People walk on the border with Haiti today in Dajabon, Dominican Republic 14 September 2023. The president of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader, announced this Thursday that the border of the Dominican Republic will be completely closed starting at 06:00 local time this Friday (10:00 GMT). EFE/ Eddy Vittini

Dominican Republic to shut down entire Haitian border starting Friday

Santo Domingo, Sept 14 (EFE).- Dominican President Luis Abinader announced Thursday that the border with Haiti will be completely closed as of Friday at 6 am, in response to the conflict arising from constructing an irrigation canal in a bordering river.

“Friday, the entire border of the Dominican Republic, land, sea and air, will be closed (…) for as long as it takes to eliminate this action, this provocation,” said the president as he ordered the delivery of military vehicles in Santo Domingo.

Military guards the border with Haiti today in Dajabon, Dominican Republic 14 September 2023. EFE/ Eddy Vittini

Abinader had already announced his intention to close the entire border due to the conflict caused by the construction by the Haitian side of an irrigation canal in the Masacre River, a natural division between the two countries.

On Wednesday, authorities from both countries met in Santo Domingo to try to resolve the conflict over the canal, which, according to Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, is a private project that is not related to his government, as was stated when the work was ordered to be stopped on September 1.

People wait on the bank of a river on the border with Haiti today in Dajabon, Dominican Republic 14 September 2023. EFE/ Eddy Vittini

Although the dialogue continues today, the Dominican president ordered the borders closed on Thursday following the decisions made by the Dominican National Security Council on Monday.

According to Abinader, “the Ministry of Defense is prepared,” as well as “the Army, Navy, and Air Force to comply with this order. In any case, we are continuing the talks with the Haitian government,” even though “it has problems to control its territory,” mainly due to the actions of armed gangs.

The Dominican leader also stressed that “if there are uncontrollable (elements), they may be so for the Haitian government, but they will not be uncontrollable for the Dominican government.”

“We will continue with the plan (…) This nonsense of an inadequate construction without any engineering is a provocation that this government will not accept,” he added.

The Dominican President is convinced that the measures taken will not lead to violent reactions in case of isolated incidents. “There will be no violence on this side. We are prepared to control it,” he said.

He pointed out that the security forces have been prepared for weeks, not only for situations caused by the water intake but also “to support and protect from this side any peacekeeping force that goes to the neighboring country,” which is in crisis and is suffering a spiral of violence at the hands of armed gangs.

According to the authorities of the Dominican Republic, the water intake project violates the Treaty of Peace, Permanent Friendship and Arbitration of 1929, the Border Agreement of 1935, and the Border Revision Protocol of 1936, signed by both countries.

The Dominican Republic stresses that the borders between the two countries are “definitive, immovable, and non-negotiable.” EFE