St Vincent prime minister maintains pressure on Dominican Republic ruling
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves maintained his criticism of the Constitutional Court ruling in the Dominican Republic that could render, stateless, thousands of Haitian descendents in that Spanish-speaking country.
Gonsalves, who has already written two letters to President Danilo Medina, said the country cannot use sovereignty and the doctrine of on-interference in internal affairs to shield itself from criticism over the court ruling on September 23.
“It is a fundamental matter of humanity, of civilised life, that you are a citizen in the country where you are born. There are some narrow bands of cases where a country may say if you just happen to be passing through, in transit, you take the citizenship of your parents.
“But how can a man be transiting through the Dominican Republic since 1929? That’s absolutely ridiculous!” said Gonsalves, adding “that’s absolute rubbish! It is offensive to all right thinking persons and they must know that”.
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders are scheduled to meet in Trinidad later this month to discuss the matter. Informed sources told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the talks, which were scheduled for this weekend, would most likely take place on Tuesday next week.
Gonsalves, who has emerged as the most vocal regional leader on the issue in the Dominican Republic, told reporters that he was aware of the argument of non-interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country.
“I confronted it in the first letter I wrote to President Madina of the Dominican Republic. I said that persons may raise the fig leaf of sovereignty and the doctrine of non-interference in the internal matters of a state. There are certain a matter which transcend these,” Gonsalves said.
Earlier this month, Anibal De Castro, the Dominican Republic Ambassador to the United Sates, said that his country does not grant citizenshiop to every person born in the country.
“In fact, the United States is one of the few nations that maintains this practice. In most countries, it is the norm that citizenship be obtained by origin or conferred under certain conditions. Since 1929, the Constitution of the Dominican Republic has established that the children of people in transit, a temporary legal status, are not eligible for Dominican citizenship,” he noted.
But Prime Minister Gonsalves has also written to CARICOM asking that it abandon its tepid response to the situation.
He told reporters that the 15-member regional bloc would not welcome what would be its first Spanish-speaking member until Santo Domingo resolves the issues of the court ruling.
“First of all, the Dominican Republic can’t come in CARICOM until this matter is settled. Cannot! Because, the rules are, once one country says no, that is the end of that. This country says no. That is the end of that. That is clear. Full stop! Exclamation mark!” he said.
“In this Caribbean in the 21 Century, you have people being discriminated against on the basis of the origin of their ancestors and their ethnicity? And this component of our Caribbean civilisation called St. Vincent and the Grenadines will stand askance on that? No! No! No! You can say what you want about me, cuss me as much as you want, but there is no way anybody can tell me that is permissible on the ground of sovereignty or internal affairs,” he said.
Gonsalves also said that he was calling for Santo Domingo to be suspended from the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM), a bloc that includes CARICOM and the Dominican Republic, noting that the country benefits tremendously from European Union aid as a result of its membership.
“Unless the Dominican Republic can give us a credible plan within the shortest possible time to correct, in whatever legal form, this dastardly ruling of their constitutional court, I will continue to maintain the positions which I am maintaining,” said Gonsalves said, who is also calling for the country’s suspension from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) and PetroCaribe.
“Right-thinking people, of whatever ethnicity, feel a sense of abhorrence at what is going on.
“Then, the people who are of African descent have additionally a sense of outrage, because they know what has happened historically in this region, in Latin America, in the United States of America, in North America as a whole, in Europe.
“So, this is something, which, in the 21st Century, we have to stand askance against and take a firm line. And I don’t want any wishy-washy approach on this question. The government of this country is firm and resolute on this,” Gonsalves said.