Update from UJ DR 2013
Hello Supporters of Universal Justice!
We just returned from the Dominican Republic and are happy to report that our trip went exceedingly well.
We were able to visit various organizations who do meaningful work in the country to benefit marginalized communities of Dominicans of Haitian descent. We started the week with an informational session by CEO Ulrick Gaillard at Batey Relief Alliance’s office. Among many important topics discussed, Ulrick detailed the grassroots work that BRA does to promote community economic development in the bateys.
Later in the week, we met with Allison Petrozziello and Eddy Tejeda of the Observatory Migrants of the Caribbean (OBMICA), a social science think tank and research facility in the Dominican Republic. A researcher and an attorney respectively, Allison and Eddy gave us a detailed overview of the major legal milestones which led up to the current human rights issue of statelessness among Dominicans of Haitian descent.
Our meeting with OBMICA was particularly helpful in framing the rest of the week. We attended portions of a three-day long protest in front of the Junta Central Electoral by stateless young Dominicans of Haitian descent who have joined the Reconoci.do movement. Centro Bonó, an organization committed to justice for the most impoverished and excluded in the Dominican Republic, played a pivotal role in mobilizing individuals from various villages to pariticipate in the protest.
Paola Pelletier of Centro Bonó liaised with Universal Justice so that members of our team could interview those affected, chronicling their personal stories of injustice at the hands of the state. In the coming weeks, the UJ DR team will be working on a short film, including footage of many of the stories we gathered at the protest.
In addition to our involvement with the issue of statelessness throughout the entire duration of the trip, we were also able to visit Mata Los Indios, the batey where Universal Justice has a long-standing relationship. In Mata, we connected with the elders of the community and developed a list of potential projects based on Mata’s immediate needs.
While we develop an advocacy campaign against statelessness in the Dominican Republic via a short film and report, we will also work towards identifying a sustainable project we can initiate for the people of Mata Los Indios.
We extend our thanks to all of the organizations and individuals who made our trip so worthwhile and look forward to continued partnership.
We are excited to keep this momentum so do look out for our short film and report coming soon!
Aminta Kilawan on behalf of the entire UJ DR 2013 Team