Born over 80 years ago, the Bateyes were formed of Haitian workers whom worked mainly in the duties of the sugar fields as well as within the sugar factories. Today the Bateyes have become large communities of Dominicans and Haitians, which have slowly merged into the Dominican society.
A Batey was born with the sugar mill. The mill owners provided the land where they lodged their workers. These workers built their homes and infrastructure by hand. Traditionally, these workers and their families had depended on the plantation almost entirely. The mill provided precarious health services, education, drinking water, electricity, supplies sales, etc. This dependence still exists in a big measure, even though in many Bateyes the sugar mill workers do not make up the majority of the population anymore.
The Dominican Republic is the second largest Caribbean nation (after Cuba), with 18,705 sq. miles. An estimated 1 million Haitians live in the Dominican Republic, which has a population of about 10 million. The Dominican Republic and Haiti make up the island of Hispaniola. Haiti is the poorest nation on the western hemisphere. Where 80% of Haitians live under the poverty line and 54% live in abject poverty, the average per capita income in Haiti is $480 a year, compared to $33,550 in the United States. These two countries are completely divided in every sense, but the infiltration of Haitians is still at large due to the extreme poverty existing within Haiti.
Sugar is believed to be the reason behind slavery as we know it today. If the sugar cane industry had not existed, approximately seven million slaves would not have been brought to the US continent over a span of two hundred years. An average sugar worker makes about $3 a day, working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sugarcane is the Dominican Republic’s primary agricultural export and also it’s most controversial. A cash-crop that is saturated with political and racial contention.
The sugar industry in the Dominican Republic, occupies a surface of nearly to 200,000 hectares planted with sugar cane and 14 sugar mills, which collectively have a grinding capacity of approximately 58,000 short tons of sugar cane per day.
53% live in independent houses 30% live in ravine-like structures 17% live in duplex houses
It is a fact that these houses are in deplorable conditions and the inhabitants live in a stacking status. A large majority of the houses were constructed with bad quality materials and, when natural disasters occur, for example hurricanes, these structures are almost completely destroyed and its inhabitants have to shelter in makeshift huts, raised with the remainders from the ravines. Between 2 - 3 families live in a typical Batey home approx. 300-500 sq. ft. in size.