Inter-Actualités Magazine, Special Report on “Boat People,” May 1980

 

Download: Inter-Actualités Magazine, Emisyon Spesyal “Boat People”, me 1980

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Jean Dominique and Michèle Montas report from Miami, on the administrative structures and state obstacles facing Haitian refugees who are trying to get political asylum in the United States. As a record number of Haitians flee Haiti for the US, the Bahamas, and other countries – an average of 200 people per week – the question of the rights of the so-called “boat people” and the approximately 30,000 undocumented Haitians in Florida is the subject of political debate in the United States. While Cubans fleeing Communism are considered political refugees by the federal government and granted asylum and various forms of aid (food assistance, work permit), Haitians are considered economic refugees and not granted the same protections or rights. Politicians and civil rights activists in the US, including Jesse Jackson, several members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Democratic legislators, claim that this is a political façade for institutionalized racism, and are pressuring the Carter administration and Congress to change the laws regarding the treatment of Haitian refugees. Dominique and Montas speak to the deputy district director of the INS, who denies that Haitian and Cuban refugees are treated differently and claims that the State Department has given them no evidence that Haitian refugees face persecution if they return to Haiti; staff members of the Haitian Refugee Center in Miami, who argue that in the case of Haitian refugees, the economic cannot be separated from the political; and lawyer Ira Kurzban, who says that the State Department and INS have made it virtually impossible for Haitian refugees to present their claims for political asylum, and in so doing, have violated several federal statutes, the US Constitution, and international law. Dominique concludes by speaking of the courage, fear, and silent determination of the Haitian refugees: “these are our brothers, and we are all responsible.”

 

Face à l’Opinion: Ambassador Guy Alexandre on the Repatriation of Haitians from Dominican Republic, 22 May 1996

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Download: Face à l’Opinion: Ambassador Guy Alexandre sou Repatriman Ayisyen nan Dominikani, 22/5/1996 (1)

Face à l’Opinion: Ambassador Guy Alexandre sou Repatriman Ayisyen nan Dominikani, 22/5/1996 (2)

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Haitian ambassador to the Dominican Republic Guy Alexandre discusses the 1996 repatriation of Haitians from the Dominican Republic. While ostensibly those repatriated were undocumented Haitian workers living in the Dominican Republic illegally, in fact many among them had papers certifying them to be in the Dominican Republic legally, or were in fact Dominican-born people of Haitian origin, or simply dark-skinned Dominicans. Alexandre says that while the Dominican Republic is a sovereign nation, it should have notified and consulted with the Haitian authorities before abruptly beginning this deportation process, and that the Dominican Republic should have mechanisms to establish people’s true nationality and identity before engaging in mass deportation. He discusses the relationship between this deportation edict and Dominican electoral politics, as it relates to Joaquín Balaguer (the successor to anti-Haitian dictator Rafael Trujillo) and opposition leader José Francisco Peña Gómez (a dark-skinned Dominican of partial Haitian descent), and those to politicians’ friends and allies on the Haitian side of the border. Alexandre discusses Dominican racial consciousness in general, the history of “whitening” and the erasing of African origins in the Dominican Republic. Interview Jean Dominique.