Dominican Today -
The Economist was biased in 1861 against Lincoln’s war of
emancipation, Margaret Thatcher’s political future in 1975 and Apple’s
prospects after Steve Jobs’ second coming. So it is not surprising to see it
joining the global campaign against the sovereign decisions of the Dominican
Republic on matters of migration and nationality.
Unlike Haiti, the DR is a multicultural, multiracial
country. Even before our first independence—from Spain—in 1821, we were first
in the Americas to host a community of maroons running away from slavery in French
St Domingue. Well before the US, we received hundreds of Germans of Jewish
descent. More recently, thousands of Haitians came to our hospitals after the
earthquake of 2010 and stayed on to recover in Dominican homes.
Just like Talleyrand wrote about treason being a matter
of dates, so are atrocities in Hispaniola. Unlike Mandela, who chose
reconciliation to avoid what his biographer John Carlin has called “the
economy of the graveyard“, Haiti chose upon independence to destroy its
colonial production, redistribute land in micro-sized lots, practice slash and
burn agriculture and chop down 98% of its forest coverage. So now they have
very few farms of adequate size, no fertile lands, no trees and of course a
very high unemployment rate.
No mention is made about what happened to the white or
mulatto population during and after their independence; what happened to the DR
population during the many Haitian invasions of the 19th Century, before and
after our second independence—from Haiti—in 1844. No mention is made, either,
of the fact that the DR has never invaded Haiti, before, during or after our
third independence—again from Spain—in 1865.
There is no need to refer to the over 30,000 Haitians who
died as recently as the government of “Papa Doc“ Duvalier, whose
policy of “negritude” did so much to expel most educated Haitians in the 1950s
and 1960s to countries such as Senegal, Canada, France or the US.
The unacceptable international campaign against the DR
fails to recognize that—excluding Haiti—the DR generates more jobs for Haitians
than the entire rest of the Caribbean. This is so, in spite of the fact that
Haiti signed in 2003 the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, which provides for free
movement of skilled and professional personnel as well as for contract workers
on a seasonal or project basis for all members of CARICOM.
The DR is fully attached to the rule of law, respect for
human rights and complies with all its international treaty obligations. It is
a country with a longstanding tradition of nondiscriminatory access to public
It is in DR hospitals where Haitians are giving birth to
their babies—1 out of every 5 children born—given the fact that the majority of
hospitals in Haiti are private. About 18% of the health budget covers the needs
of Haitians seeking services in our hospitals.
It is in DR schools that Haitians are educating their
children—2 out of every 5 children in many of our public schools—given the fact
that the majority of schools in Haiti are private. Thousands attend our
universities, paying local rates. 15,000 of those are able to study with full
scholarships from the DR government.
It is in the DR that Haitians are exercising most of
their civil rights, including access to the judiciary on a non-discriminatory
basis, given the fact that many judges have yet to be appointed in Haiti.
Moreover, Haitians suffer from longstanding difficulties for obtaining birth
certificates, identity cards, voter-registration cards or passports, which,
when issued, cost in excess of US$500 altogether, in the poorest country of the
Western hemisphere. It is because of these difficulties that elections in Haiti
are decided by just 12% of the voting age population.
In its decision to abide by Ruling TC/0168/13, enacted on
23/9/2013 by our Constitutional Tribunal, the DR Government has reiterated its
utmost respect for our Constitution, our laws, and the separation of powers.
The Ruling ordains the implementation of our legal
provisions on migration and nationality, which have been in place since 1929,
complemented with the Bilateral Migratory Agreement of 1939 between the DR and
Haiti, which states that all descendants of Haitian migrants in the DR are
Haitians, as provided for in the Haitian constitution. Thus, no Haitian
descendant can be stateless in the DR, unless of course its own government
refuses to provide the documentation it has failed to issue to millions of
Haitians in their own country.
Dominican President Danilo Medina has committed himself
and his entire administration to finding a humanitarian response to the
situation of the 24,392 descendants of undocumented immigrants from 117
different national origins, which were found by the Central Electoral Board to
need regularization of their nationalities.
This number of persons represents less than 0. 3% of the
entire population of the DR and less than 3. 5% of the total number of
immigrants living in the DR. Incidentally, only 13,672 persons identified are
descendants of undocumented Haitian immigrants. None of the other 116
nationalities are raising the slightest objection to the Ruling or its implementation.
Both UNDP and the EU have recognized our sovereign right
to implement our migration and nationalization policies, expressing their hope
that any problems that may arise can be resolved with calmness, moderation and
dialogue. Even Haitian President Michel Martelly, addressing the issue for the
first time in public, recognized in Kingston on 14/11/2013 that it is one for
DR authorities to resolve.
In implementing Ruling TC/0168/13 expeditiously, not one
person needing regularization of his or her status will be deported. On the
contrary, those who lack documentation will be provided with temporary
immigration cards, thus initiating their path towards obtaining a legal
presence in the DR.
Other Caribbean countries may be pulling no punches. They
should remember, however, that several CARICOM Member States, most notably
Trinidad-Tobago, benefit from a growing trade surplus with the DR. Several,
including St. Vincent and the Grenadines, have received also major DR investments
in sectors such as beer, metallurgy and sugar. Our relationship is clearly a
positive one for CARICOM through increased exports, FDI inflows and job
creation, which are of crucial importance in these times of regional economic
CARICOM’s attitude betrays an insufficient assessment of
everything the DR has done and is doing for Haiti. A region which can not
implement its own treaty-level provisions on free circulation, which deports
Haitians upon arrival or which refuses treatment in their hospitals to other
CARICOM nationals, needs a deep introspective look in search for answers to its
own contradictions, instead of criticizing the DR, the only country generating
opportunities for all, specially for Haiti.
Amb. Federico Alberto
Cuello Camilo, Ph. D.
Embassy of the Dominican Republic to the United Kingdom.
139 Inverness Terrace, W2 6JF London
Read original at Dominican Today.