“This is one of the issues we have to take up with hemispheric parties and the United Nations,” incoming chairman of CARICOM and St Vincent Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said.
Speaking on “CARICOM and the DR Situation” on Tuesday evening at the NALIS Building Port-of-Spain, Gonsalves said that even though Haiti and the DR began discussions on the court ruling, DR authorities began to expel hundreds of citizens of Haitian descent. Many of those expelled do not even know Creole or French, the languages of Haiti and have no relatives living in Haiti.
The community, he said has to keep the pressure up on the decisions taken by the CARICOM Bureau of Heads on Tuesday. At the governmental level, Gonsalves said he will continue his lobby by writing a letter to the European Union to suspend its trade links with the DR, as it did with Cuba when the Cuban administration detained a number of political prisoners.
Gonsalves, as Prime Minister of St Vincent began his lobby against the DR constitutional court’s ruling which would debar citizens of Haitian descent born after June 21, 1929, by writing letters to DR President Danilo Medina asking that action be taken to rescind the court’s decision. After he got no response, Gonsalves wrote the President of Venezuela to review its Petrocaribe agreement with the DR.
He also wrote the President of Cuba Raul Castro to use his influence as a friend of Medina to ask that corrective action be taken. “The European Union has to decide whether it is going to be evenhanded.”
The situation in the DR, he contends is greater than that of the political prisoners in Cuba. “We are dealing with 250,000 people who being denied their basic rights. The EU, which is an institution of conscience, must take this into account and tell the DR that it cannot be business as usual, because CARICOM has also taken that position.”
At the level of CARICOM, he said, “We have to formerly make the request for the advisory opinion from the Inter American Commission on Human Rights.” As TT is currently the Chair of CARICOM, he said TT’s Foreign Affairs Ministry needs to start the discussion on a resolution to be taken to the UN.
From January 1, 2014, when the SVG takes over the chairmanship, he said, “I expect that the issue will be for us to present the resolution to the United Nations.”
At the level of civil society, Gonsalves said he was impressed with the lobby in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Grenada, but he would like to see it extend beyond these countries. “We have to get other groups in the Caribbean to address this matter,” he said. (See Page 25A)