Sonia Pierre

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama stand with Honoree w:Sonia Pierre of the Dominican Republic at the 2010 International Women of Courage Awards at the U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C. March 10, 2010

Solange Pierre (4 July 1963 – 4 December 2011), known as Sonia Pierre, was a human rights advocate in the Dominican Republic who worked to end antihaitianismo, which is discrimination against individuals of Haitian origin either born in Haiti or in the Dominican Republic.[1] For this work, she won the 2006 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.[2]

Early life[edit]

Pierre was born in Villa Altagracia, San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic, on 4 July 1963[3] to parents of Haitian origin (her mother migrated with a temporary work permit in 1957 but overstayed this permit, and her father entered the Dominican territory irregularly[4][5]). One of twelve children,[6] she was raised in a migrant worker camp called a batey, where many of the Dominican Republic's people of Haitian descent live. Her birth certificate lists her name as Solain Pie, which Pierre "says is the result of an error by a government clerk."[1] Her nationality was disputed by the Junta Central Electoral [es] on the grounds that her birth certificate is forged, the residence status of her Haitian parents and the lack of evidenciary documentation from Haiti.[4][5][7]

At the age 14, she organized a five-day protest by sugar cane workers on one of the country's bateyes, which led to her being arrested. However, the protest attracted enough public attention that the workers' demands—namely, to have their living quarters painted and be given better tools and pay raises—were met.[8]


Sonia Pierre became an activist at the age of 14, when she was arrested for being the spokesperson of a group of Haitian sugar-cane cutters in her migrant labor village who were protesting for better wages and living conditions.

Pierre worked as director of the non-governmental organization Movement for Dominican Women of Haitian Descent (MUDHA),[2] which aims to end antihaitianismo or bias against individuals from Haiti or people of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic.

In 2005, Pierre petitioned the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the case of two ethnic Haitian children who were denied Dominican birth certificates. Called Yean and Bosico v. Dominican Republic, the case "upheld human rights laws prohibiting racial discrimination in access to nationality and citizenship."[2] The court also ordered the Dominican government to provide the birth certificates.

However, the Dominican Supreme Court later ruled that Haitian workers using work VISAs were considered 'in transit' or 'not legally in the country' and that their children were therefore not entitled to citizenship."[1]

Awards and honors[edit]

For her work, Pierre won the 2006 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award handed down by former US Senator Ted Kennedy, but NOT on behalf of the US Congress.(see.[2]) In presenting the award to Pierre, US Senator Edward Kennedy quoted a longtime friend of hers who said: "I am a better person today for having met, worked, and traveled this road with Sonia Pierre. With certitude, I can affirm that Sonia is one of the most selfless, courageous and compassionate human beings of my generation." [9]

Pierre also won Amnesty International's 2003 Human Rights Ginetta Sagan Fund Award,[8] and she and MUDHA were nominated for the UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education in 2002.[10]

In 2008, she was awarded the Giuseppe Motta Medal for protection of human rights.[11] She was also honored by the United States Department of State with a 2010 International Women of Courage Award.[12]


On December 4, 2011, Pierre died at the age of 48 from a heart attack while being rushed to the hospital in Villa Altagracia, San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "A Rights Advocate's Work Divides Dominicans" by Marc Lacey, The New York Times, September 29, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d "DOMINICAN BORN HAITIAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST WINS 2006 RFK HUMAN RIGHTS AWARD" Archived 2007-10-12 at the Wayback Machine Press Release, RFK Memorial Center, accessed Sept. 28, 2007.
  3. ^ Franco-Soto, Ana (2016). "Pierre, Sonia (1963–2011)". In Knight, Franklin W.; Gates, Jr, Henry Louis (eds.). Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro–Latin American Biography. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-199-93580-2.  – via Oxford University Press's Reference Online (subscription required)
  4. ^ a b Ramírez, Juan M. (31 March 2007). "Critican quieran anular acta nacimiento Sonia Pierre" (in Spanish). Hoy. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  5. ^ a b Moreno, Pilar (30 March 2007). "JCE pedirá anulación acta de nacimiento Sonia Pierre" (in Spanish). Santo Domingo: Listín Diario. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Activist Sonia Pierre Receives RFK Award" by Andrew Miga, The Associated Press, printed in the Washington Post, Nov. 17, 2006.
  7. ^ "Jurista asegura Sonia Pierre no es dominicana" Dominican jurist affirms that Solange Pierre is not Dominican" by Antonio Santana. 2010-03-11
  8. ^ a b "Dominican-born Sonia Pierre Wins Amnesty International's 2003 Human Rights Award for Working for Her People" by Tequila Minsky, April 2003, Haitian Support Group website, accessed Sept. 29, 2007.
  9. ^ "Dominican Activist Sonia Pierre Receives RFK Award". Retrieved 2013-11-04.
  10. ^ "Interview: Solange Pierre, focusing on Dominican-Haitian immigration" by Charles Arthur, Latin American Press, Oct 16, 2002.
  11. ^ "Giuseppe Motta Medal". 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2019-12-28.
  12. ^ "Secretary Clinton With First Lady Michelle Obama and Honoree Sonia Pierre of the Dominican Republic". United States Department of State. March 3, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-07.
  13. ^ "Sonia Pierre Obituary: View Sonia Pierre's Obituary by The Columbus Dispatch". Retrieved 2011-12-05.

External links[edit]