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Fuel smugglers buy it for $5 a gallon in the DR and sell it for $50 in Haiti

As gangs in Haiti blockade and loot key fuel supplies, the fuel crisis is now spreading to the neighboring Dominican Republic.

An illicit oil smuggling industry across the countries’ shared 240-mile border has flourished in the wake of skyrocketing oil prices. gasoline in Haiti.

Both Dominicans and Haitians buy subsidized fuel at $5 dollars a gallon in the border towns of the Dominican Republic and smuggled into Haiti, where it fetches $50 a gallon.

It has caused gasoline shortages, long lines at gas stations and has caused gasoline sales to at least double in the border city of Dajabón, he said. Santiago Riverón, mayor of the city.

“It is a worrying situation because not only Haitians cross to buy gasoline,” said Riverón. “Now many Dominicans are trafficking gasoline And that represents a danger.”

Because trade in goods such as flour, meat, and eggs between the two countries has been reduced due to the Haiti crisis, many people resort to smuggling.

The situation in Haiti drastically deteriorated last year after the assassination of former Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. Things took a turn for the worse in September when Prime Minister Ariel Henry announced that fuel subsidies would be removed, causing prices to double.

Protests broke out and Haiti’s most powerful gang blocked the country’s main source of fuel in Port-Au-Prince. That, in turn, has led to shortages of other basic necessities like clean water at a time when Haiti is grappling with its worst cholera outbreak in years and has left hospitals and universities without power.

“The scarcity and the increase of the gasoline prices in the black market that we were already seeing have only grown,” said Diego Da Rin, an analyst at International Crisis Group.

Johnny, resident in the border city of Pedernales, in the southern Dominican Republic, he said poorer populations have taken advantage of rising prices, spending their days crossing gasoline back and forth along the border on motorcycles.

“A lot of them fill up their bikes at the gas station, then they go home, take it out and pile up gallons,” said Jhonny, who asked not to use his last name.

Just two weeks ago, Dominican border security forces said that seized nearly 2,700 gallons of fuel being smuggled into HaitiI went in a single raid. Ramón Pérez Fermín, Deputy Minister of Internal Trade, said that such meetings have grown in intensity in the last six weeks.

It is a great economic loss for his country, Pérez Fermín pointed out, because the Dominican Republic has paid large sums of money to subsidize fuel prices as a result of the Ukraine crisis.

In the first nine months of this year alone, the Caribbean government has paid $574 million in fuel subsidies, more than double what it paid in all of 2021, he said.

“The government is subsidizing gasoline that doesn’t even go to the Dominican Republic,” he said. “It does not end up in the hands of the Dominican consumer.”

Dominican President Luis Abinader said last week that he has banned two-wheelers from crossing the border in a bid to stop the growing smuggling ring, and said he would close the border in the event of international intervention in Haiti, which the Security Council of the United Nations will speak on Monday.

Last year, began construction of a border wall, a move his government says will improve security.

But Dajabón Mayor Riverón and other officials said the only real solution to a situation they view with growing concern is a foreign intervention.

“The solution is in the hands of the international authorities,” said Riverón.

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