WRONG_WOEID WRONG_WOEID

The Dominican Republic Has Crossed the Line- Caribbean Governments Must Act

The Dominican Republic Has Crossed the LineSeemingly concerned about offending the principles of “non-interference in the internal affairs of States” and the “sovereignty” of States, the ten Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries that are members of the 53-nation Commonwealth have not spoken out in condemnation of the government of Sri Lanka which the UN Secretary-General’s Expert Panel said is guilty of war crimes, particularly the systematic killing of as many as 40,000 Tamil civilians including women and children in 2009. 

Similarly, these CARICOM States sent representatives to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in the Sri Lankan Capital from 15 to 17 November despite evidence of continuing violations of human rights including the “disappearance” of over 1,500 persons and sexual abuse of women and girls by the Sri Lankan army.  By saying nothing, CARICOM governments could be adjudged to be bolstering a regime in Sri Lanka that the UN Commissioner for Human Rights says “is showing signs of heading in an increasingly authoritarian direction”. 

This situation should not be repeated at home – inside the Caribbean.  The failure of the Bureau of the Heads of Government of CARICOM to meet as scheduled on 19 November to discuss a ruling by the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court that divested more than 210,000 native-born Dominicans of Haitian descent of their citizenship is deeply troubling.  Failure by CARICOM leaders to speak out and to indicate strong objections to the government of the Dominican Republic will result not only in the institutionalisation of a wrong, inhumane and racist programme against native-born Dominicans of Haitian descent, it will also encourage the expulsion of these people from the country of their birth. 

The government of the Dominican Republic will do little or nothing to end this abuse of human and civil rights unless there is robust regional and international action.   That is why CARICOM governments must act to show their strong objection. 

Arguments about “non-interference in the internal affairs of States” and “sovereignty of States” cannot hold with Caribbean government while such inhumane and racist policies are pursued within the Caribbean region.  Reginald Dumas, who served as Special Adviser to the UN Secretary General on Haiti in 2004, has already pointed out that sovereignty in this context is “a fig leaf behind which miscreants attempt unsuccessfully to hide: Vorster and Botha in apartheid South Africa, for instance, and, conspicuously in today’s world, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, busy following—by different means—in the footsteps of his late father, the murderous Hafez”. 


On the question of “non-interference in the internal affairs of States”, this issue is far too inter-twined with the history of the Caribbean’s peoples, with their dignity and identity and with their own human rights for any government not to be vigorous in response.  A government can take or allow a step too far in hiding behind “non-interference in internal affairs”.  That step has been taken in the Dominican Republic. 

Free from any blame for silence and lack of action, and meriting the greatest credit, is Dr Ralph Gonsalves, the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines.  He has been strident in proposing actions that should be taken to persuade the Dominican Republic government to stop this programme directed at divesting mostly black people of their rights.  Dr Gonalves has twice written the President of the Dominican Republic deeming the decision to be "morally repugnant" and in breach of the State’s international human rights obligations.  On November 12, he told the CARICOM Secretary-General:  “Thus far, CARICOM’s response has been tepid.  We ought to take a very robust stance and act accordingly”. And so CARICOM should.  

As a militarily feeble and economically weak organisation of 15 territories (including Haiti), CARICOM has only two strengths – the depth of the intellectual capacity of its people, and moral suasion that it should exercise by example.  In the international community, the States of CARICOM should be seen to stand-up for the values of human rights, the rule of law and democracy.  There should be no silence or encouragement when other States violate these rights or CARICOM countries individually and collectively will lose the respect and suasion that they have enjoyed in the past. 

Lest we forget, the people of Haiti are integral to the freedom of the peoples of the Caribbean.  No Caribbean person can rightly proclaim rights and dignity that are not directly traceable to the rising of Haitians to establish not only the first black republic of the modern world but also what has been described as “the first free nation of free men to arise within, and in resistance to, the emerging constellation of Western European Empire”.  

In this connection, it is not only the voices of the governments of CARICOM that should be raised loudly on this issue, but also the voices of the governments of Cuba, Brazil, Venezuela and – yes – of the United States of America.  And, CARICOM governments that share a geographical, historical, cultural and organisational space with Haiti should be in the forefront of the choir. 

That is why Prime Minister Gonsalves was right to call on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to re-consider providing oil benefits to the Dominican Republic under its Petro-Caribe scheme.  That is also why the Prime Minister is right in saying that the participation of the Dominican Republic in CARIFORUM – a structure for CARICOM countries and the Dominican Republic to deal with aid, trade and investment with the European Union (EU) – should be reviewed toward likely suspension. 

In the wider international context, the EU so often the champion of human rights as conditions of its development assistance, should already have spoken out on this issue.

Racist policies that deny human and civil rights to native-born Dominicans of Haitian descent should not be tolerated in the Dominican Republic any more than the denial of birth rights should be accepted in any State of an enlightened and progressive Caribbean where the productivity of every person counts.   

The government of the Dominican Republic should be made to understand that an economic and trade relationship with the rest of the region cannot be devoid of respect for racial and ethnic groups – all of whom make-up our one Caribbean.

Sir Ronald Sanders is a Consultant, Senior Research Fellow at London University and former Caribbean diplomat.

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14 Comments In This Article   

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CARICOM DECISION

#14 RAWLSTON POMPEY » 2013-11-26 18:19

Just heard the voices of Trinidad and Tobago and St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Ministers, " ...Kamla Persaud-Bissessar and Dr. Ralph Gonsalves" speaking to the very offensive issue.

The grouping was said to have taken the expected decision to " ...Suspend consideration of the Dominican Republic request for membership in CARICOM."

The community is also contemplating tabling a " ...Resolution in the United Nations for condemnation of the Decision of the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court."

Seemed they had listened to Sir Ron and the commenters who had expressed dismay over the " ...uncivil and objectionable Court ruling."

Hope those who appeared to have " ...lacked civility and commonsense" and chose to " ...Degrade," would give credit and high grades to Sir Ron."
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RAWLSTON POMPEY

CANNOT BE TOLERATED

#13 universalsoul » 2013-11-26 14:05

I have heard of this problem for years permeating in the DR/Haiti (Hispanola) and now it has reach a boiling point and is out front and center. First and foremost as mentioned by other commentors, the island of Haiti was the first island in the Caribbean to put a resistance against the European marauders and beat them at their own game and so they should be highly regarded despite their many and insurrmountable problem facing that nation. This act by the DR court is no different from Ian Smith's and his band of thieves in Rhodesia back in the 60's and should not be tolerated by any and all Caribbean countries and the world at large. As a New Yorker who lives amongst these Dominicians and seeing how they think that they're God's gift to humanity and their arrogance am not surprise by their gov't treating the Haitians in this way. I await President Obama voicing his displeasure on this matter and warning the DR government that this policy will have adverse effect on US/DR relations going forward and let's see how long they will wait before changing their racist policy towards Haitians.
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universalsoul

@ King Court

#12 Dessalines » 2013-11-25 15:55

Couldn't have said it better. Haiti needs to take the rest of Caricom to the CCJ also for travelling rights.
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Dessalines

What goes around, comes around

#11 Lanky Louie » 2013-11-25 12:42

I applaud Prime Minister Gonsalves for taking such a firm stand regarding the Dominican Republic's blatant racism towards Haitian immigrants and their descendants. (Dominicans' racism toward Haitians has a sordid history. If you don't believe me, do a search on "Parsley Massacre"). It would be nice to see more CARICOM leaders voicing their support for human rights in the Caribbean, as well as other parts of the world.

If the Dominican Republic follows through on its court's decision, I think it is only fair for Antigua to reexamine the residency status of the Dominicans who immigrated to its shores. If Dominicans cannot provide proper documentation showing that at least one of their forebears was Antiguan dating back to 1929, send them on a one way trip back to their homeland. As the saying goes, "what's good for the goose is good for the gander!"
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Lanky Louie

@ Patriot Mind

#10 Dessalines » 2013-11-25 10:20

Antiguans and Barbudans are Caricom citizens also and we do not have the RIGHT to vote in our own elections. What we have is a privilege of being a member of the Commonwealth of Nations wherein our membership in this group of nations permits us to vote. If per chance we are suspended or expelled from the Commonwealth grouping (i.e like Zimbabwe) for any reason then Antiguans or Barbudans would be disenfranchised. However all the other Caricom nationals living in Antigua for more than 7 years with the exception of Haitians and Surinamese nationals would be allowed to vote.
PM Spencer has enough moral authority to speak up against this injustice but I'm not convinced that disenfranchisement of Caricom nationals is the reason he does not do so.
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Dessalines

THE RED DEGRADERS- SSS

#9 RAWLSTON POMPEY » 2013-11-24 19:05

Can't help, but to make these observations.
There are " ...eight commenters" on this vexing issue.

Similarly, there are " ...eight Red Degraders-Voting poor."
Not sure what they are degrading and/or voting.

But most certainly, hiding behind a number makes each "...Red Degrader" appear as "...Silly, Saddening and Sickening" as the authorities in the Dominican Republic.

Let the rest of us know how you think about the issue at hand. After all "...All ideas contend."
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RAWLSTON POMPEY

The issue is beyond talking!

#8 King Court » 2013-11-24 16:52

The Dominican Republic regime is an Apartheid government, and should be blacklisted by CARICOM. The Haitian people liberated all of us, yet they are struggling for their dignity and human rights.

Additionally, CARICOMs obligation to Haiti does not end there, CARICOM needs to give the people of Haiti free access to all CARICOM countries. Do away with the visa requirements, since it's a hindrance to free movement.

Where was Ralph Gonsalves political will in dealing with the visa requirement. Also, the disgraced double "Sir" is shouting from the mountain top, but where was his voice when CARICOM restricted the free movement of Haitians?

All CARICOM countries should stop buying goods from the Dominican Republic, and ban them outright from CARICOM.
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King Court

RE: The Dominican Republic Has Crossed the Line- Caribbean Governments Must Act

#7 CIROC » 2013-11-24 15:21

At least the Dominican Republic made a decision and are standing by it. Antigua and Barbuda and some of the same Caribbean countries sign on to treaties and do not abide by them.It took the CCJ to remind you about what you did sign on to.You signed the revised treaty of Chaguaramas and did not understand what you signed.Barbados learned the hard way.I have read some comments about racism in the matter between the DR and Haiti.However when persons travelling between the islands are sent back from whence they came without reasons.You the same hypocrites said absolutely nothing.Trinidad and Tobago send 20 Jamaicans back on a flight without proper reasoning.You the so called scholars said absolutely nothing.That is one of reasons why the islands are so screwed up.
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CIROC

@guess who

#6 Justice » 2013-11-24 10:03

I did called upon Cuba, Venezuela, Antigua&Barbuda because they are in this region and are parts of the mighty accepted ALBA and CARICOM but neglected to shame the US, Canada and Europe. They too have a history of brutalizing (American Indians, Africans and dark skin people) all around the world so @Patriot Mind the US, Canada and Europe also lacked the moral authority to speak up on this issue.
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Justice

ROGUISH BEHAVIOR

#5 RAWLSTON POMPEY » 2013-11-24 09:47

Sir Ron,
A real passionate plea for the CARICOM leadership to move into action. Likened to " ..Ethnic Cleansing."

The apparent " ...Roguish Behavior" by the leadership of the Dominican Republic has gone beyond " ...respect for the principles of Sovereignty and non-meddling in Domestic affairs."

This is particularly so, when such depraved act has " ...outraged human conscience and sensitivity and contrary to international norm."

Sir Ron, given the "...UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS" [1948], that states " ...Everyone has the RIGHT TO A NATIONALITY" [Article 15], do you envisage the leadership of " ...CARICOM/OECS," boldly tabling a "...RESOLUTION" in the United Nation for sanctions against a member that has violated its protocols. Seems a tall order.

Besides Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, most lacked the " ...political will and intestinal fortitude."

Clearly, political rhetoric or posturing just won't change mind-set.
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RAWLSTON POMPEY

justice

#4 guess who » 2013-11-24 09:27

The DR's constitution does not give citizenship automatically on birth. The same is true of the Haitian constitution. Some (yes right wing nuts) have even argued that US law does not give birthright citizens. The 14th amendment was a measure for the children of formerly enslaved Afro Americans (see www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_events_14th.html).The problem in the DR really is what will the DR(mostly lawmakers) do to ensure order in a mess its immigration officials have to take the blame for? A solution which does not involve citizenship is unjust.
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guess who

Speak out Prime Minister

#3 Patriot Mind » 2013-11-24 09:22

When will our silent Prime Minister speak out against the injustice presently taking place in the Dominican republic against persons of Haitian/CARICOM descent? Is it that he is afraid to say anything because the Dominican republic government could claim that the UPP has nor moral authority to speak, given its constitutional abuses ahead of the coming elections and open victimization against its citizens? Can you really speak out Prime Minister when you are attempting to disenfranchise hundreds of CARICOM citizens, because you believe they wont vote for you! Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, are you able to speak about democracy & respect for human rights should be practiced in other countries and keep a straight face,when you know of the abuses being committed by your own government? can you really speak Prime Minister?
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Patriot Mind

Shameful

#2 wadad » 2013-11-24 09:22

Poor Haiti, this is what they get been the first freed slaves.
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wadad

The DR court decision applies to those born after 1929

#1 Justice » 2013-11-24 07:43

The governments of Cuba, Venezuela, Antigua&Barbuda parts of the ALBA Alliance and CARICOM are too comfortable with their sweet freebies/deals from Petrocaribe and ALBA to do anything. The DR court decision applies to those born after 1929 which includes all descendants of Haitians brought in to DR to work on farms. It appears to affect even their grandchildren. Read this sad/shameful ruling from the Dominican Republic.
www.vancouversun.com/business/Dominican+court+ruling+strips+citizenship+from+thousands/8963825/story.html
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Justice

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Sir Ronald Sanders

Sir Ronald Sanders is a business executive and former Caribbean diplomat who publishes widely on Small States in the global community.

 

 

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