Is the Dominican Haitians Humanitarian Crisis a sign of things to come in the Caribbean Region?

Three Worlds One Vision

Hispaniola - Greater Antilles - Caribbean Sea

Haiti & Dominican Republic – Greater Antilles – Caribbean Region
Source: ABC Voyage

In the Dominican Republic, undocumented Haitian immigrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent now face mass deportation unless they can present documentation of their legal residential status. June 17, 2015, was the deadline for compliance.

Haiti, with a population of over 9.9 million, is a member state of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The Dominican Republic, with a population of over ten million, has CARICOM Observer status. In 2004, the country became a fully integrated member of the Central American Free Trade Agreement, since known as CAFTA-DR.

In September 2013, a Constitutional Tribunal ruling changed the DR’s citizenship policy. The ruling revoked automatic citizenship granted to children born to immigrants, as far back as 1929, throwing into a quagmire almost a quarter-million Dominicans, 83 percent of Haitian descent. Then in May 2014, the DR passed a law regulating…

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  • de castro  On 06/29/2015 at 12:33 pm

    Doubt if this will escalate or spread to other Caribbean countries.
    DR is not unlike Puerto Rico american state without voting rights in us elections.
    It is sad when the political class use minorities to fester their nest.
    Hitler reincarnate
    Hope the voters remove the party in power soon.

    Using minorities to promote nationalism will return to haunt those who are discriminating against innocent economic migrants…..

    We shall see

  • guyaneseonline  On 06/30/2015 at 12:01 am

    Letter: What about the infamous ‘Guyanese bench’?
    Published on June 24, 2015 Caribbean News Now
    Dear Sir:

    I wish to commend the Barbados Today for the editorial published on June 20, 2015, titled “Haitians merit justice like everyone else”.

    While reading this piece, I was immersed in joy with a little bit of reservation that the fourth estate is once again putting itself ahead of the snail-paced and, often times, lacklustre statements coming from regional leaders.

    Please permit me to inject that I sometimes find it difficult to wrap my finger around one thing relating to intra-regional relations. Certainly, the situation between Haiti and the Dominican Republic is one that screams ethnic cleansing almost similar to Hitler’s Germany, but I feel there is a wider picture to be had, and it speaks to perceived minority groups in the region and the treatment meted out to said groups.

    Not only do I feel Caribbean leaders continue to remain silent and hide behind, according to some, the “toothless dog” that is CARICOM, but I have a strong contention that we, as Caribbean citizens, have become increasingly apathetic and reactive. So much so, that we can no longer sense a grave humanitarian crisis even in its preliminary stages.

    Permit me to draw a parallel that already exists in the public domain. While we continue to hammer the Dominican Republic on the treatment of Haitians and Haitian descendants, we turn a blind eye to our sister country, The Bahamas, which recently adopted immigration laws that have been deemed “anti-Haitian” by a January 30, 2015, New York Times article titled “Immigration Rules in Bahamas Sweep Up Haitians.”

    It is my humble view that should the Dominican Republic be afforded membership into CARICOM, and the country has applied many moons ago, then we would be able to bind the DR with the provisions for free movement and all those good things on paper and theory that come with the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

    Fortunately, The Bahamas is already a full member of CARICOM and therefore bound by the Treaty, but we remain increasingly silent on the Bahamas’ anti-Haitian laws. So what moral standing would CARICOM have to denounce the DR on treatment of Haitians, when we are yet to comment on what was recently made law in The Bahamas, a country that might have some inclination to take our advice. It baffles me.

    On the point of Caribbean apathy in the face of these issues, I am unsure what to call it. I could call it xenophobia – a fear of foreigners. I could call it Caribbean self-doubt, or I could call it Caribbean self-hate and inferiority complex. Nevertheless, whatever we call it, may we agree that the problem with the treatment meted out to Haitians, even in the region, goes beyond the Dominican Republic and sometimes rests squarely at our own doorsteps?

    There are Caribbean territories where Haitians, and sometimes Jamaicans, Surinamese, and even my own Guyanese people, are seen as second-class citizens. I have always wanted to visit Barbados, but I shudder to think I would receive the pleasure of having to sit on the infamous “Guyanese bench” at the Grantley Adams International Airport.

    And let’s not get into the witch-hunt of immigrants that tends to make the regional papers every once in a while, mostly sparked by political leaders dealing with immigration or crime. The most recent episode was Trinidad’s former national security minister Gary Griffith laying the blame for Trinidad’s crime situation at the feet of the immigrants, especially those who were “illegal”.

    I mention all of this in an attempt to say that, while the editorial pointed to the rights of Haitians and their unfair treatment by Dominican counterparts long accused of racism, we must not set ourselves apart from the freight. We must not see the issue of ‘anti-Haitianism’ occurring in the isolated case of the DR, but we must broaden our scope to recognise that we ourselves are guilty of those very actions we condemn.

    For the sake of regional integration, let us rally around the wider picture of xenophobia within the Caribbean and let us move forward from there.

    Derwayne Wills
    Concerned CARICOM National

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