Tuesday, December 17, 2013


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.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

I certainly agree with you. This whole mess around the court's decision is a whole lot of smoke with very little fire. As you pointed out, the decision hasn't really changed anything and the government is taking steps to try to help Haitians to legalize. I remember people in the border frequently stressing to me that the best way to improve conditions for Haitians in the DR was to create jobs in Haiti.

The situation for Haitians in the DR is certainly a mess, but then so is the situation for Haitians at home. I do wish that the Dominicans were more professional in how they deal with Haitians. Did you read Jimmy Jean Louis' story of crossing the border? (http://www.touthaiti.com/diaspora/2961-bordering-excessive-by-jimmy-jean-louis). Attitudes like what he encountered, not official policy, is the real problem.

Hang in there and keep fighting the good fight.