Dominican envoy to UK urges The Guardian to look deeper into Haiti-Dominican issue
London.-Visiting The Guardian headquarters in London, Dr Federico Cuello Camilo,Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to the UK, stressed Haiti’s state failureas the defining element of their difficult bilateral situation.
London.- Dr. Federico Cuello Camilo, Ambassador of theDominican Republic to the UK, visited The Guardian seeking to change theperspective given to Dominican-Haitian issues; to recognize the achievements ofthe National Plan for Regularizing Foreigners (PNRE) as well as Law 169-14; todiscard the existence of a humanitarian crisis; to claim credit for theself-restraint demonstrated by the DR on the issue of repatriations; and toemphasize the urgency of overcoming Haiti’s condition as a failed state.
“Formonths now The Guardian’s reports refer to the 1937 massacre as the definingissue in Dominican-Haitian relations. No Dominican defends such an atrocity,which has nothing to do with today’s problems in Haiti. In so doing, TheGuardian overlooks the responsibility of Haitian policies in generating thecrisis experienced today by Haiti, which is the main reason for the continuedexpulsion of migrants towards its surrounding region. It is simplyunsustainable for all of its neighbors, especially for the Dominican Republic,”said Ambassador Cuello Camilo.
“Moreover,we Dominicans killed our last dictator, Trujillo, while Haitian dictators inthe 20th Century all died peacefully, leaving behind a legacy of economic andpolitical exile, terror and despair. This was the seed which germinated in sucha poisonous way, through a persistent economic crisis, unemployment and poorgovernance,” the Ambassador said.
Hestressed that in a country such as the DR, with a clear separation of powers,President Danilo Medina was left with no choice but to build the consensusaround the political response given to Ruling TC 168-13, by virtue of whichalmost 370 thousand persons obtained their legal status free of governmentcharges, at a cost of US$45 million to the Dominican taxpayer.
“Thecontribution of Haitian manpower to DR’s economy will now increase, because 74%of irregular migrants are in the process of being documented, as a result ofthe implementation of the PNRE and Law 169-14. These workers will be able todemand fair labor conditions, thus contributing to the increase of thestandards of living for all, Dominicans and foreigners,” the diplomat said.
“Thefigures from the International Labor Organization (ILO) are clear: while laborproductivity in the DR has grown over 40% since 2004, real wages are stagnant.This can only be explained by the unfair competition of undocumented migrantworkers. From now on, only documented migrants will be able to work in the DR,which is open even to the return of those who have self-deported voluntarily,once they obtain in Haiti the documents their consulates in the DR failed toissue on their behalf,” said Ambassador Cuello Camilo.
CuelloCamilo reminded The Guardian that the failures of the Program for IdentifyingHaitian Migrants Abroad (PIDIH) were denounced bravely by Ambassador DanielSupplice, former Haitian envoy to Santo Domingo, first through an interviewwith the press and later through a letter to President Michel Martelly afterhis sudden dismissal from his posting. Copies of the letter, in its originalFrench version and in the English-language translation published by the HaitianTimes, were delivered to The Guardian.
Asfor the alleged humanitarian crisis in Haiti, Ambassador Cuello Camilo remindedThe Guardian that both US and Canadian Ambassadors in the DR and in Haitivisited separately the Dominican-Haitian border, verifying that there is nocrisis to be found.
“Whenthere is a humanitarian crisis, lives are at risk. That is not the case of theborder between the DR and Haiti. Not even the OAS mission—requested by theDR—was able to find a crisis to report. It is clear, however, that OASdisqualified itself as an impartial interlocutor between our countries, notonly because of the unfortunate statements made by its Secretary General, butalso for having produced a mission report lacking in coherence between itsfindings and its recommendations”, expressed Ambassador Cuello Camilo, whileconveying the official position of his country concerning the OAS report.
Hereiterated that both countries have the reciprocal right to repatriateirregular migrants from their respective territories, by virtue of the Treatyof Washington of 1938 and its Modus Operandi of 1939. This notwithstanding,“President Medina adopted a policy of self-restraint on the issue ofrepatriations until having in place the appropriate policy measures that areresolving the situation, at least on the Dominican side of the border”, saidAmbassador Cuello Camilo.
“Regrettably,nobody has given the DR its due, even after extending indefinitely the deadlinefor regularization after 1 August last,” the Ambassador said.
AmbassadorCuello Camilo urged The Guardian to pay attention to the consequences of statefailure for Haitians themselves. Haiti, as a failed state, does not documentits citizens, does not provide education or health services, does not createconditions for job creation, does not provide water and sanitation and has notprevented the deforestation of 98% of its national territory.
Suchfailures are evidence of widespread human rights’ violations—as provided for inthe fundamental international agreements dealing with these issues—thusweakening Haiti’s capacity to harbor a strong democracy and a viable economy,based on the rule of law.
Healerted The Guardian about the consequences for the Dominican Republic of thissituation: deforestation—due to illegal logging to produce charcoal for exportto Haiti—, excess demand of health services—14% of government expenditures inhealth cover Haitian needs in the DR— and education, above and beyond ourcapacity to provide freely Haitian demands for such services.
“Iask myself, then, if it really is the time to wind down the UN Mission for theStabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH), when the severe governance deficiencies ofHaiti have yet to be overcome,” the Ambassador said.
Heconcluded by encouraging The Guardian to pay attention to the real Haitianproblem—the condition of Haiti as a failed state—rather than the symptom—thesituation of Haitian migrants in the DR. In so doing, The Guardian will be ableto understand that the DR is the victim rather than the culprit in this caseand that, by focusing on the DR rather than Haiti, The Guardian has allowedHaitian politicians to avoid their responsibility for the crisis, while at thesame time continuing to exclude their diaspora from the political process andthus preventing the renewal of the political class and the civil service.
AmbassadorFederico Cuello Camilo was interviewed by Mr Jamie Wilson, Chief ofInternational News, Mrs Lucy Lamble, Editor for Global Development and Mr SamJones, Reporter for Global Development at The Guardian. Chris Bennett,Executive Director of the Caribbean Council and Gustavo Sosa, MinisterCounselor of the Dominican Embassy in London were alsopresent.