“In a global economy, borders have become myths,” says Haitian sociologist Paul Joseph Baptise.
José Ricardo Taveras, Director of the Dominican Immigration, calls free movement between the countries “absurd” because of the countries’ economic and social “imbalances:” the DR with a GDP of US $54 billion, Haiti with $6.8 billion; the DR with 14% unemployment, Haiti with 70%.
The real absurdities begin with the funding and training of the Dominican border patrol by the U.S., according a Mother Jones report; a patrol that is used not only to prevent illegal immigrants who would “imbalance” the demand on social services, but also to garnish DR tax coffers by undermining the ability of poor Haitians to trade in accordance with binational agreements.
Called the CESFRONT (Specialized Border Security Corps, the US-backed patrol grew out of the U.S. Global War on Terror launched after 9/11, the report says. A document from the Columbia School of Law and Solidaridad Fronteriza, a Dominican immigrant solidarity organization, shows US military trained the patrol in “professionalism.”
“The Dominican Republic’s CESFRONT ,,, did not exist before 2006. That year, according to Dominican Today, a group of “US experts” reported that there were “a series of weaknesses that will lead to all kinds of illicit activities” on the Haitian-Dominican border,” writes Mother Jones. “A Dominican presidential decree created the country’s border patrol a month later.
Taveras’s numbers are also misleading as far as unemployment between the two countries. Haiti’s informal sector is practically an institutionalized form of employment, supporting most of the population, albeit not very well. Pedernales residents are hugely un- and underemployed, leaving many as poor as their Ansapit neighbors.
While U.S. tinkering in the militarization of the DR benefits U.S. arms and equipment sales, the patrol is ensuring the one-way flow of Dominican products into Haiti to maintain its higher GDP. In the Pedernales border market, DR guards police the products at the border gates and in the market itself.
Dozens of market vendors I spoke with repeated one woman’s refrain:
“The things that you could sell to make money, you can’t come through with it. I can’t sell rice, I can’t sell garlic, I can’t come with magi. The Dominicans don’t want us to come through with those things. If we do, they come up and take everything we have. I’m going through hell. I don’t even sell enough to eat or buy juice to drink.”
The women buy DR products with DR pesos, pay DR taxes on them, and resell them — mostly in Haiti.