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#808: haiti debate in dominican republic (fwd)
From: Yacine Khelladi <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Here in DR, as elections approach (March 2000) Haiti is in the middle of
the (many times insane) debate, when part of the church (youth) declared
that babies from haitians parents should be granted of dominican
nationality it raised a big reaction. here annexed several press notes
from DR1 newsletter of last 2 weeks. Also on some economic issues.
> 3. Haiti needs international aid to solve its problems
> Secretary of the Presidency Alejandrina German said that Haitian migration to the Dominican Republic cannot be the solution to the problems in Haiti. She said that the international community needs to assist Haiti so that solutions within Haiti are found to Haitian problems. The DR is at present affected by an exodus of Haitians seeking jobs in the DR. Jobs are a plenty for them, and today illegal Haitians, that accept lower wages and less benefits, have displaced Dominicans in farms and construction works.
> There is a movement in the DR to boost international support for Haiti. This is more difficult than it seems. El Siglo newspaper reports that the Interamerican Development Bank has paralyzed aid and projects while political instability and institutional crisis persist in that nation.
> What comes first, the chicken or the egg? While instability has impeded the influx of international aid, international aid is essential for development programs that in turn would create the conditions for political stability. Meanwhile, the ban on the funds has impeded the disbursement of aid that would be used for development programs.
> Several have recommended the carrying out of joint Dominican-Haitian programs along the frontier, where Dominicans would handle the funds but the beneficiaries would be the Haitians. Among these projects is the construction of a major international hospital along the frontier area as well as free zones that could employ thousands of Haitians.
> The development of Haiti is in the best interest of the DR. If Haiti develops, its residents will be able to buy more Dominican goods and there will be less migration. Migration is seen as a burden on Dominican social services. Haitians are also renown for their ancient farming techniques that foster disforestation.
> 4. Poor paid forest guards little help to stop disforestation
> The Listín Diario newspaper highlights today the continuous efforts of the local authorities to avoid the disforestation of the Dominican side of the frontier area by Haitian immigrants. Haitian farmers have devastated the Haitian countryside converting that land into a great desert, as can be evidenced by the change in landscape when flying from the Dominican frontier over to Haiti. The Haitian farming technique consists of removing trees and planting on a hill. The farmers move on to another area when erosion depletes the soil. They leave behind large disforested tracks, starting a cycle of little rains and creating desert-like lands.
> The Listín Diario reporter participated with the Dominican Army in an effort to plant trees in the Dajabón-Elías Piña area and was impressed when watching how the military had to plant the trees among tracks of corn, yucca and other produce in lands taken over by the illegal Haitian migrants. The Dominican side of the frontier is scantly populated by Dominicans. In a lesser degree than their Haitian neighbors, the Dominicans have also been responsible for disforestating, not for subsistence farming, but for selling of the wood to furniture-makers.
> The Listín Diario reports that the wages paid the few forest guards, are so low — RD$1,000 a month (US$62 a month) — forest guards can easly be bribed by the Haitian farmers. The newspaper urges that a force of well paid forest guards be sent to the frontier area to aid in reducing the pace of disforestation that has increased due to the greater influx of Haitian migrants.
> The Dominican frontier with Haiti is over 300 kilometers long, and most has no surveillance of any sort.
> The Donald Dod National Park (Sierra del Bahoruco), one of the most important ecological reserves in the Caribbean, is located along the frontier with Haiti.
4. Haitian acting ambassador comments on Haitian migration Speaking on a
television program, Guy Lamothe, acting Haitian ambassador in the DR,
said that Haitian women that cross the
frontier to give birth are in transit and merely seek better medical
care. He said regardless of their being born here, there is no question
that those children are Haitians. He favored the Haitian
government building hospitals along the frontier to offer services to
these women. The director of the regional hospital of Santiago recently
advocated that the DR lobby to secure
international assistance to build a hospital along the Haitian frontier.
He said Dominican medics could staff the hospital. Lamothe said that
only humanitarian interests are behind the efforts of
non-governmental organizations that assist Haitian women to cross the
frontier to give birth. He said the Haitian women crossover because of
the unequal life conditions on both sides of
the frontier. He spoke on the television program, "Diplomacia, Politica
& Comercio", produced by David Toribio on
Telesistema, Channel 11.
In his opinion, it is up to the DR to decide whether to grant Dominican
citizenship to the children of Haitians that have been
living in the DR for years.
Lamothe said that in May 1995, then President Jean Bertrand Aristide
decreed that the Haitian embassy in the DR could issue
legal identity documentation to Haitians residing in the DR. He said
that the Haitian Constitution recognizes the children of
Haitians as Haitians through the third generation, regardless of where
they are born. He said it is not true that Haitians born here
are stateless since they have the right to the nationality of their
He praised the decision of the Dominican government to issue identity
cards to the thousands of Haitians that do not have any
legal identification. This is so because most Haitians cross the
frontier without any legal documentation. In Haiti it is more
common for a person not to have any legal documentation than for the
person to have legal documentation.
4. Haitian acting ambassador comments on Haitian migration
Speaking on a television program, Guy Lamothe, acting Haitian ambassador
in the DR, said that Haitian women that cross the frontier to give birth
are in transit and merely seek better medical care. He said regardless
of their being born here, there is no question that those children are
Haitians. He favored the Haitian government building hospitals along the
frontier to offer services to these women. The director of the regional
hospital of Santiago recently advocated that the DR lobby to secure
international assistance to build a hospital along the Haitian frontier.
He said Dominican medics could staff the hospital. Lamothe said that
only humanitarian interests are behind the efforts of non-governmental
organizations that assist Haitian women to cross the frontier to give
birth. He said the Haitian women cross over because of the unequal life
conditions on both sides of the frontier. He spoke on the television
program, "Diplomacia, Politica & Comercio", produced by David Toribio on
Telesistema, Channel 11. In his opinion, it is up to the DR to decide
whether to grant Dominican citizenship to the children of Haitians that
have been living in the DR for years. Lamothe said that in May 1995,
then President Jean Bertrand Aristide decreed that the Haitian embassy
in the DR could issue legal identity documentation to Haitians residing
in the DR. He said that the Haitian Constitution recognizes the children
of Haitians as Haitians through the third generation, regardless of
where they are born. He said it is not true that Haitians born here are
stateless since they have the right to the nationality of their parents.
He praised the decision of the Dominican government to issue identity
cards to the thousands of Haitians that do not have any legal
identification. This is so because most Haitians cross the frontier
without any legal ocumentation. In Haiti it is more common for a person
not to have any legal documentation than for the person to have legal
> 5. Haitians born of illegal residents are not being issued birth certificates
> Frank Lendor, who is in charge of the Dirección Central del Estado Civil, the local department in charge of issuing birth certificates in the DR, said it is not true that the children of Haitians born here are being issued Dominican birth certificates. He said only those that are born to parents that can demonstrate legal residence in the DR can receive Dominican birth certificates, as per established in the Dominican Constitution.
> In an interview with Ultima Hora Dominical, he said up to 300,000 children could be in this situation. (This situation should also affect children born to foreigners of other nationalities that are not legal residents of the DR.)
> As is their custom in Haiti, most Haitians living in the DR do not have legal documents. This is creating social problems as they grow up and many begin to integrate into Dominican society, encountering the difficulties of not having any legal documentation. While local schools by law have to admit all, the Ministry of Education will not issue diplomas to those that do not have birth certificates. Some have been able to secure Haitian identification documents at the Haitian embassy to resolve their situation. The Haitian embassy says some 30,000 identity documents have been issued since 1995.
> Lendor explained that the situation of not being declared at birth in the past also affected low income Dominicans. To resolve this situation, the Dominican government, through the Junta Central Electoral, began a program to issue birth certificates at public hospitals starting October 1997. In its first year, the birth certificates were issued in five public hospitals. Today, there are 27 public hospitals issuing the birth certificates, including seven along the frontier with Haiti. These are the hospitals of Jaime Mota (Barahona), Federico Armando Aybar (Las Matas de Farfán), Rosa Duarte (Comendador), San Bartolomé (Neyba) and General Melenciano (Jimaní).
> All Dominican hospitals will issue the parents a written confirmation that the child (given name) was born at such hospital on such date. The birth is registered in the hospital’s books. The second step is to meet with the civil registry official who will issue the child’s birth certificate to parents that can present legal residence documents or proof of Dominican citizenship.
> 4. DR issues identity cards to illegal Haitians
> The Dominican government formally presented at the United Nations’ most recent General Assembly meeting held in New York City its efforts to issue identity cards to Haitians residing illegally in the DR. Most Haitians that come to work in the DR do not have identity documents of any kind. The issuing of identity cards would transitorily legitimize their residence in the DR. The cards are being issued to help resolve the situation of the offspring of otherwise undocumented Haitians. These by Dominican law are admitted to Dominican schools but have problems in getting their graduation titles because the Ministry of Education requires that they have birth certificates. The Dominican government’s traditional stance has been that these children should be issued birth certificates by the Haitian consulates in the DR. The Haitian consulates would like the DR to issue the children Dominican birth certificates.
> Several legal experts say the Dominican constitution excepts the children of persons "in transit" from being granted Dominican nationality. Others say that persons that have resided in the DR for upwards of 10 years can no longer be regarded as being in transit. On the other hand, Dominican legal experts point to the Haitian Constitution that recognizes as Haitians the sons and daughters born of a Haitian parent, through the third generation.
> Because of the increasing number of cases, the matter has now become headline news.
> Meanwhile, the government continues to issue the cards to undocumented Haitians seeking a temporary solution.
> "It is the singular interest of the Dominican government to make transparent the legal status of the clandestine Haitian migrants by issuing cards so that those that do not have birth certificates, nor passport nor Haitian ID cards, may transitorily legitimize their stay in the country," says a report presented to a special committee of the United Nations.
> 5. DR would contribute to health center in Haiti
> The director of the leading central regional hospital, the Hospital José María Cabral y Báez of Santiago, Dr. Daniel Espinal urged the international community cooperate to build a medical center near the Haitian frontier with the Dominican Republic. At present, because of the deficiencies in the Haitian system, hundreds of Haitian women are traveling to the DR to give birth in local public clinics. This is putting a major burden on social services, plus is creating a potential international conflict as international organizations debate whether the children born in these centers are Dominicans or Haitians.
> Dr. Espinal says the Haitian women primarily are coming seeking better health conditions in which to give birth. Dr. Espinal says the numbers are increasing and he is seeking upwards of 70 births to illegal Haitians per month at his hospital. Many more Haitians give birth in public hospitals that are near the frontier, such as that at Jimaní and Dajabón.
> Dr. Espinal forecasts an increase in Haitian births as the economic situation in Haiti worsens.
> He feels that a proactive solution would be to lobby to get the international community to help build a hospital in the frontier that would assist the Haitian women. He said the Dominican Republic would contribute medical personnel as needed, and assist in other ways.
> 6. Haiti’s ambassador highlights increase in joint ventures
> Haitian ambassador in the DR, Guy Lamothe spoke about the increase in trade between the DR and Haiti and the increase in Haitian-Dominican business joint ventures in the past three years. He said that what is most important is to promote cooperation between both nations. In his opinion, the isolation of both countries must become a thing of the past.
> "We are going to have in the next century not Haitian or Dominican products, but products of the island that can compete with other trading blocs of the Caribbean or Latin America," he forecast. He says that there has been an increase in talk fostered by the chambers of commerce and business groups.
> Jean Edouard Baker, president of the Haitian Presidential Commission for Economic Development and Georges Brunet, president of the Development Assistance Associates were in the DR this week to promote Dominican investments in Haiti.
> They mentioned that already the communities of Juana Mendez and Cap Haitien consume 75% of Dominican produce.
> He would like to see more Dominicans investing in Haitian free zones. At present in Haiti there are only two free zones, while there are 40 industrial parks in the DR.
> If conditions could be created, installing free zones in Haiti could be good business for local free zone operators. At present, Dominican textile operators are held back after meeting textile quota limits, but this is not true for Haiti. Neither does Haiti have the obligation to import materials from the United States, and Haitian companies can manufacture apparel with lower cost Asian materials. Thus, local free zone consortiums have begun to explore the possibility of setting up parallel operations in Haiti.
> Jean Edouard Baker, president of the Haitian Presidential Commission for Economic Development, spoke at a luncheon of the Herrera Industrial Association pointing out how Haiti seeks to stimulate confidence in foreign investors and is now reaching out to Dominican businessmen so there may be an increase in cooperation between both private sectors.
. Committee to seek international aid for Haiti,Armando Armenteros,
Ramón Andrés Blanco Fernández and Darío Cuba Amparo are heading a
committee that seeks to,secure international help for Haiti. The Comité
Organizador del Acto de Unidad Nacional said that the Dominican people
want,to preserve harmonious and constructive relations with Haiti but
are concerned over the little political and development progress,of the
neighboring nation. The Committee wants to spur the international
community to fulfill commitments made five years ago,when Haiti was
militarily intervened. They say that "there has been a progressive and
unjustifiable abandoning of that nation, that,deserves a better
destiny." ,The committee is organizing a major awareness-raising
activity for 20 November, when several sectors will gather to appeal
to,the international community for monetary support and development
support in line with goals that were set when Haiti was,intervened and
then President Aristide was restored to power five years ago. ,They
maintain that the international laissez affair attitude is placing the
burden of Haiti’s poverty problem on the DR as,thousands of Haitians
resort to migrate to the DR to solve their economic problems. The
migration is a heavy burden on,Dominican social services. Dominican
sectors say that the DR is a poor country and can in no way take upon
itself the social,problems of Haiti, the poorest country in the Western
Hemisphere. ,Recent news stories have highlighted the increasing number
of Haitians that are traveling to the DR to give birth, taking,advantage
of the free health services that are available to anyone who shows up at
a Dominican public hospital emergency,room. Also in the news is the
debate as to whether Haitians born in the DR are Haitians or Dominicans.
The DR Constitution,places them in an "in transit" category, and birth
certificates have not been readily issued to them. ,Making matters
worse, because of their indigence, the greater majority of Haitians in
general do not have birth certificates.,While the plight of undocumented
adults has not been much of a news story, now the plight of the
increasing number of,undocumented children is making headlines. Several
are now studying in Dominican schools, but confront problems
when,reaching higher grades and neither them nor their parents can
present any legal identity documentation. ,Most Dominicans would like
the Haitian poverty problem to just go away. But increasingly there is a
minority that is pressing,the point that the increasing Haitian
migration is creating a big local problem that Dominicans need to
address and find solutions,to. Proactive leaders have said that the DR
must spur development in Haiti so that less Haitians feel the need to
migrate, be this,with the establishment of industrial free zone
operations by Dominican apparel manufacturers or by the opening of
hospitals,along the Haitian frontier areas with international aid
sponsorship. Others like the Comité Organizador del Acto de
Unidad,Nacional want to spur international organizations and countries
into making a bigger contribution to the development of Haiti.
5. Cardinal López says DR has helped Haiti a lot
> Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez feels the Dominican Republic has already done its share to help out Haiti. Haiti continues to be the most economically-depressed country of the Americas, and to suffer from political instability.
> The head of the Dominican Roman Catholic Church feels it is unacceptable for the international community to think that Haitian migration to the DR can be that country’s solution to its problems. Instead, he called for the international community to come to the rescue of Haiti. In his opinion, the magnitude of Haiti’s problems are more than the DR can handle. He commented that the DR has already made major contributions by providing free medical and education services to the thousands of indigent Haitians that are crossing the frontier.
> Cardinal López Rodríguez favors creating conditions so that Dominican capitals and those from other countries can invest in Haiti. He feels this is a definitive way to help that nation and avoid the massive exodus of work-seeking Haitians to Dominican territory. He said he made this proposal several years ago but it has not prospered because of the political instability in Haiti.
> Now, there are a series of conditions that may make the effort to promote Dominican investment in Haiti worth a second try. The Caribbean Common Market (Caricom) has admitted Haiti, providing conditions for intra-Caribbean duty-free trade of goods manufactured in Haiti. Likewise, Haitian textile exports are not restricted by quotas or limited to using US materials as are Dominican apparel exports.
> Cardinal López Rodríguez spoke to journalists during the signing of a US$82,000 donation by the Japanese government. The money will be used to build an orphanage in San Isidro, on the east side of Santo Domingo.
> 6. PRD presidential candidate on Haiti
> PRD presidential candidate Hipólito Mejía says that the best way to approach the Haitian migration problem is to implement a program to develop the frontier between both countries. In his opinion, the DR’s most important neighbors are Haiti and the US. He emphasized that Haiti is an important market for Dominican produce. Thus, he said that the Haitian migration issue has to be handled without conflicts and without seeking political gains as has occurred in the past.
8. ONGs pay US$1,500 to Haitians to give birth in DR
The legal consultant of the Executive Branch, Dr. Abel Rodríguez del
Orbe denounced that there are non-governmental organizations that pay
US$1,000-US$1,500 for Haitian women to give birth here. The press note
says that the moneys are being paid to Dominican physicians and clinics
that assist the women in the labor. He said the object is that the
children of Haitians be given Dominican birth certificates. Rodríguez
del Orbe said that this will create an "explosion of incalculable
consequences in 20 to 25 years". He said that even when these persons
may have Dominican birth certificates, they will be brought up as
Haitians, not Dominicans, as both cultures are very different. He
commented that the persons will grow up in Haiti, and one day will come
to the DR saying they are Dominicans. "If necessary, for humanitarian
reasons, the women that live near the frontier may give birth here, if
we can provide the service, we agree to that… but to nationalize as
Dominicans, persons that are not Dominicans, is a crime." He said it is
the Haitian consulate that has the responsibility of providing the birth
certificates to the Haitians that are born in Dominican territory. The
Dominican constitution does not regard persons born of illegal parents
as Dominicans. The controversy arose when Father Luis Rosario of the
Pastoral Juvenil of the Catholic Church requested that Congress consider
legislating so that all those born in the DR may receive Dominican
nationality. The Catholic Church hierarchy later denied that the request
of Father Rosaro was that of the Dominican Catholic Church. Local
authorities recognize that the children of Haitians have a problem when
registering in school or at the time of graduating. The Haitian Embassy
in the DR has been contributing by assisting thousands of Haitians that
entered the DR without any legal documentation, to get their Haitian
nationality papers. Supreme Court president Jorge Subero Isa reaffirmed
recently that the Constitution is clear on the issue when it states that
the Dominican nationality will be given to: "All persons born in the
Dominican territory, with the exception of the legitimate sons of
foreign diplomats and those that are in transit." The illegal Haitian
residents are considered "in transit" and thus do not merit Dominican
nationality. The Haitian Constitution, in turn, recognizes through the
third generation sons and daughters of Haitians, regardless of whether
they are born abroad or of one foreign parent.
5. Haiti and DR sit down to bilateral talks
Haiti and the DR again sat down to three-day discussions of bilateral
issues. The talks are held within the framework of the
Interinstitutional Technical Committee on Dominican-Haitian Migratory
Frontier Affairs. The talks are being held at the Diplomacy School of
the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Santo Domingo. The issues that are
being covered were agreed upon in a meeting held between Ministers of
Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre and Fritz Longchamps in Port au Prince
in June 1998. Among the issues are the following: Personal documents
and travel documents Hiring of workers Repatriation of illegal migrants
Regularizing of the situation of illegal residents Sitting for the DR
are officers from the Ministry of Foreign Relations, Ministry of
Interior and Police, Ministry of Women, Ministry of Labor, Department of
Migration, State Sugar Council (CEA), National Office of Lomé, National
Council of Frontiers (Ministry of Foreign Relations). Wenceslao Guerrero
Pou directs the discussions, in his role as ambassador in charge
of Haitian affairs.
- Indigent Haitians burden frontier hospital finances El Siglo newspaper
reports that public hospitals in the frontier provinces spend 50% of
their resources on servicing Haitian patients. For humanitarian reasons,
public hospitals located from Pedernales to Monte Cristi, along the
frontier, offer emergency services to Haitians. El Siglo reports that
most of the cases they see are births, tuberculosis, AIDS, malaria,
injuries, malnutrition, diarrhea and respiratory infections. The public
hospitals have to finance the transportation of the sick Haitians back
to Haiti or to regional hospitals within the DR. Minister of Public
Health Juan Octavio Ceballos recognizes the problem, but said that the
authorities do not have a solution.
- DR defeats Haiti in soccer for the first time For the first time, the
Dominican Republic defeated Haiti in a qualifying round of the Olympic
Games. The Dominican team beat Haiti 1-0 at the Instituto Preparatorio
de Menores (Refor) in San Cristóbal. The DR advances in the qualifying
rounds for the
Sydney, Australia Olympic Games. Luis Omar Sánchez made the only goal
for Dominicans. The president of the Olympic Committee of Haiti came to
watch the game. Haitians traditionally have beat Domincans in football.
The Dominican team will now match Cuba, on 19 September.