rastafarians and they are stilletto disco dancing..

so how about we just legalize it here on the island of hispaniola?

i mean.. hemp.. now/.

there was some good robe

almost as good as roebling cable
no wait

better.. no mining in volved

Thursday, December 27, 2012

i am almost in borneo

i am herehttp://plantsarethestrangestpeople.blogspot.com/2011/04/incredible-hulk-schefflera-actinophylla.html

the scheffleera outside my third floor office window just went out of bloon

the birds ate most of the seeds

i do not feed them when it is in bloom