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#999: Ethnic Cleansing, Dominican-Style
Re: Ethnic Cleansing, Dominican-Style?
Several years ago, after President Aristide's return to Haiti, we
studied the situation of Haitians in the Dominican Republic and
made several recommendations to the governments of Haiti and
the Dominican Republic and to the international community. This
report is called "Beyond the Bateyes: Haitian immigrants in the
Dominican Republic." our purpose in publishing the report and
its recommendations was to call on both governments to go
beyond the knee-jerk responses to Haitian migration and to
develop a comprehensive approach to the presence of hundreds
of thousands of people who remain stateless because of specious
arguments over their "true" nationality. More importantly, we said
that the burden of instigating a change in that relationship rested
primarily with Haiti for it had the greatest stake in developing a
strong economy and political stability. The report is available from
NCHR: it can be downloaded from the web site www.nchr.org or it
can be ordered for $10 from us or from amazon.com.
This said, we set out years ago to advocate for a change of policy.
There was little interest from the Haitian government for a strong
and innovative approach to the problem. There was little interest
among the major international players because there was not a
compelling refugee crisis that was spewing Haitian refugees onto
the high seas. We set out to address the problem another way:
a. By getting the Inter-American Commission to focus on that as
part of its migration initiative, which by the way came largely as
result of Mexico being upset at the deportation of thousands of
Mexicans from the US, and
b. by launching a cross-border project seeking to bring together
Haitian and Dominican groups (human rights and otherwise) to
the point where, armed with a joint strategy, they could press their
respective governments to change their policy.
The report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is
peppered with interviews from an on-site visit but is largely inspired
by our report and follows closely the recommendations herein. We
are not surprised by the response of the DR. When we joined with
Human Rights Watch to press for a cutoff of US Assistance with
respect to sugar import quotas, Balaguer resorted to the same
device: in effect, the DR is saying that if you are going to complain
about the problem, you will be sorry for we can create an even
bigger one. Witness the massive expulsions orchestrated by the
DR in 1990.
There can certainly be today efforts to condemn the expulsions, and
to rally support against such expulsions. The GOH is unfortunately
spineless and will not carry the water. Other means must be found.
There is a major consultation to be held early next year in the US by
countries in the Americas. It is called the Puebla process, and it is
the first time that the US will be hosting such a consultation. It brings
governments together to develop a policy for the region, including
the Caribbean region. It affords non-governmental organizations
opportunties for advocating their issues. The time to influence this
process on behalf of haitian immigrants in the DR is now, not in
March when resolutions will be adopted. If anyone on this list is
interested in working with us on this issue, let's communicate further.
Otherwise all the yelling, screaming and expressions of concern will
simply be water under the bridge...