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The political geography of the Haitian-Dominican Border
Melisa Vargas Rivera
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1. Operational dimensions 2. Seas
2.1 The Caribbean: a small map of the world 2.2 A political archipelago 2.3 The Hispaniola: an introverted island
3.1 The history of the line 3.2 The birth of a trauma 3.3 Language and ethnic margins 3.4 The blurred line
4.1 Labour 4.2 Trade 4.3 Spatial implications 4.4 The markets: commerical exodus 4.5 The politics of Rice 4.6 The free trade factory and the efforts to control a part of binational territory in the lack of State authority
5. Projective Conclusions
5.1 Disconnected development 5.2 Flow without accumulation 5.3 The city as strategy 5.4 The border as strategy
A pick up truck left Santiago, a northern Dominican city, the 12th of January of 2006, carrying on its back the bodies of twenty-five people along the highway that connects the city with the border region. It was on its way to Ouanaminthe, in Haiti, a day after a small wagon had brought the bodies into town among another group of 45 survivors. They were dead by the time the wagon had reached Santiago, they were illegally brought into the country through the border town of Dajabón and had suffocated and died inside the hermetic back of the vehicle on the way. After failed attempts to save the twenty-fifth victim in the emergency room of a public hospital in Santiago, the official decision was to bury the trafficked, anonymous, discovered bodies in Ouanaminthe, the Haitian mirror city of Dajabón in the northern segment of the border, where they came through.
An agitated ambience was waiting for the dead migrants in Ouanaminthe. A group of people had gathered on the gate of the local cemetery to impede the entrance of the truck and the burial of the bodies. It was “inhumane and undignified to bring them back in such conditions” the mob expressed. In the absence of any local mediating organism, the United Nation soldiers that have been in Haiti since 2004 escorted the truck to the cemetery once it reached the Haitian town, assuming and anticipating trouble. Moments later, three bodies had to be left on the dusty floor of the cemetery as the truck escaped the gunshots and stones directed at it from the angry mob in the gate. Nearly escaping death, the driver took the remaining bodies back into the Dominican Republic and the bodies were disposed of in the common pitch of Dajabón’s cemetery. Though not all of such a bleak nature, many other stories of struggle, conflict, power, transgression, but also of exchange and cooperation populate the everyday life of the HaitianDominican border. In its functioning this space reveals the ever present possibility of violence but also the inescapable necessity of negotiation. The border, far from being a sealed barrier, is a permeable space that it’s constantly being crossed. First literally, as thousands of Haitians and Dominicans everyday commute from each other’s border towns to the neighbouring ones to trade and to access health, education and religious services. Moreover, its natural features, its landscapes and resources go across from side to side indifferent to its politics. But this crossing has then taken a political turn, since the problematic and emergency state of Haiti’s environments and ecosystems is by no means contained within its political limits, deeply affecting the Dominican Republic. On the other hand, the strategic cartography of the border is intersected by the diagonal lines of a globalized economic system that administers its existing territorial advantages: its
potential cheap labour force, the absence of governmental regulation and its almost barren condition make it a blank canvas for capital investment and exploitation. At the border, violence, death, smuggling, disease, migration and illegality are in constant trade; the world intervenes as it attempts to regulate it, mobilizing and placing instances of global organizations, NGOs and military structures that mediate and try to civilize the ebullient forces of this space. All of these transactions, as they are individually preformed, collide and actualize the others. Two inept governments are exposed by 25 dead migrants as they are killed by their negligence; these bodies are moved across an imaginary line and they activate a political struggle in the local communities. They ignite the violence that they themselves were victim of; they produce international debate among the world organizations and the NGOs that they are a concern of. But more importantly, before being dead but potentially labouring bodies, they were propelled to cross in such conditions, against all odds by the inertia of an economic system that is in fact sustained and supported by all of these paradoxes. The border, though only officially open twice a week for a series of market fairs between the two countries, is in fact a space in constant negotiation. Its openness is bargained on a daily basis regulated and determined by the rules of a ruthless economy of survival. In the absence of any other form of organization its cultural and political potentials are terribly undermined. The following research focuses and argues that as the space of the border performs and arbitrarily adjusts to the forces that operate at it, it not only hosts trade and transaction but inevtiably becomes the object of trade and transaction in itself.
Division as a form of identity
The border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti is a 391 kilometers long line (Paez Piantini, 2007) that contains in
its irregular extension rivers, lakes, and other natural physical limits; it goes through a series of towns and landscapes of varied characters, it divides the Hispaniola Island going across it in a north-south direction and demarcates the limits of Haiti in the East side and Dominican Republic on the West. Like any other nation-state border, even in its physical definition the Dominican-Haitian border synthesizes an ongoing history of negotiation, conflict, diplomacy, war, economic interdependence and cultural and ethnic tension that have enabled, even coerced or obstructed its cartographical delimitation. The partition in itself is a birth mark that distinguishes both the current republics and an insular totality that can only function within a cultural-political paradox: its division is what essentially determines the unity (and uniqueness) of the island within the Caribbean and even global contexts. This condition is an essential particularity that provides enough bases for a still immature and clumsy relationship between the two States to evolve into one that is constructed precisely upon the embracement of the complexities and differences between each other. Difference has been persistently treated with mistrust and fear throughout the history of both nations when actually difference is in fact the one constant factor throughout the course of their parallel existence. When speaking of the Dominican-Haitian frontier region it is not possible to rely on the conventional paradigms that tend to inform any debate about borders —such as the United States-Mexico or Spain-Morocco ones— since these are cases in which the border condition has reached a much more “mature” state. The border isn’t for instance yet populated by any “culturally mixed band that would represent the symbiosis implied in any border” (Dilla, 2008, p.172) and is still evidently caught up in a transitory and ambiguous status that manifests in a relationship that shifts from inter-dependence and a certain
degree of openness (mostly of commerce, goods, services and labor)1 to denial and closure (in certain cultural and social terms for instance). In the Dominican popular perception the border region is a kind of no-man’s land, a dessert, a dangerous and poor area of the country characterized by an institutional and informal porosity. This porosity allows the latent threats of HIVAIDS, drug and human traffic, environmental degradation, prostitution and illegal immigration to infiltrate in the rest of the country. This perception is aggravated by a strong presence of ethnic stereotypes, a language difference 2 and a history of abandonment: it contains 17% of Dominican territory that is inhabited by 4% of the population. It is not a politically attractive region since it doesn’t represent an important voting population; and historically, through its hermetic treatment, has been used as a means of defining a national identity especially during the course of the 20th century (mainly up until the 1990’s). The Haitian side of the border is completely the opposite: more densely populated, the region concentrates people that are attracted by the possibility of emigrating and/or greater work and survival opportunities.
Border and Citizenship
The border region is articulated institutionally in about 22 to 25 local non-governmental organizations on the Dominican side that focus on specific issues that go from local fishing to sexual education. In Haiti the development of the frontier region has incrementally been included within parliamentary concerns. Today it is mostly regulated by external entities such as international monetary organizations and European and American governmental cooperations.
1 Examples of this relative openness are the fact that Haitians frequently access Dominican medical services and in a smaller degree education, especially technical courses. On the other hand, Dominicans surreptitiously use Haitian religious services. State agencies in a more formal way have contact especially in the case of crisis (the military, municipal and migratory authorities for instance) (Dilla, 2008, p.192). 2 In the Dominican Republic and Haiti, as a result of a parallel yet distinct colonial history three different languages are officially spoken, in the first Spanish and in the second French and Creole.
These two main forms of involvement, one at a local level and the other at a governmental one, respond to two distinct approaches within the realm of politics in both sides; a set of politics that in fact, are a reflection of the countries’ attitudes towards each other. Simultaneously there has been a historical interest in defining and clearly demarcating the legal limits of the nations from the Dominican Republic, of developing the region in order to “dominicanize“ it hence constructing a buffer protective zone from that space of otherness that is incarnated in Haiti. A militarization of the border has taken place with the creation of the CESFRONT which stands for Cuerpo Especializado Fronterizo (Specialized Border Unit) a unit formed within the Dominican Army that has been placed in the border since September of 2007 with the mission of “controlling the traffic of illegal migrants, drugs and fire arms as well as merchandize smuggling, vehicle theft and animals in the border with Haiti”. In contrast to the State’s imposition of a military control mechanism, the local communities have managed to establish a code of relations in which there isn’t in fact an interest for a symbiosis yet a comprehension and peaceful acceptance of reciprocal interdependence; where friendship between Haitians and Dominicans is mostly perceived as an acceptable form of interaction and others such as marriage and childcare aren’t. In anthropological terms this form of “agonistic” (Mouffe, 2000) relation is still to evolve into a better articulated one since ethnic discrimination and abuse still take place thus becoming obstacles to more progressive ways of exchange. These abusive tendencies have been harshly confronted by international NGO’s such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and have raised worries in the Dominican Republic of it being portrayed as an enslaving country where the rights of illegal Haitian immigrants are highly violated. But on the other hand much more positive kinds of cultural and economic interaction start to modify the mutual
perceptions of the countries, once again, specially within the local quotidian dynamic of the border regions: international fairs, religious exchange and other constructive movements do increasingly take place. “Today, however, there does need to be a form of citizenship linked to transformations in the demos. Because of the processes of globalization, there is an important need for forms of democratic governance which are transnational or cosmopolitan.” (Mouffe, 2001 p.111) The Greek concept of demos, a political unit that relates to a specific people and their link to a state (which in ancient Greece was at the same time always linked to a specific place) from Chantal Mouffe’s point of view doesn’t have to necessarily be linked to the Nation-State logic. Citizenship is in fact a form of identity that has to be constructed always in relation to a group (a people) and a place but is not exclusive to countries or nationality. Since the border region is yet to be properly articulated as a place, to think of a local form of citizenship is premature. But if its conformation were to be anticipated it would definitely have to incorporate the idea of movement and difference as dorsal elements. In “Poetics of Relation” (1997) Edouard Glissant confronts the concepts of root identity (associated with the western tradition of occupation) and relation identity (an alternative model proposed by the author) as two possible readings of the links between community and land. While in the first there is a transcendental definition of this link that ratifies possession of land and determination of otherness through conquest, in the second, there is an inclusion of “contradictory experiences and contacts among cultures” (Glissant, 1997, p.144) Relation is embraced without negating its chaotic and conflictive nature which prevents the emergence of “the hidden violence of filiations” (Glissant, 1997, p.144)
Relation identity can be understood as form of local citizenship, as a form of association that implies togetherness but not necessarily total mixing; it leaves room for expansion without invasion, of conflict without war. A kind of citizenship that defies the logic of fixation and immobility, in which movement becomes a “political register as well as a form kinetic passage” (Neilson, Mitropoulos. 2007, p.473), in which the moving bodies that currently migrate or simply move anonymously and devoid of their political character regain their capacity of action. In the border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti the formation of citizenship will have to necessarily allow or even encourage the radical opposition of difference and movement as two categories that don’t have to stand for exclusion, exploitation or alienation but that propel and catalyze the existing extraordinary dynamics of a region that represents two peoples sharing one island.
Borders are spaces, geographical datum in which politics become explicit. This not only manifests in their spatial organization but also —and primarily— through the transactions, exchanges, blockages and movements that in their quotidian performance hint towards the much more complex set of power relations that operate at them. Borders are, as defined by Stefano Harvey, “mechanisms of administering labour, useful not to distinguish but to move populations from one side to the other” Taking as premises geographical, political and economic standpoints how can we read the border? Studying and approaching this arena from the geographical and spatial point of view necessarily implies a problem of scale. Studying and approaching it from a political point of view involves questions of history; and when economy is inserted within the equation, the consideration of labour and goods is inevitably central. These approaches are by no means clearly separate from each other, on the contrary, they relate to the extent of being impossible to address individually without taking the others into account. This research enters into the notion of the border by including these three points of view within what has been defined as operative dimensions. The choice of the term dimension derives from the fact that it is generous enough in its possible meanings to suggest a sense of magnitude, proportion and scope but also of quality, importance and extent. Seas, territories and sites are essentially the three dimensions or categories that organize the research. Each provides symbolic and literal representations of both the physical and geographical components of the Haiti-Dominican Republic border (as well as its regional and global contexts) and the more abstract system of forces that determines the current condition of 15 this complex space.
“Seas” is the category that refers to all the processes that together build up the idea of the Caribbean Archipelago and the Hispaniola Island. It is impossible to understand islands without addressing the sea. The word archipelago literally means “chief sea”, derived ultimately from Greek arkhon (arkhi) (“leader”) and pelagos (“sea”). In the case of the Caribbean archipelago a difficult relationship with its waters is narrated through its current dilemmas as a region that still doesn’t manage to consolidate itself. The islands and continental coasts of the Caribbean are joined and separated by the sea, a sea that brings to land, at times, uncontrollable and unpredicted turbulence. This unbridgeable, yet not so great, a separation determines a sense of almost inescapable isolation in each of the islands but also a sense of distant belonging to a common political and cultural space. This space invades the insular territories as it bangs their shores with the waves of the sea, arriving always full handed, bringing with it new languages, music, ethnicities, political struggles and trade. The sea has doubtlessly constituted in our insular countries an indispensable support for life, but at the same time it has been synonym of destruction. The sea has connected and disconnected us; it has protected, cleaned, refreshed and relieved us but it has also attacked, flooded, corroded and overwhelmed us. This dual
condition in which the sea affects Caribbean cities has determined its perception from firm land as something to mistrust. Most of the literature based on international relations refers to our countries as “vulnerable insular economies”. The same way, the sea has been used as a metaphor allusive to the economic processes of globalization: “first, second and third wave” (Toffler), “the tsunami effect”, “archipelago economies” (Veltz) and “metarchipleagos” (Benitez Rojo), just to mention a few. But what is really intriguing is why in the Caribbean there is such a fear of the sea, or at least, why with the exception of big tourist cruise-boats roaming our coasts or mercantile ships extracting our raw materials, the Caribbean economic production isn’t specially linked to it. Almost none of the Caribbean countries have exploited fishing neither for their own consumption nor for exportation. It is also rare to see local mercantile ships; and maritime transportation systems between islands are very scarce, not to say inexistent. (Barinas)
The Caribbean: a small map of the world
…the Caribbean, more than Africa or Europe, has been the vortex and testing ground of both the integrity and efficacy of both African and European perceptions, definitions and applications of philosophy in the real world away from the certainties of the academies and citadels of the Sorbonne or the great civilizations of Kush, Zimbabwe and Ile Ife. In this new world, this supposedly no man’s land i.e. the extermination of the Caribs, the Arawaks and the Tainos, something strange and beautiful was forged here. At least, unlike in the USA, the melting point where, Tony Kushner tells us, nothing ever melted, something did melt and merge here. (IROBI, p.11)
Trying to trace the multiple appendages of the Caribbean’s multi layered character is by no means an easy task. It is at present geographically defined as a region that contains parts of the coasts of North, Central and South America, The Great and Lesser Antilles, The Caribbean Sea, The Gulf of Mexico and a part of the Atlantic Ocean. In these terms it is indeed a small sample of a big part of the whole world but even more so culturally as it pretty much synthesizes it completely. Winds, ocean currents and Europe’s power struggles, determined its inclusion in the engine of history, as defined by the west, in the XVth century, making it the first laboratory of European colonization in the Americas. This collision of different peoples determined its modus operandi, activating a space of constant ebullition. Not driven by “natural” nomadism: its population process, from that point on, was engineered and artificial. Starting with the ethnic tabula rasa resulting from the total erasure of precolumbian societies and the later introduction of slave trade and production; the forced global exodus that culminated in the islands transformed them into productive machines. For four centuries (from the XVth till the XIXth) the region was under several forms of colonial exploitation. Colonialism was indeed not uniform within its sub-regions. The Greater Antilles and the Lesser ones experienced different processes primordially by being colonized and disputed between various European powers: by the VXIIth century, Spain —being the strongest colonial empire— dominated the Greater Antilles and most of the continental territories; Followed by England occupying for most of the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries what today are The Bahamas, Jamaica and what later would become the West Indies Federation in the most south eastern arch of the Lesser Antilles. France, also present in the smaller islands of the south, conquered what today is the Republic of Haiti in the Hispaniola Island (which is shared by it and the Dominican Republic). Holland and Denmark also intervened in a much smaller degree.
With different approaches to slavery, different languages and different modes of occupation, these colonial experiences produced varied degrees of ethnic mix and culture; as well as parallel and distinct historic processes. It is possible to assert that countries such as Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico3 and Haiti are much more inserted within the struggles of continental Latin America, sharing Spanish language (with the exception of Haiti as a Creole and French speaking country) and a similar history in political and social terms: they were immersed in the independence wave of the XIXth century, also victims of the later American military and economic interventions, their support of dictatorships, also possessing similar ethnic patterns of European and African inheritance (and the complex results of them). Jamaica, Cayman Island, The Lesser Antilles and The Bahamas on the other hand are part of a later cycle of British, French, Dutch and Danish rules. Mostly English and French speaking, in their majority they gained independence in the XXth century, during very different political and economic circumstances to those that surrounded the rest of the Latin American struggles. The post-colonial experience of these two groups —especially in the way they currently relate to their ex-colonial powers— is therefore quite distinct. Nevertheless, there are many common points mostly determined by the geographic and climatic conditions shared by the whole region as well as by their proximity. This proximity has been propitious for different waves of migration between them, which finally has determined constant cultural exchanges and influence in terms of food, music, language and religious practices.
5 Puerto Rico was also a colony of the United States from 1898 until 1947 when it became a Free Associated State of it, which makes it a special case in the region in terms of its colonial history and current political status.
A political archipelago
Today the Caribbean islands are also political islands: from a socialist regime in Cuba, a constitutional monarchy in Jamaica and liberal democracies in The Dominican Republic and Haiti, to a commonwealth association with the United States in Puerto Rico, and overseas territories of France, England, The United States and The Netherlands in Jamaica, Bahamas and the Lesser Antilles, the region collages the result of it’s politically intense history. As a sort of alter reality, the continental powers of the globe, have found in the Caribbean a space to strategically place instances of their political systems.
The Caribbean has represented a space of otherness especially for the United States. The region invades the imagination of the world as a natural paradise that is simultaneously exciting and dangerous. Its volcanoes and hurricanaes are as much potential threats as its strategic position and geographic disconnection.
A strong example of this form of power was the crucial role that Cuba played during the Cold War, presenting the United States with serious nuclear threat in what is commonly referred to as the Cuban Missile Crisis. As a result of the Cuban-Soviet alliance in the 1960s, Cuba represented a next-door extension of the Soviet Union in the region. Always serving as a strategic bridge to the rest of the world for the continental Americas, it has been in the interest of bigger countries like the United States to keep the Caribbean under as much military and economic control as possible. The XIXth and XXth centuries were strongly marked by the most aggressive American attempts to install its hegemony with various military interventions, the imposition of economic embargos, the support of corrupt governments and dictatorship and the promotion of harmful economic policies in the islands.
Left and right: images from the CIA mapping the missile bases and the possible impact of an attack.
The Hispaniola: an introverted island
In the center of the archipelago, The Hispaniola Island is the host of two nations: Haiti and The Dominican Republic. The division of the island is a living trace, firstly, of the arbitrary nature of colonialism; and consequently, it is evidence of how this historical turning point generated a continuum of social and political permutations. These permutations still today strongly inhabit the popular imaginary and political realms of both countries. The island has to look inwards, the border, though ignored and abandoned for decades during the mid-XXth century, today recovers the lost attention of the societies that intervene and operate in it.
Right: North coast of “La Hispaniola” as drawn by Christopher Colombus in the XV century.
Left: Image of the Hispaniola island taken by the GOES satellite on the 22 of September of 1998 during the passing of hurricane Georges.
Cuba Windward Channel
50 mi 100 km
Turks and Caicos
Mona Channel Puerto Rico
Linked to land, the territory and all the natural features contained in it are essential for the identity of a country. The word territory is crucial for the formation of the Nation State as such, a form of government that is the backbone of the Republic. The form of the Republic, was yet another European construction that landed in the Caribbean, arriving in the XIXth century as a new technology to be tested, this time not as an imposition, but as a liberating gesture borrowed by the peoples that emerged in the region, peoples that forged and brewed for centuries under the weight of colonialism. This category refers to the process of emergence, historical evolution and current condition of the Dominican-Haitian border, a border that, like a DNA spiral, records the evolution of its peoples. Initially a blurred edge between colonial lands, it evolved into a frontier between two Republics. The XXth century Haitian-Dominican border started to be traced in the form of legal agreements and topographical mappings. But more importantly it started to be traced as an imaginary space in the popular self-image of both countries that, even today, is a powerful political tool. It is more than evident that the histories of these two countries are complex, absolutely inter-linked and full of paradoxes. Inherited misconceptions and the reminiscence of the traumatic and intense processes that forged the two represent today challenges for their integration. But this constructed space, in spite of the interruptions, is still in the making.
The history of the line
Though initially completely controlled by Spain, and the place where the first European city (Santo Domingo) was founded in the Americas, the island was later neglected by the crown. By the XVIIth century this neglect reached a point of almost total abandonment, as the Spanish focused their interest in the later conquered colonies in the continent (such as what today are Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela). This abandonment created the conditions for French pirates to occupy the island’s western side. From coarse pirate assault the invasion of the western side of the island evolved into a proper occupation in 1668 when France spotted the strategic nature of their presence in the region. By the XVIIIth century this third of the island was enough space for the European power to install one of the most brutally productive sugar cane and coffee industries in history. Based on intense slave and agricultural exploitation, the French Saint Domingue’s production of sugar and, later, coffee generated an amount of wealth that surpassed that of all the English colonies at the time put together4. On the precarious east a smaller population of criollos —born in the island but of Spanish descent— and slaves administered their survival based in trade with the French side, specially of cattle and also focusing, less intensely, in agricultural activities. The French needed this supply for the thousands of slaves and their masters to be fed while in constant production.
4 By the 1780s, Saint-Domingue produced about 40 percent of all the sugar and 60 percent of all the coffee consumed in Europe.
But this colonial machine in the western third of the Hispaniola Island not only resulted in an exponential boost of French economic might: through its schizophrenic management and forced blend of populations from various regions of Africa, it also ignited an unprecedented and extraordinary cultural and political revolution never really equated by any other human group there on. The Republic of Haiti, the second established after the United States of America, is the only one in the world to have emerged out of a slave revolt. The role played by the ethnic and cultural composition of the colony was crucial for the overthrow of French rule. The plantation enclaves and their geographic locations became central in the insurrection strategies, turning the modality of production into subversive war strategy. The formation of a créole language became a powerful weapon that enabled a system of communication, previously difficult between members of different tribes that finally consolidated the liberation movement and drove it to success in 1804. Spanish Santo Domingo, starting earlier (1500s) in the business of African slavery, imported groups and exploited
their labour in a different and slower pace. The cultural implications that these insertions entailed, though also characterized by insurrections and revolts, didn’t produce phenomena of the same scale. But the influence of Africans was powerful, and till date, a central element of the Dominican Republic’s culture. Spanish language nevertheless remained the dominant one, and the white-European elite did manage to trace cultural and social lines that somehow are still legible in the social composition of the country today.
Diagram for the arrangement of a slave ship.
When, after its independence, Haiti occupied the Spanish territories for twenty two years (1822-1844), the criollos preferred their link with Spain and rejected the Haitian rule. No longer in the interest of the Spanish and as a result of an independent movement inspired by European republicanism, the Dominican Republic was founded after its independence from Haiti in 1844.
A TIMELINE OF TRADE
The emergence of the border has always been linked with the productive potential of the island. The movement, production and trade of people and products has mobilized the history of the line. Still today, now under the
conditions of a globalized context, the border works as an economic funnel that represents the subsistance means for a large part of both the Haitian and the Dominian populations.
The birth of a trauma
The two young countries thereafter focused on their internal concerns. Of completely different natures, their independence struggles became essential in the construction of their national identities: the first against European hegemony, the second against Haitian rule. Nevertheless, these proud societies evolved in mutual tolerance, dealing with the challenges that a North-American XIXth century of impositions and invasions posed to both separately. But it wasn’t until the late 1930’s, when both nations were victim of the atrocities perpetrated by the authoritarian regime of Dominican president Rafael Trujillo (dictator between 1930 and 1961) who, inspired by Nazi fascism, decided to reinforce a Dominican nationalist discourse based on ethnic superiority over Haiti. In 1937 the dictator ordered the killing of any person presumed to be Haitian (based on visual features and local knowledge) found in the bordering provinces of the country in what is known as the “Dominicanization of the border”. This order resulted in the killing of 17,000 to 35,000 Haitian civilians over a span of approximately five days (Forrest). This moment started a period of antagonism and separation that lasted almost six decades.
Leftt: Trujillo constructed his regime’s ideological aparatus around a strong national identity that was strongly based on an anti-Haitian discourse.
Language and ethnic margins
In a completely different contemporary context, the issues of language and ethnicity, so central in the countries’ histories, today still knit the net of relations between the two. Though politically manipulated by the powerful elites in both, the debates about the border and international relations —especially in the mainstream establishments— still revolve strongly around them. The Créole or Kreyòl language is still official in Haiti, while in the Dominican Republic Spanish is spoken. In urban centers of the Dominican Republic Haitian migrants that have a strong Kreyòl accent in Spanish are more likely to be discriminated. It is perceived in the country as a sort of comical folkloric attitude to dismiss it and mock it in a quotidian way. Language is perceived as a strong border between the two cultures and this perception, in present day, poses a challenge for the cultural integration of the countries. “Different to other countries where Haitian migration is hosted, where there is an official promotion of the cultural rights of minorities, in the Dominican Republic nationalist groups show an open rejection towards the diffusion of Kreyòl” (Casanova)
A road sign in the Haitian norther border town of Ouanaminthe indicates ongoing construction works.
Kreyòl, as its name implies, is a mixed language that at first appears to be exclusively composed of French and some West and Central African languages. But it is in fact a rich
mélange of influences, notably the native Taíno, including some Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, and some English. Interestingly enough, the Spanish that is spoken in the Dominican Republic, its accents and many colloquial expressions, words and regionalisms, derive as well from the same languages. These languages are indeed different; nevertheless, they are impregnated with very similar influences. The cultural “purity” of the Spanish heritage in the Dominican Republic propagated by Trujillo’s dictatorship, is in fact a fallacy, since such purity —especially in the Spanish that transformed, evolved and mixed in the country— doesn’t exist. Racial stereotypes have also been carried forward from the times of Trujillo. Mostly the middle and upper classes still perpetuate a heritage of Haitian culture and Haitian immigrants’ denigration in the Dominican Republic. Not exclusively “anti-Haitian”, this attitude isn’t much different towards members of the Dominican lower classes, which also tend to be associated with certain racial characteristics (types of hair, facial features, body types, etc). The ethnic composition of the Dominican Republic is today distinctively mixed, with predominant black traces, but mostly a blend of the different migrations and invasions that have entered the country during its existence. Haiti’s population is also mixed; its black portion is still, like in the time of the revolution, the majority. In Haiti the “white” minorities of European descent are also, like in the Dominican Republic, still in a privileged position. The truth of the matter is that even though the ingredients are probably in different proportions and from different origins, both populations are essentially mixed. The racial superiority that is implied in the nationalists’ discourse in the Dominican Republic is simply absurd, starting with the fact that there is no such thing as two “races” to oppose in order to establish such superiority.
Much of this “debate” and these social conceptions of Haitians are concentrated in the bigger cities and in some specific sectors of the printed, visual and oral media. Leftist Haitian groups also enhance the portraiture of all Dominicans as abusive and aggressive people that hate the neighbouring country. Without undermining the abuses and discriminations that Haitian migrants do suffer in specific labour sectors of the country, in the overall these extreme perceptions are mostly the outcome of social and political manipulations. In the bordering regions, for instance, people of both sides coexist and interact without fear and the crossover of languages, religion and trade occurs peacefully.
The blurred line
Haiti is one of the most ecologically damaged countries in the world, with the disappearance of 98% of the total forest area it had in 1925 (which was 60% of the area of the country) it now struggles with intense erosion and desertification. Each year, Haiti’s eight million inhabitants burn the equivalent of thirty million trees —20 million more than the country grows annually—(...) Deforestation stepped up during the international trade embargo, between 1991 and 1994, as people burned trees for the fuel they could no longer import. (Bryant, 1996) The Dominican Republic, on the other hand, has managed to protect its natural resources via the application of specific environmental laws and the creation of sanctuaries, national parks and natural reserves. The extreme contrast between the environmental states of the two countries has been recently covered in works such as an “Inconvenient Truth” by former American vice-president Al Gore and the book “Collapse” by Jared Diamond. The image of the bare mountains of Haiti almost radically stopping at the meeting point with the green and lush mountains of the Dominican Republic has become an icon for the environmental movement all over the world. But in fact, more and more, this clear cut division between a destroyed ecology and a conserved one is becoming a blurry one.
The system of National Parks, Conservation Areas and Nature Sanctuaries in the Dominican Republic has a much wider scope of protection and has been considerably effective in the last 60 years. Haiti on the other hand hasn’t been able to articulate and formalize the protection of its ecosystems.
Bare soil Acute desertification Moderate desertification Erosion / Deforestation
When looking at the levels of degradation of the island adistinction of the two environments is not clear-cut. It is evident that the areas closer to the border region of the Dominican Republic are the ones with the highest levels of degradation. The natural balance of the island cannot be read in terms of the political border, the environmental problems of Haiti directly concern both.
An image of the only international highway that runs along the border line in its northern part illustrates the contrast in terms of deforestation and soil erosion that exists in some regions between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
One of the most dramatic and representative examples of this occurred on the 24 and 25 of May of 2004. Around 600 people died in the town of Jimaní, a border city of the Dominican Republic, and another 1,600 in Haiti when a flood caused by intense rain covered the region. The worst flooding occurred along a river system that drains the north flank of the Massif de la Salle and in a poorly drained area along the south flank of the massif. This mountain range lies along the southern side of the island of Hispaniola, running east to west. A key factor in the intensity of the destruction is the extensive deforestation within the associated drainage basins and the presence of settlements within the floodplains of rivers and in other low areas on the south flank of the massif. Some of the villages most impacted include Mapou and Fond Verrettes in Haiti, and the town of Jimani across the border in the Dominican Republic. (NASA)
The NASA images show the town of Jimani in Dominican Republic before and after the floods of 2004.
During the flood, almost half of the town was covered by water as the result of erosion in Haitian mountains.
Image of a Haitian sail boat smuggling charcoal from the Dominican Republic through the Etang Sumatre in the centre region of the border. (By Yann Arthus Bertrand)
In a more quotidian and regular basis Haitians are known to smuggle soil and charcoal from the Dominican Republic, since these are scarce in most of its regions. The effects of such significant alterations to the natural systems of Haiti are by no means contained within political boundaries and therefore concern the island as whole.
In morphological terms, the Dominican-Haitian border is a fragmented composition of topographical accidents. The heights of the mountain ranges that intersect it, and their difficult accessibility, make the plains and valleys in-between them the points where human settlements have initially developed, where highways pass through and where most of the formal and informal crossings of goods and people take place. More than mere military posts, these crossing points have evolved into vibrant areas, in some cases, considerably dense and urbanized. We will discover in the following chapters that they are not only places where the two countries simply meet, but where complex forces operate providing the region with unique forms of interaction and trade, both regulated and led by external and internal rules. These are sites. They perform as an arena where various forms of power are exercised either remotely or in situ; always revealing a complexity that cannot be perceived in the immediate appearance of their physical configuration but for which, nevertheless, this physical and concrete place is fundamental in order to function. The border —though still in a state of transition— holds economic, cultural and political potentials that can propel the region and the two countries into more positive and beneficial experiences of relation. More forward forms of commercial and cultural exchange offer possibilities for progress in a macro level if the border, from being a funnel for the flow of wealth, becomes a centre where considerable parts of this (not only economic) wealth is retained and invested.
The border is affected by the intervention of multiple agents that operate from a global context as well as from a bi-national one (that is from the Dominican Republic and/or Haiti). The border thus becomes a series of sites where its multinational character is apparent, comprising the interests and struggles of various institutional and economic entities as well as a multiplicity of social groups.
Organization of American States (OAS) USAID Cooperación Española E.U. Canadian Government Local-International NGOs
International Private Corporations Local-International NGOs Local-International Worker Unions
Traders Students Dominican Private Corporations Small and Big Entrepreneur Associations Worker Unions Migrants Smugglers
The border is affected by the intervention of multiple agents that operate from and/or Haiti). The border thus becomes a series of sites where its mul
ECONOMIC REGULATION Organization of American States World Bank MILITARY REGULATION U.N. (MINUSTAH mission) Dominican Army (CESFRONT unit) LEGAL-POLITICAL REGULATION Haitian Government Dominican Government
Haiti Dominican Republic Port Au Prince Santo Domingo
m a global context as well as from a bi-national one (that is from the Dominican Republic ltinational character is apparent, comprising the interests and struggles of various subjects.
Haitians have migrated towards theDominican Republic en the search for work during almost 90 years. Most of the XXth century was characterized by the border-crossing of labourers —some forcefully, others convinced through false promises— to work in the zafras (the harvest period) of sugar cane plantations. There they were employed as sugar cane cutters, with miserable salaries, living in atrocious conditions in the barracks of the plantations or in small settlements within them. Once the harvest was over, the labourers were returned to Haiti. The fall of the Dominican sugar industry in the 80’s, the growth and diversification of the country’s economy and the prolonged political and economic crisis in Haiti haven’t stopped the labour-related migration of Haitians. It has not only continued, but increased, though now presenting different characteristics. Today Haitians are not only found within the very decayed sugar industry, but also in other agricultural sectors, in construction, within the tourist industry, providing domestic services and part of the informal commerce. Even though young male still predominate as the main migrant group, the amount of women that also do it is constantly increasing. (Wooding, 2004)
Left: Haitian workers on the construction site for a new market building, a project funded by the European Union in Dajabón.
Haitians themselves represent one of Haiti’s main exported commodities, historically it has provided a large portion of the world with cheap labour force. This is clearly visible in the diagram by Haitian historian Georges Anglade, presented in the newspaper “Le Nouvelliste” showing the migration waves of Haiti.
Always labour-related the crossing of Haitians to the Dominican Republic has been a social and economic phenomenon that has had an immense impact in both societies. It is possible to argue that the boom of specific economic sectors such as initially the sugar industry, later the tourist and construction fields in the second has not only represented an attraction for the migrant groups, but their success has been, to a great extent, the direct result of the Haitian workers’ involvement in them. Always cheaper and uncompromising, the labour of illegal Haitians represents an ideal commodity for these industries. But the image of the vulnerable and passive Haitian that is victim of human traffic is hardly the most representative one. It indeed so happens that still more fragile groups, that generally include women and children, are dealt with and moved through the border in inhumane conditions and later exposed to abusive circumstances once in the Dominican Republic, but the type of crossing that is predominant is the self motivated one.
Right image: from The New York Times online edition
The Haitian-Dominican border is an emerging trans-national economic space. As a consequence of the American occupation during the first decades of the XXth century and its diverse patterns of land ownership Haiti was inserted in the global circuits of capital accumulation as an exporter country of cheap labour force, used in the production of sugar in the vast plantations of the Dominican Republic. For decades, the border was only a space for the crossing of hundreds of thousands of Haitian migrants. (Traub-Werner, 2007, p. 207) Either as individuals or in small groups, Haitians cross generally guided by a friend that is familiar with the process: they know where to go through, which guards to bribe and with how much. These crossings don’t occur in the middle of inhospitable jungles, forests or deserted areas, they happen in the urbanized and better connected points of the border. In areas where the international markets take place, for instance, it is easy to mingle with the thousands of people that on a regular basis cross to the Dominican side to buy and sell products. The border region in itself isn’t yet populated by any “culturally mixed band that would represent the symbiosis implied in any border” (Dilla, 2008, p.172). Haitian migration in the Dominican Republic is in fact not localized in the border area nor in any specific part of the country as such, but distributed among various urban centres, in tourist areas (especially in the south eastern coasts) and agricultural fields all over the territory. The physical dangers, that are doubtlessly real and are well documented by the human rights workers, are less in the border points than during the highway trip towards the interior of the country; this trip implies going through various control points. The Dominican bus drivers charge an extra fee to the illegal migrants and they then get in charge of paying the cops and the army officials in the control points. Once in the main urban
centres, a Spanish speaking person will guide the migrant to another transportation system to finally take him to a rented room in a house with other Haitians, a house that is most likely close to the future place of work. (Wooding, 2004)
The main activities at the border are commercial. Through the border corridors circulate the money, information and people that produce the current inter-dependence of both parts. In a relatively short period Haiti has become an important consumer of Dominican exports as well as into a source of cheap labour force for the clothing sector of the Dominican Republic (which is actually moving towards the border). These exchanges are a reflection of an intense inter-dependence that is determined by the increasing socio-economic differences between the two as well as by the pressures from the regional and global neo-liberal context that both face. (Traub-Werner, 2007, p. 208) Tens of thousands of products enter and exit through its various points; these operations represent the main form of income for Haitians and Dominicans along it. The most distinctive quality of this form of commerce is its transactional character. An impressive amount of capital (in the form of goods and labour) passes through the region but doesn’t get accumulated at it. Those who intervene in the exchanges can only survive through the commerce but are not involved in long-term development projects.
Left: The market fair in Pedernales
More than just a backdrop for the constant movements and transactions that occur at it, the space of the border is produced through them. The pressing necessity of economic exchange that affects the inhabitants of the region and the two countries make it an adjustable and malleable place. This flexibility not only represents the literal survival for big chunks of both countries’ populations but also make it a fertile ground for militarily and economically powerful entities to arbitrary manipulate its geography. The following chapters cover three spatial modalities of these forms of economic operations, starting with the informal and necessity driven market fairs, followed by the trajectory of one of the products sold at the border and the politics behind it and finally looking at one of the most paradigmatic cases of spatial adjusting taking place at it: the positioning and organizational principles of a free trade factory that occupies both Haitian and Dominican Republic territory.
Left: A Haitian man works as a porter, carrying pedestrians on his shoulders so that their feet don’t get wet while crossing the Massacre River on the northern segment of the border between the towns of Ouanaminthe and Dajabón.
The transversal sequence of topographical and hydrological resources determines the map of the border. Though a series of rivers, mountains and abstract lines demarcated by milestones the map of the border is nevertheless, like any border, political. The selection of these natural accidents is the result of a history of war, invasion and legal agreements between the two sides. The morphology of the border
is a determining factor in its socio-political configuration: cities, roads and other systems adjust to fit its geography. It is as much a tectonic topography as it is one of sharing resources, blockage, passage and negotiation. (click on map to enlarge)
Jimaní- Mal Passe
Jimaní- Mal Passe
The markets: commercial exodus
The wealth produced in the region is mostly accumulated in the capitals of each country: Port Au Prince and Santo Domingo.In the late 1980s, decades after the fall of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic and when the Duvaliers5 were out of power in Haiti, a dynamic between the north border towns of Ouanaminthe (in Haiti) and Dajabón (in the Dominican Republic) started taking place: during Mondays and Fridays Haitians would cross to buy agricultural products and on Saturdays, Dominicans would cross to buy cosmetics, used clothing and electronic devices.
Left: A sign on the streets of the southern town of Pedernales in the Dominican Republic indicates the way to the international market on the border with Anse Pitre in Haiti.
5 Dr. François Duvalier, known as “Papa Doc” (April 14, 1907 – April 21, 1971[), was the President of Haiti from 1957. In 1964 he made himself President for Life. He ruled in a regime marked by autocracy, corruption, and state-sponsored terrorism through his private militia known as Tonton Macoutes. Jean-Claude Duvalier (nicknamed Bébé Doc or Baby Doc) (born July 3, 1951) succeeded his father, François Duvalier as the ruler of Haiti from his father’s death in 1971 until his overthrow by a popular uprising in 1986.
But it was in the 1990s, when the Organization of American States imposed an embargo6 on Haiti, when Ouanaminthe became a terrestrial port for the importation of gas and other oil derivatives, and this represented for the rest of Haiti a gold mine, bringing residents from all its parts to the city. Based on the commercial opportunities located in the region, the Haitian city grew dramatically, outgrowing the Dominican neighbor. Today thousands of people cross from Haiti on Tuesdays and Fridays to buy and sell products in an outdoor commercial fair in the city of Ouanaminthe. The Ouanaminthe-Dajabón case doesn’t reflect the overall conditions of the border, in it by far the most developed forms of commercial and cultural interaction occur. But the one common factor in all of its crossing points is the commercial nature of the relations, taking the form of international market fairs.
The Spanish Government funded the construction of facilities for the market in Pedernales, but the vendors place their products around them. The design of the market doesn’t respond to their selling habits and now only works as storage.
6 In 1991 he Organization of American States called for a hemisphere-wide embargo against the coup régime leaded by pro-Duvalier groups that took over the first democratically elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide, this embargo was in support of the deposed constitutional authorities.
The market fairs produce jobs, income and provide the necessary goods and products for those in the region. (97% of the population buys their products from them). Informal as they are, these fairs are generally regulated by the Dominican army and the local authorities of the border towns; v they are integrated in a large global economic network, evidence of which is found in the products that are exchanged in them.
The market in Dajabón occupies the streets of the city during the 2 days of the week when the border is opened for vendors to sell products in the international fairs. In the satellite image it is possible to see the blue tents covering 9 blocks of the town centre.
The politics of Rice
The cost of living has soared in the past four months. And as they say in Haiti, ‘’Rice is life.’’ (NY Times, june 1 2004) At the border markets it is very usual to see Haitians selling sacs of rice with an American flag printed on them. The immediate reaction in the un-informed observer, buyer or visitor is to think these sacs are donated by the United States and later sold. The rice at the border is indeed American, but this rice is sold to Haiti, not donated. The rice trade between the United States and Haiti has been referred to as “rice dumping” by the international community, a damaging economic strategy promoted by the United States in a weaker country to ensure the protection of their agricultural production. Haitian rice is of West-African origin, cultivated for the last 200 years. Rice is the staple food of Haiti. The country has historically produced a wide range of high quality types of rice that come from the two main rice producing regions: Mountain Rice coming from Plain du Nord and Swamp Rice coming from the Artibonite Valley. During the 1980’s the Organization of American States imposed an economic embargo on Haiti due to the political instability that resulted from the Duvalier times. This embargo increased the cost of fertilizers and other materials making the Artibonite Valley’s rice very expensive. But rice for internal consumption increased due to the country’s need to supply its own needs.
Left: An American rice sac is sold at the border market of Jimaní.
By the mid 1990s the embargo was removed.
Haiti’s fertile regions produce a wide variety of high quality rice. The production suffered with the introduction of cheaper imported American rice.
liberalization policies supported by American interests created the conditions for the insertion of the U.S. into the rice market in Haiti. American Rice Incorporated is an American multinational company that produces 10% of all American Rice. The company sells rice to Saudi Arabia, Haiti, Mexico, the Caribbean and the Eureopean Union. Their head quarters and fields are based in California, Texas and Arkansas. When the embargo was dropped in 1995, with remarkable encouragement from the United States government, the national import tariff in Haiti was dropped from 35% to 3%. In 2000 the United States exported more than 200,000 tons of American Rice Incorporated’s rice to Haiti, making it their fourth largest market after Japan, Mexico and Canada. The rice is imported in bulks, mills are located in Port au Prince where the rice is stored and packaged in sacs. American Rice Incorporated formed a kind of political branch of their company: an institution called the Rice Corporation of Haiti —which is a part of the Haitian government—. This institution administers and regulates the functioning of their facilities and the way the rice is distributed in the rest of the country.
The rice travels informally to the border in sacs and it’s sold in exchange for Dominican broken grain rice (which is cheaper). In the Dominican Republic rice production is protected by specific laws. The best quality rice in Haiti is consumed by the upper middle classes. Haitian rice, of much higher quality costs 3 times more than the imported rice. Needless to say, what was one of the few potentially selfsufficient remaining agricultural industries in Haiti was substituted by a system of economic dependence that introduces cheap and inferior rice in the country. This dependence has produced deep crises in the recent past, including the famine breakout in April of 2008, closely linked to an increase in rice prices and other staple products which produced strong protests in Haiti.
The free trade factory and the efforts to control a part of bi-national territory in the lack of State authority
In Haiti the assembly factories are not a new phenomenon. This type of production constituted a significant part of northAmerican clothes importations coming from the Caribbean during the 1980’s before the political disturbances and the embargo decreed by the Organization of American States (OAS) to Haiti in 1991 which literally destroyed that sector (Heron, 2004). Since the late 90’s, the three biggest firms based in the city of Santiago (north of the Dominican Republic) started to develop clothes assembly operations in Haiti. Two of the three installations acquired were in Port au Prince but the instability consequent to the second Coup d’Etat in 2004 paralyzed these efforts. Different to what the other competitors did, Textiles Dominicanos (Dominican Textiles) GRUPO M started developing a free trade zone in Ouanaminthe, whose facilities would literally occupy lands in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic simultaneusly creating a binational enclave .The attempts by Dominican firms to move intensive labor processes, inherent to the clothes supply chain to Haiti correspond to the cold calculation of comparative advantages as well as to an acute comprehension of commercial and development politics. (Traub-Werner, 2008, p.212)
Left: The factory is place at the border. It has a bridge over the Masacre river that connects one of its entrances with Haiti and a road that connects the other entrance with the Dominican Republic. By being at the border, the company solves its needs of cheap labour force as they come straight from Haiti. The company provides t Dominican employees with a convenient access to it without having to enter Haiti.
Dispute about its location
The north part of the island is the most fertile region for both countries. The north has been historically rich in the Dominican Republic (that’s where the textile company and its other free-trade zones are located).
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Customer Base Liz Claiborne Inc
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Grupo M is a Dominican clothing assembly company that works for international brands. These clietns provide the factories with the already prepeared parts of the clothing pieces that are put together in the various factories placed mostly on the northern region of the Dominican Republic. This form of production makes the clothing industry reduce costs since the labour force in third world countries is cheaper than in the places where the companies are based. This modality of economic exchange was encouraged in the Dominican Republic in the 1980s and 1990s as a mechanism to generate jobs in the lower classes.
In the company’s website (left and right images) the factory located at the Dominican-Haitian border is presented as their most attractive set of facilities, providing details of their spatial configuration that allows for it to benefit from the accessibility to labour force from both countries.
Ouanaminthe in Haiti (left) and Dajabón in the Dominican Republic (right) are the most developed cities along the border. They are separated by the shallow waters of the Massacre River. The factory is located north of the towns, literally placed in between the two countries parts of it are on Dominican territory and the rest on Haiti. One of its entrances is placed along the highway that leads to the town of Dajabón and another one connects with a bridge that directly links the factory with Ouanaminthe, allowing Haitian workers to enter without having to pass through the Dominican Republic and the same occurs with the Dominican ones.
When the factory was rumored to be built in Ouanaminthe a committee to defend the productive land emerged in Port au Prince.
The lands where the facilities were located are some of the most fertile in Haiti. Fertile land is scarce in the country. These lands are cultivated by small farmers who actually pay the big land owners for the right to use them. The land owners are generally based in Port au prince. This distance was an important factor in the development of the conflict generated by the construction of the factory in the border between Ouanaminthe and Dajabón.
Though with different interests, the Catholic Church, the land owners and Arisitide’s and Neoliberal globalization opposition pressurized the project. These groups initially focused on defending the rights of the small farmers working the land in Ouanaminthe, who would be left without means of subsistance. The coalition of all these forces produced awareness of the conflict in the international community and motivated the funding and mediation of the World Bank who provided US $20,000,000 with the condition that the textile company (Grupo M) generated 15,000 jobs for Haitians and Dominican workers.
Sunday meeting SOKOWA Syndicate Ouanaminthe
When the issue of its construction was settled, the factory was built and with it SOKOWA workers union was formed. These workers were backed by other international and local organizations that incited the syndicate to demand their rights. Among these groups were: local Batay Ouvriye, the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the International Trade Union Confederation. Months later these unions actually moved to Ouanaminthe to increase the pressure on the factory igniting violent mobilizations in the town. In the face of the turbulence, the Dominican Army started guarding the factory. Being on Haitian soil, the intervention of the army transformed the situation into a sovereignty conflict. As the conflict escalated 33 syndicate leaders were fired from the factory. Some of the international clients of Grupo M: Hanes and Levi’s, intervened advocating and promoting the return of the fired workers in order to calm down the turmoil. Today CODEVI Free Trade Zone provides 1,400 jobs out of which 90% are held by Haitian workers. In 2005 the company installed a radio station, in 2006 a TV station. Levi’s promised to invest US$150,000 in the community providing micro-credit and an internet cafe.
Multinational companies intervene to mitigate the social complexities inherent in the forms of production implemented by themselves and their local associates. International Trade Union Confederation Batay Ouvriye
I n t e r n a t i o n a l Confederation of Free Trade Unions
A conflict between workers and employers obtained a national security character with the intervention of the Dominican Army. The presence of the factory on both countries reveals the contradictory relationships between space, politics and economic calculations.
5.1 Disconnected development
Very humid low mountain forest Subtropical rain forest Very humid subtropical forest Humid subtropical forest
Dry subtropical forest Thorny subtropical mount Lakes and lagoons
100-200 30-70 Inhabitants per sq km
Acute desertification Bare soil Moderate desertification Erosion/deforestation
Currently these layers of the border operate separately producing an unsustainable model of development where neither the natural environment nor the populations of the region befenit in the long run. The most fertile and ecologically diverse areas are the ones where human settlements have concentrated obviously benefiting from the natural resources found in them. The Haitian side of the border is much more densely populated and its capital, Port au Prince, has a direct incidence on it due to its closeness. Simultaneously this occupation has generated modes of production and resource consumption that have damaged the ecological balace of the border.
PORT AU PRINCE SANTO DOMINGO
VELLADERE ELIAS PIÑA
MAL PASSE JIMANI ANSE PITRE PEDERNALES
5.2 Flow without accumulation
The border region is contained within the two forms of administrative governance: the department in Haiti and the province in the Dominican Republic. 5 out of 9 of Haiti’s departments contain portions of the border. In the case of the Dominican Republic 5 out of its 35 provinces are placed in the region. This inmediately portrays how the border impacts the overall political organization of each: in Haiti it directly affects more than half of its territory when in Dominican Republic it represents a very consice linear region that is administratively contained.
This has determined its development in the form of commercial corridors that have emerged on the points of intersection with the highways to the main cities of both countries.
Either under legitimate or illegitimate circumstances, these highways enable the transit of goods and people, generating a constant flow that is not backed by a proper civic and institutional structure.
The integration of modes of production such as agriculture within the urban environment not only provides local forms of self sufficient economies but also represents a form of civic and social integration. The implementation of urban organic and hydroponic fams is a model used succesfully in Cuba in what is now called the “organic revolution”. This form of agricultural practice was also part of various 1930s and 1940s masterplans for Santo Domingo where residential blocks contained internal plots of land for the purpose of farming.
Velladere Elias Piña Mal Passe Por Au Prince
5.3 The city as a strategy
Jimaní Anse Pitre Pedernales Barahona
Cities concentrate, administer, organize and provide the framework for the exchange of resources. Though more densely urbanized on the Haitian side and to a lesser extent on the Dominican side, the region lacks investment in civic infrastructure and institutional representation. The economic dynamics of the region and its degraded resources need to be administered in order to function in an environmentally and politically integrated way. The older towns of the Dominican Republic at the border count with basic infrastructure and a sense of urban form mostly inherited from Trujillo’s efforts to develop the region. In Haiti, the border cities have in fact grown (some exponentially) in an informal way especially after the reopening of the border commerce in the 1990s. The densification and reinforcement of the cities along the border is a crucial and necessary step in the course of its development.
“From the morphological and spatial point of view the urban nature of the bordering Haitian cities can only be apprehended in relation to the Dominican ones. It can be asserted that the first —at least a significant part of them— operate, in many ways, as marginal sui generis barrios (districts) of the second (…) Haitians tend to behave in relation to the Dominican city following a system of quotidian urban displacement similar to the one a favela inhabitant has to a centralmiddle-class district of his city…”. (Dilla, 2008, p.186)
The consolidation of the border’s rivers, forests and open spaces into public accessible spaces would guarantee their preservation. They typically are the geographical elements used to define the frontier region as such, therefore are the spaces where a lot of the movement and activity take place. Cities as a political organisms provide the administrative basis for natural resources to be accessed under regulation. The consolidation of the border cities would also reinforce the already existing cultural, educational and health related cooperation between the two sides. While the Dominican Republic’s investment in the border cities should focus in the industrial and financial development of the region: like the placement of companies, the creation of jobs, incentives for agricultural and cattle production; Haiti’s involvement should initially focus on institutional presence and in the provision of basic services such as education, health and infrastructure in order to balance the pressures that currently fall on the Dominican counter part.
The accessibility to the diverse ecoregions at the border can be developed into ecological parks for the purpose of local and international visitors. The regulation of its use protects it from illegal forest cutting and other forms of environmental destruction. The parks produce jobs and involve the communities.
A regional strategy like this one can only be possible with the investment in a civic structure that would ensure its implementation. The cities at the border are spatial political tools that can push the region and the two countries forward not only by managing the richness of its resources and the wealth that goes through it, but by retaining and investing in the region itself. The strategy of the city provides it with the economic and political self sufficience for it not to be only traded by external forces anymore.
5.4 The border as a strategy
1. The areas of Montecristi and Cap Haitien in the north coast of the region offer the natural beauty and geographic conditions to work as an integrated eco-touristism destiny. 2. The south coast of the border, containing the Caribbean sea waters and the impressive Sierra de Neiba in Dominican Republic that becomes the Trou d’Eau in Haiti combined form an incredible region that, along its various landscapes, can be developed as a trecking and water related touristic region. 3-4. The extension of the conservation areas that contain the Enriquillo Lake, parts of the Sierra de Neiba and the Sierra de Bahoruco (3), as well as the conservation are containing the mountains of the Cordillera Central that becomes the Massif du Nord (4), to Haiti is a necessary action. Even in the areas that are inhabited, the conservation of these lands and their ecological regeneration has to be a priority given the fact that these are some of the most bio diverse and unique. The erosion caused by deforestation puts the lower areas in risk of landslides and floods during intense rain season. Re-planting regional trees such as oak and mahogany in the southern conservation areas and the Baitoa tree on the north ones for instance, would revitalize the fauna and rain cycles. 5-6. The valleys are the most fertile and productive areas of the border. This has led to their deterioration reaching degrees of desertification caused by land modification such as overgrazing and unsustainable farming. Soil restoration in these lands can be achieved without loosing their productive potential by growing leguminous plants, which extracts nitrogen from the air and fixes it in the soil, this they restore fertility. Stones stacked around the base of trees collect morning dew and help retain soil moisture. Artificial grooves can be dug in the ground to retain rainfall and trap windblown seeds.
Barinas, Marcos. Santo Domingo y El Dilema De La Mirada Insular, article in Cielo Naranja online magazine, www.cielonaranja.com as seen the 08-08-08 Bryant, Elizabeth (08-07-1996) Haiti: Environmental Degradation Deepens, article for Earth Times News Service, online magazine, http://www.hartford-hwp.com as seen the 20-08-08 Casanova, Luis. Tolerancia con el Creole, article published in Diario Digital RD, online newspaper, http://www.diariodigital. com.do as seen the 04-08-08 Dilla, Alfonso Haroldo (2008), Los Complejos Urbanos Transfronterizos en la Frontera Dominico-Haitiana an essay within Ciudades en la Frontera, Aproximaciones Críticas a los Complejos Urbanos Transfronterizos edited by Alfonso Haroldo Dilla, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Editora Manatí Forrest, Dave. The Dominican Dictator: Rafael Trujillo, James Logan High School, online essay, http://www.jlhs.nhusd. k12.ca.us/ , as seen on the 29-05-08 Garcia, Obdulia (2002) Atlas Historico de la Republica Dominicana, Editorial Santillana, Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Garcia, Obdulia (2002) Atlas de la Republica Dominicana y el Mundo, Editorial Santillana, Santo Domingo Dominican Republic
Glissant, Edouard (1997) Poetics of Relation, Michigan, University of Michigan Press Heron, T. (2004), The New Political Economy of United States-Caribbean Relations: The Apparel Industry and the Politics of NAFTA Parity, Ashgate, Hampshire, United Kingdom Irobi, Esiaba. The Philosophy of the Sea: History, Economics and Reason in the Caribbean Basin. John Hope Franklin Centre, Duke University, online essays, http://www.jhfc. duke.edu/ as seen the 09-08-08 Mouffe, Chantal (2001) Every Form of Art Has a Political Dimension, Chantal Mouffe interviewed by Rosalyn Deutsche, Branden W. Joseph, and Thomas Keenan, within Grey Room 02, Grey Room, Inc. and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Mouffe, Chantal (2000), The Democratic Paradox, London, Verso Neilson, Brett; Mitropoulos, Angela (2007) Exceptional Times, Nongovermental Spacings, and Impolitical Movements an essay within Nongovernmental Politics edited by Michel Feher, New York, Zone Books Paez Piantini, William (2007), Relaciones Dominico-Haitianas: 300 Años de Historia, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Traub-Werner, Mrion (2008) La Globalización, el Libre Comercio y la Frontera Dominico-Haitiana an essay within Ciudades en la Frontera, Aproximaciones Críticas a los Complejos Urbanos Transfronterizos edited by Alfonso Haroldo Dilla, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Editora Manatí Wooding, Bridget ; Moseley, Richard (2004) Inmigrantes Haitianos y Dominicanos de Ascendencia Haitiana en la Republica Dominicana, published by Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarrollo (CID) and Servicio Jesuita a Refugiados y Migrantes (SJR) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Official Website of NASA, http://www.nasa.gov, 22-07-08 Official Website of the Dominican Republic Army, http:// www.ejercito.rd.mil.do 19-04-08 Official Website of the Mission des Nations Unies pour la Stabilisation en Haïti (MINUSTAH) http://www.minustah.org 19-04-08 Official Website of Online Edition of the New York Times, http://www.nytimes. com/
Goldsmiths Insitute Student Resources. Ba stylesheet for citations in Harvard (name/date) style.
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