Monday, September 30, 2013

WNU #1194: Dominican Court Leaves Haitian Descendants Stateless

Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1194, September 29, 2013

1. Dominican Republic: Court Excludes Descendants of “Illegal” Haitians
2. Honduras: Legal Group Challenges Indigenous Leader’s Criminalization
3. Mexico: Cananea Miners Left Jobless After Strike Is Broken
4. Links to alternative sources on: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Honduras, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, US/immigration

ISSN#: 1084 922X. Weekly News Update on the Americas covers news from Latin America and the Caribbean, compiled and written from a progressive perspective. It has been published weekly by the Nicaragua Solidarity Network of Greater New York since 1990. It is archived at For a subscription, write to Follow us on Twitter at

*1. Dominican Republic: Court Excludes Descendants of “Illegal” Haitians
In a decision dated Sept. 23 the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Tribunal (TC) in effect took away the citizenship of all people born in the country to out-of-status parents since June 20, 1929. The court noted that the authorities are currently studying birth certificates of more than 16,000 people and have refused to issue identity documents to another 40,000; the justices gave electoral authorities one year to determine which people would be deprived of their citizenship. Since most undocumented immigrants in the Dominican Republic are Haitians, the ruling mainly affects Dominicans of Haitian descent. The TC is the highest court for constitutional issues, and the decision--TC/0168/13, in the case of the Haitian-descended Juliana Deguis Pierre--cannot be appealed.

The Dominican Constitution was amended in 2010 to exclude the children of undocumented immigrants from citizenship; even before that, the Central Electoral Council (JCE) had refused for several years to issue papers to the grown children of undocumented immigrants [see Update #1184]. The new ruling goes much further. It is based on a clause in the 1929 Constitution granting citizenship to “all persons who are born in the territory of the Republic, with the exception of the legitimate children of foreigners resident in the country as diplomatic representatives or those who are in transit in it.” Citing a 1939 law, the TC ruled that “in transit” was different from “transient” and included everyone without legal status. The decision could apparently take citizenship away from Haitian-descended Dominicans now in their 80s and render them stateless.

Migration General Director José Ricardo Taveras Blanco called the decision “historic” and said it “opens doors to resolving definitively a problem which has been an open wound in Dominican society.” Human rights advocates were appalled. Reed Brody, counsel and spokesperson for the US-based group Human Rights Watch, said the ruling “cuts against the rights of thousands of people born in the Dominican Republic, and could immediately undermine their access to education and health services.” The Bonó Center, a Catholic human rights organization in the Dominican Republic, called the decision “absurd,” “senseless” and “unjust.” It affects “the fundamental rights of more than four generations of men and women who during their whole lives had formed a part of the Dominican people and have contributed to this republic’s material, cultural and spiritual development,” the group said. “The court ignores the principles behind decisions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights [IACHR, or CIDH in Spanish], along with international agreements and treaties which have constitutional seniority.” (El Día (Dominican Republic) 9/26/13; AP 9/26/13 via Yahoo News; El Diario-La Prensa 9/26/13, 9/27/13, 9/28/13 from correspondent)

In related news, Major-Gen. Rubén Darío Paulino Sem announced during the week of Sept. 22 that 47,700 undocumented Haitians had been deported since Aug. 16, 2012, more than twice the 20,541 deported the year before. (Haïti Libre (Haiti) 9/29/13)

*2. Honduras: Legal Group Challenges Indigenous Leader’s Criminalization
The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), a legal advocacy group with offices in Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica and the US, has requested a hearing before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR, or CIDH in Spanish) about the case of Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, who was ordered into preventive detention on Sept. 20 [see Update #1193]. CEJIL director Marcia Aguiluz said the group has also raised the case with the United Nations. Cáceres, an indigenous Lenca, is the general coordinator of the Civic Council of Grassroots and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). The government has charged her with damaging property in connection with her support of protests by indigenous Lenca communities against the construction of the Agua Zarca dam on and near their territory. Aguiluz said that the “criminalization of Berta Cáceres” is an “example of a new manner of persecution, since it’s the use of the judicial apparatus to keep rights defenders from carrying out their work.” (El Nuevo Herald (Miami) 9/26/13 from EFE)

Correction: In Update #1193 we reported, following our source, that Cáceres was sent to prison on Sept. 20. Rights Action confirmed by email that as of Sept. 25 she was still free.

In other news, according to a CID Gallup poll of 1,220 voters surveyed between Sept. 6 and 12, Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the presidential candidate of the newly formed center-left Freedom and Refoundation Party (LIBRE), was leading with 29% of voter preferences in elections now scheduled for Nov. 24. She was followed closely by Juan Orlando Hernández of the rightwing governing National Party (PN) with 27%; Mauricio Villeda of the center-right Liberal Party (PL) continued to trail far behind with 16%. Castro and Hernández were in a statistical tie, since the poll’s margin of error is 2%. Despite Castro’s good showing, 33% of those surveyed thought Hernández would win, against 28% for Castro. One reason for the disparity may be another of the poll’s findings: there are “doubts about the capacity of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal [TSE] to organize and execute honest and transparent elections.” (Honduras Culture and Politics 9/26/13)

*3. Mexico: Cananea Miners Left Jobless After Strike Is Broken
The giant Buenavista del Cobre copper mine in Cananea, near the US border in the northwestern state of Sonora, is in full operation again, a little more than three years after a police assault ended a 2007-2010 strike over health and safety conditions by Section 65 of the National Union of Mine and Metal Workers and the Like of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMSRM, “Los Mineros”) [see Update #1048]. The mine produced earnings of $288.69 million for its owner, Grupo México (GM), in the second quarter of this year, according to an article in the left-leaning Mexican daily La Jornada. But the town itself hasn’t prospered. The article reports that the past 10 years have brought an increase in “organized crime, unemployment, shortages of drinkable water, a growing incidence of different types of cancer and acute respiratory diseases, ecological deterioration, alcoholism, and, because of a large transient population, problems with housing and urban infrastructure.”

The town’s residents say only about 20% of the workers at Buenavista del Cobre and the other two Cananea mines, Industrias Peñoles’ Minera María and Minera Frisco’s Minera Milpillas, are local people. According to residents, Grupo México has followed a strategy of refusing to hire former Section 65 members and other local workers with union experience. Thousands of workers have come from other states, many of them employed by third-party contractors rather than directly by the mine. The influx of outsiders has overwhelmed Cananea’s limited housing resources. Many of the new workers are housed in eight warehouses that have been outfitted with bunks, bathrooms and improvised cafeterias. (LJ 9/25/13)

The strike against Grupo México was part of a major struggle by the SNTMMSRM against efforts by mining companies and the federal government to break the union. In 2006 the government pressed corruption charges against SNTMMSRM president Napoleón Gómez Urrutia, who has been living in exile in Vancouver ever since. A judge quashed the arrest warrant for Gómez Urrutia in the spring of 2012, and the union leader’s lawyer predicted at the time that his client would soon return to Mexico [see Update #1128]. But legal actions continued, and Gómez Urrutia stayed in Canada. Leaders of two international labor federations, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the IndustriALL Global Union, now see no major impediment to Gómez Urrutia’s return. They held a meeting on Aug. 23 with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto, who they say assured them that he recognized Gómez Urrutia as the head of the union and that he didn’t intend to carry out political persecutions of independent labor leaders. (Proceso (Mexico) 9/3/13)

*4. Links to alternative sources on: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Honduras, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, US/immigration

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Breaking U.N. Protocol, Brazil Lambastes U.S. Spying

Guarani Kaiowá retake traditional land, demand Brazilian government respect their rights

Evidence of Yanomami ‘Violence’ Relies on False Data, New Paper Reveals (Brazil)

The Great Soy Expansion: Brazilian Land Grabs in Eastern Bolivia

Bolivia: Aymara dissidents charge repression

From the Mines to the Streets: A Bolivian Activist's Life – Book Review

Peru: deadly attack on family of miner leader

Ecuador: Some Observations Regarding the Yasuní-ITT Proposal

Illegal road to Yasuni oil bloc? (Ecuador)

FARC Leader “Timochenko” Expresses Frustration with Santos’s Negotiating Strategy (Colombia)

Who “Calls the Shots” for NGO’s in Colombia?

Colombia: river defender assassinated

Venezuela's Maduro Cancels UN Trip, Alleges Former US Officials Involved in “Crazy” Plot

Venezuela withdraws from OAS rights body

Because this Land is Ours: The Rights of Mother Earth vs. Carbon Trading (Panama)

Honduran Presidential Polling Shows Race Tightening

The Mexican Uprising Deepens

Mexico: The Shadow of Acteal

Tribunal Denounces Privatization, Pollution and Plundering of Mexico’s Water

Border Baseball Massacre Renews War Fears (Mexico)

Literary Bash for Ciudad Juarez (Mexico)

Cuba’s Other Internationalism: Angola 25 Years Later

"Jalousie in Colors" – Makeup for misery (Haiti)

OAS to Send Electoral Monitors to Haiti for Election Yet to be Scheduled

The Beast Strikes Again: Central American Migrants Feel Brunt of Failed Immigration Policies (US/immigration)

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