Haitians Rally Against Dominican Measures for the Canal, Demand Ariel Henry’s Exit

Haiti: In Port-au-Prince, hundreds of Haitians gathered on Sunday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry. They are frustrated with his perceived inability to govern the country amidst an ongoing socio-political and economic crisis. The situation is further complicated by a conflict with the Dominican Republic over the use of the Masacre River, which serves as a natural border between the two nations.

The protest was organized by the new political party Engages pour le Developpement (EDE), led by former Prime Minister Claude Joseph. Participants expressed concern for those who have been displaced and are living in difficult conditions on the streets and in schools.

During the demonstration, which marched towards the prime minister’s residence, protesters also denounced recent incidents of racism against Haitians living in the Dominican Republic. They criticized the Dominican government’s decision to unilaterally close borders, both land and sea, in an attempt to halt the construction of an irrigation canal on the Massacre River in northeastern Haiti.

The protesters showed unwavering support for the Juana Méndez farmers involved in the canal construction project, which aims to irrigate over 3,000 hectares of land in northeastern Haiti.

Last Friday, the Dominican government began closing the border as a way to pressure Haiti into stopping the water intake project. This blockade has also resulted in the suspension of the binational market in the Dominican municipality of Dajabón, causing economic losses for local merchants and shortages of supplies on the Haitian side of the border.

Since the border closure, thousands of Haitians have returned to their country, often waiting in long lines with limited belongings during the designated border openings at noon and 4:00 p.m.

In addition, Dominican President Luis Abinader has taken other measures, including suspending the issuance of visas for Haitian citizens and expressly prohibiting the entry of nine Haitian citizens, including Camiel Samson, who is associated with the disputed canal project.

In response, the Haitian government has defended its right to exploit natural resources, stating that, like the Dominican Republic, it has the full right to utilize water from the Masacre River in accordance with the 1929 bilateral agreement. However, the Haitian Foreign Ministry emphasizes the importance of dialogue to resolve the crisis, even though various organizations within the Dominican Republic have criticized the retaliatory measures taken by the Abinader government over the irrigation canal dispute.

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