21 nov. 2010


The Dominican-Haiti Borderland Buffer Zone (B-Zone)  is a suggested undertaking to be put in place by the nation-states of Dominican Republic and Haiti, under the aegis of the Haiti Reconstruction Fund and sponsoring partners.

The B-Zone Mission is to put up a Commonwealth Region to serve the best interests of both nation-states, in providing a better future for borderland inhabitants, by creating long term Social and Economic Value.

Some of the specific goals might include, but not be limited to:
  1. Set up an International Free Zone to function as Commonwealth Region.
  2. Build the proposed infrastructure components hereto mentioned.
  3. Serve as buffer-zone to contain uncontrolled migration.
  4. Create Regional Wealth and economic stability.
  5. Avert future conflicts between the nation-states.
The Dominican Republic and Haiti are bound by history and destiny.  Both nations share the Hispaniola Island.

Hispaniola Island - Location
Haitians are pouring in through the porous Dominican-Haiti frontier.  The uncontrolled migration is palpable everywhere in Dominican Republic: Many of the tasks performed in the past by Dominicans, has now been taken over by Haitians.  Recent accounts in Dominican newspapers are breaking the news that 75% of all newborns in the Dominican western hospitals are now Haitians .  

Haiti (West 1/3 of the Hispaniola)
Because there are innumerable accounts of the history of the involved nation-states and most of the current events are ostensible facts, evident to the whole Dominican and International Civil and Political Society, I will not hammer anymore into the subject and I will in earnest zero in on my aforementioned proposition.

I will focus on outlining the intended Social Innovation underpinning my arguments

Since my issue in on the borderland, let's kick off the subject by dealing with that issue on the first place:

Dominican Republic
Borderlands are the tract of land surrounding the frontier line astride two neighboring countries.  Borderlands are inherently fractious, unruly, intractable places, unlike any other place in the world.  No rules are ever sustainable in borderlands.  People loyalties are bound by all sorts of imaginable exchanges and while inlanders may have clear-cut identities; dwellers of borderland are more likely to have passable allegiances.  They have ties on both sides of the border and their vested interests make them swing between loyalties. Conflicts does not benefit the situation, since borderland villagers eke out in a myriad of wheeler dealings and transactions...

Dominican-Haiti Border
Should you pore over the Dominican Newspapers or just seat to watch the news, you will find a lot these "Borderland Traits" popping up from the headlines...Just to mention a single happening: In the wake of the Haiti's "Cholera Outbreak", the DR frontier was temporarily closed while the Sanitary Ministry looked into the problem.  During those days, riots in the Haiti's Borderland side aroused; and the Dominicans dwellers on our borderland, were equally "concerned about the closure".  The fact being  that, many of the villagers makes their living out of the "informal exchange" that happens weekly and daily at the borderline...

...and now let's face head-on our proposition:

The DR-HAITI Borderland Buffer-Zone is an enterprise that will have, but does not have to be limited to,  the following characteristics:

  1. Borderland Concession: A 5-10 kilometers land expanse will be relinquished to the B-Zone.   Host countries will not lose sovereignty over the conceded "land belt"The extent of the "yielded borderland" does not have to be symmetrical.  Haiti, being the country coming up against the most challenges ahead, might agree to cede a greater portion than the Dominican Republic.  This is not a condition though, and the apportioned province might, as well, be equal for both countries.   Denizens living astride the borderline will remain under their motherland's jurisdiction for most matters. The B-Zone rationale is to create a setting which will duly entice International o Domestic businesses to settle in the zone, bringing an "economic lifeblood" into the region.  Coupled with the Infrastructure and Transport system, the zone could have readily available resources and  special provisions that represent some "comparative advantages" for certain businesses to choose the location.  Because all this must be "Food for Design", I will not jump the gun by mentioning much of the nitty-gritty.
  2. International Free Zone: The B-Zone is a Tax-exempted zone wherein, businesses which operate into the boundaries, won't be subject to taxes, fees or duties in any form...Certain provisions will be taken to assure further advantages to businesses operating in the "B-Zone".
  3. Built-in Transport System: The B-Zone have a sophisticated transport system whereby all produce of the locale could be immediately shipped to major markets around the world.  The transport system is part of the "Built-in Infrastructure" (see next point) and will include, at least, (a) A web of air and sea ports, which will operate as intrinsic part of the B-Zone, albeit being located inland.  Existing Harbors must be redressed or (re)built from the ground up. Ports will be distributed on both countries (Haiti and Dominican Republic); and one or two locations will be selected on the north and south heartland regions, proximate to the borderland. (b) A twin, four-lanes-by-side highway, will traverse and split  from the Center of the B-Zone to the north and south; and then will head to the main ports and  target cities.  A "Train System", medium to high speed class, will cut through the B-Zone; north - south; and then will head to the sea and air ports. (c) An internal, medium speed "Trolley Train", will transport goods and people in a "bandying route"; going back and forth at fixed intervals.
  4. Built-in All-Inclusive Infrastructure: Four cities would be selected to be the main B-Zone Metropolitan areas. Onward, other urban settings should reach the same state of development and make them available the same provisions of infrastructure.  On the outset, hospitals, schools, security guard troops will be enacted as "Model Entities" in the B-Zone selected urban  centers.  Hopefully, onwards, these structures could be migrated to the host countries.  The B-Zone must end up with a first class international setting that will entice international and Domestic Business to permanently inhabit the zone...
  5. Built-in Commonwealth Rules: The B-Zone will be governed under its own "Rulebook"; but the host countries will remain "owners of the land and its citizens".  The Commonwealth Region, however, will be handled under international terms with by-laws, especially designed to accomplished the huge goals that are levied onto this endeavor. Entities operating in the zone will no be subject to taxes, neither won't be levied with any fees whatsoever.  The Entire Zone must be "free" from any hurdles, except those imposed by the "Borderland By-laws".  A governor will be appointed by the Host Countries and the "government" will be subject to the "International Setting" pervading the "Zone".  
  6. Built-in Governance: The international entities that choose the zone will be assured the "rules" will be kept the same as long as the Commonwealth council, operating on behalf of its members (which should be the same entities dwelling in the "Zone") decide that some "rule" must be changed or expanded.  To assure further governance, certain provisions will limit the changes which might hurt the duly B-Zone Owners which, are to be the host countries. 
The B-Zone main objective is to raise the "Living Standards" for people who take up residence in the region.  On time, the model organization could reach an state of development  that could be replicated to the host countries.  It's understandable that, to run the businesses, qualified Human Capital will have to be filled in.  But the overarching motivation for this pursuit is the potential "Social and Environmental Value" that can be created for the permanent residents in the sector.

My personal vantage point is, that such an endeavor must be taken into account, at least, as a model to approach the resilient poverty traps that nowadays characterizes the border dominions. This Social Enterprise is important if we, jointly commit both countries' "Political Will" and "nascent" Humanistic Leadership, to attain this transforming first "Poverty-beat-to- the-Punch"!!!

A final statement: Social Innovations, similar to other innovative engagements, should be dealt with an "open mind", a "bit of passion and vision" and a "grain of salt"... They might not be the "panacea", or even the best solutions, but "in their making",  they might  teach us what works and what doesn't work.  Haiti is facing dire challenges ahead; The Dominican Republic is just some notches away from falling itself by the Cliff of uncertainty...So let's be creative and ingenious to devise a solution that bring the results threshold much further from what's expected...

Moreover, the proposed oft-talked-about-yet-to-be-seen Haiti Reconstruction could prove to be a daunting task...The B-Zone could be like an "Experimental Project"; a "Reconstruction Prototype "; or a "Preliminary Enterprise"; One attempt, to put a stop to an ever expanding "vicious circle" that could compromise the future of the whole island.

Furthermore, Tending the Borderland issues could be raised to a major priority for HRF since,  it helps to set a "first straw" for running to biggest goals; while assuaging the burden over Dominican Republic; whose economy must provide willy-nilly for Haiti's throughout scarcity.

The Dominican Republic has shown ongoing commitment, being silently the major; only permanent and obliged contributor, to Haiti's plight. We're soulfully conscious of our bound destinies and realities, and that's where the B-ZONE chimes in: A first step to heal Haiti's ailing economy and a preemptive move to "protect" Dominican Republic's.

We're HAITI's NEIGHBORS and, as every good Dominican knows, "Neighbors always look after each other"!!!

Comments welcome!