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Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
Updated: 2 hours 9 min ago
Questions by IJDH to artist Renold Laurent; Translation from French to English – Charlot Lucien, Haitian Artists Assembly of MA; Contribution Oreste Joseph
Note : Painting given by Renold Laurent « Woman Selling Colors »)
Quand as-tu commencé à peindre?
J’ai commencé à dessiner et à peindre très tôt, soit en 1988, sous la direction de mon père Maccène, qui est un peintre naïf. Je suis né le 15 juillet 1978 à Jacmel, dans une famille de peintres à Lafond, l’un des rares villages de peintres du pays.
I started drawing and painting at a very early age in 1988, under the direction of my father Maccène Laurent, a naive painter. I was born July 15, 1978 in Jacmel, in a family of painters in Lafond, one of the few villages of painters in Haiti.
Parle-moi un peu de ta vie en Haïti?
Très tôt, j’ai pris conscience de cette passion qui sommeillait en moi, à partir de 1988. J’ai très vite ressenti le besoin de mieux faire valoir mon talent. Je me mets à étudier les formes, les volumes et les couleurs. Ainsi j’ai abandonné la peinture naïve de mes débuts, en 1999, pour m’orienter vers un art plus réaliste, avant que je me sois versé dans l’abstraction.
Je mène depuis tantôt douze ans une vie à la fois simple et compliquée. Je me lève très tôt et je dors fort tard. La journée, je le consacre à la peinture, tandis que j’écris et lis le soir. Je parcours toutes les régions du pays pour rencontrer des jeunes afin de partager avec eux mon savoir-faire. Il n’y a pas d’école d’art dans les provinces. L’accès à l’éducation artistique y est donc exceptionnel. L’éducation artistique devient de plus en plus un appel chez moi.
La vie en Haïti se dégrade de plus en plus et il va de même pour moi comme pour tous les artistes qui choisissent de rester… Ce que je ressens autant que ce je vois s’imprime dans mon œuvre. Je suis témoin de la souffrance de mon peuple. J’ai vécu de moment noir dans ma vie et je les reproduis avec humilité. Cette humilité, je la traduis par la blancheur de mes surfaces…
Early on, around 1988, I became aware of this passion for painting that lay dormant in me. I quickly felt the need to better promote my talent. I began to study shapes, volumes, and colors. In 1999 I gave up the naive painting style of my early days, to move toward a a more realistic style, before transitioning toward the abstract style.
I have been living for twelve years both a simple and complicated life. I get up very early and I sleep very late . I devoted the day to painting, and I write and read in the evening. I travel all over the country to meet with youth and share with them my knowledge. There are no art schools in the countryside. Access to arts education is rather the exception. Arts education is becoming more and more a calling of mine.
Life in Haiti is deteriorating more and more, and it is true for me as for all artists who choose to stay … What I feel as well as what I see can be viewed in my artwork. I bear witness of the suffering of my people. I experienced dark moments in my life, and I reproduce them with a sense of humility. I express this humility through the white tones you see on my canvas…
Peux-tu me PARLER DE LA PEINTURE que tu avais donné?
Cette toile fait partir d’une série que j’ai réalisée entre 1999 et 2001. C’était une période où j’ai beaucoup mis accent sur des scènes de vie quotidienne. Mes toiles évoquent très souvent, un événement, une histoire, un personnage ou un lieu. Je travaille d’après l’impression que me laisse le réel.
This painting is from a series that I completed between 1999 and 2001. Back then I really emphatised everyday life scenes. My paintings often evoke an event, a story, a character or a location. My work is the expression of how reality impacts me.
Qui est cette femme dans la peinture?
On a souvent besoin de références. Cette femme anonyme symbolise la combativité, le travail… La femme est le moteur de notre société.
We often need references. This anonymous woman symbolizes the spirit of combativity, passion for work … Women are our society’s engine.
Quel est ton artiste préféré et comment t a-t-il inspire?
Pour moi, les recherches théoriques sont aussi importantes que les recherches techniques. Je me suis consacré à l’étude de certains grands maitres comme Michel-Ange, Delacroix, Manet, Monet, Kandinsky, Léger ou Klee et des théoriciens de l’art comme Breton ou Malraux. Connaître les nuances entre différents protagonistes de la peinture mondiale et nationale a été toujours le besoin essentiel de mes recherches.
Aujourd’hui je ne peux pas parler de préférence. Je respecte mon travail et celui des autres. Je consens des sacrifices, et chaque jour apporte son lot de préoccupations. Depuis que je me suis inscrit à l’école de ce peuple qui me transmet de valeur simple et essentielle, l’esprit de tolérance, l’amour pour mes semblables et un attachement profond pour la culture haïtienne. Mon inspiration me vient de mon amour pour la vie et de ma passion pour la culture.
For me, the theoretical research is as important as the technical research. I devoted myself to the study of some great masters such as Michelangelo, Delacroix, Manet, Monet, Kandinsky, Leger or Klee and art theorists such as Breton or Malraux. Understanding the nuances among art luminaries on the global and national stage has always been a priority for my research.
I can not speak of preferences. I respect my work as well as the work of other artists. I make the necessary sacrifices, and every day brings its concerns. I have enrolled at the school of the people and I am learning simple and essential values, the spirit of tolerance, the love for my fellow compatriots and a deep commitment to the Haitian culture. My inspiration comes from my love for life and my passion for culture.
Tu écris de la poésie, c’est ca? Comment les sujets poétiques sont différents des thèmes artistiques?
Oui ! Depuis une dizaine d’année. Comme ma peinture, ma poésie représente ma pensée…Je puise mes vers dans la nature, dans les conversations quotidiennes et dans moi-même, entouré d’extraordinaire… Mon inspiration découle de tout ce que j’ai vu, entendu et lu, combinés aux faits d’actualités divers. Une recherche d’harmonie qui enfin, manifeste, s’enracine et vie dans mon esprit créatif. Ma peinture précède mes écrits…
Yes! I have been doing so for a decade. Like my painting, my poetry translates my thoughts … I draw poetry from nature, in everyday conversations, and my inner self… immersed in an amazing surrounding … My inspiration stems from what I’ve seen, heard and read, combined with various news events. A search for harmony that finally manifests, finds root and lives in my creative mind. My painting usually precedes my poetry…
Quel rôle joue l’art dans la société haïtienne?
C’est la principale thérapie… Mon peuple est de nature pacifique, et l’art y est pour quelque chose. On peut facilement faire ce constat. C’est visible dans tous les quartiers, les bidonvilles… Ils sont tous colorés : graffitis, affiches et décoration, puis, la musique, quotidiennement au rendez-vous. Qu’elles soient très variés ou peu variés en couleurs, ses murales, porteurs de promesse et d’obsession, dénotent toujours une force d’imagination extraordinaire. L’art peut contribuer grandement dans le processus de résolution de crise.
This is the main therapy … My people are peaceful in nature, and art partly explains it, this is easy to observe in all our neighborhoods in the slums … They are all colorful with graffiti, posters and decorations, and then you have music available every day. Whether they are very or moderately painted or rich with colors, the murals bearers of plenty of promises or obsessions, always denote an extraordinary imagination. Art can contribute greatly in the process of resolving the crisis in Haiti.
As-tu vu un changement dans les styles artistique depuis le séisme?
Il n’y a pas de changement. La production artistique s’est diminuée depuis. La grande difficulté de l’artiste est de ne pas pouvoir vivre de son art. La vie continue comme avant.
There is no change. Artistic production has been decreasing since. The great challenge of the artist is not being able to make a living of his art. Life just continues as before.
Pourquoi tu as choisi d’aider l’Institut pour Justice et Démocratie en Haïti?
Je collabore à plusieurs activités socio-culturelle tant an Haïti qu’à l’extérieur. Si mon œuvre doit servir à une cause, je serai fier de savoir, vu mon engagement, que cette toile se voue à permettre à plus grand nombre d’avoir accès à la justice et comprendre ce qu’est la démocratie.
I contribute to several socio-cultural activities in Haiti as well as outside of Haiti. If my work must contribute to a cause, I will be proud to know, given my commitment, that this painting will help more of my compatriots access justice and understand the functioning of democracy.
Colette Bresilla’s mother was a seamstress, and as a young girl, Colette stole sewing scraps from her mother’s work and hid away to create appliqués. This activity began her life-long affair with art. She moved to the United States many years ago as a young child.
She has kindly donated two still-life pieces to the IJDH auction. All proceeds from the sale of these paintings will go to IJDH. Still-life is a style of work she has always admired. She says, that “still-life, for me, is kind of like a therapy.” Most of her work focuses on feminine imagery and stereotypes. She likes her work to add voices for those who do not have voice.
Since Haiti’s January 12, 2010 earthquake, the Obama administration has been urged to expedite entry of at least some of the 106,000 DHS-approved Haitian beneficiaries of immigrant visa petitions on wait lists of up to more than twelve (12) years in Haiti, where conditions remain dire. Sixteen editorials by ten of the nation’s major editorial boards, 100 members of Congress from both parties and chambers; the ABA, NAACP, U.S. Conference of Mayors, and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick; the New York and Philadelphia city councils and over 6,000 petitioners are among the major supporters for the President to act–as he can by a simple instruction to DHS to bring some of these people in now, and as his representatives promised Haitian American community leaders he would do during his 2012 re-election campaign. It hasn’t happened.
Will the President, as the four year quake anniversary nears, keep this promise to reunite Haitian American families with DHS-approved loves ones, save lives, and thereby both add work permit application fees to the U.S. Treasury and most importantly help Haiti recover by creating a new source of remittances into the indefinite future? Or will the disparate treatment continue?A sudden surge in Cuban migrants
Alfonso Chardy and Juan O. Tamayo, Miami Herald
December 9, 2013
It was mid-July, and a public health clinic in Miami was facing such a sharp spike in new Cuban migrants walking in for their required health screenings that it had to expand its hours of operations in a hurry.
The number of Cubans going to the Florida State Department of Health clinic had surged by 20 percent that June, compared to the three-year average for the month, and experts around South Florida were seeing similar spikes in arrivals.
By the end of August the clinic had returned to its regular hours and Keyler Rodriguez, 27, a hospital worker from Santa Clara who arrived in Miami one month ago, got her health screening last week without any delays.
“I think all Cubans want to leave,” joked Rodriguez, who flew from Cuba to Ecuador one month ago and joined the clandestine stream that takes undocumented Cubans by land through Central America to the U.S. border with Mexico.
Cuban migrant arrivals in South Florida have now subsided. But at least 44,000 arrived in the United States in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 (FY13) — the highest total since 1994 and 10 percent higher than the estimated 40,000 arrivals in FY12.
Fueling the spike was a brew of factors: Hikes in U.S. visas issued to Cubans; rumors that U.S. benefits for Cuban migrants might be cut; Spain’s economic crisis; Cuba’s easing of its migration rules on Jan. 14; and a crackdown on Cubans living in Ecuador.
The U.S. diplomatic mission in Havana issued 24,727 immigrant visas in FY13, a slight drop compared to 26,720 in FY12, according to U.S. government figures obtained by El Nuevo Herald. Washington promised to issue at least 20,000 migrant visas to Cubans per year after the 1994 “Rafter Crisis,” which saw 35,000 migrants take to homemade boats, to discourage such risky voyages.
But the number of tourist visas issued in the same periods more than doubled, from 14,362 to 29,927, the figures showed. U.S. officials say that on average, 20 percent of tourist visa recipients remained in the United States in recent years, indicating that about 6,000 of the 29,927 visitors will become migrants.
The increase in tourist visas, sought mostly by elderly Cubans who want to visit U.S. relatives, came as consular staffers cleared away a huge backlog of old applications and processed an increased number of requests after the Jan. 14 reforms.
The second largest group of Cuban migrants came over the border with Mexico, without U.S. visas but under “dry-foot, wet-foot,” the policy that allows Cubans who set foot on U.S. land to stay but returns most of those intercepted at sea.
Mexico border arrivals totaled 13,122 in the 11 months that ended Aug. 31, according to the latest available Customs and Border Protection figures. That was the highest total since FY05 and a 27 percent hike over the 10,315 reported for all of FY12.
Among the border arrivals were many who started out from Ecuador, where friendly immigration rules allowed more than 40,000 Cubans to settle there by 2010, but recent sweeps against undocumented migrants persuaded some to head north.
“Things turned bad in Ecuador,” said Yuraldi Medina, 41, who lived in the South American nation for four years before he left earlier this year, traveling by land to Mexico without proper travel permits and crossing the border four months ago.
NO PLACE TO WORK
Another group of Cuban migrants, whose size is unknown but is widely believed to be growing, has been arriving from Spain, where a deep economic crisis and a 26-percent unemployment rate have been driving out some of the 125,000 Cubans who live there.
“There’s no work for anyone over there,” said Havana native Varinia Colunga, 40, who lived in Spain for 23 years. Using her Spanish passport, she flew to Miami as a tourist in July and will receive residency after one year under the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA).
An estimated 100,000 Cubans obtained Spanish citizenship in recent years under a Madrid law to benefit the descendants of Spanish migrants. Although many remain living in Cuba, all can enter the United States as tourists and obtain residency under the CAA.
Havana hairdresser Lazaro Aguilar, 40, said he migrated to Spain three years ago and later decided to move to South Florida. Lacking a Spanish passport, he used a European Union travel document to fly to Mexico City, then went by land to the U.S. border.
One category of migrants that shrank involved Cubans who arrived by sea, from 423 in FY12 to 359 in FY13 — perhaps because of tight U.S. Coast Guard patrols or because it’s easier to leave the island legally after the Jan. 14 migration reforms.
Havana officials reported 226,877 Cubans made personal trips abroad in the first 10 months of this year, a sharp increase from 167,688 in the same period in 2012. The average from 2000 to 2011 was 82,000 per year, a stunningly low figure for a nation of 11 million people.
The numbers show why the migration reforms have become the most popular changes enacted by Cuba ruler Raúl Castro since he officially succeeded ailing brother Fidel Castro in 2008.
He removed the hated government exit permit known as the white card; ended the confiscation of properties of those who emigrate; and expanded from 11 to 24 months the time that Cubans can remain abroad without losing benefits such as free healthcare. That means they can live in the United States for one year, obtain U.S. residency under the CAA and return to the island in time to preserve their Cuban residence.
PROMPTED BY TALK
Experts on Cuban migration said part of the FY13 spike was triggered by the talk in Miami and Washington in late 2012 and early 2013 about the possibility of tightening the CAA. Then-U.S. Rep. David Rivera, R-Fl., at one point proposed denying or delaying U.S. residency to any Cuban who returned to the island for visits.
“Our numbers started going up … August-September” of 2012, said Hiram Ruiz, head of the Florida Department of Children and Families’ refugee program, which manages services for Cuban migrants. “They continued to go up — January, February March … we’re like wow! Our numbers this year are going to be astronomical.”
But then the numbers began to fall, and by the end of FY13 his agency had assisted 26,850 Cuban arrivals, only about 1,015 more than in the previous fiscal year, Ruiz said. His numbers cover only those Cubans who come to Florida to receive benefits.
But some of the arrivals have been settling in cities with better job opportunities and lower costs of living than Miami, such as Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Peter Stranges of Catholic Charities in Houston, one of several agencies that assist Cuban migrants in that part of Texas, said his agency alone assisted 600 Cubans in the one-year period ending in May 2013, compared to 150 in the previous period.
In a back-of-the-envelope calculation, Teo Babun, executive director of EchoCuba, which helps independent churches in Cuba, estimated that each migrant arriving in South Florida costs taxpayers $19,000 for housing, health insurance and other services.
However, Randolph P. McGrorty, of Catholic Charities Legal Services of Miami, said that South Florida over the years has built an efficient intake system capable of handling large numbers of Cuban migrants. “I don’t see signs of any strain,” he said.
Click HERE for original.
This is a brief update on cholera, noting that it has spread from Haiti to DR, Cuba, and Mexico and giving the current Haitian statistics as reported by the World Health Organization.Haiti’s U.N.-Imported Cholera Has Infected Thousands of People in at Least Four Countries
Joshua Keating, Slate
December 9, 2013
The South Asian strain of cholera most likely introduced to Haiti by U.N. peacekeepers in 2010 has infected more than 700,000 people and spread to three other countries. An epidemiological update issued by the Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization last week reported that in Haiti alone, there have been 692,098 infections with 8,470 deaths. More than 30,000 people were infected by the disease in the neighboring Dominican Republic. Cuba, which hadn’t seen a cholera outbreak in more than century, has reported nearly 700 cases.
The latest country impacted is Mexico, which began noticing cholera cases in September. There have been a total of 184 cases since then, with one death. The last time Latin America faced a major cholera outbreak was 22 years ago, when more than 10,000 people were killed. The good news for Mexico is that sanitation conditions have vastly improved since then, and the most recent update actually notes a decreases in the number of infected. Haiti has not been so lucky, with an increase in infections noticed over the last four weeks, coinciding with the country’s rainy season. According to NPR, there are also concerns among health workers that Cuba is underreporting the extent of its epidemic. Returning vacationers have also spread the disease from to Chile, Venezuela, Italy, Germany, and Holland, though none of these have turned into outbreaks.
What is clear is that the disease has constituted a humanitarian catastrophe for Haiti as well as a significant cause for concern throughout the region. The outbreak is believed to have began when Nepalese peacekeeping troops contaminated a river next to their base through a faulty filtration system. The U.N. has not yet fully acknowledged responsibility for the outbreak, though a panel of independent investigators the body convened found “irrefutable molecular evidence” that the cholera came from Nepal.
Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. Follow him on Twitter.
Click HERE for the original article.
Charlot Lucien is a Haitian storyteller, poet and visual artist. He has released Ti Oma, Ti Cyprien, Grann Dede and San Bri, San Kont – four storytelling CDs recorded in Haitian Creole and French following the tradition of great Haitian storytellers such as Maurice Sixto. Lucien’s poetry has been released in various publications. His most recent book of poetry, La tentation de l’autre rive was released this month by Trilingual Press. Outside of his literature, Charlot is also a painter, illustrator, and caricaturist. His work draws heavily from Haitian history and politics. His visual art has been used to illustrate various books, calendars and newspapers in Haiti and the U.S. Charlot Lucien has traveled across New England, Canada, Haiti, Guadeloupe and France to share his storytelling and discuss various aspects of Haiti’s rich and complex cultural, historical and social landscape. His creative work and cultural activism have been featured in several newspapers such as The Haitian Times, LeNouvelliste, and the Boston Haitian Reporter. Charlot is the recipient of several awards from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts including from the Massachusetts Legislature for his contributions to the cultural landscape of Massachusetts and from the City of Boston for his involvement in the planning of services for people living with HIV/AIDS. He is also the founder and director of the Haitian Artists Assembly of Massachusetts, an artist network focused on fostering creativity, learning opportunities, skills building and fellowship among its members. Lucien currently resides in Norwood, Massachusetts.
Mathieu Jeanbaptiste is a well-known artist living in Carrefour Feuilles, Haiti. Jeanbaptiste is a member of an
art collective associated with APROSIFA, an organization that works to improve the health and well-being of people in the communities of Carrefour-Feuilles and Martissant, which includes supporting the artistic endeavors of local artists. “We are united for the artist (dedicated) to giving one another color!” Remarks Jeanbaptiste. Jeanbaptiste hopes to one day attend university. For now, he often finds inspiration from the works of Leonardo Da Vinci. He says that he loves the tones in his work. Remnants of Da Vinci’s influence is seen in his painting up for auction. This moving self-portrait is a dark portrayal of the devastation the people of Haiti have suffered since the outbreak of Cholera. Jeanbaptiste notes, “I want to explain the misery of the Haitian people.” In his comments about the changes that occurred in his work after the earthquake, “After the earthquake, I was really traumatized. I was really violent in my work, because the way I do to survive was really bad. I was victim in spirit!”
After a week in the Dominican Republic, the IACHR reported that their September 23 court ruling that affects immigrants and their ancestors is discriminatory and violates Dominicans’ rights. The President of the Dominican House of Deputies said DR still will never renounce the decision.Haiti – Denationalisation : Preliminary Conclusions of the IACHR
December 8, 2013
Friday, after several days of investigation and review of 3,994 complaints, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) concluded in its preliminary report that 168-13 judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal (TC) Dominican, which leads to an arbitrary deprivation of nationality of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent is discriminatory and violates the rights of Dominicans.
IACHR recommend to the Dominican authorities to guarantee the right to the nationality of people who already had this right under the existing national regime between 1929 and 2010. The IACHR also recalled that persons considered by this Decision of the court “are not migrants but have deep roots in the Dominican Republic where they were born.”
Colette Lespinasse, Coordinator General of the Executive Committee of the Support Group Repatriated and Refugees (GARR) welcomed the preliminary findings of the IACHR, while recognizing that this resolution was not binding but was a moral pressure to force the Dominican authorities to reconsider their decision “It is necessary that the Dominican Republic understands that it can not, on the basis of sovereignty, treating citizens with so many contempt, and continue to build a society with two classes of citizens, true and false Dominicans.”
Recall that last week, the Dominican President Danilo Medina announced a national plan for the regularization of foreigners in irregular situation in the Dominican Republic [a period of 18 months is provided for people to put themselves in compliance with the immigration laws.]
Reacting to the findings of the IACHR, the Deputy Abel Martinez, President of the Dominican House of Deputies recalled that the IACHR gives advice and recommendations, but does not have the force of law and that his country will never renounce to its immigration policy.
See also :
Click HERE for original.
Thursday, Joseph Feaster’s Community Forum featured Marie St. Fleur, Brian Concannon, and Bishop Nicolas Homicil discussing Haiti’s history, cholera brought by the UN, and Haiti-Dominican Republic issues like the recent DR high court ruling. They end with a discussion of possible solutions to these problems.
St. Fleur is a former Massachusetts State Rep and the first Haitian-American to hold public office in Massachusetts. She’s now CEO of Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children. Brian Concannon is the Director of IJDH. Bishop Homicil heads Voice of the Gospel Tabernacle in Mattapan, a neighborhood of Boston, MA.
This article details the situation between Haiti and the Dominican Republic before and after the infamous Dominican high court ruling and the implications for future Haiti-DR relations.Dominican-Haitian Tensions: Wag the Dog or Prelude to Genocide?
Dady Chery, News Junkie Post
December 2, 2013
A decision that strips citizenship from over 200,000 Black Dominicans was passed by the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court on September 23, 2013. This highly flawed ruling designates at least four generations of DR-born individuals who descended from migrant Haitian laborers between 1929 and 2007, as being the offsprings of transients and therefore unqualified for citizenship. A careful account of the size and location of an ethnic group, followed by racist laws that announce a state’s persecution of this group, are a well-tested formula for genocide, especially in countries where a humanitarian emergency might distract the populations from their chronic misery and facilitate a pillage of gold and other minerals.
Where there is death for Haitians, there is the United Nations
This court decision comes on the heels of the first national survey of immigrants in the Dominican Republic (ENI02012): a UN-backed census. The survey was initiated in January 2012, ostensibly to “provide more accurate data on the number of refugees… and… record basic information such as age, gender, nationality, place of current residence, and family details.” The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, as well as Dominican officials promised that the data would help to expedite the applications of asylum seekers. Immigrants naively complied with the census, which registered, with mobile phones, their photos and exact locations by global positioning system (GPS).
The data looked innocuous enough when they appeared in May 2013. Indeed, Dominican newspapers granted that the numbers of Haitians in the DR were vastly lower than perceived. In fact, the census announced that Haitians numbered 458,233 and represented 87.3 percent of the DR’s immigrant population. It further reported the existence of 209,912 Black Dominicans of Haitian ancestry. Given that these individuals were full Dominican citizens and not asylum seekers, why did the survey treat them as a group distinct from Dominicans?
Suppose, for example, the United States, with backing from the UN, decided to take a census of its immigrants, and these data included, not only people who had migrated to the country from Mexico, but also their US-born American children and grandchildren. Suppose further, that the photographs and exact coordinates of all these individuals had been collected for a US government database. Would this not be illegal as well as disconcerting?
The UN could hardly pretend to be innocent of the xenophobic context in which its census was conducted. Until 2004, anyone born in the DR was legally recognized as a citizen, except for those whose parents were “in transit”: then defined as being diplomatic personnel or people traveling through the country for fewer than 10 days. In 2004, however, a change of the Constitution reinterpreted “in transit” to include migrant workers and those who had illegally entered the country. To make matters worse for the children of laborers, the Constitutional Court further ruled, in 2010, that citizenship should require the legal residency of one parent.
The case of Juliana Deguis Pierre
None of these changes in the laws should have concerned Juliana Deguis Pierre, whose birth on Dominican soil on April 1, 1984, preceded them by more than 20 years. And so, when Ms. Deguis Pierre, who had conducted herself as a DR citizen all her life, was denied a national identification and voter card (cédula), she was outraged. She had gone to the Central Electoral Board (Junta Central Electoral, JCE) with a copy of her birth certificate, to apply for her ID in 2007, and instead of being granted the card, the JCE confiscated her birth certificate and said she would not get her documents because the surname Pierre sounds “suspicious.” Unaware that she would ultimately spring a trap that had been laid by her increasingly xenophobic government together with the UN, Ms. Seguin Pierre took the JCE to court.
After several appeals, the case reached the Dominican Constitutional Court, which ruled (Ruling TC/0168.13) on September 23, 2013 that she was not entitled to Dominican citizenship because her birth had been “irregularly registered” by parents who are aliens “in transit.” The court further ruled that, within 90 days, all other individuals in a similar situation should be scrubbed from the voter rolls and listed as irregulars so that they might become part of a “normalization plan” by the National Migration Council. According to the court, the decision will apply to people born as long ago as 1929. If this ruling is allowed to stand, it will render stateless most of the 210,000 or so Black Dominicans who had been identified by the UN as being of Haitian ancestry.
Both judges who dissented from the 11 to 2 decision have pointed out the unconstitutionality of this retroactive law as well as the absurdity of applying a label of transient to individuals who have lived in the country for as long as 84 years. Constitutional scholars have also highlighted numerous flaws in the judgment, especially the disparity between the DR laws and supranational standards, such as those of the American Convention on Human Rights, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR).
Repercussions of the court ruling
Within hours of the court decision, ultra-nationalists in the DR began to hunt for Haitians. The most serious incidents occurred in the town of Neyba, after the murder-robbery of an elderly Dominican couple by an individual presumed to be Haitian. Ultra-nationalist mobs attacked everyone whom they perceived to be Haitian: migrants and Dominicans alike. At least four men were confirmed dead, although some witnesses say that they also saw the bodies of women and children, and others report that they had been forced to dig mass graves. During the weekend of November 23-24, 2013 alone, over 350 people, including women and infants as young as three-days old, were repatriated to Haiti, either forcibly, or from fear of reprisals. Among them were Black Dominicans who tried to prove their citizenship by producing their birth certificates and ID cards, only to see them destroyed by the authorities. Most were divested of their cash and removed from the country without being given a chance to collect their belongings, which were appropriated by Dominican authorities in what also constitutes a massive economic crime.
The story of the Constitutional Court decision and subsequent reprisals was immediately seized upon by the mainstream US press, which recalled a case of genocide against Haitians in the DR in 1937 (but failed to mention that it had been personally ordered by the fascist US client dictator Rafael Trujillo), portrayed Dominicans as being generally racist, and emphasized the supposed history of tension between Haiti and the DR. In fact, dissident Haitians and Dominicans have a history of collaboration against tyranny that goes back to the liberation of the eastern part of the island from the Spanish by Toussaint Louverture in the early 19th century. During the 1915-1934 US occupation of both sides of the island, Haitian and Dominican peasants joined together under Charlemagne Peralte’s leadership for an armed uprising against the US marines. As recently as the 1960s, Haitian rebels trained on the eastern side of the island for an invasion (ultimately unsuccessful) against Francois Duvalier’s regime.
Today, with the pressures of global warming and the discovery that a mountain range full of gold, silver and copper straddles the two countries, the US and Canada fear more than ever the possibility that Haitians and Dominicans might once again join forces to protect their interests. A series of measures by the US, including a planned electrical grid for the entire island that will be the controlled from the DR and the wholesale flooding of the Haitian market by inferior agricultural goods, taxed and sold through the DR, have created considerable tension between the two countries. In 2006 a group of “US experts” recommended that the border should be militarized, and currently a US company called the Specialized Border Security Corps (CESFRONT) monitors the Haiti-DR border, which had always been friendly, with an extensive communication network and over 900 armed men.
Ironically, the Constitutional Court ruling might achieve what the shared problems of poverty, government corruption, resource theft, water pollution by mining and textile companies, and loss of landmass to climate change, have not managed to do. Haitian and Dominican artists, intellectuals, and religious leaders have joined each other in publicly expressing their outrage. Dominicans of the diaspora as well as Haitians have marched in protest of the ruling, shouting “Sa paka pase!” “Eso no se hace!” (This shall not pass!) Haitian activists have called for a boycott of all DR tourism, textiles, rhum, cigars, poultry, meats, cassava, etc., until the ruling is repealed. The Caribbean and Central-American communities have expressed loudly and clearly that the DR will be made a pariah if it adopts racist policies in an area of the world that is predominantly Black and still bears slavery’s scars.
On November 26, 2013 the DR application to CARICOM was denied. St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister and Future CARICOM President Ralph Gonsalves warns: “Unless the Dominican Republic can give us a credible plan within the shortest possible time, to correct, in whatever legal form, this dastardly ruling of their constitutional court, I will continue to maintain the positions which I am maintaining.” Dr. Gonsalves, who had first called for the exclusion from CARICOM is also calling for the DR’s suspension from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) and PetroCaribe. “This is something which, in the 21st Century, we have to stand askance against and take a firm line on. And I don’t want any wishy-washy approach on this question,” Gonsalves said.
The Court ruling arrived at an opportune time for both the Haitian and Dominican governments. In Haiti, the parliament was calling for the impeachments of the President and Prime Minister, both of whom had been implicated in the suspicious death of Jean Serge Joseph, a judge who had been handling a case of corruption against the President’s wife and son. In the Dominican Republic, a three-day strike by thousands of doctors and nurses had been announced for the next week; other violent strikes by people demanding the completion of bridges and construction of roads have rolled through the country and shuttered several cities for days at a time.
Numerous reports have compared the current events on the island of Hispaniola to past persecutions of the Jews in Nazi Germany, or the Tutsis in Rwanda, but little has been said about the import of these events for the future. Ultranationalists around the world are closely watching for the outcome of the DR Constitutional Court’s decision. As in Haiti and the DR, throughout the world it is customary for unscrupulous politicians to deflect anger from themselves by systematically scapegoating a minority population. In the US, calls for immigration control during every national election have served as thinly-disguised xenophobic attacks on Latinos. In Europe, anti-African and anti-Arab sentiments are fanned by far-right politicians as well as supposed centrists who shamelessly court the far right for their own gains; meanwhile neo-fascists across Europe gather under a racist banner. The only correct response to Ruling TC/0168.13 is a categorical rejection of racism, in all its forms. For Haitians, this means, not only fighting the court ruling but also refusing to give way to any racist anti-Dominican sentiments.
Editor’s Note: Photographs one, three, five, seven, nine and twelve by El Marto. Photographs six, eight and ten by Donny Matos. Photographs two and eleven by Valeria Vilardo. Photograph four by William Silveira-Matos, Vilardo and Silveira are with Inter Press Service (IPS). Photograph thirteen by Pan African News Wire.
Click HERE for original.
Un autre exemple de l’impunité de la MINUSTAH. Cet article raconte l’histoire de Widerson Gena, un garçon Haïtien qui a été abattu par la MINUSTAH lors d’une manifestation de l’école et est maintenant confinée à un fauteuil roulant pour le reste de sa vie. Il dit MINUSTAH a tué son rêve de devenir ingénieur agronome et demande des réparations pour lui et ses parents.Des balles tirées par des soldats argentins de l’ONU tuent le rêve d’un garçon haïtien
Joseph Guyler Delva HCNN, Le Nouvelliste
2 decembre 2013
Un jeune garçon haïtien, âgé de 16 ans, Widerson Gena, a accusé les soldats argentins de l’ONU en Haïti d’avoir tué son rêve de devenir ingénieur-agronome, après qu’il eut été atteint de cinq balles, paralysé, condamné à une chaise roulante que l’ organisation mondiale lui a en outre refusé tout soutien, plus de 2 ans plus tard.
Le 12 mai 2011, Gena, qui n’avait que 14 ans, a reçu 5 balles lorsque des soldats argentins de la mission de maintien de la paix des Nations unies en Haïti auraient ouvert le feu sur des écoliers et d’autres adolescents qui manifestaient au lycée Jacques Stephen Alexis, dans la ville des Verrettes, à 112 km au nord de Port -au- Prince.
« Les soldats argentins sont ceux qui ont tiré sur moi, parce que je pouvais reconnaître le drapeau argentin sur leur uniforme », a déclaré Gena à HCNN dans une interview.
« Je pleure parfois parce que, suite à ce qui m’est arrivé, je ne serai plus en mesure de réaliser mon rêve de devenir agronome », a déclaré Gena d’une voix tremblante, alors qu’il était assis dans son fauteuil roulant, dans un hôpital de la commune provinciale méridionale de Fond-des-Blancs où il a été transféré pour continuer à recevoir des soins.
La victime de 16 ans a appelé les Nations unies à verser une indemnisation à ses parents pour leur permettre de prendre soin de lui, étant donné que les médecins disent qu’il sera paralysé pour le reste de sa vie.
«Je veux que l’ONU paye une compensation, en réparation de ce qu’ils m’ont fait, afin que mes parents aient les moyens financiers pour me soutenir », a déclaré Gena.
Plusieurs centaines d’élèves du lycée de Verrettes, rejoints par des adolescents d’autres écoles, ont organisé la manifestation ce jour-là pour protester contre une décision du ministère de l’Éducation de nommer un nouvel enseignant en remplacement d’un professeur de physique qu’ ils tenaient en haute estime.
L’enseignant, André Pierre, accusé par la direction locale du système éducatif d’avoir incité les étudiants à l’émeute, a été arrêté par la police haïtienne, ce qui a eu pour effet de jeter de l’huile sur le feu.
Dans un rapport publié le jour même de l’incident, le service d’alerte d’information de l’ONU a fait état de troubles et a souligné qu’une patrouille conjointe de la police haïtienne et onusienne et des militaires de l’ONU ont été dépêchés pour rétablir l’ordre.
« Aucun blessé signalé », lit-on dans ce rapport éclair des Nations unies, daté du 12 mai 2011, qui a toutefois omis de mentionner un incident antérieur au cours duquel au moins Gena et un autre plus jeune écolier avaient été blessés par balle.
HCNN a contacté trois porte-parole de l’ONU en Haïti, Marcos Dos Santos Cardoso et son adjoint Edward Early et Sophie Boutaud de la Combe, pour essayer d’obtenir la version officielle onusienne des évènements, mais aucun d’entre eux n’est parvenu à fournir une réponse après avoir promis à plusieurs reprises de le faire pendant plus de 2 semaines. D
es sources proches de la composante militaire de l’ONU ont suggéré que les coups de feu qui ont grièvement blessé Gena auraient été tirés par la police haïtienne , parce que les soldats de l’ONU utilisent généralement des balles en caoutchouc quand il s’agit de contrôler des foules.
Toutefois, le chef de la police haïtienne à Verrettes au moment de l’incident, le commissaire Seme Calixte, a indiqué à HCNN que la police haïtienne n’était pas du tout sur les lieux lors de l’incident dans lequel Gena a été touché par balle.
«Nous avions eu la patrouille conjointe par la suite, parce que les protestations se poursuivaient et devenaient plus chaotiques », a fait savoir Calixte . «Mais l’incident impliquant Gena a eu lieu quelque temps auparavant lorsqu’une patrouille de l’ONU se heurta à une barricade érigée par les élèves qui ont lancé des pierres sur eux », a déclaré à HCNN le commissaire de police Calixte.
« Il n’y avait absolument aucun membre de la police haïtienne en compagnie des troupes onusiennes quand Gena a été touché par balle, c’est-à-dire au cours du premier incident», a insisté Calixte.
Les élèves étaient à l’extérieur du lycée et lançaient des pierres sur une patrouille de l’ONU quand les Casques bleus argentins ont ouvert le feu, selon plusieurs témoins.
«Je suis celui qui a transporté Widerson à l’hôpital après qu’il avait reçu les balles tirées par des soldats argentins de l’ONU», a indiqué à HCNN Ronald Théodile. «J’ai vu ça de mes propres yeux , et la police haïtienne n’était pas là à ce moment-là », a-t-il dit.
«Quand Widerson a reçu les projectiles, il est tombé, et quand je me suis précipité pour le ramasser, il a dit qu’il était en train de mourir et puis il s’est évanoui », a déclaré Théodile, expliquant que Gena a repris conscience pendant qu’il était à l’hôpital.
Les parents réclament réparation
Le père de la victime, Rémy Gena, a déclaré que son fils est très intelligent et travaillait exceptionnellement bien à l’école et a confirmé que l’écolier avait toujours fait part de son objectif rêvé de devenir ingénieur-agronome dans la communauté rurale des Verrettes, dans l’Artibonite qui est considéré comme le grenier à riz d’Haïti.
« Les soldats de l’ONU ont tiré sur mon fils et ils ont refusé jusqu’ici de donner une indemnité ou de le soutenir en aucune manière », a confié Gena (senior) à HCNN. «J’ai dépensé tout ce que j’avais pour soutenir Widerson au cours des deux dernières années et demi, mais maintenant je n’ai plus rien», a-t-il expliqué.
Des médecins qui ont examiné l’ancien élèveà l’hôpital Bernard Mevs dans la capitale, Port -au-Prince, ont déclaré que la vie de Widerson aura irréversiblement changé à la suite de ses blessures.
« Il devra utiliser le fauteuil roulant pour le reste de sa vie et a été forcé de vivre avec les complications de la paralysie dont des blessures à ses extrémités inférieures, blessures subies secondairement à la perte de sensation dans ses membres inférieurs et une incapacité d’avoir une vessie et des intestins qui fonctionnent», a déclaré à HCNN le docteur Joanna Cherry, de nationalité britannique.
Gena a raté plusieurs années d’études et l’interaction sociale en raison de son état et sa famille et lui ont physiquement , émotionnellement et financièrement souffert suite à ses blessures.
Gena a encore une balle dans sa colonne vertébrale, deux ont été extraites et deux l’ont transpercé, selon les médecins.
«Pour moi, la mission des Nations unies a une obligation morale et financière envers Widerson et sa famille qu’elle n’a pas su soutenir », a déclaré le Dr Cherry, qui est en charge de l’Unité de lésions de la moelle épinière à l’hôpital Bernard Mevs.
L’ONU a déjà mené une enquête interne sur cette affaire , mais aucun rapport n’a encore été rendu public.
Cliquez ICI pour l’original.
We’d like to share some exciting news! The Giving Library, an online video archive that connects donors to nonprofits, is kicking off a $100,000 “Share to Give” campaign on #GivingTuesday, the national day of giving, which is December 3 this year. Starting today, you can earn money for justice in Haiti with just a few clicks!
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We think the video does a great job of explaining why fighting for justice is essential to building stability and prosperity in Haiti. If you agree, please tell your friends and followers and help us spread the word!
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Remember, IJDH will receive $5 only when you share our video through this link. Only your first share will count for $5 but feel free to share as often as you like! If your friends decide to participate, they also need share through IJDH’s Giving Library page for IJDH to get $5.
Haiti’s minimum wage is set to increase marginally on January 1st. The increase is not only much less than factory workers have asked for, it also doesn’t include many of them because they’re said to receive more than the new wage. Factory workers are known to receive much less than their official wages.Wage Hike in Haiti Doesn’t Address Factory Abuses
Jane Regan, Inter Press Service
December 3, 2013
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Dec 3 2013 (IPS) - Haiti’s minimum wage will nudge up 12 percent on Jan. 1, from 4.65 to 5.23 dollars (or 200 to 225 gourdes) per day. Calculated hourly, it will go from 58 cents to 65 cents per hour, before taxes.
But the raise will not affect Haiti’s 30,000 assembly factory workers, who are supposed to already be receiving about seven dollars for an eight-hour day – about 87 cents per hour. Recent studies have found rampant wage theft at almost two dozen of the factories that stitch clothing for companies like Gap and Walmart.
The wage hike comes almost five years after the Haitian parliament asked for a 200-gourde minimum wage, then worth 4.96 dollars a day, but failed to overcome Washington-backed industry opposition [see sidebar].
Agreed to on Nov. 29 by a government-convened Council on Salaries (CSS) – made up of labour, business and government representatives – the raise falls far short of the minimum wage of 11.63 dollars (500 gourdes) that factory worker unions and others were demanding.
Last month, in the capital and in Haiti’s north, the Collective of Textile Factory Unions federation (KOSIT), which represents workers in three industrial parks, mobilised for the 500-gourde wage.
On Nov. 7, to chants of “500 gourdes! 500 gourdes!,” over 5,000 workers and supporters marched outside the gates of a free trade zone on the border of the Dominican Republic in Ouanaminthe. Hundreds of others marched on Nov. 26 in the capital.
The factory owners countered late last week with an open letter which pled to “keep Haiti competitive” with what they identified as their “big rivals” – Bangladesh, Cambodia and Vietnam, countries all known for harsh conditions and abuse.Union members, other workers and their supporters demonstrate to demand a 500-gourde minimum wage in Port-au-Prince on Nov. 26, 2013. Credit: Batay Ouvriye
“We recognise that the clothing and assembly sectors are not ends in and of themselves, but they can be a very important stimulus and can serve as a motor to help Haiti open up and present itself as a country that is changing and modernising,” said the 23 Haitian, Dominican and South Korean factory owners and industrialists from the Association of Haitian Industries (ADIH).
Two days later, on Nov. 29, eight of the nine members of the CSS, including all three union representatives, approved the 225-gourde wage. (None of the union representatives were from KOSIT.)
Yannick Etienne of Batay Ouvriye (Workers Struggle), a labour group which supports KOSIT and other textile unions, said her organisation and the unions disagree with the 225-gourde salary.
“We think it is a shame that the CSS union representatives agreed to the miserable wage of 225 gourdes. At a meeting the night before, we requested that they refuse to sign any agreement that was less than 300 gourdes,” Etienne told IPS.
Rampant wage theft
The country’s 30,000 workers – almost two-thirds of them women – in Haiti’s free trade zone assembly factories stitch together clothing for Gap, Gildan Activewear, Hanes, Kohl’s, Levi’s, Russell, Target, VF, and Walmart. Haitian law stipulates that “the price paid per production unit… must be set in a way that permits a worker to earn at least 300 gourdes for an eight-hour day.”
But recent studies by three different international groups, including the U.N.’s International Labour Organisation (ILO), have documented that the vast majority of workers receive the legal minimum only rarely: about 25 percent of the time, according to the ILO.
A 29-year-old mother who works at the Multiwear factory, which makes tee-shirts for Hanes, is one of those being gypped. (Like all workers interviewed for this story, she agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity.)
“I support my four-year-old, and two sisters, and one brother,” she told IPS. “Sometimes I make the quota and get 300 gourdes, but just once in a while.”
In its October 2013 report, the ILO’s Better Work textile factory monitoring programme found all 23 factories surveyed, including Multiwear, to be “non-compliant” with the law. To be “compliant,” Better Work said that “at least 90 percent of experienced workers” should be able to make 300 gourdes in an eight-hour day.
The mother is her family’s sole support.
“I am the oldest,” she continued. “Right now, my husband is not working. We live in one room.”
She wants the minimum wage to be raised, but said “many people won’t even show up to a sit-in, because if the bosses think you support a wage hike, you’ll immediately be fired.”
Workers, KOSIT leaders, several reports and many economists agree that 225 gourdes, and even 300 gourdes, are not living wages.
A 2011 study by the U.S.-based AFL-CIO’s Solidarity Centre held that a factory worker living in the capital and supporting two children would need to earn about 29 dollars per day (1,152 gourdes), six days a week, to support his or her family.
A 54-year-old worker from One World Apparel, owned by former presidential candidate Charles Henri Baker, also rarely earns 300 gourdes, she told IPS.
“When the boss started to hear talk about the minimum wage going up, he clamped down on us,” said the mother of three, who said she has worked at One World for eight years.
“You have to do 75 dozen pieces, but not every job is the same. Sometimes you can make the quota, but sometimes you can’t. No matter what the job is, the number is the same. Once in a while, if I work really hard, I can at least make 225 gourdes,” she added.
Both Gildan and Fruit of the Loom recently released statements promising to ensure their subcontractors respected the 300-gourde minimum.
“It is our view that the clear intent of Haiti’s minimum wage law is for production rates to be set in such a manner as to allow workers to earn at least 300 gourdes for eight hours of work in a day,” Fruit of the Loom said in a statement. “Based on our independent investigation, we concur with the WRC that the garment industry in Haiti generally falls short of that standard.”
In addition to denying most workers the 300-gourde minimum, bosses were regularly cheating labourers out of overtime and making them work essentially for free, according to a report from the Washington-based Workers Rights Consortium (WRC), issued Oct. 15, 2013.
In Stealing from the Poor, based on worker interviews and pay stubs from five factories (four in the capital and SAE-A at the Caracol Industrial Park), the WRC found repeated cases of employers paying workers the incorrect amount for overtime hours. (The ILO reported only nine percent of factories cheating workers out of overtime.)
In the capital, WRC maintains that at the four factories surveyed – One World, Genesis, Premium and GMC – workers were “being cheated of an average of seven weeks’ pay per year.” Workers sometimes willingly work “off the clock” in order to make the quotas necessary to be paid 300 gourdes, the group reported.
Economist Camille Chalmers, director of the Haitian Platform Advocating an Alternative Development (PAPDA), is highly critical of the Haitian government for, among other things, not enforcing the 300-gourde minimum. He has called for a 560-gourde minimum wage.
“The government does not play the role of arbiter, as it should,” said the university professor while speaking at a Nov. 18 meeting on the wage issue. “Government authorities instead tend to listen to the embassies, to ADIH… Our government is really tied to the upper class, the oligarchy.”
The current government – whose slogan is “Haiti is Open for Business!” – has pushed Haiti’s low wages at numerous national and international conferences.
The mother of three agrees that the minimum wage needs to go up to at least 500 gourdes.
“If I hear there is going to be a demonstration, I’ll be there,” she told IPS. “I cannot make it with this pocket change. The bosses know that. They are just cruel.”
The recent ILO/Better Work report is the seventh Better Work report to document shortfalls and violations.
Additional reporting by Patrick St. Pré.
Click HERE for original.
After increasing tensions between Haiti and Dominican Republic and increasing pressure from other groups for on Caricom to act against DR in support of Haiti, Caricom has suspended DR’s application to join the community. They’ve also formally denounced the Dominican high court ruling at the core of these issues.Caribbean leaders defend Haiti, denounce Dominican decision
Jacqueline Charles, The Miami Herald
November 26, 2013
Declaring that it can no longer be business as usual, the Caribbean Community on Tuesday suspended the Dominican Republic’s application to join its regional economic bloc and called on the country’s leaders to urgently “take immediate, credible steps” to stave off a potential humanitarian crisis triggered by a citizenship ruling.
The decision came with a formal condemnation of the Dominican Republic’s constitutional court ruling of Sept. 23 stripping citizenship from anyone born in the country to parents who were illegal. And it happened despite a last minute assurance by Dominican President Danilo Medina that persons — the majority of them of Haitian descent — affected by the ruling would not be deported.
Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, chairwoman of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), said she received word from Medina on Tuesday morning that “the government of the DR will not deport any of the persons affected by the ruling of the constitution court and measures are to be taken to ensure that no one is deported.”
“Caricom expects these assurances by the Dominican Republic will be honored,” Persad-Bissessar said at a news conference after a special meeting by Caricom’s leaders on the court decision. “Caricom is prepared to engage the DR, but the government of the DR must be prepared to show good faith by immediate, credible steps as part of an overall plan to resolve this nationality and attendant issues in the shortest possible time.”
Persad-Bissessar, incoming Caricom chairman St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and former chairman Haitian President Michel Martelly spent several hours discussing the issue Tuesday. They also heard from members of civil society who denounced the measures and presented a Caribbean-wide petition condemning the decision. Among the points made during the discussions: the court ruling violates the Dominican Republic’s international human rights obligations.
“It is especially repugnant that the ruling ignores the 2005 judgment made by the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IACHR) that the Dominican Republic adapt its immigration laws and practices in accordance with the provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights,” Persad-Bissessar said.
Tuesday’s meeting came as new tensions between Haiti and the Dominican Republic escalated. In recent days, hundreds of Haitians have been expelled by Dominican authorities — and many continued to leave voluntarily Monday — after violence broke out in the southwestern Dominican border town of Neiba in response to the fatal stabbing of an elderly couple in an apparent home burglary. Residents later killed a Haitian man, Haitian officials said.
Haiti’s Foreign Ministry late Saturday demanded an explanation from Dominican authorities, whose soldiers reportedly drove Haitians across the border into Haiti. As of Monday, no formal explanation had been given, Foreign Minister Pierre-Richard Casimir said.
Martelly spoke of the recent deportations, which came after Haiti and the Dominican Republic began diplomatic talks over the weekend in Venezuela, to address the issue. Instead of the Dominican Republic showing good faith actions, Martelly said, “this weekend about 300 Haitians were repatriated.”
Click HERE for original.
The situation of Dominicans of Haitian descent remains extremely uncertain ever since the September 2013 high court ruling that denies citizenship to ancestors of immigrants born in 1929 or later. The faith-based community has had a large impact in Haiti and they feel that now, more than ever, it’s important for the voice of churches to be heard in the US and DR as well.Statement of communities of faith on the ruling of the Dominican Constitutional Court denying citizenship to four generations of Dominicans of Haitian descent
November 26, 2013
“Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” — Proverbs 31:8, 9
We represent churches, interdenominational groups and faith-based organizations with long presence and ties in the Dominican Republic. As communities of faith, we express profound concern at the September 23 ruling of the Constitutional Court that the children of all persons “in transit” in the country since 1929 are not Dominican. The decision particularly affects Dominicans of Haitian descent, potentially stripping them of their nationality, and putting them at risk of being stateless and/or subject to deportation.
Dominican citizens of Haitian descent are often among the poorest of the poor. They are the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Haitians who crossed the border in search of a better life, and of migrant workers contracted by the Dominican government to help harvest sugarcane and other crops. They have helped build the wealth of communities, labored at the most difficult jobs, and contributed tremendously to Dominican society and economy. These Dominican citizens for generations have been fully integrated into Dominican society and have long since lost ties to Haiti.
As churches and faith based organizations working and living in the country and accompanying this population directly, or those who serve them, we have directly observed the impact on them of increasing hostility:
• We have seen the discrimination and neglect experienced by Dominicans of Haitian ancestry, witnessed their economic and social marginalization in the bateyes, and observed racial discrimination in their personal lives and the public domain.
• We have noted the impact on this population of the Dominican government’s failure to comply with the 2005 ruling of the Inter-American Court which called for the restitution of birth documents withheld from Dominicans of Haitian descent. This inertia has emboldened some elements to be more vocal in their anti-Dominco-Haitian sentiments, causing Dominicans of Haitian descent to live in fear of xenophobia and racism in their own country.
• We have noted that since 2005, further rulings of the Dominican Central Electoral Board have authorized civil registry offices to withhold birth certificates, and confiscate ID cards and passports from Dominicans of Haitian descent, simply because of their ancestry. Hundreds of Dominicans have lived in limbo since then, as without their documents they are unable to go to school, access medical services, open bank accounts, get married, or make needed purchases. Many of these denationalized Dominicans of Haitian descent are young people awaiting their documentation to rebuild their lives.
• We have heard the stories of Dominican citizens who have been deported to Haiti because of their dark skin.
• We have witnessed the attempt made by institutions of the Dominican government to strip Sonia Pierre, human rights advocate and leader of the Movement of Dominico-Haitian Women, of her citizenship as she courageously fought for the nationality and citizenship rights of the Dominico- Haitian population to be respected.
This latest ruling of the Dominican Constitutional Court will dramatically worsen the already unjust situation of discrimination and economic marginalization. Retroactive application is illegal under international law and also violates several articles of the Dominican constitution itself. UNCHR, UNICEF and the Inter-American Human Rights Commission have deplored this Court decision, and called upon the government of the Dominican Republic to ensure that the fundamental human right to nationality is respected.
We urge the Dominican government to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to safeguard the nationality and citizenship rights of Dominico-Haitians. This includes ensuring that relevant ministries expedite processing the backlog for issuing of birth certificates and national I.D. cards to Dominicans of Haitian descent born prior to January 2010, whose Dominican nationality is protected by Dominican law as well conventions signed by government.
As people of faith, we cannot remain silent as one entire section of the community is dehumanized simply because of the color of their skin and their cultural heritage. Jesus Christ welcomed all into the beloved community, and we cannot honor and follow our Lord and Savior by remaining silent in the face of such extreme injustice.
AG Missions Inc, (AMI)
Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College
Community of Christ
Christian Haitian Entrepreneurial Society, Inc.
Church World Service
Conference of Major Superiors of Men
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC)
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Our Lady of Grace- Chelsea/Everett Haiti Committee
Pax Christi Ayiti
Pax Christi USA
Presbyterian Church USA
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
United Methodist Women
November 26, 2013
Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action on behalf of Kouraj, an LGBTI rights group in Haiti, because their office in Port-au-Prince was attacked last Thursday. Many of their members whose personal information was stolen remain at great risk. Please take a moment to take action to help keep these human rights defenders safe.
Some of the background information is pasted below. Click HERE to learn how to help.
LGBTI ORGANIZATION’S OFFICE ATTACKED IN HAITI
The office of Kouraj, a Haitian organization which raises awareness about LGBTI rights and creates public debate about the stigma surrounding same-sex relationships in Haiti was attacked by armed men on 21 November. At around 1pm, three men armed with machetes and handguns forced their way into Kouraj’s office based in Port-au-Prince. They said that that office must not operate here and made homophobic insults against the two members of Kouraj who were in the office at the time, whom they then beat and tied up. The attackers then proceeded to ransack the office and stole office equipment including two laptops and personal belongings. Kouraj staff are concerned that these men also took files containing contact information of the organization’s members, including personal addresses, email addresses and telephone numbers. It is not clear how many files were stolen and therefore how many members could be at risk of further attacks.
A few days before the attack, Kouraj activists heard people making threats outside the office, saying that the office was an office of homosexuals, and that they would attack them soon. Since the attack, Kouraj activists have received several anonymous calls with homophobic insults and threats of further attacks. Kouraj’s office has been closed since the attack occurred. A justice of the peace (juge de paix) has been to the office to make a report on the incident and Kouraj have reported it to the police.
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This Foreign Policy Association article discusses the UN’s apparent lack of humanity and morality in its responses to cholera in Haiti, citing Mario Joseph and mentioning IJDH.The U.N. Lacks Moral Authority to Dictate Morale in Haiti
Chris Celius, Foreign Policy Association
November 25, 2013
It is a volcano jumping between dormant and active stages and last month, it erupted again, spitting a litany of condemning editorials across global opinion pages that set ablaze United Nations’ inexcusable, uncompromising policy in Haiti, where the cholera epidemic, now entering its fourth year, killed more than 8,300 people and sickened another 650,000. An advocacy group representing the victims provoked the latest upsurge of Haiti’s cholera fiasco when it filed a lawsuit against the U.N. in a Manhattan Federal District Court, demanding reparations.
Although an Everest of evidence only indexed U.N. peacekeepers, particularly a Nepalese contingent caught dumping human waste into the Artibonite River near its base that numerous studies pinned at the origin of the outbreak, the global organization refused to accept responsibility for its man-made disaster. However, lead counsel Mario Joseph hopes this eruption will spew enough lava to overwhelm U.N. officials’ deniability and compel them to pay financial reparations to its victims.
The U.N.’s response to the lawsuit varied little from its persisting refrain; a confluence of circumstances, including the country’s dearth of clean water and good sanitation facilitated the spread of cholera. Beyond its dismissive, dehumanizing response however, the global entity failed to provide a shred of scientific evidence, challenging the slew of academic research that traced the cholera strain to Nepal that experienced an outbreak in the months preceding its peacekeepers’ deployment to Haiti.
Rather than taking necessary safety measures to protect hundreds of thousands of lives, the U.N. neglected to properly screen its troops, failed to maintain proper sanitation facilities, and take immediate, appropriate actions following the outbreak. It therefore carelessly allowed Haitians to become infected with cholera, unheard of in the Caribbean nation since 1867. Instead, organizational leaders hid behind the 1946 Convention of the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, claiming absolute immunity from prosecution, spitting on the graves and faces of its victims.
Asked about an official response to the lawsuit, “it is not the United Nations practice to discuss in public claims filed against the Organization,” answered a U.N. spokesperson. Yet, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon telephoned President Michel Martelly in February 2013 and told him that the U.N. would not compensate any of the 5,000 claimants the Institute for Justice and Democracy (IJDH) represented in a similar November 2011 lawsuit. As Joseph argued, “The United Nations can’t have humanity and impunity at the same time,” which was a pivotal conclusion researchers from Yale Law School reached last July, after examining the cholera debacle. The report noted the United Nations’ immunity clause does not confer absolute impunity, especially when the world organization blatantly violated its contractual obligations to Haiti and its responsibilities under international human rights law. In its signed-agreement with the Haitian government when it established a peacekeeping force there in 2004, the U.N. promised to create a commission to review claims related to complaints about its troops. Such a commission has never been established, noted the report.
U.N.’s degrading response to its victims’ public outcry constituted not only an attack on human dignity and decency, but also a violation of fundamental accountability principles that has govern society for millennia. As such, we must stop punishing poorly behaving children; intervene in countries where totalitarian regimes use chemical weapons on their own people; or, for that fact, administer justice to individuals that, through criminal negligence, allow others to die.
The Yale report correctly stated, the U.N. “risks losing its moral ground by refusing to comply with the very law it demands states and other international actors to respect,” and I could not agree more, especially when the rising tide of anti-Martelly demonstrations inhibiting the country could necessitate peacekeepers’ intervention. Granted, the United Nations played a pivotal role, helping save and/or improve lives in Haiti, particularly in the country’s post-quake struggles; nevertheless, human lives must supersede self-serving bureaucratic, political or policy maneuvers.
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Haitian president Martelly and St. Vincent Prime Minister Gonsalves went to Trinidad to meet the chair of Caricom and discuss possible repercussions for the Dominican Republic high court ruling that denies citizenship to Dominicans with Haitian ancestry. This comes after increasing tensions between Haiti and DR and increasing pressure on Caricom to support Haiti in this matter.Caribbean leaders consider sanction against the Dominican Republic
Jacqueline Charles, The Miami Herald
November 25, 2013
As new tensions mount between Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic, the top brass of the Caribbean Community will decide Tuesday whether to impose sanctions against the Dominican Republic over a high court ruling denying citizenship to tens of thousands of Haitian descendants
Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and incoming chairman of Caricom, flew to Trinidad on Monday, as did Haitian President Michel Martelly, the immediate past chair. On Tuesday, the two will meet with current chairwoman and Trinidad Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for a special meeting to discuss a range of sanctions that include freezing the Dominican Republic’s application to join their grouping.
In July, Dominican President Danilo Medina flew to oil-rich Trinidad hoping to charm Martelly and other Caribbean leaders over his country’s long-standing request to join the 15-member mostly English-speaking political and economic bloc.
Gonsalves, whose tiny nation recently led the charge against the Dominican Republic at an Organization of American States meeting, said Santo Domingo needs “to correct an egregious wrong.”
“This is the 21st century in our hemisphere, and we are having this kind of ethnic barbarism. It’s absurd, and unacceptable among civilized people,” Gonsalves said told the Miami Herald. “You can’t use national law and sovereignty to take away people’s rights.”
The court’s decision has reverberated in enclaves where Haitians and Dominicans live in the United States, as well as in the Caribbean where pressure has been building for Caricom to take a tough stand in support of Haiti, one of its weakest members. Among those denouncing the decision in the Caribbean: The Justice & Peace Commission of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kingston, as well as the Caribbean Conference of Churches and the Caribbean Civil Society Organizations.
Tuesday’s meeting comes as new tensions between Haiti and the Dominican Republic continued to escalate. In recent days, hundreds of Haitians have been expelled by Dominican authorities — and many continued to leave voluntarily Monday — after violence broke out in a southwestern Dominican border town of Neiba after an elderly couple was fatally stabbed in an apparent home burglary. Residents killed a Haitian man in retaliation, Haitian officials said.
Dismayed by the incident, Haiti’s Foreign Ministry late Saturday demanded an explanation from Dominican authorities whose soldiers reportedly drove Haitians across the border into Haiti. As of Monday, no formal explanation had been given, Foreign Minister Pierre-Richard Casimir said from the Port-au-Prince international airport as he and Haitian President Michel Martelly left for Trinidad.
The latest deportations underscore the ongoing hostility toward Haitians in the Dominican Republic where there has long been a debate over undocumented workers — mostly Haitian — and their children.
On Sept. 23, the Dominican Constitutional Court issued a ruling that human rights and immigration advocates say strips citizenships from as many as 300,000 Haitians. Retroactive to 1929, the court denied citizenship to anyone whose parents was not legally in the Dominican Republic.
Dominican officials have defended the decision saying it ends the uncertainty for children of immigrants and opens the door for them to apply for residency and eventually citizenship. Last week, after widespread international condemnation, officials announced they had come up with a plan to address the legal status of those impacted by the ruling, and would announce it in coming days.
The Foreign Ministry also released a statement saying the country was involved in a diplomatic outreach “to avoid distortions and misinterpretations” of its position.
Gonsalves said the Caricom leaders on Tuesday plan to consider formally condemning the ruling and adopt the position taken Friday by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. Eastern Caribbean leaders described the constitutional court decision as “repulsive and discriminatory,” and expressed “collective abhorrence.”
The leaders also called on Caricom to suspend the Dominican Republic’s application to join their community until corrective measures are taken and for the country’s membership in CARIFORUM, a grouping of former European colonies that get preferential trade terms from the European Union, to be reviewed.
Caribbean leaders also said they want countries such as Venezuela, which recently brokered talks between Haiti and the Dominican Republic over the issue, and members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), to condemn the ruling.
“We want CELAC to make a statement,” Gonsalves said, adding that Venezuela should considering dropping the Dominican Republic from the Petrocaribe oil subsidy program.
While Martelly and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe have been criticized for not taking a more public position on the ruling, Gonsalves defended the Haitian leaders. He said they are “being very measured and careful. They have criticized the decision, but said this is a matter for the Dominican Republic to solve. They don’t want to get involved in the Dominican Republic internally.”
Still, he said, Medina has a decision to make.
“He has to decide which side of history he’s going to end up on,” Gonsalves said. “The backward side or the side of progress.”
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The illegality of abortions in Haiti is leading to a crisis, with high rates of unintended pregnancies leading to high rates of illegal and dangerous abortions. Often, these risky abortions lead to loss of the uterus or even death.Unsafe abortions: Haiti’s abortion crisis
Jacqueline Charles, The Miami Herald
November 23, 2013
PORT-AU-PRINCE – After one clinic failed to remove the 16-week-old fetus growing inside her, the desperate high school student turned to the “doctor” known to her only as Little Old Father, Ti Le Pè.
Standing in her sparse bedroom, the bearded man with a baseball cap first prepared a special bath — a mixture of Haitian moonshine, essential oil and a “special soap.” He then put her in bed, strapped her swollen stomach and disappeared. At 5 the next morning, he returned with a cold, murky herbal concoction.
The young woman, who had been secretly hiding her pregnancy, sipped the herbal remedy and waited for her contractions to finally expel the embryo.
After three days of vomiting, heavy bleeding and agonizing pain, she stumbled into a maternity hospital. Doctors rushed her into surgery where they stopped the bleeding, and repaired her perforated uterus, botched in the first abortion attempt.
“I thought everything would be OK,” said Marie, 20, her voice, like her emaciated body, devoid of strength a month into her two-month hospitalization. “If I knew things would end up like this, I wouldn’t have done it. I nearly died.”
Abortion is illegal in Haiti but women and girls are losing their uteruses and their lives as they turn to clandestine, increasingly deadly ways to terminate their pregnancies. These unsafe abortions are leading to a public health crisis in a region with one of the world’s highest rates of unintended pregnancies, experts say.
The long hidden crisis has started to emerge publicly as women’s groups, physicians and human rights advocates push for changes in Haiti’s strict ban on interrupting a pregnancy. The push comes as reports of rape and sexual violence increased after the devastating January 2010 earthquake, and as the country’s moribund economy and adolescent pregnancies make taboo practices such as abortion no longer unthinkable.
“A woman or girl who has decided she cannot keep a pregnancy will find a way, and will accept the health risks that go with an unsafe abortion,” said Catrin Schulte-Hillen, a reproductive health advisor with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Geneva, Switzerland. “There is a huge gap between the reality and legality of abortion. The price we pay … is the lives of women.”
At MSF’s emergency maternity hospital in Delmas where Marie was admitted, women suffering post-abortion complications account for nearly 12 percent of the 560 pregnancy-related admissions the facility averages monthly, staff said. Access to safe abortion care for women is a serious medical-humanitarian issue, the aid group argues, especially in a country like Haiti where more women die from pregnancy-related causes than anywhere in the region.
“We know in countries where there has been a legalization or liberalization, as they call it in South Africa, of abortion on request, immediately they have seen an impact on maternal mortality,” Schulte-Hillen said. “And we know that in countries where the legal frame around abortion is restricted, maternal mortality related to unsafe abortion is the highest.”
When a 7.0 earthquake buckled the ground nearly four years ago, it unearthed many of this nation’s buried social ills. Tent cities exploded, and so did pregnancies. As Human Rights Watch and other groups documented the alarming “tent babies” crisis, doctors and nurses quietly noted the increased cases of incomplete abortions and premature bleeding by women, said Amanda Klasing of Human Rights Watch.
The troubling diagnosis eventually prompted an investigation by the Haitian Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology (SHOG) that found widespread use of the drug misoprostol in camps. Sold without a prescription under the brand name Cytotec, the anti-ulcer drug also induces abortion, experts said.
While the small pill has been linked to saving women’s lives in places where abortion is highly restricted or illegal, in Haiti’s unregulated pharmacy-on-foot environment, incorrect doses also lead to death and suffering.
Haiti’s health ministry, which has sought to take charge of the abortion debate, has estimated that unsafe abortions account for 20 percent to 30 percent of maternal mortality. But the reality is, the annual number of abortion-related deaths is unknown.
Fearful of criminal prosecution, health facilities don’t always register cases like Marie’s. Even an attempt by the health ministry to track abortion in its most recent nationwide survey came with a disclaimer: it’s difficult to accurately measure incidents of abortion because of its legal ban, and cultural, social and religious stigmatization, the report said.
Like many women seeking care from a failed abortion, Marie didn’t tell MSF doctors what she had done when she arrived on Sept. 5. Her pregnancy and the perforated uterus were later detected with an ultrasound, said Dr. Rodnie Senat-Delva, the hospital’s medical director.
“Her condition was very bad,” Senat-Delva said.
Marie later told the Miami Herald that a clinic in the Cité Soleil slum had attempted to remove the fetus by shoving an unknown object inside her.
Uterine perforation, Senat-Delva said, is a common complication among Haitian women under 20 years old. Sometimes the goal isn’t even to successfully abort the fetus but to provoke bleeding by using hangers, bicycle spokes or other objects, so that a woman can see a qualified doctor.
“When they come to the hospital, we have to do something because it’s life-saving,” Senat-Delva said. “They have to go to surgery and more often, they lose their uterus very young. They have to live all of their lives without having the possibility of becoming pregnant again. This is really the reality.”
Marie said she was forced to wait until her 16th week to abort because she didn’t have the $20 the “doctor” charged. If Marie had the money, she could have spared herself the punishing ordeal. Qualified doctors charge at least $300 to secretly do the procedures in their private clinics, or even a hospital.
In an overwhelmingly poor Haiti, where seven out of 10 people live on less than $2 a day, it is poor women who suffer the most from the abortion ban, said Danièle Magloire, who helped conduct one of the few abortion studies in Haiti.
“Women with means have abortions under good conditions. The majority don’t have means and they have abortions under bad conditions,” she said. “This is a social injustice because it’s all based on your means. A lot of women are dying because a lot of abortions are taking place under bad conditions.”
Magloire said abortion came close to being legalized in Haiti in 1998 after she and other feminists presented a proposed law to the Haitian parliament. The proposal, however, never made it out of the Haitian Senate. Despite her ongoing legalization push, Magloire concedes that getting Haiti’s abortion ban lifted could be much tougher this time around because current parliamentarians are much more conservative. Some human rights advocates, meanwhile, have lobbied a presidential commission charged with overhauling Haiti’s archaic criminal laws, which are based on Napoleonic code, to do away with the ban entirely.
Amid the daily hustle on the streets of this clogged capital, market women hawk traditional herbs known to provoke bleeding in pregnant women on one side, while men, carrying oversized cone-shaped buckets, hustle on the other. The walking pharmacies are loaded with colorful packets of unregulated antibiotics — and Cytotec. One pill could sell for as much as $3.50.
Not far from the largest public hospital are rows of clinics; some are de facto abortion mills.
One seedy clinic tucked off a crowded street could be easily overlooked. It accepts only referrals. Inside, a receptionist and security guard sitting on tattered fake leather furniture laugh heartily at an American crime movie blaring in French. The receptionist looks away just long enough to ask a visitor, “Who referred you?”
After more than an hour, the wooden door opens and a young woman steps out. She leaves quickly. The doctor motions to step into his cramped office that also doubles as an examination room.
“If you had come here yesterday, you would not have been able to see me. It was nonstop from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” said the doctor, wearing a white coat, who asked for his name to be withheld because his $80 abortions are illegal.
He shows a month’s worth of records. There are nearly 300, including that of a young girl who terminated a pregnancy at five months with her parents’ consent.
“You don’t call that an abortion,’’ he clarified, “you call that a delivery.”
As a small TV fields images of an exterior surveillance camera, the man leans back in his chair. He boasts that doing an “abortion is like cocaine. Once you start, you can’t stop because the money is so good.”
Feminists and human rights activists say unregulated mills and unscrupulous doctors are why Haiti’s ban needs reform, because women’s lives are being put at risk.
“Having abortion that is legal and that is regulated, and allowing health centers to openly provide quality care across the board to women, ensures healthier women and girls,” said Klasing of Human Rights Watch, which supports legalization.
But the crisis isn’t just confined to the capital.
At a rural clinic in Petite Rivière in the Artibonite Valley, at least 20 women a month are admitted for abortion-related complications, said Dr. Eddy Jonas, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the clinic.
The numbers spike, he said, during the abortion peak. Just like the birth peak — it begins with premature births five months after the pre-Lenten carnival — the abortion peak is the two to three months after the festivities.
“The problem has taken on a dimension where it’s screaming to come out of hiding,” said Jonas, who works as women’s health coordinator for Boston-based Partners In Health. Haitian women, he said, are aborting for all kinds of reasons.
“Abortion was something that wasn’t accepted in the Haitian culture,” Jonas said. “But with the changes that have occurred in the people’s economic situation, you start to find people reconsidering values they once held. ”
Shrouded in secrecy, the decision is often motivated by fear and shame in a country where the Roman Catholic Church — it has traditionally opposed abortion — is deeply rooted, and Evangelical Christians are gaining a strong grip post-quake. The faith community voiced its opposition to legalized abortion during a recent health ministry workshop.
“We don’t encourage abortion but recognize that in certain cases, such as the life of the mother being in danger, it may be a consideration. But it’s a decision that should not be solely taken by a doctor,” said the Rev. Sylvain Exantus, president of the Federation of Protestants in Haiti, which along with the Catholic Church, has formed committees to study the issue. “In no case should abortion be used as a method of family planning.”
Exantus said they encourage abstinence for young people and birth control for married people.
“Legalized abortion will encourage prostitution, and irresponsible behavior. We need to educate the population, especially the youth,” he said. “If that education happens, we will have less problems.”
The health ministry has asked religious leaders, physicians, human rights activists and feminists to help craft an abortion bill. It wants consensus for allowing therapeutic abortion in the case of rape, incest, and if the life of the mother or fetus is at risk, said Dr. Reynold Grand’ Pierre, the director of family health for Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population.
“We decided it was time to address things frankly, the way they actually are,” said Grand’ Pierre, who acknowledges that the ministry’s work is slow and difficult.
In Haiti, a doctor or healthcare professional who performs an abortion can face five to 15 years of hard labor, while a woman who self-aborts can face three to nine years in prison. The law governing abortion is based on an 1810 French law, and states that the unborn child is a life. There is disagreement in Haiti about whether a clause in the code allows for termination when the life of the mother is at risk. Some legal experts say it does, but several doctors, including Grand’ Pierre, say it does not.
Grand’ Pierre, an obstetrician-gynecologist, doesn’t think Haiti is ready for legalized abortion. He advocates a measured approach.
“We are living in a hypocritical society,” he said, noting how Haitians often use religion as a barrier. “But even with religion, clandestine abortions are taking place.”
A 2009 study by SHOG, the Haitian physicians group, showed that 41 percent of those surveyed said they had used Cytotec, but most people do not favor legalized abortion. The paradox isn’t lost on Dr. Vladimir Larsen, the head of SHOG. He said while legalization is an issue for Haitians to debate, doctors desperately need termination guidelines.
“There are certain situations where we are medically obligated to intervene. And the law doesn’t authorize us to do it,” said Larsen, advocating “regularization” over legalization. “Even when we do, we put ourselves at risk, where the law requires us to be sanctioned.
“Even in cases of a rape, which can have psychological repercussions, the law doesn’t permit for you to intervene on their behalf,” he said.
The first time Jocelyne, 17, realized she was pregnant after being raped by a relative’s husband, she aborted the pregnancy. She took misoprostol, she said, without complications. But the man continued violating her, she and her lawyer said on a recent Sunday in a rural city south of Haiti’s capital. After the fifth violation, she was pregnant again.
The man offered to give her medication to terminate, she said. “I refused, so people could see,” she said, hoping her growing bump would finally free her of the sexual assaults.
Asked if she could love a baby that results from a rape, Jocelyne, in her child-like voice, said, “I’ll manage to love it.”
“If you ask me my personal opinion, I believe it’s a double victimization when a woman, after having been a victim of violence, becomes pregnant and is obligated to hold onto the pregnancy,” Grand’ Pierre said.
“For the moment, you are at the mercy of any district attorney,” he said. “And he has the law on his side.”
Information on the prosecution of cases involving abortions in Haiti is sketchy, though a court clerk acknowledged there was currently an allegation being investigated by a judge.
Port-au-Prince’s district attorney Francisco René said prosecuting abortion is not a priority for him, but he’s legally obligated to act if someone files a complaint.
Editor’s note: The Miami Herald changed the names of the young women who had abortions to protect their identities.
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The situation for Dominicans of Haitian descent is even worse after an elderly couple was killed near the border. Now in addition to the deportations that were already happening, some are willingly leaving DR in fear of the violence caused by this event.Dominicans expel 244 Haitians over border killings
Associated Press, The Washington Post
November 24, 2013
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The Dominican Republic expelled at least 244 Haitians after an elderly Dominican couple was slain in an apparent burglary near the border between the two countries and a mob retaliated by killing a Haitian man, two migrant advocates said Sunday.
The Rev. Antoine Lissaint of Haiti’s Jesuit Refugee and Migrant Organization told The Associated Press that a group of Dominicans killed the man because they blamed people of Haitian descent for the fatal stabbing of the couple.
Dominican police issued a statement saying Jose Mendez Diaz and Luja Encarnacion Diaz, both 70, were killed during an apparent home burglary in which the killers got away with two sacks of coffee. Detectives found a knife and stick at the scene.
There was no comment from the Dominican government.
A group of Haitians who had been living in the southwestern Dominican town of Neiba the past several years sought refuge at a police station because they feared further reprisals, Lissaint said. Police handed the group over to soldiers who drove them to the border and expelled them to Haiti on Saturday.
Migrant advocates said some of the people sent out of the Dominican Republic were eager to leave because they feared they would be more mob violence.
Haiti and the Dominican Republic have a long history of acrimony as neighbors on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. But relations between the two have worsened since a Dominican court decision in September threatened to revoke citizenship for residents of the Dominican Republic of Haitian descent.
Jean-Baptiste Azolin, deputy coordinator for the Support Group for Repatriates and Refugees, said not all the people who were repatriated were picked up at the police station.
“Some of them were caught in the streets, with their children, and were sent to Haiti — like that, without anything,” Azolin said.
Workers for the Haitian government’s National Office of Migration greeted the expelled Haitians and others of Haitian descent, many of them mothers with their children, including a 3-day-old boy. They were taken to a shelter north of the capital, Port-au-Prince, where they received food. They were also each given the equivalent of $22 to help them return to their former Haitian towns.
“Some people (here) have their children in the Dominican Republic, and they don’t know where they are,” Fritz Jimani, one of the deported people, said in Spanish.
Azolin, who was at the shelter, said the actual number of people who were deported, and were eager to leave the Dominican Republic because of fears of mob violence, could be more than the 244 initially reported. He said 252 people had showed up at the shelter claiming to be among those expelled and there was a report that a Dominican bus carrying 75 more deportees was en route to the border.
The Haitian government objected to the deportation. Salim Succar, an adviser to Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, said in an email: “We have taken certain measures to welcome these people ?and disapprove of the way this repatriation was done.”
Human rights advocates say the Dominican citizenship ruling could disenfranchise more than 200,000 people, many of whom have lived there for years or decades, stripping them of the documents they need to work and attend school and denying them passports needed to travel overseas.
The Dominican government announced Friday that it has developed a plan to resolve the legal status of people who could lose their citizenship because of the ruling. Details are to be released once a decree is signed and takes effect in the coming days.
Associated Press Television News contributed to this report.
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Don’t miss the 3rd annual Haiti Movie Awards at Lombardo’s Hall in Randolph!
WHY: The purpose of the ceremony is to honor the hard work of historically important artists that have been an essential cornerstone in shaping the Haitian movie industry. We will also reward the current efforts of the vibrant talents in the Haitian movie industry today.
Click HERE to see the event page.