Haitians and supporters stage protests

In New York, more than a 100 Haitian-Americans, who were joined by a few Dominicans, gathered near the Consulate General of the Dominican Republic, demanding that a ruling by the country’s constitutional court be reversed. Retroactive to 1929, it effectively makes refugees out of nearly 300,000 Dominicans of Haitian ancestry if they cannot prove their parents were legally in the country.

“These people were born in the Dominican Republic, a lot of them don’t speak Creole and don’t know anyone in Haiti,” said Barbara Saint-Louis, a protest organizer with the Haitian Diaspora for Civic and Human Rights. ”We’re asking for justice.”

Angel Vicioso, a Dominican living in New York, spoke to the crowd and was equally critical about his country’s ruling.

“They want to apply something back to 1929 and if they do that, I don’t even know if I’m Dominican,” he said.

The U.N. on Thursday reiterated its call for the Dominican government to “ensure that Dominican citizens of Haitian origin are not deprived of their right to nationality.” The world body has said the court decision violates the Dominican Republic’s international human rights obligations.

But protesters had sharper words, calling the ruling a “racist civic genocide” as they waved Haitian flags and displayed English and Creole signs.

“It’s not a political situation; it’s a humanitarian situation,” said Vilaile Charlotte, a Haitian-Dominican living in New York. He has six children who live in Santo Domingo.

Photos via Teresa Gutierrez