documentary in Haiti

Rep Dom

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Dec 27, 2011
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Hi everyone, I have an order for a documentary in Haiti. I'll be soon based in DR... How "safe" and convenient is it to cross the border a few times carrying quite expensive video devices... :)
 

Xpress Dominicana

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Jun 23, 2010
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really good question, yo go with your own car?? what region, port au prince or north coast?? Dajabon is a lot easier to cross!
 

Xpress Dominicana

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Jun 23, 2010
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really good question, yo go with your own car?? what region, port au prince or north coast?? Dajabon is a lot easier to cross!
 

Rep Dom

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Well, I'll go with my own car fore sure. But I stil dont know where I'll go in Haiti. Certainly different places. But as I said, I'll be carrying some quite expensives devices: camcorders, computers, tripod, steadycam, drone equiped with a cam...
My concern is safety in Haiti of course. But also, about passing expensive devices through the border... :)
 

Hillbilly

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Jan 1, 2002
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You also need a solid contact in Haiti; someone of standing. And you MUST report to the embassy of your country. You might even need to have a Minustah guard...

HB
 

Rep Dom

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Well I cant really travel with bodyguards, namely because i'll have to meet and interview poeple. It must be done in a cool atmosphere... I think I can handle that part. But it's crossing the border which bothers me the most... I wouldnt want to be asked some idiotic taxes because I pass the border with expensive stuff... :)
 

Chip

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Well I cant really travel with bodyguards, namely because i'll have to meet and interview poeple. It must be done in a cool atmosphere... I think I can handle that part. But it's crossing the border which bothers me the most... I wouldnt want to be asked some idiotic taxes because I pass the border with expensive stuff... :)
If that is the case I would stay in the DR and go to Quanaminthe for the day only.
 

Chip

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Yes ok but how is it when I cross the border?
I've been to Haiti twice. The first time with a Haitian escort, no gun and we went from Quanaminthe to PAP via Cap Hatian. The second time from Jimani to PAR with no escort after the earthquake but stayed almost a week in a protected compound. I think the security issue you may have is having all of that expensive equipment and being in any area for more than a short period of time w/o protection. I'm no expert though so lets see what others have to say.
 

Chirimoya

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Dec 9, 2002
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Taking a vehicle across is a major headache. Communicating with people is difficult if you don't speak Kreyole - French will only get you so far. If you don't know Haiti at all the only sensible way is to hire a local fixer/driver/interpreter who will meet you on the Haitian side of the border.
 

Chirimoya

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Dec 9, 2002
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But do you speak Kreyole? Most Haitians don't speak French. Who will you be interviewing?
 

PICHARDO

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May 15, 2003
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Hi everyone, I have an order for a documentary in Haiti. I'll be soon based in DR... How "safe" and convenient is it to cross the border a few times carrying quite expensive video devices... :)

You can cross the border into Haiti with all your equipment and avoiding taxes or any applied tariffs if you identify yourself as photo/video journalist carrying out a task.

The safety of your equipment in Haiti will have a lot to do with the Haitian chaperon you employ to tag along with you. There are certain areas in each town of Haiti which not even Police would be safe, let alone a foreigner full of expensive stuff.

The smartest thing to do is to have a base in the DR from where to launch your trips to Haiti from, keeping the volume of your bulky items there under safety. Keep in mind that the DR is just as dangerous as Haiti when it comes to burglary and street crimes, just not as wild in the right sense of the word.

Years back I carried out extensive work in Haiti for Grupo M at the border and well inside Haiti too. We had several photo/video professionals with us filming with a lot of stuff to carry out their editing and set ups. They always kept their equipment in the SUVs well covered and with a person always guarding the vehicles whilst we carry out the tasks at hand. Never faced any trouble then.

At the moment there's a lot of problems in Haiti, just yesterday the whole country had the streets emptied and business shut their doors as the President announced a press conference and addressing the state. They have serious democratic problems in terms of the political power struggles from the President to Parliament and I doubt is going to recede anytime soon.

Not the greatest of times to visit Haiti! Some assassination got carried out in plain daylight just these past weeks of high placed people with links to the past and present governments, leaders and what not.

The key for a safe and uneventful visit to Haiti is related to who's going to be your chaperon whilst there. The more the merrier. Forget the Haitian police or the Minustah forces. They have real problems and short on personnel as it is.

Vehicles crossing into Haiti need a special permit/pass from Santo Domingo. You'll need this permit for each vehicle, for each time it crosses the border. The best way is to hire a Haitian chaperon that speaks decent English and owns a reliable vehicle to do the task. There are plenty of them doing just that in the border crossings of Dajabon, Jimani, etc...

That will relieve you from the duty of getting the permits, since they get theirs directly and with ease from the Haitian side. Make sure the vehicle is an SUV with a good mechanical aspect.

Travel time in Haiti will consume over 50% of the time you need to carry out your tasks, more when the tasks involved travelling from one department of Haiti to another, as major routes don't follow the logic of the closest distances but easiest clearings to pass from one side to the other.

Water safety is a huge problem in Haiti, so try and keep your routine to the shortest time and pack well your schedule, so you can go back to the DR for lengthy baths and rests at least each 48 hours spent in Haiti.

Pack light foods, high in protein and little fiber. That will allow you to avoid having to spot an emergency and safe facility to evacuate... Food safety is one major concern in Haiti much due to the water problems...

Communication is great in Haiti always that you are not too far from the major towns, anything remote to them will have you incommunicado 100%. Pack your money well as ATMs are scarce as large trees in Haiti's deserted mountains...

Hotels are expensive for what you get, and the services are not that world apart from the same problems faced by the occasional B&B that are to be found around. A true western services basic hotel will run your tab a lot higher than the visit to a Ramada courtyard or equivalent in the common sense of the word. Those services like A/C, clean water, etc... are luxuries in most of Haiti.

Walk ins are the most expensive rates and pretty much anything with a good rapport is being less than 10% vacant due to the crazy amount of NGOs all over the country.

They key to a safe and fruitful trip/job in Haiti lies with the chaperon(s) you hire and the other 99% common sense when travelling into an unstable failed state...
 

Rep Dom

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ok very interesting, thanks for your advices. I know most of the increasing problems in Haiti. Thats mostly the reason why I am asked for a documentary about the Haitian situation. I already met a haitian contact in Paris. He works in a tv channel and put me touch with his familly in Haiti...
 

Eco-

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Jan 12, 2012
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Crossing the border can chew up hours and like someone else said in this thread travel in Haiti can chew up have of your time.

My tips, get a local guide that is local to the areas you are visiting. I used 2 different ones (English speaking) and they took me places I could not of seen safely on my own with my camera and gear. Plus with local guides warming people up, I was able to shoot pretty much anything I wanted....priceless! Another thought, local guides know how to get around, Haiti or at least in Port Au Prince area is not downtown USA where you can walk on the sidewalks (vendors/random stuff) and the streets are a free for all with taptaps, cars, motorbikes, people....it's one of those you can't believe it until you see it.

Dust could be an issue with your gear. I cleaned my glass more times during my 5 days in Haiti than I have in 5 years at home, even a large Rocket Blower could not get rid of the dust. Be respectful if/when you venture into the "tent cities", the people have pride and capturing their image when they are down and out will be seen as rude.

If you want contact info for a couple of the orphanages I visited that are really welcoming to foreign photographers let me know. Once the kids see their images they warm up to a camera....oh they warm up...you can never leave...I ended up living in one for a couple of days.