Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 6th 2016 Contents A23
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Cresnel Ceus no longer lives in
the shadows. For the first time in
15 years, the Haitian migrant can
move about this country without
fear of being detained at any
moment. He can get a formal job
and perform such routine acts as
opening his own bank account and
getting his own phone.
Perhaps most important to Ceus,
he can pack up his fruit stall and
take his two children across the bor-
der to his native Haiti for the first
time in their lives without the fear
that he won t be allowed to return
to the Dominican Republic.
"My kids are going to get to know
Haiti," the broad-shouldered 37-
year-old said as he looked forward
to a Christmas holidays journey to
his hometown of St Marc, a town
on the Caribbean just north of Haiti s
All this is possible because Ceus
is one of about 184,000 people,
mostly of Haitian descent, who were
able to secure legal Dominican res-
idency papers this year under an ini-
tiative that has been fraught with
controversy and heartache.
For the lucky ones who managed
to meet the criteria for residency,
and to prove it in a place where doc-
umentation is a challenge, life has
Ceus, whose stall is on a corner
near the home of Dominican Pres-
ident Danilo Medina, there is no
more fear that he could be taken
into custody and deported at any
moment or that he will suddenly
lose his job as he has before.
"Everything is good now," he said,
brandishing his new migrant card.
A much larger group, estimated
at more than 300,000, faces a more
uncertain future. These are people
who either didn t meet criteria to
gain formal residency or couldn t
get the necessary paperwork such
as a Haitian birth certificate or doc-
uments proving they had been in
the Dominican Republic since before
Chiara Ligouri, a researcher with
Amnesty International, said the
organisation is concerned about the
fate of those born in this nation of
about ten million people but lack
"These people are still in an
undocumented situation; they do
not have any type of nationality,"
Among those now in danger of
deportation is Martina Quezada. She
was born in Haiti in 1975 but has
lived in the Dominican Republic with
her family since she was a child.
Quezada couldn t get the papers
she needed for herself from the Hait-
ian government or the Dominican
documents that the government
required for four of her five children.
Only one child, who was enrolled
by a Dominican father, is a citizen
in the country where all were born.
"I missed out," she said with res-
ignation "That s how the enrollment
The sharply uneven situation for
non-citizens stems from a 2013 rul-
ing by the Dominican Constitutional
Court in a decades-long dispute over
who is entitled to citizenship. The
court said people born to non-cit-
izens were not automatically entitled
to citizenship. The decision was
extended back to 1929, retroactively
stripping people of the right they
believed they had since birth.
The ruling prompted international
outrage. Human rights advocates
said the decision left hundreds of
thousands of people effectively state-
less since many had never been to
their supposed homeland across the
border in Haiti.
As a compromise, the Dominican
government offered to recognise the
nationality of those who already had
a Dominican birth certificate. It also
launched a program to provide legal
residency to foreigners who could
prove they had been living in the
country since before October 2011.
The government said about
288,000 people applied for residency,
waiting in long lines at offices across
the country. Of those, 239,000 sub-
mitted sufficient documents. The
government issued renewable per-
mits to 184,000 people such as Ceus
and says an additional 55,000 will
receive them in the coming weeks.
"You can see the success of the
plan in the number of people who
benefited from it," Deputy Interior
Minister Washington Gonzalez said.
"Our interest is that everyone com-
plies with the requirements and picks
up their permits as soon as possi-
There have been repeated warn-
ings that anyone without legal res-
idency faces deportation. An esti-
mated 70,000 have left the
Dominican Republic on their own,
with an estimated 3,000 staying in
ramshackle encampments just over
the Haitian side of the border. At
least 5,000 have been deported but
so far there have been no mass
The system will soon be tested.
Every January, the Dominican
Republic deploys extra troops at the
border to stop migrants as they
return from Christmas holidays.
Ceus will be among them, after
seeing his parents for the first time
since 2007. This time, he will have
his eight-year-old daughter and six-
year-old son with him, and he is
almost looking forward to encoun-
tering migration officials.
"It took a lot of effort but now I
have my papers," he said.
Quezada, meanwhile, will be
dodging immigration patrols in her
poor neighborhood of Los Alcarrizos,
something she feels confident she
will be able to pull off.
"After so many years here, I have
learned a lot," she said. (AP)
Last year, the Dominican Republic started formal deportations
of Haitians living illegally in its country, the manner of the process
prompted outcry from neighbouring countries as well as politicians
and activists all over the world. The people being expelled failed
to comply with an immigration policy that required them to prove
their citizenship. This report by the Assocated Press, tells the
story of a Haitian immigrant who was able to secure Dominican
Dominican migrant law helps
some, leaves others stranded
In this July 21, 2015, file photo, a deported Haitian man holds up his document that confirms he turned in
paperwork to apply for legal residency in the Dominican Republic during a march to the prime minister's office to
protest the DR's deportation of Haitians in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The sharply uneven situation for non-citizens
stems from a 2013 ruling by the Dominican Constitutional Court in a decades-long dispute over who is entitled to
citizenship. AP PHOTO
As a compromise, the
offered to recognise the
nationality of those who
already had a Dominican birth
certificate. It also launched a
program to provide legal
residency to foreigners who
could prove they had been
living in the country since
before October 2011.
Robert Stigwood, the impresario who
managed the Bee Gees and produced
1970s blockbusters Grease and Saturday
Night Fever, has died. He was 81.
Stigwood's office said he died Monday.
The cause of death was not announced.
Born in Adelaide, Australia in 1934,
Stigwood moved to Britain in the 1950s
and soon became an astute player in
Britain's embryonic rock music industry.
In the 1960s he managed rock super
group Cream and its guitarist Eric Clapton
before signing brothers Barry, Maurice
and Robin Gibb, collectively known as the
Bee Gees, whose melodic folk-rock
achieved late-60s success before a career
Stigwood moved into theater --- bring-
ing Broadway hit Hair to the London
stage --- and film, producing cinema ver-
sions of Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice
musical Jesus Christ Superstar and The
Who's rock opera Tommy.
He also produced the 1977 dancefloor
drama Saturday Night Fever, with a
soundtrack that brought the Bee Gees
mega-stardom that reached a pitch as
high as Barry Gibb's signature falsetto.
That film and the Stigwood-produced
Grease, released in 1978, also made John
Travolta into one of the decade's biggest
stars. "I would like to thank Robert for his
kindness to me over the years as well as
his mentorship to my family," Gibb wrote
on Facebook. Funeral details were not im-
mediately available. (AP)
Bee Gees manager Robert Stigwood dies at 81
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