Dominican Republic: Haitian descendents protest “denationalization”

Hundreds of Dominicans of Haitian origin demonstrated near the Supreme Court of Justice building in Santo Domingo on Dec. 8 to protest a court ruling a week earlier supporting a 2007 claim by the Central Electoral Council (JCE) that it can invalidate the citizenship of people born in the country if it believes their parents were undocumented immigrants. Jenny Morón, a spokesperson for the protesters, said some 4,000 Dominicans were now in a “process of denationalization” because the JCE had decided to revoke their citizenship.

The demonstrators noted that revocation of citizenship leaves Haitian-descended Dominicans stateless and without juridical status, since they have no way of claiming Haitian citizenship. Previously only the courts could invalidate Dominican citizenship.

The demonstration was organized by the Dominican-Haitian Women’s Movement (MUDHA), the Jacques Viau Dominican-Haitian Encounter Network and the Movement for Civil Registry Without Discrimination. During the protest, participants commemorated the human rights activism of MUDHA head Sonia Pierre, who died on Dec. 4 at the age of 48.

The country’s most prominent Catholic leader, Santo Domingo archbishop Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López, also claimed to lament Pierre’s death, but he denounced the protest itself, telling journalists on Dec. 8 that the demonstrators should respect the authority of the Supreme Court and that protests are not a solution. “We’re in the Dominican Republic, so if the Supreme Court of Justice doesn’t have the authority, then who is going to have it?” he asked. (AlterPresse, Haiti, Dec. 9; Listín Diario, Dominican Republic, Dec. 9; EFE, Dec. 9, via Univision)

Despite her national and international prominence, Pierre herself was a target of the JCE’s efforts to revoke the citizenship of Dominicans with Haitian parents. In April 2007 the JCE reportedly claimed that Pierre’s parents were in the country illegally at the time of her birth, even though they were in fact working as sugarcane cutters under a program set up by the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina in 1957 and they had presented identity papers from the State Sugar Council (CEA) for their daughter’s birth certificate [see Update #893].

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 18.

See our last post on the Dominican Republic.