Court rejects citizenship to Dominicans of Haitian descent


By Ian Van Buren

On September 23, 2013, the Dominicans Republic’s top court issued a ruling that has put thousands of individuals in trouble. The ruling found that any and all individuals of Haitian descent, even those born in the Dominican Republic, no longer hold citizenship. According to the Open Society Justice Initiative, at least 200,000 people will be affected by the decision.

As neighboring countries, Haiti and the Dominican Republic have a history of racial tension. For generations, Haitians have migrated across the border to lead a better life, albeit one in which they are employed as maids, construction workers, and as fieldworkers on sugar cane plantations. Now, officials have ruled that even individuals who were born Dominican and have never been outside of the country can no longer be considered legal citizens if they are of Haitian descent.

Ana María Belique, 27, was born in the Dominican Republic and has never lived anywhere else, but has been unable to register for college or renew her passport because her birth certificate is no longer accepted. “I am Dominican. I don’t know Haiti. I don’t have family or friends there. This is my home.”

Several reports indicate that there has long been an issue of racial discrimination against Haitians pursuing official documents, and Dominican civil registry officials have denied citizenship to children of migrants by considering their parents “in transit”.

Migrants are concerned that they won’t have access to health benefits without possession of a Dominican ID. Dominican officials have denied the claim that the court’s ruling is discriminatory.

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Haiti launches environmental initiatives

posted by Hunter KinderImage

On May 1st, Haiti launched an initiative to plant 1.2 million trees that day and 30-50 million a year, doubling the forests by 2016. They have lost 98 percent of trees due largely to the impoverished country’s need for cooking fuel. This initiative is not only to repair environmental conditions, but economic as well, as deforestation is largely precipitated by people’s need to make a living. Some agronomists, like Jude Lauriston and Bernard Felix, are skeptical about the initiative; saying they fervently hope the the tree-planting campaign is a success, but worry about the government’s lack of planning.

“(I) only got an informal order for 100,000 mango, orange, mahogany, cedar, and avocado trees. This is not the way to do it,” says Felix, who has managed nurseries for nearly 30 years. “A contract for plants would be the first step. Then, they should tell us exactly when they need them. We have no problem supplying two million plants every three months,” he says.

Furthermore, starting September, environmental protection is incorporated into school curriculum to raise awareness in a younger generation.  Proliferation of green alternatives to charcoal and wood (such as solar, kerosene and propane stoves) is happening. An environmental surveillance corps to monitor protected areas will be set up as well.