By Dady Chery
For every embargo against the Dominican Republic (DR), there come a rash of repatriations and other abuses of Haitians. No matter that companies in the DR were flooding the Haitian market with dangerous goods such as coliform-laden salami and a Brazilian sugar-sand mix.
The repatriations of Haitians from the DR often involve economic crimes by DR officials, such as the thefts of money and other possessions, which are covered up by arson.
In a recent example, on Tuesday, September 18, 2012, 53 Haitians (25 children of 6 months to 17 years, 13 men, 15 women including 2 with pregnancies), who had lived in Enriquillo and worked in its plantations for years, were arrested in the Las Mercedes area of Pedernales. They were forced aboard a helicopter that flew them to a Dominican military base at Cabo Rojo and finally, they were deported to Anse-à-Pitres, in Southeast Haiti.
The deportees’ identity documents were confiscated, they were beaten, and seven houses that they had built with permission from their Dominican bosses were torched.
According to the Support Group for Repatriates and Refugees (Groupe d’Appui aux Rapatriés et Réfugiés, GAAR) and interviews of the deportees, the arrests were carried out by environmental agents together with the Dominican military.
Pregnant Estalice Dieuveuille, who had lived in Enriquillo for five years and is the mother of four children between 2 to 11 years old said:
“The Dominican military opted to deport me without giving me a chance to recover my belongings. My seeds, children’s birth certificates, clothes: all were burned by the military.”
GAAR works together with the Human Rights Committee of the Commune of Anse-à-Pitres, local authories, and police to welcome and assist deportees.
Exclusion from bi-national market
Merchants from Haiti’s Anse-à-Pitres area, who try to sell their goods at the bi-national Pedernales border market in the DR, are routinely intimidated and often beaten to prevent their entry. Goods like Haitian rice, bananas, rum, and other drinks are banned from the market. A fee of 50 DR pesos is imposed on the vendors, and merchandise sometimes more valuable than this fee is confiscated if it is deemed to be unauthorized or the merchant cannot afford the fee.
Haitian government called on to protect its nationals
Rights organizations note that the abuses by DR authorities violate agreements they have signed with Haiti. For example, GAAR points out that the Protocol of Agreement on Repatriation that the Dominican Republic signed with Haiti in December 1999, says that people about to be repatriated have the right to recover their personal effects. Likewise, Association of Anse-à-Pitres Merchants (AMA) spokesperson Manicia Lafortune and Association of Valiant Anse-à-Pitres Women (MVMA) Rosiane Janvier note that, like Dominicans, Haitians are entitled to full access to the bi-national market.
A group belonging to the 15,000 Haitians repatriated last year from the DR said:
“We are left to ourselves out here…. This is why we are so often repatriated under such horrible conditions.”
GARR, AMA, and MVMA call on the Haitian government to speak up for the rights of its nationals and denounce the abuses against them in the DR.
Source: Haiti Chery
Copyright © 2012, 2013 by Dady Chery. All Rights Reserved. Dady Chery is a journalist, playwright, essayist and poet, who writes in English, French and her native Creole. She is the Editor of Haiti Chery.
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