Regional Cultural Committee criticises Dominican Republic
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Regional Cultural Committee (RCC) wants the Dominican Republic “to immediately cease and desist” overtly racist policies disguised as state foreign policy.
In a statement criticising Santo Domingo over its policy of deporting people of Haitian descent, the RCC, which met in Haiti last week in preparation for the region’s premier cultural festival, The Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) in August, said it was also sending a similar message to “all other Caribbean nations” with such a policy.
Regional governments at their summit in Barbados earlier this month issued a statement condemning the forced deportation of the people of Haitian descent and the Haitian government said it wanted the Dominican Republic to return to the negotiating table to find a humane way to deal with the situation.
In its statement, the RCC said that it acknowledges the role that Haiti has played in influencing and shaping the wider freedom movement in Latin America and the Caribbean, declaring “its grave concern over the recent legislated decision of the government of the Dominican Republic that has rendered stateless thousands of Dominicans of Haitian origin/descent, a gross denial of their basic human rights”.
The RCC said that it also viewed with “abhorrence, reports of lynching and forced expulsion of such persons from their homes by ordinary citizens with no reported government sanctions.
“The lessons of history as seen in circumstances such as Nazi Germany, South Africa under Apartheid Law and Legal segregation in the Southern states of the USA, demonstrate clearly the immediate danger of such state endorsed violence against members of our Caribbean family.
“The Regional Cultural Committee urges CARICOM to advise the government of the Dominican Republic, and all other Caribbean nations to immediately cease and desist such overtly racist policies disguised as state foreign policy, and to engage diasporic communities within each nation state in constructive discussion of humanitarian, immigration and citizenship concerns.”
The RCC said that it is mindful that while descendants of Haitian migrants might be seen as a clearly identifiable group in the context of the Dominican Republic, “the ethnic similarities and cultural commonalities to the vast majority of the Caribbean population caution us that a similar policy can be utilized to expel wider groups of CARICOM peoples from nations throughout the region and the world that they currently call home.
“The Regional Cultural Committee wishes to remind the region that our nations were all formed from the same history of colonialism, enslavement and indentureship; and as such have a common past and a common future.”
It said that the region can only progress collectively through mutual respect, tolerance and understanding, as expressed most effectively in the current theme for CARIFESTA XII, “Our Roots, Our Culture, Our Common Future” to be hosted by Haiti in August.