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Dominican Government answers at OAS. Speech.

Wednesday, july 8th, 2015

The Dominican government answered today to the accusations made by the Haitian government at OAS.

In the coming paragraphs we present the complete speech given by Dominican Republic’s ambassador before the OAS, Pedro Vergés.

July 8th, 2015 – Washington, DC

Permanent Council of the Organization of the American States Dominican Republic’s statement

Thank you very much, mister President.

The Dominican Republic greets the presence of the chancellor of the Republic of Haiti, Mr. Lener Renauld.

At the same time we would like to make some precisions.

We want to express, flatly, that Haiti’s government, acting through their Minister of International Affairs, is lying before this forum of American States. In the Dominican Republic there are no such things as stateless, there have not been any deportation since November 2013 and there have not been any type of violence against people that in recent weeks have opted for the voluntary return after the successful National Plan for the Regularization of Foreigners in irregular situation, I would like to speak about this later.

We have listened to the Haitian government, in several scenarios, referring to the negotiation of a deportation protocol with the Dominican Republic. We want to answer on time. The Government of the Dominican Republic rejects every attempt to hinder the exercise of its sovereignty and its ability to self- determination as a nation. It is with this yardstick that it measures its relations with other States, and Haiti is not the exception. No other Member State of this inter-american community or any other part of the world negotiates the terms of their immigration policies, simply because that is a sovereign attribution of States.

The Dominican Republic would like to express its deepest surprise about the terms of the call on this session.

We are forced to repeat it one more time. There are no such things as stateless in our country. We recognize that the 168-13 sentence of our Constitutional Court caused anxiety in this forum because of its effect in a determined number of people, however, this was totally resolved with the 169-14 act, which was the result of a big national political consensus, recognizing the Dominican citizenship to this people.

In effect, the 169-14 act has resolved the situation of dominican documentation to more than 55,000 people and their descendants, and created legal mechanisms for those who had never been registered to have access to documents and eventually to dominican naturalization; under this concept almost 9,000 people, who were born in our territory, of foreign parents, will be able to naturalize in less than two years. We surprised of the way it is deliberately ignored, including many Medias and organizations that have referred to this matter recently, that the Dominican Republic gave an effective legal answer to this issue that was originated with the mentioned sentence.

As you can appreciate, there was preoccupation about the people born in Dominican territory and that were at risk of becoming stateless, we have acted responsibly to create legal mechanisms that respond to this situation. And our president has guaranteed that in the future, any situation will be assess and solved according to our legislation.

But we do not want this to be interpreted like we are against the dialog. The dialog has been (and we believe that should continue to be) the canal to assess this kind of topics with our neighbor, Haiti, always guided by sincerity and good faith.

For over a year, since January 2014 until the beginning of this year, our country and the Republic of Haiti maintain a high level dialog in which, among other things, we agreed that any difference or situation of preoccupation between the parties would be assess within that dialog.

The dialog helped to bring high level authorities together, open communication canals, allowing after that other sectors, from both countries, to do the same, specially the private sector and civil society. After this, we understood that sharing the same island, and having ties and indissoluble relations, it was irrational to turn our backs on each other.

The Dominican Republic listened and paid attention to Haiti’s requests. It is important to bring to the table that as a result of the first dialog meetings, we accept to give special help to around 10,000 Haitian students who attend our universities and we created a new kind of visa for seasonal workers.

Haiti made the commitment to give to its citizens the required documents to regularize their status in the Dominican Republic. They never did.

During all the encounters of the high level commissions, headed by the Dominican Minister of the Presidency and Haiti’s Prime Minister, we emphasized in the need of the Haitian government to assume the responsibility to issue the documents to their nationals in Dominican territory. The joint declarations of the first three meetings, signed by both governments, show the commitment assumed to achieve this goal.

Quote:

January 7th, 2014: “…the haitian part did commit to issue identification documents to those workers so they could complete the process.”

February 3rd, 2014: “the Republic of Haiti reaffirmed its commitment to speed the issue of Passports and civil registry to its nationals…”

July 10th, 2014 “the Haitian government reiterated its commitment to launch a program of massive documentation, including the issue of passports for their nationals. Also, the Dominican Republic, offered its support to the Haitian initiative, which complements the regularization plan, and also asked the international community for its cooperation in this regard. "

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Dominican Republic offered all facilities for the Haitian government in our territory to deploy the staff and the resources necessary to meet this essential need of human beings, which is to have an identity. On more than one occasion we received commissions from the Haitian government to explain its proposal, which never materialized in the terms and to the extent expected.

You should also remember that in June last year the Organization of American States (OAS) gave the Haitian president "Diagnostics for the identification of haitian migrants living in the Dominican Republic", prepared by the Program for Universal Civil Identity in the Americas (PUICA). In addition, the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela publicly stated its readiness to support Haiti in strengthening its Civil Registry. Still, in the Dominican Republic we are waiting for the Haitian government to fulfill its promise.

What's this all about?

As explained by our Chancellor in this room at the last session of the Permanent Council, in November 2013 our country entered into force the National Plan of regularization of foreigners in irregular immigration status. For 18 months our government imposed a moratorium on deportations so each and every one of the foreigners in our country would regularized their situation and obtain immigration status.

The fundamental requirement for the regularization was to have an official identity of their country of origin. More than 288,000 people registered, mostly Haitian nationals. As expected at the failure of Haiti, only a third have a passport (96,000 people).

Haiti's inability to provide documentation to their own people was supported by notable haitian personalities repeatedly. Recently, the Haitian ambassador in the Dominican Republic, Dr. Daniel Supplice, expressed his disappointment saying: "We are not able to provide identification to our citizens in our own country, I do not see how we could have done it outside," said the newspaper Le Nouvelliste. "We are responsible for what happens to our countrymen today", the ambassador Supplice added.

To this, were added the statements of the intellectual and Haitian ex-consul Edwin Paraison, who said that statistics show that only about 45,000 Haitian nationals were enrolled in the Program for the Identification and Documentation of Haitian immigrants (PIDIH), and that passports delivered by Haitian

government represent just 5% of that figure. "There have been problems on both sides with documentation schemes, but obviously the biggest problem has been the haitian government," Paraison said.

Is this a message that the haitian government cares about the rights of its citizens? Do the haitian authorities know that the lack of documentation makes human beings who lack it invisible? Is that respecting their rights?

Given the fact that the lack of documentation ends up affecting the person who lacks it, the dominican government decided that even those applicants without passports should be equipped with a provisional document valid for one year while they manage to get their haitian national identity documents. With this measure most of the 288,000 enrolled in the Plan of Regularization will obtain legal immigration status.

The Dominican government even accepted the inscription on its regularization plan of those registered in the PIDIH pending delivery of the passport, concept under which thousands of haitian nationals were accepted.

As shown, the Dominican Republic has made an extraordinary effort to document the foreigners with an illegal situation, with a degree of flexibility perhaps like no other nation in the region.

The results of our policies are there.

But demand from us an amnesty to keep in our territory each and every one of those foreigners in irregular situation is something that nobody can ask us. No state of those who are sitting in this forum would do such a thing.

Haiti had the opportunity for their nationals to regularize, but they were not interested, despite all the favorable conditions, we had no cooperation, but still, a lot of effort and resources have brought forward a national plan for regularization of foreigners that will enable, that just over 288,000, people to regularize their immigration status in the Dominican Republic.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Dominican Republic has been flexible, patient, supportive and understanding.

The Dominican Republic has nothing to spare. By contrast, it lacks many things to achieve full wellbeing of our people.

However what we have, we share, and we continue to share.

Proof of this is that a significant proportion of the budget of the Dominican Republic in social spending is invested in the foreign population (the vast majority Haitian) in the country: public health (tens of

thousands of women in labor, and an investment of more of US25 million), primary, secondary and higher education (50,000 foreign students, who are not required identification).

Also, in trade, we must demand our solidarity and selflessness, because since the 2010 earthquake tens of thousands of containers have gone through our ports and through our roads bound for Haiti, and because of this the Dominican Republic does not charge any additional tax.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Nobody, absolutely nobody, can ask the Dominican Republic to assume the responsibilities of another State.

Neither can we accept the cynicism of nations seeking to denounce with hyperbole and exaggeration what they are accustomed to do in their own territory to immigrants.

It is well known that many nations around the world, including in our own neighborhood, are grappling with the enormous challenges of migration pressure from one country to another, and no one can claim to have a perfect solution to this problem.

The Dominican Republic has had a proportionally greater burden than it has fallen to other States with regard to the immigration issue.

Haiti has lived decades in a persistent economic, social, political and environmental crisis to the point that for years it has been under the supervision of the United Nations Security Council through MINUSTAH without having noticed, to date, considerable advance in improving that country.

In the Dominican Republic there is a shared understanding that the international community, which has had an impact in Haiti for years, has not taken responsibility up to the feeling that the circumstances require. We also feel that the haitian leadership itself has not taken responsibility to, on behalf of the common good, act in concert to provide security, political stability and institutional normality in that country.

We are affected more directly and dramatically by this state of permanent crisis in Haiti manner which will not see some exit in the short term.

Considering the above, we consider unjust the statements looking to present our country as a monster, about to unleash cave and uncivilized processes.

Know that everything has a limit.

We ask those who want to observe our internal policies to visit us. Visit us to observe how we coexist peacefully in our island, in an atmosphere of tranquility and harmony.

We have heard and seen in bewilderment how isolated incidents, involving a few haitians and dominicans that are affected, want to be presented as the portrait of a community.

That is an unacceptable irresponsibility.

That so few incidents that have occurred in our country and in which haitian nationals have been victims, those acts have been convicted and the dominican authorities have immediately arranged the corresponding investigation to establish responsibilities. For this purpose in the Dominican Republic there is a legal and institutional order.

We are sure that any country could do wrong in making social networking, videos or stories of embarrassing situations of some citizens to tarnish the image of another. Because this kind of embarrassing situation happens in every society in the world; the difference lies in the ability to respond there, correct, punish and prevent their recurrence. That is the mind of the government of the Dominican Republic.

For too long many countries, especially in the region, have used a double standard to judge our policies. It has even been tried to suggest that we adopt formulas that can put at risk political stability and social cohesion of our country; which proponents never do in their own countries.

You know that we are not a perfect society, but those who criticize us are not either. And while we share some of the same shortcomings, irresponsibility is not one of them.

The difference between words and facts is obvious in many interventions. Hypocrisy and shamelessness are evident in many cases. The Dominican Republic does not fall within any of these procedures.

We have been consistent in seeking solutions, in creating ways of compromise and ensure mechanisms so that all people in our country can develop, always attached to our legal system; as each of the countries present here would.

As we have explained, the Dominican Republic has achieved, with the National Plan for the Regularization of Foreigners and Law 169-14, that more than 350,000 people who were in a vulnerable position, in the space of just 18 months, could be able to settle their situation.

We regret that such a scenario, where solutions could be built, helps to generate more unnecessary tensions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For the Dominican Republic, the government of the Republic of Haiti has generated a disinformation campaign with the sole purpose of concealing the reality, which is the total and complete abandonment that it makes of its citizens in dominican territory.

The latest obstacle they intend to use with the purpose of preventing the Dominican Republic to exercise its sovereignty, is to instill fear in the international community for an alleged humanitarian crisis that would be generated, by receiving them their nationals. It is the first time we hear of a country in which its nationals are to spare in their own territory.

Make no mistake, the ultimate intention is to divert attention from the international community from the problems that Haiti is facing with its present internal election process.

Thank you very much.