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.