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#881: HT-RD (fwd)

From: Yacine Khelladi <yacine@aacr.net>

More HT-DR news, comliation of newsarticles extracted from DR1
newsletter, two last weeks

8 Nov 99

> 2. Hiring of Haitians violates Dominican Labor Code
> President Leonel Fernández is of opinion that Dominican labor laws should be respected in regards to the hiring of Haitians. The Dominican Labor Code establishes that the work force of any company should be 80% Dominican, and a maximum 20% foreign. In the case of many construction projects, including many large government projects, the reverse is true. President Fernández’s opinion comes after Minister of Public Works Diandino Peña said that Haitian workers were essential for the completion of large government construction works. The Dominican government is probably the principal employer of Haitian construction workers.
> In Hoy newspaper, Rafael Ulises Alcántara, secretary general of the Sindicato de Obras Viales Calificados, says Dominican construction jobs are down 90%. He said that contractors are only interested in savings when they hire the cheaper Haitian labor, forgetting that the hiring of this unskilled workforce may affect the quality of the construction.


> 2. Government sends protest letter to the OAS
> The Dominican government sent a letter protesting the report issued by the Organization of American States and the latter’s requests regarding Dominican treatment of Haitian illegal migration. The letter says OAS member states have the right to deport illegal aliens and urges that the organization contribute in a convincing manner to help Haiti overcome its economic and social problems.
> The Ministry of Foreign Relations addressed the letter to Cesar Gaviria, secretary general of the organization.
> Following is a literary translation of the letter:
> "The content of the report includes positive aspects on the situation of human rights in the DR, especially where it points out the political will and the spirit of modernization with which the Government of President Fernández Reyna has contributed to open new spaces and initiatives for the promotion and protection of human rights.
> Nevertheless, chapter 11 of the report on the situation of Haitian migrant workers and their families in the DR, has generated profound concern amidst ample national sectors and a total rejection on behalf of the Dominican people that has been expressed in the media.
> The Dominican government considers an excess of your attributions that the Human Rights Commission suggest and recommend the policy that the Dominican state, or any other member state, should apply regarding foreigners that live illegally in its territory, and more so, regarding undocumented persons that carry no legal identity document of any kind from their country of origin, nor from any other, which is the case of the majority of the Haitians that are in the DR.
> "The Dominican government sustains irrevocably that it is exclusive attribution of member states, in virtue of the exercise of their sovereignty, to implement judicial measures estimated to be convenient to its interests, regarding the migratory policy in regards to the Constitution and internal laws. Likewise, the government considers it an excess of the Commission of Human Rights to interpret the Constitutions of member countries on affairs that are of internal interest to each state as has occurred with numeral 363 of the report where it expresses in relation to the Haitians: ‘Most confront a situation of permanent illegality that they transmit to their children, who cannot obtain the Dominican nationality, because according to the restrictive interpretation that Dominican authorities make of article 11 of the Constitution these are children of foreigners in transit.’
> "The same can be said for numeral 364 of the report, where the Commission calls for the Dominican state to adopt measures to improve or regularize the situation of undocumented Haitian workers by giving these work permits and legal residencies and legalizing the situation of their children, according to the principal of jus solis stated in article 11 of the Constitution.
> "We would like to clearly establish that the Dominican government understands it is its irrevocable right to repatriate all foreigners that have come in and remain illegally in the country, while respecting their human rights, as in the practice has been occurring.
> "For these reasons, we again appeal to the international community so that, as we have been doing in the DR, it may contribute with a greater degree of solidarity and in a convincing manner to the overcoming of severe economic and social difficulties that burden that sister nation."
> 3. President of the Senate comments on Haiti issue
> President of the Senate Ramón Alburquerque joined the generality of Dominicans that have rejected the OAS petition that the DR nationalize illegal Haitians that are living in the DR. He said the DR cannot be burdened with a nation that has almost the same number of inhabitants and has many more problems than the DR. "We do not accept that the image of the DR be damaged for gratis," he said. He said he stands with President Leonel Fernández on the issue.
> While President Leonel Fernández has lobbied for Haiti in international forums, such as the United Nations, to tell by the OAS report, the response of the international community has been to expect that the DR, by continuing to accept thousands of indigent Haitians, carry the burden of Haitian poverty. The DR’s position is that there are alternative ways to resolve the Haitian problem and urges the international community to focus on these.

5 Nov 99

3. Armed Forces calls for improved conditions for the frontier Minister
of the Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Manuel de Jesus Florentino
considered that repression of Haitians illegally coming to the DR is not
the solution to the Haitian problem in the DR. The Listín Diario reports
that the Dominican military has given Dominican soldiers the order to
avoid confrontations with the Haitian population. The Minister of the
Armed Forces urged that there be an improvement in the living conditions
along the frontier with Haiti and an increase in international economic
assistance to Haiti to improve living conditions there. The government
has stepped up the repatriations of Haitians and controls along the
border as a reaction to the consensus of Dominicans that rejected the
OAS recommendations to nationalize illegal Haitians living in the DR.
The government was criticized for its laissez-faire attitude to the
growing flow of illegal Haitians in the DR. El Siglo reports that all
seemed normal in the frontier area on market day. Minister of the Armed
Forces said that commerce must continue and be strengthened. Thousands
of Haitians and Dominicans go in an out of Haiti to deal at the frontier

4. Working permits for Haitian construction workers
The president of the College of Dominican Engineers and Architects
(CODIA), Martín Concepción said that the construction industry has found
a great ally in Haitian workers, not because they are cheaper, but
because they work harder. He said that 95% of the Haitians employed in
construction works are illegal. He recommended that the Dominican
government issue these
workers work permits. 


> 1. President Fernández protests OAS requests
> President Leonel Fernández told Dominican reporters that he has instructed Minister Eduardo Latorre to formally protest the requests made to the Dominican government by the Organization of American States’ Interamerican Commission on Human Rights. The international organization has requested that the DR give all Haitian migrants living in the DR work and residency papers and nationalize their children born in the DR. The OAS also described as a flagrant violation of international human rights the deporting of illegal Haitians that reside in the DR.
> President Fernandez said that the document went beyond the attributions of the OAS. He said that the OAS charter does not give it the attribution to request that a sovereign government stop deporting illegal aliens. The President said that the OAS report adds a new ingredient to an issue that is strictly of a national character.
> He stated that the government is about to send a new Migration Bill to Congress that would modify the Migration Law in effect since 1939 and help definitely resolve the Haitian migration issue.
> He defended the Dominican Republic’s sovereign right to repatriate illegal aliens. He said the deportations have been carried out respecting human rights and no abuses have been reported. He said that to this date the Haitian government has not made a single complaint regarding violation of its citizen’s human rights of those being repatriated.
> "What the Haitian government has not done, now the OAS takes upon itself to do without evidence, without proof that there have been violations of the human rights of the repatriated Haitians," said President Fernández.
> The OAS document has met with widespread rejection in the DR. See yesterday’s daily news reports for several reactions to the report http://www.dr1.com/daily/news110199.shtml
> The Dominican consensus is that the OAS should promote international support to help Haiti develop and not provoke sterile discussions.
> 2. El Siglo newspaper denounces ONGs declare war on DR
> El Siglo newspaper editorializes today that it is surprising that in the Haitian rural communities near the Dominican frontier 50 international non-governmental organizations have opened offices. The newspaper states that ten European and American countries maintain a bunch of ONGs in areas where there is no petroleum, no stock exchanges not even entertainment centers. El Siglo alerts that so much "international presence" is surprising.
> The newspaper says that the personnel of these offices frequently request "humanitarian visas" for Haitians interested in traveling to the DR.
> The countries that sponsor the ONGs have requested that the Ministry of Foreign Relations of the DR relieve Haitians from the obligation of paying customs taxes citing humanitarian reasons. The OAS request that the DR issue birth certificates to the offspring of the undocumented illegal Haitians has put the "lid on the bottle," says the newspaper.
> El Siglo says: "Even the most uninformed Dominican knows that once the Dominican nationality is granted to a Haitian child, the authorities will not be able to repatriate their parents, brothers, grandparents. The international human rights conventions establish that it is not legal to separate families. And it would not be correct nor legal to deport the father of a Dominican."
> The newspaper goes on to point out that: "US General Charles Wilhelm has decided to remove his troops from Haiti ‘because there is enough security there.’ He says that instead of fulfilling humanitarian missions they were dedicated to being bodyguards. So out go the armed military, trained to combat, and in come dozens of ONGs, civilians that propose that Dominicans donate their territory for humanitarian reasons."
> "The Cardinal, Archbishop of Santo Domingo, with his habitual firmness of character, says he does not see the reason for ‘such softness’ when expressing our national position in any world forum. This country is a legacy of our founding fathers. ‘We did not win it in a lottery’, he has said. The Archbishop of Santiago, Monsignor Flores says that the ONGs are acting in a ‘perverse manner’.
> The newspaper favors President Fernández’s decision to formally protest before the OAS. It ends the editorial saying that Dominicans should not fear. "No country succumbs when the government, religious and academic leaders assume their responsibilities."
> 3. Haitian-Dominicans not happy with appeal to control migration
> Sonia Pierre, spokesperson for the Movement of Dominican-Haitian Women, criticized Cardinal Nicolás López Rodríguez for urging the Dominican government to install migration controls. She said this could result in aggressions against Haitian immigrants. In an interview for the Listín Diario, she said that thousands of descendants of Haitians are in legal limbo since the government does not recognize them as Dominicans, and they have lost their ties with Haiti. Most Haitians that have moved to the DR have no legal documentation from Haiti either. The newspaper also interviewed residents in the "Little Haiti" section of Santo Domingo, such as Ernesto Pierret, who said that the Haitian issue was making headlines because these are election times. Late Partido Revolucionario Dominicano José Francisco Peña Gómez’s Haitian heritage was used against him in past elections, but today this situation is no longer so. Today all political parties are united on the need to control Haitian m!
> ration.

> 4. Poverty and business interests to blame
> Economist and Jesuit priest José Luis Alemán told El Caribe newspaper that an increase in Haitian migration to the DR is inevitable due to the poverty and disorganization within Haiti.  The only way to take pressure off the massive exodus is to strengthen Haitian institutions and bring welfare to Haiti, he said. He said that the Haitians will come since they find jobs in farms and construction works.
> Father Alemán said that Dominican business interests are also to blame. He says the businessmen are not aware of the long-term problems the increase in Haitian migration will bring. He urged Dominican farm owners to incorporate modern technology to improve their farm’s yield and not have to rely on the low cost farm hands.
> 5. Aura Celeste Fernández comments on Haitian migration
> The coordinator of the Commission to Support the Reform and Modernizing of Justice, Aura Celeste Fernández said that Dominican businessmen are responsible for the increase in Haitian migration. She urged that the government, businessmen and other sectors join as soon as possible to define very clear, systematic and coherent policies in regards to hiring of Haitian workers for farms and construction works. She said none of the employers demand that the workers have legal documentation.
> She said that in the DR there is not a clear awareness of the dangers that Haitian migration represents, or is there a common objective on behalf of different sectors nor the Dominican State regarding the Haitian problem. She said all problems have a solution.
> 7. Haiti and DR to sign public health treaty
> The Minister of Public Health of Haiti is expected in the DR this week. Michaelle Amedee Gedeon will visit to sign a joint work plan to control sicknesses that affect both countries. The plan was agreed upon during bilateral talks held between both governments.
> Efforts to eradicate sicknesses in the DR are affected by the migration of Haitians to the DR. Thus the DR has pressed for cooperation between both countries.
> The agreement will strengthen epidemiological services and vigilance along the frontier and joint actions will be taken to improve nutrition in both countries.
> Minister of Public Health says that the debate regarding the Haitians is beyond his department. He said that Haitians are admitted to public hospitals and receive the same services as Dominicans do. He said that when patients arrive, the medics do not ask their nationality. The influx of Haitians, though, is a burden on the hospitals’ limited resources.

1- Nov 99

> 8. Commenting on OAS opinion on Haiti
> The OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights report states that the DR should give Haitian migrants work and residency papers and nationalize their children born in the country. The report has met with widespread opposition in the DR. The comments of those opposing the report coincide that these are not times for polemics. Most sectors urge instead that a movement to attract international help for Haiti be promoted.
> The OAS criticized that the Dominican government uses a "restrictive interpretation of the constitution to consider children of illegal foreign nationals born in the DR to be "in transit" and thus not eligible for Dominican citizenship. It also criticizes what it describes as massive deporting of illegal Haitian aliens, saying this is a flagrant violation of international human rights.
> Ministry of Foreign Relations
> Ministry of Foreign Relations said that the DR is a sovereign country with a right to establish the contents of its Constitution and its legal framework. It says the OAS mention of the Haitian problem is a result of a complex historical process and is not attributable to the present government. The Ministry of Foreign Relations says that the Fernández administration has done the most to foster cooperation between both countries as a base to resolve the problems that affect us and our relations with Haiti. The Ministry says that the opinion is a statement regarding the need to focus in depth on Haiti’s problems.
> The Catholic Church
> Cardinal Nicolás López Rodriguez, head of the Catholic Church in the DR, criticized that the DR government has adopted a complacent and laissez faire position in regards to the massive penetration of illegal Haitians. He said that the DR government cannot be intimidated by the US, Canada, France and the Caribbean community. He called for concrete solutions to the problem. He said the DR has already done more than its share. "It is not a matter of being anti-Haitian, it is a matter of being Dominicans", he said.
> He said "the DR shares the island with a brother country with which we want to work and we have helped more than any other country has done". He asked why the OAS does not request that Washington D.C. government not legalize the status of all illegals living in the US?
> In the opinion of the Cardinal, the OAS should seek that Haitians born in Haiti be issued birth certificates. Very few Haitian parents bother to get birth certificates for their children at birth or even later declare their children in Haiti. Today, very few Haitian adults now living in the DR have any identification papers.
> He said that the problem is a historical one, dating back to the days when the island was divided into two. "It would have been better if France (France brought in African slaves to work in their Haitian plantations) had stayed with the entire island, and not that two territories with two distinct cultures be left to develop. He said that what must be clear to the entire world is that each country has its own citizenship, culture and language. "I don’t know how it fits in any head that you can firmly tie together things that are not acceptable nor compatible. No can oblige me to think like a British person or a Swede. Why do Dominicans have to think like Haitians or Haitians like Dominicans. No sir, let us keep our identities and our differences," said the Cardinal.
> The daily press
> Hoy newspaper said that foreign diplomats and international organizations should not be "exciting the wasps." The newspaper editorial on the OAS report says "the comments do little to resolve the situation and will only let loose the nationalist demons and then innocent blood could flow."
> El Caribe newspaper proposes that the US, Canada, France and Spain accept to each nationalize the half million Haitians they would like the DR to nationalize. Also that the international community fund the cost of educating and health needs of the Haitian immigrants. Furthermore, the newspaper says that while it would appear redundant to say so, there is an apparent interventionist attitude on behalf of governments and international institutions that show so much concern over the Haitian solution. The newspaper instead advocated that an international conference be held to come up with concrete solutions to the Haitian problems.
> Listin Diario says that the report is not new as the OAS and other organizations had suggested its conclusions before. The Listín says that it is now especially untimely, because the Haitian political crisis has worsened, and when that occurs, more Haitians migrate to the DR. The newspaper advocates that the time of sterile controversy end, and alternatives that lead to clear policies and effective application through the year come forth. In its editorial it states that today the presence of thousands of undocumented Haitians, living in indigence throughout the national territory, is a reality.
> Political parties
> Jacinto Peynado, presidential precandidate of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRS) and a former Vice President of the nation, said that with the report the OAS and wealthy nations seek to exercise international pressure so that this nation be burdened with Haiti’s problems. He called it intervening in national sovereign affairs. He criticized that the OAS is interpreting the Dominican Constitution and telling Dominicans what to do. He urged the international community to participate in a positive way towards the solution of Haitian problems. He said that to comply with the OAS request would only be a major incentive for Haitian migration to the DR to increase, and that the DR is not economically able to assume the burden of the population of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
> Donald Reid Cabral, a former Minister of Foreign Relations, and acting president of the PRSC said the proposal to give Dominican citizenship to the undocumented illegal Haitians was an "intolerable meddling in national affairs.
> José Tomás Pérez, secretary general of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD) said that what the OAS should be spearheading is a major international movement to help Haiti, not instigating that the DR carry the burden of Haitian poverty.
> Tony Raful, acting president for the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), says that what the OAS proposes would violate the Dominican Constitution. He says Haiti’s problems should not be the exclusive responsibility of the DR, but of the international community that has unfulfilled the promised US$1,000 million in investment in Haiti when Jean Bertrand Aristide was brought back to power. He also criticized the Dominican government for historically being a major employer of Haitians, in the sugar cane fields and other farms. He said that the present government has not exercised any control of Haitian migration, and on the contrary is a major employer of Haitian labor in its mega construction projects.
> Presidential candidates
> Hipolito Mejía said that between the DR and Haiti there is a matrimony in which there is no divorce, that the matter requires all seriousness. He advocated that the government take up the proposal to build a major industrial complex along the frontier that would serve to develop the frontier and provide jobs for Haitians that are migrating throughout the DR.
> Danilo Medina, presidential candidate for the PLD, said that Dominican Constitution is clear on the matter and does not need to be interpreted. He said he adheres to the position of the Dominican Constitution that Dominican nationality will not be granted to the children of illegal aliens. He urged that the international community come forth and help Haiti. He says the Dominican people have already shown their solidarity, spending millions of the education and health of the Haitians. He says that the DR has poverty in common with Haiti. "The biggest favor the OAS would make to the Haitians is to be at the vanguard of a movement to motivate international solidarity in favor of Haiti," he said.
> 9. Haitian beggars to be sent back to Haiti
> Ministry of Tourism and Department of Migration, together with the Tourism Police, carried out an operation to rid the central points of Puerto Plata city of Haitian beggars. The Haitians were transported to the frontier for subsequent deportation. Cesar de los Santos, deputy Minister of Tourism in Puerto Plata, said he had received instructions so that this situation does not continue. Community leaders denounced last week that apparently some organized bands were trying to benefit from the misery of the Haitians offering "jobs" to Haitian women with small children who were being transported to tourist areas to beg. The Haitian beggars were harassing Dominicans and tourists alike.
> 10. Haitians can enroll in Dominican schools
> Minister of Education Ligia Amada Melo said that children of illegal Haitians can enroll in public schools. She says the government is making an exception in the rule that requires students to present birth certificates in order to contribute to reduce illiteracy in the DR. She says that the Haitians take places available for Dominican children, but the government is authorizing their entrance into public schools for humanitarian reasons. She said that the measure also benefits the children of poor Dominican farmers whose parents have not requested their children’s birth certificates. While they will get an education, the Ministry will not be issued eighth grade certificates until they can present the birth certificates. She said, though, that she is aware that many Haitians are enrolled in high school programs. One of the major problems of the Haitian immigrants is that they do not have certificates or any legal documentation themselves, which makes it more difficult for th!
>  to be issued documentation of any kind.
> "The more uneducated people we have, the more problems we will have," she said.
> The official decision comes in response to the requests of the Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico-Haitianas that had urged a solution so those children without birth documents could get an education. It also formalizes a practice that had been common for many years.
> 11. Dominican government not invited to Montreal conference on Haitians in DR
> The Dominican government has not received an official invitation to participate in the conference to be held at the Montreal City Hall on "challenges for the advancement of the Haitian cause in the DR," said the Ministry of Foreign Relations. Guy Alexandre, a former controversial Haitian ambassador in the DR, will be one of the key speakers on the human rights and social justice issues to be presented at the conference.


3. DR and Cuban physicians attend 90% of Haitians in frontier areas El
Siglo newspaper reports that Dominican and Cuban physicians serve 90% of
the Haitian population in towns near the frontier with the Dominican
Republic.  The story reports on the small contingents of Cuban
physicians based in a few clinics located in rural Haiti near the large
Dominican cities of Dajabón and Juana Mendez that have been successful
in reducing the number of Haitians that cross the frontier. Recently,
Dominican authorities have urged the securing of international
cooperation to set up clinics near the Dominican-Haitian frontier, that
could be staffed by Dominican medics to reduce the burden on Dominican
public hospitals.  The Dominican public hospitals of General Melenciano
in Jimaní and Rosa Duarte in Elías Piña receive the largest numbers of
Haitians. The Haitians prefer the Dominican clinics because they are the
closest medical centers and services are better and free. The clinics
will even pay for the transporting of the patients to large medical
centers if necessary. Haitian rural clinics are staffed with a doctor
and a nurse, and there is a charge for whatever services may be
The director of the Elías Piña hospital, Rafael Robles, said that that
hospital has to dedicate 60% of its budget to service the Haitians. El
Siglo reporters ascertained that the Haitians have access to the same
services as the Dominicans.  The physicians say the Dominicans are
concerned they may catch contagious diseases which affect a good number
of Haitians visiting the public hospitals. Medical directors say this is
an additional financial burden on the hospitals that will now have to
build separate wards for the increase in patients with contagious

3. Haitian children to be given DR ID documents
Deputy Minister of Foreign Relations Minou Tavarez Mirabal, in an
interview in Hoy newspaper, says that the government has
plans to provide the children of illegal Haitians with Dominican ID
documents, regardless of whether they were born in the DR
or in Haiti. These will be recognized by the Ministry of Education and
will enable them to graduate from school, and receive
other basic services. 
The Dominican Constitution makes an education mandatory for all those
living in the DR, regardless of their status. But the
children have confronted difficulties in getting their educational
certificates (6th and 12th grade) because they lack birth
certificates. Even if there is proof the children were born here,
Dominican law does not provide for granting Dominican birth
certificates to the children of those residing illegally in the DR. 
Yesterday, when attending the Santo Domingo cyberpark ground-breaking
ceremony, Haitian acting ambassador Guy Lamothe
urged the Dominican government to issue birth certificates to the
280,000 children of Haitians born in the DR so these could get
an education. The Dominican government has sustained the Haitian
consulate should be issuing Haitian birth certificates to these
children. The Haitian Constitution recognizes the children of Haitians
as Haitians. The issuing of the ID documents would be a
temporary solution to a long-standing problem. 
Director of the Department of Migration, Danilo Díaz said that the
Dominican government cannot issue birth certificates to the
children of individuals that themselves have no identification document.
Most Haitians that cross the frontier do not have any ID
documentation. Among the poor in Haiti getting a birth certificate for
their children is the least of their worries. As a result, most
Haitian adults are undocumented individuals. The Department of Migration
is also issuing ID cards to the adults. 
The deputy minister said that while the DR cannot solve the internal
problems of Haiti, it can make contributions to democracy,
institutionality and economic development in Haiti. She recalled that
when Haiti was intervened by the international community
to restore Jean Bertrand Aristide, promises for international aid were
made. These have not materialized and poverty in Haiti
has worsened. Migration to the DR has been a way to lessen the social
pressures in Haiti. 
Mirabal stressed that while Haiti’s economic and political problems are
not our responsibility, they are our problems because,
"el Masacre se pasa a pie," or the Masacre River that divides the two
nations can be crossed by foot (making a reference to the
title of a renown book by Dominican author Freddy Prestol Castillo). 
"For the past 40 years, Dominicans have lived like ostriches, believing
the Haitian problem will disappear if we don’t talk about
it," she said. 
The Dominican government has promoted bilateral talks within the
framework of a Dominican-Haitian commission, but the
migration issue is complex. 

4. Haitian beggars invade Puerto Plata
The president of the Playa Dorada Hotel Association, former Puerto Plata
senator Rafael Silverio Galán denounced that a mafia
seems to be behind the trucking into Puerto Plata of indigent Haitians
that are begging in the main public areas. He said the
beggars harass both Dominicans and tourists. In a report in the Listín
Diario, he urged the authorities to put a stop to the
trafficking with the Haitians and the waves of beggars. "There is a
rumor that those Haitians are transported here by a gang of
Dominican and Haitian traffickers that seek to profit from the miserable
aspect of the beggars. The women come with small
children in their arms, and then disappear at days end. The next day a
different group of beggars is brought in from Haiti," he