02-19-2017  6:08 pm      •     
Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – A Dominican Republic court order threatens to force more than 200,000 Dominican-born Haitians from their homes in an effort that many human rights watchers have called modern-day ethnic cleansing.

Just a few days before the mass murder of nine church members studying the Bible in Charleston, S.C., the June 17, 2015 deadline expired for Dominican-born Haitians to request residency papers proving their citizenship in the Dominican Republic leaving hundreds of thousands of people stateless.

Media outlets have reported that the government has announced plans to start deportation efforts deploying the military and transport vehicles in neighborhoods where Dominican-born Haitians live. The Dominican government officials also said that they would allow undocumented foreigners to begin the path to become naturalized citizens in the future.

Ron Daniels, the president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, a group that advocates for social, economic and political equality for marginalized people in the United States and around world said that the treatment of Dominican-born Haitians, especially those working on the sugar plantations, is a festering cancer on the island of Hispaniola.

“It’s really a schizophrenic relationship between the government of the Dominican Republic and the government of Haiti to ensure that Haitian migrants work in the sugar fields,” said Daniels.

Bill Fletcher, a global justice activist, writer and the host of “The Global African” on Telesur-English, said that the tension between the two countries that share the island of Hispaniola dates back to the 18th century when French and Spanish colonists imported African slaves to the island to harvest sugar cane.

After the successful slave rebellion on French-ruled western part of the island, Haiti declared its independence from France in 1804. Then in 1822, the Haitians invaded the Spanish-ruled east, in their minds, to unify the island and to end slavery, said Fletcher.

Haitian military forces occupied what is now the Dominican Republic for more than twenty years. After their own war for independence, the Dominicans won their freedom from Haitian rule and declared their sovereignty in 1844.

“There was a tension that existed and a deep suspicion that existed on the island of Hispaniola,” said Fletcher. “That tension ratcheted up with the regime of Rafael Trujillo.”

Fletcher called Trujillo “a perfect example of self-hating mulatto” and some historians claim that he even wore makeup and hair dyes in effort to appear more European.

Trujillo ruled from 1930-1961 and “He focused on the Haitians in much the same way that Hitler focused the Jews,” Fletcher said.

Trujillo solution to the Haitian problem in the Dominican Republic culminated in the Parsley Massacre of 1937. Historians estimate that 10,000 to 25,000 Haitians, many of them Dominican-born and living on the border between the neighboring countries, were executed under orders from Trujillo’s government.

Trujillo served as president until 1952 and continued to rule the country after he left the office wielding power through his military ties under a succession of paper presidents. In 1961, Trujillo was assassinated while traveling near Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, ending his long and brutal reign.

Fast-forward to 2010 Dominican lawmakers approved a constitutional amendment that denied citizenship to Dominican-born children whose parents, were considered “in transit,” often a result of their temporary and seasonal work status, even though many of them had long ago taken up residency in the Dominican Republic.

International outrage over the amendment gave the Dominican government pause and lawmakers appeared to back down from their plans for full-scale deportation. That reprieve would be short-lived.

Then, in 2013 a court stripped Dominican Haitians and their children of their citizenship unless they could prove their legal status prior to 1929. Others can request residency permits as foreigners or apply to become naturalized citizens, but for now more than 200,000 Dominican Haitians are effectively stateless, because most have lived in the Dominican Republic for generations and have no familial ties to Haiti or even speak French or Creole.

Daniels said that the ugly backdrop to the self-hatred and racism, behind the constitutional amendment is the fact that many Dominicans share an African heritage.

“This was a conscious decision to identify themselves as Hispanic,” said Daniels, noting there was a time in the Dominican Republic’s brief history that government officials prioritized importing European Hispanics to the island in an effort to “whiten” up the population. “It really was a part of their self-hatred, if you really want to get down to it.”

Many Dominicans who have shunned their African roots claim “Taíno” heritage for the indigenous people of Hispaniola that were all but wiped out when European settlers began to colonize the island. Anthropologists have used DNA evidence to prove that more than 80 percent of Dominicans have some African ancestry.

Daniels continued: “Even some Black Dominicans don’t consider themselves Black, because of this psychology. They don’t want to be associated with Haiti, they don’t want to be identified as Black.”

Fletcher said that they are right-wing elements within the Dominican Republic that are racist and xenophobic and focused on Haitians and the Haitian descendants as the source of the economic problems in the country.

“I don’t know if the majority of the Dominican population agrees with that or that right-wingers and the ultra nationalists are so loud-mouthed that they’re silencing reasonable voices,” said Estela Vazquez, an executive vice president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, a labor rights group.

Vazquez said that Dominicans living in the United States should be raising their voices and declaring that the Dominicans of Haitian-descent should stay in the Dominican Republic.

“Not only should we reach out to the Dominican government and say that, ‘This is wrong and the whole world is watching,’ we should also call on the Obama administration and the State Department to intervene. We should call on our ministers, our rabbis, our priests and our imams to write letters to the Dominican government and direct their congregations in a day of prayer,” for the Dominican-born Haitians suffering in the Dominican Republic.

Vazquez compared the actions taken by the Dominican government, forcing thousands of Dominican Haitians to flee their homes to Nazis rounding up German Jews and herding them into concentrations camps in the 1930s. Other human rights activists also fear that the crisis could devolve into armed conflict between the neighboring countries and even genocide of the Dominicans of Haitian-descent.

“There’s an anti-Haitian posture and attitude that permeates much of Dominican society that needs to change,” said Daniels, adding, “And if it can’t change through moral appeal, than it needs to change through our ability to exact pain,” through economic sanctions in the tourism industry.

Daniels said that the life-blood of the Dominican Republic is tourism and that’s where economic boycotts should start.

Daniels noted the success of the threat of economic boycotts in Indiana after the state promoted a “Freedom of Religion” act that many people feared would allow businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

“People and companies decided to exercise a tourism boycott of that state and [Indiana state lawmakers] changed their tunes immediately,” said Daniels. “The Dominican Republic would change its tune immediately, if there were any effective challenge to its tourism or sanctions on its tourism. That message would change everything. We need to shut it down and they will change their tune.”

Fletcher said that the growing humanitarian crisis in the Dominican Republic is not a situation where people should just close their eyes or turn to the sports page.

“It’s important for steps to be taken to weaken the regime of the Dominican Republic to the point where they will never, ever consider such a horror again,” said Fletcher. “The next time an African American is thinking about taking a trip to the Dominican Republic, they should think twice. The next time that someone is considering a real estate investment in the Dominican Republic, they should think twice.”

Fletcher added: “Sitting back and simply shaking your head is unacceptable and it’s not an option.”

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all