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News > Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic Intensifies Haiti Border Shutdown, Canal Row

  • Dominican Republic reopens trade with Haiti but border closed. Oct. 11, 2023.

    Dominican Republic reopens trade with Haiti but border closed. Oct. 11, 2023. | Photo: X/@GUASABARAeditor

Published 11 October 2023

President Abinader said that a closed canal on the Dominican side was ready to be restarted.

On Tuesday, the Dominican Republic announced new measures to strengthen control at its border with Haiti, including an indefinite extension of the border shutdown it enacted last month plus boosting military forces as well as a new exports ban.

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According to official reports, the Dominican Republic sealed its border with Haiti last month citing the construction of a canal from the Massacre River, which straddles the border between the two countries, arguing this violated a treaty.

Haiti's government responded, saying it backed its citizens' rights to the equitable use of shared waters and continued to favor dialogue.

Last week, Dominican President Luis Abinader, who is seeking re-election next year, said that a closed canal on the Dominican side was ready to be restarted, and that planning was continuing for the construction of two dams on the shared river.

The tweet reads, "At 9:40 in the morning, the gates opened on the Dominican side of the border with Haiti in Dajabón, however, the Haitian side kept its gates closed for the first day of commercial exchange after Santo Domingo ordered its closure on Friday, September 15."

Furthermore, under the new measures, exports of electronics, cement and other building materials will be banned to prevent construction of structures that threaten the river or related resources.

The government said it would also launch "provisional commercial corridors" in border provinces to facilitate trade, under strict military controls, of Dominican products such as food and medicine.

Santo Domingo said it would also indefinitely extend suspension of visa issuances to Haitian citizens, and create a fund to finance an agricultural program to reduce hiring of undocumented immigrant workers. The new measures are set to take effect on Wednesday.

The Dominican Republic has deported tens of thousands of Haitian migrants who have fled escalating gang warfare in their own country, drawing international criticisms.

Kenya's parliament, which has offered to lead a UN-backed international force requested by the Haitian government a year ago, temporarily banned the deployment of 1,000 police to the Caribbean country.

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