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Conclusion: The rejection of futures past: on the edge of an attainable acceptable future?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 July 2017

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Summary

Polibio Díaz, Manifiesto (2013)

In August 2013 the Dominican artist Polibio Díaz, whose 1993 photograph Rayano was discussed in Chapter 5, received an award from the Santo Domingo Museum of Modern Art for his video-performance Manifiesto, which was presented at the Dominican Republic's National Biennial of Art. It features two illegal Haitian immigrants reading The International Immigrants Movement Manifesto in the back seat of a car while they are driven around the city of Santo Domingo on 18 December, International Migrants Day. We see and hear the man reading the Manifesto in Spanish and occasionally helping the woman next to him to translate it into Creole. The itinerary they cover is highly significant and it is crucial that all the places that the car drives by are seen by the audience from inside the car. In fact, the contours of the car windows are often visible in the frame and partly obstruct our view; as a result, while we listen to the immigrants reading and translating we are placed in the car with them and are forced to share their perspective. The first building they pass by, houses the offices of the Junta Central Electoral (‘Central Electoral Committee’), the institution which, traditionally, has arbitrarily refused birth certificates to the children of Haitians born in the Dominican Republic. As Wooding and Moseley-Williams have pointed out, this systematic discrimination has been ‘the institutional policy of the Junta Central Electoral’ for a long time: during Balaguer's administration it was also the official line of the government while, taking advantage of the fact that Junta Central Electoral is an autonomous body, subsequent governments have tended to ‘duck the issue,’ leaving the matter in the hands of the Supreme Court. A birth certificate, as we have seen, is the most important document in the Dominican Republic because, in its absence, one is denied name, nationality, citizenship, and access to health care and education, has serious difficulties in finding a ‘formal’ job, securing a pension fund, getting married, registering one's children's births, opening bank accounts, purchasing a house, and obtaining inheritance – in short, a life without a birth certificate is the life of ‘an underclass non-citizen.’

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Publisher: Liverpool University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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