Monday, April 20, 2015

The continuing issue of Statelessness

The non profit Institute on Statelessness provides this useful background piece on the issues now facing the more than 200,000 persons and their descendants whom the international community considers "stateless" while the Dominican Republic considers them "Haitian".

Many of these persons were brought under contract to cut cane under arrangements between governments, many were also trafficked 

NOTE . There are probably more than ONE MILLION Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic. The VAST majority of them were NOT born here and have NO CLAIM to citizenship.
Many more were simply born here at Dominican hospitals.. an estimated 10,000 pregnant Haitians a year come to take advantage of the advanced medical assistance. The Dominican Republic takes very good care of these women, even bringing them from the border up to five hours away,  by ambulance,  These children used to be able to have a tenous claim on citizenship,,, which was litigated in international courts,,, but their parents were not legal, considered in transit,

The Dominican Republic is a small and poor nation and has come under great attack from many nations, from human rights groups, from Haitians, from all sorts of activist,.

But it is only a small portion of the Haitian Dominicans.. or DominicanHaitians..who can make any sort of claim to legal rights to Dominican papers.

It is important that those who are actually concerned for those who are at RISK here take the time to understand ALL sides of the issue. And that includes the United States, the DR CAFTA treaty, the deal with the sugar cane producers.... all.. all ..all... alll....

I ask for a bit of attention here as a member of the Vincini family now owns one of the major newspapers, There is a lot of fear being built up here in the country.. fear of a pacific invasion by Haitians, fear that the international community is pressuring the Dominican Republic to unite with Haiti. Generally .. FEAR.

So, the more people who can hold this in the Light.. the better,

The following is from the Institute Report....

III. AMERICAS Statelessness is a ‘smaller’ problem in the Americas than in other parts of the world in terms of absolute numbers. UNHCR reports a total of 210,032 persons under its statelessness mandate in the Americas, almost all of whom are found in a single country, the Dominican Republic. There also does not appear to be a serious issue of known but unmapped situations of statelessness, such as that which exists in Africa. Only one further country in the Americas has been identified as presenting a significant, but as yet unquantifiable, problem of statelessness. Table 4: Countries in the Americas with over 10,000 stateless persons or marked with * Dominican Republic 210,000 Bahamas * As mentioned earlier in this report, an important reason for this low number of stateless persons is the principle of jus soli which is common to the countries in the western hemisphere: by granting nationality to all persons born on the territory, regardless of parentage or other circumstance, any situation of statelessness fades away automatically with the next generation enjoying birth-right citizenship. As discussed next, the two counties in which statelessness has surfaced as a real problem are those in which restrictions have been placed on the jus soli conferral of nationality. Dominican Republic UNHCR reported figure (end 2013): 210,000 Statelessness in the Dominican Republic (DR) concerns persons of Haitian descent. Until 2010, the Constitution of the Dominican Republic granted nationality automatically to any person born on Dominican soil, with only the limited exception of children whose parents were diplomats or ‘in transit’ in the country at the time. Individuals born in the country thus acquired Dominican nationality, whether their births were recorded in the Civil Registry or not. In practice, this THE WORLD’S STATELESS 73 narrow exception has long been applied in such a way as to deny many children of (presumed)128 Haitian descent access to Dominican nationality, often leaving them stateless – despite an Inter-American Court ruling which condemned these practices.129 The General Law on Migration adopted in 2004 expanded the ‘in transit’ exclusion for jus soli citizenship to children born to parents considered as ‘nonresidents’, which is understood to include temporary foreign workers, tourists and students, among other categories. A 2005 ruling of the Dominican Supreme Court further expanded this exception to include all individuals without proof of lawful residence. This expanded definition of the ‘in transit’ exception was then enshrined in the new Dominican constitution adopted in 2010. Most recently, in 2013, the DR’s constitutional court ordered that this new interpretation of ‘in transit’ be applied to all individuals with Dominican citizenship born in the DR to migrant parents (i.e. retroactively, as far back as 1929). This process resulted in the arbitrary deprivation of nationality on a massive scale. Those affected are left stateless because Haiti has prohibited dual nationality until 2012130 so those who enjoyed Dominican nationality could not also be Haitian. There are no exact figures on how many Dominicans of Haitian descent are affected by this series of amended laws. A survey jointly conducted by the National Statistics Office and the UN Fund for Population (UNFPOA) estimated that 209,912 individuals were born in the DR of Haitian migrants.

131 This matches the UNHCR figure of 210,000 stateless persons in DR at the end of 2013. The figure, however, captures only the first generation of persons of Haitian descent, born in the Dominican Republic. Given that the retroactive stripping of nationality affected individuals who were born in the country as far back as 1929, a far larger number of persons lost their entitlement to Dominican nationality because their parents or grandparents are considered never to have possessed it. For instance, Juliana Deguis Pierre, whose case before the constitutional court figures at the centre of the current problems, has four children herself. If Juliana is no longer considered 128 Often determined arbitrarily or on the basis of racial criteria. 129 Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Yean and Bosico v. Dominican Republic, Series C, Case 130, 8 September 2005. 130 Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Haiti: Dual citizenship, including legislation; requirements and procedures for former Haitian citizens to re-acquire citizenship (2012-January 2013), 8 February 2013, HTI104293.E. 131 See above, note 69. 3 GLOBAL STATELESSNESS STATISTICS 74 Dominican, they also lost their nationality– yet only she appears in the statistic of 210,000 persons under UNHCR’s statelessness mandate. It is not possible, at present, to estimate the size of the further population affected – i.e. the second, third or even fourth generations born in DR who were also stripped of their nationality – but the fertility rate in the Dominican Republic is reported to be 2.8 children per woman.132 Thus, while there are also some recent legislative developments that look set to allow an estimated 10% of those affected to regain their Dominican nationality, the assessment of civil society groups is that statelessness actually threatens a far larger number of people in DR and the data reported is significantly underestimating the problem. O

Friday, April 17, 2015

Money Laundering

The banks are out of peso coins again.

The farmacia just handed me back the five peso coin that I had given them when the clerk asked if I had a peso for the bill. I saw that one side of her tray was filled with individually wrapped cough drops which are given when the change is one or two pesos.

I knew this peso shortgage was my fault since I had a jar of them at home.

I promised I would bring them back to the store.

So I went home, counted out an even hundred of the heavy, metal coins, worth 2.23 US cents each.  Some of them are trading on ebay for as much as .99 US.

They are very large, probably the size of a US quarter if memory serves me, which it often does not. And perhaps like most metal coinage in the world today, it is most likely worth more by its metal content than it is as currency.

They would make a  wonderful necklace, Holding one feels like finding sunken treasure. I usually make a practice of dropping them on the grass, under the huge sacred ficus trees,for the shoe shine boys, the drunks,the begger ladies.

Nevertheless, I had acquired a full jar.

I am mindful that I have a national reputation to preserve here. One of my dearest friends here has said more than once "The Americans are not like the Europeans. When an American says he will do something, he does it. With the Europeans, maybe yes, maybe no, maybe just another glass of wine."

So I felt a certain sense of national honor was at stake here so I did not stop to make lunch but went right to work, laundering the money.

First in "Acer" - detergent
 Rinse.. ah..the dirty water...!!
Then in "Cloro" -
Ah... the sparkling coins.....!
Then dried on a dish towel.

Then placed in one of my rewashed zip lock bags, on its last legs.

On the way to the Farmacia, I thought what to do with the $2,20, which was, after all, completely "found" money. It is the exact price of the Plato del Dia, a mound of rice and beans, a side of fresh cole slaw, two small pieces of chicken in a delicious sauce, far more nourishing than any Happy Meal.

There were two of the regular "shoe shine" boys on the corner but they looked very well nourished playing under the tree with the remnants of a take out container so someone had already given them lunch.

Then, just on cue, arrived Manolito, who is our resident homeless wanderer, Although he could probably qualify for some sort of diagnosis, and sometimes does get drunk and obnoxious on holidays, ussally he only approaches and states that he is hungry. Folks who are not from the neighborhood are afraid of him but none of us are. He will walk alongside me, ask about my dog, ask how my friends from Las Terrenas are.

Reminds me that he has not eaten today.

"Tengo Hambre"

I squeezed the bag of washed pesos in my hand.

"Espere, Manalito".

At the Farmacia, the laundered pesos were greated as a belated Christmas gift. One can only imagine.. those one and two pesos.. over the course of a day for a business, ..that adds up....

 And.. well.. imagine.. the Gringa had.. WASHED them..
After all, I said, you are a Farmacia.. you cannot be passing out dirty money.

When I lived in Haiti,many years ago, the linen gourdes that I got for change in the market place in St Marc were so dirty that I often could not discern the denomination. I would always take them home and wash them.

I did the same for the pesos that were in circulation in Las Terrenas, from the fruit and veggie stands.

I guess I have been laundering money for a long time.

So - national reputation upheld  My word is my bond.
money laundered and in circulation

Street wanderer given lunch

life purpose fulfilled for the

God is good