Opposition groups of Haitian nationals in the Dominican Republic were trying to figure out how to avoid deportation ahead of Wednesday’s deadline that could send hundreds of thousands of Haitians descent back to their native country. At least one of those groups involved the Tonton Macoute, a feared special operations group within the Haitian paramilitary force, suspected of spreading false information about the potential extraditions, a Dominican official told Dominican Today.
Members of the Tonton Macoute were being investigated for allegedly trying to pressure the Dominican government into extending the deadline for Haitian citizens to register as legal residents, a process that reportedly involves a massive amount of paperwork.
"There are groups sponsoring and trying to create confusion, first with the information that there’s an extension, second, taking a massive number of Haitians to the [registration] centers,” said Jose Ramon Fadul, Dominican Interior and Police minister. “There are Tonton Macoute in this, and there are areas of the country where that is taking place. There are social groups that want to create confusion. No one can tell me that 1,000 will go to a registration center all of a sudden. Who mobilizes them? Who pays the transport?"
The 7 p.m. Wednesday deadline is firm but doesn’t guarantee immediate deportations, the Dominican Foreign Affairs minister said Tuesday, according to the Haitian Times. “What ends on 16 June is the registration process in Dominican Republic’s Plan to Regularize Foreigners,” Andres Navarro said. “On June 17 there will not be any deportations because as established in the plan, after the registration process closes, all foreigners who met all the requirements will receive a definitive document, within a 45-day timeframe, and those who still have documents pending for presentation will receive a provisional document.”
Still, a convoy of buses in the Dominican Republic Tuesday was awaiting a large number of Haitian citizens to be ferried to the border, Fusion reported. (Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the island of Hispaniola.) The country’s military reportedly has been deployed to assist in the process under orders of Minister of Defense Gen. Máximo Muñoz Delgado.
The paperwork proved to be the most daunting part for those looking to secure official residency in the Dominican Republic. There were reports of people waiting all day in line only to be told their applications were insufficiently completed, forcing them to return, the Associated Press reported.
“You still have to bring more papers,” Aime Morette, a Haitian, told the AP. “It’s always hard, but we'll see.”
The process turned violent Monday, when a group of Haitian citizens tried to force their way into the Ministry of Interior’s headquarters in Santo Domingo, where the applications and paperwork for official residency must be submitted. Local law enforcement armed with batons responded by beating the protesters and firing tear gas, Haiti Libre reported.