Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Dominicans Rally For Controversial Court Ruling

Several hundred Dominicans rallied in support of a recent high court decision that would strip the citizenship of tens of thousands of individuals.

“Get out illegal Haitians,” “Them there and us here”, “We will not negotiate our sovereignty” where just some of the signs reportedly seen by the demonstrators who gathered in Santo Domingo’s Independence Park on Monday. 

Several speakers at the event, which was organized by a group calling themselves The National Sovereignty Defense Network, backed the Dominican government’s crackdown on undocumented Haitians. (For example, the organization called for the construction of a wall along the entire Dominican border with Haiti).

Emil Santana, one of the speakers at the rally, told the crowd that Haitian children have overrun schools in San Juan de la Maguana while residents in the town are allegedly without work due to migrants from the neighboring country.

Other presenters blasted the international response against the September 25th ruling by the Dominican Constitutional Court that voided automatic citizenship to the descendants of migrants who came to work in the country after 1929.

“The Dominican people will not accept that their rights will be squashed in order to resolve the Haitian problem”, declared legislator Pelegrín Castillo.

Meanwhile, journalist Consuelo Despradel blasted renowned Peruvian author and Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa for recently comparing the ruling of the high court to the stripping of citizenship of Jews living in Nazi-era Germany.

While the rally took place in the Dominican capita city, a protest against the court’s decision was held in the southern Baoruco province.  Hundreds of demonstrators including members of at least twenty community groups participated in the march that rejected the tribunal’s “arbitrary” actions.

Dominicans living abroad have also manifested themselves against government officials that have defended the September ruling as a “positive.” For instance, Haitian and Dominican expats joined together in a protest last month in New York City’s Times Square.

“Not only am I nauseated and furious but I’m also worried,” said Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Díaz about the ruling he deemed as “cynical” and “irresponsible”.

The next few months could be filled with uncertainty for some of the tens of thousands of potentially states residents residing in the Dominican Republic.  One of these individuals is Banesa Blemi who expressed her concerns in a recent Reuters article:
"I have no country. What will become of me?" said Blemi, 27, standing with relatives outside the family's wooden shack near La Romana, the heart of the Dominican Republic's sugar cane industry and one of the Caribbean's top tourist resorts.
"We are Dominicans - we have never been to Haiti. We were born and raised here. We don't even speak Creole," she said, referring to Haiti's native tongue…

"Please don't do this to me - I'm going to die," said (Blemi’s) grandmother, 82-year-old Sentilia Igsema, showing her Dominican voter ID card.
"I'm asking myself what country am I from. I guess I'm from the country of the undocumented."
Video Source– YouTube via Cachicha.com

Online Sources – Reuters; BBC News; lalupp.com.do; Noticias SIN; Listin Diario; El Pais; The Latin Americanist; almomento.net; diariodigital.com.do

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