In an escalation of diplomatic tensions, The Dominican Republic today launched the closure of all border crossings with Haiti including air and sea, a decision predicted to worsen the humanitarian crisis that is ravaging the Haitian population, amid a dispute over a border river that authorities have not found an agreement on.
The president of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader, ordered this Thursday that on September 15 at 6:00 a.m. they must block all access of Haitian citizens to the neighboring country since the two countries share the island of Hispaniola, in the Caribbean Sea, amid historical tensions.
There it is the Dominican response to the construction of a canal in Haiti that diverts the waters of the Masacre River, a natural boundary between the two states. At the beginning of this week the tension was at a crescendo, because Santo Domingo initially stopped visas and closed the access to the town of Dajabón, the busiest point between the two countries.
Abinader’s decision, completely close the passage of Haitian citizens and goods to the Dominican territory unprecedented in recent decades and represents a severe blow for the thousands of Haitians who cross the binational border on foot every day to do different jobs in the Dominican side, this is a relief in the middle of a chronic humanitarian crisis.
According to the World Bank, Haiti as the poorest country in the American continent in per capita terms, with an average income of more than two dollars a day, the border of extreme poverty, according to the multilateral. According to FAO, the United Nations agency for food and agriculture, 5.2 million Haitians suffer from hunger, which is almost half of the population.
In addition, 1.7 million Haitians emigrated while two million are internally displaced, due to widespread violence and serious climate and natural crises, in addition to earthquakes affecting the country.
Loss Haitian officials say the diversion of the border river is an effort by private citizens without government support.. This response symbolizes the lack of territorial control with the weak Administration of Prime Minister Ariel Henry.
After several years of stability during the Government of Michel Martelly, The institutional crisis became evident in Haiti starting in 2015. The victory of Jovenel Moïse was not immediately recognized and there was a long discussion between the public powers when his mandate would end. The Parliament continued that in 2020 and the president that in 2021.
In the meantime, the legislative elections have been postponed, amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The country was left without a Parliament and the Judiciary was also dissolved, leaving Moïse as the sole point of power, until he was assassinated in July 2021.
Las The scheduled election was suspended and Ariel Henry ruled by facts, literally proclaiming itself in the absence of other public powers to prove it. In addition, the acting prime minister suspended members of the electoral power a year ago.
On Monday, September 11, it was Abinader ordered the closure of the main border crossing into Haiti in Dajabón, and the suspension of visas for Haitians or those involved in the conflict in Haiti due to the construction of the Masacre River canal.
The absence of institutions, on the other hand, opens the door for the French-speaking Caribbean country to be literally in the hands of criminal gangs.
At the end of August, for example, seven people who were part of a peaceful demonstration against the violence of armed gangs were killed by them in the north of Port-au-Prince, within the framework of a mobilization called by a evangelical pastor. Likewise, ten protesters were injured and many others were kidnapped.
The Jesuit priest Ambroise Dorino Gabriel, in the framework of a presentation he gave remotely on the Zoom platform on September 14, answered a question from DIARIO DE CUBA about the origin of these armed gangs that are now fighting for control of the territory from Haiti.
Gangs, according to this Catholic religious, are born “from the militants of political parties, who become radicalized until they become uncontrollable armed gang members.” He also remembered that in the past political leaders in Haiti gave weapons to their youngest followers, making bets. that This would give them symbolic power, “showing themselves surrounded by armed youths.” In recent years it has all gotten out of control.
“The current chaos is the product of an almost total absence of institutions” said the Jesuit priest in Haitian.
Finally, the Government’s decision to completely close the borders in response to the diversion of the border river, joined the strict immigration policy implemented by President Abinader who ordered the construction of a four-meter high wall to limit the flow of migrants.
This wall will be built on 164 kilometers of the almost 400 kilometers border shared by the two countries. Deportations of more than 170,000 Haitian refugees have also been accelerated, according to official data.