Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has written to President of the Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina, over a court decision that effectively revokes citizenship to some 250,000 persons of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic.
“I regret that the circumstances have compelled me to write robustly on this matter. I assure you that my language is restrained and does not fully express my personal outrage,” Gonsalves said at the end of the two-page letter of Oct. 11.
He said that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is “deeply distressed” by the Sept. 23 ruling by the Constitutional Court in Dominican Republic.
Reuters news agency says the ruling retroactively denies Dominican nationality to anyone born after 1929, who does not have at least one parent of Dominican blood.
The ruling comes under a constitutional clause declaring all others to be either in the country illegally or “in transit”.
While the judgment is final, human rights groups plan to challenge it before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, where it could in theory still be overruled, Reuter further reported.
Medina, Reuters says, appeared to distance himself from the ruling last week after he met with human rights groups.
“I don’t know if legally an injustice has been committed, but there’s a human problem we have to solve,” he said.
But Gonsalves, in the letter to Medina, said, “This court decision in effect renders stateless, huge numbers of these persons of Haitian descent.
“Surely, this ruling by the Court is unacceptable in any civilised community,” Gonsalves further said in his letter to the Dominican Republic, which has been attempting to join the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), of which Haiti and SVG are members.
He said the decision is “an affront to all established international norms and elemental humanity.
“It is subversive of your country’s international human rights obligations as enshrined in several international an hemispheric conventions/treaties to which it is a state party,” Gonsalves said.
He further said that the ruling is being “widely interpreted internationally as being grounded in jaundiced anti-Haitian or even racist mind-set, given the fact that most of the persons deprived of their ‘citizenship by birth’ are black.
“It is thus incumbent on the government and people of the Dominican Republic to stand askance from the Court’s decision, and set about promptly and practically to make the requisite corrective in accordance with your international obligations.”
Gonsalves said that Medina knows better than he does “the troubled relationship of the Dominican Republic and Haiti”, adding, “it is not necessary for me to traverse any of that well-trod terrain.”
The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the island of Hispaniola, where Spanish and French are spoken respectively, and each country having starkly different economic circumstance, largely springing from historical realities.
“Surely, it must pain you as a leader of high principle and noble ideals that persons of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic are legally debarred from automatic citizenship,” Gonsalves said.
“The highest office in the land is that of citizenship. It is an inward grace from which springs the bonds of national community in the landscape and seascape of the country of one’s birth. Reason and conscience dictate that you, my esteemed brother, must act swiftly to right the historic wrong committed against your patriots of Haitian descent. I expect no less from you. I feel sure that you would not disappoint,” Gonsalves further said.
He said that under Medina’s leadership and that of his predecessor, the Dominican Republic has made “commendable strides to lift its image in the regional and international community, and to erase the memory of some of mischiefs of the past”.
He further said that the Dominican Republic is a vital member of CARIFORUM — the Forum of the Caribbean Group of African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP), a body that comprises Caribbean ACP States for the purpose of promoting and coordinating policy dialogue, cooperation and regional integration.
Gonsalves noted that the Dominican Republic “is in quest of membership of CARICOM.
“The real, not potential, adverse impact on these regional and multi-state relationships is self-evident,” he said.
He further said that Secretary-General of CARICOM, Irwin LaRocque, has spoken “wisely and publicly” against the court decision and other outstanding citizens of CARICOM member-states, including P.J. Patterson, former prime minister of Jamaica have also expresses similar sentiments.
“Some in your country may well consider this to be an unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of the Dominican Republic. Plainly it is not!” Gonsalves said.
“The fig-leaf f sovereignty cannot be invoked when time-honoured and universal principles of citizenship and human decency are trampled upon,” he further stated.
“These precepts go beyond the outermost boundaries of a country’s territorial limits; they are existential to humanity. Moreover, your country has its international obligations,” Gonsalves said.
That ruling in the Dominican Republic is absolutely outrageous! Where is their humanity? Are our Vincentians studying there safe in that hostile, anti-immigrant/foreigner environment?
This ruling is tantamount to Apartheid. I applaud Dr. Gonsalves on this strong position.
I wholeheartedly agree with what Gonslaves wrote to Mr Medina.
Its a shame that it shows Gonsalves as two faced. Because there are atrocities going on now and in the past in Cuba that are a hundred times worse than this. People have been executed for little more than wanting to leave Cuba. There are hundreds of political prisoners, hundreds of religious objectors, and almost all the oppressed and incarcerated are black people.
There is the worst form of racism in Cuba, the white people of Spanish descent get most of the prime jobs, in fact most of the jobs period. Black people are treated as second class citizens in every walk of life.
Cuba’s Black Spring began in March of 2003. For three days, government security agents went around the country arresting peaceful dissidents, who Fidel Castro believed would endanger the stability of the longest dictatorship in the history of Latin America. Seventy-five men were arrested and summarily tried and sentenced to prison terms of up to 25 years. Their crime was to peacefully ask for changes to the Cuban Communist Constitution. International condemnation of the arrests began immediately. Many of those people are still in prison, most of the white ones were released and banished to Spain, the black ones languish in squalor and filth, just rotting their lives away.
Its time for Gonsalves to speak out about Cuba, and at the same time kick their asses out of SVG, there are hundreds of them with nothing to do with the airport project. All granted residency and the right to vote, this packing of the voters list with Cubans has got to stop.
I call on ‘Wun-Fat-Pratt to write to the Castro’s and put them in their places as well. Make the letter public so as we dont just have to rely on your spoken word.
Self Appointed Keeper of the Whistle
Clearly there is a discrimination of race and ethnicity by this court ruling of the Republica Dominicana..
I applauded my Prime minister Dr. Gonsalves for such bold stand, he is within his bonds to do such and is an example of a true leader.
As a student of the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo living in the Dominican Republic i often try to keep up with the sociopolitical and economic affairs of the country and as to that respect i should add that I and my other comrades are safe in the sense of immigrants because of our diplomatic obligations as students with scholarships jointly between DR and SVG
However i personally have seen and experienced the stereotyping and narrow visioned mentality of the average Dominican, who seemed not to be aware of the existence of “black” people other than Haitians let alone my island SVG, which is in the same geographic region that they share, and to add another eye opener to the Dominican society is my cultural persuasion of Rastafari, to which my dreads is evident.
The Domincan peso is 15 to 1 EC dollar, and there no bank that you can go that will change the EC dollar..
I am however gratefully to have been given this opportunity to study here in the DR and experience their culture and do hope that some how i can contribute to help bring about better integration between SVG, DR and the Diaspora as a whole.
Hi, I live in Dominican Republic and i have one question, When U.S. or other countries enforce their immigration laws are racist or make apartheid?
Carlos, name me one other country you know of that has laws like the one that was just passed in the DR. Light skin Santos or Dominican Republic citizens think they are white and that the crux of this whole matter. Hundreds of them come to the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the US and seek what they are denying the Haitian immigrants. I have dealt with some of them in St. Thomas and they have this air of superiority to other Latinos who are not from the DR.
No other country I know of have such draconian, Apartheid era immigration laws. This has nothing to do with enforcing immigration laws. This is the making of new laws meant to rid the DR of Haitian Immigrants and their descendants.
RACIST! RACIST! RACIST! DOMINICAN GOVERNMENT AND (IN) JUSTICES.
Discrimination is the order of the day in Spanish speaking caribbean countries and South America. I have many friends in Canada and the State who told me how their countries are racist but it’s something people never talk about. I guess they came to a boiling point in the Dominica Republic and this is the result, it’s sickening and the PM have my support on this one. But we also need to take a close look in the mirror and try not to discriminate against our own in SVG.
BLANE, I am glad that you mentioned discrimination in SVG. The world should know there is political discrimination in SVG, where evil, spite, malice and hate are committed against anyone and their whole family if they are known not to support the ruling Marxist led regime. People have lost there jobs for supporting the opposition party, and cannot get employment unless they are ruling party card carrying members.
Business’s have been destroyed because the owners support the opposition party.
Whole villages have been discriminated against, where their roads, sports grounds and social facilities are left to fall apart, why? because the villagers are known to be supporters of the opposition party. They get no help or support whatsoever from the government.
Even our police force has been politicized.
Government land is sold to regime supporters for 15cents a square foot, opposition supporters cannot get land at any price.
Love thy neighbour has become hate your neighbour if they support the opposition party, old people all but destroyed by their neighbours in the name of politics, hatred, spite, malice and pure evil.
PLEASE DONT SAY THIS ISNT SO, ITS THE TRUTH.
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