Over 4,400 volunteers have served in the Dominican Republic. According to CNN's Mariano Castillo, three former Peace Corps/Dominican Republic Country Directors and 560 former volunteers have sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting that the United States suspend military aid to the Dominican government over human rights abuses and a crackdown on Haitian migrants and Dominicans of Haitian descent. This high level advocacy from former volunteers shows how connected they remain to the country in which they served, and their concern for the human rights of all people living within its borders. The full article follows.
The government of the Dominican Republic recently passed a nationality law which, by no means perfect, represents a step forward in addresssing statelessness. The main difficulty now lies in its full implementation across the country. Below is an article by Associated Press writers Ezequiel Abiu Lopez and Danica Coto that notes both positive and negative reactions to the nationality law.
Below is a brief Caribbean Journal article concerning yesterday's joint launch by Haitian President Michel Martelly and Dominican President Danilo Medina of a reforestation project in NE Haiti. The project is entitled "Regreening Haiti-DR" and is based on Dominican experience in forest recovery. 2013 has been designated "The Year of the Environment" in Haiti and, by expanding environmental partnerships, both countries stand to benefit.
The Art Museum of the Americas (operated by the Organization of American States) is hosting an exhibit entitled “On Common Ground: The Dominican Republic and Haiti.” The most interesting aspect of the exhibition is actually the commentary by the Dominican and Haitian artists. It is refreshing to hear Dominicans and Haitians elevate what they have in common, including a love of art and music. Each country would benefit from cultural exchanges with its neighbor. More from the artists follows:
Equal Times has produced a compelling report on the abuse of Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic. It is concise, features remarkable photography and raises important issues such as the extent to which Dominican employers and law enforcement collude with traffickers. Preventing and responding to abuses is necessary for developing a bilateral relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic based on mutual respect.
To say the Dominican Republic and Haiti have a difficult history is an under-statement. Despite historical (and largely artificial) divisions, there is much the two countries share. This includes a love of music, dance, rum and a good fet/fiesta. The Smithsonian Institution’s Latino Center and the Haitian and Dominican Embassies teamed up yesterday to hold a concert celebrating friendship among two peoples who share an island and a future. Enriquillo Tejada y Los Clarinetes Magicos and Tabou Combo represented their countries well.
Sonia Pierre, Dominican human rights activist of Haitian descent, has died of heart failure at the age of 48. She was a passionate advocate for Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic – many of whom are stateless, not being recognized by the Dominican Republic or Haiti. She will be missed. The organization which she founded, El Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico-Haitiana or MUDHA, continues her work. An article on her passing follows below.
Imagine being born in a country that does not recognize you and the possibility of being deported to a country that you do not know. This is the reality for many Dominicans of Haitian descent throughout the Dominican Republic. Steve Sapienza’s documentary “Stranded: The Stateless Haitians” explores how Dominicans of Haitian descent struggle with government discrimination in the only country they have ever known. Earlier blogs on statelessness in the Dominican Republic and on the complicated relationship between Haiti and the Dominican Republic are also available.
Earlier this week, the U.S. State Department released its 2011 annual report on human trafficking. While Haiti does have institutions devoted to protecting children, such as the Haiti National Police Brigade for the Protection of Minors (BPM), they lack resources and capacity. For the immediate future, trafficking prevention and response will remain driven by non governmental and international organizations. However, the Haitian government can make a major contribution by passing legislation that criminalizes sex trafficking and forced labor. The portion of the report devoted to Haiti follows below.
The U.S. State Deparment's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (G/TIP) today announced a grant of $4.75 million to ten grantees to strengthen the capacity of the Haitian government and civil society to prevent and respond to human trafficking. Information about grantees and their activities follows in the official announcement below. Background on human trafficking in Haiti and the Dominican Republic can be found in the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report.