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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Dominican Republic to shut all borders with Haiti in a dispute over a canal

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DAJABON, Dominican Republic — The Dominican Republic’s president introduced Thursday he would shut all borders with neighboring Haiti beginning Friday in a dispute over a canal on the Haitian facet that may use water from a river alongside their frontier.

President Luis Abinader mentioned air, sea and land borders would shut at 6 a.m. native time Friday and would stay shuttered “till crucial,” signaling that last-minute talks between the nations had failed to go off the closure. It’s a uncommon transfer for the Dominican Republic, and will hit economies in each nations, although it is going to be most acutely felt in Haiti.

The closure is a response to the excavation of a canal by a farming group on the Haitian facet that targets waters from the Bloodbath River, which runs alongside the border shared by the 2 nations on the island of Hispaniola.

The Worldwide Disaster Group mentioned work on the canal had been suspended for the reason that July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, and that it resumed based mostly on inaction by the Haitian authorities, “which has failed to reply to the issues created by the drought within the agricultural space of the Maribaroux plain.”

The group has seen no proof “that means there are any main politicians or highly effective businesspeople behind it, because the Dominican authorities has claimed,” in line with Latin American and Caribbean advisor Diego Da Rin.

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Abinader in latest days suspended issuing visas to Haitians and closed the border close to the northern city of Dajabon, paralyzing a key financial lifeline for Haitians who purchase and promote items there a number of instances per week. Those that dwell in Haiti however work within the Dominican Republic additionally cross the border each day.

“They’re struggling rather a lot right here in Dajabon, and in Haiti, too, as a result of there are quite a lot of items which are spoiling,” mentioned Haitian businessman Pichelo Petijon. “There are tens of millions of {dollars} in losses.”

Abinader accused Haiti of making an attempt to divert water from the Bloodbath River, and mentioned it could have an effect on Dominican farmers and the environment. The river is called after a bloody conflict between French and Spanish colonizers within the 1700s, and it additionally was the location of a mass killing of Haitians by the Dominican military in 1937.

On Wednesday, Haiti’s Ministry of International Affairs mentioned it was assembly with Dominican officers within the Dominican Republic to speak concerning the scenario. The Dominican authorities mentioned Thursday that the assembly had stretched into its second day however supplied no particulars. The assembly was persevering with when Abinader introduced he would shut all borders beginning Friday.

In the meantime, Jean Brévil Weston, chief of a farmers’ group close to the border, was quoted by Haiti radio station Magik9 as saying that he won’t cease engaged on the canal.

“It’s the canal or dying,” he was quoted as saying. “We’re able to be buried by the canal.”

The workplace of Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry mentioned it had no rapid remark.

Claude Joseph, Haiti’s former prime minister and an aspiring presidential candidate, mentioned the excavation doesn’t violate any agreements or treaties between the 2 nations, and urged staff to maintain engaged on the challenge. Joseph beforehand clashed with Abinader over an unrelated concern, prompting the Dominican president to ban him from his nation.

Abinader on Thursday additionally introduced bans for 9 different Haitians, the bulk former authorities officers and one particular person he claimed was accountable for backing the canal challenge.

A line already was forming Thursday on the Dominican border city of Dajabon, with lots of of individuals looking for to cross into Haiti for numerous causes, many with heavy baggage balanced on their heads or suitcases in hand. Dominican authorities have been opening the gate solely 3 times a day, and just for crossings into Haiti.

Amongst these ready to cross was Haitian vendor Dieuvelaie Bernard, 27, who offered garments within the Dominican Republic and mentioned she didn’t perceive why the border in Dajabon was closed.

“Why is that this occurring, if everybody comes right here to work?” she mentioned.

Bernard harassed that building of the canal was necessary: “There’s solely rice, nothing else.”

Additionally in line was a 47-year-old Haitian man who gave his title solely as Egnel, who mentioned he had a job at a banana farm within the Dominican Republic. He mentioned he wanted to return to Haiti to take one in every of his daughters there to the hospital, and that he was keen to take the danger of not having the ability to return to his job.

“My goal is to deal with my daughter,” he mentioned.

After Abinader turned president in August 2020, he has sought to cease the stream of Haitian migrants into the Dominican Republic lately and has expelled tens of hundreds of Haitians and people of Haitian descen t. His administration additionally has began work on a 118-mile (190-kilometer) wall alongside the Haitian border.


Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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