The economy of Juana Méndez (Haiti), located 600 meters from the urban center of Dajabón, is almost entirely influenced by the Dominican Republic.
Such is the influence that the Dominican peso is imposed on the gourde, Haiti’s official currency, both in Juana Mendez and other Haitian towns near the Dominican border.
Haitian merchants say that they have to dispose of 175 and 190 gourdes in exchange for 100 Dominican pesos and that this affects trade in their country.
Currently, a 100 Dominican peso bill has a value of 175 and sometimes 190 gourdes, according to traders who exchange coins at the border.
The products sold in Juana Mendez are of Dominican manufacture and very few are of Haitian brands.
Marcelino Suá and Elison Louis, leaders of the Association of Traders of Northeast Haiti, said that it is logical that the border communities of Haiti have to depend on the supply of food, various goods, medicines and other essential goods from the Dominican Republic.
They also expressed that Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haïtien do not supply them with anything and that the people of the border towns near this country have to buy everything outside Haiti.
The Dominican peso
Roul Joseph, a trader from Cap Haitien, added that the shortage of food, medicines and other basic products is serious and that thanks to the Dominican Republic, the situation has begun to change.
However, the leader of traders of Northeast Haiti, Elison Louis, clarified that in Haitian communities bordering this territory, the Dominican peso has a lot of influence.
Haitian merchants have proposed to financial entities in Juana Mendez, Fort Liberté and other areas near the Dominican border, to allow them to save in Dominican pesos. But Roul Joseph clarified that they have not given him any answers.
Most Haitians living in Juana Mendez and other towns neighboring the Dominican Republic, by necessity speak Spanish mixed with Creole.
However, the Dominicans end up understanding only half-heartedly when faced with the acceptance of speaking Spanish.
Free trade zones
The free zone consortium Codevid, which operates in Juana Mendez (Haiti), is a dependency of the M Group of the city of Santiago and, according to its executives, currently generates an employment of 6,500 jobs, almost 100 percent of which are Haitian.
This does not count the people they support through the motoconcho, public transportation, sale of food, clothes, shoes, juice and other activities. However, residents of Juana Mendez stated that the boost that this city has achieved, thanks to Dominican investment, has a negative component which is reflected in a large immigration of Haitians from Port-au-Prince and other areas of their country, who arrive attracted by the opportunities.
Community leader René Paúl said that until four years ago the population of Juana Méndez was 100,000 inhabitants, but now it has a little more than 200,000, due to internal migration.
Paúl noted that in Juana Méndez and other localities near the Dominican border line, the bars and discotheques, although they play rock, coladeira, cadence, zouk and carabiné music, the most contagious and the ones that get the feet and bodies of the customers dancing and moving are merengue and bachata, two Dominican rhythms.