BON BAGAY, spent a recent afternoon with Ms. Loris Crawford, covering such topics as,  Caribbean Art,  Empowerment, and Haiti. Ms. Crawford, a highly respected arts advisor, gallery manager, event producer and professor of Business Management; with over twenty-five years of experience, specializing in African, Caribbean, and African-American Art. Loris was the founder of Savacou Gallery, one of the first galleries in the United States to specialize in African, Caribbean, and African-American Art and the first such full-service, for-profit gallery in New York City. In this capacity, she has built thousands of art collections. She also founded Art Off The Main: The African, Caribbean & Latin American Art Fair.


(See interview below).


Join Loris Crawford and art lovers, collectors, artists and guests @ the 2nd annual, BON BAGAY: ART AUCTION & CHARITY EVENT FOR HAITI. Thursday, December 12th, 2013 @ Raw Space Gallery in Harlem, NY. An evening of art, music, food, guest speakers and film to support aid organizations in Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the fight of civil rights and citizenship for hundreds of thousands Dominican-born children of Haitian immigrants.


Loris Crawford has lectured extensively on the African, African-American, Caribbean and Latin American art movements at venues such as The Museum of African Art, ArtExpo New York, and the National Black Fine Art Show and has served as consultant on special art projects for major corporations including Lehman Brothers and Kraft Foods.

Among her media credits are: Art Business News, ArtSpeak, The New York Daily News, Newsday, The New York Times, The Amsterdam News and City Sun newspapers; Décor, Black Enterprise, Essence, Art Preview, Country Living and The Network Journal Magazines;WBET and New York Fox 5 television, and WBAI,WWRL and WLIB radio.




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.”


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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:




Francks Francois Décéus continues to emerge as one of the important young painters of his generation. Born in Haiti, Décéus and his family moved to Brooklyn, New York when he was nine years old. It wasn’t until he graduated from Long Island University with a degree in Sociology that he turned to making art as a career. Over a seventeen-year career, his work has marched chronologically from his childhood in Haiti, through his immersion into his new urban community as an immigrant, and recently, to his meditations on a conceptual vision of humanity. He has always been more interested in exploring themes and issues than in making definitive statements or creating a visual language with his art, and his work resonates with political and sociological content.


Stylistically his work incorporates many of the influences and aesthetic forms of the 40’s and 50’s visual artists like William Johnson and Jacob Lawrence, and reverberates with some of the artistic strains of his native Haiti. His modernist style combines figurative, abstract and layered elements and relies heavily on a simplification of form and function. His work is characterized by a semiotic economy, minimalist use of imagery and a deliberately limited palette range within series of work. In 2004, Décéus was selected by curators at the Brooklyn Museum to participate in the exhibition “Open House: Working in Brooklyn”, an exhibition considered to be the largest survey ever devoted to contemporary Brooklyn -based artists. His work has been commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York. His work is in the permanent collection of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and Xavier University.


Décéus has studied printmaking at the venerated Bob Blackburn Printmaking workshop and in June of 2007 completed on a month-long printmaking residency in Gentilly, France. He was the recipient, in February 2008, of the Samella Lewis Award for Painting in the Hampton University Museum’s juried exhibition, “New Power Generation 2008”.




Patricia Brintle was born in Haiti and immigrated to the United States in 1964.  A self-taught artist, she devoted herself completely to painting after a 22-year career with a NY utility company, and in 2005 decided to she is not painting, Brintle directs the contemporary choir at her Parish church.  Although she has made the US her residence, her colorful style reflects her native land.  Her approach to painting is varied and reflects her feelings at the moment.  Brintle’s work is influenced both by personal and social experiences and most of her portraits focus on the expression of the eyes and tells in one look the story of the person on the canvas. 


She favors bright, vivid and vibrant colors and uses much symbolism in her work.  Her medium is as varied as her subjects but she prefers acrylics because of its diversity.  Her works on the Holocaust are on permanent display at the Holocaust Center of Temple Judea in New York and are used as a teaching tool for visitors.  One of her religious works, The First Mother hangs with the Black Madonna Exhibit which made its debut in May 2007 at the National Museum of Catholic Art and History in New York and will travel to museums throughout the United States until December 2008. 


Brintle’s work on nuclear disarmament, A Delicate Balance, won the “Images of Peace” national competition to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Albert Schweitzer’s call for nuclear disarmament and hangs in permanence at the Albert Schweitzer Institute in Hamden, Connecticut.  Brintle is a member of the United Haitian Artists and the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition.


Dominican conservative forces paved the way for anti-Haitian ruling









Over the past several weeks, thousands have gathered in Santo Domingo to defend a controversial ruling by the Constitutional Court that has led to the revocation of nationality of four generations of Dominicans who were born to foreign parents.

“No merger is possible between Dominicans and Haitians,” read one placard that was carried on a recent protest by a supporter of last September’s ruling. “Dominican Republic is for Dominicans,” read another.

Proponents of the decision believe that the wave of migration of Haitians from across the border has been nothing more than a silent invasion that could eventually result in Haitian-Dominicans emerging as leaders of the country and holding sway at the ballot box. Closing off that possibility by enforcing the court’s ruling is viewed by conservative sectors as protecting Dominican national sovereignty.

While the nationalistic movement and an anti-Haitian discourse began under the dictatorship Rafael Leonidas Trujillo (1930-1961), it was during the 1990s when discrimination against Haitians swelled. Anti-Haitian prejudice had also been present during the 1990 presidential campaign when José Francisco Peña Gómez unsuccessfully took his first stab to capture the presidency.

“I love my country, my people. Throughout my lifetime I have paid a price for this. I have been the victim of ferocious attacks, sometimes to my face, other times they have been more subtle like now. But I have forgiven everyone. My adversaries can count on my support as well as my forgiveness,” said Peña Gómez said in a television spot during his last campaign as Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) candidate.

Peña Gómez was born in 1937 in Valverde province and had been adopted that same year by a family of rural workers after his Haitian parents fled back to Haiti when Trujillo ordered massacres of Haitians on the border. His origins and race were the subject of criticism by those inside and outside his party throughout his political career.

He served as mayor of Santo Domingo from 1982 to 1986, and unsuccessfully ran for president in 1990, 1994 and 1996.



Haitian-descended residents of Dominican Republic stripped of citizenship by high court











SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic –  Thousands of Dominican Republic residents have been thrown into limbo by a ruling from the country’s highest court that strips citizenship from anyone born to migrants who entered illegally. The decree affects mainly people of Haitian descent and is likely to worsen already acrimonious relations with neighboring Haiti. Advocacy groups for immigrants expressed anger over the ruling, saying it ignored the rights of those affected and was based on bigotry against predominantly black Haitians.

“This is outrageous,” said Ana Maria Belique, spokeswoman for a nonprofit group that has fought for the rights of children born in the Dominican Republic to migrants, such as herself. “It’s an injustice based on prejudice and xenophobia.”


The Constitutional Court’s decision cannot be appealed, and it covers those born since 1929 — a category that overwhelmingly includes Haitians brought in to work on farms and their descendants.


David Abraham, a law professor at the University of Miami, said the decision was part of a larger effort to keep Haitians from entering the Dominican Republic and to encourage self-deportation of those already here.


He cited the racial differences between the predominantly black Haitians and mixed-race Dominicans as well as Haiti’s plight as one of the world’s poorest countries.


“The fear of the Dominican Republic, of being pulled down to the level of Haiti economically and the ‘blackening’ of the country, has been an obsession of Dominican politicians for well over a century,” he said.


Spanish-speaking Dominicans and Creole-speaking Haitians share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola and have a long history of troubles, including wars and massacres. Relations warmed after Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people, but tensions have since resumed.


The office of Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe declined to comment about the ruling.


Edwin Paraison, a former Haitian Cabinet minister who has been working to improve relations between the two nations, criticized the court and warned that the ruling could hurt Dominicans. “The sentence expresses a rejection of the Haitian diaspora while setting a dangerous precedent that can be reproduced, if appropriate action isn’t taken, against other immigrant communities, including Dominicans, in several countries worldwide,” he said in an email.


The Constitutional Court said officials are studying birth certificates of more than 16,000 people and noted that electoral authorities have refused to issue identity documents to 40,000 people of Haitian descent. It gave the electoral commission a year to produce a list of people to be excluded from citizenship.


The Economy Ministry recently calculated that about 500,000 people born in Haiti now live in the Dominican Republic, but it gave no estimate for the number of people of Haitian descent living in the country. The Dominican Republic’s total population is a little over 10 million.


The debate over citizenship began to escalate in 2007, when electoral authorities refused to issue identity documents or return copies of them to Dominican-born people of Haitian descent. In 2008, several people challenged those decisions in court, including Belique, whose birth certificate was seized by government officials when she tried to enroll in a local university.


Until 2010, the Dominican Republic followed the principle of automatically bestowing citizenship to anyone born on its soil. But that year, thegovernment approved a new constitution stating that citizenship will be granted only to those born on its soil to at least one parent of Dominican blood or whose foreign parents are legal residents.


Citing that constitution, the court ruled that all Haitian migrants who came to work in Dominican sugarcane fields after 1929 were “in transit,” and thus their children were not automatically entitled to citizenship just because they were born here.


Dominican lawyer Cristobal Rodriguez said the court disregarded the principle of law retroactivity by applying the criteria of a new constitution approved in 2010 to people born decades earlier.


Rights groups and migrant activists said the decision would force many people underground and deprive them of basic needs and public services.


Activists said they would likely seek help from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which in turn might submit the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.


Jorge Duany, an anthropology professor at Florida International University who has studied the migration of Dominicans in the Caribbean, said the decision comes after countless years of friction between the two countries.


“The impact could be truly catastrophic,” he said. “They are stigmatizing an entire Haitian population.”






Dominicans of Haitian Descent Cast Into Legal Limbo by Court












SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — For generations, people of Haitian descent have been an inextricable part of life here, often looked at with suspicion and dismay, but largely relied on all the same to clean rooms, build things cheaply and provide the backbreaking labor needed on the country’s vast sugar plantations.


Now, intensifying a long and furious debate over their place in this society, the nation’s top court has declared that the children of undocumented Haitian migrants — even those born on Dominican soil decades ago — are no longer entitled to citizenship, throwing into doubt the status of tens of thousands of people here who have never known any other national identity.


“I am Dominican,” said Ana María Belique, 27, who was born in the Dominican Republic and has never lived anywhere else, but has been unable to register for college or renew her passport because her birth certificate was no longer accepted. “I don’t know Haiti. I don’t have family or friends there. This is my home.”


In a broad order that has reverberated across the hemisphere, the court has instructed the authorities here to audit all of the nation’s birth records back to June 1929 to determine who no longer qualifies for citizenship, setting off international alarm.


The United Nations high commissioner for refugees warned that the decision “may deprive tens of thousands of people of nationality,” while the regional alliance of Caribbean nations, which the Dominican Republic has sought to join, condemned how masses of people are “being plunged into a constitutional, legal and administrative vacuum.”


“It is remarkably sweeping in terms of numbers: over 200,000 made stateless — a staggering figure,” said Laura Bingham, who tracks citizenship issues for the Open Society Justice Initiative. She and other legal experts called it one of the more sweeping rulings denying nationality in recent years.


To some extent, the ruling, issued Sept. 23, and the intensity of emotions around it carry echoes of the immigration debate in the United States and other countries, with wide disagreement on how to treat migrant workers and their children.


But given the history of the Dominican Republic and Haiti — a sometimes cooperative, often tense and occasionally violent relationship between two nations sharing one island — the decision has brought to the surface a unique set of racial tensions and resentment toward the waves of impoverished Haitian migrants that fill menial jobs on this side of the border.


An estimated 200,000 people born in this country have Haitian parents, according to the last census, by far the largest immigrant group here and thus the one most widely affected by the ruling. Haitian immigrants occupy the lowest rungs of society here, and have for generations, living in urban slums or squalid sugar plantation camps where wage abuse remains common, as a United States Department of Labor report found last month.


For decades, Haitians, housed in remote shantytowns known as bateys, were brought over on contracts for sugar plantations to cut cane under the blistering sun. Many still labor in the fields, while others work as maids, construction workers and in other low-paying jobs.


Many Haitians proudly embrace the slave rebellion that led to Haiti’s founding as a nation. But Dominicans, although they rushed aid to Haiti after its devastating 2010 quake and maintain many cultural and social exchanges, historically have viewed their neighbors with qualms, identifying more with their nation’s Spanish colonial past and, despite their own racially mixed heritage, often deriding anyone with dark skin as “Haitian.”


“The Dominican Republic is at a crossroads right now over the question, ‘What does it mean to be Dominican in the 21st century?’ ” said Edward Paulino, a historian at John Jay College who has studied the relationship between the two countries. “It is a country of immigrants, but no other group is like the Haitians, which arrived with the cultural baggage of a history of black pride in a country that chose to identify with the European elite.”

Les Présidents Dominicains D’Origine Haïtienne













L’antagonisme qui oppose la République Dominicaine à Haïti n’a jamais pu briser les liens d’ascendance qui se sont inscrits dans les annales de l’histoire de ces deux presqu’iles. Ils sont sous-estimés d’abord par les historiens dominicains qui prêtent souvent un serment d’allégeance à l’anti-haïtianisme, une vielle doctrine indépendantiste reconduite et nourrie par les gouvernements rancuniers de Pedro Santana, Ulysse Heureaux, Raphael Trujillo, Joaquin Balaguer et même par le gauchiste pollué Leonel Fernandez. Ces historiens de la partie de l’Est se veulent plutôt un nom dans la diabolisation de la présence haïtienne en territoire voisin, décrivant le journalier haïtien comme un sous-homme. Dans ce rang de stylos partiaux, on retrouve les Frank Moya Pons, Roberto Cassá, Bernardo Pichardo et Bernardo Vega, pour en citer un iota.

À l’opposé, certains historiens haïtiens, gonflés d’orgueils et peut-être par souci de grandeur ou par ignorance, se sont gardés d’écrire cette belle page d’histoire. Ces écrivains haïtiens retracent uniquement les accrochages transfrontaliers comme la Campagne de l’Est, le massacre odieux d’octobre 1937 et les litiges sur les clôtures mitoyennes des deux républiques. En effet, seule la face obscure de l’histoire de l’Ile soit connue. Ce sont les idéaux destructeurs qui ont survécu les ans. Alors que rien au monde ne peut venir à bout de cette vérité historique : quatre présidents dominicains sont d’origine haïtienne.

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