Dear Nancy (and Kellogg Fellows),
Thank you for getting us started on this conversation.
I am still working at my non-profit AgroFrontera in the Montecristi Province in the Dominican Republic and for the past 3 years our family has been operating a small dairy farm.
I also have been following the events unfolding between the two countries. Our farm is near the northern border and there seems to be a growing sense of concern, if not anxiety within the local Haitian population about what will come next. The economy of the extreme northwest Dominican Republic where I live and work is dominated by bananas and rice—crops that have only recently (in the last 20 years or so) been established. Thus, the historic and ugly legacy of broad human rights violations associated with Haitian labor in sugar-cane production has not scarred this region so deeply.
Nonetheless, as you can imagine, being so close to the border and Dominican agriculture's reliance on Haitian labor, the complex relationship between Dominicans and Haitians in this region occupies an important place in everyday life here.
I have tried to focus my energy on understanding and appreciating how this current immigration crisis will play out in the northwest Dominican Republic and northeast Haiti. This is especially relevant as my organization develops a cross-border fisheries management program with FoProBiM, a Haitian NGO that is working with fishers in Caracol within the newly created Three Bays National Park.
I would love the opportunity to learn more from others and have a chance to contribute in any way I can.
Dr. Frederick Payton