Tag Archive | "Haiti"


Critical Analysis: Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Ruling and Status of Immigrants

On September 23, the Dominican Republic Constitutional Court made an interpretative ruling that shook the Hispaniola Island. A child born on Dominican soil without one parent of Dominican blood or foreign parents with legal residency is not a Dominican citizen. In 2004, the court held that “in transit” includes all persons without legal residency. Thus, parents considered “in transit” or illegal immigrants are not Dominican citizens, and the children born from these parents, dating back to 1929, cannot have Dominican citizenship.


Haitians in a market in the Dominican capital Santo Domingo (Melanie Stetson Freeman/Getty Images)

The ruling effects all immigrants in the Dominican Republic, not just Haitians. However, at least eighty percent of Dominican immigrants are Haitian. It is no secret that Haitians are the predominate immigrants in the Dominican, which leads many spectators to believe the Dominican court targeted Haitians: a flashback to 1937, when Dictator Rafael Trujillo attempted to eliminate Haitians from the Dominican. Several reporters cite over 200,000 Haitians are stateless due to the ruling. Conversely, based on the numbers provided by the United States Dominican Embassy via the national civil registry, less than 20,000 Haitians are effected by the ruling; furthermore, they will not be stateless. A person is only stateless if no country will recognize and grant citizenship. Haiti’s constitution has been interpreted to grant citizenship to those of Haitian blood regardless of where the person was born. Thus, Haitian immigrants will not be stateless.

Even though the ruling cannot be appealed, the Dominican government plans to establish a naturalization law. Moreover, Dominican President Danilo Medina announced a humanitarian approach will be applied, allowing eighteen months for all undocumented foreigners to register and prove eligibility for residency to avoid deportation.

Was the Dominican court wrong in its Constitutional ruling? Perhaps the ruling was more extreme than necessary, but a step to control immigration is necessary.

Rarely is birth on any country’s soil alone enough to gain citizenship. The Dominican is no different. If an immigrant does not speak Spanish, work, own property or a home, the Dominican is less likely to grant citizenship to the immigrant. Citizenship is business. No business wants to employ or have clients that do not benefit the business. When a country has a say, the country wants the immigrants that benefit the country. A country, small like the Dominican, cannot progress if illegal immigrants that do not contribute to the economy are allowed citizenship.

Is it right to ostracize a third-world country for a ruling, which if ruled by a leading country, would receive little backlash? Perhaps, this is how the world’s checks and balances function: never let a lower country make a move reserved for higher countries.

Due to the inaccuracies in information and range of predictions, it is clear that the Dominican government needs to release a statement—to explain the court’s ruling and its effects. More likely than not the government is at a loss itself and cannot offer clarity. However, this is a time for the government to stand strong and make executive decisions. Is the ruling stripping immigrants of citizenship, if the immigrant was granted citizenship prior to the ruling? Is the ruling only effecting those who are not and have never been citizens—regardless of the individuals assumed citizenship? What actions can an immigrant take to gain citizenship or avoid deportation? Will a naturalization law be implemented before deportation occurs? The Dominican government cannot afford to remain silent much longer, it needs to stand up.

Cheyenne Moore is a 1L at the University of Denver and a Staff Editor on the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy. 

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Port-au-Prince the day after the earthquake (REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

Haiti: At the Intersection of Humanitarian Aid and Politics

One year after the presidential election and one month after the unexpected resignation of the Prime Minister, the stability of Haiti’s political system remains unclear.  The consequences of this political instability are widespread and reverberate throughout every Haitian household.  The constant political strife also weighs heavily on potential donors of humanitarian aid.  As a result, most marginalized and vulnerable members of Haitian community, including the internally displaced and homeless populations, face an increasingly precarious future.

Former Prime Minister Garry Conille abruptly resigned last month after none of his cabinet members showed up for a meeting he scheduled.  Conille, who previously served as a chairman with President Bill Clinton on The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, was criticized for his plan to audit $600-$800 million no-bid contracts granted for humanitarian assistance after the 2010 earthquake.  This audit angered President Michel Martelly and frustrated other members of the Parliament.

Port-au-Prince the day after the earthquake (REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

After Conille’s resignation President Martelly continues to fight back against international critics and Haiti’s internal grapevine of rumors, “teledjol” in Creole.  These rumors are spread through local radio and social media such as Twitter.  The most recent teledjol related to Martelly’s potential dual nationality brought Port-au-Prince to a standstill.  Such chaos and the possibility that Martelly may be ineligible to serve as President (if found to hold dual nationality), does little to convince donors that their much needed support would be used appropriately.

The current political climate in Haiti, when combined with the plethora of critical reports about nongovernmental work and misuse of donations demonstrates why many funders have fallen short of their promise to donate.  Despite these reports, there is no doubt that the general Haitian population has vast unmet needs that could partially be addressed with monetary donations.  Just this month the United Nations Central Emergency Fund (CERF) allocated US$ 8 million to Haiti in response to an overwhelming shortfall of resources needed to support humanitarian operations.

At a time when humanitarian aid and politics are again at a crossroads, one might ask, how the Haitian population will overcome this surmountable impasse.  Some Haitians argue that greater accountability and progress can be attained by increased Haitian involvement.  Others, who have suffered human rights violations as a result of the politicization of humanitarian aid, pursue legal redress with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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26 Reasons for Environmental Optimism in Haiti

For many Haiti evokes images of absolute poverty, environmental devastation and desperate emigrants. When I think of Haiti, I see 26 young leaders dedicated to serving others and the environment.

I was invited by the State Department’s Fulbright Program for the Western Hemisphere to co-lead a course in Environmental Leadership and train 26 Haitian students from three of the country’s universities in the skills and qualities necessary to lead. In a process coordinated by the U.S. Embassy, the students were selected by their deans based on their subject area of study and their Grade Point Averages. Through a combination of field visits, experiential exercises, readings, discussion groups and case studies, the students furthered their understanding of the need for each individual to take thoughtful initiative in addressing the environmental challenges in Haiti.

During the course there were several ‘Ah Ha!’ moments for the students. The most profound were when the students realized:

  1. By making changes in their own behavior they can affect positive change in those around them.
  2. Leaders do not need to have all the answers, but rather need to know how to bring together the relevant parties to find answers.
  3. Leaders are not only those in positions of authority, and the students began to see themselves as leaders.



In respect to the first point, the students took to heart the notion of change beginning with the individual. It was noted that here were students at the top of their classes in their respective universities studying environmental management and yet each time they would get a cup of water, they would use a plastic cup and then immediately discard it. This became an unexpected entrée into the subject of integrity in leadership. It is much easier to blame others for the trash choking the waterways or littering the nearby islands and imagine all sorts of solutions to “educate” others. In not so subtle ways throughout the week, these inconsistencies between articulated values and behavior were pointed out. By the end of the week, the students had taken to writing their names on their cups and toting them from session to session.

Second, through the analysis of several case studies in the country, there was recognition that complex environmental problems cannot be solved through traditional leadership. Rather, they require collaborative solutions that draw upon the collective intelligence of those affecting and affected by the situation. A noticeable shift occurred where students in the early part of the course focused on persuading others of the correctness of their individual point of view, while towards the end they were truly making an effort to understand the perspective of their fellow students.

Finally, the students showed increasing leadership from small actions to huge commitments. One student, acknowledging that her neighbor was reluctant to speak up, encouraged her to share her ideas. Later in the week, a small group organized a ‘spectacle,’ where the students sang ‘I believe I can fly’ and went on to explain their belief in their capacity to change Haiti. On the last day, the students announced the formation of a ‘Group of Reflection’ that continues to meet to reflect and take action on environmental problems in their communities. These students recognized that through effective collaborative leadership, even at their own hands, Haiti can address and overcome environmental challenge.

These students—26 reasons for environmental optimism in Haiti—are at the center of significant positive change in Haiti.

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University of Denver Sturm College of Law