SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (ViaNews) – Robin Bernstein will be the second woman to occupy the position of Ambassador to the Dominican Republic after Ambassador Donna Hrinac (1994-1997).

Before assuming the position, Bernstein was duly sworn in before the U.S. Congress. She arrived in Santo Domingo on August 30, 2018.

Robin Bernstein substitutes the U.S. Ambassador for the Obama administration, Mr. James Wally Brewster, controversial in that he was a great supporter of the LGBT community.

According to the Dominican newspaper, Diario Libre, Robin Bernstein said that “over the years, the Dominican Republic has faced many threats to the health of civil society. If confirmed as Ambassador I promise to continue promoting policies that will benefit human rights, reinforce the democratic institutions, and fight corruption.

Robin S. Bernstein, Ambassador to the Dominican Republic.  Image by: U.S. Department of State.
Robin S. Bernstein, Ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Image by: U.S. Department of State.

Robin Bernstein made a statement that could prove difficult in the future when she said, according to Dominican newspaper Dominican Today, “If confirmed, she will work so the rights of the descendants of Haitians affected by the 2013 Constitutional Court´s ruling will be respected.” The newspaper added: “Robin Bernstein’s statement will likely face a backlash in a country which has recently started a crackdown on the ever-growing wave of undocumented foreigners, mostly Haitians.”

Many Haitian descendants were left as “stateless” when the Constitutional Court established that foreigners born of transient parents do not have the right to Dominican citizenship. The Constitutional Court supports the “Jus Sanguinis” (right of blood), the nationality law principle by which citizenship is determined by having parents who are citizens of the state. By contrast, “Jus Loci”, the right of citizenship by birthplace is a principle which the Constitutional Court has denied.

“I will take,” she added, “a very active role in working with the Embassy and Embassy staff. We will work with them to obtain a passport.” For that effort, she could be implying she will collaborate with the U.S. Ambassador in Haiti.”

About the 1940 Jewish refugees

Ambassador Bernstein made an interesting comment regarding human rights when she declared “gratitude” for how the Dominican people cared about the Jewish people.” Referring to the Trujillo regime authorization in 1938, in the Evian Conference, for a Jewish refugee settlement in Sosua, in the Dominican Republic’s north coast. The only country in the world to grant such an authorization.

Who is Robin Bernstein

Bernstein is a millionaire businesswoman married to the well-known entrepreneur Richard Bernstein. She was President and Director of Richard S. Bernstein and Associate, Inc. since 2004, and Vice President of Rizbur, Inc. since 2002, both from West Palm Beach, Florida.

She acted as head of the Republican delegates in Tallahassee that confirmed the electoral votes in favor of Donald Trump in the 2016 elections.

Robin Bernstein, the new US Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, posing with her husband, Richard Bernstein, and President Donald Trump. Photo by: The Independent
Robin Bernstein, the new US Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, posing with her husband, Richard Bernstein, and President Donald Trump. Photo by: The Independent

The Dominican Government version of the Haitian controversy

The Dominican Today newspaper reports that Ambassador Bernstein is going into “murky waters” due to the fact that Haitian nationality is a controversial subject in the Dominican Republic.

Making that initial statement at the beginning of her mission could introduce Ambassador Bernstein into an undesirable controversy in Dominican politics. This subject might become more prominent in the midst of the international criticisms to the 2020 elections because the Dominican Republic has long been accused of violating the rights of the Haitian people living in the Dominican Republic.

The government´s brief explanation for this situation (taken from the official Presidency web page) is that “when Danilo Medina assumed the Presidency only 2 out of every 10 foreigner residents in the country was a legal resident. The rest (8 out of every 10, mostly Haitians), were illegal residents without Dominican documents to explain or justify their permanence or presence in our country.”

To add to this, the Dominican nationality of persons born in the Dominican Republic, offspring of foreign parents in an irregular migratory condition, with or without Dominican documentation, are affected by sentence 168-13 of the Constitutional Tribunal ruling that children of foreigners did not have a right to Dominican citizenship.

This ruling is still in effect at the present time.

Although this topic is under discussion by the international community, in the Dominican Republic the issue is settled for the time being.

In the meantime, undocumented Haitians are now targeted to mass deportation.