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9242: Effect in Haiti of attacks on US (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By MICHAEL NORTON and ANDRES CALA
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Oct 14 (AP) -- When the World Trade Center fell in a
torrent of concrete and steel, Daniel Charles was terrified his sister in
New York might be inside.
She wasn't, but the attacks brought another disaster: The sister, who
works as a janitor in a different building, is afraid a recession will cost
her her job, and she has stopped sending the $115 a month that Charles
needs to pay his rent and daughter's nursery school fees.
"I have nobody else to turn to," he said.
And so a terrorist attack allegedly hatched 8,000 miles away has managed
to make Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, poorer still.
Here, as well as in Haiti's better-off neighbor, the Dominican Republic,
the Sept. 11 attacks have cut into the money from relatives in the United
States that helps support large segments of the two countries' combined
population of 16 million.
In the Dominican Republic, where wages average $375 a month, one out of
every five people gets money from relatives working in the United States,
most of them in New York.
Last year remittances to the Dominican republic totaled nearly $1.7
billion. Since the attacks, they are down 40 percent, said Freddy Ortiz,
president of the Dominican Association of Currency Remittance Companies.
Haiti, where incomes average just $10 a month, stands to suffer even
more. Economist Kesner Pharel estimates that more than half of Haiti's 8
million people benefit, directly or indirectly, from the estimated at $700
million a year in remittances. That figure is also likely to shrink.
In the rural Dominican town of Jaiqui-Picado, Nury Espinal waits each
month for a delivery man to come down her gravel road on his motorcycle
with 3,330 pesos ($200) from her husband in New York, co-owner of a Queens
Espinal says the money keeps her and their 10-month-old daughter alive:
"If I don't get the money, I won't be able to buy enough food."
Usually the money man arrives on the 23rd, but this month he came nearly
a week early. Espinal's husband, Rafael Edilio Reyes, said he made sure to
send the money while he had it.
"Nobody is buying since the attacks," he said by telephone. "I hope to
send the same amount next month, because I have a baby, but it's possible I
won't be able to."
More than 430,000 people in the Dominican Republic receive at least half
their income in wire transfers from the United States, according to the
Central Bank. About 85 percent comes from New York, where more than 800,000
New York also has about half a million Haitians.
At least 41 Dominicans are dead or missing in the World Trade Center,
said Luis Eludis Perez, the Dominican consul in New York. Three Haitians
have been confirmed missing, but the real toll is likely higher.
After the initial outpourings of grief and sympathy, what preoccupies
Haitian and Dominican debate is not so much Osama bin Laden's war on the
West as fear of a U.S. recession that could plunge their countries deeper
"We are going to have to pay the price for these crimes," the Haitian
newspaper Le Nouvelliste warned.
Haitian Planning Minister Marc Bazin foresees "more poverty and social
More than half of Haiti's work force is unemployed. Across the mountains
in the Dominican Republic about 15 percent are jobless, but low wages and a
high reliance on remittances could mean difficult times.
"Without that money, the Dominican Republic would collapse," said Paino
Abreu, president of the wire transfer company Remesagil.
Last year, the Dominican Republic was the third largest recipient of
family remittances in Latin America, after Mexico and Brazil.
"We live from subsistence farming and small food stores that exist
thanks to the money from wire transfers," said Jaiqui-Picado's mayor, Julio
Ramirez. "One way or another, the money they send is distributed among
Franklin Gomez delivers the cash to the town of 450.
"As I drive," he said, "I can hear the children shouting to their
parents, 'The pesos are here!'"
EDITORS: This story was reported by Michael Norton in Port-au-Prince,
Haiti, and Andres Cala in Jaiqui-Picado, Dominican Republic.
On the Net: Inter-American Development Bank report on remittances to
Latin America and the Caribbean: