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Author Topic: Stranded: The stateless Haitians  (Read 7279 times)
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« on: July 14, 2011, 04:35:59 PM »

Stranded: The stateless Haitians

By Steve Sapienza

Dominicans of Haitian descent are struggling with government discrimination in the only country they have ever known


For many Haitians fleeing dictators and poverty at home and looking for work in the cane fields, the Dominican Republic has long been a refuge. However, possibly a million Haitians or people of Haitian ancestry are now being affected by the adoption of a new law concerning citizenship in the Dominican Republic. Many descendants of Haitian workers living in the Dominican Republic could face deportation to Haiti or be forced to live outside the law, with no legal status in the country.
Haitian Noisilus Siri Yan came to the Dominican Republic in the 1970s to work in the sugar industry. He met and married Losita, a Dominican of Haitian descent, whose father worked as a cane cutter. Together they raised four children - all born on Dominican soil.
The family lives in Batey 43, an impoverished village of a few hundred Dominicans of Haitian descent, located 43km from the capital Santo Domingo.
For many years the sugar cane work kept the Siri Yan family afloat, but when the sugar industry went into decline, the family, along with their neighbours, was left struggling to escape the poverty and desperation of Batey 43.
"I would describe this place as a desert. One without an exit or entrance. We see the same thing every day. Here you leave and return as if you were meant to stay here for life. It's like a countryside with no life. There are no jobs here .... Life for someone who grows up in a batey means living with misery, living with hard work, going through difficult days," Altagracia, Noisilus' daughter, says.
Noisilus found a job clearing brush on a nearby farm for very little pay, and soon the four Siri Yan children became the only hope the family had of pulling itself out of poverty. The father emphasised education as a ticket out of a desperate situation. They would go to school - just like all the other Dominican children - obtain a university education, and get a well-paid white collar job. This was the plan to get the family out of poverty. But eventually the plan began to unravel. ...

Full article and documentary http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/witness/2011/07/2011712154714695594.html
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