Rule of Law

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The president of the Haitian Bar Association, Carlos Hercule, knows that the rule of law in his country is tenuous, and that people have little faith in the justice system. “We have attorneys who [single-handedly] represent both parties in real-estate deals. We have people representing themselves as attorneys who have not been accredited. And we have judges and officials who accept bribes,” he recently explained to me in French, through a translator.

His French is impeccable, but that’s another problem. French is the official language of the courts in Haiti, but as much as 95 percent of the population speaks only Creole, so most defendants—if they can even afford to hire a lawyer—can’t fully grasp what goes on during the court proceedings. There are no public defenders, and available legal aid is extremely limited. Adding to the disparity, as experts have pointed out, is the fact that many Haitian lawyers are typically invested in their own elite social status and rarely offer direct defense to the poor, which they perceive as debasing the profession. The result is that the vast majority of the country’s 10.3 million-plus people—roughly three-quarters of whom live on less than $2 a day—have no real access to justice.

Read more: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/04/establishing-the-rule-of-law-in-a-country-where-justice-hardly-exists/391113/?utm_content=buffera1062&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Children of Haitian descent in Dominican Republic being barred from school, forced into labor

Children of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic are increasingly being barred from attending school following a court ruling that could lead to tens of thousands of people being stripped of their citizenship, according to a report released Friday.

Dozens of families with school-age children say they are being turned away or harassed due to arbitrary interpretations of the court ruling and Dominican laws, according to researchers at the Human Rights Institute at Georgetown University Law Center who compiled the report.

As a result, some children drop out of school or lose scholarships while others are forced into underage labor, said Kimberly Fetsick, one of the report’s authors.

“Children are being harmed, and their human rights are being violated,” she said. “Action must be taken to protect these children.”

 

Read more:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/children-haitian-descent-dominican-republic-barred-school-article-1.1754213#ixzz30DAevwf5

 

 

 

Haiti loses former ambassador, expert on Dominican relations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guy Alexandre, a former Haiti ambassador to the Dominican Republic who recently published a book on how to improve the relationship, died Friday of a heart attack. He was 68.

 

“He was an honest, uncompromising intellectual,” Evelyn Margron Alexandre said about her husband who died in Port-au-Prince en route to the hospital. “He believed in people, he believed in knowledge.”

 

Born in St. Marc, Alexandre was first assigned to the Dominican Republic in 1991. His diplomatic career ended in 2003 during the uprising against former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Alexandre would later serve as an adviser on international relations under Haiti’s 2004-2006 interim government. He then joined the International Organization for Migration in Haiti, serving as a senior adviser and program manager where he, among other things, oversaw a program for returning deportees.

 

“In a way, he was the institutional memory of Haiti on migration and as such was a valued expert on the subject for IOM,” said IOM spokeswoman Ilaria LANZONI.

 

But it was Alexandre’s expertise on Haiti-Dominican relations that made him the go-to person for journalists, activists and governments seeking a better understanding of the tense diplomatic relations.

 

In recent months, he had become invaluable as both nations met to address a number of issues, including last year’s Dominican court ruling stripping citizenship from persons born to undocumented foreigners. The issue deeply worried him, his wife said.

 

“He could have been the person to bring the voice of reason on how we can approach that problem,” said former Haitian Prime Minister Gerard Latortue.

“Haiti is losing at this time one of our great intellectuals and one of the most efficient diplomats we ever had.”

 

Former Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said Alexandre was not only a big brother to him, but “a true democrat always looking for a pragmatic way to use his empirical studies or his authority to improve the daily reality of Haitians.”

 

Ice cream adds sweet taste for farmers in Haiti

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entrepreneurs from one of the grittiest cities in the United States have joined forces with peasant farmers in Haiti to help transform the country’s bitter poverty into delicious and life-sustaining ice cream.

A white former human sexuality professor from Alabama and a black Baltimore gourmet ice cream maker are being recognized for their efforts to help Haitian farmers find a market for their high-value vanilla beans and cacao in a product they like to call “ice cream with a purpose.”

The unusual pair teamed up two years ago to market Haitian vanilla-flavored ice cream to upscale Baltimore area restaurants.

The Vanilla Project, which provides income for some 650 farmers in rural Haiti, on February 1 earned its creators the Citizen Diplomat Award from Global Ties U.S., a non-profit partner of the U.S. State Department.

The vanilla venture owes its origins to a chance encounter 14 years ago when Alabama mother and daughter Anne and Stephanie Reynolds befriended a Haitian street artist.

They decided on a lark to join the artist, Gracia Thelisma, on a bus trip to the north of Haiti to visit the mother he had not seen in years.

The mother-daughter duo was struck by Haiti’s beauty and its people – as well as its poverty.

After they returned to Alabama they collected clothes to send to Haiti and raised money to start a school in Thelisma’s home town of Plaisance.

That soon evolved into seeking a long-term solution to employ the children who graduated from the school.

“Haiti once exported some of the finest vanilla products to Paris. They can do it again,” said Anne Reynolds, 57, a former professor at Auburn University at Montgomery, Alabama.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with a poverty rate of 77 percent and an average per capita income of $760, according to the World Bank.

After testing the plants in Haiti, and planting 70,000 vanilla vines, the project went into full businessmode last year with the creation of the De La Sol Haiti company in Plaisance, a rural farmingcommunity of 65,000.

Stephanie Reynolds, 27, with a graduate degree in Latin American studies, runs the company, which has 8 employees, 5 women and 3 men from Plaisance.

While waiting for the vines to mature, De la Sol Haiti is turning cocoa bought from local producers into chocolate.

The company is training farmers in new techniques to grow the vanilla vines on cacao trees and Thelisma hopes vanilla exports could start next year. It takes up to five years for the vanilla plants, which are related to the orchid family, to reach maturity.

“My dream is for De la Sol to become a leading force for Plaisance development,” said Thelisma. “In the region, people do not have jobs. With the vanilla businessDe la Sol could be able to expand and benefit a larger part of the population,” he added.

Reynolds was looking for culinary partners when she got a call out of the blue from Baltimore ice cream maker Taharka Brothers.

Owned and operated by young, college-aged African-Americans from tough neighborhoods, Taharka, founded in 2010, was introduced to Haiti in 2012 through Global Ties U.S., which hosts international visitors sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

Taharka’s marketingmanager, Darius Wilmore, a former graphic artist with Def Jam Recordings, the hip hop label, was immediately struck with the idea of helping Haitian producers.

Wilmore Googled “vanilla in Haiti,” and found Reynolds.

She told him her vanilla beans were still two years away from maturity. In passing, Reynolds mentioned growing vanilla bean vines on cacao (chocolate) trees.

“What are you doing with the chocolate?” asked Wilmore.

While vanilla is the No. 1 flavor in the world, chocolate comes in a solid second.

Today, Taharka orders between 20 to 50 pounds of chocolate bi-monthly from De La Sol Haiti for its ice cream, which it delivers to 50 of Baltimore’s fanciest restaurants  grocery stores and ice cream shops. Wilmore hopes to see a profit next year, and start taking delivery of some Haitian vanilla beans.

Taharka Brothers joined Del La Sol Haiti in Washington, DC, this month to receive the Citizen Diplomat Award, adding their names to a list of luminaries such as U.S. Senator William Fulbright and celebrated poet-activist Maya Angelou.

Both Reynolds and Wilmore share a belief that the best way to help those less fortunate is through collaboration, and that giving creates dependency.

While Wilmore disapproves of handouts, he believes he owes the people of Haiti a debt of gratitude, because their bloody, decade-long revolution in the late 18th century began the end of slavery in the western world.

“It is race, class and history wrapped into this. Here we are, young black men, working with white women from Alabama, buying chocolate from poor Haitians. We are shining the light on social injustice through ice cream,” Wilmore said in his award acceptance speech.

He added: “Ice cream tastes better than poverty.”

 

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.