Hello family and friends of Glimpsers. Hope your Wednesday is going well! First off, I want to apologize for the late post, since we have been having problems with the internet, it’s a late post! 🙂 I’m Ashley and I was leader of the day. So our theme today was immigration, specifically, the conflict of “illegal” Haitian immigrants living in the Dominican Republic. To get a better understanding of the situation, our delegation visted an old batey (the living quarters of sugar cane workers) in Los Jovillos. Here, we were informed that most sugar cane workers were people trafficked from Haiti and used as cheap labor. These Haitians would raise their children on bateys and continue in a cycle of poverty and illiteracy that continues on even today. On our tour of the batey we learned that bateys all across the Dominican Republic do not have any form of health care and that the highest level of education offered within a batey community is around the 6th grade.
The downfall of the Dominican government to assist and help these people has lead to the creation of an organization called MOSCTHA. We had the pleasure of speaking with the executive director of this organization who also gave us more information on the changing plight of the younger generation of Haitians.
The situation with Haitian immigrants has now changed drastically; those who first came to cut sugar are gone and their children and grandchildren now live on these old bateys. In the Dominican constitution, it states that a person born in the Dominican Republic is immediately a Dominican citizen, however, due to racism, second and third generation Haitians that were born in batey communities have been denied citizenship and are stateless people. Even today, young Haitians live in old bateys because that is all they know and all their family has ever known. The batey that we visited in Los Jovillos was built in 1950 and original barracks from that time still function as living quarters for families.
These stateless people are completely trapped. They cannot leave the Dominican Republic and they cannot go back to Haiti. These Dominicans of Haitian descent still speak creole but have also largely assimulated to Dominican life-style and culture. They are Dominicans, but the Dominican government refuses to acknowledge them and has now either trapped them within the country by refusing to give them passports or deporting them to Haiti, a place many Dominican Haitians have never been to or know anything about.
We had hoped to end the day with a T.V. interview where we could possibly address this topic as well as others, but unfortunately the interview fell through and we are up for rescheduling (so look out for us on the internet!).