Associated Press reports on the people who smuggle goods across the 227-mile-long border between the Domincan Republic into Haiti.
Factoid: The Dominican Republic estimates that the country's "14 border markets host more than 50,000 vendors and says Haiti's
informal merchants earn about $165 million a year reselling the goods
back home. That's in addition to the country's $1.1 billion in formal
exports to Haiti."
History: "The Dominican government opened the markets in the early 1990s, when a
military regime ruled Haiti and the U.N. imposed an embargo. The markets
have since bustled because Haiti's ports are notoriously expensive and
rife with red tape and poor infrastructure."
In June, Haiti banned imports of Dominican poultry and eggs, claiming it was defending the country against avian flu. In response, the Dominican Republic closed its border markets for a day.
Perhaps in pursuit of tax revenue, Haiti's government has been trying to crack down on the smuggling, pushing to cut tax-free border trade to just one day a week. This has led to charges that the government of Michel Martelly is soaking the poor while subsidizing the rich, particularly by giving tax breaks to hotel owners so they can
build lodging and attract tourists.
As Mario Joseph, a lawyer whose clients have been critical of the Martelly government, told the AP, "The only people paying taxes are the street merchants. The big shots aren't paying."