Dominican Republic: ‘Haitians’ continue protests

Chanting "We're Dominicans and we're staying here," hundreds of people of Haitian descent and their supporters gathered in front of the Congress building in Santo Domingo on March 12 in the latest protest against Decision 168-13, a ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal (TC) last September declaring that no one born to undocumented immigrants since 1929 was a citizen. Among the groups participating in the "Day of Fasting and Prayer" were the Bonó Center, a Catholic human rights organization, and, a youth movement that has been organizing demonstrations for two years on the 12th day of the month to demand papers for the Dominican-born children of immigrants. Manuel María Mercedes and other members of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) joined the protest, as did legislative deputies Hugo Tolentino Dipp and Guadalupe Valdez and former labor minister Max Puig.

The protesters focused on a legislative proposal that President Danilo Medina had said he would introduce to Congress on Feb. 27 to regularize the status of the tens of thousands of Dominicans who had been deprived of their citizenship by Decision 168-13. "We're still consulting the sectors" involved, Medina said on March 12 to explain why he hadn't presented the legislation. "We're going to look for the most suitable form." (7dí, Santo Domingo, March 12; Associated Press, March 12, via Terra Argentina)

Groups in Haiti joined in the criticism of Medina, whose government has been holding talks with the Haitian government on the treatment of Haitian descendants. Dominican representatives had indicated during the bi-national dialogue's February meeting that the regularization bill would be introduced that month. On March 12 the Haitian section of the Jesuit Service for Refugees and Migrants (SJRM) and the Haitian nonprofit Support Group for the Repatriated and Refugees (GARR) said Medina's failure to act had jeopardized the talks, which are scheduled to continue on March 20. "Dialogue is bringing nothing for Haiti," GARR's Jean Baptiste Azolin said. "Nothing for migration. Nothing has been done yet, and nothing has changed." (AlterPresse, Haiti, March 12)

In other news, GARR reported that a Haitian worker was killed and at least 27 were wounded by bullets and knives during a demonstration they were holding on March 1 in the Boca de Cachon neighborhood of Jimaní, a city in the southwestern province of Independencia at the border with Haiti. The workers organized the protest to demand more than three months of wages they said Dominican authorities owed them for work on the construction of a village for the relocation of 560 families who are threatened by flooding from Lake Enriquillo. (GARR, March 4)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, March 16.