Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Horror in Hispaniola

This is really happening, right now:
Within days, the Dominican government is expected to round up Haitians — or, really, anyone black enough to be Haitian — and ship them to the border, where they will likely be expelled.
The government has described it, in terms chillingly reminiscent of the Holocaust, as a "cleansing" of the country's immigration rolls.
Cassandre Theano, a legal officer at the New York-based Open Society Foundations, said the comparisons between the Dominican government's actions and the denationalization of Jews in Nazi Germany are justified.
"We've called it as such because there are definitely linkages," she told The Washington Post this week. "You don't want to look a few years back and say, 'This is what was happening and I didn't call it.' "
In other words, 78 years later, these are the fruits of Trujillo's bloody campaign to sow anti-Haitian sentiment in the Dominican Republic.
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The discrimination starts with the long-standing practice of not recognizing as Dominican people of Haitian descent who were born in the Dominican Republic. Instead, they are lumped in with a second group: Haitian migrants who came to the country -- sometimes brought by force -- to work in the sugarcane fields.
Then, in 2013, the country's Constitutional Court ruled that no longer would people born in the Dominican Republic automatically be considered citizens. The rule, the court decided, would retroactively apply to anyone born after 1929.
The change overwhelmingly affects Haitians and people of Haitian descent. And its impact reaches back generations.
In reality, Theano said, "cleaning" the Dominican registration rolls to root out fraud and non-citizens entails identifying Haitian-sounding names, then forcing Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent to prove that they are citizens.
The deadline for procuring the documents necessary to prove citizenship if you were born in the Dominican Republic lapsed in February. And on Wednesday, the deadline for migrants to "regularize" their statuses will also expire.
What happens Thursday is unknown.
But it doesn't look good:
An aid worker based in the poorer barrios of Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata (the two primary hubs of Haitian immigrants in the DR), who doesn’t want to be named, writes that three days ago, on June 9, local Dominican television media reported that the government solicited transportation companies for up to three dozen large passenger buses to be available on a rotating basis, with an implicit understanding that these would be used for pending deportation trips. “This,” he said, “is an extremely ominous sign.”

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