Wednesday, October 12, 2016


For those who might wish to donate to #HaitiRelief
From my 13 years as a journalist here, I can recommend
any of these organizations-
Based on the following criteria:
All are in Haiti, led by Haitians, and do not have foreign offices
All are non sectarian
All are dedicated to uplifting the lives of the small farmers
All have been recommended to me by more than two Haitians who are very involved in development and whose opinions I value
One may suit one's personal values more than another

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Back to the Line of Fire

Charlotte, NC erupted into rioting after another police shooting of a Black man who was either 1) peacefully sitting in his car, reading a book, waiting for his son to come home for work or 2) exiting his car for the second time, brandishing a gun and threatening the police.

Police say they found a gun. His family says he did not have one. Police say he has a record for armed assault. Two stories and we are never going to know the truth since the officer involved was not wearing a body cam.

A story appeared on my FB feed that it required more training to become a hairdresser than it does to become a police officer.

No.. REALLY? Could that be true. Police officers must have amazing training I thought. They are paid $42.5 in Charlotte, as a starting salary and have amazing benefits. True, it is dangerous work. There have been 30 work related deaths on the force since 1892. This number of 30 Charlotte police officers killed  over  124 years stands in contrast to the 62 persons who were killed by police so far in 2016.

Some of those who were killed by police might have been white.Some might have been armed. Some might have actually posed a direct and immanent threat to the police officers who were confronting them.

But do our police not have better ways to bring down suspects?

Is 'he had a gun' now going to be the standard of all the police need to shoot down someone on the street.

So I checked again about whether perhaps we would be better off putting the hairdressers in the squad cars and sending the cops back to school.


That is true.

In North Carolina, for instance, it takes only 640 hours of class training to become eligible to be a police officer. You must complete the Basic Law Enforcement Training and pass the test with 70%.

"QUESTION How long does it take to deliver BLET? ANSWER Approximately 16 weeks - attending full time or 40 hours per week - to deliver the entire course. BLET "night" courses usually last 6-7 months. "Night" courses typically take place Monday - Friday (6- 10pm) and on Saturdays, but are mainly taken by persons working other full time jobs."

That will total 640 hours.

Evidently this is pretty standard nationwide.

But to be a HAIRDRESSER??????

YO Mama--girl

you gatta have 1200 hours.. pass the board..DO AN APPRENTICESHIP  keep that license up to date with continuing education courses.. Not kidding.. NOT

It is no wonder that Charlotte is burning

And Tulsa
And Ferguson
And Watts

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The GOP Platform = Beyond the Candidates Right to Life VS War on Women

Let us take a look at the party platform of the Republicans.. the Grand Old Party.. to see what they have planned for the nation should they win the election.

We will take this in small bites.. because,.. well.. it is too much for my stomach to digest all it once. It sticks in my craw.

So just small bites.

Here is the link for the cliff notes version  for you to read through once.. just do it quickly.. once.. and then we will go back over it piece by piece. But in order to get the full 66 page document, there seems to be no link on the GOP page. The only one I found was here linked in the Huff Post - and one has to sign up for Scribd to download it.  That is probably wise since what folks say that they are going to do in public and what they say they are going to do behind closed doors, to their inside friends, are often not the same thing.

So.. Small Bites..

Let us start with one issue that prominent... the Abortion issue.

How are the Republicans going to outlaw abortion and overturn the Supreme Court decision on RoeVWade?  This is part of what those on the Left call the GOPs 'War on Women' and what the Evangelical Right - which represents up to 15% of the Republican base - calls the "Right to Life" Over the last years access to abortions has become more and more difficult in the United States. More than 200 restrictions have been passed on the state level over the last 4 years., Here is the map.

The 2016 Presidential Platform on abortion starts on page 20 of the 66 page platform. The first position is the proposal of a constitutional amendment referred to only as "a human life amendment.". There are various variations on this - see here. Note that while one of these proposals does include the death of the mother aa a reason for an abortion, all of them rescind the woman's right to freely chose to end a pregnancy.

There are currently five countries in the world which will allow a woman to die before they will allow an abortion. I am now living in one of them. I shudder to think that there are people in the United States who seek to turn the United States into one such heartless nation.

There is more very ugly stuff in the Republican platform on abortion but this is all that I can stomach for today.

Do not let all the attention be focused on candidate at the top of the ticket or the inability of his wife to come up with anything original to say in her speech.,

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Zika on its way

I have not been well really since the chikungunya.

 That must be about two years now although it is hard to tell time here for me without the change of seasons. The pains in my joints have not really left me,  just as some had predicted might happen,

 Dona Gloria, my neighbor who has 25 years on me, stops in front of the bars on my ground floor apartment on her way to the market and we rub our respective wrists and complain about our ankles.

 Now there is another virus on the way. One that attacks new bornes. Called Zika. It gives them tiny heads. The women and girls are being told not to get pregnant.

But the Catholic Church, which rules here under the Papal Nuncio, forbids the use of contraceptives (ah yes, you think that they use them? that the machos spend their money on latex? that they take showers with raincoats? think again)

and abortion is prohibited in all cases.. well I think that there has been a bit of flexibiltiy,. perhaps if a ten year old mother is going to die.. something like that.

this is a bitchin hard island.. let me tell you

and if you think this side is hard..


the other side of the place

is really hit hard..

one blow ..

after another
after another

after another

they are trying to have elections

Puerto Rico is sinking - Puerto Ricans are coming HERE to look for work!
Cuba is being sold back to the sugar barons
and the Dominican Republic is sending Haitians back across the border to sit and starve. Pretending that they are white men.

Well,. Actually.. That is a pretty good imitation of a white man.,

They certainly learned from the best of them.

Everyone tries to imitate democracy

because uncle sam says democracy is the way to go.. well used to say that until Cizens United said that plutocracy was better

but now that we have

president trump

barnum bailey


who are we

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Camino de Santiago

The deaf mutes file through churches
along the walled ramparts
on the camino of Santiago de Campostello
listening for the voice of god
At the end
carry signs
"The birds sing to earn their crust"
In Santo Domingo
Long ago
The bells fell silent
Traded to the English for cannon balls
The pope sends
Pedophile Polish priests

Children wail

Monday, April 20, 2015

The continuing issue of Statelessness

The non profit Institute on Statelessness provides this useful background piece on the issues now facing the more than 200,000 persons and their descendants whom the international community considers "stateless" while the Dominican Republic considers them "Haitian".

Many of these persons were brought under contract to cut cane under arrangements between governments, many were also trafficked 

NOTE . There are probably more than ONE MILLION Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic. The VAST majority of them were NOT born here and have NO CLAIM to citizenship.
Many more were simply born here at Dominican hospitals.. an estimated 10,000 pregnant Haitians a year come to take advantage of the advanced medical assistance. The Dominican Republic takes very good care of these women, even bringing them from the border up to five hours away,  by ambulance,  These children used to be able to have a tenous claim on citizenship,,, which was litigated in international courts,,, but their parents were not legal, considered in transit,

The Dominican Republic is a small and poor nation and has come under great attack from many nations, from human rights groups, from Haitians, from all sorts of activist,.

But it is only a small portion of the Haitian Dominicans.. or DominicanHaitians..who can make any sort of claim to legal rights to Dominican papers.

It is important that those who are actually concerned for those who are at RISK here take the time to understand ALL sides of the issue. And that includes the United States, the DR CAFTA treaty, the deal with the sugar cane producers.... all.. all ..all... alll....

I ask for a bit of attention here as a member of the Vincini family now owns one of the major newspapers, There is a lot of fear being built up here in the country.. fear of a pacific invasion by Haitians, fear that the international community is pressuring the Dominican Republic to unite with Haiti. Generally .. FEAR.

So, the more people who can hold this in the Light.. the better,

The following is from the Institute Report....

III. AMERICAS Statelessness is a ‘smaller’ problem in the Americas than in other parts of the world in terms of absolute numbers. UNHCR reports a total of 210,032 persons under its statelessness mandate in the Americas, almost all of whom are found in a single country, the Dominican Republic. There also does not appear to be a serious issue of known but unmapped situations of statelessness, such as that which exists in Africa. Only one further country in the Americas has been identified as presenting a significant, but as yet unquantifiable, problem of statelessness. Table 4: Countries in the Americas with over 10,000 stateless persons or marked with * Dominican Republic 210,000 Bahamas * As mentioned earlier in this report, an important reason for this low number of stateless persons is the principle of jus soli which is common to the countries in the western hemisphere: by granting nationality to all persons born on the territory, regardless of parentage or other circumstance, any situation of statelessness fades away automatically with the next generation enjoying birth-right citizenship. As discussed next, the two counties in which statelessness has surfaced as a real problem are those in which restrictions have been placed on the jus soli conferral of nationality. Dominican Republic UNHCR reported figure (end 2013): 210,000 Statelessness in the Dominican Republic (DR) concerns persons of Haitian descent. Until 2010, the Constitution of the Dominican Republic granted nationality automatically to any person born on Dominican soil, with only the limited exception of children whose parents were diplomats or ‘in transit’ in the country at the time. Individuals born in the country thus acquired Dominican nationality, whether their births were recorded in the Civil Registry or not. In practice, this THE WORLD’S STATELESS 73 narrow exception has long been applied in such a way as to deny many children of (presumed)128 Haitian descent access to Dominican nationality, often leaving them stateless – despite an Inter-American Court ruling which condemned these practices.129 The General Law on Migration adopted in 2004 expanded the ‘in transit’ exclusion for jus soli citizenship to children born to parents considered as ‘nonresidents’, which is understood to include temporary foreign workers, tourists and students, among other categories. A 2005 ruling of the Dominican Supreme Court further expanded this exception to include all individuals without proof of lawful residence. This expanded definition of the ‘in transit’ exception was then enshrined in the new Dominican constitution adopted in 2010. Most recently, in 2013, the DR’s constitutional court ordered that this new interpretation of ‘in transit’ be applied to all individuals with Dominican citizenship born in the DR to migrant parents (i.e. retroactively, as far back as 1929). This process resulted in the arbitrary deprivation of nationality on a massive scale. Those affected are left stateless because Haiti has prohibited dual nationality until 2012130 so those who enjoyed Dominican nationality could not also be Haitian. There are no exact figures on how many Dominicans of Haitian descent are affected by this series of amended laws. A survey jointly conducted by the National Statistics Office and the UN Fund for Population (UNFPOA) estimated that 209,912 individuals were born in the DR of Haitian migrants.

131 This matches the UNHCR figure of 210,000 stateless persons in DR at the end of 2013. The figure, however, captures only the first generation of persons of Haitian descent, born in the Dominican Republic. Given that the retroactive stripping of nationality affected individuals who were born in the country as far back as 1929, a far larger number of persons lost their entitlement to Dominican nationality because their parents or grandparents are considered never to have possessed it. For instance, Juliana Deguis Pierre, whose case before the constitutional court figures at the centre of the current problems, has four children herself. If Juliana is no longer considered 128 Often determined arbitrarily or on the basis of racial criteria. 129 Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Yean and Bosico v. Dominican Republic, Series C, Case 130, 8 September 2005. 130 Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Haiti: Dual citizenship, including legislation; requirements and procedures for former Haitian citizens to re-acquire citizenship (2012-January 2013), 8 February 2013, HTI104293.E. 131 See above, note 69. 3 GLOBAL STATELESSNESS STATISTICS 74 Dominican, they also lost their nationality– yet only she appears in the statistic of 210,000 persons under UNHCR’s statelessness mandate. It is not possible, at present, to estimate the size of the further population affected – i.e. the second, third or even fourth generations born in DR who were also stripped of their nationality – but the fertility rate in the Dominican Republic is reported to be 2.8 children per woman.132 Thus, while there are also some recent legislative developments that look set to allow an estimated 10% of those affected to regain their Dominican nationality, the assessment of civil society groups is that statelessness actually threatens a far larger number of people in DR and the data reported is significantly underestimating the problem. O

Friday, April 17, 2015

Money Laundering

The banks are out of peso coins again.

The farmacia just handed me back the five peso coin that I had given them when the clerk asked if I had a peso for the bill. I saw that one side of her tray was filled with individually wrapped cough drops which are given when the change is one or two pesos.

I knew this peso shortgage was my fault since I had a jar of them at home.

I promised I would bring them back to the store.

So I went home, counted out an even hundred of the heavy, metal coins, worth 2.23 US cents each.  Some of them are trading on ebay for as much as .99 US.

They are very large, probably the size of a US quarter if memory serves me, which it often does not. And perhaps like most metal coinage in the world today, it is most likely worth more by its metal content than it is as currency.

They would make a  wonderful necklace, Holding one feels like finding sunken treasure. I usually make a practice of dropping them on the grass, under the huge sacred ficus trees,for the shoe shine boys, the drunks,the begger ladies.

Nevertheless, I had acquired a full jar.

I am mindful that I have a national reputation to preserve here. One of my dearest friends here has said more than once "The Americans are not like the Europeans. When an American says he will do something, he does it. With the Europeans, maybe yes, maybe no, maybe just another glass of wine."

So I felt a certain sense of national honor was at stake here so I did not stop to make lunch but went right to work, laundering the money.

First in "Acer" - detergent
 Rinse.. ah..the dirty water...!!
Then in "Cloro" -
Ah... the sparkling coins.....!
Then dried on a dish towel.

Then placed in one of my rewashed zip lock bags, on its last legs.

On the way to the Farmacia, I thought what to do with the $2,20, which was, after all, completely "found" money. It is the exact price of the Plato del Dia, a mound of rice and beans, a side of fresh cole slaw, two small pieces of chicken in a delicious sauce, far more nourishing than any Happy Meal.

There were two of the regular "shoe shine" boys on the corner but they looked very well nourished playing under the tree with the remnants of a take out container so someone had already given them lunch.

Then, just on cue, arrived Manolito, who is our resident homeless wanderer, Although he could probably qualify for some sort of diagnosis, and sometimes does get drunk and obnoxious on holidays, ussally he only approaches and states that he is hungry. Folks who are not from the neighborhood are afraid of him but none of us are. He will walk alongside me, ask about my dog, ask how my friends from Las Terrenas are.

Reminds me that he has not eaten today.

"Tengo Hambre"

I squeezed the bag of washed pesos in my hand.

"Espere, Manalito".

At the Farmacia, the laundered pesos were greated as a belated Christmas gift. One can only imagine.. those one and two pesos.. over the course of a day for a business, ..that adds up....

 And.. well.. imagine.. the Gringa had.. WASHED them..
After all, I said, you are a Farmacia.. you cannot be passing out dirty money.

When I lived in Haiti,many years ago, the linen gourdes that I got for change in the market place in St Marc were so dirty that I often could not discern the denomination. I would always take them home and wash them.

I did the same for the pesos that were in circulation in Las Terrenas, from the fruit and veggie stands.

I guess I have been laundering money for a long time.

So - national reputation upheld  My word is my bond.
money laundered and in circulation

Street wanderer given lunch

life purpose fulfilled for the

God is good

Friday, February 27, 2015

Independence Day

Today is Independence Day  here in the Dominican Republic which means primarily that there is ano ther long weekend, flags are hanging from balconies and windows, and Haitians are frightened.

The Dominican Republic celebrates its independence from Haiti, in 1844, after a 22 year occupation, despite the fact that the DR went back under the protection of Spain after that and had to fight to get independent again. It is the only country in the hemisphere to celebrate its independence from another colony.

Relations between the two nations which share this island have never been good.. not quite as bad perhaps as the Greeks and the Turks on Cyprus, although I have not been there so do not know for sure, But let us say that they may have been stranded on the same island together for the last 500 years but they are not friends.,

Recently things have deteriorated. The DR changed its constitution from jus solis (except for children of transients,,read  Haitians.. even if you have been here three generations) to jus sanguinis, Then it institutited a Supreme Court to say what the  Constitution meant. (Since the DR changes its Constitution every legislative term, the Constitution here; like the laws, seem just a suggestion

Then, just to make it very clear to the international community that it did not want to hear any more about it from the international community, particularly the Jesuits who kept mounting cases against the government, ditto the US, Canada and France, the DR withdrew from the Central American Human Rights Court, with the words, We are a sovereign nation and will decide who is and is not a citizen.

With the possibility that as many as 200,000 persons having lost their rights to Dominican citizenship, and powerful Dominican diaspora voices such as Julia Alvarez and Junot Diaz raised against it, the current wildly popular President Danilo Medina, announced that there would be a plan for the regularization of all foreigners. All the registration books were reviewed back decades. Less than 100,000 national identity cards (cedulas) were deemed false and removed. Then the Plan was unveiled.

Those who were born here would have 90 days to present themselves and all sorts of papers, birth certificates, neighbors testimonies, education records.. to the Junta Electoral. It takes an entire day just to pay the electric bill here. And you have to pay it even if you never get one because they will shut off the electricity the day after the cut off day and you will not know when that is because you did not get a bill. Well, you have to live here to understand that. But for those of us who do live here.. 90 days did seem a bit of a joke for people who had never had papers and perhaps could not read.

Then those who have been in the country for years but have no cedula, have until June to complete a process much like a Chinese menu. This looks easy enough, welcoming to those whether they entered legally or illegally. Bring a bank certificate, a lease, receipts for $300 of goods, records of employment ,, one or two out of seven.. lots of chances,. we will be flexible,

But, it has turned out that the rate of success for the first 100 days has been .002%, which many suspect could not have occurred by chance. Applicants are being required to have "all seven" rather than the two specified. Documents must be validated by an attorney at a cost of up to $25 each. Applicants are asked to return five or more times with missing documents.

Two weeks ago a Haitian was hung in a public park in Santiago. There was a small riot during which the Dominican flag was burned,

Yesterday, in recognition of Dominican independence day, there was a march in Port au Prince Haiti which was, organizers insist, to be a peaceful demonstration. Yet at the end of the demonstration, someone was able to penetrate the Dominican consulate and lower their flag and raise the Haitian one.  Among the spectators, marchers, were two former Presidential candidates.

The Dominican government has said that it will deport all foreigners without proper documentation at the end of the Regularization Plan in June. There are 450000 foreigners here, up to 85% of them Haitian, the majority of whom do not have valid visas.

Haiti is the second largest export market for the Dominican Republic.

President Danilo has said today in his speech that the time for the Plan will not be extended,

Later tonite there will be fireworks. They will compete with the sound of the mangos falling on the roof of the carport like cannons.

Tomorrow, the Haitians will be back at work remodelling the Jaragua Hotel next door.

So it should be very interesting to see what will happen in June when the better part of 400000 Haitians are set to be deported.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Build it and they will come

They are "redoing"the Zona Colonial, which is an UNESCO World Heritage site. There were the usual foul ups which we expect here, things that make life interesting. Archaelogists complained  that some of the excavations to bury the electric lines and repair the streets were damaging the footings of the precious 16th Century buildings. Bloggers with cameras reported that workers on the public gate to the Parque Independencia were, in fact, Haitian.  And then geologists observed that the black mold which had covered the old stones had not been treated or removed and would therefore seep right through the new plaster work in a couple of years.

I saw the new plaster work the other day. A bit of black mold could improve it, give it that Colonial look.

The new highway from the all inclusive resorts in Punta Cana has been completed so that bus loads of tourists can come and visit easily in one day. It is supposedly only two hours one way. And they do want the Zona, with all the trinket shops, art shops, little restaurants, and historic sites to be ready. They have already done a wonderful job in getting the garbage picked up on schedule.

Pretty soon, there will be a lot more buildings opening up for sale.

And pretty soon New Yorkers will be here.

I know it. I am a New Yorker myself.

When I first moved to Asheville, North Carolina, in 1990, I could have dropped into a coma in the middle of main street on Friday at 5 PM and no one would have found me until Monday. But, I said, ::Beware, Asheville, the New Yorkers will be here.

Now, the downtown condos start around $300,000 and there is a street fair almost every weekend in the summer.

For me, Asheville was over run by just the same sort of NY style commercialism that overtook.. well.. New York.. Gone is the Greenwich Village of my youth. Gone the Times Square. Gone the street people. Gone the Jane Jacobs ideal of a city on the stoops.

And they are not in Asheville either.

But here.. well, not in the Zona because that is already too pricey.. but HERE in Gazcue.. there is still a neighborhood.  Huge old trees whose roots have cracked the sidewalks, primary schools whose noise fills the streets, delis and colomados who deliver everything. And the thrashing Caribbean Sea as a daily meditation spot.


Only if you are died in the wool urban. If your deepest criminal streak is jaywalking.. if your favoirte pastime is people watching... if you do mind gas fumes, truck horns and chaos.. soot.. and here. piles of garbage.. and street dogs.. and young boys posing as shoe shiners.. asking for money..

and Hookers.. let us not forget the Ladies of the Night.

For myself, I kinda like the Red Light Districts.. but it is not for everyone

And tell any Dominican abroad that you live in Gazcue and he will say, ah Rica.. because we also have some of the finest old house, best apartments, and Trees... Ah the Trees..

I walk to the market, and the grocerty boy with the cart follows me home, stopping on the way as I pick up fruit from the fruit seller, flowers from the flower lady, ripe avocados from Christina. When I lived on the third floor, he walked up with the groceries.

You bet I tip large.

So yes, you can live here.. just like in old New York.

Yes you can live on a generous Social Security check.

Two bedroom condos in Gazcue start at about $75000. Every once an a while there is a full elegant house in the 400k and up region.  Maintenance costs start around $50 a month. There are no taxes for property under $150lk

Many of the older apartments have small rooms for live in maids, called "cuartos de servicos":, large enough for a single bed, with its own toilet and shower.

No Medicare, though.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


With the circulation of the petition for the Lawyer's Guild to cancel their scheduled trip to the Dominican Republic,  I begin to wonder if Haitians and their supporters are not falling victim to a deliberate disinformation campaign because, really, there is nothing that would please many in the  DR more than for all of you "Haitian sympathizers" than  to simply stay away from here.

 Certainly I have been invited to leave more than once.

And to keep on talking about the TC court decision and the sugar cane workers as if this were a new issue - as if it had not been litigated already in the InterAmerican Court for 10 years, as if it were not - in the end - clearly a matter of national sovereignty-- and as if every constitution since 1929 had not had the category "in transit" in it. (and the answer to that query is that being illegal for 80 years does not make you legal)

Perhaps it is the first time that some are hearing about the "in transit" clause. Perhaps some do not know about Sonia Pierre or the film "The Price of Sugar" and how Father Hartley was expelled and the Vincini family tried to have the film banned from being shown in the US. But lots of us do.

So why is there this uproar now? Why is there no talk about the opportunity? Doesn't anyone speak Spanish? Aren't any of the NGOs sending out announcements? WHY NOT?

Keeping you focused on the injustice of the "in transit clause", and mourning the dead of the 1937 massacre, , will keep you from examining the Actual decree of the President which deals primarily with the 53,000 with questionable cedulas (13,000 of Haitian descent) and  with the bulk of the 435,000 HAITIANS - and other illegal immigrants - who live here.

As well, of course, with all those who, over the years, have been thwarted in getting their papers. Estimates are that 15% of Dominicans - of complete Dominican descent - do not have papers, primarily because of the poverty of their parents.

The decree sets out the how they go about getting their papers.

 But no one seems to be reading the decree. No one seems to be translating it into Kreyole. (or even English - which is odd -- it is almost as if the DR does not object to this publicity) 

Everyone just seems to be saying how bad things are for the Haitians here - how racist and xenophobic it is, how hard life is for them.... And so, perhaps, they will just self deport. That will certainly easy the growing tensions here. That is, of course, the fondest dream of the Dominicans nationalists. For many, there are simply far too many Haitians here already. 

Even the Human Rights Delegation of the InterAmerican Court came here and then issued a report saying the TC ruling was unjust. Now be clear.. this has zero impact. Zero. The DR has been in that Court on this issue for years (google is your friend). They will pay the fine. They will then tighten their constitution and immigration requirements again -- as they just did. If one reades the TC decision - which few have done, I am sure (as it is 150 pages long and in Spanish, after all! as one Haitian official complained), you will note that the case is already well prepared for presentation at an international level.

It is the right of any sovereign country to determine its own rules on citizenship.  Can anyone disagree with that?

Now Haitians here have a 15 month window in which to attempt to become legal. So their supporters, instead of studying and translating the decree into easy to understand Spanish and Kreyole, coming to the DR with volunteers to help register the Haitians who are eligible, are calling for a total boycott of the Dominican Republic.

This certainly helps someone's agenda but it is not that of the vulnerable Haitian diaspora on the ground here.