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Ediberto Roman Headshot

Odd Justifications for Human Rights Abuses

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In a Miami Herald op-ed on January 23, 2014, Mr. Aníbal de Castro, the Dominican Republic's Ambassador to the United States -- in what some may characterize as an apparent compassionate effort aimed to convince the U.S. that his country's recent actions against its Haitian citizens were appropriate -- is incorrect in just about everything he asserts. His op-ed is more appropriately characterized as an apologetic effort to justify his country's stripping the citizenship of hundreds of thousands. Indeed, he engages in a classic political ploy of avoiding the real issues.

Sadly the ambassador did not focus, let alone mention, that his country's actions left these people stateless without any rights or protection. Instead, he attempts to compare his country's obvious human rights deprivations to the U.S. debates over immigration reform. He fails to address what actually has happened in his country. Specifically, at no point does he mention that his country changed its constitution to end a classic form of citizenship -- citizenship by birth. And shockingly, his country created a constitutional court that eventually applied that denaturalization retroactively back to 1929. It did so despite the governing constitution specifically providing for birthright citizenship.

The Ambassador's comparison to the United's States' immigration debate is only comparable in the sense that his country took Mitt Romney's self-deportation proposal (to make life intolerable for immigrants) to an absurd extreme. In fact, the Dominican proposal is not even targeted against its immigrant population. It is aimed at taking away the rights of its citizens that happen to be of Haitian descent. And while birthers like Donald Trump may be pleased with wholesale efforts to end citizenship, most Americans upon learning of the facts in the Dominican, should be outraged. Make no bones about it: What is occurring in the Dominican Republic is a racially charged political effort aimed to take away all rights of a significant citizen minority group. The effort, under the guise of immigration regulation, can perhaps more appropriately be viewed as a form of cleansing. Indeed, not all that different from horrific efforts of past World Wars, the Dominican Constitutional Court that upheld this horrific plan, ordered the executive branch of the Dominican government to round up all the names these citizens.

Ambassador De Castro's mention of this so-called regularization plan is a stillborn attempt at diversion. What the learned Ambassador must have forgotten is that immigration laws do not apply to citizens in their own country. The denationalized people having irrevocably acquired Dominican citizenship at birth, should under such horrific circumstances have their country strip them of all their rights. The only appropriate remedy for this rights violation and distortion of the Dominican Constitution is for an international body to order the reversal of this villainous decision. Fortunately, the Inter-American Commission on Human RIghts already has a petition before it, and hopefully this injustice will come to an end.