Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves on new Dominican citizenship law

Caribbean Heads of Government from several CARICOM nations gathered for the 35th edition of a four-day meeting in Antigua to address several issues affecting the regional body, established in 1974. Topics to be covered included the future of CARICOM as a sustainable geopolitical body; effects of the economic malaise; and a decision by the Dominican Republic (DR) to strip illegal aliens' off-spring of their citizenship rights.


Interim CARICOM Chairman, Ralph Gonsalves, was vociferous in his defense of approximately 500,000 Haitian descendents, who risk deportation due to being deprived of their identity documents by the DR. He said, ". . . people of Haitian descent . . . look to us (CARICOM) to give voice to . . . denial of their human rights. Don't think . . . they look simply to Haiti." Gonsalves persuaded CARICOM last year to not engage with the DR once its Constitutional Court ruled to terminate Dominican citizenship for any person that had parents, who illegally entered the DR. The Court made the ruling retroactive to 1929.

The DR has been on the defensive ever since, with the international community in an uproar over the DR's shocking behavior. Pressure from other nations and the DR's desire to join CARICOM, of which Haiti is a member in good standing, has forced the DR to institute a regularization program to give citizenship back to disenfranchised Haitians. But the program won't be implemented for another two years.

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