Imagine yourself as a businessperson on a trip to the island of Hispaniola to check on how production is faring. You land in Santo Domingo to transfer to a short commuter flight to Port-au-Prince. During the flight, you gaze outside your window to admire the breathtaking view of the Sierra de Baoruco, with its luscious forests. As the plane approaches the Haiti-Dominican Republic border, you notice that the land has been completely denuded of trees directly on the other side of the border, creating a clear demarcation between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
This physical border is only one indication of the clear contrast between the two countries that share Hispaniola. According to the CIA World Factbook, in 2002 the Dominican Republic had a per capita GDP of $6,100, with 55% of the work force in the service sector and 25% of the population below the poverty line, while in Haiti, the per capita GDP was only $1,700, with 66% of the work force in the agricultural sector and 80% of the population below the poverty line. Likewise, the Dominican economy expanded by 4.2%, while the Haitian economy shrank by 1.5%. Historical differences in the political nature of both countries determined the diverging courses which each had taken, especially considering the dictatorships of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic and the Duvalier family in Haiti. Structures of government, corruption within these structures, and economic decisions paved these two paths.
Dominican Façade: “Men behind the curtain”
Political structures in the Dominican Republic and Haiti have been closely related through their interconnected histories and dictatorships, though the...
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Moya Pons, Frank. The Dominican Republic: a National History. New Rochelle, NY:
Hispaniola Books, 1995.
Rotberg, Robert. "Haiti's Past Mortgages Its Future." Foreign Affairs 67.1 (Fall 1988):
Skidmore, Thomas, and Peter Smith. Modern Latin America. 5th edition. New York:
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Weinstein, Brian and Aaron Segal. Haiti: Political Failures, Cultural Successes. New York:
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