Though they share a border and inhabit the same Caribbean island, neighboring countries Haiti and the Dominican Republic have historically had a strained relationship. Ironically, something as horrific and divisive as terrorism could actually help promote political and economic integration between the two nations.
Relations between Haiti and the Dominican Republic have not been easy. Both countries have harbored some feelings of mistrust and resentment toward each other.Haitian dislike stemmed from animosity after tens of thousands of Haitian laborers were massacred under order of the Dominican dictator in 1937. These feelings grew over the decades as Haitian immigrants into the Dominican Republic were mistreated and Haitians were envious of their neighbor’s relative prosperity. Conversely, Dominicans held animosity because of old political and territorial issues. They also resented the influx of Haitian immigrants, yet relied on them for a cheap labor force. (Romero 2010)
Years of frustrations eased in January 2010 when a massive earthquake devastated Haiti. Almost overnight the country was flooded with assistance and aid from multiple nations and organizations, especially from their Dominican neighbors. Differences were put aside as everyone from government leaders to military to common citizens came to assist in recovery and rebuilding efforts.
This support did not mean that all tensions were immediately erased. In sending military troops to assist, Dominican leaders worried that the soldiers might encounter violence. Haitian leaders were concerned about having Dominican troops within their borders, but allowed them to work alongside the UN soldiers. Not all of the Dominican assistance was out of generosity; they also feared a mass immigration of refugees over the border, so determined stabilization in Haiti in their best interests as well. Assistance also could benefit them economically. They had the equipment and infrastructure to take the lead on reconstruction efforts and return that revenue to their own nation. (Romero 2010) Although the animosity between the two countries did not completely vanish, instead it showed the potential for improved relations and future cooperation.
We have seen similar examples of international support after terrorist attacks and increased terror group activity. Whether a large scale attack like September 11th, or the recent terror attacks in France, or the movement and increased activity of ISIS in the Middle East, nations come together to show support and peaceful relations in the wake of terrorism. In this sense, terrorism could promote political and economic integration between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. As threats and instability rise throughout the world, these two nations would benefit from uniting their resources to increase their own security.
The Dominican Republic has a more stable economy and stronger infrastructure in place than their impoverished neighbors. So what would Haiti have to offer in a partnership? It seems their contribution would come more from their resources. They have fertile land, a willing workforce, and strong trade relations with several leading nations. Haiti and the Dominican Republic export their goods to many of the same countries. They also import goods from similar countries. A combination of their resources would promote additional economic relations with these countries and with each other. Further economic and political integration would allow for mutually beneficial industry. Both Haiti and the Dominican Republic import various types of oil, a partnership between the two countries could enable them to negotiate better trade deals for their oil imports.
As terrorist groups expand and additional attacks are carried out throughout the world, peacekeeping countries will become more driven to unite. In the case of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, integration would give them additional security and stability. Although neither country is an apparent target, their integration would afford them more security and credibility in global politics. This integration and partnership would further their interests and make additional partnerships and relations with other countries more appealing.
Again, the animosity and mistrust that these two nations have held against each other throughout their history will not disappear immediately. However, uniting in a common cause, against a common threat will help perpetuate peaceful relations, increased economic opportunities, and improved way of life for all citizens of the island.