Haiti and Dominican Republic resume talks on controversial Constitutional Court ruling

 

 

 

 

 

CARACAS, Venezuela (CMC) — Haiti and the Dominican Republic have agreed to establish a joint commission to discuss the migration problem caused by a recent ruling by the Constitutional Court in the Dominican Republic that has the effect of rendering stateless, thousands of people of Haitian descent residing in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean country. Haitian President Michel Martelly and his Dominican counterpart Danilo Medina met on Tuesday on the sidelines of a meeting of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) and of PetorCaribe The meeting was chaired by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

“I announce the creation of a high-level committee with representatives of both sides to address various issues on the bilateral agenda,” Maduro said, adding that the joint commission would comprise five representatives each from the two countries. He said Venezuela, the United Nations, the European Union and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have been invited as observers. Maduro said the proposed commission would address issues regarding trade, migration, environment, security and the border. The purpose of such an initiative is to find a just, proper and balanced solution through which the interests and rights of all parties are protected.

Last month, CARICOM said it would defer consideration of the application by the Dominican Republic to join the regional integration grouping following the Constitutional Court ruling. Leaders of the three-member CARICOM Bureau, comprising host country Trinidad and Tobago, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Haiti, said the 15-member regional grouping would also seek to raise the court ruling with several bodies including the Association of Caribbean States, the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC) as well as maintaining “our interest and active participation at the Organization of American States (OAS).

On September 23, the Constitutional Court in Santo Domingo has ruled in favour of stripping citizenship from children of Haitian migrants. Read more:

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/latestnews/Haiti-and-Dominican-Republic-resume-talks-on-controversial-Constitutional-Court-ruling

 

What are US Border Patrol Agents Doing in the Dominican Republic?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It isn’t exactly the towering 20-foot wall that runs like a scar through significant parts of the US-Mexican borderlands. Imagine instead the sort of metal police barricades you see at protests. These are unevenly lined up like so many crooked teeth on the Dominican Republic’s side of the river that acts as its border with Haiti. Like dazed versions of US Border Patrol agents, the armed Dominican border guards sit at their assigned posts, staring at the opposite shore. There, on Haitian territory, children splash in the water and women wash clothes on rocks.

 

One of those CESFRONT (Specialized Border Security Corps) guards, carrying an assault rifle, is walking six young Haitian men back to the main base in Dajabon, which is painted desert camouflage as if it were in a Middle Eastern war zone.

 

If the scene looks like a five-and-dime version of what happens on the US southern border, that’s because it is. The enforcement model the Dominican Republic uses to police its boundary with Haiti is an import from the United States.

 

CESFRONT itself is, in fact, an outgrowth of a US effort to promote “strong borders” abroad as part of its Global War on Terror. So US Consul-General Michael Schimmel told a group from the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic in the Dominican Republic back in 2008, according to an internal report written by the law students along with the Dominican immigrant solidarity organization Solidaridad Fronteriza. The US military, he added, was training the Dominican border patrol in “professionalism.”

 

Schimmel was explaining an overlooked manifestation of US imperial policy in the post-9/11 era. Militarized borders are becoming ever more common throughout the world, especially in areas of US influence.

 

CESFRONT’s Dajabon commander is Colonel Juan de Jesus Cruz, a stout, Napoleonic figure with a booming voice. Watching the colonel interact with those detained Haitian teenagers was my first brush with how Washington’s “strong borders” abroad policy plays out on the ground. The CESFRONT base in Dajabon is located near the Massacre River that divides the two countries. Its name is a grim reminder of a time in 1937 when Dominican forces slaughtered an estimated 20,000 Haitians in what has been called the “twentieth century’s least-remembered act of genocide.” That act ensured the imposition of a 227-mile boundary between the two countries that share the same island.

 

As rain falls and the sky growls, Cruz points to the drenched young Haitians and says a single word, “ilegales,” his index finger hovering in the air. The word “illegals” doesn’t settle well with one of the teenagers, who glares at the colonel and replies defiantly, “We have come because of hunger.”

 

His claim is corroborated by every report about conditions in Haiti, but the colonel responds, “You have resources there,” with the spirit of a man who relishes a debate.

 

The teenager, who will undoubtedly soon be expelled from the Dominican Republic like so many other Haitians (including, these days, people of Haitian descent born in the country), gives the colonel a withering look. He’s clearly boiling inside. “There’s hunger in Haiti. There’s poverty in Haiti. There is no way the colonel could not see that,” he tells Cruz. “You are right on the border.”

 

This tense, uneasy, and commonplace interaction is one of countless numbers of similar moments spanning continents from Latin America and Africa to the Middle East and Asia.

 

Read more :

http://www.thenation.com/article/177253/wait-what-are-us-border-patrol-agents-doing-dominican-republic

 

“It is sad, and a shame,” former Dominican President Mejía

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (sentinel.ht) – “It is sad and a shame” former Dominican President Hipólito Mejía said of the Constitutional Tribunal’s (TC) judgment 0168-13. Mejía went on to say that the decision had placed his country in a very difficult situation in the world.

 

In an interview with journalist Ruth de los Santos, on the sidelines prior to an event with members of the Dominican Revolutionary party, Mejia, referred to the issued judgment of the Constitutional Court, and recalled that on Tuesday the Dominican Republic would be receiving six of seven members of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR). The international situation that the country is going through, after that judgment, “is sad and a shame,” Mejía said.

 

“This visit,” referring to that of the IACHR, Mejia said, “it means that the situation is very serious.”

 

On another note, the ex-president said that as the movement called “TOYJARTO” he is also “fed up” of such corruption, but admitted that he could not, in their government, “end corruption”.

 

He expressed concern for all the things that are happening in Dominican Republic, which said, “my country is going backward instead of forward,” recalling that the former president Leonel Fernandez made an overdraft of 400 billion pesos, which “has the country in a hole.”

 

Former President Hipolito Mejia, also met with Dominican-born candidates aspiring for elective positions in the next state and municipal elections in the United States and announced his full support to them. I made a fervent appeal to Dominicans U.S. citizens to vote in U.S. elections, while suggesting to those residents in this nation, who have not taken advantage of the “dual citizenship” conquest left by José Francisco Peña Gómez, they do, so they have the right to vote for candidates Dominicans.

Sean Penn: Madonna in Haiti to See His Aid Work

 

Madonna is in Haiti to visit humanitarian projects that ex-husband Sean Penn has been overseeing since the Caribbean nation’s devastating earthquake in 2010, the actor said Monday.

 

Penn said in a brief phone call to The Associated Press that he had invited Madonna, with whom he has “maintained a great friendship over the years,” to visit several times and that she had come with her son Rocco. He said they arrived a “couple of days” ago, and he wasn’t sure when she would leave.

 

“She’s here, she’s seeing, she’s made the effort to come here, and I’m thrilled by that,” Penn said, adding that he hoped Haiti might inspire her to seek out a cause in the country. “She has a unique platform, and wherever she chooses to bring that to, it’s very well.”

 

Madonna’s been busy posting photos on Instagram. One shows her posing with others at a new hospital built by public health pioneer Dr. Paul Farmer in the central part of the country. The caption: “Revolution of Love in Haiti.” Another picture shows a view of the mountains at dusk. The caption: “Sunset in Haiti. This is Heaven!”

 

Penn has served as an ambassador-at-large for Haiti since early 2012. He received the recognition for his work as head of a humanitarian group he co-founded in the aftermath of the earthquake, the J/P Haitian Relief Organization. The group has focused on housing and relocating thousands of people from a golf course that was among hundreds of impromptu settlements that sprang up after the quake.

 

His group recently sponsored five Haitian runners to participate in the New York marathon.

 

Unsafe abortions: Haiti’s abortion crisis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

 

Read more here:

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/23/3775363/unsafe-abortions-haitis-hidden.html#storylink=cpy

 

Hundreds deported to Haiti from DR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At least 350 people have been expelled to Haiti from The Dominican Republic, or have fled of their own accord, after an elderly Dominican couple was slain in an apparent burglary near the border between the two countries.

 

A mob retaliated by killing a Haitian man, two migrant advocates said on Sunday.

 

 

The Reverend Antoine Lissaint of Haiti’s Jesuit Refugee and Migrant Organization told The Associated Press on Sunday 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 there would be more mob violence.

 

Haiti and the Dominican Republic have a long history of acrimony as neighbours on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.

 

Worsening relations

 

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.

 

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.

 

The Price of Sugar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Price of Sugar is a 2007  film directed by Bill Haney about the exploitation of Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic involved with production of sugar, and the efforts of Spanish priest Father Christopher Hartley to ameliorate their situation. It is narrated by actor Paul Newman. The documentary shows the poor working conditions in the sugar cane plantations, and political control exerted by the Vicini family to stifle efforts to change the situation.

While the documentary highlights the efforts of Father Christopher Hartley to bring medicine, education, and human rights to Haitian workers, it also shows the widespread resentment of his actions held by Dominican people.

Watch now here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=id7ugtEyI_8&feature=share

Why social enterprises can help heal Haiti’s post-earthquake wounds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been nearly four years since the Haiti earthquake and despite the billions of dollars that have been pumped into aid relief projects, the country is still recovering.

 

“Since the earthquake, there has been a lot of short-term aid in Haiti, but creating sustainable and long-term jobs is a different story” explains Rebecca Troxler from 3 Cords, a social enterprise whose workforce includes a number of amputees and members of a local deaf community, who otherwise would likely be unemployed.

 

Back in August, the Haitian finance minister, Wilson Laleau, told a reporter “we need basic jobs for people without skills”, while Georges Sassine, a prominent businessman in the garment industry, said that unskilled factory jobs were “passage obligé” – in other words, a necessary route to better things.

 

A glut of social enterprises, including 3 Cords, seem to disagree with Laleau and Sassine. They are critical of the commitment to low-end jobs and believe that it’s up to socially motivated ventures to develop Haitians’ skills and economic potential.

 

One such enterprise is Industrial Revolution II (IRII), a celebrity-backed venture producing high-end apparel through the creation of jobs that guarantee the minimum wage – a requirement that, according to a report by Better Work, other garment factories in Haiti have previously failed to meet. IRII are committed to providing skills training and donating half of their profits to community and social causes as part of their long-term plan to bring sustainability to the country’s industry.

 

Like IRII, Peanuts4Peanuts (P4P) are supporting high-skilled jobs too, but in peanut-butter factories. They have recently raised over $16,000 through crowdfunding and their plan is that for every jar of peanut butter they produce and sell in the USA, a portion of the profits will go towards supporting children in Haiti.

 

Kendra Wilkins, one half of P4P, who like her co-founder Lizzie Faust has a background in economics, rubbishes any claim that social enterprises operating in Haiti are more interested in self-promotion than altruism. She’s keen to stress that social enterprises can play an active role in bridging the gap between what is currently happening in the country and the public’s lack of knowledge of what more could be done to improve the situation.

 

“Natural disasters only make international news for so long. Once the media loses interest, people don’t necessarily remain as informed,” explains Wilkins. “By aligning both economic and social interests, we can leverage consumer habits to help increase prosperity in Haiti, by providing job creation and stability through sustainable factory employment.”

 

Wilkins adds: “The [continuing growth and] success of social enterprises indicates the desire of consumers to buy socially conscientious products. We can bring positive purpose to a decision that wouldn’t traditionally involve philanthropic considerations.”

 

It’s not just jobs that social enterprises are hoping to create either; it’s a better education system. This in turn could help more Haitians access economic opportunities in the first place. Camara, an Irish social enterprise, are aiming to do their part to improve education through developing learning skills and digital literacy and by supplying thousands of discarded computers to Haiti.

 

“Education is the most powerful weapon with which to beat poverty … without digital literacy, a skill we in the developed world take for granted, job creation and getting a job becomes so much more difficult,” says John Fitzsimons, Camara’s chief executive. “Organisations like [us] are in Haiti for the long run and are not subject to short-termism.”

 

Social enterprises may not solve Haiti’s problems on their own, but what they do seem to offer is transparency and a strong business case for building a sustainable future.

Read more here:

 

http://www.theguardian.com/social-enterprise-network/2013/nov/05/social-enterprises-heal-haitis-wounds

 

Digicel wins award for education work in Haiti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digicel Haiti Foundation’s Sophia Stransky, CEO (left), and Rachel Pierre Champagne, Head of Projects (right).

Telecommunications provider Digicel was two nights ago named a winner at the 2012/13 Corporate Citizens of the Americas (CCA) awards at a gala in Washington DC.

 

The CCA award is an initiative of The Trust for the Americas, with support from the Organisation of American States (OAS), the Inter-American Development Bank and AES Corporation.

 

Digicel was named winner in the ‘Vulnerable Communities’ category for its Digicel Foundation education programme in Haiti, the telecoms company said in a release.

 

It added that the Haiti programme is on track to build 150 schools by 2014 and deliver training to more than 600 teachers, each of whom received more than 450 hours of training, mentorship and professional development.

 

Other winners were IBM Latin America for its ‘Corporate Service Corps’ programme in the economic opportunities category, and CEMEX for its ‘Comprehensive Assisted Auto Construction’ programme in the citizen security category.

 

The Trust for the Americas is a non-profit organisation affiliated with the OAS. It was established in 1997 to promote public and private sector participation in social and economic development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean, Digicel said.

 

Its initiatives, implemented through local partner organisations, seek to improve access to economic opportunities for vulnerable communities in the hemisphere. To this end, The Trust also promotes social inclusion and good governance.

 

Commenting on Digicel Foundation’s work in Haiti, Digicel chairman and founder, Denis O’Brien, said:

 

“We are deeply committed to helping the people of Haiti to build a brighter future for themselves. Our education programme in Haiti sees between 80,000 and 90,000 children being given the opportunity to receive a much-needed education and teachers receiving proper training and support. We would like to thank the Trust of the Americas and its partner organisations for this kind recognition of our efforts.”

 

 Read more:

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=49426

Factory opens to help Haiti’s peanut farmers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — The nonprofit group of public health pioneer Dr. Paul Farmer and a health care company have teamed up to open a factory to produce a nutritional supplement in the heart of Haiti.

 

The 18,000-square-foot plant in the Caribbean nation’s Central Plateau is making “Nourimanba,” which is used to treat children for severe malnutrition.

 

The main ingredient in Nourimanba is peanuts grown by Haitian farmers.

 

The first shipments produced at the facility have been distributed to clinics run by Farmer’s Boston-based Partners In Health.

 

A pilot program will provide support for about 300 farmers to improve the quality and quantity of the peanut supply. This also seeks to increase farmers’ incomes.

 

Partners In Health and health care company Abbott Laboratories Inc. and its foundation, the Abbott Fund, made the announcement Wednesday.