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Gogotă Mădălina-Elena, grupa 1011, anul I

Facultatea de Cibernetică, Statistică şi Informatică Economică


The Economist, May 14th 2016

The Dominican Republic and Haiti: one


island, two nations, lots of trouble
MAX, a young Haitian, lives in Pequeño Haití in Santo Domingo but does not feel
welcome there. “Dominicans want all this island for themselves,” he says, referring to
Hispaniola, which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. He pulls down his shorts to
display scars on his legs, inflicted by a machete-wielding Dominican in an argument over
payment of a debt. A barber a few streets away offers a Dominican point of view of Haitians:
they are “dirty and do not like to bathe”.

Despite their shared possession of Hispaniola a chasm separates Haiti and the Dominican
Republic. Each country is home to roughly 10m people, but the Dominican Republic’s GDP is
nearly ten times that of Haiti (see chart). The gap in measures of health and education is similarly
large. The Dominican Republic’s general election on May 15th will underscore another contrast:
the disputed outcome of the first round of Haiti’s presidential election last October has left the
country without a proper government for months.

This divergence in fortunes has many causes, starting with geography. The Dominican
Republic is the greener, rainier side of the island and has better farmland. France, Haiti’s colonial
overlord, imported vast numbers of slaves to work the sugar-cane fields. Spanish rule of Santo
Domingo, as it was known, was less brutal, in part because Spain had more lucrative possessions
in other parts of Latin America to exploit. When Haiti gained independence in 1804 it was an
overpopulated plantation economy. The Dominican Republic started out as a society of small
farmers. It has retained closer ties with its former Spanish masters than Haiti has with France.

The neighbours have fought for centuries. Independence Day in the Dominican Republic
commemorates the end of 22 years of Haitian occupation in 1844. Haitians still grieve over the
Parsley massacre on the border in 1937, triggered by Dominican complaints of cattle rustling and
theft. Nowadays the main tension is over the treatment of Haitians in the Dominican Republic. In
2013 the republic’s constitutional court issued a ruling that stripped citizenship from some
200,000 people of Haitian descent because their parents had come to the country illegally. Some
17,000 were deported between July of 2015 and March this year, though expulsions have slowed
recently.

In 1960 the two countries were equally impoverished. The Dominican Republic pulled
ahead in part because it was luckier in its dictators. Rafael Trujillo, who ruled for 31 years until
1961, was a brute but at least encouraged the development of industry. What came after was a
sham democracy, backed by the United States, but it did allow for the development of political
parties. The Duvalier dynasty, which governed Haiti from 1957 to 1986, stifled enterprise, in part
because it mistrusted mulattos, who dominated business.

The post-Trujillo Dominican Republic has acquired a reputation as a Caribbean


powerhouse. Its economy is the largest in the region; its growth rate of 7% in the past two years
has been the fastest in the Americas. “Tourism is looking bright; remittances are quite robust;
Gogotă Mădălina-Elena, grupa 1011, anul I
Facultatea de Cibernetică, Statistică şi Informatică Economică
The Economist, May 14th 2016

foreign investment is through the roof,” says Franco Uccelli, JPMorgan’s chief economist for the
country.

The Dominican edge in tourism comes partly from the country’s forests, which cover
more than 40% of the country (against less than 4% in Haiti). It takes in double the amount in
remittances, in part because its diaspora is larger and located mainly in the United States and
Spain. A big chunk of expat Haitians are in the Dominican Republic.

Not all Dominicans are sharing in the good fortune. The sectors that employ the most
people, such as farming and retailing, are not doing as well as less labour-intensive activities,
such as mining, finance and telecoms, points out the Inter-American Development Bank. The
poverty rate has fallen more slowly than GDP has risen.

But Dominicans are feeling prosperous enough to make the re-election of the president,
Danilo Medina, a near certainty. His Dominican Liberation Party has been in power for 12 years,
but he has governed only for four. Polls suggest he will win 60% of the vote in the first round.
He has been helped by the weakness of the opposition Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM),
which split off from a party that is now aligned with Mr Medina. His moustachioed visage smiles
down from countless posters; Luis Abinader, the PRM’s candidate, is nearly invisible.

Across the muddy border, most Haitians would gladly swap their problems for those
afflicting the Dominican Republic. The growth rate in Haiti is a miserable 1.2% and inflation is
in double digits. Reconstruction after a devastating earthquake in 2010 is proceeding slowly.

Improvement will not come until Haiti has a fully functioning government. Three
attempts to hold the second round of presidential elections to choose a successor to Michel
Martelly (who was a professional musician known as “Sweet Micky” before he was president)
have been postponed. Jocelerme Privert, a former president of the senate who now leads a
transitional government, says he has one mission: to restore constitutional stability by overseeing
the election of a new leader as quickly as possible. “Having a provisional president is seen as a
malaise by the international community,” he says.

A five-man “verification commission” appointed by Mr Privert is to report by the end of


May on the conduct of the first round, which was denounced as farcical by the candidate who
came second, Jude Célestin. The commission will recommend whether to rerun the first round or
to hold a runoff between Mr Célestin and Jovenel Moïse, who is Mr Martelly’s protégé.

Some observers view the commission as an obstacle to resuming normal politics. John
Kerry, the American secretary of state, demanded in an interview that an election should be held
forthwith. The international community’s patience had a “clear limit”, he said. Many Haitians are
less impatient. They want an election whose results will command broad acceptance more than
they want a quick one. Under Mr Privert’s administration the streets are calm. A freer, fairer
election is in prospect. That will not transform Haiti into the Dominican Republic, but it will be
progress.
Gogotă Mădălina-Elena, grupa 1011, anul I
Facultatea de Cibernetică, Statistică şi Informatică Economică
The Economist, May 14th 2016

I chose this article because I believe that this issue of The Dominican Republic and Haiti
seems to be a real and serious problem nowadays. One is about to hold elections. The other has
not had a proper government for months. The differences go deeper than that.

It is a known the fact that the two countries share the same island and the Haitians said
that the Dominicans feel in control of the island and vice versa, the Dominicans said that the
Haitians do not like to care and they are smelly. There are great differences between the two
countries even if only a chasm separates them. The Dominican Republic’s GDP is nearly ten
times that of Haiti, the level of education and health are more developed and Haiti has been in
government abandon several months.

The divergence between states dating before 1804 when Haiti has gained independence.
Haiti imported vast numbers of slaves to work on the Dominican’s farmland. In the last years,
the republic’s constitutional court issued a ruling that stripped citizenship from some 217,000
people of Haiti. Politically, they are very different too. Rafael Trujillo, who ruled for 31 years
until 1961, was very severe, but developed The Dominican Republic in the industries.

The Dominicans say that tourism is flourishing and that many foreign investors want to
spend their money on the beauty of the country. The Dominican edge in tourism comes partly
from the country’s forests, which cover more than 40% of the country while in Haiti forest
covers only 4%. A good part of the population of The Dominican Republic are in Spain or
United States and a big chunk of expat Haitians are in the Dominican Republic.

The poverty rate has fallen more slowly than GDP has risen and that meens that not all
Dominicans are rich people. The sectors that employ the most people, such as farming and
retailing, are not doing so well. Those who work in finance, telecoms have a better financial
situation.

Reconstruction after a devastating earthquake in 2010 is proceeding slowly and the


growth rate in Haiti was 1.2%. Until Haiti has not had a president, the country did not work very
well. They want an election whose results will command broad acceptance more than they want
a quick one. In fact the two countries merely coexist on this small island, conflict arises almost
everyday between the two governments. These cultural differences may be at the root of the
long-standing Haitian-Dominican conflict culminating in the murder of more than 25,000
Haitians in1937 by the Dominican dictator, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molinas.

In conclusion, the two countries are different in every aspect and maybe all the problems
will disappear soon.

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