THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT WEIGHT IN ON THE DOMINICA REPUBLIC AND HAITI SAGA

The Dominican Republic’s
Constitutional Court that will affect thousands of people of Haitian
descent living in that neighboring country.

According to Ms Marie Harf, the US Department of State’s deputy
spokeswoman, Washington has urged the Government of the Dominican
Republic “to continue close consultation with international partners and
civil society to identify and expeditiously address, in a humane way,
concerns regarding the planned scope and reach to affected persons”.

It took Washington a bit of time, but at least the world’s most powerful
democracy has made it known to Santo Domingo that what now obtains is
unjust and untenable.

For those who may have missed it, the Constitutional Court ruled on
September 23 in favour of stripping citizenship from children of Haitian
migrants. The decision applies to those born after 1929 — a category
that overwhelmingly includes descendants of Haitians who were taken into
the Dominican Republic to work on farms.

The decision has been condemned by the United Nations Commissioner for
Human Rights, Amnesty International, the Catholic Church in Jamaica,
former Jamaican Prime Minister P J Patterson and Dr Ralph Gonsalves, the
prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, who has been the most
consistent voice on this issue for months.

Since then, it appears that the Dominican Republic’s President Danilo
Medina has developed a bit of a conscience and has agreed to establish,
with Haiti, a joint commission to discuss the migration problem caused
by the ruling.

Venezuela, the United Nations, the European Union and Caricom, we are told, have been invited to these discussions as observers.

We hope that good sense will prevail at these talks and that President
Medina and his team will see the logic in seeking a reversal of the
court ruling.

For what is at stake here is the fundamental human right of the people
affected by this ruling, as well as the international reputation of the
Dominican Republic.

If, however, President Medina and his team remain stubborn, we again
strongly advocate that Caricom acts on the recommendations made by Dr
Gonsalves last month — suspend the Dominican Republic from Cariforum
and from the PetroCaribe arrangement initiated by Venezuela.

We also reiterate our suggestion that the European Union, which spares
no effort in condemning human rights violations in the developing world,
should be lobbied by Caricom to increase international pressure on the
Dominican Republic. Trade blockades are usually very powerful measures.

The Dominican Republic owes it to the rest of the human family not to let it come to this.

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