DR President Refute Accusations of Racism

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President Danilo Medina answers to accusations on racism and discrimination in CELAC, Havanna, Cuba, 29 January 2014

Yesterday I had the opportunity, during the retreat of Presidents, to clarify the by now hackneyed and repetitive accusations from Mr. Gonsalves.

I clarified that we find it unacceptable that some seek to accuse us of racism, of discrimination and violation of human rights.

We do not accept this. It is simply unacceptable to us.

I do not believe that Mr. Gonsalves has done for Haiti what the Dominican Republic has, and thus we do not accept the accusation of discrimination that is being sought to foist on us in this forum.

Dominican Republic has been the state that has shown the greatest solidarity toward Haiti.

I would like you to know that right now around one million Haitians live in the Dominican Republic, most of whom are undocumented.

They do not have any documents and they move freely on Dominican streets without any police or immigration inspector stopping them to ask them if they have a passport or a visa to live in the Dominican Republic.

These Haitians occupy 80% of farming sector jobs; a similar number work in the construction sector, and their presence in the tourism sector is growing by the month.

And they do not face any obstacles in the Dominican Republic despite the fact that we have a labor law that establishes that in every workplace the composition of workers is to be 20-80, 20% foreigners and 80% Dominicans.

Nevertheless, the Dominican state looks the other way when it comes to Haiti.

At the time of the earthquake that shook our sister Republic of Haiti, our nation even served as an airport so that it could serve as the international base of operations for the aid that came for Haiti.

Caravans of Dominicans of all social sectors went to Haiti across our border to take whatever they had collected to help our brothers.

After the earthquake, Haiti was left without a maritime port and all the merchandise that has entered the Haitian market since 2010 does so through Dominican ports.

In 2012, to be specific, 11,676 freight containers entered through the port of Santo Domingo and traveled on the roads of the country to be used to aid Haiti.

We are willing to continue helping Haiti until they rebuild their maritime structure so that the ships can arrive directly in our sister Republic of Haiti.

One cannot accuse a country that guarantees access to education and health regardless of the person's legal status of violating human rights.

Today, in the Dominican Republic, 13% of births in Dominican hospitals are to Haitian mothers and not only to Haitian women who reside in the territory of the Dominican Republic, but to women who cross the border to give birth in the Dominican Republic because it is cheaper for them here than in their country, because it is free here, and in Haiti they have to pay for that birth.

We are spending RD$5.3 billion on medical care for Haitians.

That means more than US$100 million.

The amount of remittances sent home by Haitians who live in the Dominican Republic totals more than hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars that are needed to stimulate the Haitian economy.

All this happens in the country that some want to call racist and discriminatory.

How can that be said of a country where more than 80% is black and mulatto?

How can you accuse Dominicans of having a racist attitude against the Haitians if they coexist with us everywhere in the country?

I invite everyone who wants to visit the Dominican Republic to see the people on the streets, to verify how the Haitians move freely and coexist with Dominicans.

Another matter is that of education.

To violate human rights would be to deny Haitian citizens the right to health and education.

Today we have 54,000 Haitian students in the Dominican Republic.

36,000 are in public schools and 15,000 in the universities where they pay the same fees as nationals.

How can the Dominican Republic be considered to be violating their human rights?

I believe that Mr. Gonsalves has gone too far. I would like to ask you, Mr. Ralph (Gonsalves) to govern in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and that he allow us to govern the Dominican Republic.

We do not accept in any shape or form your attempt to override the sovereignty of a state that has institutions that need to be respected.

The new Constitution of the Republic establishes in its Art. 84 that the decisions made by the Constitutional Court are definitive, irrevocable and binding for all the branches of government.

We live under a rule of the law. If the President of the Republic does not apply the ruling of the Constitutional Court he could even be subject to a political trial before the National Congress for violation of the Constitution.

Regardless we are working with the government of Haiti to find a solution to the cases that we have to deal with.

It is untrue that we have revoked anyone's nationality in the Dominican Republic.

You cannot take away from people what they never had. Nationality in the Dominican Republic is obtained by mechanisms that are established in our Constitution.

Many people may be confused by the fact that the ruling went as far back as covering from 1929 to 2010, and thought it was a retroactive ruling.

But what it is that all the constitutions in the Dominican Republic from 1929 to date establish the same conditions on how nationality is obtained in the Dominican Republic.

This ruling has ordered that all those who are living in the country in an irregular manner, of whom thousands are people who live in legal limbo and who do not have legal status in the Dominican Republic.

This immigration procedure that the Dominican Republic is going to carry out in a sovereign manner, and that we do not accept impositions from anyone, regardless of whether it is a small country or a big country, is a sovereign decision, because matters of residency and nationality are rights of a sovereign state and we are a sovereign state and do not accept that anyone, absolutely anyone can play with Dominican sovereignty because the day that as President of the Republic I have to decline the sovereignty, then I do not deserve to be President of the nation.

For those reasons I demand respect for the Dominican Republic.

Whoever dissents from us has all the right, but should do so respecting our right as an independent and sovereign nation.

Fortunately, President Martelly, whose speech yesterday I hail, has announced that he will continue the talks that we have been having and I believe that is the way to resolve the problem that we have.

In those talks, we are touching not only on migration matters, but also on issues that are of concern to both countries to improve our peoples' living conditions.

In those talks we will find the necessary solutions to resolve this impasse.

Because as long as I am President of the Dominican Republic, no one's rights will be violated in my country.

I want to regularize, but while respecting the rights of all people.

We will have several stages in this process.

Whoever has to receive a residency visa will receive residency, whoever wants a tourist visa will get a tourist visa, whoever wants a work permit will get a work permit and for all who say they have acquired the right to be Dominican, we are proposing to send a naturalization bill to Congress to cover the people who are in legal limbo in the Dominican Republic and we are going to do so because we believe in that, because we are committed, because we believe that no one can progress while violating anyone's rights.

And in the Dominican Republic we have never sat in court to accusations of human rights.

And we cannot accept this.

Excuse me for having to speak this way. But I could not let this speech pass without saying how things happen in the Dominican Republic.

Thank you.

Ricart, January 31 2014, 10:51 AM

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