Plan for Spring 2014:
Itinerary: Trip participants will travel from New York to Santo Domingo on March 15, 2014 and return to New York on March 22, 2014. Early in the week they will partner with OBMICA, a think tank that focuses on political and legal issues affecting Haitian-Dominicans. They will also work with CENTRO Bono, a legal advocacy group that organizes this community. This year’s trip will also focus on speaking with government officials to hear about their implementation of documentation laws. The group will visit Mata los Indios at least once, a community that UJ has been working with for the past four years.
Universal Justice (“UJ”) seeks to send six to nine students to the Dominican Republic to work on immigration and community economic development issues. The main communities we are working with are Haitian-Dominicans and their documentation and citizenship rights, as well as a small Haitian-Dominican sugarcane community called Mata los Indios. We work with think tanks and legal advocacy groups on the ground, as well as Northeastern University in Boston to strengthen our advocacy for these communities.
Over spring break 2013, UJ sent a team of students to help a third generation Haitian community in the Dominican Republic try to obtain land rights and access to identification. The group met with several NGOs, lawyers and politicians to try to obtain these rights for the community. The ultimate goal is to help the community set up a food cooperative on the land. A copy of our March 2013 trip report is enclosed. A 13 minute video that we produced is in post-production and will be ready for release by October 2013.
Results of Last Year’s Project
The students on the DR trip worked on statelessness issues, focusing their attentions on the poor rural community of Mata Los Indios, where generations of Dominican-born Haitian descendants live without citizenship or access to documentation necessary for land ownership, social services, and other basic civic rights.
The UJ DR students are continuing their work with Mata Los Indios by sending a Fordham student to the community to do a summer internship, as well as planning continuing involvement for the next school year. They also continue advocacy in the capital, working with OBMICA and Centro Bono, the two organizational partners from the 2013 trip. UJ DR has produced press releases about the issue of statelessness, and created a short film about their research. The team hopes that the products of their hard work are able to help their partner organizations and others working on these issues to have a stronger impact on the local communities. Their film can be seen below:
In the spring of 2012, seven UJ members went to the Dominican Republic to work on land rights and immigrant rights issues for the Haitian community in Mata Los Indios. There many of the residents, although born in the Dominican Republic are considered stateless – they have no identification, access to healthcare or education, nor property rights.
From this trip, we developed a report (see below), established contacts with several NGOs on the ground in the Dominican Republic to continue the fight to acquire property rights and healthcare/education access for the community. We have also created a documentary (forthcoming) about the community in Mata Los Indios
Partnership with Northeastern University
Universal Justice has developed a partnership with the Social Enterprise Institute at Northeastern University to work on sustainable development projects in Cruz Verde and the neighboring community, Mata Los Indios.