HAVANA, 12 Dec. Dozens of Cubans are arriving weekly to buy in Haiti. They look for what in the Island is scarce in the poorest country of Latin America.
According to a report by the AP agency, hundreds of Cubans walk daily shopping in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital. “There are thousands, by all (sides),” said Angelina Luis Domínguez, from Havana, who sells Cuban food to those who come to buy. “Before there were four or five; now it has been mined, “he says.
They do not care: Russia, Guyana, Ecuador, Panama, or any viable destination to go and buy things that do not exist in Cuba.
Both Haitians and Cubans benefit mutually with purchases and sales of products such as household items, technology, clothing or footwear, among others.
Just as in Guyana or Panama there is a whole network that hosts, transports or sells food to “businessmen” Cubans, Haitians have found that they can also benefit from this demand. They put Cuban reggaetón to customers, they sell coffee, they hang Cuban flags. Or, as in the case of Angelina, they offer black beans, rice and pork roasted to the locals.
“I have a visa from Panama, a visa from Mexico, but I like Haiti,” says Cuban Eduardo Leiva, who has a hardware business on the island. “There is a great variety of merchandise, there is a level of products that really does not exist in other countries”.
For his part, the Haitian salesman Terese Rencher said: “The Cubans are very good for us. They come, they take the goods back to their house and we can make a small profit. “
According to Rencher, with this business he was able to send his 23-year-old daughter to university.
For taxi driver Braulio Hernández, who goes to Haiti to buy tools and parts for his auto repair shop, getting to that country has several benefits: “Compared with Russia, Haiti is closer, it’s not cold and the merchandise is practically the same. “
Some Cubans who offered their testimony said they had been victims of robberies at the hands of young people who knew they carry large sums of cash. However, preferring this trip closer.
Although Haiti does not appear in the list of countries of the continent free of visa for Cubans, apparently managing a visa is not as difficult as it is for other places.
Every week, dozens of Cubans arrive in Haiti on the airline Sunrise Airways, which operates 12 direct flights per week between Havana, Camagüey and Santiago de Cuba, and Port-au-Prince.
Despite the fact that, according to the figures, two out of every three Haitians live on less than two dollars a day; Despite the fact that 100,000 children under 5 suffer from acute malnutrition and less than 50% of households have access to potable water, desperate Cubans see it as an option.
A lot is the money that Cubans have been investing in these last few years in those countries that are destiny to buy. In the case of Panama, a country that has guaranteed a tourism card for those Cubans who want to invest, the citizens of the island left 308 million dollars last year, and are on track to spend up to 8% more in 2018 , according to Luis Carlos Saenz, deputy general director of the free area.
“Now we have an important Cuban clientele that comes to make purchases and makes a significant contribution to the businesses in the area,” he said.