Organizations in the Dominican Republic express their concerns over border closure with Haiti

A dozen organizations released a joint statement on Saturday opposing the closure of the Dominican-Haitian border by the Dominican Government. This closure is a response to the construction of an irrigation canal on the Haitian side of the Masacre River. The organizations deny that the canal is a deviation from the river’s channel.

The statement rejects the aggressive actions and speeches by the Dominican government, which claims that the canal is a “diversion of the river.” The organizations argue that this assertion contradicts official Dominican documents, including the position of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (Indrhi) in 2021 and a binational declaration from May 27 of the same year.

The closure and militarization of the border harm both the Dominican and Haitian people, particularly the poorest communities on both sides. Therefore, the signatory organizations demand that the Dominican government withdraw its threats and xenophobic and racist agitation. They also call for the reopening of the border and the resumption of dialogue at the technical table, which should include the participation of universities, social, peasant, and community organizations from both countries.

According to these organizations, a fair solution to the conflict involves recognizing the Haitian people’s right to access and use the water of the binational rivers. They also emphasize the need for a shared and equitable use of this vital resource.

The signatory organizations include the Socialist Workers’ Movement, Haitians RD, Recognized Movement, Aquelarre RD, Jovillos Youth Group, Mama Tingó Sociopolitical Women, Socio-Cultural Movement for Workers (Mosctha), National Popular Coordinator, La Ceiba, and Compas de la Diaspora.

President Luis Abinader ordered the total closure of the land, sea, and air border starting from 6:00 a.m. on Friday as a retaliation for the construction of the irrigation canal. This measure will remain in place for as long as necessary. However, the signatory organizations call for an end to this provocation.

The closure of borders also cancels the binational market held on Fridays and Mondays in Dajabón. This commercial activity between both countries will have economic consequences for Dominican merchants and supply problems for Haitians.

To pressure the suspension of the water intake works, the Dominican Government has also suspended the issuance of visas to citizens of Haiti. Additionally, nine Haitian citizens, including former officials, former legislators, and Camiel Samson, considered the “sponsor” of the canal, are prohibited from entering the country.

Furthermore, all cargo and passenger air operations to and from Haiti have been suspended by the Civil Aviation Board.

In response to these actions, Haiti defends its right to exploit its natural resources. It argues that, like the Dominican Republic, it has the full right to make water intakes in the Masacre River in accordance with the bilateral agreement of 1929. The Dominican Government relies on this agreement to claim the alleged illegitimacy of the canal.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Haiti emphasizes the importance of dialogue to resolve the crisis. The head of the ministry, Emmelie Prophete Milce, has requested a meeting with the Dominican ambassador, Faruk Miguel Castillo, to address the situation.

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