Don't be too hasty to judge us - Dom Rep ambassador
Don't be too hasty to rush to judgement was the plea of the ambassador of the Dominican Republic (DR), José Tomas Ares, to Jamaicans who are up in arms over the decision to boot hundreds of thousands of persons of Haitian descent from that country.
Ares told The Gleaner after a press conference he convened at the Embassy of the Dominican Republic in Kingston that it would be unfortunate to wreck what he described as the excellent relationship between the two countries.
He said leading up to the enforcement period, the Domi-nican Republic government had moved with caution and due care, with the recognition that tidying up its immigration mess was a tough job that required a tender touch.
He was reacting to a suggestion from Matthew Samuda, president of the Jamaica Labour Party affiliate, Generation 2000 (G2K), for a boycott of Dom Rep's goods.
right to protect borders
Samuda argued that all countries have the right and responsibility to protect their borders and to ensure that immigration is handled in a structured and fair manner, which protects its own interests. He said that having a sizeable community living with the status "undocumented" would create problems for any society.
However, he argued that no country, government or grouping should be allowed to treat people with the disdain that it would appear is being handed out to many Haitians who live in the Dominican Republic
"There are several reports of human-rights abuses taking place in the DR, related to this documenting and repatriation exercise," said Samuda. "We all make choices with the power of our wallets each day."
Added Samuda: "Jamaicans must decide whether they will continue to support the oppressive and racist treatment of our Haitian brothers and sisters by the (DR) government or if we will show our disgust and avoid purchasing goods produced in that country."
He served notice that G2K members will not, knowingly, purchase goods produced in the DR and encourage all Jamaicans to join.
Ambassador Ares said the migration challenges in his country, were similar to Jamaica.
"Dominican Republic, in a similar fashion to Jamaica, has faced migration," said Ares. "Hundreds of thousands of Dominicans, living in the United States and Europe support their families with remittances, this is a common experience with which many Jamaicans can identify."
But Jamaicans are not alone in rejecting the action of the Dominican Republic, as the regional and international communities are also glowering at the 10 million-strong state that shares the land mass of the island of Hispaniola with poverty-stricken Haiti.
Asserting that the foreign affairs ministry was engaged in ongoing dialogue with CARICOM to avert possible fallout between the two entities, Ares said the government would be venturing in an all out international drive to address the misgivings.
When asked by The Gleaner whether the administration in the Dom Rep could be persuaded or coerced to change its mind, Ares said: "We cannot be coerced by Jamaica, the European Union or anyone else because it's the law."