Dominica: Chamber of Commerce Promotes Economic, Social Integration of Venezuelan Migrants

641 views | Akanimo Sampson | November 16, 2019

The economic and social integration of Venezuelan migrants into Dominican society is currently being supported through culture and music. The Acting Head of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Mission in the Dominican Republic, Josué Gastelbondo, says it is essential to support the activities of economic and social integration of Venezuelan migrants into the society.

‘’No better way to do it than through culture and music’’, Josué Gastelbondo,  said

Already, a charity musical gala has been held by the Venezuelan-Dominican Chamber of Commerce and supported by IOM. It provided a perfect occasion to present the Dominican-Venezuelan Symphonic Orchestra that delight the public with a varied programme of classical music and folklore from both countries.

For Gastelbondo, the orchestra was an opportunity and an example of intercultural integration, adding, ‘’we are pleased to contribute.’’

‘’There are more than 90 orchestras made up of Venezuelan refugees and migrants around the world. The Dominican Republic had the musicians and talent to create ours’’, explained Javier Abi Harb, director of the orchestra, minutes before it started its first performance.

The orchestra has 50 musicians, 33 Venezuelan nationals and 17 Dominicans, mostly with extensive experience, but also with the participation of young beginners from different music schools in Santo Domingo.

‘’The philosophy and methodology of the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras and Choirs of Venezuela, where many of the musicians that make up this orchestra come from, is inclusion, integration. This orchestra is a sample of that. We have musicians of the most varied ages, origins, and experiences’’, said Abi Harb, who was also responsible for the programme that thrilled the audience.

From Puccini’s Oh Mio Babbino Caro, performed by the soprano Paola Prado, to Juan Luis Guerra’s La Bilirubina, the orchestra played during the musical gala, held for the benefit of the association dedicated to supporting children in vulnerable situations.

According to the Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela, R4V, there are currently 30 thousand Venezuelan nationals residing in the Dominican Republic. Most of them have irregular immigration status, a situation that limits their access to opportunities for economic and labour integration.

Through local organisations and NGOs, IOM has been supporting Venezuelans in vulnerable situations in the Dominican Republic since 2018, as part of the Response Plan for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela. These initiatives are possible thanks to the financial support of the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).


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