Haiti and the Dominican Republic: Same Island, Different Worlds

By Bryan Schaaf on Thursday, May 21, 2009.

The relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic could be described as schizophrenic.  On one hand, the heads of both governments get along well.  This has opened up opportunities for cross border cooperation in health, business, and infrastructure.  For example, the Dominican government now sells subsidized propane to Haiti.  Recently, the Dominican President even called for the Ibero-American Community to admit Haiti as a gesture of solidarity.  However, the mistreatment of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic prevents both countries from becoming less like adversaries and more like neighbors. 

 

Why is the situation between Haitians and Dominicans so strained?  After all, both countries share the same island and it is in the best interest of each to have a productive, stable neighbor.  Both countries were once colonies and each has African roots, although one denies them and the other embraces them.  Many Dominicans perceive their European/Hispanic identity to be superior.  Few Dominicans will ever visit Haiti, which they see as backwards and dangerous.  For this reason, few will understand what a unique and interesting country Haiti is.

 

The mistrust goes back centuries.  The Dominicans have never forgotten that Haiti once had control of the entire island.  In fact, the Dominican Independence Day celebrates freedom not from Spain, but from Haiti.  In October 1937, President Trujillo ordered the massacre of as many as 20,000 unarmed men, women, and children along the border and in Western Cibao.  The U.S. has sent troops to Haiti and the Dominican Republic on multiple occasions.  Both have been manipulated by other counties, negatively impacting governance.  While open conflict between Haiti and the Dominican Republic does not take place, the Dominican Republic has at times been a staging ground for Haitian rebels.

 

It is easy to forgot today that both countries had comparable economies forty years ago.  While the Dominican economy grew, Haiti's diminished as a result of internal power struggles, rapid population growth, environmental degradation, embargos, and unfair stigmatization over HIV/AIDS.  

 

The village of Thomonde where I lived as a Peace Corps Volunteer was not far from the border.  Many of the men in my town could at least get by in Spanish.  Most were well aware that they would be treated poorly in the Dominican Republic and preferred to stay in Haiti as a result.  Lacking opportunities, many would travel seeking either seasonal or long-term employment.  All would send back remittances to their families.   

 

Migration to the Dominican Republic has been taking place since the beginning of the 20th century, when Haitians were actively encouraged to work in the Dominican sugar industry.  From the 1950s through the early 1980s, migration was entirely legal albeit often exploitative.  In fact, it was promoted by the sugar industry and the government.  As the Dominican sugar industry gradually modernized, fewer workers were required. 

 

Haitians in the Dominican Republic are hard workers, neither free loaders nor parasites.  In a special issue devoted to statelessness, The Forced Migration Review states that as employment in the sugar industry declined, other industries and services have taken advantage of an inexpensive, unregulated, and unprotected labor force.  Women find work in the homes of Dominicans as domestics.  Men work and live, sometimes with their wives and children, on construction sites.  Others remain on former sugar plantations in limbo, without opportunities for employment, education, and freedom of movement.

 

Workers who migrated under these bilateral migrant worker agreements have had children in the Dominican Republic over several generations.  According to Refugees International, the Dominican government remains unwilling to establish a legal framework compatible with international norms to address the nationality of the descendants. 

 

This lack of a legal framework means that as many as one million people of Haitian ancestry in the Dominican Republic are functionally stateless, people not recognized as citizens of any country. To be stateless is to be denied health care, education, employment opportunities, and vulnerable to exploitation.  Many Dominicans dispute whether Dominicans of Haitian descent are indeed stateless, believing that they could easily acquire Haitian citizenship if they wanted it.  

 

Imagine for a moment being born in a country that doesn't acknowledge you because your parents are from a country that you have never even seen.  The legal reality is that there are several groups born outside Haiti who do not have automatic access to Haitian nationality.  

 

In the absence of government action, a single individual stands out for her monumental efforts to end bias against individuals of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic.  Sonia Pierre was born in a migrant worker camp (batey) in 1963 to parents of Haitian descent.  At the age of 13, she organized a protest by sugar cane workers seeking better shelter, pay, and tools.  Though she was arrested, she succeeded in bringing enough public attention to the issue that the workers' demands were met.

 

In 1983, she founded the Movement of Haitian-Dominican Women (MUDHA).  MUDHA advocates for tolerance of differences among people, carrying out campaigns, seminars, and conferences to raise awareness in Dominican civil society, government agencies, and the international community. You can view the website here, although as of right now, it is only in Spanish. 

 

In 2005, Pierre petitioned the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the case of two ethnic Haitian children who were denied Dominican birth certificates.  The case, Yean and Bosico v. Dominican Republic, was a landmark in that the court "upheld human rights laws prohibiting racial discrimination in access to nationality and citizenship."  The court also ordered the Dominican government provide the birth certificates.  Unfortunately, the Dominican Supreme Court then ruled that "Haitian workers were considered 'in transit,' even if second or third generation, and that their children are not entitled to citizenship. 

 

While Pierre has been villified by many within her own country, her efforts have been recognized and honored by the international community.  Pierre was nominated for the UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education in 2002, received Amnesty International's 2003 Human Rights Ginetta Sagan Fund Award, and was awarded the 2006 RFK Human Rights awards.

 

The Haitian-Dominican relationship was recently strained when a Haitian man, Carlos Nérilus, was beheaded on May 1 in Santo Domingo.  Haitians were understandably upset and there were numerous protests.  The ambassadors from Haiti and the Dominican Republic held a joint press conference, lamenting his death, which was by no means the first.  Less than two years ago, for example, a Dominican mob lynched three Haitians suspected of being responsible for the murder of a Dominican store-owner.  The killer was later found not to be a Haitian.

 

Pierre immediately spoke out against the murder.  The same day, her house burned down.  In an interview, Pierre said "No one, black or white, Haitian or Dominican, should be treated like that.  As for the fire that destroyed my house, if it is found to be arson, I would be truly saddened by that.  I am patriotic; I love my country and my culture.  I only try to appeal to the greater humanistic and democratic ideals of my compatriots and government about the way all human-beings ought to be treated, Dominican or not.  Xenophobia has no place in our country or in the world.  Furthermore, my government must reprimand and take actions against media outlets that are propagating and inciting the citizenry to commit violent discriminatory acts and to take the law into their own hands." 

 

The Jacques Viau Dominican Haitian Encounter Network also called on the population and the Dominican and Haitian governments to seek agreements, dialogue and mutual respect. If you know of other individuals or organizations that spoke out, please post in the comments section below.

 

As Michele Wucker notes in her book, "Why the Cocks Fight", Haiti and the Dominican Republic share a common geography but are divided by language, history, and perceptions of race.  Small steps have been taken in recent years to improve the bilateral relationship.  However, as long as statelessness remains unaddressed, it will continue to hinder the Haitian/Dominican relationship.  Thankfully, there are human rights champions such as Sonia Pierre who are working tirelessly to bring change.  This would be good for all of Hispaniola.

 

Bryan

IOM Helps Haitians in the DR Return Home From Risky Areas

8/30/2013
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The IOM mission in the Dominican Republic this week assisted 589 Haitians living in vulnerable conditions in the mountainous region in the country’s southwest to voluntarily return to Haiti.
According to the Dominican Office of Statistics, more than 450,000 Haitian nationals live in the Dominican Republic. Many of them live in vulnerable conditions, especially those at risk due to environmental and climate changes. Since the 2010 Haiti earthquake, many have chosen to return to Haiti. The IOM Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Program (AVRR), funded by the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) and carried out in coordination with the Dominican Republic’s General Directorate of Migration (DGM by its Spanish acronym) and the Dominican Ministry of Interior and Police, has helped 3,598 people to return to their places of origin in Haiti since it was launched in September 2010. Working with Casa del Caribe, an experienced NGO partner, IOM has been carrying out registration in the mountains around Barahona and at the Jaragua National Park in Pedernales. IOM also received support from the Dominico-Haitian Human Rights Committee (CODHA) in this latest registration exercise.
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This week, in two separate trips, 589 men, women and children were assisted to safely return to their homes in the South East department in Haiti.
A nine-year-old girl personally thanked IOM’s Field Coordinator, Maria Paredes. “My brothers and I need to go back to school,” she said. The child and her two younger brothers, aged six and eight, have not been able to access any education because the nearest school was several hours away on foot.
During the registration process, applicants asking for IOM assistance to return home cited insufficient access to potable water in a region which is affected by climate change; falling incomes due to failing crops, including coffee affected by lack of water and plant diseases; and pressure to leave the National Park, where at least 1,000 more Haitian migrants are asking for IOM assistance.
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The AVRR process – identification, registration, movement, reception and reintegration – begins with a meeting with potential returnees to explain the program. IOM staff emphasize that everyone can change their mind on going back home at any time.
On the scheduled day for return, IOM ensures that the returnees are accompanied by Creole-speaking staff on every stage of the process, which includes escort and assistance in clearing customs and border controls, and transport to their final destination in Haiti.
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IOM also issues beneficiary identification cards to be used in accessing reintegration services in Haiti; a stipend of USD 50 per beneficiary for initial costs; a stipend of USD 65 per child given to every mother to help with child maintenance; and hygiene items including soap and chlorine for prevention of cholera and other waterborne diseases.
Once back home, during the reintegration stage, returnees receive access to business training and capital of USD 200 per adult to start a micro-enterprise. (Sums vary according to the number of adults and/or children in each household.) They can also access an income generation scheme supported by IOM and operated by IOM counterparts. Follow-up is carried out by IOM partner NGOs and/or IOM staff.
On behalf of IOM, NGO partners also deliver education grants of up to USD 150 per school-age child, which is paid directly to schools.
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“The demand for return has not decreased. On the contrary, environmental causes are now a new factor causing highly vulnerable, irregular Haitian migrants to want to return home after years of unsuccessfully trying to support their families and living in the most precarious conditions. For example, from the Enriquillo Mountains, people have to walk more than four hours to reach the registration site. At least 600 people living in this area are on the waiting list to return,” says IOM AVRR programme manager Jean Philippe Antolin.
IOM is appealing for USD 2 million for its AVRR programme in the Dominican Republic in 2013 and is hoping to attract donors from both the public and private sectors.
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For more information, please contact Alicia Sangro Blasco at IOM Santo Domingo, Tel: +1 809 688 81 74, Email: asangro@iom.int

Finally, Good Economic News from Haiti (5/3/13 - Foreign Policy)

BY ROBERT LOONEY
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Haiti has been independent for 209 years, but Haitians don't have much to show for it economically. The country is plagued by poor infrastructure, political instability and violence, an inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy, and low standards of education. These are all factors that make it increasingly vulnerable to shocks from natural disasters and now barely able to support its growing population. While there have been some moments of optimism over the years, they've usually been short-lived. Over the past decade, hurricanes, floods, a devastating earthquake, and an outbreak of cholera have repeatedly derailed an already struggling economy. Though Haiti has attracted vast amounts of aid and disaster relief, there are few signs of tangible improvements in the lives of most of its people. Donors and the government pledged that economic aid after the 2010 earthquake would be used to "build back better," but the sad reality is that, even if donors keep their pledges, the funds needed for this task are much higher than what has been committed. The country has suffered negative economic growth in three of the last four decades. As of early 2013, roughly three-quarters of Haitians were either unemployed or trying to make ends meet in the informal economy. Big foreign investors, worried about the political risks, are reluctant to make major commitments. The inability of poor Haitians to exploit opportunities that could lead to growth fuels a vicious circle of high unemployment, persistent poverty, aggravated inequality, and the mass emigration of skilled workers. Today, roughly 82 percent of Haitians with a college education have left the country.
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Yet Haiti may be about to make a turn for the better. And the reason has a great deal to do with technology. Haiti's long record of dysfunction has promoted the creation of a huge overseas diaspora, mostly in the United States and Canada. These emigrants are increasingly affluent, and new information technology is allowing them to play a more active role in Haiti's economy. Until recently the main contribution of overseas Haitians came in the form of remittances to family members back in the homeland. Roughly a third of the country's population depends on income from remittances, which run from $1.5 billion to $2.0 billion annually. But while money transfers certainly help, they aren't as useful as actual investment in Haitian products and services, which would not only create jobs and infrastructure, but also bring in much-needed management expertise and know-how. Now improvements in communication technologies are causing a surge in diaspora investment in the Haitian economy. The key component is the growth of a highly creative sector of grassroots organizations in Haiti that are committed to helping the poor and eliminating poverty. The two best examples are Zafen and Fonkoze, web-based crowd-funding platforms that are helping focus investment opportunities. Zafen provides interest-free loans to Haitian entrepreneurs who are unable to find funding from traditional banking sources. The loans are then distributed through Fonkoze, the country's largest (and phenomenally successful) microfinance institution. Between 1996 and 2011, the organization has grown from two volunteers in one location to 899 full-time staffers in 46 branches that serve 333,212 primarily rural-poor clients. With the advent of ventures like Zafen and Fonkoze, members of the successful Haitian diaspora now have a viable mechanism for sharing share their knowledge, expertise, and financial resources with promising local entrepreneurs.
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One way or the other, mobilizing the diaspora is likely to be key to the future of Haiti's economy. Back in the late 1970s and 1980s, few outsiders in Europe or the United States were willing to take a chance on the first opportunities for investment in post-Mao China. Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, understanding this only too well, specifically targeted investors in the ethnic Chinese diaspora, who understood the language, mentality, and bureaucratic culture of the mainland. Deng's government set up the first Special Economic zones directly opposite the thriving capitalist outposts of Taiwan and Hong Kong -- and investment from investors there soon started flooding in.Similar plans have long been mooted for Haiti. President Michel Martelly, who likes to proclaim that "Haiti is open for business," is trying to set up a series of integrated economic zones that use local inputs for foreign manufacturing, and make Haiti an attractive destination for foreign investment. Martelly's scheme echoes one broached over 30 years ago by then-President Jean-Claude ("Baby Doc") Duvalier. Duvalier spoke of transforming Haiti into the "Taiwan of the Caribbean," a vast factory complex where foreign firms could assemble textiles, electronics, and baseballs for the nearby U.S. market. For a while, indeed, industry thrived, but it became obvious that the export-zone strategy was incapable of making a significant dent in the country's rate of poverty and unemployment. Coups, crumbling infrastructure, and trade embargoes by the United States and the United Nations directed against the country's military regime created unemployment at around 40 percent in 2010.
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Is there any reason to be optimistic this time? The answer, fortunately, is yes. The world economy has changed dramatically since the first wave of export zones were set up in the 1970s. A conspicuous feature of globalization is the decentralization of production, which has benefited large numbers of workers in the developing world. Technological change, lower transport costs, and the resulting creation of global supply chains are shifting comparative advantage in many areas of manufacturing to Haiti's favor. Rising labor costs in China and East Asia are pushing many U.S. firms to move production from those parts of the world to new ones. This movement of manufacturing back to the United States will likely create an expanding manufacturing sector ideally supplied by nearby low-cost countries like Haiti. Complementing these developments, U.S. legislation such as the Hope Act has provided Haiti with access to the American market on very favorable terms. Leveraging the interest of investors from the Haitian diaspora -- though not only them, of course -- could provide the necessary catalyst. We now also have access to a fairly long history of export zones in developing countries, enabling in-depth studies to identify why some succeeded and others failed. It turns out there are a number of success stories that could be easily replicated in Haiti. The idea is to focus reconstruction and aid efforts toward economic zones as a way of replacing the current haphazard system of allocating foreign aid. Haiti's new economic strategy is evolving along these lines. For what it's worth, the International Monetary Fund is projecting growth in Haiti to accelerate to 6.5 percent in 2013 from 4.5 percent in 2012.
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By lifting large segments of the population out of poverty, grassroots movements such as Fonkoze and Zafen have the opportunity to empower the country's population to overcome and reform the traditional impediments posed by the national government -- corruption, inefficiency, and the extractive institutions that have plagued the country for decades. Many Haitians are beginning to gain a sense of what needs to be done to make their government more efficient and accountable. They are beginning have a frame of reference for what is possible. After years of bad luck, a number of key elements are finally coming together for a prosperous new Haiti. An earlier version of this piece reported that Haiti has been independent for 199 years. Haiti has been independent for 209 years.

Haiti is Major Export Market for the (Dominican Today - 5/7/13)

Excluding the free zones, Haiti is the Dominican exports’ top destination since it overtook the United States in 2010 and Puerto Rico in the early part of the decade. Haiti’s lead stems from declining exports to the U.S. and increasing to Haiti, according to a study by the economist Pavel Isa. Central Bank 2nd quarter figures last year show that Haiti’s US$1.0 billion yearly market accounts for a quarter of Dominican exports outside the free zones. But what foreign trade statistics don’t show are the massive informal exports much more difficult to tally, mostly from the weekly cross-border markets held in all towns along the island’s dividing line.

300 Haiti Migrant Return Home Voluntarily from the DR (4/30/13)

IOM, together with the authorities, provides voluntary return to more than 300 vulnerable Haitian migrants living in the Dominican Republic who wish to return to their homes in Haiti. Today’s group of 308 returnees, who have been in the Dominican Republic for an average of 5 years, are returning to their places of origin in the northern Haitian towns of Cap Haitien, Fort Liberté, Limbe, Milot Pilate, and Plaisance. They will be escorted by IOM staff and government migration officials. The IOM Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) Program in the Dominican Republic began in 2009 and is funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM.) It has registered over 4,000 Haitian citizens living in the Dominican Republic and helped 2,943 to return. Some were in the Dominican Republic as a result of the 2010 earthquake. Others had stayed in the country longer, but decided to return home and rebuild their lives with the reintegration package provided by IOM and its partners. On the day of return, IOM provides transportation to each returnee’s place of origin and assistance in clearing customs and border controls. It also gives each returnee a cash stipend of US$ 50 for initial costs and US$65 for each child is given to the mother. Awareness raising materials on cholera-prevention, soap, hygiene items and drinking water is also provided.
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IOM is including this year a new vocational training component provided to AVRR applicants prior to their return that seeks to help them to generate new sources of income. For this group, IOM is working with the Jesuit organisation CEFASA to provide training in plumbing, electrical engineering, manufacture of cleaning products and jewellery production. Haitians migrants who have chosen to return to their country of origin asked IOM for assistance for a variety of reasons. These include poor job prospects, language barriers, lack of food security and lack of access to health and education for their children. Silvana, 18, was alone and had no job. “I came to the Dominican Republic on foot with a cousin when I was 13. My cousin moved away, and so after three months and no job I was forced to move in with a man. I didn’t want to do that, but I had no food to eat. Now I just want to go home,” she said. Once in Haiti, the migrants returning today will receive reintegration assistance from the Sisters of Saint John. This will include training on how to start a small business, grants for small business development and ongoing monitoring and support for up to three-months. Although IOM cannot confirm the total number of Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic, the Haitian migrant population is estimated at approximately one million.
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For more information, please contact
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Jean-Philippe Antolin
IOM Santo Domingo
Tel: 809 688 8174
Email jantolin@iom.int

Without Haitian Laborers, Crops will Perish Warn Dom. Farmers

1/17/2012
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San Juan de la Maguana. Dom. Rep.- The province’s more than 20 major farms and livestock associations on Thursday warned that it the authorities continue rounding up Haitians, more than 9,400 hectares of crops could perish because 90% of the pickers are from Haiti. They demand that Immigration Agency immediately start issuing IDs to the hundreds of Haitians who are now picking the winter harvest of beans and other crops. "We urgently ask that Immigration Director Ricardo Taveras comply with the request,” said the entities which group thousands of small and medium farmers, who suggested using the governor’s offices to issued IDs to the Haitian workers the say are needed to collect crops and work with livestock.

Gripped by Fear, Dominican Villagers Demand Eviction of Haitians

12/21/2012
Dominican Today
By J. R. Taveras.
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Community organizations of the village Najayo Arriba, southern San Cristobal, today picketed outside the Immigration Agency to demand that its director Jose Ricardo Taveras evict a group of Haitian nationals they affirm "have illegally taken over " the sector La Coquera. Community representative Daniel Bienvenido Rosa Benitez said the Haitians have invaded the property of Rafael Emilio Alonzo Luna, a situation thy say has made the area "unlivable because of the chaos which has been generated." Neighborhood Board spokespersons Victor Lorenzo Florentino and Soraida Medina Martinez said the Haitians’ permanence in the sector is a violation of "national sovereignty", which also turns into unease and insecurity for its residents. They said on December 12 they asked Taveras and other officials to repatriate the Haitians, who they affirm pose a threat because they’ve become “conspirators,” but the authorities have yet to respond. The community leaders said the most recent act of violence allegedly committed by Haitians was eight days ago when a group of them stoned and injured several police agents who tried to shutter an illegal cockfighting ring in an area owned by Alonzo Luna. The Board representatives said the fact the Haitians dare attack the National Police itself means they would do so more ferociously against the locals in the sector, for which they demand that the authorities to put an end to the violence they fear could lead to a fatal Christmas for the residents. "Now the Haitians want to establish the ground rules in the community, and since they rebel against the authorities, our greatest fear is that for every Dominican who lives here there are 10 Haitians, which increasingly puts us at risk."

Haitians, Dominicans Try to Move Beyond Parsley Massacre

10/9/2012
Christian Science Monitor
By Ezra Fieser
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In the long-strained relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, perhaps the darkest moment took place near this border town in October 1937. Dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered the killings of thousands of Haitians, whose bodies were dumped in the aptly named Massacre River that separates the two countries. Seventy-five years have passed since the so-called Parsley Massacre killed upwards of 12,000 Haitians and Dominicans who tried to come to their aid. Yet in spite of its importance, the massacre was largely forgotten, not discussed or taught in Haiti and widely misinterpreted in the Dominican Republic. Scholars and activists, however, say its effects lived on, forever changing the relationship between Haitians and Dominicans, neighbors on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. Last week, however, led by members of the Haitian and Dominican diasporas living in the US, hundreds of people gathered along the border to recall the massacre and address its legacy. The three-day Border of Lights initiative was highlighted by a vigil in which hundreds of Dominicans and Haitians met on opposing sides of the river and sent candles adrift in its shallow waters.
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“None of our governments have paused for a moment of silence in 75 years to say that this was a sad and painful chapter in our history and we have to learn from it in our daily dealings as a state, and as part of a total island,” says Edwidge Danticat, an acclaimed Haitian author who helped organize the event. “It's important to reflect on both sides of the border what this history means in terms of our dealings from now on,” Ms. Danticat says, “how we see each other as island neighbors, consumers and producers, and in some cases as binational family members and generally as human beings.”
‘Institutionalized’ anti-Haiti sentiment Prior to the massacre, Haiti and the Dominican Republic enjoyed years of good relations. Removed from the power centers of Santo Domingo and Port-au-Prince, the border was peaceful and fluid. That changed, however, over five days in early October 1937 when, acting on President Trujillo’s orders, soldiers killed thousands with machetes, bayonets, and rifles. Trujillo's exact reason remains unknown, although historians have speculated it was part of his effort to control the border and "whiten" the country.
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It earned the moniker Parsley Massacre because some soldiers carried a parsley sprig and asked suspected Haitians to pronounce the Spanish word for it, perejil. Mispronunciation of the “R” in the word – difficult for native creole speakers – was enough to get you killed. After the massacre, Trujillo commissioned papers that sought to justify the killings by highlighting the 22-year Haitian occupation of the Dominican Republic – which had ended more than a century earlier – and stirred up fears that Haitians were trying to overrun its neighbor. The historical tensions between the countries are still apparent. Each year, Dominicans celebrate independence from Haiti as well as Spain, despite winning independence from the European colonists most recently. “The legacy [of the massacre] was to reverse the long period of peaceful relations between the countries that had existed in the years before the massacre,” says Michele Wucker, whose 1999 book “Why the Cocks Fight” examines Haitian-Dominican relations.
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The tragedy marked the start of “institutionalized” anti-Haitian policies within the Dominican government, says Edward Paulino, a Dominican-American history professor at the City University of New York (CUNY) who helped organize the commemoration. “It’s not true that this anti-Haitianism that you see today is timeless,” he says. “Much of it began with the massacre in 1937.” Mr. Paulino points to current government policies, such as the change in law that has deemed Dominicans of Haitian descent as foreigners rather than citizens, despite being born in the country. Under those laws, hundreds of people have been stripped of their documentation, leaving a group of functionally stateless people, human rights groups say.
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There was another side of the massacre, however, says Edwin Paraison, executive director of Santo Domingo-based Fundación Zile, a nongovernmental organization that works on Haitian-Dominican relations. “From this painful episode … was born the solidarity between Dominicans and Haitians that still exists,” he says, mentioning that many Dominicans lost their lives in the massacre while trying to protect Haitian victims. Mr. Paraison was the minister of Haitians living abroad when the January 2010 earthquake destroyed his country. “The Dominicans were the first to respond to lend support and aid to Haiti,” Paraison says. “What’s important here is to rescue and highlight the solidarity between Dominicans and Haitians.” That solidarity, he says, was on full display last week during the commemoration of the massacre. “You have people from both Haiti and the Dominican Republic, notable people, artists, authors, who are recalling an event 75 years later that affected both countries. That demonstrates solidarity.”

Haitians and Dominicans Remember the Parsley Massacre (10/5/12)

Miami Herlad
By EZRA FIESER
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DAJABÓN, Dominican Republic -- Seventy-five years ago, this border town, separated from Haiti by the ominously named Massacre River, was the center of a killing field. On orders from dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, thousands of Haitians – many born in the Dominican Republic -- living in the area were rounded up and killed; hacked to death with machetes and stabbed with bayonets. What became known as the Parsley Massacre — or simply el corte (the cutting) — forever altered Haitian-Dominican relations, which remain tense today. Despite its significance, the massacre became little more than a historical footnote. Standing on the banks of the Massacre River, looking across its shallow waters to Haiti on Thursday night, hundreds of Dominicans, led by activists and scholars, sought to reclaim the forgotten tragedy. “Generally, it’s not something that we talk a lot about on our side of the border. I think there are so many challenges in Haiti right now as well as in the recent past that sometimes it is difficult for people to look back and ponder long ago horrors,” said Haitian-American author and Miami resident Edwidge Danticat, whose 1998 fictional novel The Farming of Bones is based on the massacre.
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“This all started,” Danticat said of this week’s commemoration, “with people from inside and outside the island, people who’ve had an opportunity to get to know each other well enough to acknowledge our common humanity and say that we must, in some way, pause to remember this moment, wherever we are, however, we can.” The initiative to remember the horrors that occurred here, organized by members of the Dominican diaspora living in the United States, began Thursday with a Catholic Mass and a candlelight vigil in which participants walked to the river’s edge. Organizers cleaned up a park in the Haitian border town of Ouanaminthe and planted trees on Friday. They plan to hold a roundtable community discussion about the massacre on Saturday. “This was a crime against humanity. And it’s important that people know its significance,” said Edward Paulino, assistant professor of history at the City University of New York (CUNY) and an organizer of the event, dubbed Border of Lights.
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Historians have estimated that anywhere between 9,000 and 30,000 civilians were killed over five days in early October in 1937. It remains unclear why exactly Trujillo ordered the killings, although some theories suggest it was part of an effort to whiten the Dominican race. It was called the Parsley Massacre because in some cases soldiers held a sprig of parsley and asked the victims to pronounce it in Spanish ( perejil). Creole-speaking Haitians could be identified by their difficultly pronouncing the “R” in the word. They were killed if they could not say it correctly. In a diplomatic cable to President Franklin Roosevelt, the U.S. ambassador to the country called it “a systematic campaign of extermination … directed against all Haitian residents” by Trujillo. Many Dominicans, however, know little about the event. On Thursday, event organizers asked residents to jot down their understanding of the massacre on post cards. Some said the massacre was sparked by an invasion from Haiti. Others were dismissive of commemorating it.
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“I don’t understand why they are doing this now,” said Juan José Bautista of the event. “It’s so long ago. Why does it matter to them?” In the years before the massacre took place, Dajabón was a sleepy outpost, isolated from the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo. In oral histories collected by researchers, Haitians and Dominicans recall a fluid border they often crossed freely and the many families and friendships formed between them. Today, Dajabón, a city of 25,245, within a province of the same name, hums with the constant buzz of motorcycles and scooters. Border crossing are heavily guarded by the Dominican army, though it remains a magnet for child traffickers and smugglers. Officials closed the border several times after the 2010 cholera outbreak in Haiti, sparking protests. Still, twice a week, the city becomes a major trading hub as the border opens and a cross-border informal market forms with everything from used shoes to housewares spilling into the streets. The market, which generates more than $1 million weekly in trade according to a 2007 study by Solidaridad Fronteriza, a local non-governmental organization, underscores the economic connection that still thrives here.
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Cynthia Carrion, a New York-born Dominican and a principal organizer, said some have criticized her for marking something that they said was of little relevance today. “The reason we’re doing this is not to open old wounds, but to say that the same tensions and ignorance that brought about the massacre are still here today,” Carrion said. “The wounds haven’t had a chance to heal because it’s been forgotten.” The event, however, is seen as a turning point in the Dominican government’s treatment of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent. Haitians are routinely rounded up and deported, despite providing the backbone of labor on sugarcane fields and at construction sites. And human rights groups say the government is stripping Haitian descendants who were born on Dominican soil of their citizenship, leaving a growing population of people that are effectively stateless. Author Julia Alvarez, whose family fled the Trujillo dictatorship for the U.S. when she was a child, said the massacre stoked an anti-Haitian sentiment that remains a powerful force in Dominican society. “The mentality that allowed the massacre to happen was there. Trujillo was tapping into something in the culture. He put gasoline on the fire,” said Alvarez, who has been part of the effort to organize the event. “It’s institutionalized now.” Organizers hope the event will bring attention to the work of human rights groups in the Dominican Republic, many of which are working with Haitian immigrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent. Father Regino Martinez, a Jesuit priest working on human rights cases in Dajabón, said the event would “break the silence” of the last 75 years. He spoke as hundreds filed out of the Catholic church, lit candles and plodded toward the river a few blocks away. Minutes after they arrived, the glow of candles appeared on the Haitian side of the river. A smaller group there commemorated the event with music and dancing before walking to the river, where they placed dozens of floating candles in the water. On the Dominican side, a tearful Paulino watched from behind a fence that marks the border. “Seventy-five years ago, people were throwing themselves in this river trying to escape the machete,” he said. “And today, the people … they’ve come to bear witness.”

The manner in which Haitians

The manner in which Haitians are treated in the Dominican Republic is extremely deplorable. However, I do not understand why everyone is so upset at the Dominican government for requiring work visas and proper documentation. In the United States, for a person that was not born in the US to live and work here, there is a visa requirement among others. This is the same for individuals from Mexico or Canada. Haiti and the Dominican Republic, though they share an island, are two distinct countries. Therefore, the Dominican Republic has the full right to control Haitian immigration, as the US controls Mexican or any other form of immigration. It is still extremely wrong that everyone isn't treated equally and for that the Dominican Republic should be ashamed of its behavior. If the dominican government wants things to be done right, they should definitely have given the immigrants and their employers more time than a month.

Haitian Workers Jeopardized By New Work Permits (7/15/2012)

Caribbean 360
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Haitian workers have long been a mainstay of agriculture, construction and other low-wage industries in the Dominican Republic, with hundreds of thousands of migrants crossing the border in search of jobs in a country that is poor, but better off than their homeland. But new requirements for work permits in the Dominican Republic are worrying employers, workers and their advocates, who maintain that it will become harder and more expensive to hire Haitian labour. An estimated one-million Haitians live in the Dominican Republic, which has a population of about ten million. One migrant labourer, Romain Renelus, who works two jobs to earn $445 monthly to support his family in Haiti, said he would try to renew his expired visa and passport because of an expected increase in the scrutiny of migrants. But he doubts it will be easy: a new passport will cost $129 and a visa $200. Currently, no work permits exist, but migrant workers have to present an entry visa and proof of residency to legally work in the country.
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Some migrant workers are concerned that their Dominican employers will deduct the costs of the new paperwork, estimated to reach $800, from their paychecks. The new law does not stipulate whether the employer or employee would pay for the documents needed to obtain a work permit, including a visa, passport, birth certificate, medical certificate and criminal background check. Any Haitian seeking a birth certificate has to return to Haiti to get it. "This is going to be traumatic," said the Rev. Mario Serrano, a Roman Catholic priest who provides assistance to migrants and refugees and studies labour issues as the director of the nonprofit Bono Center. "No one is going to be able to comply with these rules." The requirements took effect on June 1, but government says the rules won't be enforced until month-end. Employers will then need a work permit for each non-Dominican employee. Human rights groups have long complained about Dominican immigration policies toward Haitians, calling on the country to revise deportation rules to ensure due process and avoid race-based discrimination.
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An extensive report on the issue by Human Rights Watch a decade ago described the historic tensions between the neighboring countries and the Dominican Republic's deportations of suspected "Haitian-looking" people with darker skin. Haitian Ambassador Fritz Cienas called on Dominican authorities last month to ensure the human rights of Haitian workers affected by the new work permit rules. Creole-speaking Haiti and the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic share an island and a troubled history. Haiti invaded and occupied the Dominican Republic for more than 20 years in the 19th century and Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered the massacre of an estimated 20,000 Haitians in 1937 as he sought to remove them from the country.
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After Haiti's 2010 earthquake, the Dominican Republic halted deportations and the country became a staging ground for relief efforts, reducing tensions between the neighboring countries. But the new labour law appears to signal that the lull has ended and the Dominican Republic has resumed its pre-quake policies. Advocates for migrants say authorities are cracking down on suspicious documents and have refused to accept work visas issued in previous decades. Haitian workers play an important role in the Dominican economy, with migrants accounting for about 80 percent of all workers in Dominican rice fields and 60 percent of those in banana fields, according to the private Agrobusiness Board. Haitians also make up more than half of the country's construction workforce, with nearly 60 percent of them lacking documents, according to a Labor Department study released in February.
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Agrobusiness Board Vice President Osmar Benitez said two of the country's largest growers have applied to legalize hundreds of employees in the past six months but obtained documents so far for only 42. Migration Director Jose Ricardo Taveras said business owners will have one month to meet the new requirements, and he pledged that officials will not raid businesses to deport illegal migrants during that period. Taveras said the new rules are aimed at eliminating the "chaos generated by the current illegal status of the labor market that encourages foreign labor." Employers who do not comply will face between $1,500 and $7,900 in penalties, and will also be required to ensure that all migrants return home once their contract expires. The government has not said how it plans to enforce the new rules, but officials have already denied requests from business groups to delay enforcement.

Santiago Hospital Spends 20% of Budget on Haitians

6/8/2012
Prensa Latina
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About 20% of the budget of the Jose Maria Cabral y Baez Regional University Hospital is spent on attention given to Haitian women who are giving birth, which represents an economic burden for the medical center. At the present time the center receives a monthly subsidy of RD$10,000,000 of which RD$2,000,000 is spent on Haitian births. The information was offered by the hospital spokesman Sergio Garcia, who said that 19% of the children born in the hospital are from women from the neighboring country. "The doctors that work in the hospital over services to all the pregnant women that come in, no matter what their nationality," he said. About 90 Haitian give birth each month in the Cabral y Baez (as it is popularly known) in Santiago, an average of three a day, and many of them cross the frontier without any documents, according to the statistics of the center. The reports also indicate that in 2009 there were 5,877 births, of which 1,099 were of Haitian women. In 2010 there were 1,150 Haitian births, and in 2011 there were 1,250 births from these women. Garcia said that these foreigner are not given any sort of document because they do not have the authority to do so, although the birth is registered on the hospital books. The spokesman said that as a requirement of the hospital the Dominican patients have to present their personal identification cards-the cédulas-or some other document that identifies them and the foreigners are asked for their passports.
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He underlined the fact that in the hospital there is an office of civil registration, but it is a branch of the Central Electoral Board, and not a part of the hospital itself. The Cabral y Baez Hospital is the largest in the Cibao, and hospitalizes approximately 23,000 patients a year, of which 10,000 are obstetrics patients. A third of the pregnancies are adolescent girls. And in 2011, they attended 172,000 general consultations, and there were 105,000 emergencies.

DR to Requite Migrant Work Permits (AP - 6/2/202)

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- The Dominican Republic plans to start penalizing all companies that hire illegal workers under a new labor regulation that has sparked anger among the Caribbean country's estimated 1 million Haitian residents. Migration Director Jose Ricardo Taveras said Friday that business owners will have one month to comply. He says he rejected pleas by several business groups to further postpone enforcement of the regulation out of growing concerns that it would result in a loss of productivity and revenue. The Agrobusiness Board says an estimated 80 percent of workers on rice fields and 60 percent of those in banana fields are Haitian migrants.

Haiti, DR, and UNDP Reforest Shared Border (5/22/2012)

Cap-Haïtien – In the Haiti-Dominican Republic border more than 300 hectares of land—equivalent to 740 football fields— have been reforested, one year after the launch of a UN Development Programme (UNDP) initiative with both countries. Ministers of environment of the two neighbouring countries that share the Caribbean Island of Hispaniola and UNDP officials gathered recently in Cap Haitien, northern Haiti, to commend additional results, including the creation of 450 jobs and three community centres where plants are grown to usable sizes to help further reforest the two countries’ borders. Six hundred families have been benefitted in 12 rural communities in both countries. Green Border—or Frontera Verde, in Spanish—is a four-year binational project is implemented by UNDP, the United Nations Environment Programme and World Food Programme to reduce high levels of natural disaster risk for local inhabitants along the border that runs through several rivers and watersheds.
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“Together we can recover the vegetation, together we can reduce poverty and risks at the border”, said Victor Manuel Garcia Santana, Vice-Minister of Land and Waters of the Ministry of Environment of the Dominican Republic. Centuries of man-made deforestation have reduced forest cover to about two percent in Haiti and 21 percent in the Dominican Republic. Haiti’s wildlife habitats have been destroyed or seriously damaged with 25 to 30 watersheds largely degraded or altered. “The idea is to achieve socially equitable development at the border,” said the Haitian Minister of the Environment Joseph Ronald Toussaint. “The reforestation activities function in this context as a form of compensation for ecosystem services, a form of social justice that helps rural inhabitants benefit from green jobs and to work for the welfare of their community and better management of natural resources of their country.” The project focuses on reforestation, local training and campaign (education campaigns in schools, training partners, creation of tools for monitoring and control of deforestation, among other measures), the demonstration of sustainable alternatives, and the consolidation of bi-national cooperation.
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Green Border has also sparked micro family businesses in the Haiti-Dominican Republic border. The project has been helping family owned cassava bakeries, which produce cakes and other baked goods made from the native cassava—or yucca—root using eco-friendly energy efficient practices. The project also boosts the production of fruit and forest species (pine, cedar, pinus, citrus trees, cashew nuts, among others) in the Haitian municipality of Dosmond, where more than 400,000 seedlings and around 10 new species have been produced. Green Border is primarily funded by the Norwegian government with around US$2.5 million in funding.

DR and Haiti Sign Seven Accords (3/27/2012)

Prensa Latina
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Presidents Leonel Fernandez (Dominican Republic) and Michel Martelly (Haiti) reinforced today cooperation through seven accords on commerce and investments, tourism, border transport and security, education, emigration and environment. Both heads of state also signed a bilateral protocol, with support from Venezuela, and through the Bolivarian Fund of Solidarity with Haiti and a framework agreement on collaboration between their ministries of Planning and International Cooperation. Contribution from different Latin American countries will help develop different projects to reconstruct Port-au-Prince and other cities razed by the Jan 12, 2010 massive quake and will help mobilize forces to rebuild Haiti, Dominican Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso told the media in Palacio Nacional. The accords are part of the Bilateral Joint Commission agenda, founded in 1996, that resumed its sessions with this visit and help arrange joint actions on emigration, security -that proposes containing together drug, arms and trafficking and contraband- and environment. On education, the parties arranged resuming the school year at Henri Christophe Univ. of Limonde which was built at the initiative of the President to host some 10,000 students.

Border Market Returns to Normal After Trucker Incidents

3/13/2012
Dominican Today
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the bi-national markets at Jimani and Dajabon were held normally Monday after last week's walkout by truck that drivers on both sides of the border
Merchants in Jimani couldn't sell their wares and products as Dominican truck drivers closed the border with Haiti Monday and Friday, but the Dominican ambassador in Haiti interceded with the neighboring country's authorities Monday afternoon, to let Dominican and Haitian trucks cross to both sides.The Jimani-Malpasse border crossing was closed from March 6 to 9, but the deadlock was solved after talks between the Dominican truckers union Fenatrado and Haiti authorities. Meanwhile Dominican consulate personnel in Ouanaminthe, who left the offices on safety concerns, returned Monday morning. The consular employees and officials spent the night in Dajabon, said the Foreign Relations Ministry Monday, the day after they noticed the state of tension and disorder which had prevailed in the zone.

Dominican Republic and Haiti Sign Tourism Agreement

3/9/2012
Prensa Latina
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The ministers of tourism of Haiti and Dominican Republic Stephanie Balmir and Francisco Javier Garcia, respectively, Friday discussed the terms of an agreement on collaboration and institutional technical work, announced sources of that sector. The agreement plans that Dominican Republic offers the collaboration Haiti needs in the tourist sector, so that country can start developing as a tourist destination. The Dominican minister said that they will offer the Haitian tourism ministry all their technical knowledge, logistic support, accumulated experience, and tourist planning. Garcia said that he will visit the neighbouring country soon accompanied by a group of Dominican communicators and businesspeople so that they learn about the Haitian tourist reality and invest in that country. The Dominican oficial said that tourism is a sector in which Haiti can develop.

Dominican Dreams Dashed, Haitian Quake Survivors Head Home

2/28/2012
CNN
By Ross Velton
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Pedernales, Dominican Republic (CNN) -- "I walked for three days through the jungle to get here." And what did Masselot Jean find when his hard trek from the poverty of Haiti to the relative riches of the Dominican Republic was over? "I came to the Dominican Republic for a better life, but all I found was the same misery." On a good day, he might get a dollar or two richer working on a farm from dawn to dusk. But mostly, Jean found no work. His Dominican dream had come to nothing. This is a common story among the thousands of Haitians who poured across the border after the earthquake in January 2010. They came to Haiti's more prosperous neighbor for jobs, new homes and new lives. But none of this happened. And now, thousands want to go back to Haiti to continue with their old lives, which for many were better lives. An Assisted Voluntary Return program run by the International Organization for Migration is giving these Haitians the chance to go home. So far, about 2,000 people have been returned to Haiti. But places are limited, and the program is overwhelmed with people.
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There are not enough convoys like this one to carry the thousands of Haitians who want to leave the Dominican Republic."In specific areas of the Dominican Republic, for every person that we're going to register for a return, there's at least two or three other people interested," says IOM's head of operations in the Dominican Republic, Jean-Philippe Antolin. In the most recent convoy bound for Haiti, five truckloads set off from the Dominican border town of Pedernales. Jean was in one of them. "I'm going back for a better life, but I don't know what I'll find." Although IOM's program has been expanded to include other types of migrants, it was initially set up for people displaced by the earthquake who now want to go back to Haiti. "They came to the Dominican Republic for something good -- for work and for money," says Roberto Francois, a Haitian working for IOM who has listened to many of the returnees' stories, including that of Natacha Polissaint.
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Her house crumbled in the earthquake. When she arrived in the Dominican Republic, she found a man who was willing to support her in return for a certain amount of intimacy. They became a couple of convenience. Natacha Polissaint and her children will live with family when they get back to Haiti because her house fell in the earthquake.Polissaint said he got her pregnant and then disappeared. She was left in a strange land with a new baby and no money. Applying for IOM's program was the obvious choice, although she knows things will not be easy. "I don't have a house," she says. "I'll stay with family when I arrive." Polissaint's case illustrates one of the many challenges of resuming life in Haiti. The AVR program will take people home, but it cannot give people a home. Sean Penn tells Piers Morgan about his work in Haiti. Instead of a new house, returnees get $50 in "pocket money" and a further $200 to set up a small business.
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"A lot of people are selling clothing, shoes, unprepared food like rice and beans. ... Some people are raising goats and chickens. I've seen some businesses of people who prepare alcohol and sell alcohol," says IOM's Zoë Stopak-Behr. But whatever they decide to do, the opportunity to start again means more than just money. It is a chance at redemption. Francois explains why. "It's something that's implanted in the immigrant: They leave their country for something good, and it's shameful to return home with empty pockets." The difficult task of filling these pockets will now begin.

IOM and Dominican Labor Minister Host Workshop on Migration

2/3/2012
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Dominican labour and migration authorities are meeting today in the capital Santo Domingo to exchange information on flows of migrant labour to and from the Dominican Republic and best practices in the management of labour migration. Jointly organized by IOM and the Dominican Ministry of Labour, the two-day workshop aims to improve labour migration management in the Dominican Republic by sensitizing stakeholders to the importance of modern, sustainable and rights-based approaches, especially focusing on south-south migration flows. The first day of the workshop focused on the labour migration context in the Dominican Republic, including the characteristics of labour migration flows, the Dominican diaspora and remittances, the legal framework to manage labour migration, and the importance of managing migration in the midst of the global economic crisis. Today’s session is addressing best practices for the technical implementation of inter-agency labour migration management, by defining the roles and responsibilities of the Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the General Directorate of Migration, and creating strategies for improved coordination amongst them. IOM’s Regional Specialist on Labour Migration and Migration for Development, Ricardo Cordero, is leading the workshop with support from technical experts from the Dominican ministries of Labour and Foreign Affairs, the Dominican General Directorate of Migration, the Dominican National Office of Statistics, and the Embassy of Canada in the Dominican Republic. Technical representatives from IOM, ILO, UNFPA, and various academic institutions and NGOs working on labour migration are also attending.
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“Sensitizing decision-makers on labour migration realities and about the role they play in the management of labour migration, particularly south-south migration, is essential. Similar workshops in Panama and El Salvador in recent months have assisted in advancing a labour migration agenda that promotes development and the protection of migrant rights in the region,” explains Cordero. The Dominican Republic is both a sending and receiving country for labour migration. The Caribbean nation hosts migrant workers from several countries, including considerable flows from Haiti, Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba and Spain. Dominican migrant workers are also employed in Europe (especially Spain and Italy), the United States, Canada and throughout Latin America. According to a report released this week by the Dominican Ministry of Labour, entitled Haitian Immigration and the Labour Market: Study of Workers in Construction and Banana Production in the Dominican Republic, Haitian migrants account for more than half (53%) of construction workers in the Dominican Republic (up from 27.7% in the year 2000) and approximately two-thirds (66.3%) of labourers in the production of bananas.
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“It is incredible that Haitian nationals make up the largest proportion of the lowest-paid within these sectors, which in turn, paradoxically, are at highest risk at work, especially in the construction sector, and this too is worth a considerable revision,” said Francisco Domínguez, Dominican Minister of Labour, during the launch of the study. This week’s workshop is part of IOM’s regional project Improving Labour Migration Administration in Central America and the Dominican Republic funded by the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada Labour Programme (HRSDC) of the International Programme for Professional Labour Administration (IPPLA) within the Canadian Ministry of Labour. For more information, please contact Alicia Sangro or Zoë Stopak-Behr, IOM Santo Domingo, Tel: 809 688 8174, asangro@iom.int or zstopak-behr@iom.int

IOM Helps Haitians Return from the DR, Find Jobs (1/16/12)

In the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake, approximately 200,000 displaced Haitians crossed into the Dominican Republic in search of medical assistance, job opportunities, family reunification and relief from the post-disaster conditions in Haiti. Since then, many have chosen to return to Haiti. The IOM Assisted Voluntary Return Program or AVR, carried out in coordination with the Dominican Republic's General Directorate of Migration (DGM by its Spanish acronym) and the Dominican Ministry of Interior and Police, is providing a genuine lifeline for these migrants. Jean Philippe Antolin, Manager of IOM's Assisted Voluntary Return Programme in the Dominican Republic explains why these Haitian migrants are eagerly returning to their country. "The fact is that these are very low income people - 90 per cent of them have no education. Many have been here since January 2010 or longer, but still have no access to education because they live in remote areas. Health care is very difficult, because although they have access to health, they do not have the money to buy the medicines. There is no access to income generating activities, no jobs." Working with Casa Caribe, Hermanas Juanistas and AMURTEL, three experienced NGO partners, IOM has carried out registration in 23 points in the Dominican Republic and return to 31 points inside Haiti.
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Maria Paredes, IOM Field Coordinator for the Assisted Voluntary Return Programme, says: "The IOM team doesn't just come to the field to register them; the IOM team interviews each person or family, we explain the programme, we get to know their situation, we verify their story, and once this process is completed, then we proceed with the actual registration." The AVR process - identification, registration, movement, reception and reintegration - begins with a meeting with potential returnees to explain the programme. IOM staff emphasize that everyone can change their mind on going back home at any time. Since the programme began in September 2010 with funding from the U.S. State Department, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), IOM has assisted 1,721 persons to return to their places of origin in Haiti. Currently the programme is focusing on helping the especially vulnerable Haitian migrants - those who are in a desperate situation, who do not have access to food or education. IOM expects to assist another 1,000 persons. But the demand is so great that IOM is actively seeking funding to continue the voluntary return programme. On the scheduled day for return, IOM ensures that the returnees are accompanied by Creole-speaking staff on every stage of the process, which includes escort and assistance in clearing customs and border controls, transportation assistance to their final destination in Haiti. IOM also issues beneficiary identification to be used in accessing reintegration services in Haiti, a stipend of US$50 per beneficiary for initial costs, a stipend of US$65 per child delivered to every mother to support child maintenance, in addition to providing awareness-raising on cholera-prevention and Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS), soap, and water purification sachets. On behalf of IOM, NGOs deliver education grants of up to US$150 per child of schooling age which is paid directly to schools.
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Once back home, during the reintegration stage, returnees receive access to business training and capital (US$200 per adult) to start a micro-enterprise (sums vary according to the number of adults and/or children in each household), as well as access to an income generation scheme supported by IOM and operated by IOM counterparts. Follow-up is carried out by IOM partner NGOs and/or IOM staff. Antolin adds: "Many of the micro-enterprises have become quite successful with participants now able to make investments in other assets, such as goats and chickens. They have started businesses selling clothing, shoes, raw and prepared foods, and other goods. And some beneficiaries have joined forces in order to expand their business possibilities."

Haitian Government Official Attacked in the DR (12/24/2011)

Associated Press
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A presidential adviser in Haiti says that a government minister was attacked while visiting the neighboring Dominican Republic. Presidential adviser Damian Merlo said late Friday that Minister of Haitians Living Abroad Daniel Supplice is doing fine but he had no other details. The newspaper Le Matin reported that four members of the Dominican police force robbed Supplice and his family Thursday of his cell phone and valuables. The alleged incident happened in the city of Santiago while the minister was in the country for a wedding. Supplice's Twitter account posted Friday night that he was doing very well and would speak to the press Monday. Neither Supplice nor Dominican police could be reached for comment

Haitians See Neighbors' Post Quake Love Dry Up (12/12/11)

CBS World Watch
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Almost two years after a devastating earthquake inspired solidarity between the estranged neighboring nations which share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, the relationship between the Dominican Republic and Haiti is descending back to business as usual. "We have no value in the eyes of Dominicans," says Haitian construction worker Pierre Giraud, 24. Giraud snuck across the border into the Dominican Republic with the help of a smuggler after the 2010 earthquake destroyed his home, killing his parents. An estimated 1.2 million Haitians live in the Dominican Republic, making up roughly 10 percent of the country's population. Many Haitians view their eastern neighbor as a land of opportunity, and many illegally cross the porous border to escape poverty - often to take low-paying jobs in construction, housekeeping, or cutting sugar cane. But many say they face discrimination and live in constant fear of being deported.
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Mass deportations of undocumented Haitians have been a practice in the Dominican Republic for years. However, when the January 2010 earthquake struck Haiti, the Dominican Republic suspended the deportations. This was just part of the solidarity that the Dominican Republic showed Haiti after the quake. The Dominican Republic was the first to send supplies and dispatch relief workers. Injured Haitians were air lifted to Dominican hospitals and the Dominican officials even opened the tightly controlled border, allowing thousands of Haitians to enter freely. "The demonstration of solidarity and generosity was extraordinary and very moving," says Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, director of the United Nations agency on refugees (UNHCR) in the Dominican Republic. "But as time passed those demonstrations of candid solidarity, good will, and fraternal feelings started to diminish to some extent. Towards the end of last year and beginning of this year, the government restarted some deportations of undocumented Haitians." According to NGOs, Dominican authorities periodically round up undocumented Haitians, some of whom overstayed work visas, and drop them at the Haitian border without due process.
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Dominican political analyst Cristhian Jimenez says the renewed deportations are necessary to relieve some of the pressure illegal Haitians put on Dominican resources. "18 percent of the budget of the Dominican Republic's Health Ministry goes to serve Haitians," says Jimenez. "There are more than a million Haitians here. The majority work, receive healthcare, their children go to school, and most of the money that they earn they send back to Haiti. So not only are we taking care of Haitians here, we are helping support Haitians that are in Haiti as well." With Dominican elections approaching next year, the deportations may also serve a political purpose. "[The deportations] tend to be given quite a lot of publicity," said Vargas Llosa of the UNHCR. "They give it visibly so the average Dominican person knows that the government is trying to take some action to stem the flow of undocumented Haitians." Tensions have been further strained over questions about the citizenship status of children of undocumented Haitians. In this Nov. 2, 2006 file photo, Dominican-born human rights activist Sonia Pierre poses for a photo near Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic."They're trying to erase us," said Sonia Pierre, a Dominican activist of Haitian decent and director of the Dominican-Haitian Women's Movement. Thousands like Pierre, who were born in the Dominican Republic to Haitian parents, are at risk of having their Dominican citizenship revoked. Dominican citizenship is granted to all those born on Dominican territory. However, a 2007 law denies Dominican nationality to the children born to foreigners that are "in transit" in the country.
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NOTE: After speaking to CBS News, Dominican-Haitian activist Sonia Pierre passed away suddenly on Dec. 4, 2011, due to natural causes. She was just 48. The Dominican government applies "in transit" status to the country's illegal immigrants, most of whom are Haitian. Last year, the country's new constitution further specified that the children of illegal immigrants will not be granted Dominican citizenship. "It's as if a grandchild or child of a Dominican born and raised in the U.S. was told by the U.S. government that they're not American because of a retroactive law," said Pierre. "Can you imagine that?" Because of the policy, thousands have been denied Dominican birth certificates and national identity cards. These documents are required to enroll in university, marry, and apply for a passport in order to travel internationally. Those affected are also at-risk of becoming stateless. Most have lived in the Dominican Republic all their lives and are not Haitian citizens, as Haiti does not recognize dual-citizenship.
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Last week, hundreds of Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian decent gathered in front of the Dominican Supreme Court to protest the de-nationalization practices. One protestor held a sign that read, "I am Dominican, you know it." Some call the de-nationalization practices institutionalized discrimination against Haitians. "This is not happening to the children of Europeans, Chileans, or Colombians," said Pierre, the women's activist. "We share an island where one part is extremely poor and darker skinned. There is discrimination." Resentment toward Haitians is deeply rooted in the island's history. In the mid-1800s, Haiti occupied the eastern part of the island for 22 years. The day Dominicans celebrate as their Independence Day is the day they broke free from Haiti in 1844, not their independence from Spain in 1821. "What is taught in history classes in schools is Dominican independence from Haiti and that has become deeply entrenched in the mentality of Dominicans," said Jimenez. Pierre is not convinced. "A lot of people say discrimination against Haitians has to do with history. I don't think so," she says. "If that was the case, Dominicans would have the same attitude toward Spain and even the U.S., which occupied the Dominican Republic more recently." Despite the controversy over de-nationalization, the Dominican government is making strides to unify the island. It partnered with the UNHCR to launch a tolerance campaign titled, "Living With Everyone Is Living With Tolerance." The campaign kicked off on Friday with a free concert in Santo Domingo featuring prominent artists from both the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The concert, which coincided with Human Rights Day (December 10), was to be followed by events throughout the year promoting Dominican and Haitian culture. "We thought this would be a good time to try to revisit some of that spirit and dynamic that was created after the earthquake, but this time not prompted by a tragedy, but to the contrary, this time prompted by... a positive and constructive spirit," said Vargas Llosa of the UNHCR. Some of the names in this story have been changed to protect the identify of sources.

IDB Hails DR's Role in Haiti Reconstruction (10/13/2011)

Dominican Today
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The president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) said Thursday that Dominican Republic is among the countries which have most helped Haiti, affirming it has behaved in accordance with the circumstances in its support for Port-au-Prince's reconstruction. Luis Alberto Moreno also said the country is among those which have best dealt with the international crisis. Speaking in the inaugural of the 12th edition of the Forum of Biarritz headed by president Leonel Fernandez, Moreno noted that the country's economic growth of 7.8% last year was higher than the world average, which he attributed to the counter-cyclic program applied by the chief executive. He said to support Haiti's reconstruction, the IDB works specifically to create jobs and announced that the entity builds an industrial park in Haiti's North Zone that would provide work for about 90,000 Haitians, a project slated to start operating next March.

DR Annuls Ethnic Haitian Citizenship (10/11/2011)

Associated Press
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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- The Dominican government has confiscated or annulled nearly 1,600 birth certificates belonging to residents of Haitian descent, a migrant advocacy group charged Tuesday. A government official denied anyone had been wrongly denied a birth certificate. Sonia Adames, director of Jesuit Refugee and Migrant Services, told reporters the group's investigation found 72 percent of those affected are between 15 and 30 years old and have been unable to find a job, open a bank account or enroll in school as a result. She said 48 percent also have been unable to register their children as Dominican citizens. Last year, the government amended the Caribbean country's constitution to deny citizenship to children born in the Dominican Republic to foreign parents. Adames said government officials have been applying the change retroactively to people of Haitian descent who already held citizenship. Migrants from neighboring Haiti and other residents descended from Haitians have long complained they receive unequal treatment in the Dominican Republic. Several local and international nonprofit groups have filed complaints similar to Adames' charges with the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights, which is still holding hearings on the matter. Roberto Rosario, president of the government's Central Electoral Commission, denied Adames' charges about citizenship abuses. He said the commission made its own investigation last month. He said that of 120 cases studied, only eight were found to involve the denial of a birth certificate copy requested by a resident, and he said that was because of fraud. Rosario said a 2007 measure that he approved to reduce the use of fake documents has not led to unnecessary confiscations or annulments of birth certificates for people of Haitian descent.

Love Thy Neighbor? Not When it Comes to Haiti and DR (10/3/11)

The Guardian
By Prospery Raymond
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Since the earthquake, the world's attention has been focused on rebuilding Haiti for those already living here. But there are thousands of Haitians living next door in the Dominican Republic whse circumstances have also taken a dramatic turn for the worse, but who are receiving far less attention. For years, relations between the governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic have been strained. The uneven development between the two countries meant there was a steady stream of Haitian workers crossing the border in search of employment even before the earthquake. While the Dominican Republic has relied on these migrant workers to provide cheap labour for their sugar cane harvests and also in the building trades, some politicians have tried to win political capital by demonising them. This is nothing new, of course. Around the world, immigrants are routinely vilified by rightwing politicians and accused of stealing local jobs. But in the Dominican Republic, both the rhetoric and the actual discrimination against Haitian migrants are virulent – and getting worse. In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, the attitude radically changed and the Dominican Republic was among the first to offer aid, rushing in ambulances, medical personnel and emergency supplies. Badly injured Haitians were allowed to travel freely across the border for medical treatment. Now, more than 18 months on, relations between the two countries have begun to cool again. Last month, Jose Ricardo Taveras, the new immigration director for the Dominican Republic, publicly complained about the influx of Haitian migrants since the quake. This spring, banners sprung up in Taveras's hometown of Santiago calling on Haitians to go home. It is not just rhetoric, either. Over the past seven years the Dominican government has rewritten its constitution and reinterpreted old laws, effectively eliminating birthright citizenship. Since 26 January 2010, citizens must prove that they have at least one parent of Dominican nationality to be recognised. In other words, if you are a person born to undocumented Haitian parents living in the Dominican Republic, you no longer have the right to Dominican citizenship even if you have lived there your whole life.
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This bureaucratic catch-22 can have dire consequences. Take Miledis Juan, who shares a tiny two-room house with her husband and one-year-old son in Batay Esperanza, a shantytown just outside the capital, Santo Domingo. She currently operates an embroidery machine in a dingy factory in the free trade zone. Although Juan recently went to college to become a teacher and improve her circumstances, the certificate she earned is now effectively worthless. She is unable to get a teaching job because she can't obtain a fresh copy of her birth certificate. She has a national identification document and a birth certificate proving she was born in the Dominican Republic. But the government now says both are invalid because her parents were undocumented Haitians. Juan also needs a fresh copy of her birth certificate to register the birth of her own son. Without his own birth certificate, he will not be allowed to access health services or attend school past the eighth grade. Not only that, but the rules are being applied retroactively to people who, like Juan, have already been granted Dominican citizenship, which contravenes the American convention of human rights under the Organisation of American States, to which the Dominican Republic is a signatory. The Dominican authorities argue that people falling foul of the new ruling should apply for Haitian citizenship, even though they may not speak Creole or ever have set foot in Haiti. In any case, Haitian rules require them to have lived in Haiti for at least five years. This means that thousands of Haitian people living in the Dominican Republic are now effectively stateless. The situation is unjust and impractical, not to mention illegal under the human rights act. Christian Aid has been campaigning about the discrimination against Dominico-Haitians for many years, and has published a report - On the Margins (pdf) - on the subject. Along with other NGOs and with the support of the UNHCR, Christian Aid is organising a conference in Washington DC on the problem of statelessness in the Dominican Republic running 25 to 28 October.

UNHCR Chief Visits UNHCR Operations in the DR (9/7/2011)

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres has visited the Dominican Republic for the first time, meeting top officials, visiting UNHCR projects and meeting people of concern to the refugee agency in the Caribbean nation. During his visit on Tuesday, Guterres met several young people of Haitian descent who have faced problems getting copies of their civil documentation. They told him of the difficulties they have in leading a normal life. The High Commissioner also discussed the issue with President Leonel Fernández in the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo. One young man, 22-year-old Teófilo, said he was born in Santo Domingo and has spent all his years in the Dominican Republic. But his parents came from Haiti and he feels a strong attachment to both the neighbouring nations – like many other young people here of Haitian descent. He grew up feeling he was Dominican. "When I hear merengue, my feet tremble and I feel my soul leaving my body," he told Guterres, referring to the most popular style of music in the Dominican Republic. The young man looked forward to going to university. But he fell foul of 2007 administrative directives on civil documentation. Teófilo told Guterres that he applied for a copy of his birth certificate in 2008 so that he could register for college. Instead of being allowed to matriculate, his case was placed under investigation by the national authorities. The High Commissioner met other young people with similar tales.
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"It was very important for me to have this conversation and see what UNHCR can do for these people who want to continue to be recognized as nationals of the country where they were born, and how we can support the Dominican authorities in this task," said Guterres, who last month launched a global campaign to reduce statelessness. Under the current regulations, even though many people like Teófilo have been registered at birth and given Dominican ID cards, civil registry officers cannot issue, sign or copy birth certificates for individuals whose parents have not proved their legal status in the Dominican Republic. That's the position Teófilo found himself in – and there are many other similar cases. Without a birth certificate, they will not be recognized as nationals or gain access to all the rights that come with it. During his visit with President Fernández, the High Commissioner encouraged him to develop concrete pledges on asylum and on the prevention of statelessness ahead of a landmark ministerial-level meeting to be organized by UNHCR in Geneva this December. The total size of the stateless population in the Caribbean region is unknown. However, it is believed that hundreds of thousands of people born outside Haiti to Haitian migrants could potentially be stateless or at risk of statelessness. In practical terms, being stateless affects access to education, health care and social services. It can also lead to problems finding work, buying a home, travelling and many other things that citizens take for granted. As he pondered his future, Teófilo told Guterres that he still loves the Dominican Republic, but now feels that this is unrequited. "I was born in Mojarra, in the Dominican capital, but in my heart, in my blood, I carry with me the heritage of my Haitian parents – something I would not disown, because it would be like disowning myself," he said. "I am Dominican, but I am being denied my documents," he added. During his visit to the Dominican Republic, Guterres also visited the small UNHCR office, which was opened last year. In addition to working with the government on the statelessness issue, the office also supports government efforts to strengthen procedures for refugee status determination. There are around 200 refugees in the country and 350 asylum-seekers, mostly from Haiti. By Luis Romero and Federico Martínez in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

As Refugees From Haiti Linger, Dominicans’ Good Will Fades

8/30/2011
New York Times
By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD
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CHENE, Dominican Republic — They have been blamed for spreading cholera, taking jobs and driving up crime, and now, with memories of the earthquake and the bonhomie it generated rapidly fading, this country is taking action: it is deporting Haitian refugees, turning them away from the border and generally making their lives difficult. Benie Boner was photographed and fingerprinted last month in Chene, Dominican Republic, as part of the International Organization for Migration's project to help Haitian refugees repatriate. The police and military near the border, with little more to go on than darker skin color and a failure to produce identification, have stopped cars and buses and forced them to Haiti, human rights groups say. The Dominicans also are using a new law to deny citizenship to children of illegal immigrants and deport people who had been born and lived here for years, advocacy groups contend.
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The deportations are a sign of impatience with the limping recovery in Haiti and the waning international sympathy for its enduring troubles. Haiti and its international donors are far behind in helping the hundreds of thousands still living in makeshift camps and the millions without formal jobs, a crisis worsened by a political stalemate that has blocked Haiti’s new president, Michel Martelly, from forming a new government more than 100 days after taking office. “It’s kind of an unsolvable issue,” said Robert Maguire, a Haiti scholar at George Washington University. “The truth is when Haitians leave, to the Dominican Republic and other places, they tend to do well or at least better than in Haiti, so they keep leaving.” Several countries bestowed an effective grace period on Haitian migrants and refugees after the earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010, but that appears to be ending. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees recently urged countries to reverse a new wave of deportations to Haiti because conditions remain precarious there. Haiti “cannot yet ensure adequate protection or care especially for some vulnerable groups in case of return,” the statement said. Deportees have also come from Jamaica and the Bahamas, according to aid organizations in Haiti. The United States resumed deporting Haitians several months after the quake, and American immigration officials say they expect to deport some 700 this year, focusing on people convicted of crimes.
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Dominican officials say they have borne the brunt of both quake refugees and recent economic migrants, adding to a steady flow of people from Haiti who have slipped through the porous border for decades to cut sugar cane, harvest coffee beans, work construction and do other low-wage jobs. Last week, José Ricardo Taveras, the nation’s new immigration director, a member of a political party known for its hard line on immigration, lashed out at the United Nations for failing to slow the influx. Last month, he cited estimates of the 500,000 or more Haitians in this country, telling local journalists that “nobody can resist an invasion of that nature” and that thousands of Haitians had been deported. Right after the earthquake, the Dominican Republic, a nation with a history of both conflict and cooperation with Haiti, its poorer sibling on the island of Hispaniola, was among the first to offer aid. It sent teams to assess the damage and deliver food and medicine, eased visa requirements to allow the injured into Dominican hospitals and opened staging areas for relief shipments. The good will was a welcome departure from the notorious low points between the neighbors — most notably the massacre of thousands of Haitians by the Dominican military in 1937 — and raised hopes of a tighter bond.
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But the unemployment rate is high here — at about 14 percent last year, it is among the highest in Latin America — and cholera, which has killed nearly 6,000 in Haiti since October, has killed more than 90 in the Dominican Republic, many of them Haitian migrants. This spring, banners sprang up in Santiago, Mr. Taveras’s hometown, calling on Haitians to go home. Protests erupted over the refugees’ presence, and a number of migrants fled. “We are defending our sovereignty because Dominican manpower has been practically eliminated in construction,” Juan Francisco Consuegra, a community leader there, told reporters during a demonstration. The tension became pitched enough that the International Organization for Migration offered a way out: paying Haitians $50 apiece, plus additional relocation assistance, to go home willingly. More than 1,500 have gone back through the program.
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“Anything is better than the conditions we are in now,” said Bernier Noel, who registered to leave. The earthquake flattened his house in Haiti. Now he cannot wait to return. Mr. Noel arrived here with friends a few months after the earthquake, after hearing that jobs and money were plentiful. He lives in a lean-to, bathes in bug-infested water and picks coffee beans at an unrelenting pace under an unforgiving sun for about $3 a day. Never did he imagine that the devastation he saw in Haiti would seem a step up, but at least there are friends willing to take him in while he tries to revive a meager business selling shoes on the street. Dominican officials said they had gone out of their way to assuage the crisis in Haiti. The deportations, they insist, are aimed at recent arrivals and, in the case of numerous children found to have been smuggled in to beg or work as prostitutes, have been done with the help of nongovernmental organizations. Alejandra Hernández, the minister counselor at the Dominican Embassy in Washington, said Dominican health authorities spent more than $11 million for emergency aid in the month after the earthquake, and $27 million in 2010. But refugees are now an economic burden, Ms. Hernández said, using health, police and other services. Their arrival “follows a long-established pattern of economic migration, which for years has placed great demands on our country’s capacity,” she said, noting that in the first half of 2010, one-sixth of all live births in her country’s public hospitals were to Haitian mothers.
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For Haitians in the Dominican Republic, life is getting tougher, which may be the point. Gabriel G. Teodoro, 31, said he lost his job as a messenger at a law firm because he could not renew his national identity card. Although born in the Dominican Republic — and ignorant of the Haitian language or culture — he was turned away at the immigration office under the new law because his parents were illegal immigrants, Mr. Teodoro said. “This country benefits from our labor, but I am being denied because of my Haitian heritage,” he said. His is one of dozens of cases human rights advocates are appealing. On a recent morning here, a stream of Haitian migrants walked out from their hovels in the brush to fill a church and register to leave under the International Organization for Migration’s program. Pedite François came clutching his 14-month-old daughter, Cedita. “It is hard to find work,” he said. “A day without work is a day without food.”

Carl Lewis to Visit Haiti and the Dominican Republic (6/9/2011)

UN News
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Olympic athlete and FAO Goodwill Ambassador Carl Lewis
Nine-time Olympic gold medallist and United Nations advocate Carl Lewis will embark tomorrow on a visit to the Dominican Republic and Haiti to meet with national leaders and visit forestry and agricultural projects. The United States track star, who was designated a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in October 2009, will highlight the International Year of Forests during his stop in the Dominican Republic. In February the UN kicked off a year-long celebration to raise awareness of the valuable role of forests, on which at least 1.6 billion people depend for their daily livelihoods and subsistence needs. Mr. Lewis will also spotlight a global campaign by FAO to end hunger known as "The 1billionhungry project," through which people can voice their outrage about world hunger by adding their names to an online petition. The campaign uses a yellow whistle as an icon encouraging people to blow the whistle against this global scourge. During his visit to Haiti, which begins on 13 June, Mr. Lewis will see first-hand an FAO project aimed at stabilizing the soil and forests in the mountains near the epicentre of the devastating January 2010 earthquake.
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The impoverished Caribbean nation is one of the most deforested in the world, according to FAO, with only 2 per cent of forest cover left. Deforestation in Haiti makes the country extremely vulnerable to flash floods and landslides. Mr. Lewis" trip comes at the start of hurricane season, which officially began on 1 June. Severe flooding has been reported in both countries, which share the same island. UN peacekeepers and humanitarian staff have been helping with relief efforts in Haiti, where floods sparked by torrential rains earlier this week have killed at least 10 people in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Haitian Migrants Leave the DR With Cash Incentives (6/3/2011)

Associated Press
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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- More than 2,000 Haitians who fled to the Dominican Republic after a devastating earthquake are returning home under a new program that offers migrants cash as an incentive, officials said Friday. It is the first time Dominican officials, with help from the International Organization for Migration, are transporting willing migrants back to Haiti as part of an organized effort. Under the program, each family member is paid $50 to return to Haiti. Additional payments mean each family receives a minimum of $250. According to United Nations' statistics, Haiti's GDP per capita was $949 a year before last year's earthquake and now is less, meaning a few hundred dollars can be a powerful motivation to move. "It is a population that has been displaced twice," International Organization for Migration spokesman Jean-Philippe Antolin told The Associated Press, explaining that most of the migrants who crossed the border into the Dominican Republic were already internal migrants in Haiti. The program is financed by the nonprofit organization and other agencies, including the U.S. State Department, he said. It is unclear how much money is available for the program, which began several weeks ago. Officials have distributed at least $65,000, with nearly 1,300 Haitians transported back to their native country, Antolin said. An additional 832 Haitians have signed up for the porgram. An estimated 200,000 Haitians fled to the Dominican Republic after the earthquake, with some 50,000 migrants alone settling in the city of Santiago just north of the Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital, Antolin said. This week, officials escorted 149 Haitians from Santiago to Ouanaminthe in northern Haiti, where a religious group is helping them reintegrate into communities.

IOM Hold Bi-National Meeting to Discuss Haitian Kids in the DR

5/30/2011
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Child protection authorities and other relevant stakeholders from the Dominican Republic and Haiti are meeting today in the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo, to exchange experiences and best practices on children displaced by the January 2010 earthquake, unaccompanied minors and child victims of trafficking. The meeting, organized by IOM, aims to facilitate a closer working relationship between the neighbouring countries on these issues. Participants include technical-level government representatives from the Dominican National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONANI), the Dominican General Directorate of Migration (DGM), the Dominican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Dominican Attorney General's Office, the Dominican National Police, the Haitian Institute for Social Well-Being and Research (IBESR), the Brigade for the Protection of Minors (BPM) of the Haitian National Police and the Embassy of Haiti in the Dominican Republic. IOM migration experts, as well as technical representatives from UNICEF, UNDP, UNHCR, and various NGOs working on child migrant and trafficking issues, will also attend.
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“Although child victims of trafficking and other unaccompanied minors from Haiti were present in the Dominican Republic before the 2010 earthquake, the situation intensified after the disaster,” explains Cy Winter, IOM Chief of Mission in the Dominican Republic. Long-term solutions are still being sought for many of the displaced children who arrived in the country after the earthquake while new cases of unaccompanied minors and child victims of trafficking continue to present themselves. "By bringing together the working level members of key institutions in the day-to-day response to child migration challenges, IOM aims to foster bi-national dialogue and cooperation on this important migration issue," adds Winter.
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A study carried out by the Jesuit Refugee and Migrant Service in 2010, with support from IOM, confirms the existence of unaccompanied Haitian minors in the Dominican cities of Santo Domingo, Santiago, Puerto Plata and Dajabón, living in conditions of extreme vulnerability and at risk for trafficking and other abuses. The situation of Haitian child victims of trafficking in the Dominican Republic was brought into focus this year through a raid carried out by DGM in February that revealed dozens of victims living in deplorable conditions in a neighbourhood of Santo Domingo. The children had been trafficked to the Dominican Republic prior to the earthquake in January 2010 to beg on the streets of Santo Domingo or to carry out menial tasks such as shining shoes or washing windows at busy intersections in the nation’s capital. Today’s meeting is being held with funding from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).

Earthquake Displaced Haitians in the DR Assisted to Return Home

5/31/2011
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Earthquake Displaced Haitians in the Dominican Republic Provided Assisted Voluntary Return Home – IOM is today providing voluntary return assistance, in coordination with the Dominican General Directorate of Migration (DGM), to more than 150 vulnerable earthquake-displaced Haitians asking for assistance to return to their country. The Haitian families, returning to their places of origin in the Haitian departments of Nord, Nord-Est, Nord-Ouest, and Artibonite, will be escorted by IOM staff and migration officials from the Dominican Republic and Haiti, to ensure safe and secure passage across the border in Dajabón. In Haiti, the returnees will receive reintegration assistance from the Juanista Sisters, a religious organization based in Ouanaminthe, in the Nord-Est department. The reintegration assistance will include training on starting a business, providing start-up grants and ongoing monitoring for up to three-months.
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An estimated 200,000 displaced Haitians are thought to have arrived in the Dominican Republic in the months following the January 2010 earthquake. According to DGM officials in the second largest city, Santiago, there are more than 50,000 Haitians in the city. These post-earthquake arrivals have increased the migration-related concerns of the local population in Santiago. DGM has received complaints from neighbourhood groups regarding the crowded and slum-like conditions in which some of the migrants are living, the strain on the city’s basic infrastructure, unhygienic conditions in the midst of the cholera outbreak, and the perception of deteriorating security conditions. In coordination with NGOs, community based organizations and religious congregations, IOM staff spent the month of May speaking to Haitian migrants in 16 neighbourhoods of Santiago. IOM found that many had crossed into the Dominican Republic in the initial days after the earthquake seeking medical attention, while others arrived in the following months in search of economic opportunities. Many of those Haitians arriving post-earthquake have chosen to return to Haiti and have asked IOM for assistance. Through the IOM Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) project, funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM), IOM has registered a total of 2,131 Haitian earthquake victims in the Dominican Republic wishing to return home. Until today, 1,150 have been provided voluntary return and reintegration assistance by IOM and its partners.

Haitians in the Dominican Republic

To the person who made the comment about Haitians "crossing the border illegally into D.R. " rather than "making an effort to develop their own country", I am hoping your comment was made prior to watching the series. It is very interesting when people who benefit from the labor of others and are in the advantaged minority, view with disdain the contributions of those who continue to be oppressed. I can certainly say that the Haitian's that cross into D.R. certainly don't do it for the glamorous lifestyle, lovely disposition and fun times that the Dominicans show them. Rather it is out of desperation. Meaning they have no other choice. Sort of like the captive that chooses to gnaw off their own arm to escape their captors. To simply dismiss the pain of such a choice with "Well if they would take better care of themselves and not chew off their arms they'd get more respect" is not just ignorant, it is blind, deaf an most of all dumb. Good luck with your outlook on life though. Hope you never find yourself making a difficult choice. If you do, hope you don't have the likes of yourself looking on in judgement.

Black in Latin America: Haiti and the Dominican Republic

From Fabiola Fleuranvil,
Blueprint Creative Group
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In case you missed last week's premier of *"Black in Latin America*," a new four-part PBS series on the influence of African descent on Latin America by Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., you can watch the first series *"Black in Latin America Haiti & the Dominican Republic: An Island Divided"* online
at *http://video.iptv.org/video/1877436791*.
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This first series is an exploration of the complex relations between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. In the Dominican Republic, Professor Gates explores how race has been socially constructed, and how the country's troubled history with Haiti informs notions about racial classification. In Haiti, Professor Gates tells the story of the birth of the first-ever black republic, and finds out how the slaves hard fight for liberation became a double edged sword.

Interesting

Perhaps if Haitians stopped crossing the border illegally into the Dominican Republic, Dominicans will show respect for them. For as long as Haitians just benefit from the development of the D.R. without making an effort to develop their own country I don't think Dominicans are going to have a high opinion of them.

DR To Burn Uncertified Raw Food from Haiti (2/21/2011)

Associated Press
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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- The Dominican Republic says it will burn fresh meat and seafood from Haiti that does not have a certificate demonstrating it is free of cholera bacteria. Health Minister Bautista Rojas says the measure is intended to prevent cholera from spreading through the informal trading network between the two neighboring countries. Rojas said Monday the military has been authorized to seize and destroy uncertified raw animal products. Dominican authorities blame lobster from Haiti for sickening dozens of people at a wedding last month The Dominican Republic says three people have died and 400 sickened from cholera since October. In Haiti, cholera has killed more than 4,500 people and sickened 234,000.

Haitian migrants in the DR exploited, forced to beg (2/23/2011)

Associated Press
By Ramon Espinosa
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Dominican authorities said they busted a human trafficking ring Wednesday that allegedly exploited dozens of Haitian migrants as beggars on street corners in the capital. The 74 illegal immigrants — 44 of them children, including 10 less than a year old — were found at a building that formerly housed a daycare center in a poor suburb west of Santo Domingo, said Sigfrido Pared, director of the country's migration agency. Pared said the migrants were sent out each morning to busy intersections to beg for money, wash windshields or do other menial tasks. At the end of the day they were rounded up, and whatever they made was taken from them. Ten suspected ringleaders, also illegal migrants from Haiti, were arrested on suspicion of human trafficking, Pared said. Immigration and child protection agencies will try to reunite the children with relatives in Haiti. "The idea is to find a humane solution," said Cy Winter of the International Migration Organization. Officials say that in most cases of children being caught up in human trafficking rings, their parents give them up in exchange for money. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians live illegally in the Dominican Republic, fleeing the severe poverty in their homeland. Since the devastating earthquake last year and then a cholera outbreak, Haitians have been crossing the border in even greater numbers. In response, Dominican authorities launched a sweeping immigration dragnet that has led to thousands of deportations this year.

Dominican Republic Deports Haitian Migrants (2/21/2011)

Associated Press
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JIMANI, Dominican Republic | The Dominican Republic has deported thousands of illegal immigrants in recent weeks, sowing fear among Haitians living in the country and prompting accusations its government is using a cholera outbreak as a pretext for a crackdown. In the largest campaign in years to target Haitians living illegally in the Dominican Republic, soldiers and immigration agents have been setting up checkpoints and conducting neighborhood sweeps, detaining anyone without papers and booting them from the country. Erickner Auguesten, a 36-year-old father of three who has been in the Dominican Republic illegally since 1991, said agents stopped him as he exited a hospital where his pregnant wife was getting a checkup. “When we left to get some food, the police pulled up and told me to get into the truck,” he told the Associated Press in the border town of Jimani. He said a friend who works for the border patrol helped him sneak back in. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians live at least part time in the Dominican Republic, enduring frequent discrimination and the constant fear of being deported. A cholera epidemic in Haiti that has killed at least 4,000 people and sickened 200,000 has made matters worse. A Haitian boy tries to cross into the Dominican Republic at the border near Jimani on Jan. 29. (Associated Press)Dominican officials eased border controls and halted deportations for humanitarian reasons after the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake near Port-au-Prince that killed an estimated 316,000 people and devastated the already impoverished nation. But right at the one-year anniversary of the quake, the deportations resumed — with greater enforcement than has been seen since 2005.
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More than 3,000 people have been handcuffed and sent across the border in the past four weeks, including some legal residents who were simply caught without their documents, according to migrants and advocates. “They grab them from the streets,” said Gustavo Toribio of Border Solidarity, an organization that provides assistance to migrant workers. “They don’t care if they have children, if they have property. They only ask them for their documents.” The government denies that any legal residents have been deported. Dominican immigration chief Sigfrido Pared defended the deportations, saying his country cannot be an escape valve for Haitians fleeing extreme poverty and political instability. The United Nations estimated before the earthquake that some 600,000 Haitians were living illegally in the Dominican Republic, which has a total population of nearly 10 million. Dominican authorities say that number has since grown to 1 million, most of them there illegally.
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“It is very easy for some countries or some organizations to criticize the situation in the Dominican Republic,” Mr. Pared said. “No [other] country in the world has a border with Haiti. No country in the world has a Haitian problem like the Dominican Republic has.” Dominican officials say the immigration crackdown is necessary to prevent the spread of cholera from Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. So far there have been only about 300 known cholera cases in the Dominican Republic — with one fatality, a Haitian migrant thought to have contracted the disease back home. Even in Haiti, the disease has slowed in recent weeks amid a nationwide treatment and education campaign. However, infectious-disease specialists warn that cholera could still rebound in Haiti, and the Dominican Health Ministry says it can’t afford to take any chances “The ministry is in charge of maintaining epidemiological vigilance and health control along the border, as in the whole country,” spokesman Luis Garcia said. Many Dominicans support the deportations, saying they are fearful of contracting the disease. “It’s a threat to our country,” said Secondino Matos, a 50-year-old truck driver. “They [Haitians] are our brothers — but not the illegal ones. This country is drowning in them already.” Spread by waterborne bacteria, cholera causes rapid dehydration, but is treatable if caught soon enough. The key to controlling it is early treatment and making sure people have access to clean water and sanitation.
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Dr. Robert Tauxe, a cholera expert with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, praised the Dominican Republic for reporting its first cases so quickly and launching strong public education efforts. He declined to comment specifically on the deportations, but said there’s little evidence that border controls, in general, can effectively contain the spread. “It’s a little hard to point to success in that,” Dr. Tauxe said. Some activists contend that cholera is just an excuse, and the mass deportations are actually driven by racism and xenophobia. Dominican-Haitian Women Movement director Sonia Pierre noted that many road checkpoints are in areas that see only domestic traffic, and thus are unlikely to catch immigrants bringing the disease in from Haiti. Many of the deportees have lived for many years in the Dominican Republic, and sending them back to Haiti increases their risk of exposure to the disease, she added. And when they inevitably try to return to lives and jobs, migrants could bring cholera back with them. “If they want to confront cholera, this isn’t the way to do it,” Ms. Pierre said.
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Mr. Pared, the immigration chief, denied that officials are repatriating migrants who have been in the country for a long time. The Foreign Ministry and Migration Office said the operation is focused on Haitians who are coming into the country illegally, but there are tens of thousands in the country with no papers, so it’s often not possible to know who is a recent arrival and who has been there for years. On a recent day in Jimani, dozens of trucks and people on foot lined up at the border crossing along a hot, dusty stretch of dirt road. Immigration agents briefly detained two vegetable sellers until a man in a passing SUV persuaded them to let the women go. In addition to the deportations, Haitians say the crackdown is making their lives difficult in other ways: Bus and taxi drivers are now reluctant to transport them because authorities have been impounding vehicles carrying illegal migrants and handing out $270 fines. The increased border security not only makes it harder to cross, but also has driven up the price of bribing Dominican border guards and migrant smugglers’ fees. Many Dominicans view their chaotic and impoverished neighbor with suspicion, even hostility. The country marks its independence not from Spain’s departure in 1863, but from the end of a Haitian occupation two decades earlier.

Dominican Crackdown on Haitian Migrants Sows Fear (2/1/2011)

The Associated Press
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The Dominican Republic has deported thousands of illegal immigrants in recent weeks, sowing fear among Haitians living in the country and prompting accusations its government is using a cholera outbreak as a pretext for a crackdown. In the largest campaign in years to target Haitians living illegally in the Dominican Republic, soldiers and immigration agents have been setting up checkpoints and conducting neighborhood sweeps, detaining anyone without papers and booting them from the country. Erickner Auguesten, a 36-year-old father of three who has been in the Dominican Republic illegally since 1991, said agents stopped him as he exited a hospital where his pregnant wife was getting a checkup. "When we left to get some food, the police pulled up and told me to get into the truck," he told The Associated Press in the border town of Jimani. He said a friend who works for the border patrol helped him sneak back in. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians live at least part-time in the Dominican Republic, enduring frequent discrimination and the constant fear of being deported. A cholera epidemic in Haiti that has killed at least 4,000 people and sickened 200,000 has made matters worse.
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Dominican officials eased border controls and halted deportations for humanitarian reasons after the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake near Port-au-Prince that killed an estimated 316,000 people and devastated the already impoverished nation. But right at the one-year anniversary of the quake, the deportations resumed _ with greater enforcement than has been seen since 2005. More than 3,000 people have been handcuffed and sent across the border in the past three weeks, including some legal residents who were simply caught without their documents, according to migrants and advocates. "They grab them from the streets," said Gustavo Toribio of Border Solidarity, an organization that provides assistance to migrant workers. "They don't care if they have children, if they have property. They only ask them for their documents." The government denies that any legal residents have been deported. Dominican immigration chief Sigfrido Pared defended the deportations, saying his country cannot be an escape valve for Haitians fleeing extreme poverty and political instability.
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The United Nations estimated before the earthquake that some 600,000 Haitians were living illegally in the Dominican Republic, which has a total population of nearly 10 million. Dominican authorities say that number has since grown to 1 million, most of them there illegally. "It is very easy for some countries or some organizations to criticize the situation in the Dominican Republic," Pared said. "No (other) country in the world has a border with Haiti. No country in the world has a Haitian problem like the Dominican Republic has." Dominican officials say the immigration crackdown is necessary to prevent the spread of cholera from Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. So far there have only been about 300 known cholera cases in the Dominican Republic _ with one fatality, a Haitian migrant believed to have contracted the disease back home. Even in Haiti, the disease has slowed in recent weeks amid a nationwide treatment and education campaign. However infectious disease specialists warn that cholera could still rebound in Haiti, and the Dominican Health Ministry says it can't afford to take any chances "The ministry is in charge of maintaining epidemiological vigilance and health control along the border, as in the whole country," spokesman Luis Garcia said. Many Dominicans support the deportations, saying they are fearful of contracting the disease. "It's a threat to our country," said Secondino Matos, a 50-year-old truck driver. "They (Haitians) are our brothers _ but not the illegal ones. This country is drowning in them already."
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Spread by waterborne bacteria, cholera causes rapid dehydration but is treatable if caught soon enough. The key to controlling it is early treatment and making sure people have access to clean water and sanitation. Dr. Robert Tauxe, a cholera expert with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, praised the Dominican Republic for reporting its first cases so quickly and launching strong public education efforts. He declined to comment specifically on the deportations, but said there's little evidence that border controls, in general, can effectively contain the spread. "It's a little hard to point to success in that," Tauxe said. Some activists allege that cholera is just an excuse, and the mass deportations are actually driven by racism and xenophobia. Dominican-Haitian Women Movement director Sonia Pierre noted that many road checkpoints are in areas that see only domestic traffic, and thus are unlikely to catch immigrants bringing the disease in from Haiti.
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Many of the deportees have lived for many years in the Dominican Republic, and sending them back to Haiti increases their risk of exposure to the disease, she added. And when they inevitably try to return to lives and jobs, migrants could bring cholera back with them. "If they want to confront cholera, this isn't the way to do it," Pierre said. Pared, the immigration chief, denied that officials are repatriating migrants who have been in the country for a long time. The Foreign Ministry and Migration Office said the operation is focused on Haitians who are coming into the country illegally, but there are tens of thousands in the country with no papers so it's often not possible to know who is a recent arrival and who has been there for years.
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On a recent day in Jimani, dozens of trucks and people on foot lined up at the border crossing along a hot, dusty stretch of dirt road. Immigration agents briefly detained two vegetable sellers until a man in a passing SUV persuaded them to let the women go. In addition to the deportations, Haitians say the crackdown is making their lives difficult in other ways: Bus and taxi drivers are now reluctant to transport them because authorities have been impounding vehicles carrying illegal migrants and handing out $270 fines. The increased border security not only makes it harder to cross but also has driven up the price of bribing Dominican border guards and migrant smugglers' fees. Many Dominicans view their chaotic and impoverished neighbor with suspicion, even hostility. The country marks its independence not from Spain's departure in 1863 but from the end of a Haitian occupation two decades earlier. Darker-skinned Haitians are frequently discriminated against, and the Dominican Republic denies citizenship to people of Haitian ancestry born in the country by claiming they are "in transit" _ even when many have been there for generations. Some even say the deportations don't go far enough. Angelita Villaman, the leader of a neighborhood association in the city of Santiago, said she and others want all Haitians in their community gone by Independence Day in late February. If not, she says, she'll turn them in. "We regret their situation tremendously, but we can't handle them," Villaman said. "The entire world should take on Haiti's problems, not the Dominican Republic."

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JRS Condemns Trafficking of Haitian Children in the DR

1/28/2011
Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS)
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Haitian children at increased risk of traffickers since earthquake last year, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic It is presumed that high percentages of these street children are in fact victims of trafficking. Santo Domingo, 24 January 2011 – A large number of Haitian street children in the Dominican capital are not, as previously presumed, displaced victims of last year's earthquake, but rather victims of child trafficking. According to the preliminary findings of a report by the Jesuit Refugee Service in the Dominican Republic, many children brought to the country are forced to work against their will. The despair and trauma created by the 12-January earthquake in Haiti has contributed to the already existing vulnerability of the population, thus benefiting human trafficking networks on both sides of the border, the report said. Both Haitian and Dominican authorities were accused of complicity in many cases of smuggling and human trafficking. JRS called for action to end this practice and urged that those responsible be held accountable for these crimes. The report highlights that among the many causes of trafficking, is the tendency of Haitian parents living in the Dominican Republic to mistakenly trust traffickers to bring their children into the country. Moreover, the report encouraged human rights organisations to establish strategic alliances with the authorities in order to monitor trafficking-related activities.
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The children, the report continues, are brought into the country to work as beggars, street vendors, prostitutes, drug dealers, shoeshine boys, domestic servants in Haitian and Dominican families, and as cheap labour on building sites and farms. Preliminary findings suggest that this is the alarming situation for many young Haitians brought to tourist zones, such as Puerto Plata, and used as escorts in bars and discos. Based on information collected from NGOs in border areas in northern Haiti like Cap-Haitian and Wanament, it is presumed that high percentages of these street children are in fact victims of trafficking. According to another study carried out by JRS in Wanament in 2009, the owners of the discos and bars in question pay the traffickers a fixed amount for young Haitians. More troubling is the fact that many of the minors reported being sexually abused on the journey from Haiti to the Dominican Republic. The preliminary findings state that trafficking has increased since the 12-January 2010 earthquake. According to the report, since February 2010, the Juanistas Sisters in Wanament have assisted in 67 cases of trafficked persons: 55 children, eight women and four men. The Haitian police estimate that infants sell for approximately 400 euro for adoption and 40,000 euro for organs.

DR Ramps up Deportations, Citing Cholera Fears (CP - 2/1/2011)

By Danica Coto
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JIMANI, Dominican Republic — The Dominican Republic has deported thousands of illegal immigrants in recent weeks, sowing fear among Haitians living in the country and prompting accusations its government is using a cholera outbreak as a pretext for a crackdown. In the largest campaign in years to target Haitians living illegally in the Dominican Republic, soldiers and immigration agents have been setting up checkpoints and conducting neighbourhood sweeps, detaining anyone without papers and booting them from the country. Erickner Auguesten, a 36-year-old father of three who has been in the Dominican Republic illegally since 1991, said agents stopped him as he exited a hospital where his pregnant wife was getting a checkup."When we left to get some food, the police pulled up and told me to get into the truck," he told The Associated Press in the border town of Jimani. He said a friend who works for the border patrol helped him sneak back in. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians live at least part-time in the Dominican Republic, enduring frequent discrimination and the constant fear of being deported. A cholera epidemic in Haiti that has killed at least 4,000 people and sickened 200,000 has made matters worse.
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Dominican officials eased border controls and halted deportations for humanitarian reasons after the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake near Port-au-Prince that killed an estimated 316,000 people and devastated the already impoverished nation. But right at the one-year anniversary of the quake, the deportations resumed — with greater enforcement than has been seen since 2005. More than 3,000 people have been handcuffed and sent across the border in the past three weeks, including some legal residents who were simply caught without their documents, according to migrants and advocates.
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"They grab them from the streets," said Gustavo Toribio of Border Solidarity, an organization that provides assistance to migrant workers. "They don't care if they have children, if they have property. They only ask them for their documents." The government denies that any legal residents have been deported. Dominican immigration chief Sigfrido Pared defended the deportations, saying his country cannot be an escape valve for Haitians fleeing extreme poverty and political instability.
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The United Nations estimated before the earthquake that some 600,000 Haitians were living illegally in the Dominican Republic, which has a total population of nearly 10 million. Dominican authorities say that number has since grown to 1 million, most of them there illegally. "It is very easy for some countries or some organizations to criticize the situation in the Dominican Republic," Pared said. "No (other) country in the world has a border with Haiti. No country in the world has a Haitian problem like the Dominican Republic has." Dominican officials say the immigration crackdown is necessary to prevent the spread of cholera from Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic.
So far there have only been about 300 known cholera cases in the Dominican Republic — with one fatality, a Haitian migrant believed to have contracted the disease back home. Even in Haiti, the disease has slowed in recent weeks amid a nationwide treatment and education campaign. However infectious disease specialists warn that cholera could still rebound in Haiti, and the Dominican Health Ministry says it can't afford to take any chances "The ministry is in charge of maintaining epidemiological vigilance and health control along the border, as in the whole country," spokesman Luis Garcia said.
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Many Dominicans support the deportations, saying they are fearful of contracting the disease.
"It's a threat to our country," said Secondino Matos, a 50-year-old truck driver. "They (Haitians) are our brothers — but not the illegal ones. This country is drowning in them already." Spread by waterborne bacteria, cholera causes rapid dehydration but is treatable if caught soon enough. The key to controlling it is early treatment and making sure people have access to clean water and sanitation. Dr. Robert Tauxe, a cholera expert with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, praised the Dominican Republic for reporting its first cases so quickly and launching strong public education efforts. He declined to comment specifically on the deportations, but said there's little evidence that border controls, in general, can effectively contain the spread. "It's a little hard to point to success in that," Tauxe said. Some activists allege that cholera is just an excuse, and the mass deportations are actually driven by racism and xenophobia. Dominican-Haitian Women Movement director Sonia Pierre noted that many road checkpoints are in areas that see only domestic traffic, and thus are unlikely to catch immigrants bringing the disease in from Haiti. Many of the deportees have lived for many years in the Dominican Republic, and sending them back to Haiti increases their risk of exposure to the disease, she added. And when they inevitably try to return to lives and jobs, migrants could bring cholera back with them.
"If they want to confront cholera, this isn't the way to do it," Pierre said.
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Pared, the immigration chief, denied that officials are repatriating migrants who have been in the country for a long time. The Foreign Ministry and Migration Office said the operation is focused on Haitians who are coming into the country illegally, but there are tens of thousands in the country with no papers so it's often not possible to know who is a recent arrival and who has been there for years.
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On a recent day in Jimani, dozens of trucks and people on foot lined up at the border crossing along a hot, dusty stretch of dirt road. Immigration agents briefly detained two vegetable sellers until a man in a passing SUV persuaded them to let the women go. In addition to the deportations, Haitians say the crackdown is making their lives difficult in other ways: Bus and taxi drivers are now reluctant to transport them because authorities have been impounding vehicles carrying illegal migrants and handing out $270 fines. The increased border security not only makes it harder to cross but also has driven up the price of bribing Dominican border guards and migrant smugglers' fees. Many Dominicans view their chaotic and impoverished neighbour with suspicion, even hostility. The country marks its independence not from Spain's departure in 1863 but from the end of a Haitian occupation two decades earlier. Darker-skinned Haitians are frequently discriminated against, and the Dominican Republic denies citizenship to people of Haitian ancestry born in the country by claiming they are "in transit" — even when many have been there for generations. Some even say the deportations don't go far enough. Angelita Villaman, the leader of a neighbourhood association in the city of Santiago, said she and others want all Haitians in their community gone by Independence Day in late February. If not, she says, she'll turn them in. "We regret their situation tremendously, but we can't handle them," Villaman said. "The entire world should take on Haiti's problems, not the Dominican Republic."

Haiti Demands Review of Deportations from the DR (1/27/2011)

Prensa Latina
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Haitian authorities demanded the Dominican Republic review its policy of deporting Haitians to prevent the spread of cholera. The Ministry of Haitian Residents Abroad (Mhave) charged in a report that the latest operations violate 1999 agreements between the two nations. The most recent expulsions do not comply with agreements on schedules, consular assistance and appropriate reception at the border. Mhave reported that many deported Haitians were poorly treated and submitted to sudden searches in public places, persecution and forced separation from their families. The ministry also warned of a growing stigmatization of Haitians, including a ban on them using public transportation. Such procedures affect those who have legal status, as well as Dominicans with Haitian roots. In face of this situation, Mhave called for a renewal of bilateral talks on an integral migratory agreement and a re-evaluation of the existing deportation agreement. On January 5, the Dominican Republic began massive deporting undocumented Haitians to prevent the advance of cholera, which has infected 238 Dominicans and killed one. In Haiti, cholera has killed 3,927 persons and infected 199,497 since the outbreak last October.

Dominican Republic Cardinal again slams the U.S. on Haiti row

1/19/2011
Dominican Today
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Santo Domingo’s Archbishop said Tuesday that a United States senior diplomat’s warning of sanctions against the country for allegedly allowing people trafficking, only seeks to tarnish Dominican Republic’s image internationally. Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, who often rebukes the U.S. stance on local issues, said Dominican Republic has done more for Haiti than the United States, and called the statement by U.S. State Department senior official Luis CdeBaca, “unacceptable nonsense.” Dominican Republic’s Catholic Cardinal, speaking after a mass in the Catedral Primada de America to mark the 56th anniversary of the State-Owned Power Companies, said the Americans know that Dominican Republic has done more for Haiti than they have, even with the limited opportunities. He said when he heard the report “I laughed very very hared, because if there is a country in the world that is zealous with its borders, of its emigrants, it’s the United States, and it’s always expelling undocumented people from its territory, and an example of that is that it created a law that tags the immigrants as criminals.” He also slammed the United Nations, affirming that although they have agents in the neighboring country, what they are doing is tourism, and often prostituting people.

Cholera Chokes Off Border Trade (IPS - 1/17/2011)

By Elizabeth Eames Roebling
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The cholera epidemic ravaging Haiti has affected even this small southern border town, which lived primarily from the trade with its neighbour even though it counts for less than five percent of the cross-border market trade. All three of the border markets between Haiti and the Dominican Republic have been closed for the better part of the last two months. Samuel Elouest, a trained human rights observer, walked proudly through the formerly dusty and rutted main street of his home village, Anse-a-Pitres. "The streets were paved for the Binational Fair last year. We have a large generator now," he told IPS. "We have lights at night. It is only for the main street and the churches so far, none for private homes. But it has changed our lives." "Our population increased from 22,000 people to about 28,000 after the earthquake. But since the market has been closed for two months, there has been little money in town," Elouest explained. Whitney Alexander, a Haitian doctor who received his medical degree in Cuba, is now the attending physician at the small clinic on the border. It was without staff until the Batey Relief Alliance took over the clinic's management from the Haitian state a few years ago.
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"We cannot say how many cases of cholera we have had since we do not have a confirmation from Port-au-Prince," Dr. Alexander told IPS. "All the cases here have been cases of suspected cholera. I do not wish to say that it is not serious since there is a nationwide alert against the disease." "We are the only [medical] centre here, serving more than 50,000 people in the surrounding communities," he said. "I have been here for two years. We were already busy before the cholera outbreak two months ago, but with the help of the international community, we are managing." Behind the clinic are three large tents for cholera treatment, isolating those cases from the other patients inside the clinic building. The tents are manned by a doctor, a nurse, and a technician from Doctors without Borders. They are assisted by nurses and personnel from the Haitian Red Cross.
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Upon entering the cholera treatment tent, everyone is required to run their hands under the spigot of a five- gallon jug of chlorine while standing in a box lined with material soaked in the disinfectant. The same process is required upon exiting. Of the 12 beds available, only one is occupied, by a thin older man connected to an intravenous drip. While there are now over 150,000 cases and more than 3,700 cholera deaths reported in Haiti, the Dominican Republic has managed to keep its cases to only 145, with no deaths. Next to the border fence on the Dominican side is a new Health Department building, with four sinks and soap on each. Posters in Kreyol and Spanish explain briefly how cholera is transmitted and how to avoid it. The government of the Dominican Republic, under pressure from many sectors, announced last week that it would resume repatriations to Haiti, which had been suspended after the earthquake a year ago.
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Residents in one section of the nation's second largest city, Santiago, which is only two hours away from the northern border of Haiti, threatened to start expelling illegal Haitian immigrants. Protestors said that the immigrants were living in unsanitary conditions, defecating in plastic bags which were thrown on the street. Police in that city warned residents not to take the law into their own hands and then started deportations. More than 900 Haitians have been repatriated since the beginning of this year. This prompted a call from Amnesty International to stop the deportations.
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The Presidential Palace offered a clarification that the government was actually not deporting Haitians but simply increasing efforts to halt illegal immigration. It did acknowledge that it was searching for many of the convicts who escaped prison during the earthquake and announced that more than 100 convicted felons had been returned to Haitian authorities. The U.S. State Department announced that it might introduce sanctions against the Dominican Republic if it did not do more to prevent the trafficking of Haitian children across the border. According to officials and rights groups, these children are often sold into prostitution or to organised groups of beggars. The U.S. government spokesman said that the Dominican Republic has not brought any criminal cases against traffickers. Sanctions could include suspending economic and military aid, blocking of exports into the United States, and opposition to its votes in international organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
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At the end of the main street of Anse-a-Pitres, by the small rocky beach, four gaily painted 35-foot open boats ride at anchor. A policeman comes out from the whitewashed barracks which house the local complement of eight officers and blows his whistle. The small group of fishermen and traders stop and stand in silence, facing the flagpole as the flag of their nation is slowly raised. Jesner Amboise watches as sacks of flour are prepared for loading into his boat. He says he will leave for Marigot, which is 45 minutes by truck from Jacmel, at 8 pm and arrive at 2 am the next morning. "It is too hot to sail during the day. The sun is too strong and there is no shelter, so we make the trip at night," he said. "I used to travel with a full boatload of people. But the closing of the market has been hard on us." "I used to make 15,000 gourdes profit from each trip, twice a week because of the number of people who would come to trade at the market," Amboise said. "Now there is only the transport of some goods. I am lucky to make 5,000 gourdes after I pay for the gas."

DR Offical Resume Deportation, Check Passports of Bus Riders

1/13/2011
Associated Press
By EZEQUIEL ABIU LOPEZ
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Authorities resumed mass deportations of Haitian migrants Thursday after a brief lull, and government officers began demanding passports at bus stations as the country deals with a cholera scare. Immigration agents in the capital of Santo Domingo targeted buses arriving from other cities, fining at least 30 drivers for allowing illegal migrants aboard. Advocates for migrants accused officials of targeting people with darker skin and of sending teenagers across the border into Haiti by themselves. At least 900 Haitians were deported last week. "They tie their hands to the hands of others. It's humiliating," said Sonia Pierre, director for the Dominican-Haitian Women Movement. "They send them off without anything, without money, and their communication is cut off." She also said some people who were born in the Dominican Republic to Haitian parents had been wrongly deported because they didn't have documents with them. Migration Director Sigfrido Pared said agents are targeting only migrants arriving in the Dominican Republic for the first time, not those who already live here. Pierre disputed that, saying she had heard testimony showing otherwise. Government officials said the deportations are needed to control the spread of cholera, which has sickened 162 people in the Dominican Republic while it has killed more than 3,600 in Haiti. No deaths have been reported in the Dominican Republic. The deportations were temporarily halted over the weekend and during a holiday in accordance with a 1999 protocol with neighboring Haiti. They also were stopped Wednesday out of respect for the one-year anniversary of Haiti's earthquake that killed a government-estimated 316,000 people.

Dominican Leader Unveils Plans for Haitian University (1/13/2011

Dominican Today
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President Leonel Fernandez last night announced that the university which Dominican Republic will donate to Haiti will be ready within two years and will cost of US$30 million, shared with the private sector. The Head of State displayed in the National Palace the scale model of what will be the Higher Education in Center in Limonade, Haiti, to be built on an area of 300,000 square meters. During the activity, the chief executive affirmed that the university will be handed over by the Government and the Dominican people on January 12, 2012, to mark the second anniversary of the earthquake that devastated the neighboring country. He said part of the work¹s cost, confirmed by its tender offers, will bedonated by the construction sector. Prior to presenting the project, Fernandez held a minute of silence in memory of the quake¹s victims.

Dominican police, military detain Haitians nationwide

1/13/2011
Dominican Today
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Several agencies yesterday heightened the detentions of undocumented Haitians nationwide to return them to their country, in operations which includes slums in the capital and bus terminals, after managing to sneak across the border and arrive at Santo Domingo and other cities even after the Government established stricter public health controls. The Immigration Agency, the military the Police, the Border Security Agency (Cesfront) and the National Investigations Department (DNI), work together to locate traffickers of illegal immigrants, mainly in areas such as the resort towns Bavaro and Punta Cana (east). “The actions to detain undocumented people and those who transport them continue. This stage of the operation includes inspection in bus stops in the entire country, to prevent the congregation and movement of foreign people, coming from Haiti, without the corresponding documentation,” the military said in a statement. It said careful intelligence work preceded the plan “to identify the people traffickers who lend themselves to this illicit activity, their accomplices and their protectors,” and led to the confiscation of two vehicles on Thursday, carrying 56 Haitians in Montecristi; 41 men, 12 women and three children. The arrest occurred in the community La Breña, says the Armed Forces Ministry report, adding that it detained 14 other illegal immigrants being transported in Mao, Valverde province, toward Santiago.

Tragedy brings Haitians, Dominicans closer, diplomats say

1/13/2011
Dominican Today
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Dominican Republic ambassador in Haiti said Tuesday that one the positive points of the Haiti tragedy one year ago today is that it brought the two nations which share the island closer, and led to a greater understanding between their governments. Interviewed by local newspaper Hoy, Rubén Silié said the quake also restored the confidence between Haiti and Dominican Republic which despite sharing the same island, didn’t have good relations, but left a “great” improvement in its wake. “There has been a great improvement; I believe that both governments have had an approach which has smoothed out their relations.”
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The diplomat, interviewed by phone from his office in Port-au-Prince, said president Leonel Fernandez as well as his officials sensitized with Haiti’s crisis and were in permanent contact with their pars, and the tragedy advanced the confidence between the authorities of both countries. Silie said Dominican Republic doesn’t have an active participation in the reconstruction process because it passed on to the United Nations commission led by ex United States president Bill Clinton, and the countries who‘ve contributed at least 100 million dollars. He said the lack of funds has made Port-au-Prince’s reconstruction very slow. The Dominican Ambassador in Haiti said he was seated in his office when the ground shook, and scared, left to call his companions who went to look for other employees within the building. He said once the shaking passed the embassy employees went to a nearby hospital to help out and there could appreciate the number of dead, the magnitude of the damages, the injured trapped under debris and the dust cloud. “We saw that it was very serious and saw that we couldn’t do anything, we returned to the embassy and began to call our authorities to look for to help.”
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Silie added that they were able to contact minutes with Foreign Relations Ministry in Santo Domingo in the first few and managed to get the aid to arrive the following day. Dominican Embassy Councilor Pastor Vazquez, on Wednesday noted that the Fire Department of the border town Jimani was the first foreign relief effort to reach the devastation, arriving just hours after the catastrophe. Interviewed on Telesistema by phone from Port-au-Prince, Vazquez added that he has yet to see any substantial efforts for reconstruction by the international community. “There’s a lot of talk and spotlights, but little to see on the ground.”

Many Hospital Patients in the DR are Haitian (1/10/2011)

El Caribe
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The Robert Reid Cabral Pediatric Hospital is one of the few such institutions in the Dominican Republic and by far the largest. During 2010 the hospital attended 400,000 patients, performed 5,000 surgical interventions and admitted 14,280 children for different ailments. They also registered 763 deaths for a mortality rate of 6 percent. Of the total amount of children admitted, 25 percent were Haitian. The hospital has 350 beds and an average stay of seven days and an occupancy rate of 100 percent. The Robert Reid Cabral Hospital is equipped with neurosurgery, laparoscopy and computerized cat scanning facilities. Another positive aspect the director cited is patient and family attention and services with a commitment to make sure everyone is
treated equally and to the highest standards. Most patients arrive with respiratory ailments such as asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis followed by gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, kidney diseases and by cancer. There is a proportion of neonatal infections, meningitis that have diminished significantly, but the biggest problem is the arrival of malnourished children, which aggravates their general health.

Haitian migrants hide as DR pursues deportations (1/7/2011)

Associated Press
By EZEQUIEL ABIU LOPEZ
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Many Haitians were in hiding or staying in their homes in the Dominican Republic on Friday amid an immigration crackdown fueled by cholera fears that has seen more than 1,000 Haitians sent home. Human rights groups have denounced the deportations, which Dominican officials say are needed to prevent the flow of illegal immigrants since last year's earthquake and to stop the spread of cholera, which has killed more than 3,000 people in Haiti and sickened nearly 150 in the Dominican Republic. Soldiers and immigration officials set up surprise checkpoints this week along highways leading into the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo, asking people aboard public buses and vans for their papers. Those without them are sent back to the border. "I have children and my wife," he said briefly before being whisked away. "I had a visa, but it expired some eight months ago." Carlos Batista, a Dominican of Haitian descent, was aboard another bus that immigration officials searched. "I think this is very wrong because they take away a lot of them with their small children and send them to Haiti," he said.
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Frankie Espil is a Haitian migrant who owes six months' rent and has two young children to feed, but he prefers to stay at home than take several public buses to his longtime construction job. The 30-year-old fears he will join the more than 1,000 Haitian migrants deported this week. "We're all scared here," Espil said. "We heard they're going to start coming into our homes." Oxene Clemente, a Haitian pastor at a Dominican church near the border, said he decided not to travel to Haiti for the holidays because he does not have enough money to renew his visa. He believes neither he nor his seven children, five of them born in Haiti, will be deported because they are well known in the community. But Clemente, 42, said he worries about his parishioners, many of whom traveled to Haiti and likely will not be able to return. "The guards are in all of the streets and all of the hills," he said. On Friday, Amnesty International asked the Dominican government to step up efforts to help its earthquake-shattered neighbor instead of forcing people back to what it called a desperate situation..
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"Any Haitian suspected of cholera should be given adequate medical treatment and not be deported," senior adviser Javier Zuniga said. "Returning people is condemning them to a situation where their health and security would be at great risk." Fritz Cineas, Haiti's ambassador in the Dominican Republic, said he recognized the country's right to deport illegal immigrants but asked that their rights be respected. "Allow those who have children to tell their families goodbye, and be careful not to deport Haitians who have school-age children," he said. The Dominican Republic agreed in a 1999 bilateral protocol to allow deportees to gather their belongings and not be separated from their families. The country also agreed to halt deportations after nightfall and on weekends. Officials also are issuing $270 fines to bus drivers caught with illegal migrants and seizing their vehicle, with 25 confiscated as of noon Friday. The drivers, in turn, said they are fighting back. "We have decided not to let any Haitians aboard," said Antonio Marte, leader of the National Transportation Confederation, the country's largest bus drivers' union, which owns 74,000 buses. Human rights groups fear Dominican officials will soon try other tactics to round up Haitian migrants.
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"Neighborhood raids are next," said Gloria Amezquita, with the Jesuit Refugee and Migration Service. She said officials are not allowing some migrants detained to contact relatives so they can present their papers, adding that those born in the Dominican Republic risk deportation anyway because many lack the appropriate documents. Espil, who speaks fluent Spanish, said he, his unemployed wife and his two children, who were born in the Dominican Republic, will stay at home for at least several days. "I don't know why they are deporting us," he said. "We're not criminals."

Dominican Republic Must Stop Forcible Deportation of Haitians

1/7/2011
Amnesty International (AI)
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The immigration status of many Haitians in the Dominican Republic is still unclear Amnesty International today urged authorities in the Dominican Republic to immediately halt the mass deportation of Haitian migrants amid claims by the authorities that the move is necessary to prevent the spread of cholera. Over 950 Haitians – many of them living in the Dominican Republic without documentation – have been deported to Haiti in the past week, according to statements by the local Migration Ministry. "Haiti is still recovering from a devastating natural disaster. Instead of forcing people back to a desperate situation, the Dominican Republic and other countries should be stepping up their efforts to help Haiti and its people," said Javier Zuñiga, Senior Advisor at Amnesty International.
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The immigration status of many Haitians in the Dominican Republic is still unclear. "No one should be deported without individual determination of their immigration status, and any Haitian suspected of cholera should be given adequate medical treatment not be deported," said Javier Zuñiga. "Returning people is condemning them to a situation where their health and security would be at great risk." After an earthquake struck the impoverished country last January, the Dominican Republic agreed to admit hundreds of Haitian nationals on humanitarian grounds.
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But authorities now claim that deportations are crucial to prevent the spread of cholera. A recent outbreak of the disease has already killed 3,500 people in Haiti. Around 150 cases have been reported in the Dominican Republic. According to the United Nations, around 600,000 Haitians lived in the Dominican Republic without documents before the earthquake. Amnesty International yesterday raised concerns regarding the situation of women and girls living in makeshift camps across Haiti and warned of the widespread sexual abuse they suffer.

Dominican Cardinal Says Tread Lightly with Haitian Problem

1/4/2010
Dominican Today
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Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez said Monday that the situation with the Haitians in the country is very delicate, as the behavior towards and the problem with them is observed by the international community. He said even though no one can dispute the country’s capacity and sovereignty to decide on illegal immigration, more migratory controls are needed. “We the Haitian and Dominican people are equal nations but there are differences in our cultures and it’s possible that their immigrants introduce part of those customs, which aren’t seen well by Dominicans.” In a visit to the National Palace to greet president Leonel Fernandez for the New Year, the prelate said the migratory controls need to be reinforced and at the same time review the migratory regulation, something that is pending from the Executive Branch. In that same topic, Haiti ambassador in the country Fritz Cineas noted that relations between Dominican Republic and Haiti are at their best moment, but regretted the recent violent incidents involving his compatriots. He added that communities of Santiago and San Juan provinces are even making plans to expel them.

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