Ana Maria Belique
Experiences of a Victim of the R12
"Distinguished Commissioners, My name is Ana Maria Belique. In January 2010 I requested a duplicate birth certificate from the Dominican Republic Civil Registry Office and I was denied. I am not alone in this situation; there are thousands of other people who are in the exact same situation, and for that reason they cannot be here. I represent the face of every one of them.
At the time I applied for my birth certificate I was convinced that I would return home with it and could go ahead with my life plans, but it was not the case.
My birth was declared in a timely manner by my father and I was able to complete my primary and secondary education. I have picture ID and voter ID, I have exercised my right to vote, and was baptized in the Catholic Church. Considering all of this, I thought it would be impossible for him to deny the right to have a document that is mine and to which I have had access so many times for various purposes. The sad thing was not just the fact of denial but also the way I was treated while at the office. It was like being born of Haitian parents was the worst thing that could have happened to me. As if my parents had committed a crime to declare me in the civil registration (it was how I felt at that time). I expressed myself that I had "no fault that my parents were Haitians,” but when I wanted an explanation from the civil office in regards to the denial, he had no explanation to give me that these were orders that came from above. For the first time, I felt truly discriminated against, and lost. Never in my life had I received similar treatment just for the fact that my parents are Haitian. That day I cried inconsolably because I couldn’t understand what happened and did not know where to look for guidance. A wave of frustration, pain, anguish and despair came over me at not knowing what to do.
When I went to the JCE, they said they had to investigate my parents to know their legal status when I was registered. They could neither give an estimated time for the process nor tell me how they would do it, they only told me that I had to keep calling back. After 6 months I realized that nothing was being done. There have been many other cases that have never taken into account. For example, the case of my brother, who since 2007 has been in search of a solution, but had not even been entered into the cue of cases that would be investigated since 2008.
All of this has made me become more concerned, and I saw that my immediate plan, dream of attending the university was getting further and further away from me.
This has affected me in many ways, and hundreds of young people like me, in various ways. My personal desire was to enter the university. Isidro is 22 years old and can not obtain an identity card nor get a dignified job. He lives in fear that the Department of Immigration will deport him if he goes into the capital. I speak also for Alfredo, who could not marry due to this difficulty and lost a contract to work on a cruise ship. I speak for Helena, who still has not been able to enter university nor obtain her identification card, also for Felipe who could not get his masters degree in law, and for what happened to Santa who gave birth. She has her identification card, but was not able to declare her baby. Every one of the victims, not only has limited access to one thing, rather all of these rights that are common to all of us. We are all vulnerable in not being able to get a job, to being unable to obtain an ID, therefore prohibiting us from contributing to the pension fund or health insurance. Our health would also be limited, since in many cases in order to obtain a consultation or surgery, one needs to show identifying documents. For the same reason, we would not be able to buy or sell properties, nor study at a university or technical school. We are all subject to many, varied limitations by this ruling of the JCE.
No one is the same after going through a process like this. The limitations are many, especially with regard to the question of identity. There are many people who feel very proud of their nationality or identity and most people have never, ever had their nationality questioned. This situation makes that all fall.
Most of the people fail to know the reality is that we are people who have struggled to move forward, have gotten out of the bateyes and seek a better future. They know that we seek to change the vicious cycle of our history, to improve our living conditions and contribute to the greater society. To find ourselves in this situation is like finding ourselves in front of a wall that keeps us from moving forward. It’s as if it were impossible, or even a crime for a son or daughter of Haitian migrants to scale steps within the society and change the fate designed for him or her.
All my family lives in and suffers from this situation as well. I remember the sad face of my little sister when the high school principal told her that if she does not bring the birth certificate, she will not take national tests to earn her diploma.
Our parents have given their lives, their strength and all their blood in the Dominican sugarcane plantation. Many of them are seen today as rejects of this society that they need to throw in the garbage. This is what they want to do with their offspring. They want to annihilate them through the "civil genocide".
We are descended into a medium that makes us very vulnerable within the Dominican society. Our economic means are insufficient to perform great deeds, but we think with the same patience of the windows in the gospel, we will destroy the patience of those who want to continue to oppress us and we will be granted our freedom and respect within the Dominican society.
Distinguished commissioners, we await your support and understanding in this struggle that hopefully will bring an end of Resolution 12, the end of discrimination and the end of the social exclusion that are inflicted on Dominicans of Haitian decent.