Violent protests disrupted the Dominican-Haitian border recently after authorities destroyed fruits and vegetables they were growing on protected land. This border area conflict is just the latest in a string of incidents that has heightened tension on the island of Hispaniola.
Haitians burned tires and blocked the roads that connect Dajabon province of the DR with the southwestern part of Haiti. Ana Carrasco, the Environment Ministry’s top official in Dajabon told the local press that this is the fourth time the Haitians have been removed from the area, and pointed out that many Haitians have occupied land in the country to grow crops, "destroying woodlands indiscriminately."
But Timon Claude Salcime, a spokesman for the Haitian demonstrators, said that the farmers have no land to till and for that reason alone have been forced to cross into Dominican territory, where they occupied "abandoned" terrain to grow crops so they can make a living. Carrasco countered this statement, pointing out that the land being tilled by the Haitian protesters is environmentally protected, not abandoned.
Dominican officials estimate that 1 million Haitians live in their country, most illegally, and working in agriculture and construction. Though both Haiti and the Dominican Republic are among the poorest countries in the Americas, Haiti is destitute and citizens stream across the border to the DR looking for more opportunities and a better life.