Doing Business in the Haiti-Dominican Border - A True Story

I wanted to get a better understanding of how money is made along the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, so took a trip to a border town in Plateau Central Haiti. All I can tell you is there is a web of people surviving on this type of trade, I met a few...

My friend and I, we arrived in Boc Banic, we couldn't cross the first river (losyann), not by car. It was flooded. so I parked my car along the side of the river and decided to cross on foot.

I pulled up my pants as high as I could and went for it... Luckily, I crossed with no problem.

After crossing, we got on a big truck that was already across the river in order to continue our journey to the second river (Latibonit). The driver tried and tried but he just couldn't get the truck up the steep hill on the other side of losyann. so he back into the river and they decided to load rocks, yes rocks, onto the empty truck to give it more weight so they can make it up the hill.

If you see that hill, you will understand by the trucks (camyon bwat) coming from the country side of Haiti look so horrible. They've been redesigned to go through hell...

My friend and I, we decided to continue on foot. after a while walking and jumping across mud holes on the treacherous road, asking myself a whole bunch of questions that starts with "How the hell..." we arrived at Latibonit... More bad news... That river was also flooded.

That's when my friend introduced me to the man who was going to get me across the river. I sat on a small man-made raft on top a tire tube praying to God I do not fall on the river.

"Atansyon... Atansyon..." I kept telling the man. Every time he tripped my ass got wet...

After crossing the river, I was now officially, in the Dominican Republic, a place called Hato Viejo... we went up a steep dirt hill and there they were... a whole bunch of warehouses lined up with product ready to cross the river into Haiti.

"How are we going to get this stuff across?" I asked the man.

"Well... Glad you ask," he replies, "I have to pay 10 to 15 gourdes PER BAG to get it across the river, via those rafts you just saw, on top of horses, or on people's head... Whatever gets wet or falls into the river, it is really my loss... Then, I have to pay someone to load it on a truck, then I have to pay the truck driver PER BAG to get it through customs to my business in Hinche... You may not believe this but the truck owner makes more money then me sometimes!"

To make a long story short... The Dominican Republic has all the infrastructure in place to drive truck loads of merchandise from their origin all the way to warehouses on the edge of the country, right next to the river that separates it from Haiti. However, on the Haitian side, the merchants have to risk their lives and the merchandise, to actually go through customs so our government can charge them a fee, so they can sell it and hope to make a profit.

Another merchant I met across the border told me that by the time they get through customs, they are some times operating at a loss because the expenses to get the merchandise across is too complicated and involves too many hands.

I completely agree that all Haitian merchants should pay customs on all merchandise they import to sell for a profit BUT... wouldn't it be better if there was an infrastructure (roads and bridges) in place to reduce the their expenses and the increase their profit margin?

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Phillip Manning says...

yes, I agree there should be better infrastructure for a better and freer profit...


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Regulus says...

the businessmen who have to bring their merchandise accross the Artibonite river to Haiti could get together in a partnership to build a two tracks bridge across the river.

One to Haiti and the other to DR. They would charge a fee to the truck drivers to use their bridge making money in the process while solving their problem of crossing the

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Sergo Buissereth says...

Wow! I'm speechless.

We must remember that we have so many priorities in our country it's so difficult to pick one. We just have to continue moving forward until we touch every Single

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Pat Dillon says...


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Tonton Michel says...

A solid and reliable infrastructure is crucial for a growing

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Rocheney Charles says...

Do Dominican need visa to go Haiti please tell

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