Frontier: The Dominican-Haitian Border Region              | Project Description |                                                                                                               | Download PDF |


This selection of images is a preliminary edit of the project up until this point. Some captions are included, while others are still being edited. The sequence roughly follows the itinerary and route along the border described in the accompanied text. For detailed information about the research refer to | Project Descripton | section.

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Javier Vargas, CESFRONT guard standing by border marking pillar number 1, Manzanillo, Dominican Republic. There are 311 pillars delineating the frontier.

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Haitian construction worker, Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic. The Dominican construction industry is heavily dependent on Haitian labor. Monte Cristi is at the northwest top of DR, a few miles from the frontier.

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Honey bee farm between Montecristi and Dajabon. Some areas of the northwest as well as the southwest of Dominican Republic are characterized by dry shrub-land and dry forests, with intense solar radiation and low precipitation, especially in low lands nearing the coast.

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Francisco during siesta, Laguna Saladilla, Dominican Republic. Francisco Castro is an environmental guard at Laguna Saladilla, an ecological protected area.

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Laguna Saladilla, an ecological protected area between Monte Cristi and Dajabon, Dominican Republic.

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Estero-Barsa, Manzanillo, Dominican Republic.

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Estero Barsa, an area of the Manzanillo bay has become a ship graveyard, frequented mainly by local fishermen and salvagers. The area is also surrounded by protected mangrove ecosystems.

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Radhames Abreu, works salvaging wrecked ships in Estero Barsa, Manzanillo - DR. He was born and raised in Manzanillo. In his words, “The town is dead; it cannot offer anything to its young people.” He reminiscences of how his mother left town to work and so he could study. He studied electro-mechanic engineering in the capital, Santo Domingo, but his mother died, struck by lighting, when he was still young.

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Conch or Lambi as it is known in the island is a typical seafood on both countries. Unfortunately, the indiscriminate harvest of it leaves little time for the seashells to grow.

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Manzanillo Bay. Once a very important production and export town during the 1940s and early ‘50s, today the town feels more like a forgotten and underdeveloped outpost at the edge of the frontier. The beach is visited mainly by local residents.

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Waste management is becoming an increasing environmental problem in growing communities in the area. Here just off the main road approaching Pepillo Salcedo, a country road has become a waste disposal site.

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The baseball field of Manzanillo. This became an important site for the growing sport in the Dominican Republic during the 1940’s, sponsored by the Grenada Fruit Company who created the town as a base of banana production and export operations. Employees of the company were sometimes recruited based on their abilities to play ball.

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Monsieur Du, a Haitian national ferries people and merchandise in a small rowboat across the Masacre river. The Masacre divides both countries at the northern end of the border.

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Friuddy Morales (Kelvin), a customs officer at the Dajabon/Ouanaminthe border gate celebrating his daughter’s birthday at the beach in Manzanillo.

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Manzanillo Bay. The beach is frequented by local residents. Tourists rarely visit this remote town.

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Raquel and Akemy, Sunset at Mansanillo Bay, DR. Raquel works at the Court of Justice Office in Dajabon and studies psychology. Her friend Akemy is assistant to the District Attorney of Dajabon. They frequent this beach often, on weekends. Mansanillo Bay is the closest beach to the neighboring province of Dajabon, but it is too far from most tourist hotspots in the he island.

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Carlito, a young Haitian man works in Los Arroyos, a farming area in the outskirts of Dajabon. He left his family and home in Port Au Prince to look for work in Dominican Republic.

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The border at Dajabon – DR, with Ouanaminthe – Haiti across the Masacre river.

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Dominos Game, Los Arroyos, Dajabon - DR.

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Wilson, a young Haitian man works in the Lombert family’s farm in Dajabon.

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Solar panels provide just enough electricity to help extract water from the ground for irrigation and drinking water for animals. Sustainable technology is propagating in remote areas where services are less dependable. However it is still a prohibiting investment for most people in the countryside. Other technologies like cellular and satellite TV have become more accessible on both sides of the border.

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Pachuco, a young Haitian man crossed the border looking for work. Now he lives in Los Arroyos, a farming community close to Dajabon - DR.

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Fausto Lombert, is a retired professor, historian, and author. His family is native from Dabajon, and as a teacher Mr. Lombert has taught generations of students in the area.

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Small country house in the outskirts of Dajabon, DR.

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Sunday afternoon at the Lombert family’s farm, Los Arroyos, Dajabon - DR.

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Fishing dinner. A small man-made pond to provide farm animals with water, especially during draught, has become a habitat fish and turtles.

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Open gates at the Dajabon and Ouanaminthe border checkpoint. The frontier is opened at 8am for the free passage of Haitians and Dominicans during Binational Market days. Hundreds of Haitians cross the border to sell and buy, and join Dominicans in the Binational Market typically set up on the Dominican side.

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Dajabon/Ouanaminthe border. The border is an extremely porous line. In some of the most secured areas, crossing to the other side could be as easily as jumping over a home fence.

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Haitians crossing the Dajabon/Ouanaminthe border on their way to the binational market on the Dominican side. The market opens early in the morning on Mondays and Fridays and Haitians and Dominicans can freely cross the border without the need of documentation.

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Binational Market at Dajabon, DR. On Mondays and Fridays, Haitians from the adjacent town of Ouanaminthe join Dominicans under these facilities and its surroundings for the free market of goods.

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Niurka and Jokasta (inside), two Dominican nationals run a small business in the binational market selling prepared food, cooked in the premises. Their clients are both Haitians and Dominicans who come to spend the day in the market. When asked about Haitian/Dominican interrelations Niurka (inside left) explaines, “There are no problems here, we all lookout for each other. The products and vegetables I use to prepare food, I buy directly form my Haitian neighbor right here. We all depend on each other.”

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The Police Station at Ouanaminthe. Haiti does not have an army, and the police force is limited, about 12,000 for the entire country. With a population of over 120,000 in Ouanaminthe, UN peacekeeping presence is normal.

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On the Road to Ouanaminthe, Haiti. People riding a tap-tap on the main road connecting the frontier with the town. Ouanaminthe is the largest town in the northeast of Haiti adjacent to the border. With a population of roughly 120,000, it has grown exponentially over the last decade in part to bilateral economic developments and trade with the mirroring Dominican town of Dajabón, which has a population of around 40,000.

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Bathing in the Masacre River. The river divides both countries at the northern end of the border. Here the neighboring towns of Dajabon (DR) and Ouanaminthe (Haiti) meet.

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Laundry at the Masacre River, Ouanaminthe, Haiti.

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Archetypal working class house, Dajabon, DR. This is a common housing design throughout the country, especially in older parts of towns and countryside. Build of concrete blocks half way and the rest of wood, with multiple wooden blinds on the side and zinc roofing. The interior is typically layout with two and sometimes three bedrooms on the left side from the front to the back, and on the right side starting with a small porch and entrance leading into a living room and dining area, followed by the kitchen and a back door. A bathroom may have been added to the main structure or is separate unit in the back of the house. In neighborhoods with similar housing, something the design would be reversed with bedrooms on the right so adjacent houses would have facing porches.

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Doña Maria, Dajabon, DR.

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Women sweeping the streets of Dajabon, DR. On Mondays and Fridays aside from the designated area for the binational market, the entire town is open and other markets areas are set up through out the town. Local women are employed by the town to clean up the streets at the end of the day when border gates start to close.

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One of several housing designs used during the Dominicanization of the Frontier. The Dominicanization of the Frontier was a controversial government development program during the 1930s and 40s to define the border region by populating the area (with people from other parts of the country and foreigners of lighter complexion), building towns (such as Dajabon, Elias Piña and Jimani), implementing agricultural reform as well as other cultural and geographical messures.

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Local Political Candidates, Dajabon, Dominican Republic. This street pole covered with political posters, might offer an interesting physiognomic representation of the population in the area, which is composed of a mixture of Mulattos, Caucasians, Blacks, including people of Japanese, Chinese, middle-eastern, and Jewish backgrounds.

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Laguna de Sabana Larga. This lagoon located in the vicinity of Esperon and Chaquey, outside of Dajabon, has lost over 20 feet of water. Severe draught during the past two years has greatly affected water supply in the island.

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Juan Martines sweeping his yard. Mr. Martines came back to retire in his hometown Loma de Cabrera after more than 30 years of living in New York and Pennsylvania. Most of his children live abroad.

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Odanisa and Jose with two of their five children. Odanisa is Haitian from the small town of Ti Louri adjacent to the border, and Jose is Dominican. They live in the marginalized neighborhood Barrio 15 in Loma de Cabrera.

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Santiago Diaz Cruz, the first mayor of the Capotillo, a small town near the border with Haiti and close to the larger town Loma de Cabrera. Mr. Diaz is also a farmer and owns a small supply store by the park in the middle of town. Just across the border there is another small town with a similar name, Capotille. However, there is no legal path between the two at this point of the border.

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Felito Diaz, brother of Santiago -the ex-major of town, Capotillo, DR. Felito’s life has been tied to the land like most in the area. But like many looking for an easier more profitable occupation, he has left farming and now works riding a motorcycle-taxi, locally known as “motoconcho”.

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Haitian patients at a primary care center in Capotillo, DR. Dominican clinics and primary care centers along the border dedicate Wednesdays to consultation and visits of Haitian patients who come from nearby towns across the border. Emergencies are treated everyday.

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Government pharmacy at a primary care center in Capotillo, DR.

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The Capotillo Monument, in commemoration of the War of Restoration (Guerra de la Restauracion) when the Dominican Republic regained its independence from Spain in 1863-65.

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Desk duty at the military post at Restauracion, DR. Everyone intending to travel along the Carretera Internacional (International Road) must request a permit issued by the military before accessing the road. This permit must be shown again as one exits the road. The Carretera International becomes literally a 60km borderline between both countries.

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Founding Fathers, notes, and two-way radio, military check-point at Restauracion, DR.

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The Church of Villa Anacaona, Restauracion - DR.

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Ti Louri, Haiti. At the begining of the Carretera Internacional (International Road) looking from the Dominican side of the road towards Haiti. A small commune at the beginning of the Carretera Internacional (International Road) looking from the Dominican side of the road towards Haiti. The Carretera International is a roughly 60km road that becomes the actual border between the two countries. It starts with the neighboring towns Villa Anacaona (DR) and Ti Louri (Haiti), and ends in Pedro Santana (DR). Traveling from north to south, the right side of the road is Haiti and the left side is Dominican territory. The road is in very bad conditions and this relatively short stretch could easily take five to six hours to drive. The area is largely populated along the Haitian side, but only a few small military posts are found along the Dominican side.

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Children from the nearby hamlets along the Carretera Internacional (International Road) run down the hills when they hear vehicles approaching on the desolate road.

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Emilia, sitting on the Haitian side of Carretera Internacional (the International Road). Emilia lives nearby the road/border, and is the mother of five.

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Martines, the only guard on duty at the military post La Palmita.

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La Palmita, a military post in the municipality of Pedro Santana - DR, along the Carretera Internacional (International Road), which delimits the border with Haiti.

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Land being cleared for cultivation right at the Haitian edge of the Carretera Internacional (International Road).

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The lack of Dominican population leaves the area open to Haitian incursions that continue to clear land across the border for cultivation and the production of charcoal. As explained by some of the locals, once in while the Dominican military comes around to remove them, which basically means having them cross the road back to Haiti.

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The Libon River, in Dominican Republic runs along the border and is a tributary of the Artibonito River, which crosses into Haiti becoming its largest river.

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Parish Notre Dame De Lourdes De Belladere, Haiti.

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View from an abandoned mall in the center of town. Belladere, with a population of about 79,000 is the largest town in the mid-east of Haiti near the border. Belladere is a population magnet for the surrounding communities due in part to commercial ties and closeness to the Dominican town Elias Piña. Unfortunately, the town's infrastructure is not being developed at the same pace of growth, and once grand landmarks and municipal buildings are now in decay. Recently, a new road was built connecting the capital Port Au Prince with Belladere (cutting traveling time to just a few hours), and ending right at the border.

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Cellphone cards seller, Belladere, Haiti.

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Mariette, was born in a rural area near Las Caobas in Haiti. She's lived in Belladere for over 30 years.

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Customs facilities at the border of Elias Piña. Across de border in Haiti is the town of Belladere.

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Rafael Emigdio Caamaño Castillo (Chino), is well known and respected by everyone in Elias Piña as a teacher, activist, writer, and community leader. He was a pioneer of the land-reform movement of the 1960's and '70s. Chino is also a relative of General Francisco Caamaño leader of the Dominican civil war of 1965.

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Jean Martin and Yayael, painting murals in public spaces in Elias Piña. Jean is from Jackmel - Haiti, and Yayael is from Santo Doming. They are both artists and members of the organization "De Aqui Pa Ya" (roughly translated as “From Here To There” or “Back And Forth”) that promotes cultural understanding through community workshops and public art works.

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Mural depicting the Battle of Restoration (Guerra de la Restauracion) of 1863-65 against Spain, on the walls of a CESFRONT base, the Dominican military unit in charge of border security. Border checkpoint, Elias Piña, DR.

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Red Cross, Elias Piña, DR.

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Seva Viveque, selling garlic around Parque Central (Central Park) in Elias Piña, DR. She comes from the nearby town of Belladere across the border to sell garlic and other products many of which are imported as aid or tax exempt into Haiti. Garlic fetches a higher price in DR, but it is illegal to bring it across the border. However, small vendors, most of which are women, are not troubled by the authorities.

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La Zurza, a set of natural pools of sulfuric waters located in Duverge, close to Jimani and the border with Haiti. The pools are frequented by people from all over the region, and are believed to have healing properties.

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Gerva Meristil, is the Director of Ecole: Institution Mixte Martin Gray et Palais, a small school in Fond Parisienne that provides elementary education up to the 3rd grade. He hopes the school will grow along with the students, but with lack of resources and poor patrons maintaining the school open is difficult.

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Limestone Mine, Malpasse, Haiti. The country is rich in limestone, the main ingredient in the production of cement, a leading industry up until the early 2000s. Unfortunately, Haiti now lacks the infrastructure to produce cement having to import most of what it needs.

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Dr. Nene at his dental office in Fond Parisienne, Haiti. Dr. Nene comes once a week to this locale, on Wednesdays, to offer his services to those who cannot travel to Port Au Prince.

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Lake Enrriquillo, the largest salt water lake in the Caribbean, located between the provinces of Independencia and Bahoruco in DR, has been growing for the past decade submerging roads and pushing aside communities. Close by on the Haitian side, Lake Azuei has also been raising.

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Basketball Court, Baitoa - Independencia, DR.

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Deya and Claudia, bathing in a natural pool of spring water in the Jaragua National Park near Pedernales, DR. The pools are frequented mainly by locals specially young people from the area.

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Dr. Pierre-Fils Lamartine, Medical Director at Anse-A-Pitre. With a population of close to 30,000 the clinic at Anse-A-Pitre is very busy. Due to the lack of resources, major traumas, surgeries, and complications are difficult to attend forcing patients to travel hours away to the closest hospitals, or more easily across the border to the next town in Dominican Republic.

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Father Luc Leandre, a catholic priest in Anse-a-Pitre. Father Luc praises the symbiotic and peaceful relationship between the neighboring towns of Anse-a-Pitre (Haiti) and Pedernales (DR), but worries about the repercussions if thousand of Haitians were to be repatriated. Father Luc, and a few volunteers are the only ones helping the people at Parc Cadot, a temporary camp of repatriated Haitians a few miles north Anse-A-Pitre.

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Parc Cadot, a temporary camp of repatriated Haitians a few miles north of Anse-a-Pitre. A few hundred returning Haitians have occupied an open field setting up very fragile structures (with cardboard, plastic, pieces of wood) with no services or assistance from government or local authorities. The local catholic priest, Father Luc Leandre, and a few volunteers are the only ones trying to ease the situation.

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Ileonor (center at the table) and Oscar (with the red cap), playing dominos with others from a camp of repatriated Haitians in Parc Cadot, near Anse-a-Pitre. Ileonor lived close to 30 years in Cotui - DR. After been unable to legalize his stay in DR, he decided to return to Haiti before the deadline for legalization of immigration status. Oscar lived in DR for 25 years before recently returning. Most in Parc Cadot expressed a similar reason for returning, motivated more by fear due to rumors that Dominican neighbors might react violently if deportation were to start.

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Oscar's family, in a makeshift hut in a camp of repatriated Haitians in Parc Cadot, near Anse-a-Pitre. His eldest daughter, not yet 16, just gave birth in the camp.

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Mounds of cut trees to be burned in the production of charcoal. These trees were cut a few dozen yards away across the border on Dominican territory and brought back to Haiti to be burned. Each mound produces about twenty 100lbs sacs, which sell at around US$30 each.

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Charcoal, use mainly as fuel for cooking. The production of charcoal is considered the principal cause of massive deforestation in Haiti.

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View from the mountains of Mencia, Pedernales - DR. Just a few kilometers ahead, Dominican territory ends and the cleared Haitian landscape can be seen.

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The walls of an abandoned house with painted pictures of endemic birds. Mencia, an agricultural community in the mountains near Pedernales, was largely created through a government housing program during 1970s. Today only a few families still live there. Many houses have been abandoned due to structural damage, a result of poor construction. The government promised to repair or rebuild, but it hasn’t happened yet. Some have sold their damaged homes to outsiders, even foreigners, looking for a vacation place in the idyllic mountains. The region is an ecological protected area, but most of its inhabitants live of the land, with coffee and avocados among the main products.

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Los Mulitos, Pedernales, Dominican Republic.

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Wilson, also known as Negro Bani, is a farmer and community leader with clear knowledge of the social and political dynamics of the area. He is a former council member of the municipality of Mencia. Wilson explains that the land is fertile, good for avocados, but is getting more difficult to keep it that way. People have been leaving the community as the houses built under the Balaguer presidency are crumbling and is unsafe to stay in them. Most do not have the means to fix or rebuild and so they sell their properties if the opportunity arises, while others simply go. Haitian incursion is normal and inevitable. The barren Haitian landscape is visible from Wilson's farm, just a few kilometers west.

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Haitian construction worker at a housing development project in Pedernales, DR. It is common for Haitian workers to inhabit the premises while constructions last.

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Housing Projects in Pedernales, DR.

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Pillar #311. The last pillar delineating the frontier.