In the spirit of the Easter holidays, coming at the end of the lent season when all believers are impressed upon to fast and seek repentance, it appears the Catholic church in the Dominican Republic has had a god moment in seeking to fight racism and xenophobia in their land. In his homily on Good Friday, Father Faustino Burgos used the seven (7) words Jesus uttered on the cross to bring home to his people their racist and xenophobic tendencies against their Haitian neighbors who are coming into their country. With each word, the preacher was able to identify an example of offensive behavior by his compatriots that does not augur well with their Christian faith. According to the daily, Listin Diario, the Preacher, criticized the nationalist tendencies of some of his countrymen that promotes hatred, resentment and xenophobia clothed in a fake nationalism. Though he agrees that the Dominican Republic cannot absorb all Haitians coming into their country, either legally or illegally, they are morally bound to treat them with respect and dignity as human beings. Though they may have a different culture than ours, they do not stop being human beings, and consequently deserve our respect.
In other development, the Dominican Authorities have rescinded the additional US$150 tagged onto the visa application fee, following a meeting with the DR authorities last month. It all started last month when the DR authorities tagged this fee onto the current high fee of US$230 that they charge Haitians for the visa application. When the Advisor at the DR Consulate in Port-au-Prince, Antonio Cuevas Pérez, could not give a tangible explanation for the increase in fee, some Haitians took to the streets to express their displeasure. This led to the leaders of the Legislature, Senator Joseph Lambert and Deputy Gary Bodeau to go to the DR to meet with the Dominican Authorities, including President Danilo Medina who then reversed the fee.
Elsewhere, the central Bank (BRH), commercial banks and the Ministry of Economic and Finance have entered a tripartite agreement to allow people to pay their taxes online. According to the head of the revenue office, Miradin Morlan, the new online service is intended to ease congestion at the DGI offices where tax payers need not physically trek to the offices to declare their taxes and pay taxes. Also, it is in part the process of modernizing the DGI’s services where the online tax declaration and payment service will reduce significantly the cost of processing cases and real-time correction of tax returns. Ultimately, this aligns with the Moïses-Lafontant government’s efforts to modernize the Haitian civil service.
The Head of State proceeded last Wednesday to install members of the steering committee and the technical secretariat for organizing the sectoral council of advisors for the country, a promise he made in Gonaïves on January 1, 2018, as a key part of his term in office. In a statement, the president reminded the members of the advisory group that their work is expected to produce a pact for stability and economic and social progress to be submitted for validation, six months from the date of their installation. He reminded them of the historic responsibility that this task places on them; that of working to transform the society and concluded that they will live up to the ambition placed in them and the expectations of the people.
Before taking off, this steering committee is facing some internal issues of its own. Seventy-two hours after the members were installed in a ceremony at the National Palace, one member, the veteran Political Analyst and Historian, Claude Moïse expressed his astonishment at not being consulted before being appointed to the said committee. In an open letter to the President of the Committee, Monseigneur Louis Kébreau, he said he was not formally solicited to join the advisory committee. To set the records straight, the President’s office decided to make public the official invitation letter dated January 1, 2018. The letter, written by the President’s Chief of Cabinet, Wilson Laleau, was specifically addressed to Mr. Claude Moïse, specifically inviting him to join the steering committee. One can only wonder why the Historian went public with such an allegation.
On the media, the confederation Northeast Journalists, La Confédération des journalistes du Nord-Est (COJNE) have called on the authorities to continue their investigation into the disappearance of the photojournalist, Vladimir Legagneur until the end. The confederation hopes that this investigation is conclusively undertaken so that the authorities give the entire population a clear information on what actually happened, unlike the other investigations of journalists which always almost end up inconclusive. The group takes to task those officials who are trying to intimidate journalists especially in the north. Recently, human parts and bones have been recovered in Grand Ravine where the photojournalist has been missing since March 14, 2018. The pieces have been taken to the police forensic lab for testing and conclusive results are pending. It’s been over four years since the assassination of the Director of the private radio station, Radio Haiti Inter, Jean Dominique and his bodyguard, Jean Claude Louissaint and the investigation has been blocked at the courts (the Court of Cassation). We at Haiti Progres have been waiting for the past 5 years, for the conclusion of the investigation into the assassination of our editor Georges Henri Honorat.