Monday, January 18, 2010

Haiti - The possible explosive political fallout in neighbouring Dominican Republic 

With all the attention on Haiti and what needs to be done there, a quick thought on the situation in the Dominican Republic, Haiti’s neighbour on the island of Hispaniola.

To illustrate the possible political fallouts, see this November 2009 online article entitled “France, US, Canada aim to unify Dominican Republic and Haiti”. That reports a statement by the an influential member of the Dominican Republic ruling party, Professor Euclides Gutiérrez . In brief, he claims that for decades people like (former US president) Bill Clinton and (Former French president) Jacques Chirac have tried to get the Dominican Republic to merge with Haiti and thus manage its problems. One online comment on this (before the earthquake) says there are ‘already’ two million Haitians in the Dominican Republic and ‘it is time to strike back’.

If the Dominican incarnations of the S*n and the D*ily Wail start peddling the line that the US and the international community are using the disaster as a cover for forcing the DR into a merger with Haiti, thus picking up the lions share of the political and economic costs, much hell will no doubt break loose.

There is already and unfortunate history dating back many decades of racist animosity in some parts of The Dominican Republic towards migrants from Haiti and Dominicans of Haitian descent. Amnesty UK this year featured in its greetings card campaign a Dominican activist (Sonia Pierre) suffering because of her work for Haitians in the DR.

The amnesty briefing sheet says:

HUMAN RIGHTS defender Sonia Pierre has been threatened and harassed as a result of her work to stop discrimination against the Haitian community in the Dominican Republic. Prejudice on grounds of race, language, colour and nationality is an everyday reality for many migrant workers and Dominicans of Haitian descent. Sonia is executive director of the Movement for Dominico-Haitian Women (MUDHA), part of the Jacques Viau Dominico-Haitian Encounter Network, which works to combat anti-Haitian prejudice and racism in the Dominican Republic.
In August 2000 the Inter-American Court of Human Rights called on the Dominican authorities to put in place protection measures for Sonia Pierre. Despite this, in 2005 she and her children were forced to leave the country for several months following further threats. The court’s order was extended in February 2006 to include her children. To date the Dominican authorities have not acted to implement these protection measures.

(ongoing links provided by me, not by Amnesty. EB)

I suspect that the Dominican Republic may itself need some physical help to avoid being overwhelmed by the needs of its neighbour, and also perhaps some international attention to prevent very negative reactions from people in that country, possibly including part of the government. Maybe our Foreign Affairs team could raise this matter in questions to the UK Government?

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So long as they keep their border sealed from Hiatian immigrants they will need no help.
Just for part of the record, a YouTube sequence of the 'normal'situation along the Haiti-Dominican border


Doesnt look vastly sealable against a real mass migration...
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