Promoting democratic dialogue on national identity and discrimination of Dominicans of Haitian Descent (DHD) in the Dominican Republic
Reducing discrimination against DHD, advocating for non-discrimination policies and promoting cultural bridges to tackle race-based violence
Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)
Since 2013, thousands of DHD are facing a worsening of their living conditions, due to barriers that limit their accessibility to opportunities for work, education, credit, health, identity, and other human rights, in a context of closing of civic spaces. Why? Because of a Dominican Constitutional Court's ruling that ordered the withdrawal of their nationality based on their Haitian descent (see Annex 1).
Thus, it is necessary to build bridges for the DHD community, to generate bonds of fraternity and trust between different sectors, leading to reduce discrimination and foster inclusion. This project aims to promote a plural and democratic dialogue to develop new narratives on national identity from a local perspective, demolishing stereotypes that lead to human rights violations.
The project will work with certain change agents: influencers, opinion leaders, journalists, local leaders, organizations, and women and youth among DHD; ensuring that these actors acquire a new approach to address the problem, generating peace actions in response to violent acts and hateful messages currently present in daily narratives. DHD will gain empowerment.
The project will pursuit that change agents:
*Strengthen their capacities, through a training program to learn how to generate bridges in a creative way and to advocate for human rights in a context of closing spaces.
*Lead advocacy actions before authorities responsible for non-discrimination policies, on a national and local level, even using “art-ivism” and other strategies to include youth in advocacy actions.
*Lead a campaign, among local media and communities, highlighting good practices of inclusion, with an artistic and cultural approach, in areas of greater vulnerability or greater concentration of DHD in the DR.
There will be a public debate on this stateless group, improving opportunities for prosperity, by influencing the social barriers that submits their citizenship to a “second-class” degree.
Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)
Our main beneficiaries are DHD. By 2017, 253,255 Dominicans were born to Haitian parents (91.4% of DHD), which are indirect beneficiaries. DHD communities are mostly concentrated in poor rural (“bateyes”) and metropolitan areas, where inequality indicators are higher and public investment is limited. Most DHD must face origin- and race-based discrimination, with constant risk of being deported.
The direct beneficiaries are the change agents (influencers, opinion leaders, journalists, local leaders, organizations leaders, and women and youth activists among DHD) that add up to 2000 people, 70% women. Most of the direct beneficiaries are in Bahoruco, in the southwest region of the island.
These groups will obtain skills and tools necessaries to build spaces for inclusion of DHD as legitimate Dominicans, thus strengthening their influence abilities, to improve their livelihood conditions and building bridges on opportunities to expand peace and prosperity in their communities.
How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)
Previous initiatives regarding DHD focused in urgent needs, such as ID documents and legal counselling. Yet lessons from the field show the need to foster new spaces to reflect on how the current national identity creates discrimination and raced-based violence. Thus, our innovative element is the unprecedented strategy of using different tools and influential channels to engage representatives of different collectives in a dialogue regarding the multi-culturalism of “Dominican-ness”. Counting on a platform of journalists, activists and local leaders, we will reach a significant part of the Dominican population by making messages and analyses public, generating debates in civic spaces.
Another innovation is the democratization of knowledge about the background and origins of the DHD community. By this, we will help deconstruct the stigmatization and rejection of Dominicans with a connection to Haitian culture, adding value to the richness and diversity of Dominican nationality.
Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)
Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.
Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)
Oxfam has been in DR since 1992, supporting local organizations to advocate against inequality. For this project, we count on our experience working in projects regarding Haitians and DHD for 4 years, through UNDEF and EU projects implemented before on this subject. Our team for this project has our Democracy and Citizenship coordinator (gender and advocacy expert); our Political Inequalities Officer (human-rights lawyer, migrants rights and stateless groups in DR); and our MEAL expert.
Organization Filing Status
Yes, we are a registered non-profit.
In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.
In May 2018, the IACHR attempted to dialogue with Dominican CSOs that was interrupted by the violent participation of xenophobic groups in the country. Before that, there were violent episodes in Pedernales, as a local group called for the expulsion of “all Haitians and their relatives” from their community. Given this context, we are inspired to help repair social cohesion between DHC and the community, to prevent the increase of race-based violence in the DR and the binational border area.
Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).
Many DHD understand peace as the possibility to enjoy community life without harassment or discrimination. Peace is influenced by dynamics and conflicts between DR and Haiti leadership (including disagreements regarding trade and nationality policies); and by the presence of ultranationalist and anti-Haitian groups in the DR, that replicate local imaginaries of the national identity.
In our context, prosperity is having our basic needs covered; being able to enjoy one’s rights and having access to proper services and equal opportunities. DHD families are among the poorest of DR and their prosperity is influenced by lack of IDs and stigma against their Haitian heritage. Miguela, a former beneficiary, is an example of this: she had to abandon school because she was bullied and harassed for not having an ID, despite being Dominican. She now has her ID, but she’s still facing discrimination in finding jobs due to narratives about “Dominican-ness” that exclude her because of her origin.
Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)
The project will have a national reach, with a focus in Bahoruco, a southwestern province with one of the largest DHD communities, living in rural or “bateyes” areas. This DHC community has built resilience to take human rights defense actions.
We’ll partner with local organizations such as CEDESO, a CSO mostly composed by DHD, with presence in Bahoruco and Santo Domingo. CEDESO has strong links to advocacy networks and coalitions, and is one of the leaders of Dominicanxs X Derecho, a national coalition that advocates for DHD rights, with national influence. Together, we successfully concluded another DHD project funded by UNDEF.
Our engagement will allow identifying leaders and other beneficiaries to design and execute an effective influencing strategy to build new narratives on Dominican-ness, helping to keep the project rooted in the needs and perceptions of its members. We’ll also connect local voices with international advocacy platforms, to boost the impact of the project.
Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)
Community members have organized to advocate for their rights and influence local governments.
Strong links between local organizations that would allow for the development of joint activities to attain social inclusion of DHC in the communities involved.
Local CSOs have strong allies among journalists and alternative media and, through previous projects, 8 groups of community reporters were created, composed of 42 leaders, who actively joined the Coalition of “Dominicanos X Derecho”.
LAC region; Dominican Republic.
How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)
Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)