DAJABON, Dominican Republic – Many Haitians are looking for all possible ways to enter the neighboring Dominican Republic in the wake of Haiti’s heightened social and political crises, authorities and human rights activists said.
The Dominican army said it had recently deployed dozens of soldiers to strengthen border security and that the troops stopped 13,300 undocumented Haitians in barely a week.
Representatives of religious and human rights organizations said that people who traffic in Haitians are swindling their own compatriots.
“They charge a lot of money and promise that once they emigrate clandestinely to the Dominican Republic, they are guaranteed the facilities to travel to the United States through Puerto Rico,” Haitian Catholic activist Jensen Baptiste told media outlets on this side of the border.
From his side, human-rights activist in northeastern Haiti, Jeansen Roulet, repeated Thursday his call to Haitian and Dominican authorities to launch joint operations against people traffickers.
Roulet said there are families that have sold their small properties to emigrate to the Dominican Republic because the “poteas,” as people traffickers are known in Haiti, make it all sound so beautiful but then, too late, emigrants see the ugly truth.
Meanwhile, four days ago here in Dajabon, immigration inspectors seized dozens of passports with Dominican visas along with birth certificates and new Dominican ID cards, all of them forgeries, from Haitians trying to enter the country with those documents.
Haitians caught with the forged documents said in their own defense that they were bilked by mafias operating in their country that offered to take care of getting them the documents – which turned out to be false.
The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, with Haiti in the western portion.
Though both countries are poor, Haiti is destitute, and Haitians cross the border to do work that many Dominicans will not do, such as harvesting sugarcane.