Opinion June 17, 2016 | 5:07 pm

Human rights, NGOs and transparency:The Dominican case

Human rights, NGOs and transparency: The Dominican case

Amnesty International and many Human Rights NGO are thewhistleblowers when human beings are deprived of their rights anywhere. This iscommendable and should be encouraged and supported.

However, choosing sides and blaming responsibilities forabuses may end up compounding the problem, because their sources might bebiased or hide the whole truth on purpose.

Thus, well intentioned NGO fighting for good causes mustethically and morally be held to the highest standard for transparency andtruth.

Otherwise, these NGO and every generous individual becomeunwilling tools and aides to those at the very root of the human rights abusesthey want to mitigate, if not completely eliminate.

This is the case of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Are the human rights of the Dominican people less worthythan the rights of the Haitian people?

Ideally, they should be equally upheld. In the real world,choices have to be made.

The main cause of calamity, extreme poverty of thepopulation and lack of a viable state in Haiti, lies primarily with Haitiansthemselves. Throughout history till the present day, foreign powers, chieflyFrance and the USA, have also contributed significantly to compound theirproblems.

The Dominican people have been a victim too of theseforeign powers plus Spain, and especially the clique that oversees the HaitianState that also oppresses the Haitian population since January 1, 1804.

The Dominican Republic separated and became independentfrom Haiti, in 1844, because Dominicans as a Nation did not, and do not, sharevalues, culture, language and identity with their Haitian neighbors.

Most people living outside the island of Hispaniola ignorethis relevant fact.

Checking historical facts against present day realities isthe first step to insure transparency and to see what is true and what ismisinformation or manipulation to favor foreign hidden agendas.

The Dominican State since it was created as a Republic hasnever invaded Haiti and has equally been treated as a pawn of those foreignpowers that have created an environment of dependency, that have prevented ahealthy and interdependent development of both states sharing the Island ofHispaniola.

Who are the Haitians?

Haitians are the descendants of slaves from differentcultural and ethnic origins in Africa, forcefully brought by France in the 18thcentury into the Western third of the island of Hispaniola, that Spain hadexchanged to France in 1697, to recover Catalonia (Barcelona).

Who are the Dominicans?

They are the descendants of the first Spanish settlers from1494 through 1524. They remained isolated mostly in the Cibao Valley, wherethey still speak a variety of old Spanish reminiscent of the 16th century. Thatmakes Dominicans and Cibaeños in particular, different from Hispanics elsewherein the Americas.

Cibaeños did not own slaves. They were just poor but happyfarmers. They made up to 80% of the rural Dominican population at least until1961, when the total population was only 3 million inhabitants, compared to the10 million of 2016.

They mingled first with the Tainos that survived theConquistadores, Spaniards that left the island to discover and conquer Mexico,Peru and elsewhere. They also mixed with most blacks that for 300+ yearsescaped to Hispaniola from slavery in neighboring British and French heldislands. Our coasts were mostly uninhabited for fear of pirates.

Dominicans now are 73% racially mixed, black and white,with 15% entirely white and 11% black. They share a strong Hispanic identity derived from being the firstsettlers after 800 years fighting the Moors.

Those early settlers, in their Cibao Valley, after feelingabandoned by Castile, and partially exchanged to France for Catalonia (1697),and the Basque Country (1795) entirely ; they were massacred, in 1805, andoccupied 22 years, (1822-1844), by the Haitians. Finally, they defeated andexpelled the Haitian invaders militarily and founded an independent state underthe name Dominican Republic, in 1844.

It was the American occupier who from 1916-1924 and morerecently 1965 imported Haitian laborers for their sugar cane plantations in thecoastal plains of the Dominican Republic, but not in the Cibao Valley, cradleof the Hispanic identity embedded in the Dominican psyche, birthplace ofmerengue and bachata.

So, if today NGO’s make a claim to the Dominican State togive 200,000 descendants of Haitians the right to remain in the country onhumanitarian grounds, and the Government administratively grants that wish, itis unwarranted to give citizenship rights and accuse Dominicans of abusingHuman Rights because their own country is unable or unwilling to give thempapers for their own Haitian nationality.

What shall Dominicans do then with the remainingundocumented one million plus Haitians who massively moved East, especiallysince January 2010, when borders were opened after the earthquake, forhumanitarian reasons? Two million Dominicans had to emigrate to the USA andEurope in the last 40 years to look for better opportunities.

The same way the USA, the UK, the EU countries are entitledto determine who have the right to live within their nations and thus, able tolive under better living conditions; in that manner, the states of Haiti andDominican Republic are entitled to determine, for better or for worse, who aretheir nationals and who may reside within their national boundaries.

Ignoring this principle leads to war, revolutions,extremism and the worst cases of human right abuses.

The reality is that the population of both countries havebeen pawns of foreign powers throughout history.

NGO’s of the 21st century reacting to emotions but withscarce historical knowledge become the factual accomplices of a very seriousdenial of human rights: the rights of the Dominican people to developpeacefully in an environmentally sustainable homeland, free of foreign racistprejudices from both extremes of white and black supremacists.

About the Author:

Alfredo Vargas-Caba is a French Educated Linguist, born inthe Cibao Valley.

He is a five language Licensed Master Court Interpreter inHouston, Texas. He did research since 2002, on the 18th Century Spanish spokenin the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, along the Mexican border, as well as the 16thCentury Spanish of his native Dominican Republic.

He pioneered the opening of European markets forHispaniola, starting with Swiss charter flights linking Zurich and Geneva withPort-au-Prince, Haiti, and Santo Domingo, in 1976, 1977 through 1978.

He was Director of Tourism for Europe, after opening theDominican Tourist Office, in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, from 1979 through1996.

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