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Tags: dominican republic | haiti | border | corruption

Dominican-Haitian Border Rife With Drugs, Human Trafficking, Corruption

Dominican-Haitian Border Rife With Drugs, Human Trafficking, Corruption
Dominican soldiers control access at the Haitian-Dominican border in Malpasse on October 27, 2015. (Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 07 August 2018 11:17 AM EDT

The Dominican Republic (DR) and Haiti share the Island of Hispaniola, an island divided by a 236-mile border protected by 36 checkpoints and over 5,400 soldiers on the Dominican side. Citizens of these vastly dissimilar nations generally cross the border legally and illegally for business, employment, medical, trading, and academic purposes, as well as for illegal activity.

The Dominican Government blames illegal immigration from Haiti on Haiti’s weak governance and battered economy. In reality, the Dominican-Haitian border has become intractable due to a myriad of factors: the demand of cheap labor from the Dominican public and private sector; drug smuggling; human trafficking; lack of political will; the faulty, immethodical role of the International Community; and, amongst other factors, the inability of Dominican authorities to tackle corruption.

Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, it is therefore accurate to claim that Haiti has been unable to retain its human capital due to its critical economy — over 500,000 Haitians currently live in DR. Notwithstanding Haiti’s calamities, Santo Domingo should not hold Port-au-Prince responsible for an issue that it could handle domestically. Unlike Haiti, DR possesses sufficient governmental and economic stability to implement national security measures to protect its territory. However, corrupt Dominican government officials, unethical business tycoons, and criminal organizations do not want a secure border; a weak border is just too profitable.

Dominican government officials are closely linked to illegal activity along the border. In 2007 Andrés Boció, a Dominican consul in Haiti, was arrested for trafficking undocumented Haitians in his car. In 2016 National Progressive Force (FNP) council member Bolivar Matos was caught trafficking 1,026 kilos of cocaine in Barahona province. In 2017, Mayor of Las Yayas city Ramon Soto was arrested for transporting undocumented Haitians in an ambulance.

Dominican senator Felix Bautista was recently sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury under the Global Magnitsky Act, for engaging in severe corrupt acts during the reconstruction of post-earthquake Haiti. Bautista's net worth is over $500 million; however, his net worth was $400,000 in 2010 when he first became senator. Bautista is unable to justify his wealth and has evaded prison time due to his political influence.

Further, organized crime is firmly established at the Dominican-Haitian border, because criminals on Dominican soil are generally associated with the government, the discredited criminal justice system, and law enforcement, to whom they pay juicy kickbacks.

Children are used as mules to carry drugs, and Haitian and Dominican women are willingly and unwillingly trafficked through the Border by pimps to work in prostitution. Contraband of garlic, appliances, timber, and traffic of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, machine guns, and semiautomatic weapons are business as usual at the Dominican-Haitian border, turning DR into a criminal’s haven and one of the largest illicit drug hubs in the Caribbean.

The corruption-stricken, crime-ridden narco-state the Dominican Republic has become benefits tremendously from illegal immigration from Haiti. Construction, tourism, farming, and agricultural employers artfully employ undocumented Haitians to flout paying health insurance, taxes, pension plans, paid time off, and workers compensation. Preying on their undocumented-immigrant status, employers negotiate salaries at half of the amount they'd normally pay a legal resident.

Dominican President Danilo Medina Sánchez is aware of these issues, but has other issues occupying his agenda, e.g., the ODEBRECHT corruption scandal, to which his presidential terms (2012-2016, 2016-present) have been linked by confessed criminals Rodrigo Tacla, Fernando Migliaccio, Gilberto Silva, and Marcos Vasconcelos Cruz, key members of ODEBRECHT corruption scheme. Medina’s presidential terms have been extremely profitable for the ODEBRECHT conglomerate. Punta Catalina power plant, for example, was allegedly overvalued by ODEBRECHT and Medina’s government by over $1 billion, with the lobbying of former Brazilian president Lula da Silva and Ángel Rondón, essentially to funnel money to Medina's 2016 presidential campaign and for ODEBRECHT to make an enlarged, illicit profit.

Corruption completely dominates DR’s political sphere and governmental structure, giving rise to illegal activity. In its 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index, Transparency International ranked the Dominican Republic 135 out of 180 countries, in which country 1 is the least corrupt and country 180 is the most corrupt. In short, unscrupulous employers, untouchable criminal organizations, a corroded criminal justice system, and rampant political corruption and ineptitude represent the root of the chaos in the Dominican-Haitian border.

Given the high levels of corruption within the state, Dominican civil society must organize peaceful, massive demonstrations to demand serious political reforms from the government. This is the only domestic, civilized way to tackle the sea of corruption that drowns this poverty-stricken nation.

Ramon Collado holds a graduate degree from New York University's Center for Global Affairs. Collado has contributed to Forbes, The Hill, The Jerusalem Post, The Miami Herald, El Día, and other major news sources. To read more of this reports — Click Here Now.

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The Dominican Republic (DR) and Haiti share the Island of Hispaniola, an island divided by a 236-mile border protected by 36 checkpoints and over 5,400 soldiers on the Dominican side.
dominican republic, haiti, border, corruption
Tuesday, 07 August 2018 11:17 AM
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