Dominican Republic: Earthquake Reverberations

Signs of the earthquake in Haiti are everywhere in neighboring Dominican Republic. Hospitals are overflowing with the injured, aid workers fill the hotels, and signs asking people to send a text message and donate to the Haiti relief effort plaster the main thoroughfare through Santo Domingo.

Many people here say they've seen a sharp increase of Haitians coming into the country in recent weeks – either to seek medical help, or to earn money to send back to family members. A construction worker we interviewed, for instance, told us that he came to Santo Domingo two weeks ago; his house had collapsed in the quake, and now he is trying to earn enough to support his family struggling back in Port-au-Prince.

In the impoverished bataye community of Duquesa, a woman whose foot was crushed in the quake arrived to live with her daughter. A pastor in a trash-strewn part of Santo Domingo called "Little Haiti" has noticed a number of shell-shocked new arrivals.

Although we have heard some stories of exploitation – new immigrants getting robbed or attacked – for the most part the Dominicans seem have taken an unusually friendly stance toward their neighbors. (Even the venders in Dajabon say border officials have been less likely to hassle them.) But Haitians and Dominicans alike have expressed concerns about what will happen when the international community's attention turns, inevitably, elsewhere.