Leonel Fernandez, interviewed by Financial Times, 2006-03-21

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Leonel Fernandez, interviewed by Financial Times, 2006-03-21

Post by admin » Wed Mar 22, 2006 5:04 am

President Leonel Fernandez, interviewed by Financial Times, 2006-03-21

Financial Times: How do you see the issue of Haiti (the election result had just been announced) at the moment? I have the impression that Haitian immigration has become more controversial in the last five years.

Leonel Fernández: The profile of Haitian immigration to the Dominican Republic has changed. Traditionally, the Haitians that came here went to work in sugar. They were contracted to work for a set period and lived in the enclaves that are called bateyes. Haitians were temporary workers so that when the sugar harvest finished they returned home. But with the decline of the sugar industry, Haitian immigration has been diversified and you now find Haitians in the construction industry or in a whole range of farming activity - rice and tomatoes in particular.

As the Haitian crisis has become deeper a growing number of Haitians have come to the Dominican Republic in order to improve their living standards.

This has generated social tension between Haitians and Dominicans to the point where any kind of crime that a Haitian commits here produces a Dominican reaction. People take justice into their hands. We have deplored this tendency and condemned it. We want the authorities to investigate and submit those guilty of abuses to the law.

But I think we can feel hopeful about what is happening at the moment.
Haitians went to the polls last week in very large numbers. This means that Haitians want political stability, they want peace and that this peace be a base for economic growth, the generation of jobs and social welfare for Haitians. I really think this massive turn-out at the polls is important.

The international community must continue to pay close attention to what is happening in Haiti. It should cooperate and allow the disbursement of resources to Haiti. Get public works - roads, aqueducts, electricity systems off the ground. We must work much more directly with the Haitian government and not leave them on their own.

We have to satisfy some of the demands of the people that have built up over so many years. You know that there are a lot of illusions about what a democratically elect government can do. But in countries where there are shortages of resources and lots of demands from the population this turns to disillusion.

Independently of politics you have to understand that there is a people that wants a minimum set of material conditions that will permit the country to advance. Haiti needs roads, water and electricity. These things are basic for investment to come or for the country to grow economically. On the basis of this growth you get a greater institutional development and on the back of that a greater identification with democracy and tolerance. But there has to be a commitment and an active involvement by the international community respecting Haitian sovereignty and self-determination.

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Post by admin » Wed Mar 22, 2006 5:15 pm

Now, when Leopold Fernandez speaks of "respecting Haitian sovereignty and self-determination", it gives me pause. What about respecting Human Rights of Haitians in the Dominican Republic? What about complying to the resolution of the International Court, with respect to children born of Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic? What about arresting and putting on trial Dominican citizens who are known in the community for torturing and killing "Haitian migrants", burning alive three of them last years, burning alive another two just a few weeks ago, raping and occasionally hacking to death Haitian women and young girls (among them a 7 year old, lured away from her family's protection with a piece of papaya), and for all sorts of heinous crimes repeatedly committed against a defenseless population? What about enforcing the law, plain and simple, Mr. Leopold Fernandez!! His analysis of what Haiti's economy needs is accurate, from my own analysis. He said all the right things to the Financial Times. But one can deduce from that analysis and from the reality of Haitian expatriates in the Dominican Republic that the Dominican president "cares" about the fate of Haitians as long as they do not happen to be on Dominican territory. There, no international law may be safely invoked and not even the Constitution of the Dominican Republic. [Recently, the Dominican Supreme Court has ruled that their interpretation of the Law is that it does not apply to children of "Haitian migrants", and in any case the International Court cannot preempt Dominican sovereignty. Furthermore, in practice, a Haitian may be defined as a "migrant" under conditions not applied to any other group.]

Haitians, often wrongly accused of crimes against Dominican citizens, when there is clear evidence implicating other Dominicans, are left to rot in jail without a trial, when other suspects (believed to be the real aggressors) are allowed to live in the community in complete impunity.

Therefore, an analysis of Leopold Fernandez's appeal to the "international community" concerning Haiti should be tempered with the understanding that his concerns for Haitians living in Haiti could be likened to asking to feed a dog in its cage as long as you do not let it out. If that dog happens to cross the border, then all bets are off and the dog can be summarily executed, without further concern. A harsh analogy, but not far off the reality of a sizable number of black and poor Haitian expatriates, who apparently surrender all known human rights by crossing the border to go and work in the Dominican Republic.

Certainly the migration must be controlled and economic structures must be put in place to offer poor Haitians viable alternatives. The Haitian State has the responsibility to protect its citizens. We need to discuss what any Haitian government can do in that regard. The Dominicans always refer to the "pacific invasion" of the Haitians, fearing that they will ultimately lose their sovereignty due to the influx of Haitians in their territory. They constantly accuse Haitian leaders of having in mind the reunification of the island, à la Jean-Pierre Boyer in 1822, and using unchecked migration as a tool to accomplish this without an army. Well, you can just imagine the hysteria! However, the concerns of the Dominicans with respect to the unchecked and perhaps out-of-control migration must be discussed. The Dominican economy thrives on the back of cheap Haitian labor and could not be sustained currently without it. On the other hand, Haitians have no jobs in Haiti. Hence, the migration. Economic incentives have always been the most powerful force behind migration anywhere on this planet.

Therefore, Leopold Fernandez appears to have vested interests in the improvement of the Haitian economy, in that a lot of Haitians will stay home if there were jobs in Haiti. This would relieve some of the political pressure in the Dominican Republic with respect to the Haitians, and it is quite conceivable that Haitian labor would become a lot more appreciated if it became more scarce! That is, Dominicans might come to realize that they needed the Haitians all along, imagine that!

These matters must be addressed bilaterally, and with the support of the international community. However, the current situation in no way excuses the grave violations of Human Rights in the Dominican Republic, as they happen in seeming impunity whenever Haitian lives are involved.

Michel Nau_

Post by Michel Nau_ » Wed Mar 22, 2006 6:45 pm

President Leonel Fernandez said: [quote]As the Haitian crisis has become deeper a growing number of Haitians have come to the Dominican Republic in order to improve their living standards.[/quote]
This represents a dream for the Haitian seeking for just a little of a better life than what he actually has at home.
President Fernandez continues: [quote]This has generated social tension between Haitians and Dominicans to the point where any kind of crime that a Haitian commits here produces a Dominican reaction. [/quote]
The Haitian's dream becomes a poor Dominican's nightmare.
I am not a sociologist but this is clearly comprehensible even tough the persecution and the tortures and killings are not justifiable.
This is a serious issue that both countries need to address.

Guy put you in President Fernandez's shoes, how would you address this issue to your Dominican people?
President Fernandez continues: [quote]The international community (IC) must continue to pay close attention to what is happening in Haiti. [/quote]
There is a catch 22 here.
In one hand he is asking the IC to “must continue” and in the other one hi is saying: But there has to be a commitment and an active involvement by the international community respecting Haitian sovereignty and self-determination.

Guy wrote: [quote]the Dominican president "cares" about the fate of Haitians as long as they do not happen to be on Dominican territory.[/quote]
Again Guy put yourself in Fernandez' shoes! Fernandez loves the Haitians to be IN the Dominican Republic!!
Because they are the backbone of the Dominican economy.
Cheap labor for big businesses, no healthcare to pay, no pension, no vacation, no salary increase!
Fernandez knows that this is a gold mine for big businesses who are supporting his political party.

As far as poor Dominicans who also want job, but they want good pay, healthcare, pension, vacation, better job condition etc.big businesses are trying to avoid their obligations toward Dominican workers.. as well as haitians.
Preval would love the Haitians to stay in the Dominican Republic for several reasons, to alleviate his unemployment rate, social tension, poverty, and more foreign exchange coming in.
Guy you can't have it both ways!! You can't have your cake and eat it too!
If you can take your family and friends to a good restaurant and eat dinner, or feast for a reasonable price, and feel confortable picking the tab, is because there is more likely one or many undocumented aliens in the kitchen working below minimum wage, with no medical, and no vacation.
Come to think of it, you and I may be part of the problem.
I could have a 4 days vacation package to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, airline and hotel included for less than $500.00.
Almost the same price that American Airlines Co. charges for a lousy ticket to go to Haiti, with no food on board.

They [Dominicans and Haitians] need to work it out and find a solution!!
Pointing fingers and playing the blame game will not do it.

Michel :D

Tidodo_

Post by Tidodo_ » Wed Mar 22, 2006 6:46 pm

Michael,

There is no question in my mind that before we start pointing fingers at foreigners, Haitians need to look at themselves first. The day that the Haitian Government starts showing respect for its citizens, Haitians will start seeing a different treatment abroad. The dismal history of Haitian Government's response to the threatment of our brothers in the D.R. is appalling. From Jean-Claude Duvalier to the last government, there was never a significant response to my memory by anyone of these governments to defend the rights of those people while contributing their services in the D.R. I can't believe that there is no action that could have been taken to improve their situation there. Instead, what we saw was collusion between the Haitian governments and the D.R. employers at the expense of the migrant workers.

While the Haitians need the jobs, it is hard to believe that their absence would not have put pressure on the D.R. government to provide them with better protection. Yes, the actions of the Dominicans towards the Haitian migrants are appalling, the Haitian government failed these workers. Perhaps, we might be better off putting pressure on the Haitian Government to act, instead of the Dominicans. Private citizens can individually complain about their treatment, but it will never equal the effect that the Haitian government would have it it takes real action to ensure legal protection of the migrants in D.R.

J-M.

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Post by admin » Wed Mar 22, 2006 11:10 pm

[quote]Guy you can't have it both ways!! You can't have your cake and eat it too! [/quote]
What the hell are you talking about???

[quote]Come to think of it, you and I may be part of the problem.[/quote]
Be specific, and tell me in which way I may be part of the problem. And for your information, while I have visited the Haitian community in the Dominican Republic a few times, I never went to Punta Cana or anywhere else over there on vacation.

[quote]They [Dominicans and Haitians] need to work it out and find a solution!! [/quote]
Isn't that EXACTLY what I said??? What the hell! Please go back and read again my statement.

[quote]Pointing fingers and playing the blame game will not do it.[/quote]
That's YOUR conclusion, based on whatever already was on your mind, and not in what I wrote.

And please everyone, human rights are human rights, period! STOP conditioning them on the performance of Haitian governments. It just weakens any just demand. When Haitians are being burned to death and a 7-year old girl raped and hacked to death, Haitians can ask for those horrific abuses to stop, without being told to put themselves in Leopold Fernandez's shoes and to be reminded how bad we are at governing ourselves. For Christ's sake, imagine your own 7-year old daughter getting hacked to death and no arrest is even attempted, even though there is a suspect. Give me a break!

Put yourself in anyone's shoes you like, Michel, but I stand completely by my statement, which you apparently did not understand at all (to be charitable towards your intentions).

Michel Nau_

Post by Michel Nau_ » Thu Mar 23, 2006 6:22 pm

Guy wrote: [quote]Leopold Fernandez's concerns for Haitians living in Haiti could be likened to asking to feed a dog in its cage as long as you do not let it out. If that dog happens to cross the border, then all bets are off and the dog can be summarily executed, without further concern A harsh analogy, but not far off the reality of a sizable number of black and poor Haitian expatriates, who apparently surrender all known human rights by crossing the border to go and work in the Dominican Republic. [/quote] Michael wrote: [quote]That "dog," as you refer to it, only goes across the border because it's been so starved and abused at home.[/quote]
Jaf wrote:[quote]Childish terminology like "friends of Haiti" have no business in such circles, except for those who willingly function within the paradigm of white supremacist racism which always works with paternalist and cynical behaviour.
Everybody is against oppression. Everybody is against exploitation.... Be patient children, our friend Bono will put an end to hunger in Africa! Yeah right! [/quote]

Black South Africans killed thousand of other blacks from Mozambique looking for jobs in the mines (bauxite, copper, gold, diamonds etc). Blacks can also kill other blacks if their wellbeing is in jeopardy.

The problem is not necessarily being black or racism; it is also economics, social, and politics. If we focus on those 3 issues, things could turn around for the better.

Michel

Tidodo_

Post by Tidodo_ » Thu Mar 23, 2006 9:52 pm

[quote]And please everyone, human rights are human rights, period! STOP conditioning them on the performance of Haitian governments. It just weakens any just demand. [/quote]
The reality is that from Duvalier to Latortue, the Haitian governments have not demonstrated in my opinion any actions proving they tried to use whatever power or leverage that they have - and I am not talking about going to war - to alleviate and lessen the abuses our brethren suffered in the Dominican Republic. Their actions could have done more good than our indivdual denunciations of the abuses could do. They could have threatened to prevent Haitians from going there one year, even though they really cannot carry out their threat effectively, and it would have put pressure on either the Dominican government or the D.R. employers to extract better conditions for the migrant workers.

The point is that private individuals and the press - from Jean Dominique to Internet writers today - have been denouncing the abuses for a long time without success, and they are still happening in the D.R. We may disagree on whether any Haitian government has leverage on the D.R. government, but the former carries more weight than the press and, not only it did not try to do anything, its employees had in the past accepted to play a blind eye to the abuses for personal gains. Recognizing that the Haitian government allowed the abuses to continue without a fight is not condoning human rights abuses is pointing to where improvements can be made faster.

[quote]I will always say it is a red herring when people point to mistreatment of Haitians in Haiti to justify crimes like the burning of our two compatriots recently in the D.R. To be blunt and honest about it, I find this argument to be both weak and suspect.[/quote]
Denoucing the absence of efforts by the Haitian governments to help the migrants have their human rights respected in the D.R. is not justifying crimes committed against some of them. This is a fabrication, and a misrepresentation of the truth.The denounciation is a practical assessment of best ways to address a problem. It is far more effective than shouting by the Haitian public opinion which the principal perpetrators of those actions in the D.R could not care less about.

[quote]Why is it, when an American is victim of crimes abroad, no one points to the millions who are being abused in U.S. jails to justify the unjustifiable? [/quote]
The last time I checked I was not aware of the U.S. Government commiting widespread human rights abuses against U.S. citizens in the U.S. I have been living in the U.S. for over 23 years, I have not witnessed human right abuses against the U.S. citizens when there is no possibility of redress from any of the three branches of government: executive, judicial and legistlative. Since it is not perfect, the U.S. Government makes mistakes sometimes and abuses some much rarer times. But, even when that happens, over time there is procedure for correction of these errors and redress if it has been a miscarriage of justice. Furthermore, the US government has a very good record of defending his citizens in trouble outside of the U.S. The credibility of the US government in defending its citizens overseas is well established.

[quote]Does the fact that Abner Louima got sodomized by the NYPD make it okay for Black Americans to be treated so wherever they go, on account that leaders in their own country mistreat them all the time?[/quote]
The last time I saw Abner Louima, he was in Miami enjoying his notoriety and his newly acquired wealth. The source of that wealth, from what I understand, came from redress he obtained from the judicial branch of government in the U.S. for mistreatment he suffered from members of the U.S. government - N.Y. City Police.

[quote]Why is it in the case of Haiti, some people always want to mix apples with oranges?[/quote]
The fruit is in the eye of the beholder.

[quote]Leopold (I like this guy!) Fernandez is playing the same game that too many diplomats enjoy playing these days. He is riding the Haitian donkey - because he can. When it is not Valdes or some other diplomat making long speeches about how to save Haiti from Haitians, it is some missionary somewhere in the U.S. preaching the same tired gospel.[/quote]
When you don't keep order at home, chances are that the police or neighbour will try to force you keep it. It is either police yourself or be policed!

[quote]Haitians will come out of this hole when we manage to wake up and smell the coffee. Haitians are Haiti's best and only friends![/quote]
For your first sentence, it will start when we make the effort, work hard to acheive our goals, and stop wasting our time blaming others only for the sorry state of our affairs.

For your second sentence, I can't remember all the following Haitians being my best and only friends:

Guy Philippe, Jean-Claude Duvalier, Latortue, Luc Desir, Toto Constant, Andre Apaid, Raoul Cedras, Ti Bobo, Bòs Pent, just to name a few.

J-M.

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Post by admin » Mon Mar 27, 2006 11:18 pm

Un dossier à suivre... Yon dosye pou nou suiv... More analysis to follow...

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