A little background here is in order. The Dominican Republic is the child sex trafficking capital of the Western Hemisphere. Many of the children who are trafficked into sex slavery as prostitutes are kidnapped, or purchased from Haiti. When Rush Limbaugh loads up his Lear Jet with a few conservative male friends and heads down to the Dominican Republic for a weekend “getaway”…
It isn’t because of the beaches or Mojitos.
So to the Haitian Government, and to the Haitian people, the issue of child trafficking hits very close to home.
So, while the New Life Children’s Refuge may be exactly what they claim to be – there is a chance, a very real chance – they aren’t.
The Dominican consul general Wednesday rejected the claim from an American church leader that she thought her paperwork was in order when she attempted to take 33 Haitian children out of the country, saying he had told her it was not.
“I warned her, I said as soon as you get there without the proper documents, you are going to get into trouble, because they are going to accuse you, because you have the intent to pass the border without the proper papers and they are going to accuse you with kids trafficking,” Carlos Castillo said he told the group’s leader, Laura Silsby, during a meeting Friday.
Four hours later, Silsby and nine other Americans were turned back from the border. They were arrested and taken to a jail in Port-au-Prince.
“This woman knew what she was trying to do was not legal,” Castillo said.
A CNN reporter attempted to get reaction to Castillo’s comment from the jailed Americans, but they would not discuss the matter, responding to questions by singing “Amazing Grace” and praying.
Told earlier that many of the children had living parents, Silsby said, “I did not know that.”
She added, “In our hearts, our intention was to help children that had been orphaned or abandoned by their parents.”
But the interpreters the group had used said the conversations between Silsby and the parents in the Haitian town of Calebasse made clear to them that Silsby must have been aware of the children’s status.
SOS Children’s Villages, an Austrian charity, said that it has determined that at least two-thirds of the children are not orphans.
Authorities on Wednesday questioned a Haitian police officer who works at the Dominican Embassy about whether he provided illegal paperwork to Silsby and the other Americans to facilitate their efforts as alleged by interpreters who had translated for the Americans.
The interpreters told CNN the Americans met at least twice last week with the officer, at the embassy and consulate.
“He told them that he could help, and he was helping them with some paper,” said interpreter Steve Adrien. “We did not meet him in a police station, but in the street in a car.”
The Americans met again with the man in Port-au-Prince on Thursday, near the Dominican Embassy, the translator said.
Isaac Adrien, Steve’s brother and another of the interpreters, said the group came away from the meeting with a document from the embassy that the Americans took with them to the border Friday in their unsuccessful attempt to cross…
The group has no experience running an orphanage, has not registered as an international adoption agency and has not filed with the U.S. government as a nonprofit.