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#1037: This Week in Haiti 17:35 11/17/99 (fwd)
From: Kim Ives <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
newsweekly. For information on other news in French and Creole,
please contact the paper at (tel) 718-434-8100, (fax)
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"Le journal qui offre une alternative"
* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
November 17-23, 1999
Vol. 17, No. 35
DOMINICAN GOVERNMENT INTENSIFIES CRACKDOWN ON HAITIANS
The campaign to round-up and deport thousands of Haitians from
the Dominican Republic to Haiti continued unabated last week, and
tension between the two countries, which share the island of
Hispaniola, is growing daily.
Meanwhile, partisans of former right-wing Dominican president
Joaquin Balaguer are planning a march in the Dominican capital on
Nov. 20 to call for the expulsion of Haitians, while a coalition
of progressive Haitian and Dominican organizations is planning a
massive counter-demonstration the same day in New York City to
denounce the racist anti-Haitian campaign.
In fact, many of the victims of the current crackdown in the
Dominican Republic are Dominicans of Haitian descent, as Sonia
Pierre of the Movement of Haitian-Dominican Women (MUDHA) told
Haïti Progrès from her home in Santo Domingo."This is the most
xenophobic situation I have ever seen in this country in my
lifetime," said Mme. Pierre, who was born in the Dominican
Republic 40 years ago to Haitian parents and who is today one of
the most outspoken champions of Haitian and Haitian-Dominican
rights. "I have been repeatedly harassed and aggressed at my home
and office, and I can't even send my children to school. The
other day a teacher approached my youngest child and said: 'It's
your mother who is defending Haitians. You think we don't know
it? We're going to send you back to Haiti.'"
Sonia Pierre has countless examples of how the xenophobic
campaign has impacted Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian
ancestry. A pregnant woman was ejected from a hospital and had to
deliver her child outside its walls. Policemen and goons attacked
women sidewalk merchants selling rice, coffee, and artisanal
products; the women lost everything they had. Haitians have been
hunted with dogs and guns.
"Children born here to Haitian parents can't go to school, can't
be baptized, can't make their first communion, because they don't
have a birth certificate" because their parents fear being
deported, Mme. Pierre explained. Many of these children grow to
be adults without ever acquiring the documentation that Dominican
authorities demand as proof of identity and citizenship.
The present crackdown has a lot to do with the upcoming Dominican
elections in May 2000 and a larger economic crisis, according the
Sonia Pierre. "They have raised the price of gasoline, and now
the price on more than 40 basic necessities has risen 70 to 100
percent," she said. "So the anti-Haitian theme gets whipped up.
Each time there is a crisis in the country, whether electoral,
social, or economic, they always scapegoat the Haitians."
As a result of the current crackdown, about 3000 Haitians have
been deported from the Dominican Republic to Haiti over the past
two weeks, according to figures provided by Carol Joseph of
Haiti's National Office on Migration (ONM). Less than a month
after a Bilateral Mixed Commission from the two nations met from
Oct. 6-8, the first official expulsions began on the weekend of
Nov. 5-7 when 300 Haitians and Haitian-Dominicans were dumped in
the southeastern Haitian town of Anse à Pitre. "In [the
northeastern town of] Ouanaminthe, on Monday they sent across
240, Tuesday 300, Wednesday 360, Thursday 420, and Friday, it was
17 buses with 65 people on each," Joseph told Radio Haiti. "I
will let the listeners do the math."
Joseph said that his border team was being "overwhelmed" by the
influx, and last week Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis along
with Diaspora Minister Jean Généus, Social Affairs Minister
Mathylde Flambert, and National Police Chief Pierre Denizé
visited four different border crossings to assess the crisis.
"Not only have they not notified the Haitian government that they
are making deportations, as stipulated in a clause in an
agreement between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, but they are
doing the deportations in an inhuman fashion," Alexis said after
the tour. "There are international laws and conventions on the
matter of separating a family through deportation." Hundreds of
families have been torn apart when people are picked up in sweeps
and not even allowed to go home to collect their belongings.
"I have four children I left behind in Santo Domingo," a woman
being deported to Malpasse told Radio Haiti. "They picked me up
in the street and sent me back here with just the clothes on my
back... I asked them to let me go back and get my children. Now
my kids are certainly going through hell being left alone in
Many of the refugees who come across at Malpasse end up in a
foul-smelling hangar-like warehouse near the border. Twelve-year
old Emmanuel, who was deported with his mother and three
siblings, is in Haiti for the first time. "They picked us up
coming out of the hospital and brought us here," he said.
Emmanuel's primary dream now is to return to his books and his
school at La Romana where he was born, east of the Dominican
The Dominican government has even begun arresting people on the
basis of how they pronounce the word parsley (perejil) in
Spanish, according to Joseph. This chilling test became infamous
62 years ago, when the soldiers and thugs of Dominican dictator
Rafael Trujillo used it to determine their victims in the 1937
massacre of between 20,000 and 35,000 Haitians and Haitian-
Dominicans along the Dominican frontier.
Tensions similar to those of 1937 began to emerge this week.
Haitian President René Préval belatedly announced on Nov. 15 when
leaving to attend the Ibero-American Summit in Cuba that his
government "has protested officially to the Dominican
government." He also said that he planned to raise the matter
with Dominican President Leonel Fernandez at the summit.
Alexis also took aim at the Dominican government after his tour,
referring obliquely to "a certain racism which is found among
certain groups [in the DR] and there has even been talk of
The Haitian government also asked Santo Domingo since last
Thursday for an urgent meeting on the crisis. The Dominican
government snubbed the request saying it was too busy with other
matters. "For reasons which we don't yet understand, the
Dominican Republic has refused to receive our foreign minister to
discuss the situation," said Prime Minister Jacques Edouard
Alexis. "We hope that the Dominican government can explain this
comportment which is a little irregular and above all that we can
find an agreement between the two governments or a formula which
will allow the deportations to be done in a normal manner
according to international conventions."
But Haiti's National Popular Party (PPN) saw the snub as more
than "a little irregular" and asserted in a Nov. 16 press
conference that the Alexis government was again minimizing the
conflict. "This refusal to have the foreign ministers meet is a
de facto break in diplomatic relations," said PPN secretary
general Ben Dupuy.
Last week the PPN charged that the Dominican Army, in cahoots
with the Pentagon and CIA, is hatching plans for the invasion of
Haiti if Washington remains unable to gain control of the
political situation in Haiti and stop the continuing march of
former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide toward re-election in
Nov. 2000 (see Haïti Progrès, Vol. 17 No. 34, 11/10/99). In a
press communique, the Dominican government felt compelled to
"formally deny this groundless rumor" and asserted that "the
Haitian people can have the deep, absolute, and definite
conviction that dangers toward their territorial integrity, their
morality, and their security will never come from the Dominican
Republic." History belies this assertion, since evidence and
testimony has emerged in recent years that Dominican troops
played a key support role for Haitian soldiers during the
military coup against Aristide in Sept. 1991. Furthermore, the
country still harbors hundreds of former Haitian soldiers, death-
squad thugs, and dictators, like Gen. Henri Namphy.
Dominican troops are now massed on the border, according to Lt.
Gen. Manuel de Jesus Fiorentino, head of the Dominican Armed
Forces. Radio Haiti also noted that "the number of soldiers along
the border has not only increased but there are combat-ready
[Dominican] Marines deployed at Jimani."
Meanwhile, in New York, Haitian and Dominican community
organizations held a press conference on Nov. 16 to announce a
demonstration in front of the Dominican Consulate in Manhattan on
Nov. 20. "A dangerous situation is unfolding which, if unchecked,
may lead to a massacre against the darker population in the
Dominican Republic, mainly Haitian migrant workers and Dominicans
of Haitian descent,"said Haitian unionist Ray Laforest, reading
the prepared statement of the Justice Committee for Haitians and
Haitian-Dominicans in the Dominican Republic. "The Dominican
ruling classes are attempting to blame the economic crisis in the
Dominican Republic on a so-called 'Haitian invasion' and are
encouraging a climate of violence and hate against Haitians,
casting them as the 'enemy.' We, a united coalition of Haitians
and Dominicans, reject in the strongest way possible this overtly
racist campaign, based on an ideology which seeks to cleanse the
Dominican culture and landscape of all that is black, Haitian or
Wilson Spencer, a progressive Dominican activist in New York,
said that alongside the crackdown on Haitians and Haitian-
Dominicans, the Dominican government was waging war on the
Dominican people in general and cited the killing of about 150
Dominican citizens over the past 5 months and the imprisonment of
about 4,000 others without clear charges. "We have a corrupt
government which does whatever it pleases and does not respect
the law," Spencer said. "We think that the Dominican people's
interests lie in allying themselves with the Haitian workers, not
in allying themselves with the elite's racist campaign against
the Haitian people. I would not even call it solidarity. The
Haitians and the Haitian-Dominicans are a part of our country and
our cultural heritage. So we are here to fight together."
Other speakers at the press conference who came out to support
the Nov. 20 demonstration in New York included Haitian author
Edwidge Danticat, Ron Daniels of the Center for Constitutional
Rights, and Nicole Pean of the December 12th Movement.
Demonstrations against the Nov. 20th right-wing march in Santo
Domingo are also planned in Florida and in the Dominican capital
For more information on the New York march call the Justice
Committee at (718) 284-0889 or (212) 219-0022 ext. 113, or (212)
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