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Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. (IWN file photo)
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves. (IWN file photo)
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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has repeated his opposition to a policy in the Dominican Republic that denies citizenship to persons of Haiti descent born in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations who are now subject to “deportation” to Haiti.

He told reporters that what is happening in the Dominican Republic is a “stain” and “antithetical” to the further ennoblement of the Caribbean civilization.

Gonsalves was speaking on his return to St. Vincent and the Grenadines from the EU-CELAC meeting in Brussels, where the matter was discussed.

Gonsalves told reporters in Kingstown that that he made a proposal during the summit that was included in the final communiqué.

He said that the Dominican Republic wanted to have just a discussion, and he told the Santo Domingo delegation that he took that to mean that they want help.

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The United Nations refugee agency has urged the Dominica Republic to ensure that Haitians and Haitian descendants whose citizenship was thrown into question by a 2013 ruling of the Constitutional Court will not be deported.

Gonsalves said consideration is being given for benchmark standards to be set up and for a monitoring mechanism to be put in place for CARICOM and the EU and the Dominican Republic to monitor the progress.

“Because what is happening in the Dominican Republic is simply unacceptable,” he said, adding that he was well briefed on the subject and knew what he was talking about.

“And the Foreign Minister of the Dominican Republic didn’t get away with selling a bill of goods, the description of which was not what it was held out by him to be,” Gonsalves told reporters.

“A lot of people ask me, ‘Why are you, Ralph, so strong on this matter?’ I say, ‘I am strong on this in the same way that I was strong on other things’,” he said, and mentioned reparation for native genocide and slavery and the further ennoblement of the Caribbean civilisation.

“It is unacceptable to have a public policy in relation to citizenship, grounded in ethnicity or your national origins,” Gonsalves said.

He said how Santo Domingo deals with Haitian migrants was a different issue from its attitude to persons of Haitian descent who were born in the Dominican Republic.

“…persons of Haitian descent born in the Dominican Republic, who, by any international standard, should be citizens of the Dominican Republic, they are denied citizenship and they are denied citizenships on ethnic grounds or grounds of national origins,” Gonsalves said.

He said that these persons don’t have anybody to talk for them, so he has to be their voice.

“I have to do it because I know Jesus would have done it,” Gonsalves said.

He told reporters that the talk this month was the first time that the Dominican Republic has reached out and said they want help.

“But we can’t help on your terms. We have to help in a manner which advances the rightness of the cause. I appreciate some of their difficulties and challenges … but I have to deal with the principle and let us see how we can manage in going forward in solving the issue practically.”

Gonsalves also rejected what he said was the position of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican republic, whom he quoted as saying that the issue was one of sovereignty for Santo Domingo to resolve.

“And I told him he has a notion of sovereignty which has stood still in 1648 in the Treaty of Westphalia at the end of the 30 years war when there was a pristine sovereignty.

“The question of sovereignty has evolved in theory and in practice and in the 21st century, the fact that you are sitting down with us from CARICOM and the European Union discussing his business is a sign that the sovereignty is not pristine. If the sovereignty was pristine, he would have told us go to hell, metaphorically speaking,” Gonsalves said.

He said the Dominican Republic has subjected itself to certain international standards which it must uphold, and noted that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has found that what the Dominican Republic is doing is wrong.

Gonsalves said that instead of following the instruction of the court, Santo Domingo proceeded to have an application before their constitutional court to say that the country is not bound by any decision of the Inter American Court because the document that would have bounded jurisdiction was not properly ratified.

Reports indicate that the Constitutional Court said that when the Dominican Republic joined the jurisdiction of the regional court in 1999, it had done so without respecting its own constitution.

“You can try any kind of legalism you want, but the fact remains that there are international standards and there has been a pronouncement on it,” Gonsalves said.

5 replies on “DomRep policy on persons of Haitian descent a ‘stain’ on the Caribbean — Gonsalves”

  1. C. ben-David says:

    Your hypocrisy knows no bounds, Dr.Gonsalves.

    You talk about reparations for native genocide — which you could easily do by giving them some Crown land of their own without British help because SVG is a sovereign nation — but reject out of hand the benign notion of honourary citizenship for the descendants of our indigenous people forced into exile by our slave masters which you could also easily grant with little or no cost.

    Except, of course, because Mr. Eustace came up with the idea first you are bound to oppose it.

  2. Hahahahah. What is wrong with this guy, he just wants fame, and to be some kind of freedom fighter on the world stage like Mandella and them. And the funny thing is, he wicked like sin. Look what he did to bigger bigs and them fellas. And this is the same guy that is now trying to divide the garifuna community with his nonsense. This is the bigger joker of them all. Just call the election and stop babbling to yourself.

  3. C. ben-David you have said it all in such a succint manner. The PM’s HYPOCRISY should be noted in the Guiness Book of Records!

    Vinci Vin

  4. It is always very amusing to see people turn their utterances into Pretzels , in order to confirm to what they are saying . These are not honest persons , they are more akin to being Charlatans .

    This Issue by Mr. Eustace is simply a Political Ploy , or stunt , The fact is that Mr . Eustace needs to tell the People in St. Vincent & the Grenadines , precisely what is his definition of an Honorary Citizen .

    If his definition means that they are entitled to the same Status of Persons who are born in St. Vincent & the Grenadines . I don’t believe that the Citizens of St. Vincent & the Grenadines are going to be happy Campers .

    The Onus is on Mr. Eustace ; the Members of his Party & Supporters , to tell us in clear unambiguous language what they mean by Honorary Citizenship . My belief is that unless
    this is done ; Mr Eustace would be trying to hoodwink the People of St. Vincent & the Grenadines .

    Now it is very well known , that Persons born in most Countries are Citizens of that Country , This is recognized in most Countries in the World . The persons who are born in the Dominican Republic , ARE CITIZENS OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC . It is therefore
    untenable for the Dominican Republic to say that persons who are born there , and are of Haitian descent are Haitians . I seriously doubt that any International Court will uphold the Dominican Republic in its asinine quest to make Haitians born in the Dominican Republic
    Stateless persons .

    Most if not all of the current Garifuna people living abroad , were not born in St. Vincent & the Grenadines , their Ancestors , now deceased , if they were born in SVG could have claimed that status . But this whole discussion hinges , in my opinion on precisely what is
    Mr. Eustace exact definition of Honorary Citizenship . As I have stated earlier , Mr Eustace
    needs to tell the People of St. Vincent & the Grenadines exactly what he means by Honorary Citizenship .

    Now if he fails to do this , then this Idea of his ; his Party ; & Supporters ,must be totally ignored . Mr. Eustace is the person who came up with this idea . Therefore he must be explicit regarding what he means by stating that the Garifuna People must get Honorary
    Citizenship . Especially since this is his idea . It is always easy to say things , however the Devil is in the Details . So Mr. Eustace , Please tell the People in St. Vincent & the Grenadines what Status & Rights , those who you want to give Honorary Citizenship to will
    have in St. Vincent & The Grenadines .

    I have absolutely no doubt that those persons who you wish to confer Honorary Citizenship to , are already Citizens of various Countries in Central & North America , and perhaps other Countries in the World , DUE TO THE FACT THAT THEY WERE BORN THERE .

    This brings me back to the Dominican Republic , ALL PERSONS BORN IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ARE CITIZENS OF THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC ; this is the generally accepted International Rule ; and therefore are supposed to be accorded all full rights that Citizens of the Dominican Republic are accorded .

    In essence there is a distinct difference between Persons born in a Country & and those who by some process obtain Honorary Citizenship . This fact has escaped those who are
    drinking the NDP’s KOOL AID .


  5. Patrick Andre says:

    I am Haitian and it is with great appreciation that I am reading the constant and strong standing of PM Dr. Gonsalves on the tragic issue of the déportations of Dominicans of Haitian descent and of Hatian immigrants who are my brothers and sisters based on a unjust, unfair, racist and indefendable law from a shameful government. As said rightfully by Dr. Gonsalves:”…what is happening in the Dominican Republic is simplyuinacceptable.”, this is why I am a proponent of a peaceful struggle to rescind that law, stop the déportations and treat all immigrants with humanity and dignity. Our struggle is against the inequity of the Dominican government and not against its people with which we share the same island. Louis Delgres, a Guadeloupean freedom fighter against French colonialism stated: “The resistance against oppression is a birthgiven natural right”.

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