Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Haitian-Dominican Activist, Sonia Pierre, Dies at 48

Defend Haiti
December 4, 2011

SAN CRISTOBAL, Dominican Republic – Sonia Pierre, 48, an activist since the age of 13 when she was arrested for defending the rights of Haitians and their children in the Dominican Republic, has died today by heart attack.

Pierre’s doctor, Edwin Ferreira, told the AFA that she had a heart attack at her farm home. She was taken to Villa Altagracia public hospital, where she was pronounced dead, said Ferreira, who is coordinating with the family of the deceased her funeral to be held after Pierre undergoes an autopsy.

The doctor said she died “in a family atmosphere” in his remarks to the AFA. He added that the local activist, who was born in Villa Altagracia in 1963, had history of heart disease and had undergone two open heart surgeries.

The heart condition of Sonia Pierre was discovered in November 2007 when she visited the United States capital to be awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in recognition of her efforts to eliminate discrimination against people of Haitian descent in the Caribbean country.

Pierre was also recognized in 2010 with the U.S. International Women of Courage Award, which she received from U.S. First Lady, Michelle Obama, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Three months after, then-president, René Préval, awarded to Pierre the order “Honor and Merit” in the rank of Knight of the Republic, for her work in the defense of human rights.

Pierre is the founder of the Movement of Dominican-Haitian Women (MUDHA), an organization working to help the Haitians and their children who live and suffer racial discrimination in the Dominican Republic.

Sonia Pierre has received strong criticism from the Dominican government, harassment from businessmen and even death threats for working 13 years in protest for sugar cane cutters and immigrant workers.

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