Behind the Barbed Wire
By Haley Goodrich
DAJABON, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
My lasts days of my travels of Hispaniola have been filled with visits to markets teetering on the border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. One market, Dajabon, can be seen from the Dominican Republic’s side of a long bridge.
The other market, Tilori is surrounded by the mountains of Haiti. While walking around both markets I noticed a huge difference with the formality, the goods sold, and the physical set-up between the two.
Dajabon, a bustling market where consumers and merchants are able to cross the borders of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, contains goods ranging from pharmaceuticals to Chinese counterfeit shoes. While walking around, it seemed as though people, both from the Dominican and Haiti depend on this market for the necessities of daily life. The market holds thousands and thousands of goods and people every Monday in a multiple story building. Sellers are surrounded by their goods and forced to sit on the ground. Many people without children around were stopped at booths shuffling through the products to buy.
In Tilori, Haiti, products are displayed along the streets in the open air. With the lack of goods from China, comes more livestock and local products. By taking a look around, I could see people calmly and quietly shopping for what seems like the bare necessities. Children were playing in the street around the informal booths on the ground, outside of makeshift housing.
After our visits, in lecture, a discussion surrounding informal economics was brought up. While taking in consideration what I saw in both markets, I would consider the two of them hubs of informal economics. I come to this conclusion because consumers and sellers are interacting with products that do have tax when sold in these markets. Merchants buy or recycle these products to sell in heaps on the ground.
The physical makeup of these two markets are very different. In Tilori, there are no physical structures, designated booths or booth assignments that Dajabon has. In Tilori, it seems as though where ever one can get a spot on the side of the road that day, they can claim as their selling spot.
While reflecting on these differences, I wonder why Dajabon seems to have more access to resources and formality than Tilori. I think that it could be because Dajabon is part of the Dominican economic system and Tilori is located in Haiti which has fewer resources. Since Tilori seems to have a weak economic situation, does the market suffer as well? I think both markets are key to the economics of their community, but the access to resources is varied.